Daniel took a sip of his drink, savouring the way it warmed his throat. Glancing around The Grand Hotel, he couldn’t help but still be surprised by it’s vibrancy. A cacophony of raucous laughter, banter and of course, the expertly played piano in the far corner. He had been in Cyotta Falls for less than a day yet he already knew that it was so much different than he had anticipated. Until the point the stagecoach had come in, he had fancied that as new deputy Sheriff, he might be admired, respected – revered even, but he was sorely disappointed. “Where was the respect that was supposed to come with the badge?” he wondered, taking another glug of his drink.
The moment he placed his glass on the well polished bar, Jake, the bartender called “Another Dept’y?”
“Sure.” he pushed his glass over, shifting uncomfortably in his seat as Jake’s gaze never left his, as he poured.
Clearing his throat, Daniel gestured around the saloon, at the misplaced doilies on the tables and the freshly painted doors. “Nice place you got here.”
Jake shrugged. “Do what we can.”
“It’s busy.” For such a lowly populated town, it seemed that every single one of them was in this very bar.
Jake scoffed. “This is tame. You want to stick around ’til later on. ‘Specially with that freak show in town. You gotta go out and see that snake lady she’s -”
As if on cue, the saloon doors slammed open, a small yet formidable looking woman standing there, hands on hips.
A meticulously dressed woman to the side, snorted in an unladylike manner. “Not another step. Your kind aren’t welcome in decent establishments.”
Daniel surveyed the woman with her dark complexion and wild eyes. “Was she part of the travelling freak show?” He wondered, “ What skill or act would she have?”
Ignoring the covertly suspicious glances from the people in the bar, the woman scanned the interior with purpose. She suddenly spun on her heel and slammed out of the saloon as abruptly as she had entered.
“Now then, Mrs Lowery. I thought the Mayors wife was ‘sposed to show the proper Christian manners and be all accepting of all manner of folk.” Jake’s eyes twinkled as he winked at Daniel.
Mrs Lowery turned her head in an unnatural, dramatic gesture, a strange noise emanating from her throat.
Daniel’s eyes narrowed. There was still something about Charlotte Lowery that didn’t sit right with him. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but there was something there that wasn’t all it seemed.
His curiosity was piqued further when only moments later, Mrs Lowery stood and looked around before scuttling through the door.
Instinct told Daniel to follow her, but he thought better of it. If he was ever to earn the respect of the locals he would have to cool it a little. Rushing off after every little hunch would just make him a laughing stock. No, he would sit back a while and observe. Try and be more subtle in his approach. He took another swig of his drink.
True to Jake’s word, as the liquor flowed, it got louder, the banter growing with every sip.
The two men who had been quietly playing cards at the start of the evening, appeared to be on the verge of a full-blown riot. A scruffy looking man who was propping up the bar was starting to sway.
Daniel finished his drink in one swallow. It was time to call it a night.
“Another drink Dept’y?” Jake had the bottle ready in his hand.
Daniel shook his head, “No thanks.”
One of the men looked up from his argument.
“What are ya? A girl? Don’t ya drink in that big ol’ city of yours?”
Both men roared with laughter.
Daniel tried his best to ignore the jibes, making his way to the door.
“G’night dept’y.” Daisy smiled as he passed. Daniel forced his eyes from her ample chest, focusing instead on her coy smile which was just as stirring.
“G’night.” Daniel dipped his head, escaping through the doors.
Pulling his jacket close to protect him from the evening chill, he quickened his pace. It had been a long day. As he neared the Hoover’s general store he heard voices. Stepping closer, he saw the mystery woman from the saloon.
“That ees it! It ‘ees over. No more !” The accent was foreign to Daniel, but he knew all too well what the tone meant. Whoever was lurking in the shadows and whatever they said had enraged the woman. Despite her small stature, she was terrifying. Daniel pitied anyone who took her on in a fight.
Edging closer, Daniel was desperate to get a glimpse of the hidden stranger.
Something crunched underfoot, causing the woman to spin around, her eyes wild and filled with anger. She almost growled as she glared at the noise, seeking the offender.
“If looks could kill.” Daniel mused as he watched her scurry and disappear around the corner. Venturing down the alley, he was dismayed to see that it was empty.
Who had she been arguing with? What could have made her so angry? More importantly, who was this mysterious woman?
“Dang it” He swore . “How am I supposed to get my job done and do my family justice if everyone is hiding something?”
Daniel’s head filled with unanswered questions; it seemed everyone in Cyotta Falls had a secret.
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