Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Clandestine Happenings in an Establishment of Ill Repute

El Paraiso, California. They call it "The Gem of the West Coast", but that moniker, much like the official name, is purely ironic. It's a waste of space and nobody lives there who doesn't have to, which leaves it a barren wasteland of squalor and a superb (and therefore popular) place to conduct unsavory business.

Ford Hawks, a stranger around these - and all - parts, did not like to come around here. He didn't like to surround himself with common criminals, for he thought they gave the profession a bad name. But this was the location chosen by the man he was on his way to meet, so that must be respected. He headed down the High Street to the Saloon at the far end. He tried, though sometimes failed, to not make eye contact with anybody else on the road; he had very important matters to attend to, and he did not want a fight breaking out to interrupt that, nor did he want anyone trying to steal his knapsack, or more specifically, the wooden case therein.

Hawks entered the batwing doors of the saloon and almost instantly spotted the cards. He and the other party had never met, so a signal that would point the man out was agreed upon: the Dead Man's Hand. He sat down at the appropriate table in the chair indicated by the hand.

"Greetings," the man across the table said. "I hope your travels were well."

"I got your telegram. Obviously," Hawks said, getting straight to business. "But before we make the exchange, you have to tell me one thing: how'd you find out about it?"

"That must be a joke," the man (whose name was Jonas) replied. "Word about you always travels quickly. And news about Phineas Taylor gets around just as well. So imagine how a story involving the both of you must move! People back East have already heard! But let's not beat around the bush; show it to me."

"Ok. But before I do, I think this transaction should be handled like gentlemen. Go get the two of us a pint, on me," Hawks said, as he tossed Jonas a coin.

Jonas was wary at first; it felt like a trick to him somehow, but he couldn't figure out for the life of him what the trick could be. He let his love of lager get the better of him, though, and took Ford Hawks up on his offer. He removed himself from the table and headed across the room to the bar, where he proceeded to ask the barkeep for the aforementioned beverages. The man behind the counter prepared the drinks and handed them to Jonas, who, after paying, promptly left without leaving a tip. Upon returning to the table, he noticed that Hawks had placed on it the purpose of the meeting. "That's all?" Jonas had to ask.

"What were you expecting?"

"I don't know. I thought it'd be bigger, I guess. But I've heard it was everything from gold bullion to the Holy Grail itself, so I suppose I didn't really have any expectations, except that it's said to be incredibly rare."

"That it is," Hawks replied.

"So what is it?"

"I don't know why you don't just open it and find out for yourself, but it's a revolver. They claim that it was forged from the ancient sword Durendal and that it will only claim the lives of the sinful. But you know how legends are. For all I know, it's probably just a regular old revolver."

Jonas slid the case toward him, undid the clasps, and opened the lid. He looked back up at the man across from him in preparation to say "Where is it?", but before the words could escape his lips, he found the answer he was looking for.

Then the gun lived up to its legend.

Hawks left, tucking the presumably enchanted weapon back into his pants as he did so. He still didn't know if what they said about it was true, though a few more tests should do the trick. But he imagined that it was one of those things where it kills everybody because everyone is sinful in one way or another. Legends are like that.

Chad Walters - 2/17/09

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