Annie Evett introduces readers to Daniel – the main character of the series as he steps off the stagecoach and introduces himself to the towns folk. This is set a few days before the main story in Dust and Death begins.
Newly painted saloon doors yawned open to dramatically frame the figure skulking at the bar entrance. He theatrically wiped sweat from his eyes and pushed a fashionably long fringe from eyes before allowing the doors to swing close.
Alert eyes shifted to regard the stranger as an old cowboy bit down hard on the toothpick he’d been gnawing. He snorted softly though one nostril, anticipating the antics about to happen as the townfolk introduced themselves to their new Deputy. Daniel stood resplendent in his brand new hat and stiff jacket, crumpled only by the lengthy coach ride he had to endure to reach his post. Gleaming shoes peeped out from his perfectly tailored trousers; a mighty feat in this dustbowl of a township.
Daniels eyes squinted adjusting to the dim interior as he strode over to the polished wooden bar. Daisy continued to stack glasses but turned with a practiced wide smile at the perfect moment to welcome him.
“Afternoon stranger, what can I fix you?”
Daniel hurriedly took off his hat and cleared his throat. “Ma’am,” he flushed as he tore his eyes away from her exposed tanned chest.
One of the card players at the nearest table slapped his hand on its surface and rocked on his seat. “I just loves it when a new face comes in and sees you Miss Daisy.” His fellow gamblers chuckled holding their grimy hands closer to their chests as they suspiciously checked one anothers hands. “ We ain’t as backward as you city folk may think. Women in these parts can do almost anything. An’ we let ‘em”
A thin voice ventured from the back. “Your missus ‘ud skin yer if you said anything different Bill.”
His table erupted in laughter amidst his protests and threats to shut up and get back to the game.
Daniel clutched his hat and attempted to regain his composure. The shock of seeing a female behind a public bar had blown all his confidence. “Beggin your pardon ma’am, you just took me by surprise. I’m looking for someone.”
“Seems we all are at one point or another.” Daisy picked up another glass and delicately placed it behind the bar.
The piano player, obviously a trained musician, subtlely changed his tune to a classical piece. The waft of heady perfume assaulted Daniel before his eyes joined the rest of the bars as they watched a profusion of lace and purple satin stretched over a generously proportioned figure sweep down the stairs. Although the gown design was meant to be subdued, it did nothing to hide the curvaceous figure as she floated past the bar. Daisy stiffened and stood a little taller as the woman haughtily ignored her all the way out the door. One of the men held their roughened hands out over the bar to Daisy. “Ignore her, Miss Daisy. As if she thinks she’s better ‘n you.”
Daisy slapped his hand away. “What you mean is that we are both…”
A loud slap resounded as cards were thrown down on the table in disgust. “Dang it, Amos. Wheres your mind today? That the third time you’ve lost. Ain’t sporting nor fun when you’re like this. Git drunk or git out.”
A man with a heavily lined face with sallow skin and sad eyes stood and gathered his hat. “Sorry Bill. Got a lot on me mind. Just put what I owe yer in your book and I’ll square up as always on Friday. I’ve got me boy out lookin’ for a mob of heifers went missin’ a day ago. Best see how he is goin’.”
He pushed his chair in. “Danmed women. Flighty unpredictable little bints, always turning on yer. Might see you later if I can sort out my female problem, Bill.”
He tipped his hat to Daisy, “Give my regards to Jake.”
As he left, the thin voice from the back called out. “Where is Jake, Miss Daisy?”
Daisy flushed slightly and rubbed a tiny spot on the bar. “He’s back at that freak show this afternoon.”
Bills chair rocked back precariously. “Not with that snake lady again?” The bar erupted with sniggers.
Daniel fiddled with the brim of his hat. “Um, Ma”am? This seems a decent hotel and all.” She narrowed her eyes “That it is, now ya going to stand there gawking or will you have a drink? We have some new cordials Jakes just got in from the city. Real popular with the Reverend and the Mayors Wife.”
“Like that’s an advertisement!” Hoots and laughter echoed about the bar again.
Daniel wondered if the stage coach had left yet. Although the bar held all the authentic markings his Dime Western had outlined, its occupants appeared better suited to the freak show someone had alluded to earlier on.
“With that sort of recommendation, how could I refuse?” Daniel pulled up a stool and watched Daisy mix a drink. The tense atmosphere began to ease as eyes grew bored from watching him.
The cowboy settled down beside him. “You might guess not much happens round here.” The cowboys windchapped lips barely parted as he spoke, the toothpick twiddling up and down with each syllable. “ Fact is, a new deputy who is looking to take over from the old sheriff is a beg deal. Creates alot of interest. Folks been waiting for months to clap eyes on you.”
Daniel gulped his drink and stared at the cowboy. “How do you know I’m the new deputy and not one of the other men who came in on the coach?”
The toothpick stopped. “ A new hat and strides might give it away, but its your shiny boots that did it. You must have stood outside for ten minutes rubbing them before you came through the door all dramatic. If theres one thing you’ll learn son, being a Deputy or a Sheriff for that matter, has got nothing to do with how shiny your boots are. It ain’t like that Dime Western you got hidden in your jacket neither. Folks here live and die natural lie. We don’t have gun fights in the main street, have murders happening every day nor outlaws making their home in our town. Its quiet, peaceful and very normal here.”
Daniels face dropped and he stared into his empty glass.
“I’ll buy yer a real drink now.” He raised an eyebrow at Daisy who settled a bottle and two glasses in front of them.
Daniel shook his head. “Thank you no. I’ve got to meet someone. The Sheriff.”
Sheriff Jenkins held his hand out. “You’ve met him. Now sit down and welcome to Cyotta Falls.”
Annie is a professional cat herder, coffee addict and insomniac. She writes what the voices in her head tell her.. Sometimes its not too bad. Click here for her full profile
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