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Rated: E · Short Story · Contest Entry · #1749609
A cowboy ignores the marshal's warning.
WC: 298

John Hardy leaned on the bar in the Alamo saloon, wrapped his trail weathered hands around a cold mug and washed Kansas dust down his throat. Behind him, rambunctious saloon patrons indulged themselves in games of chance, while a player piano pounded out a mechanical version of Clementine.

As the piano played its last note, the raucous coarse voices and ribald laughter suddenly lowered to a murmur when Marshall Tom “Bear River” Smith ambled into the dusky saloon.

Smith crossed the room with effortless strides and stood next to Hardy. Both men stiffened, their gun hands flexed and their unwavering gaze fixed upon the back-bar’s mirror never faltered.

“Marshal,” Hardy said, and nodded.

Smith tipped his hat. “Hardy.”

Hardy drained his mug.

“I’ve heard a rumor, Hardy,” Smith said.

“And what’s that, Marshal?”

“You’re riding out to the Spencer ranch at sundown.”

“I’ve been invited,” Hardy answered.

“You’re walking into a trap.” Smith relaxed and placed one foot on a brass rail. “As Abilene's lawman, it’s my duty to warn you, what you do is your business.”

“You’ve done your duty, Marshal, but it’s too late to back down now.”

Hardy knocked on Widow Spencer’s door.

Dressed in her finest calico, hair curling around her shoulders and with a huge welcoming smile on her face, Widow Spencer opened the door. The smells of fried chicken and baked apple pie wafting in the air and the image of the widow woman framed in the doorway, cast an immediate spell upon John.

After supper and his third piece of pie, John sat with the widow on the front porch.

“Have you ever considered settling down and getting married, John?” the widow asked.

Then John remembered the marshal’s warning. “You’re walking into a trap.” It was too late, the trap had sprung.
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