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The cowboys in Last Chance Saloon

De Facto

De Facto
Liamy MacNally

Imagine the scene. The back room of a beat-up bar. Sitting in the corner is a man who knows he’s in Last Chance Saloon. With folded arms and one hand across his mouth he gazes at the dusty floor as he sits on a lowdown stool. An empty glass stands on the table beside him. He thinks of days when it was at least half-full. Those days are gone, long gone. A lot of things are gone.
He has been a deputy, sort of, long enough. Time is running out, so is patience. Not so much his patience but that of those who support him. He has been waiting a long time to be the County, sorry, State Sheriff. It looks like the opportunity is slipping away from him. He has to act.
Deputy Martin has to be quick on the draw. His nemesis, State Sheriff Varadkar, has outgunned him at every opportunity for the past five years. It’s the Deputy’s job to support the Sheriff. He’s done that faithfully for five years.
As luck would have it Sheriff Varadkar got wounded at the last State Fair. A group of Gringos, the SFers, went wild and shot up the place. The Sheriff was shot in the foot. No one knows if it was self-inflicted or not. Regardless, he’s laid up like a lame duck. Deputy Martin thinks that someone has to take charge. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.
It’s a great opportunity for Deputy Martin. So great and generous is he that he has even offered his services to the wounded, bed-ridden Sheriff. Yes, Deputy Martin is willing to take charge … or even share the State Sheriff’s job. A bit like the song all cowboys sing around the campfire when on the trail: “You step out and I’ll step in again,” kinda thing. Or Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, again.
Someone has to deal with those rowdy Gringos. They obviously came into money. Probably robbed a bank, or two! They hardly saved it like regular Joe Soaps. Some even say that they contributed regularly to a central fund, so that they could have days like they do at the County Fairs.
They’re gettin’ outta hand, thinks Deputy. The State Sheriff had already fired a few warning shots about them and their lecherous public displays at the state County Fairs. Yellin’, hollerin’, provokin’, intimidatin’ and whoopin’ about long after sundown, firing off like crackerjacks. It has everyone on edge. Upsetting the good folk of the towns and keeping the childer from sleep. No class!
It’s the law-abiding folk who pay the law enforcers to protect them. We gotta keeping doin’ that, thinks the Deputy. What’s disturbing is that the Gringos received a great welcome wherever they went. Every County Fair honoured them, treating them like some kind of heroes or patriots. Sure what have they ever done for the State?  
The Deputy had to admit, to himself only, that he had a sneaking admiration for some of the Gringos. They had the ability to look you in the eye at all times. It was as if they couldn’t lie if they kept staring at you. Gringo Pearse from the Northern Territories is always sharp. So too is Gringo Slicko Brinn.
He isn’t too keen on some of the Gringo womenfolk, especially that Mary Lou. She’s been centre-stage a lot lately. Mary Rose CW is also on his mind. She was always the centre of attention for the Gringos. They seemed to listen to what she had to say.  
Time is running out for the beleaguered Deputy. He wants to be State Sheriff. Some Undersheriffs are uneasy with his willingness to share the State Sheriff’s role. More of his own want him to work with the Gringos. “If we don’t the public will lynch us at the next State Fair.”
“Don’t go in if you don’t know the way out,” his grandfather used to say. Fear is his constant stalker. “The divil ya know…” he thinks.
Nature was calling and the Deputy had to step outside. He remembered other words of his grandfather, “Sonny boy, never squat with your spurs on.” Too late!