Red Barbre, hot and trail weary, rode down out of the high desert and onto the main street of the unpainted, ramshackle town of Missing Creek. Up ahead a small knot of men stood in a circle. As Red approached, a short, stocky, serious looking man turned from the group and watched Red walk his bay horse to within conversation distance.
“Afternoon!” Red greeted, bringing the horse to a stop with a gentle squeeze of his knees.
“It is,” The man answered without expression.
“This town have a sheriff?”
“It does,” The man answered again without expression.
“Can you point me to him?” Red asked without hurrying the conversation.
The man nodded his head toward the circle of men. “That’s him there on the ground. Don’t seem worth talking to him though; he’ll be dead in another minute or two,” The man said casually as he turned from Red to watch the final earthly moments of the sheriff.
Red sat the bay and watched what he considered a cold hearted way to let a man die, especially a man who put his life on the line so other folks could live in safety. After a minute or so, four of the men lifted the sheriff from the dirt and carried him off. The man who had greeted Red turned back to him.
“You hunting a job?”
“Hold up a minute there boys,” The man called to the four carrying the body away.
He then walked over and without ceremony plucked the badge off the sheriff’s vest.
Turning back to Red he asked, “You ever do any law work?”
The man noted Red’s Remington revolver at his hip and the Sharp’s rifle in the saddle scabbard.
“Does it matter?”
“Like I said, some.”
“Sixty a month and cartridges. The jail is down the street, on the left. You can bunk in the empty cell.”
“What if the cell’s not empty?”
The man just chuckled and tossed Red the tin star before walking away.