It's June 13th, 1872 and the grave-digging gentleman is ready for action. An introduction.
| It was a warm summer day and the smell of decay was fierce. That didn't bother Crowley however, he had been used to it for years. He was completely unaffected by everything; the sun, the swarm of flies, the crows pecking at the circle of corpses that represented his only friends in the world. The only thing on his mind was getting the "show" set up.|
The law was after him, yet again. He wasn't sure why exactly, there was nothing exceptionally illegal or immoral about grave robbing in his own opinion. It wasn't as if he was desecrating the bodies by setting them up around his living area so he could talk with them. Of course there were other things that may have angered the Marshals and the sheriffs even if they were done in the best intentions such as the shoot-out with a group of thieves, or maybe holding up a doctor for "anything that'll make that bullet stop hurting." Regardless of why they were so eager to lynch him he was extremely scared of death for a man surrounded by it. And as he always did when he and his mountain saddler, Jericho had to move along. He was constantly haunted by the idea that he was running out of places to run, leaving Blackwater would set the number of escapes at five.
It was earlier that bright July day when he had first noticed his own wanted poster. It had been at the saloon as he passed by on his way back from town. He always enjoyed seeing a new artist's vision of himself, and he had to say this one was good. They had the short brown hair almost perfectly drawn, the narrow face only slightly exaggerated, and his bowler cap, and duster coat were in perfect detail. He always avoided contact with others wherever he went to prevent such a detailed poster, but there was no time to beat himself up about it. Of course he had quickly snatched it down to avoid any bold bounty hunters from paying him a visit while he was getting ready.
Blackwater cemetery was located just outside of the town itself and hadn't been in the best of care when Crowley had found it, and the quality hadn't at all improved. The majority of people buried here were criminals and immigrants who weren't exactly church plot material. There was also a half constructed chapel that never exactly struck the town's preacher as a good idea, which proved ideal as a hideout. The men and women buried there had provided good conversation. Crowley wondered why everyone he had ever known had been up in arms about his "hallucinations", but he never cared, they were his friends and he wouldn't have it any other way.
He knew time wasn't on his side so he packed his treasures as fast as possible. He didn't have much in terms of possessions. His pistol was on him at all times, as well as him ammo belt. His greatest stolen treasures were already attached to Jericho's saddle. His shovel and money were the only things that needed to be attached to the horse before they were set. It wasn't easy hauling the bags of cash and other valuables as well as his spade out from his room, past the sitting area, outside to the waiting horse but he had known full well that keeping Jericho inside surrounded by deteriorating bodies would have been nothing short of torture to the animal. The horse was tense, as if knowing what was coming, the fast pace escapes weren't exactly a morning ride. Luckily the horse was strong and had plenty of experience of his master's escapades.
With the supplies and valuables ready there was only one thing left to prepare and it was the hardest. Crowley's diversions always had to be flawless as even the most pathetic sheriff had at least half a brain and failure wasn't an option. He marched into his abode and after scaring off several crows who had managed to get in through a hole in the roof he addressed his friends.
"Honourable dead," he started, "I'm afraid I must be leaving you lest I join your ranks."
"Dirge .... Dirge, fly from our lair, do not return for us," was the only response.
"Who amongst you will help me in my time of need?" he asked.
"Dirge, seek Jack Bryron, in death he will grant you life," was the answer of the dead.
Crowley had passed the grave before, and the name had always stuck out at him. It sounded like the stone-cutter hadn't been sure whether the name was Bryon or Byron and just made up a combination, but this was no time for such thoughts. He grabbed his shovel from Jericho and started digging like a man possessed, which he probably was. In minutes he had enough dirt dug up to pull the body from its coffin. Immediately he noticed the smell of alcohol and weeds, snake oil, the coffin reeked of it. Jack himself was dressed in his Sunday best complete with a moth eaten hat. The body was remarkably fresh, not a sign of decomposition, which was strange because the grave was there when Crowley had originally snuck in. He wasted no time and removed Jack's suit and replaced it with his own coat. He swapped their hats grudgingly, the bowler had been one of his favourites. As if on cue he spotted two horses charging in on the horizon, it was time.
Jack watched from the shadows as the sheriff and his deputy dismounted their horses and approached. The sheriff looked old, white hair falling out from under his hat, his face covered in lines and wrinkles, but the serious look on his face added a level of youth to his appearance. The deputy was his opposite, young, round faced, covered in sweat from the heat of the day. They had their guns drawn, ready for whatever was coming, or so they thought. They moved towards the shadowy figure leaning against the wall, simply standing, nothing more.
"Damien Westing," called the sheriff, his voice serious but with a slight tone of utter hatred, "Surrender peacefully and we'll grant you a trial, though I can't say it'll be fair."
"My name isn't Damien, it's Dirge, Dirge Crowley," replied Crowley, projecting his voice carefully, "And I sure as hell am not surrendering."
"Think this through boy, don't throw your life away over this," replied the sheriff.
"Yeah we's was already promised we could throw it away for ya," snickered the deputy, jiggling with every laugh.
An angry glance from his superior quickly shut him up. Without another word they raised their pistols, ready to do what had to be done. And for a moment, time seemed to stop. Fingers pressed back on triggers at the exact moment Crowley urged on Jericho and they exploded out from behind the ruined chapel. As two bullets lodged themselves in the body of Jack Bryron, soaking his new outfit in what may once have been blood, the Sheriff and his accomplice were knocked to the ground by a stampeding horse. They had cleared the cemetery before either lawmen had any idea what had just happened and with a powerful jump they were over the brick wall and disappearing into the distance. As Jericho made a final rear Crowley pulled out his gun and with a well aimed shot avenged his bowler cap, leaving a sheriff standing hatless in defeat before riding off into the sunset.