The Cruel, Cruel East – Chapter One

This is just a preliminary little thing. I’ve always liked the style of westerns, but didn’t care much for the setting. Seeing as how I’m a huge proponent of the Northeast, having lived there for much of my life, I thought I’d try innovating an “eastern”.

~

He walked up the steps of Town Hall, brown leaves crunching under his feet, rifle in one hand and hair of Harriet Johnson in the other. Her body, connected to the hair, thumped against the marble as he dragged it up, step by step.
He tucked his rifle under one arm to open the door, strode inside, and tossed her lifeless body onto the main hall of the building.
The mayor, John Thompson, had been waiting for him, although he wasn’t sure exactly who he was waiting for. He rushed up towards the armed man with a scowl on his face.
“What is this?”
“Who is this, you mean. Harriet Johnson. A woman deserves to be referred to as such. Regardless of how much scum she was.”
“Who are you?”
“Who the fuck do you think?”
“Richard Watkins?”
“You got it.”
The mayor’s eyebrows tightened further. “She was supposed to be brought in alive.”
“Resisted arrest.”
“And for good reason. You weren’t the sheriff yet.”
“I think you can fix that, right?”
John sighed and pulled a sheriff star out of his pocket.
“We’ll have an ordaining ceremony this evening, you can meet with the minister and other notable people in this town there,” he said, pinning it to Richard’s jacket.

Richard had just been walking down the road, toward Providence, New Hampshire, when he happened to cross paths with the ill-fated Harriet Johnson. She might have been armed. Richard didn’t know, and he wasn’t going to take any chances. He lifted his rifle, she looked at him with panicked eyes and crumpled to the ground.
Thankfully she wasn’t a big woman. He still had a couple miles to town and he’d have to bring her with him. Sure, it probably would have been easier to keep her alive, but it also would have been more difficult keeping her detained. Maybe he made the wrong choice, maybe he made the right choice, but it was done with now and he had to take the weight.
He pulled a small flat metal box and a little glass bottle out of his pocket and tapped a small portion of white powder out of the bottle onto the box, sniffed it, then licked off the remnants and opened the box. He removed a cigarette from inside, put it in his mouth, then traded the box for a match from his pocket and lit it.
He caught up a handful of Harriet’s hair and resumed his walk.

The ordination ceremony was too long. Admittedly, it was pretty short, but if it had taken thirty seconds it would have still been too long. It did let him get a cursory read of the “notable people” of the town, as the mayor referred to them.
The minister was a joke. He was the epitome of all seven deadly sins, and the mayor himself wasn’t much better. There were a number of farmers that seemed pretty fine, but the main grocer, who bought from all of the farmers and sold to the rest of the town, was perhaps the laziest and most greedy man Richard had met. There were hardworking men at the lumber mill but the owner of the mill was repulsive – and somehow thought Richard was “in on it”, whatever that meant.
The principal of the school, which taught from first grade through twelfth, was cold, strict, exacting, and cruel. More of Richard’s kind of guy. That is, he was more similar to Richard, but Richard still disliked him for the very features that they shared. The children of the town cowered in his presence, and bruises and scars were common among them.
They had prepared a small house for Richard. It had been the previous sheriff’s house before he left, which Richard was unable to get any details on. He threw his boots into a corner and sat on the bed. He tapped out another portion of the powder onto the box, took it, then peered at the bottle. Two-thirds full. He wasn’t sure what the market was like around here. He’d have to begin looking into that before long.

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