"They were made of leather, but not tight and binding like a new glove, but like it was broken in already, making it easier for him to move his fingers."
We departed from the town and started for Greeneville to search for Roger Samson. After a few hours of riding, we finally reached the small town. The sun had been up for a while, and the dusty streets of the town were busy and filled with commotion. We went through the streets, looking to see if Samson was by chance in town. Not seeing the wanted face, I decided to ask one of the townspeople and told Frank to follow me. We stopped at a saloon, tied our horses to a sturdy looking fence, and walked inside. It was dark indoors, the windows stained and caked with dust, only allowing a few rays of the morning light, and virtually no customers were inside with the exception of those who seemed to be passed out on a table or floor from a bender on the previous night. Frank and I maneuvered through the tables, stepping over broken pieces of glass and wood. The saloon itself wasn’t very well kept, with broken furniture, floors that didn’t appear to be clean at all, not to mention the patrons, and bottles scattered everywhere, some broken and some whole. Finally, we reached the bar. An old man, no less than seventy years old stood behind it, holding a cloudy glass and cleaning it with a dirty rag. It didn’t seemed to be helping the glass at all, but he still mindlessly rubbed it back and forth in a stupor. We sat down at the bar, the stools creaking under our weight, and he snapped out of his pensive thoughts, and flashed a smile. It wasn’t a fake smile, like those to manipulate customers, but a genuine one. It wasn’t very pretty, and it was clear he wasn’t orally hygienic, but a kind gesture nonetheless. In his rough voice, he asked,
“What can I do for you gentlemen?” I looked to Frank, eyeing for him to order first. He said,
“A cognac, please.” The bartender nodded, and said,
“And you, sir?” directing the question towards me. I said,
“I’ll have the same.” The man put down the rag and glass and turned around to retrieve a bottle from the collection behind him. As unorthodox as it was to have a glass of hard-alcohol so early in the morning, the bartender didn’t seem to notice, just lacked the ability to care, or lived by the standards of “business was business,” because he served us without a word. Frank leaned over to me, and whispered,
“Can I have the handbill?” I nodded, and took the wanted handbill out of my pocket. He took it and started to fold it, hiding it under the table. He folded back the words saying, “Wanted” and the description underneath, so only the picture of his was shown. Just as he finished, the bartender placed the glasses in front of us. Frank smiled sweetly and thanked him, then took the handbill out from under the bar and showed the man the picture.
“Do you know this man? I believe his name is Roger.” The man smiled, his face lighting up with recognition.
“Ahh, yes! That’s Roger Williams. Nice man, he is. Yes, very polite…” The man mumbled on, smiling to himself. Obviously, our criminal had changed his name to avoid the law, unsuccessfully, of course.
“Can you tell us where he lives, then?”
“Oh, sure, sure, sure…” he said, mumbling to himself again. We waited until he said, “He lives just out of town here. If you keep goin’ down this road, you’ll see a house. The wife’s probably home, so she’ll answer to you.”
“Would you mind telling us what he does for a living?”
“He owns this place! He should be coming in soon, though. I think it was eleven, he said.”
“Thank you, sir,” I said, taking my drink.
“It’s my pleasure, but may I ask, why do you need Williams?” I glanced at Frank, and quickly said,
“A little tax complications is all.” Frank downed his drink pretty quickly and I did the same. From my pocket, I took out several coins and placed them on the counter. “Keep the change,” I said, and got up from the creaky chair. Frank followed me, and the old bartender called,
“You have a nice day now, gentlemen.” I tipped my hat gratefully before leaving the saloon. Frank and I mounted our horses again, and I said,
“We’ve got to hurry if we want to catch him before he gets to work. We’d probably rather do this in a more secluded place.” Frank agreed, and we rode down the street to find a house just at the end, like the old man had said. It was a small house but not rundown, and a small stream of smoke came wafting from the chimney on the roof. There was a small fence surrounding the place with a few trees and a tiny garden filled with quaint little flowers. I assumed that the wife had a taste for gardening. Frank and I dismounted and readied our guns, keeping a pocket of ammunition just in case. Frank had a pair of gloves on, ones that he had bought at town when they caught his eye. They were made of leather, but not tight and binding like a new glove, but like it was broken in already, making it easier for him to move his fingers. He cracked his knuckles, and checked the cylinder of his gun. I marveled at how professionally he acted, like he had been doing this for years. I was sure that if we were compared in a stranger’s eyes, it would surely seem like he was superior to me.
