The town was tiny it had one saloon and one small hotel, a general store and a half dozen of other small shops. The only reason the place existed at all was it was on the Black River line from Little Rock,Arkansas to Dodge City and then on up to Denver.
The three men on their mules felt conspicuous as they rode into this small town, one looked at the others and asked “Do you think we will find him here?”
“That’s what the old man said and besides if not we may well find someone else who might help us” his friend replied.
“But we would not be able to afford them.” the third worried.
They reached the saloon and tied up their mules and headed in.
The Saloon was nearly empty just a forlorn and battered piano in the corner being played by an equally forlorn and battered pianist.
A couple of exhausted looking “dancing” girls were sitting on the stairs, they looked up at the three men as they entered, then continued they chatting.
A man stood behind the bar he nodded at the new arrivals.
There were three men playing cards on a table in the far corner, one of the men was smartly dressed and his accent hinted at a New Orleans origin, he seemed to be winning by the dark looks on the faces of the other two men.
Sitting at a table with his back to the wall sat the man they though they might be looking for, he was pouring a shot of whiskey and gulping it down and then from the bottle on the table refilling the glass.
The three men approached the man and staying well away from him and trying to look as non-threatening as possible, asks “William Munny?”
Munny drains his glass once again, the familiar burn of the liquor as he swallows almost brings a smile to his lips. Almost. He looks up as this stranger addresses him, though his stony blue grey eyes never leave the surly looking newcomer leaning at the bar. With a voice like gravel, the kind obtained after years of drinking and smoking he replies:
“Might be, depends on who’s doin’ the askin’ an what they’re askin’ for”.
He reaches with his left hand and fills another glass full of whisky, his gaze swings to stare directly at into the eyes of his questioner.
Meanwhile, a well built, scruffy tough man in tattered brown clothes and a hat, rides into town on a dark brown horse, steadying it and tying it carefully to a post by the Saloon. He grunts and mutters as he looks around at the pretty quiet town, sighing. He turns to notice a mule staring at him, and he growls at it before at walking up to the Saloon. Barging through the shutters, he sees three men, backs facing him. He barges past them and grunts, walking to the bar in the seemingly tense atmosphere. Then, He raises his dirty hand and points at the Whiskey, throwing money the bartenders way. Wiping his nose, He turns and stares over at the men with an intimidating glare and a straight face, leaning his arm on the bar. The mans rifle and revolver hides poorly under his thick coat.
The banging of the saloon bar doors as they swing back and forth announces the arrival of another customer, a man brushes the shoulders of his long duster clean from the grime of a long day’s journey on the trail.
Taking his hat off his long jet-black hair flutters in the hot, dry, breeze that blows in from outside. Inscrutable oriental eyes set within a European shaped face sweep the room taking in the scene as he walks slowly and quietly towards the bar.
The half caste Chinese-American places his pack on the floor as he takes position next to the ruffian and he catches the eye of the barkeep with a thin smile. Ordering a beer in a heavily accented voice he waits until it is served before asking the barkeep, ‘I am looking for a man called Caine, has he passed this way?’
Shaking his head in the negative the barman returns to wiping his beer glasses with a dubious looking cloth.
Taking his beer and his pack the stranger moves over to a corner booth and sits down, watching the room and its occupants with an unreadable expression.
The “leader” of the three men looks at Munny, trying to look as non-threatening as possible.
My name is Jacob, these are my friends James and Jovan, he spoke with a thick accent, each word was clipped and precise but English did not seem to be this man’s native language.
“We are seeking gun men…”
Munny’s right hand twitches minutely at the sudden opening of the salloon doors, and he glances over at the new arrival before returning his stare to study the man in front of him, the man with a desperate look in his eyes.
“Now that dont seem like the road a sensible fella ought’a take. That path will lead you to trouble.”
With that he strikes a match off the rough plank of the wall at his back and lights the hand-rolled cigarette hanging loosly between his lips.
“Please do not misunderstand me Mr Munny sir, we are in need of help and need to hire some gun men, the first man we approached listened to our tale and told us he was on the trail of an individual and could not stop to help us, but he told us we should look for you and tell you the tale, he said you would want to hear it…”
Over at the card table two of the three men were now staring at Munny and the three men, slowly beneath the table a hand moved slowly towards a revolver…
Exodus, his mum was very religious and thought that would be a good name for him, turns to the gents he is playing cards with and in none to quiet a voice says “hey are we play cards or are you more interested in whats going on at the bar?” then he starts to shuffle the cards ready for another hand.All the while keeping half an eye on what is going on around him..
