Smoke & Fog Part 1
"Any of you boot-lickers seen this polecat?”
The table of gamblers in the bodega looked up at the man; a grizzly ugly son of a beast, holding up a well weathered wanted poster. Samuel the dealer, a scrawny streak of a man, shrugged as he kept his eyes on the wagers. “Half these ingrates can’t read, and the other half don’t care.”
The table sniggered. The man wasn’t impressed at their sarcasm, drew a large knife and slammed it into the table with a thunk.
“Sass me again and it goes through yur hand,” he growled. “I’m looking for Johnny Smokers!”
“Never heard of him,” came the reply from the end of the table. “Now, how about you take your Missouri toothpick out the table for someone gets hurt.”
“Got a smart mouth on you, you red bastard!”
“Easy Morgan,” the dealer gulped slowly raking the chips into a pile as he knew there quite possibly was going to be trouble.
“Another ignorant cow pusher flapping his gum,” Morgan Fogg replied as he rocked back on his chair and put his boots up on the table. “You have a problem with me?”
“I gots a problem with your whole damn r…”The sentence wasn’t finished before Morgan drew, fired, spun his weapon and then dropped it back into his holster all without moving from his reclined position. The ugly man yelped and ran in circle like a scalded dog. His gun lay broken on the floor after being shot out of the holster by the experienced gunslinger at the end of the table.
“Nice shot,” whispered the dealer as he slowly slunk under the table.
“I was aiming for his head,” Morgan muttered back before heading over to the man who clutched his hip.
“You shot me!” he moaned.
“Lucky I didn’t kill you,” Morgan replied as he assessed the injury he’d caused and grabbed the man by the collar. “You’ll live, unless you start with that big mouth of yours. Now, who you looking for?”
“Johnny, Johnny Smokers.”
Morgan shrugged. “Never heard of him, til you came in blabbing about him. I’ll take your poster and you best go off’n get cleaned up.”
The man stood up, cursing and scowling when Morgan stepped towards him and shoved his gun barrel to the man’s forehead, then clicked back the hammer.
“I didn’t hear what you were saying,” Morgan seethed as he looked the man dead in the eye. “Care to say it aloud and too my face? Well?”
The man whimpered and lowered his eyes. Morgan shook his head in disgust. “Didn’t think so. What’s your name?”
“M-Mumford. Isaiah Mumford.”
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”” Morgan recited from memory as he holstered his weapon. “Book of Isaiah, verses one to three. Ingrained in my head here thanks to my mother and her father. Now, you cross me again or even look at me strange, Isaiah Mumford, you’ll go meet the Lord, you hear me?”
“Yes,” Isaiah groveled.
“Well, go on, get!”
And with that Isiah Mumford was out of the bodega like a startled jackrabbit. The room filled with laughter and they resumed their seats.
“The Red Fog strikes again,” the dealer said slyly as he reset the table.
“Best you put ALL them chips back in the pile, Samuel,” Morgan noted as he resumed his seat to study the poster of…
Johnny Smokers dove out of the four-poster bed and onto the floor the moment he heard the first boot slam into the bordello door. By the time it came off its hinges he was safely tucked behind the curtain as four shots thumped into the bed.
“This’ll teach you to sleep with my wife!” screamed the drunken man. “She may be a whore, but SHE’S MY WHORE!!”
Two men in nightshirts grabbed the drunkard, as Johnny stepped out from the curtain gun in hand, lining him up for an early grave. One man pushed the drunk out of the room as the other stood in front looking sheepish.
“Mighty sorry, Caleb ain’t right in the head when he drinks. And he drinks when his wife’s working.”
“Did he notice there’s nobody but me in the room?” Johnny asked slowly putting down his weapon to his thigh, as while it had calmed the trouble wasn’t over.
“Caleb can’t read so good. His wife’s in three, you’re in eight, to him they’re all the same. Again, sorry for the fuss.”
Johnny thought about it for a second. “How you know his wife’s in three?”
The man smiled cheekily, shrugged and left Johnny alone again, surveying the bullet holes in the room that very nearly killed him. He pulled on his pants and packed up his stuff, no way he’d be going back to sleep now.
“May as well get going,” he said to his reflection. Johnny didn’t really sleep any more. Not since the attack. He thought maybe staying inside on a proper bed would calm his mind for one night, and that was interrupted by some drunken fool. Johnny gathered his meagre belongings and headed down to the stable. As he walked to the stairs, he saw one of the men dealing with their friend whilst the other went into room three to deal with the wife. Johnny shook his head and proceeded to the bar where the owner was polishing glasses.
Johnny nodded and slid a coin across to him. “The boys down the hall owe you a new door.”
He looked confused at the comment and the payment. “This ain’t enough.”
“Well, you take it up with them, I’m paying for my share and that’s all. Have yourself a good night.”
The publican grimaced before grabbing a hunk of pine from under the bar and heading upstairs. “Goddammit Caleb!”
Johnny strode towards the stable when he saw a familiar face upon a wanted poster, himself! He tore it off the wall to read. Johnny Smokers aka John Smoke aka Smokey John wanted for cattle rustlin, larceny and perjury.
“Never even been on a jury,” Johnny joked as he looked at where the notice had come from. “Issued by Sheriff Wexler of Frankfort, Kentucky.”
To be continued by @cbishop