“Ready?” I asked.
“Ready.” I checked my vest pocket to see if the papers were in there. To legally kill this man, judge’s papers, authorizing the execution of the criminal were needed for proof. Wanted bills helped in some cases, too.
“Let’s go.” I opened the gate of the fence and walked through, Frank at my heels. Thrice, I knocked on the door. From inside, came a muffled voice of a woman,
“Coming!” In a few seconds, the door opened, letting out a sudden, warming smell of roasting meat. A woman stood, young and fragile, holding a small girl of no more than 3 years old in her arms. The woman was blond and thin, very pretty, and her movements were fluent and graceful. “Can I help you?” she asked sweetly. I detected a little nervousness in her voice.
“Yes, is Roger Williams here?” I assumed she was his wife. She nodded, and said,
“Is he in trouble?”
“No, ma’am, there’s just a small issue with taxes,” I said, using the excuse I had used earlier.
“Oh, well in that case, come in, he’s just getting ready for work.”
“Thank you ma’am,” said, took my hat off, and stepped inside, Frank doing the same. It was a small house with a small living room, the kitchen only separated from it by a single wall.
“Can I get you anything?” Frank and I both declined, and Frank asked,referring to the little girl,
“What’s her name?” The woman smiled, and looked down at the small child she held in her arms.
“This is Abigail Williams,” she cooed, touching the girl’s nose playfully. “Say hi!” The little girl blushed and quickly shoved her head into her mother’s arms. Frank chuckled, but I stayed serious. This intimacy and personal contact with the wife was too nerve wrecking for me. I had always been a victim to empathy, and the fact that I was about put a bullet in this kind woman’s husband was overwhelming.
“Rog, some guests are here for you!” she called into another room.
“I’m comin’, I’m comin’” a deep voice said. Finally, a tall, lanky man came shuffling in, tucking his shirt into his pants, and peered at us skeptically. Though he had a mustache now, it was clear that this was our target. I recognized his face.
“Gentlemen,” he greeted. I nodded in response, and started by saying,
“Mr. Williams, I apologize, we’ve come in regards to some tax complications. If you don’t mind, we’d like to take this outside.” Roger eyed us over, and I could tell he was suspicious.
“It’s only taxes, I don’t see why we can’t do it in here,” he said and put his hands on his hips. Frank shrugged, and said,
“Suit yourself,” pulled out his gun, cocked it, and shot. The bullet landed precisely in the center of the man’s forehead. I was just as surprised as his wife was. Usually, I took great caution and kept the drama on the low side, but Frank just stood and shot with no regards to anyone else. The woman screamed, and fell to her knees, releasing the small child to stumble to the floor, confused and frightened by the loud noises. The woman crawled to the side of her dead husband, unintelligibly shrieking. She held him by both shoulders, gripping them, her arms shaking. Frank walked over, his boots slamming against the wood, past the little girl who looked up at him, scared, but not crying. She was still innocent enough to not understand the concept of life and death.
“Step away from the body,” he said calmly. I watched all this from the same place I had been standing from when we were invited inside. She didn’t move. “Step away please, ma’am.” She stopped screaming, but this time, turned her head to face Frank. Tears were flowing down her face and I had to look away. I was too attached to human emotion. Seeing the pain on their face was harder for me than pulling a trigger on a person. Frank, on the other hand, seemed to be made for this. It was like he had no emotion and just carried out what he needed to in the quickest way possible.
“Why?” the woman sobbed. It wasn’t a cry, but was barely audible, followed by a frenzy of hiccupping sobs.