Seeing the movement at the card table, Munny leans back in his chair and as he does so his duster falls open a little, the light briefly glints from the metallic star pinned to his chest. Casually his hand drops below the table before he continues.
“Well Im listening, but my throats gettin dry. You got five minutes boy before I find something to keep my attention.” all the while with his eyes on the man at the card table with the straying hand.
One of the men looks at the card dealer and smiles, “I’m here to play cards that’s for sure”, the smile fading quickly.
From under the table the revolver turns to point at Munny and Exodus hears a faint click…
All of a sudden Exodus “throws” a card so that it sticks in the arm of his card playing opponent with the gun, this causes the gun to drop to the floor where it goes off harmlessly. Sitting back Exodus says “now now its not nice to play with guns indoors, I suggest you pick it up and put it back into your holster before somebody gets hurt.”
Exodus then leans back in his chair orders another drink and lights up a cigarette.
The sound of the gunshot causes everybody to freeze (except for the three newcomers who dive for the floor).
The bullet from the dropped gun shoots out a chair leg on the table next to Munny….
Munny calmly un-cocks the hammer of his pistol under the table, tips his hat at the card player with the nifty card trick, before peering round at the three men on the floor.
“Excuse me fella’s, I just need to go and teach this boy some manners then you can get right to tellin’ me more about this problem of yours”
With that he gets up and walks to wards to card table, his spurs jangling and his hand resting on the butt of his pistol.
Once the echo of the gun fire has disappeared, Kwai Chang Caine carefully extracts a shiny silver coloured fan from the inside of his coat, unfurls it, and starts to fan himself as he watches the lawman cross the room.
The two men at the table get up and start to back away towards the saloon exit, they leave their money and the still smoking gun on the floor…
Munny continues to appraoch them, his fingers fluttering at his side, a berath away from the ivory grip of his pistol.
“You boys got somethin’ you want to say? Im all ears. You got nothin more to say, then lets take this outside. But ya oughta’ keep one thing in mind as you walk on out of here. I shoot you down, I’m upholding the law. You pull the trigger on me, an’ you are an outlaw. Now talk, or move!”
One man cries in panic and falls to the floor pleading for his life, the other whose gun is lying on the floor looks at Munny with contempt,
“Yeah Munny shoot me down an unarmed man in cold bold like you did me brother!”
The other man is now lying face down on the floor crying a puddle forming beneath him, “Oh Ben Fraser I tole you not to do this!” He looks at Munny “Please mister I don’t won’t no trouble I ain’t even got a gun!”
Exodus calmly picks up the money, thats been left on the card table, and places it in his pocket, then picking up the gun thats on the floor Exodus throws it to Ben “Here you go Ben now you have a gun it will be a fair fight when you go outside”
Ben catches the gun and walks outside…
The puddle on the floor slowly grows.
A young man, looking barely 20 years old, steps off a stagecoach to enter the small town he’s told by the driver is called Jaynestown. “Just great, first I spend days on that bouncing piece of work and now I’m dropped off in the middle of nowhere. Things just couldn’t get any worse,” the man thinks to himself. He dusts off his suit for a moment, and heads for what looks like a place where he might be able to get something to drink and eat.
As soon as he reaches the saloon doors, he stops in his tracks as he hears a gun go off. He looks inside and sees a bunch of people looking quite agitated, and figures that he has jinxed himself and things were indeed getting worse after all. As the men seem to be heading for the doors, he steps to the side and rests for a moment against the saloon wall. This was not going well at all.
Those who take the time to look would see that he is a young man, wearing a black fedora and dressed in a suit consisting of a black vest, red shirt and tie, and trousers, leather belt and overcoat all in black. In his right hand, he’s holding a cane, and in his left, a suitcase. Those paying very close attention will notice the unusual red colour of his eyes. He looks quite intimidated by the scene he has stumbled onto.
Munny doesnt move, standing there in the salloon, he could barely hear what the others were doing or talking about, its like time stood still. His face could be carved from granite. Upon hearing Ben Fraser announce his heritage and reason for being there, he calmly draws his pistol, pulls back the hammer with his thumb, points it at Ben Fraser and before anyone realises what is happening he fires.
He turns to the man whimpering on the floor and growls just four words. “Whats yer name boy?”
Exodus sits back in his chair raising an eyebrow at the events that are unfolding before his eyes. He takes a good look around the room then takes another sip from his drink.
‘Wait sir,’ says Kwai rising out of his seat,’ please not to kill any more people. If I understand right this man has not committed a crime here, he merely came to support his now dead friend.’
