In BURNT on March 18, 2010 at 10:11 pm


The steady stream of settlers has meant some hasty additions to Rubio City.   A cemetery at one edge of town and a birthing tent at the other.

Waring has his hands deep in the Jennings woman when Cooper makes his drunken entrance.

“Holy shit!  Stafford wasn’t pulling my leg at all!  It’s Jeff Waring in the flesh.”

He offers a bottle.  Waring shows him his bloody hands.

“Go on and finish her up and I’ll buy ya a drink across the street.  The whole gang is over there – Stafford, Nichols and Dakota.  That’s what Martin’s going by these days.”

“Not the Dakota Kid?”

Cooper laughs his familiar open-mouthed laugh.  Waring peers into it, seeing every drunken night with this gang, every filthy saloon, every imagined offense, every unwarranted brawl and knife-fight.  He tastes the liquor, smells the sawdust, feels the horror of waking to a snoring whore and an aching pecker.

Sheriff Waring! Who would have thought it?!”

He pictures a tree with four nooses.  Better yet, he sees a sturdy gallows that can handle four.  He can imagine just how he’ll build it.  The design appears in his mind, fully conceived.

With a wail, the child enters this rotten world.  It’s a boy.

The Story So Far

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