“Step away from him,” Frank said again, gritting his teeth. She was getting in his way and he clearly wasn’t happy with her. She stayed in her position and cried again,
“Why?” Now, Frank was drained of all his patience. He raised his gun again and angrily pushed his thumb down on the hammer, aiming at her head. She did not flinch.
“Move, or you'll end up like your murdering husband!” I ran over to Frank, and pushed his arm away.
“Whoa, Frank.” I wrestled the gun out of his hand, and put the hammer back into place. “Sit there,” I said, pointing to a chair. His eyes were chaotic now, filled with rage and loathing, frankly, scaring me, and I looked away. He obediently sat on a chair on the other side of the room. I bend over the criminal’s body and the woman who was still crouched beside him.
“Why?” she asked again, not looking up from her husband’s still, blank face.
“Miss, we’re bounty hunters. Your husband here, Roger Samson, or Roger Williams as you knew him, was accused of murder, and we were sent by the court to capture him. If you’d like, I have the judge’s papers to show you.” I took out a folded paper, and handed them to her. She looked up at me, her eyes darting to my face to the papers. I tried to keep my expression as soft and sympathetic as possible, and she took the papers leaving several fingerprints of blood on them from nursing her husband’s bloody head. She skimmed over them and looked back at me. I said, “I’m quite aware that these papers do nothing to help your situation, and if it’s any consolation, we didn’t mean for it to be this barbaric. My partner here, well, it’s his first time, and I do think I need to teach him a few lessons on empathy.” I heard an annoyed grunt from across the room. The woman handed back the papers and nodded. “Again, I’m sorry, but it was the court’s orders. Good luck to you.” I stood up and put the hat I was gripping in my hand the whole time on my head. I pointed my finger at Frank, who was still sitting in the chair, exasperated, and flicked it upwards, motioning for him to stand up. He did so and I told him to take the body. I stood outside to ready the horses, and waited for Frank to come out with the body. From inside, I heard the woman scream, and I rushed to check on the situation.
“What’s going on?” I asked accusingly, slamming the door open.
“Nothing!” Frank said. He was offended, and was in the process of dragging the body across the floor. The woman was clinging to her dead husband, and on the other side of the room, her small child wept softly, terrified with what was going on.
“Ma’am, I’m sorry, but we’re going to have to take him. Say goodbye now.” I walked over to her and tore her hands off the body so she was crouched on the ground, her hands bloodied with streaks of it on her face as well. Quickly, Frank pulled the body out and to the horses. He let it drop on the ground, and I strode towards him angrily.
“What the hell was that?” I said, seething.
“What, I was just doing the job,” he said mockingly.
“Look, it’s a delicate thing, death, especially when there’s a wife and child is standing right there!” I started my accusation quietly, but ended in an angry shout.
“He said he wanted to do it inside.”
“Well he very well didn’t know what was going to happen, did he?!”
“Look, what’s done is done. It’s all good and now we get a thousand dollars.”
“I don’t care about money right now. You just killed a man in front of his wife and child. I don’t care what he did, you don’t have to make his family suffer to.”
“He was probably a shit husband…” He muttered. I yelled in frustration, and said,
“Look, I need to teach you a few things if you’re going to be my partner. It’s not all about you. Be empathetic!”
“I don’t know the meaning of the word,” he said contemptuously. I groaned, and tried to fling the body on our spare horse. Unsuccessful, I said,
“A little help?” He grudgingly walked over and helped me hoist the body up. Finally, we were ready to return back to be rewarded. Once we got back on our horses, I said,
“Look, Frank, I’m sorry for yelling. I just think it can be a little easier and efficient if you do it calmly.” He didn’t say anything for a while, but then looked back at me. The fierce look he had in his eyes was gone and replaced with the soft and more emotionally susceptible ones he had when I first met him.
“I’m sorry, Gerard… It’s my first time. I really think I do need to change some things.” I was surprised at his sudden agreeing with my opinions, and nodded in approval. I kicked the side of my horse and snapped the reins to start galloping back to Sheriff Toro’s town, Frank by my side.
Good news is that I'm not busy anymore! 10 hours of midterm exams are over! phew! I don't really have much to say about this chapter. I hope you enjoyed it!
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