The whore was snoring. Jacob pushed on her but she didn’t stop. He shoved her once more, a little harder this time and she almost fell off the bed. Her eyes shot open and she looked at him like he was fucking her mother.
“What the fuck, Jacob?”
“Time to go.”
“I already did.”
“Oh. I forgot.”
“Get the fuck out.”
“See you tonight?”
“Am I paying?”
She mumbled something about Jesus Christ and threw on her white bustle before walking out and slamming the thin wood door behind her. Jacob dropped his legs of the side of the bed and stared out the window. The sun was just peering out over the horizon ripping orange streaks across the otherwise yellow morning sky. The red collected at the base of the mountains looked like a thin pool of blood collecting in the valleys of the desert.
After he coughed up some phlegm, Jacob lit a smoke and sucked on it while he put on his pants, shirt, boots and gun belt. At his age getting dressed was a task in and of itself – things move slower when you’re 57. The cigarette burned the tips of his fingers so he let it fall to the floor and kicked at it with the ball of his foot. Then he opened the door and let the cool air drape over him. Mornings always felt like a new beginning to Jacob, but against popular opinion, he never felt as though he needed one.
There were a whole lot of people awake, most of them looking at him, waiting for him, hating him. He took his hat off the nightstand and dropped a dollar bill in its place. After he felt comfortable in his appearance, he lit another smoke, set his cover firmly on his head and walked outside. The clock tower across the street from the bank read 5:56. He had four minutes – good thing the whore snored or he would of slept through the whole ordeal.
Jacob dragged his feet a bit as he forced himself into the street. Down the dirt a ways, next to the saloon, Richards was already waiting. He seemed anxious, though Jacob was used to that look. The other men he’d offended and ended up killing looked that way too. Jacob’s name was usually enough to keep “honorable men” from shouting out stupid defenses to whatever manor of insult Jacob was drunkenly performing – usually, but not always. Last night he had offended this young buck by grabbing his lady’s tits. Jacob tried to remember whether or not the whore was the same girl… Didn’t really matter.
Richards took the time to get dressed this morning. His nicest black suit was pressed, his mustache was waxed, and there was a fine black bowler hat atop his beady-eyed face. A shiny piece of silver sat at Richards’ side; not a good sign for Richards. Guns that look new usually are. And people who own guns that haven’t been shot usually don’t do a whole lot of shooting.
A few people hissed as Jacob walked into the center of the road, mostly women. The men mostly kept their mouths shut, lest they get dead after Richards. But Jacob knew they were all hoping, praying that Richards would get the upper hand. After all, Richards was a young postman, decent with his hands and thirty or so years younger than Jacob. But Jacob had built his reputation on corpses, not hopes and dreams. He knew, that they knew, that Richards was going to die.
Once Jacob found his place on the dirt about twenty or so feet from Richards, he yawned, stretched out his arms and shivered the remaining sleep from his limbs. The smoke was burning his fingertips again so he let it fall down. Jacob looked up at the clock again: 5:58. He had time for another, so he pulled out his case and stared at the last cigarette.
“You got a smoke?”
Well, that just wasn’t very neighborly. Jacob took the last smoke out of his case and put the tin back in his pocket. Usually, he liked saving one for after shootings, something of a victory smoke. It looked like this time he’d be celebrating with a trip to the General Store. He struck the match against the hilt of his six-shooter. Once the flame was kicking, he brought it up to his face, cupped the fire, and lit the last cigarette. When he sucked in, he noticed a different flavor against the back of his throat. It wasn’t dramatic, but something about the nicotine tasted… sour.
Jacob took another look around the crowd. It seemed as though the whole town had come out to watch this time. After Richards was done, Jacob should think about moving on. There’s only so much death a place can take before they get to lynching, or some other sort of crazy thinking that could end up with Jacob killing a whole lot of otherwise decent folk.
The snoring whore stepped out of the crowd to his right. She was smiling. Why in the hell would she be smiling? Maybe she liked last night’s fucking. Maybe he did too. He’d had better. Why in the hell was she smiling?
Jacob looked up at the clock; it was six in the morning. He could hear Richards calling out to him, “You ready Jacob?”
Jacob smiled, “Sure thing Richards, but can I ask you something first?”
Jacob pointed at the snoring whore, “Does she snore when you get done fucking her, or did I just put her into a particularly deep sleep?”
Richards was scowling. This was it. Jacob smiled – apparently she was the same girl from the night before.
Both men drew their guns. They shot. And it was over.
The town doctor, Fleming, ran out with his nice gray suit and his little black bag, to make sure that the dead man was dead. After a minute, he called it, “He’s gone.”
The whore stopped smiling and the winner walked away.