Henry looked up from wiping the counter as the pounding at the door started up again. He made his way slowly around the counter. "I'm comin', I'm comin'," he called, shuffling to the door. He put the rag he had been using on a table and opened the door.
A man was leaning against the doorframe, tall even though he was a little bent over in the middle. He looked too rich to be at the cheap roadside bar, with his fancy suit and shoes and cowboy hat. He also looked like he was already very, very drunk.
"Sorry, kid, we're closed," Henry said.
"Yes, sir, I know. I just need a place to rest Just for a little while. Then I'll be gone." His southern accent was light, his voice and eyes soft and pleading.
"Well, alright. Come on, we'll get you set down," Henry said, stepping back from the door. The man started in and immediately stumbled. Henry grabbed his arm and led him to a chair. The man collapsed into the chair and breathed out a sigh of relief.
"Thank you," he said sincerely.
"No big deal. You want something to drink?" Henry asked.
The man gave a small smile. "I could go for a, uh, a whiskey."
Henry nodded and went to the back and got a bottle of whiskey and two glasses. When he came back, the man was slumped down in the chair, his head down.
"Hey, I got your drink," Henry said, setting it down on the table. He looked at the man, whose eyes were closed. Henry patted his face. "Hey, mister." His eyes traveled down. A spot of red peeked out from under the suit jacket on the man's right side. He pulled back the flap. "Well, shit." He'd seen bullet wounds in his lifetime, and he knew what they did. Unless this man got help soon, he'd die, most likely painfully. Henry picked up the rag form the table and pressed it to the man's side and picked up the phone an dialed 911. He quickly rattled off the situation and set the phone down, and gently shook the man's shoulder. The man's eyes fluttered open and he gave a small groan.
"What's your name, son?" Henry asked with all the gentleness he could muster, though he still sounded gruff.
"R-" the man started, then winced in pain. "Shit. I'm sorry." His eyes started to close.
"Your name," Henry urged.
"Raylan Givens." His eyes drooped shut and his head fell forward. Henry tried to get Raylan conscious again, to no avail. So he waited for the ambulance, holding pressure to the wound and drinking the whiskey, since he had it there anyway.
The ambulance was there soon, and Raylan was whisked away and then some police officers came in to question Henry.
"Did the man say anything to you?" the officer asked.
"His name. Ryan Givens or something like that."
The officer frowned. "Givens. Givens. Was it Raylan? Raylan Givens?"
Henry nodded. "Yeah, yeah, that was it."
The officer exhaled slowly. "Shit." He took out his phone. "Get me Mullen. Art? Yeah, there's been a shooting. Marshall Givens. No, he didn't shoot anyone. Yes, that's what I'm saying. I really don't know, sir, you'll have to ask the hospital."
Henry took another drink of whiskey. U.S. Marshall, huh? This was gonna be a good story to tell the regulars.
"Finally got a taste of your own medicine, huh Raylan?"
Raylan smiled. "I'm feelin' fine, thank you Art. How kind of you to ask." He sat up and winced. "Ow."
"Serves you right. But I'm not here to gloat. We need to know what happened. Now, if you're too tired, I can come back later."
Raylan waved his hand. "No, no. I'm good now."
It was that fugitive, Ricky Peltman. He was waiting for me when I got home, and he ambushed me and pistol-whipped me. I was out before I could even get a shot off. Damn fool.
When I came to, he'd taken my guns and driven me out to the middle of some god-forsaken forest in the middle of nowhere. He made me get out of the car and marched me around with a gun to my back until he found a suitable place to kill me.
"Why the hell are you doing this, Ricky? You honestly think it'll help you any?" I asked.
"No. But you're the bastard that got me caught. If I get caught, I'm going to prison no matter what. So I may as well get revenge before that happens."
And I turned around and grabbed his gun. Except that as I was taking it he pulled the trigger. As I was going down I shot him in the head. So his body's somewhere in the forest about three miles from that shit bar where they found me.
Art shook his head. "I don't know how the hell that guy got the jump on you, but I'd almost congratulate him if he were still alive."
Raylan rolled his eyes. "Shut up."
Art smiled. "I'm going to work. You get better quick, y'hear? We need you."
"I know you do," Raylan said with a grin.
"But not that much."
Raylan nodded somberly. "Of course not."
Art gave him a final nod of the head and left the room. Raylan heaved a sigh, grimacing a little. It wasn't two minutes before the door opened again.
"Raylan! I heard what happened and I came right away and I'm so glad you're okay!"
Raylan blinked in surprise. "Winona. Hey."
She bent down and kissed him on the cheek. "I can't say I'm surprised. With your luck, it was bound to happen eventually. Just be thankful he didn't have as good of aim as you do."
Raylan chuckled. "Thank goodness for that. How are you doin'?"
Winona smiled ruefully. "You've always had the best manners. Even now, when you're lying there in a hospital bed with a hole in you, you're asking me how I'm doing. Well, I'm doing well thank you. How bout you?"
"Well, to be completely honest, I've been better," he said with a grin. "I feel strangely naked without my gun."
"Are you sure it isn't just the fact that you don't have anything on under that hospital gown?" Winona asked.
Raylan nodded thoughtfully. "I hadn't thought of that."
The door opened again, and Aunt Helen went into the room. "Well, hey Winona," she said, giving her a hug.
"Hey, Helen!" She turned to Raylan. "It's good to see you, Raylan," she said, squeezing his hand. "I've got to go to work. But I'll come by again later."
"Oh, you don't have to do that," Raylan said with a wave of his hand.
"Hush, Raylan. I want to," Winona said, putting a finger to his lips and giving him a quick peck. "See ya later, Helen."
Winona left with one last wave and Helen sat in the chair and pulled out a cigarette and lighter.
"Aunt Helen? Could you not?" Raylan said.
"Raylan Givens, you scared me half to death. I thought I was going to lose you. I need a smoke," Helen replied tersely.
"Does Arlo know?"
"It don't matter."
"Helen. Does he know?"
Helen sighed and took a long drag from her cigarette. "Yeah. He knows."
"You know your father. He's no good at these things, he-"
Raylan cut her off. "Don't make excuses for him. If he gave a shit he would be here. But I spose I already knew he didn't. Shouldn't've expected anything different."
"Now, Raylan! That's unfair!"
Raylan shook his head. "Did he ever tell you about the time he was going to help the cartel kidnap me? Huh? Did he ever tell you about that? No. He's made a reputation for himself. He doesn't give a rat's ass about anything but himself," he said bitterly.
Helen's face fell and tears came to her eyes. Raylan sighed.
"No, Helen. That's not what I meant. I just-"
"No, no, Raylan. I've heard enough," Helen said, standing up.
"Come one, now, Aunt Helen. I'm sorry. I didn't mean it."
Helen looked at him, hard. "Bullshit. You meant every damned word. I'm going now."
Raylan opened his mouth but no words came, so he just shut it and watched her go.
"Great. Good going," he muttered to himself. He heaved another big sigh and sank into his pillows and closed his eyes and prayed for sleep.