Beasley’s Hotel and Saloon, a two-story clapboard structure next door to the Livery, was the seat of attraction in Sundance. Angus Beasley, an Irishman who moved out west to put some space between him and those “cheap, thuggish bastards” in Boston, chose the spot with the future in mind. “Anyone who’s anyone in this town’ll be stoppin’ at the Livery,” he once said. “Men’ll be needin’ a drink while they’re waitin’. And whether they’re a waitin’ on a horse or just passin’ the wee hours with one of the ladies, it doesn’t matter. Everyone needs a drink now and then. I just want to be there at both times.”
John opened the front door and stepped into the lobby separating the hotel from the saloon. Across the room, above the swinging doors leading into the saloon, Beasley had mounted a wooden plaque, the name Beasley’s Cove carved in large block letters. John didn’t understand that one. There was no lake or pond within miles of Sundance. In fact, the only body of water nearby, outside of a muddy creek, was a trough out front for the animals.
“It don’t matter what I call it,” Beasley had said when asked. “I could call it Buffalo Corkers and nobody’d a say thing, long as they could still get a sip of whiskey or a glass of beer.”
Standing in the lobby, staring at the sign, John imagined Beasley was right. Outside of farming and ranching, the beer and whisky drove the wagon in this town. It drove many other things, too, as well he knew.
He stepped into the saloon and found Beasley behind the bar engaged in his daily routine of wiping the glasses down with a dish rag. Beasley looked up as John walked across the floor. He grinned.
“Top of the mornin’ to you, Sheriff. What brings you in so early? The sun’s not even up full yet.”
“I need to see if your cook can stir up some eggs, maybe a slice of bacon and a biscuit.”
Beasley nodded. He placed the freshly wiped glass on the back bar and said, “Would this be for you or your prisoner?”
John looked down. He rubbed the back of his neck.
“Yes, about that. I’m sorry if I caused you any trouble last night.”
Beasley shrugged. “What’s it to me? Mr. Wilcox had already filled his belly. I’d say you put more of a damper on his evenin’ than mine.”
“Mr. Wilcox, huh?” John shook head. “A man like that and you have to dignify him?”
“I keep fairly simple terms, Sheriff. As long as they drink without givin’ me any trouble, then what business do I have to bother them?”
“And if they decide to bring some trouble?”
Beasley reached under the counter. He produced a double-barrel shotgun and placed it on the bar.
“Then I’ll deal with it.”
John smirked. With a shotgun and a sly tongue, Beasley was indeed a man who could take care of himself and say what he needed. He glanced over his shoulder at the stairs leading to the second floor.
“I don’t know,” Beasley said. “Haven’t seen or heard her all mornin’. My guess is she’ll be sleeping it in today, along with everyone else.”
John nodded. Thinking about it now, he hated the way he had handled it--that had been the whiskey--but if he couldn’t uphold the law, then what good was he as a sheriff?
“Please extend my apologies to your guest,” John said.
He turned and walked away from the bar.
“Can you have your cook deliver the breakfast to the jail?”
“Sure,” Beasley said. “So, we’ll be settlin’ up later then?”
John stopped. He furrowed his brow. “What was that?”
“You may be the Sheriff,” Beasley said, “but I still got a business to run.”
John nodded, thinking about Beasley’s question. “Don’t worry, Angus. I’ll take care of it.”
Stepping through the lobby and out of the hotel, John turned and headed next door.
Hayworth quietly closed the door. He walked down the hall and took the outside stairs down to the street. The sun was up and by the looks of it half the morning had already passed away. After Francine told him all that had happened, he took a long look at her half naked body and decided to stay for a while. Sure Everett might be a little pissed, but what did it matter? It wasn’t like the man was going anywhere anytime soon.
He looked down the street and saw the jail house, a few people meandering around. Then, while he took a moment to put his hat on, Hayworth mapped out a plan in his mind. At the hitching post, he un-wrapped the reigns for his horse and walked down the street. It needed to be quick, he told himself. The Sheriff didn’t need an opportunity to think about what was coming. Give him that, and the idiot just might pull a gun. And he was dumb, no doubt about that. He had to be. Anyone who held the notion he could arrest Everett Wilcox without consequence was either extremely brave or out of his mind and Hayworth had never seen this sheriff show any spine.
He stopped in front of the jail and wrapped the horse reigns once around the post. For a jail, it wasn’t much, just a square adobe with bars for some windows, a single pane of glass in front.
On the wooden porch in front of the door, he drew both pistols and cocked the hammers. A young boy walking by stopped then, and Hayworth told him he’d better find his momma and find her right now. The boy ran away.
Lifting a leg to kick the door in, he thought, We gonna have some fun. Only when the door snapped open, he didn’t find what he expected.
Not at all.