It used to have a nice name, like Peach Springs or Edgar’s Folly. Some shit like that. But that was before the Raiders came. Thirteen men stood against nine hundred and change and, well, it was a goddamn massacre. I lost a leg, an eye and a whole lot of dignity when I had to hide under the shit truck, you get me?
I still don’t know how they managed it, but by the end, somehow, we still had a town standing. Most of it wasn’t even on fire, which is pretty damn impressive when the whole thing’s made of wood. We dug fourteen graves. Thirteen for the men on our side and one great big hole out in the woods for the other side. None of those brave defenders got through it.
One of them, a guy named Ernest Colgan, took a bullet to the gut. After the smoke had cleared, we found him coughing and spluttering on the ground. He didn’t even care about himself, all he said, all he kept saying was “Did we win? Did we win?”
‘And that, boy.’ I said, my foot resting against the young man’s throat as he lay on the ground. ‘That’s why we don’t go raising our weapons too quick in this here town, you get me?’
I think he was trying to nod, but it’s quite hard with a rather large boot placed against your throat. I figured I’d go with him trying to nod, because otherwise he’d be disagreeing with me and that would just end in a hellstorm of trouble.
‘Now, if I take my boot away, you’re gonna get your gun. Then you’re gonna give it to me and you ain’t never gonna touch a gun again. Do you hear me?’ I lifted my foot slightly, let him get some air so that he could give me a reply.
‘Yes.’ He croaked, coughing and spluttering. ‘Now, get off of me!’
I wasn’t taking orders from some wannabe gunslinger, so I pressed down again. Shifted the crimson sash across my shoulder without giving him an inch. The “I can do whatever the hell I want” sash, as Grundy likes to call it.
I could hear the whiskey running off the table. I must have knocked the bottle over when I put the kid onto the ground. Little bastard, wasting whiskey. ‘I think you owe all of us an apology too. Unless you wanna end up in the pit with everybody else who thought they could fuck with this town. Do you hear me?’
The fire in his eyes dimmed. I’d got him beat. ‘Sorry.’ He whispered. I took my foot away from his throat and left him to choke.
Grundy walked over from the corner, trailing cigarette smoke as he did. ‘Damn, One-eye, ain’t nobody gonna come to town if you give ’em all that kinda welcome!’ He reached one of his massive hands down to pick the kid up, hauling the poor bugger to his feet. ‘We’ll do the proper intros, shall we? Welcome to Slaughtertown, Wisconsin. I’m Jeremiah Grundy, and I’ve been butcher, baker and candlestick maker so I know what it’s like to claw a living. What’s your name, kid?’
The kid was silent a while, before stuttering out ‘Jack. Jack Kipling.’ He never stopped looking at me the whole damn time.
‘Ahhh, don’t listen to One-eye, he’s just pissed off all the time.’ He roared with laughter, blue eyes squinting shut and shooting the lines out from the corner of his eyes. ‘Look kid, just don’t play with guns in town and you’ll be set. That, and don’t play cards. All of these bastards cheat.’
This time, the whole damn saloon joined in. Even I felt myself smiling. ‘What ya here for, kid?’
Kipling looked around the room, trying to work out which lie to tell. He realised quite quickly that nobody gave a shit though, which is when he decided to tell the truth. ‘I’m here for the same thing as everyone else.’
We all knew the word that was coming next.
Who doesn’t love a good Western? I certainly do.
The Idiot in Tin Foil