Slowly he moves around from behind his table, only the fan in his hand,’ is it not better to show mercy here’ said Kwai speaking carefully in the foreign tongue, ‘and to let this man leave, to stand as a warning to others and as an example of your integrity as a lawman?’
The body falls through the saloon door and lands at the feet of someone outside.
The kid on the floor screams in shock and horror and jumps up he lunges at the man walking towards him holding a fan as if looking for a gun…
The young man outside is startled as a dead body comes flying out the saloon doors and lands right next to him. For a short moment, he stares at the body, being reminded of the way he had seen his mother bleed out to death, but the memory was quickly interrupted by more gunfire and the screams of a girl coming from inside. He decides that perhaps it would be best to check into the hotel first, and come back for a drink later, when things had settled down a bit. With that, he trots off towards the town’s hotel with a hurried step.
Munny’s gun tracks the man with the ever increasing stain on the front of his trousers, never waivering. Ignoring the chinaman he says:
“I’m waitin’ for an answer boy… tell me yer name.”
Deftly avoiding the scared young man’s desperate attack, Kwai bats away the flying fist with his metallic fan, and steps aside out of range. He stands there unthreatening, still looking at Munny and waiting for his response.
Growling out the corner of his mouth, his cigarette still firmly clamped betwen his lips, Munny responds to the questioning look from the Chinaman:
“This here good for nuthin’ streak of piss, calling his self a man, aint nuthin but a low down outlaw. An associate of a known gang member. Cattle rustling, no good, murdering rapists. An I intend to bring him to justice. Now step aside”
“Now this is entertainment, normaly you have to pay to see a show like this, barkeep another drink over here if you dont mind” Exodus keeps track of all that is going on in front of him, ever ready to play another hand with the devil if it looks like the fight is coming his way
Kwai bows to the gruff lawman and steps back, turning as he does to face the object of Munny’s attention, ’it would seem your fate is sealed should you continue on this course of action,’ he says to the outlaw,’ however I suggest you throw yourself at the mercy of this man and look to your soul for comfort.’
“I ain’t no criminal sir!” the main wails as he back peddles towards the bar,“Ben there was just chancing the fact you might still be in the area I didn’t think he’d really do it!”
The kid reached the end of the bar and ducks behind it, the bar man watches him and shouts “Sonny leave that alone!” He then dives away as far from the kid as possible.
The kid jumps up with a shotgun and fires!
In the blink of an eye and like a leaf in the breeze Kwai bends away from expanding cone of lead avoiding all of the pellets he gracefully sidesteps to safety.
As soon as the kid appears from behind the bar with shot gun in hand Exodus lets fly and 3 playing cards streak across the bar to land firmly in the kids chest. He then looks over to see if the marshal is still standing.
As soon as Munny hears the barmans yell, he gets ready to take the shot. Upon seeing the shotgun he fires, doesnt take the time to aim and instead lets his body relax into it, the muscles doing what they have been trained to do, his arm instinctively pointing at the gunman’s vitals. He feels the rush of air as the storm of lead miraculously passes him by and doesnt flinch. Smoke curls up from the barrel of his gun as he watches the man slam back into the bar.
The bullets and cards hit the kid at almost the same time, his body convulses and the second barrel goes off as he dies.
Noticing the 3 cards alongside his bullet holes, Munny looks over at the card table and again tips his hat.
“Thats twice youve saved me sir, I owe you a debt of more than just gratitute. Tell me, whats yer name friend?”
There’s a scream from the stairs one of the girls slumps forward her friend screams her lungs out.
“The names Exodus and glad I could help you out” At this point he gets up tips his hat back and goes over to see how the lady is. with the large hole in her chest he takes it she is dead. “shame I was going to have a tumble with her tonight!!” Looking at her friend " you still up for a roll in the hay?"
Scowling at no one in particular Munny growls at the room: “Get that girl a doctor!” Then nudging the 2 corpses with the toe of his boot, “An get this filth outta here”.
Then looking at the 3 men who approached him just minutes before: "Now what say you buy me a drink an tell me what this problem your havin’ is all about?
The sounds of gunfire bring in on lookers the barman rushes over to the girl picks her up and rushes outside with her, the other girl recovers her wits and stand by the bar.
The three men pull up chairs and sit down…
“We live in a small commune about 10 miles south of here, we are simple farmers who have taken a vow of peace, last week a group of men rode up to our commune and demanded entry, our leader went out to meet them and they gunned him down. They looked up at us and said that they would be back in a week and would bring help and that they wanted the treasure within. We have no treasure and no means to defend our children and wives, we turned to a friend a retired law man, but he told us to find you, he said that we should tell you that they were Naylor’s boys.”