A Tired Old Cliche; Genre-Breaking(?) Micro-fiction.
This is a short story, micro-fiction, in fact, that I’ve penned on the 8th of January 2007. To understand this story, you need to understand that it is direct homage, and build-up on the Man with no Name trilogy which is the character, or even Archetype portrayed by Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone‘s “Spaghetti Westerns“. As many homages, in a way it does not only pay respect to the genre, but breaks it down to its components in such a manner that there’s hardly any story left. The other influence is The Gunslinger, the first book of The Dark Tower series by Stephen King.
This will also be relevant for the upcoming entry, “The Primacy of Colour”, which deals with genres and how we buy into the wrong stuff, the ‘trappings’, things for instance that look like mecha anime, but hardly are. This is only about 500 words long, so I hope you enjoy it.
He rode into the town, one of many along the dusty old trail.
His horse neighed as it had smelled fresh water, he kept on riding, till he spotted the familiar noise and odor of the saloon.
As he went in, the room fell quiet, all eyes were raised at him. Calculating, watching, as his eyes took to the dim-lit room. Going to the barkeep he could feel the weight of their eyes on him, on his worn clothes, on his holsters and the iron he was packing.
He ordered ale and kept feeling them, as their eyes drew back to what they were doing prior.
He bartered with the man keeping the livery stable. He did not comment on the blood on the floor, hid by fresh hay but its scent still hanging heavy in the air. It never did to comment on such.
Leaving the stable, he was confronted by two men, one of them he’d seen in the saloon, this person had seen his money. The other man was unknown to him, but he was dressed sharply. Sharply enough for a town such as this at least.
He spat on the ground, and looking at them from under the rim of his hat, he waited, knowing they’ll state their business. Or they’d go away. Either was fine with him. He spat again.
“Hold it right there!” the sharply dressed man said.
“You stole from me, and I want my money back, or else you’d find yourself dead, par’dner“, his drawl indicated he used the last word as an insult, or at least meant to.
As he watched this silently, people started pouring out of the saloon, and out of his office the sheriff came out.
“What’s this about Earl?”
The sharp man, Earl, looked quickly at the sheriff and back at him, “He was in my store and stole gear and food sheriff!”
The sheriff gave Earl and his friend a calculating look, and looked back at him, “Is that so?”
He looked from under his hat with cool blue eyes, and squinted at the sun, “Can’t say it is.”
A tumble-weed had blown across his path like a tired old cliche.
He looked at the wounded man kneeling in front of him, his gun not empty but not quite full in his hand, his other gun quite empty and holstered again.
“Get him, get him and kill him” the man told his dog.
He glanced at the dog, his eyes as cool as the lead he had put into the dog’s owner.
The dog at least knew better, and didn’t get any closer. He turned away.
He knew this was only the beginning. His job in this town, were he to take the one of cleaning it, was just beginning.
But he was too tired, there was always another town. The job never ended, and all he got for his problems were more holes in his body, more holes in his mind.
He rode out of the town onto the trail, just one town like so many others.
If people are curious, there’s actually another micro-fiction written in the same venue, of the same character.