by Hugh Wesley
They're not always as unknown as they seem.
|“Well, what do you think of our little town so far, stranger?”
Sheriff Chester Stanton sidled up to the bar at Lanny’s Tavern and held up a sawed-off index finger to the barkeep.
The dusty, scraggly old man sitting next to him didn’t turn toward Stanton but raised his eyes to the wall behind Lanny.
“Well, it’s fine, I suppose.” He scratched his right cheek, working his fingers through a thick gray beard. “I have to say, though, I can’t believe what I just saw.”
He squinted into the gloom.
“That so?” Stanton asked as Lanny slid a whisky shot his direction. “What’s got your disbelief all hackled up?”
The drifter sipped his drink. “Is that really a wanted poster for Toby Krill?”
The sheriff shuffled his feet and cast his eyes on the wall behind the bar. “It is.”
The old man grunted. “From what I hear, that man ain’t been seen in twenty years. You really still looking for him?”
“Yep. ‘Least he’s still on the state’s list. Last seen just outside town.”
“Story goes, he got into a knife fight with the local sheriff at the time, cut off his finger, but not before the lawman slashed the rascal’s face real good.”
The stranger grunted again. Fingered the scar on his cheek.
“Had a partner, too, I hear.” Stanton said. “That one was a real scoundrel. Tried to kidnap the sheriff’s daughter.”
“You don’t say.”
“I do. But Krill wasn’t having any of it. He left the sheriff to bleed there in the dirt, but he put a bullet in his partner’s forehead and turned the girl loose.”
“So the story goes?”
“That’s right. So the story goes.” Stanton drained his whisky and stood from the stool. “You take care now … stranger.”