Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2146799-Jailbird
by ~MM~
Rated: ASR · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2146799
Western Theme flashfic for SCREAMS!!!
The iron bars of the old jailhouse were rusty but firm. They dug deep into the walls to form a window. A glass-less hole that did nothing to augment the searing heat by day, nor the empty desert chill by night. The rest of the cell was made up of the same cast iron bars. Heavy, soulless, immovable iron. The joints were welded solid and door locked tight.

The town was big enough for the sheriff to have his own office and not just a deputy's desk out front. That the sheriff and the deputy were one and the same simply indicated that Dead River wasn't quite big enough.

I will never under the mentality of these people; Dead River, No-Man's Waste, Little Sinn. Whilst evocative, the nomenclature is no less dramatic (and a damn sight more accurate) than Paradise, Sunshine, Haven, Heaven's Gate.

I rolled over on the bench and survived the jailhouse from behind those sturdy bars. It could be worse.

At least in this one I had my own bucket and the straw was reasonably clean. I guessed it got changed between inmates, but much else. There were a few bugs, but in all probability, they had come in with me. The sheriff had even draped up an old cloth as a modesty panel.

"Don't get many womenfolk in here," he'd remarked. "An' never had'n lady afore." The sheriff was a big man. Burly. Reliable. He had wide mouth buried in a square-cut ginger beard. Honest-looking - not that you can trust to looks.

He scratched his head. Like his straw, he was relatively clean; a few rat-tail tangles amongst his head and none in his beard. If he had come to the gaming house, I would have served him. In all senses of the word. Madame liked to keep the Law happy.

"Look'ee, we'll fix'um up a partition for your toilet." He put too many syllables in partition, parh-tis-ee-an, but I have gotten used to the accent and didn't laugh. And the cloth was a sweet gesture. He even draped on the outside of the bars so that I couldn't hang myself.

Not that I couldn't have yanked it through, but as I said, a sweet gesture.

"Ah guess you'll be a-here with me awhile. Leastways until they get in from Haven. You mighty upset some folks thataway, I heard."

That first night he had stayed up late talking to me. Trying to work me I assumed. I later revised that and decided I was simply more interesting than his office, which doubled as his bedroom.

The third night he pulled a dusty of chessboard down from the top of the filing cabinet. Blowing on it, he asked if I played. Tipping out the chips, it turned out he meant draughts. Checkers they call it out here. I nodded acquiescence and we ended up playing chess anyway.

"Not so many people playin' this in 'River. You learn up in Haven?"

I shrugged. Chess, draughts, poker, whist, gin, faro; I learnt them all at the gaming house. I learnt plenty of other things too, but the sheriff's a simple man and I have no reason to hurt his sensibility.

It will take them another day to reach me, the stagecoach takes two days to get to Haven and I know the sheriff has not got the manpower to send anyone as courier. Oh, they'll ride hard to get back here, once his message is in their hands. And then the game will be on. Madame will no doubt distract them for a few hours, but even she won't be able to stop them from coming after me. They won't even wait to watch me swing. They will try and do the deed themselves.

I doubt they'll even send an emissary. No, they will come themselves.

And I will be waiting for them. This quaint little prison cell with its quaint little lawman will be the perfect setting for my revenge. It's rather relaxing, laying back and listening to the cicadas, playing chess with my barrel-chested lawman. I might even let him live, after.

Prompt: Western
Word Count: 685
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