An Ode to the Dearly Departed I

A dirty pair of boots shambles into town, just past the opening gates. Spurs clink dully against themselves. It’s bright morning in this small western town, the sun is just above the horizon, the heat of the day can already be felt. A tumbleweed rolls by. The mayor is the first to see this tired traveler. He begins to approach this mysterious man, when his better judgement kicks in. He sees the holster at his side, and remembers Sheriff Thron’s warnings: don’t mess with strangers coming into town. A few of the old timers notice him as well, as do a few of the townsfolk, out for an afternoon stroll. Who is he? What does he want? Those thoughts pass through their minds, there’s not another town for miles. Then, the man collapses. The minster’s wife, Gloria Astaire breaks free of her conversation with the other townswives, and rushes to his aid.

“He must be dehydrated, wandering through the desert for days!” George Rumpert, a local drunk outside the Barber’s waiting for his haircut comes to crowd this newcomer.
“Lucky we had our annual celebrations last night, he probably done heard or saw our celebrations fer miles around!” Another of the townsfolk brings water, Ma Perkins, an old maid who was one of the young beauties who started this town comes with a cup of water.
“Oh, he looks a terrible fright!” She holds his head, and feeds the water into his mouth. “Come now, let’s get you to the clinic for a rest.”
“Woah there, not so fast,” interjects the sheriff from horseback, having heard of the commotion from the gunsmith’s apprentice, also the town messenger. A boy quick on his feet. “he could very well be an outlaw on the lam.”
“Well he still needs our help,” says Gloria adamantly.
“That may be so, but he might be dangerous, we’ll put him in lockup for now, until he betters.” The coalesce with the Sheriff. His decisive nature has never lead the townsfolk astray in the past, though, not as much as his quick hand has defended them from the seedier element of the west. “George, help me get him up on my horse, I’ll take him to the station; ladies, if’n ya will.”
Both men take a firm hold of the man, and hoist him onto the back of the horse.
“Oof, this feller reeks to high heaven.” Ma Perkins keeps her distance; Gloria tries to give him more water.
“Ow! The smelly cluck bit me!”
“Dangit, Gloria, the sheriff told ya te keep yer distance! The mad bastard probably hasn’t had a bite to eat in days.”
“Ma Perkins, take Gloria to Doc, git her hand patched up, we’ll finish up here, and send him ‘round when you’re done there.”

The two women enter the local clinic.
“Doc, some stranger come into town and collapsed, bit Gloria.”
“Dang, well, bring her here, lemme take a look at that hand.” Gloria heads on over towards the Doc, and he meets her in the middle of the room, taking hold of her hand. He lifts his spectacles to his eyes.
“Hmm, and how long you say this stranger come in?”
“Just now, Sheriff’s got him in lock up, just in case he’s some sorta outlaw, if not a madman, they want you to head there after, take a look at him.”
“Just now? This bite looks days old, Gloria… we may have to amputate.”
“Amputate? But I was just bit, Doc.”
“Look, I know what I’m hearin, but I know what I’m seein even more.”
“Well, I’ll not lose the hand Mr. Astaire bended his knee to.”
“Tell ya what, I’ll clean it up, put some leaches on it, bandage it for now, give it a look in a day, but that’s alls I can do.”
“Thank you, Doc.”

Once the wound is treated, Doc gathers up some supplies for the trip over to the Sheriff’s.
“Ma Perkins, will you be a dear and take Gloria home, she should probably rest.”
“Alrigh-”
“Rest? But, Doc, I feel fine.”
“Sorry, Gloria, Doctor’s orders.” He holds the door open for the two women as they make their way out, Gloria clutching her hand. He takes a look around the clinic, making sure everything’s in place. Satisfied, he closes the door and heads down the street.

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