An Ode to the Dearly Departed V

They stare at the eviscerated remains of Old Gus next to the headless corpse. The Sheriff holsters his gun.
“See, told ya. Lets just go grab two coffins.” They walk outside to a small group of townsfolk gathered to see what the commotion was. The Sheriff removes his hat, holds it over his heart, and addresses the crowd.
“That stranger what come here was a loon, a cannibal. He faked dead, and got old Gus. I took care of it. I suggest you all disperse unless you’ve a strong stomach and are willing to help.” The Doc simply motions for the gunsmith’s apprentice to run and get the Preacher. As he runs off to the church, two local men step up to help with the coffins and the dead. Soon the two bodies are in coffins just outside the sheriff’s office, but the preacher still has not arrived. Another crowd has gathered and dispersed at the sight and smell.

Inside the Preacher’s house, he is tending to his wife. Water with a facecloth for the fever. He prays for her. She’s boiling hot. The errand boy tentatively watches over them from the doorway. The priest knows he must attend to his duties outside. The Lord’s work. Before long, his poor wife falls asleep, and he leaves the trustworthy townsboy to look after her while he leaves to attend to the decisions of the dead.

“Sorry I’m late, Sheriff, that bite must have given my sweet Gloria such a fright, her nerves are shot. She was practically in hysterics.”
“Well, we all know how fragile lady folk can be. You left the boy to watch over her?”
“Yup, the boy and the good Lord. Now, what’s the problem here, that stranger die?”
“More than that, he killed Gus.”
“Ah, god dammit. I’ve been telling you Sheriff, we need more defences against strangers. Only need the righteous and the virtuous, that’s how a town prospers. It’s these godless heathens ruining the expansion of the west.”
“I don’t need more of this bullshit, Preacher, you know most everyone here believes in their own thoughts. It’s actions, not beliefs that shape the west. Most of the men I’ve killed for this town have come claiming religiosity or some sort of inspired divinity. Shoulda been lockin em up for insanity spoutin that nonsense, but the blood on their hands and the cruelty in their hearts show through their words eventually. Good men don’t need a higher power. It’s these people who look to you, not me.”
“Well, then let’s just calm some people and offer what reassurances I can. It’s already been quite a day.”
“The people are at least askin you do some sort of blessin on the stranger before we seal em both up.”
“I say we burn the sick bastard, no way he’s gettin buried in this town.”
“After I see what he did to my wife, I can’t rightly nor righteously recommend any alternative. Gus’ll get a good, honest Gozerian burial, as was his wishes, but no man harms my wife.” The Preacher stays with the men as they bring the coffins to the cemetery.

They start the fire right away, just on the outside of the graveyard. A few men work quickly and soon old Gus’ grave is dug a few feet deep. He had made his own coffin already. The preacher performs the ritual for Gus, and he is buried. But there was another recent death with a funeral planned for today, a young child. This one’s parents stand and cry, they cannot believe that their only child has died. It’s a sad day for the town that just turned a year old.

Once the bodies are fully buried, and they are patting down the dirt upon them, the preacher turns his attention to the last coffin outside the gates.
“It’s time to cast this heathen cannibal into the fires beyond this world. I told you, Sheriff, outsiders are dangerous, we’ve only been here a year.”
“Preacher, I know it’s best to stay apprehensive, there’s a lot of folks out there, but if a town is to grow, it needs citizens. In the end that’s the Mayor’s call, setting up blockades and turning away folks is the prime way to make this into an outlaw town.”
“Sheriff’s right, preacher, everyone’s a stranger till they’re your neighbor. Still, after the events of today, I think it’d be best as to have some way of keeping our people safe for the festivities tonight. Not lettin anyone in isn’t a welcome way to celebrate, but to keep an eye out and keep us safe is required. Sheriff, I’ll be lookin to you to take care of this. We don’t want a repeat of this morning.”
“I’ll go around now tellin people to make sure to have the Sheriff be the first to talk to strangers. By divine right, they’ll listen to me. Anything to keep people safe from another attack like my Gloria”
“That’s a good idea Preacher, I’ll help with that while the Sheriff prepares, so you can get back to your wife faster.”
“Well, I ain’t got much to prepare in mind, so I’ll try to think up some things, clear my schedule for the evening so I can get a solid open patrol going around the town.”

2 Responses to “An Ode to the Dearly Departed V”

  1. Does this take place in an alternate universe? Just wondering what Gozerian referred to (not Ghostbusters, I guess 🙂

    • no comment on alternate universes, but it is a minor ghostbusters reference just for fun. pastafarian just didn’t sound right for old gus’ random religion

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