The Tradesman

If he ever had a soul, it had long since died.  His steel gray eyes were the color of ashes, the ashes of a old, cold fire.   Not much left, but the ashes, as if he was a burnt out man still walking this earth.

While I was nursing my one shot of whiskey, he was killing off a bottle of rye whiskey.  My drinking was to satisfy a thirst earned by riding trail all day; his drinking, well, his drinking was for the purpose of forgetting something well worth forgetting. 

Raw boned, this fellow was, saddle worn and weathered.    An out of work ranch hand passing through town on the way to find another herd to wrangle?  Maybe.  But for some reason, I didn't think so.  Not this old boy.  No, he made his living some other way.

He was ten drinks into that bottle and his hand steady was as a rock.    He was cold, calculating cold.  He never looked once at me or anybody in that room of sad stories and bad news.  For him, we were just bodies that sometimes got in the way.   He didn't want to talk and he didn't want to to listen.  He just wanted to be left alone until he decided it was to move on to the next saloon and the next long night.  A man like him, he don't sleep, he just waits.

My guess was that tonight, he'd ride out and tomorrow the sheriff would find one more body left behind- the work of this tradesman in the business of doing away with other people's problems.

The End

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