Experiment #301

Two-Bit Town Part 3

That evening Gideon rode down Main Street and out of town on his Morse. He missed his Falsparian anti-grav bikes, but he’d lost both in the scuffle the former sheriff had referenced. And getting a new one from the central colonies would take more credits than he could legally get his hands on. Thus, he was stuck with the loaner Morse.

After nightfall, he returned to town with his Morse on silent. He stashed his Morse in a back alley and took up a position on the roof across from the bank. He pulled out his binoculars and took in an unfolding scene of nothing.

Hour of emptiness followed hour of emptiness, until he heard something. It turned out truly to be the wind. And so, hour of emptiness still followed hour of emptiness.

As dawn poured light onto the town, Gideon’s back ached and his legs were stiff. He shook himself and stood up, he gathered his gear and headed toward the door that led to the building’s stairwell.

“Papatachki poostah boof!” Gideon heard shouted from the street below. He walked back to the edge and looked over. The new sheriff seemed to preside over a gun duel. One featuring Rille Harbinger, and about a dozen yards from her, the former Sheriff Rodgers.

“He says state the grievance,” the former sheriff said.

“Who taught you Pookatawnktawnk ya vestigial spoozer? You think I need a translator?” Rille shouted.

“You could use help communicating in something other than insults.”

“Yeah, except that’s the language you taught me.”

The new sheriff jumped in, “Papatachki polustah boof?”

“My grievance is that he’s a liar, cheat, fool, dullard, and the worst husband any woman ever had.”

“And she’s a flirting menace, who can’t seem to stay on the right side of the law and whose cooking is rather terrible.”

“Maybe if you didn’t gamble away every filthy credit you got your hands on I wouldn’t need to pay the bills with ‘alternative’ jobs.”

“Papastahki pon poobaloos.”

Rille and Rodgers both turned away from each other and took a prescribed number of steps.

The crowd cheered.

“Don’t do this, Pischtiko,” she said addressing Rodgers. “You know how this will end. There’s only one way and you won’t make it.”

“We’ll see.  We’ll see,” he said.

Rille and Rodgers raised their weapons toward each other as the new Sheriff raised his hands.

“Pacolio pandanawamma.”

Rille and Rodgers both nodded.

“Pandanawummu.”

Gideon pulled his rifle out of his gear.

“Pandanaweemmee.”

Gideon brought the rifle to his shoulder and took aim.

“Pandanawamm-”

Three guns went off.

Gideon’s shot knocked the weapon out of Rille’s hand.

Rille’s shot went harmlessly wide.

Rodgers’s shot found it’s mark: Rille’s heart.

The force of the blasts spun Rille around and dropped her face down on the ground.

“No!” screamed Rodgers.

The Sheriff shot a look up at Gideon. He babbled to his deputies and pointed up at Gideon.

As Gideon packed his rifle away, the deputies reached the roof. They took him into custody (only because he let them) and brought him down to the street. They shoved him to his knees before the angry babbling of the new Sheriff.

The Sheriff enlisted the sorrowful Rodgers as translator.

“You are under arrest for slaying of Rille Harbinger Rodgers.”

“She ain’t dead,” Gideon said.

“Do you deny shooting her?”

“I shot the weapon out of her hand so she wouldn’t kill this fool.”

“What right have you to interfere?”

“I’d say as a man I have every right to prevent another man’s death if I can. And, well, since the Federal Postal Inspectors made me acting head of law enforcement for the colony, I guess I’ve got that right too.”

“Words mean nothing.”

“True,” Gideon said. He fished in his pockets and pulled out some crumpled papers. “Here’s the official papers.”

“What about Rille?”

“Like I said she ain’t dead.” He turned towards Rille and shouted. “Come on, Rille, It’s safe.”

The townspeople held their breath. Rille’s arm twitched and then her leg and then as if life had been poured back into her, she raised her face off the ground and stood up.

A burn mark adorned her shoulder, but the dark, red-tinged skin underneath showed no marring.

Rodgers staggered back in disbelief.

“It’s true. The newcomer knocked the pistol from my hand. Lawful or not, I’m glad he prevented your death, Buck.”

“But you were hit.”

“The force of his shot spun me so that your blast only grazed the clothes on my shoulder. By a modern miracle I’m unscathed.” She looked down at Gideon and back up at Rodgers. “I think it’s time we put all this behind us.” She turned and walked back to the store. Rodgers covered his face with his hands and ran for the saloon. The townspeople dispersed.

“Patookitookie schwahbah,” the new Sheriff said as he removed Gideon’s restraints.

Gideon nodded to him, collected his gear and wandered back to the room he’d rented above the saloon.

To Be Continued…

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