Steam Dust

My Last Gold Dollar is Gone

The smell is awful— you fight the urge to gag as the old man opens the canvas sack slowly, a semi-insane laugh that sounds half-way between maniacal laughter and a bad case of whooping cough escapes out of the dirty, very old man.

From his wheelchair, a rifle across his lap, he leans forward and extends the canvas sack for your inspection. The smell emanating from the sack is horrible – like infant feces mixed with a rotten side of beef food. A swarm of flies swirls around the canvas sack, forcing you to wave your hand dismissively around your face as if you could wave the smell away.

“Here, it is boys. Here it is!” squeaks the old man. “Just like I told ya!”

Hesitantly you peer into the canvas bag and see maggots crawling out of the decaying eye sockets of a severed man’s head.

The decay is so bad you have no of identifying the head but that doesn’t stop the old man, “Its Victor Duncan, yeah, The ‘Cannon’. Its time to pay me my gold! My gold! Hahahahaha”! More maniacal laughter that once again turns into a wheezing cough.

He drops the canvas sack on the floor, puts one hand out, waiting for his payment, and puts his other hand on the trigger of the rifle.

“Pay up boys!”

A few drunken patrons of the “Dry River Saloon” look over at the spectacle that the old man is making of himself. The room is small, perhaps 20 people could squeeze into and sit at its 3 tables and stand next to the rugged bar that runs the length of the 20×20 room. A disinterested barkeep wipes fogged and chipped shot glasses with a dirty rag.

One small window reveals a darkening sky outside of the dusty Denver street: there is frost on the frame of the window. It is January 2, 1878 and its damn cold outside… so despite the filth and age of the Dry River Saloon, its beats roughing it outside.

The old man squeaks again, “You promised me gold for the head of the Cannon! By jolly jeters, you will pay Old Man Runney his gold!” His eye quivers.

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Montana Montana

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