Dust. This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Clyde crossed the swinging doors of the saloon, meeting a few nervous eyes that were alarmed by the sudden rays of light pouring into the dark and musty room. It was crowded enough to be busy, but not so much to be uncomfortable, which, once he was out of the doorway, let him feel a pleasing air of anonymity that he always needed to feel. Since he wasn’t a regular at the saloon, as he had not been in town since before he was old enough to drink, nobody recognized his face. He walked slowly to a poker table with a few men seated around it, not actually playing a game, but drinking in silence, already made angry by the bitterness and effect of the alcohol. He took a seat that had a direct view of the doorway, pushed it all the way out, and sat down. He neglected to remove his duster or hat, but the other men were too drunk to notice, and too drunk to have removed theirs. Clyde wouldn’t have taken it off anyway- it was important that he keep the duster on, and taking the hat off would have made keeping the duster on look misplaced. Once he appeared comfortable, he addressed the men: “ You up for a game?” Both of them slowly nodded, still looking angry, their handlebar mustaches curving downward to form the shape of the setting sun. Clyde reached into a pocket of his black denim vest, and pulled out a worn deck of cards, and, taking time to look as though he did not care, tossed the deck onto the table. A few cards spilled out. He pulled his chair back closer to the table, clutching at the duster the entire time to hold it close to himself. He picked up the cards to shuffle, knowing the other men wouldn’t even bother to check if he rigged them. His face contorted into a frown, but the two men were not noticing him. He picked up the deck, and then the jack and king of diamonds that had fallen out, and began to shuffle the cards, rapidly sliding them into and over each other. Once he was satisfied, he slammed the deck onto the table. He then began to deal.

The game picked up slowly. Clyde paid little attention to the game, as it only served to pass him some time, and he cared little for gambling. Two or three other men came over, each on his own, over the course of it. Nobody won or lost anything for more than a few turns, save for the drunken men, who were playing rather poorly comparatively. Every 30 minutes or so, Clyde would take off the hat to scratch his head, revealing dark black hair that was full of desert dust. The entire game, he kept his face in a flat grimace, which concealed his hand only as a side effect of betraying actual anger. His dark green eyes repeatedly flitted between the loudly ticking clock, his hand of cards, and the door. He still kept the duster pulled close. Despite his young age, he looked like a much older man; his dark expression aging and wrinkling a boyish face more than the storms of the Arizona desert and all its blaring sunlight could. This expression was bound to his face permanently. Clyde had always been angry. In his youth he was angry; he was angry now, and when the light left his eyes and he would sleep forever- he would be angry then, too.

After what felt like hours passed, Clyde saw a man come through the door, this one a clean shaven man of almost fifty with bright red hair and a long scar running down his bare arm, and dark green eyes that made the face all too familiar. Clyde quickly glanced at the clock, and as he did, it struck 3 o’clock. His turn came around, and he folded his hand and took his money. His hands began to twitch with excitement, and he forced them to stop. As the man took his drink from the bar, Clyde went over as though to get a drink.

He pulled the coat open, his hand that held it already grasping the revolver sewn into it. Spinning quickly to face the man, he emptied two bullets into the back of his head and neck- and then bolted through the door. He ran madly to a hitching post, grabbed the horse upon it, and climbed on, dropping the deck of cards out of his pocket by accident- then sent the horse into a gallop down the dirt road that led into town. He glanced back over his shoulder as he sped away. Nobody was in the road except for him. His face contorted from anger to disgust, as he stared back at the swinging doors of the saloon. He turned back to face forward, seeing nothing but bright yellow light as he flew like a bullet toward the sun.





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