Saloon Showdown This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   The swinging doors of the Black Bear Saloon burst open, infiltrating every comer of the room with a saturated cloud of sagebrush. As the dust cleared and the resounding vibration of hacking coughs subsided, the astonished bar mates glared peevishly at their most recent intruder. His entrance had interrupted a high stakes poker game and had caused Lulu, the saloon's two-bit hooker, to end her table-top prancing in an unwonted fit of modesty, much to the dismay of her male audience. Recognizing the hulking figure in the doorway, although he was not one of the saloon's regulars, the bartender released his firm grip on the shotgun which rested beneath the counter.

"It's that varmint Snake Oil Cruthers again," he muttered beneath his whiskey-laced breath.

"Drunk and itchin' to start a ruckus, I bet. Always seems to be the same time of year when he gets uppity and all hell breaks loose," replied a customer at the bar with a yellow toothed grin.

Lulu, utterly disgusted that her dance number and tips were cut short by Snake's uninvited appearance, stomped off to the back room to change what little cloth enshrouded her buxom figure. The slamming of her door seemed to awaken Snake who had been standing by the saloon entrance in a drunken stupor since his arrival.

"Now, which one of you high hootin' cowboys runned my brother Barnabe out of town? I knows it was one of yous, so it's no use hidin'. I'm gonna find you this time and send your moanin' spurs south of the border," he slurred, pointing a grimy finger at several faces in the room. This last threat had left Snake breathless, and he reached into his buffalo hide vest to retrieve the small metal flask which was his constant companion.

"Why Snake, you know that Barnabe run off and joined that make-shift circus company come through town ten years ago. He up and became one of those wig wearin' clowns. You know it was his dream," answered Jake, the saloon's piano player.

"Don't you be lyin' to me Jake, you hear. Barnabe was run off his claim by some bandits, and I aim to find them."

"You crazy old coot. You're too pigheaded to see the truth. Every year you keep actin' like a here drunken fool," muttered Jake as he swiveled back around to continue his honky tonk melody.

"Nobody's gonna be callin' Snake Oil Cruthers a fool or his brother a clown," screeched Snake and with a swiftness surprising for his years, he wheeled out his revolver and shot Jake clear through the back of the head. As Jake slumped over the piano keys, a string of sour notes permeated the air and Snake released a monstrous cackle that sent shivers down the spines of the onlookers.

Poor old Snake Oil Cruthers was taken into custody by the town's sheriff later that evening and sentenced to rot in a cell the size of a closet for thirty years. The only visitor Snake had before he met the Cowboy Maker in

the Sky was a circus clown wearing a voluminous red wig. Circulating

rumor has it that the clown was a town native, a man by the name of Binky Cruthers. 1


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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