He walked into the saloon and headed straight to the bar. His throat was parched from a long day’s journey, his clothes were torn and covered in dust. No one noticed him as he strolled in, but he noticed everyone in the place. There were two whores standing on the second-floor balcony, gossiping about their past clients. Four cowboys were playing poker, he saw one of their hands as he passed by, 3 kings and a pair queens. A lone cowboy sat at a table on the other side of the saloon drinking a warm beer. The sheriff and mayor stood at the bar in casual conversation, while the bartender stood on the other side cleaning a mug with a dirty bar towel.
The stranger placed a coin on the bar, looked up from the bent brim of his brown cowboy hat and locked eyes with the bartender, “Whiskey.”
Without a word, the bartender placed a shot-glass in front of the stranger and filled it to the top and took the coin. The stranger placed the whiskey under his nose and took a deep breath in through his nostrils. He could already feel the burn in the back of his throat, anticipating the shot.
He flung the whiskey down his throat and placed another coin on the bar without looking or speaking to the bartender. The bartender poured the stranger another shot and took the coin. This time the stranger didn’t breathe in the aroma of the whiskey, he just shot it and let it burn all the way down his throat and into his belly, it felt good.
“I’m looking for a man named John Kelly. He was rumored to be staying here, while he prospected some mining camps in the area.”
The stranger noticed a slight shift in everyone in the saloon when he mentioned the name.
“Never heard of him,” the bartender replied.
The stranger looked up from his shot-glass sitting on the bar and stared the bartended dead in the eyes. “I’m going to ask you one more time…and only one more time…”
Before the bartender could answer, the sheriff turned towards the stranger and placed his hand on the stranger’s arm. “Excuse me son, but this here is my town and ain’t no one going to go around asking…”
The stranger interrupted him in mid-sentence.
“Sheriff, never lay your hands on me.”
He shifted his eyes from the bartender and glared at the sheriff. The sheriff could feel the stranger’s eyes bore a hole straight through to the sheriff’s soul, sending a shiver down his spine.
“Now, look here son…” the sheriff started to respond, but in a blink of an eye, the stranger broke free from the sheriff’s grip, unholstered his six-shooter and had it pinned to the sheriff’s forehead. “Now, look here sheriff, my business is with John Kelly, not you, or anyone else here.”
The stranger suddenly unholstered his other gun and pointed it towards the bartender, while keeping his eyes on the sheriff the entire time. “Don’t even think about it, barkeep.” The bartender slowly stood back up from reaching for the concealed shotgun he kept behind the bar.
“Now, I’m going to ask you all one more time, and only one more time…”