by Hugh Wesley
You usually know where you stand, even if it's hard to accept.
|The sun’s last rays were but memories when Roscoe shuffled into Haggardstown, but the lanterns in the windows of Sully’s Saloon called him home.
Riding the range was hard work for any man, and it only got harder with age. Having a tagalong made it more complicated — the companionship was a blessing, but one more back to watch added to the burden.
Might be time to hang ’em up soon, Roscoe thought. For now, though, it was time to get unthirsty.
Roscoe scrunched his nose, looked over at Buddy. Both of them smelled like something a vulture spat up and left in the desert two weeks ago. He hoped the rest of Sully’s customers wouldn’t notice.
Man and dog eased through the batwings, careful not to cause a ruckus.
They weren’t two steps into the place when Sully’s raspy voice crackled through the stale, smokefilled air. The barkeep didn’t even look up from the drink he was pouring.
“I’m happy to serve you anytime, Roscoe,” Sully said.
Roscoe and Buddy stopped in their tracks. The other men in the bar shuffled uncomfortably in their seats.
“But you know you can’t bring that in here,” Sully went on. “Not ’til you get him cleaned up.”
Roscoe hung his head and turned for the door. Buddy stood in place for a moment, then hurried to catch up with his companion.
Buddy patted Roscoe on the head.
“He’s right, boy,” Buddy said. “I smell real bad. You stay here and get some refreshin’, though. I’ll come back for you when I’m more fit company.”
Roscoe wagged his tail and licked the man’s hand, then turned back to the bar as Buddy shuffled back into the night.