Quite a bit of foreshadowing in this one. A man is out for an adventure.
|It was a hot, hot day in Phoenix, Arizona. Bill Troe strode down the tumbleweed-line streets as he approached the local Sheriff's office. It was a long shot, but it just might work. The people of Phoenix stared him up and down as he strode along, just ambling along. Nothing to see here. He couldn't see too far, because of all the sand, but what he did see didn't look like good news. Where was the welcoming committee? Would he have to shake his own hand? Pour his own whiskey? Only time would tell.
Right next to the Sheriff's office was the local tavern. Camaraderie it was called. Seediest joint of all the seediest joints. No wonder it was placed right next to the police station. So-un the police wouldn't have to trip over themselves to get to their horses. The breeze wast light and wistful, in this muggy desert, as Bill went into Camaraderie. The clanking of glasses and the smell of smoke were his immediate sensations as the folding doors let out a yawn that seemed a preview.
Bill strode up to the bar, seeing the beautiful ladies, the hard fellas. No one was harder than him, he was sure of it. Just in case, Bill flashed his six-shooter. Just in case there were anybody in here crazy enough to be crazy enough. Heh. It wasn't a sure bet, but Bill thought that maybe he might see some action today, one way or the other. But, not right next to the police station.
“What's your name, friend?” said the barkeep, a young, burly man with a full mustache. Cleanshaven.
“I'll take a piece of the sky...in a glass,” said Bill.
“Piece of the sky in a glass?” said the barkeep. “You must be one of those flyboys. Crazy people.”
“Hey,” said Bill. “If vultures can do it, and you know how stupid vultures are, I can do it too. Just give me some time. Have faith. Pretty soon, on of these days, we're gonna be building houses, mansions, up in the sky. Heaven will be open for business. There won't be no...six-shooters. No bandits. Just...”
Just then, the Sheriff's deputy. Tammerlane, walked up through those double-doors. It was a sight to behold.
“These young kids, today,” said Bill, under his breath, as he waited for his drink.
Deputy Tammerlane looked officious as he stood there, looking the place up and down, trying to get a bead on what was happening. It didn't take him long to spot Bill out of the corner of his eye-of course, he pretended not to see him, but still strode up to the bar, both hands on his belt. Amblin' on.
Just then, Bill's drink had arrived. He made for a drink, but then the deputy had arrived.
“Hot day,” said Tammerlane.
“My swimming pool is hotter,” said Bill.
“Very funny,” said Tammerlane. “What are you doing in Phoenix?”
“What do you mean?” said Bill, holding his drink up in the air as if it were squirting out on the floor. “Can't a man drink? Have his piece of the sky without the law coming up behind him? Frightening him?”
“You don't seem frightened,” said Tammerlane, having just received his daily complementary drink.
“What do you think I'd be doing here if I weren't trying to drink?” said Bill.
“Joke's over, buddy,” said Tammerlane. “Fessup or fessout!”
“Okay, okay,” said Bill. “I'm here to make a deal.”
“A deal?” said Tammerlane. “What kind of deal, exactly, were you looking to make? And with whom?”
“I have a deal with the Sheriff to have a look at a problem out in the capital,” said Bill.
“The capital?” said Tammerlane. “You mean Troe's deal? In Flagstaff?”
“Yes, I'm Bill Troe, at your service,” said Bill. “And I would appreciate this drink, if I could.”
“No rush, Bill,” said Tammerlane. “Just...don't want any trouble in these here parts, if only I could help it, that is. You just finish up your drink and then hurry on over. We'll get you set up right and flight. Anything you need.”
Bill simply nodded and continued drinking. He kept his composure and didn't let the let the law, or anybody else, for that matter, take him off his square. No one else had the guts, or the badges to come his way, especially after they heard that he had a deal with the Sheriff going on. Bill stood there, not making any sudden movements, for if a man in these parts knew anything, it was people had itchy trigger fingers in this world.
After a few more swigs, Bill gave up his drink and headed next door.
“Alright, it's time to make my appointment with the big man upstairs,” said Bill as he left the bar and went on out to find his quarry.
The midday sun was barreling down, but no one knew the better of it for all the sand. The sand. The sand of eternal lands. Forever the brand of eternal brands. Bill stepped up, to the front door of the Sheriff's office. He made sure to knock, jussin' case they were shootin' in there or something. Once he saw the coast was clear, he mosied on in.
“Welcome, mister Troe,” said a burly older gentleman with a uniform and no hat.
“I'm here for Troe's deal,” said Bill, holding his hat in front of his stomach.
“You are Bill Troe?” said Sheriff Petersburgh. “What can I do for you?”
“You say there's bandits, out there in Flagstaff,” said Bill Troe.
“...Whole bunch of them,” said Sheriff Petersbugh. “We hear near sixty. Armed. Near-death killers, all of them. Not to be trifled with.”
“And you've heard about me,” said Billl.
“Worst killer in the West,” said Sheriff Petersburgh. “Worst 'legal' killer, I should say.”
All of a sudden, something happened to Bill's vision. He could see, but his eyes seemed to be vibrating. He rubbed his eyes, not knowing the extent of the damage.