Courderoy McCreedy sat in his hotel room taking inventory over the items he’d collected on his most recent trip out to the mines. He still had his trusty shotgun on-hand, but his little expedition gained him four chunks of Dark Stone and a gold certificate worth $25. Honestly, it wasn’t much for what he encountered back in the mine. He felt he deserved much better than that, and he sighed looking down at the bite wounds across his legs.
He still had to write his report, but that could wait until later. He figured he’d head down to the saloon first and try to gather some more information before meeting up with the gang. After the day he’d had, he felt he could sure use a glass of whiskey – hell, he may even pick up a whole bottle.
Courderoy packed up his belongings and put them in his saddle bag and headed on downstairs toward the saloon. It was getting close to nine o’clock, judging by the moon’s light, and it wouldn’t be long until the rest of his posse would show up for discussion on what move to make next.
He crossed the street in front of the hotel as a solid black stagecoach pulled up. Walking past the carriage, Courderoy caught a glance at the passenger inside. He was a tall man, suited up in black from head to toe. He wore a long neck tie that held a large golden clip on it. The clip showed text that read, “Montague”. Courderoy caught himself wondering about the man, and quickly shook it off as he climbed up the few steps into the saloon.
Inside the building, piano and laughter filled the air. The Salty Spittoon was certainly lively this eve. There were bar maids walking about, filling up gentlemen’s cups, with a few taking a pinch on the behind as they went. As Courderoy stepped in and the wooden doors creaked closed behind him, the entire room of eyes turned to meet him. He could tell exactly what they were eying – his U.S. Marshall badge. A few of the patrons stood up and politely excused themselves from the saloon, and Courderoy stepped down onto the saloon floor to find himself a table. He scanned the area and pulled up a chair next to a table of men playing poker. He settled into his seat and the room went back to its lively state.
He leaned an ear into the poker game to see what buzz was going around the town.
“…they say that he’s headed to town tonight. Came all the way up here from the east! New York I think. Rumor has it that he’s here to buy up some land or something,” a large man dressed in a poncho said.
A smaller man, with a full beard and dressed in mining gear, added, “With all the talk about the mines up here I’m surprised it took him this long. Anyone that knows ‘im could tell ya that he don’t sit out on stuff like this for long…”
Just then Courderoy noticed someone standing next to him at his table.
“Are you gonna just sit there and daydream all evenin’, or are you gonna buy a drink?”
His eyes snapped up to where the voice came from. To his left stood a beautiful woman, clad in saloon girl clothing, flashing one of the most beautiful smiles he’d ever seen. She wore a feather in her light brown hair, long black boots, and ruby-red lipstick that fell in line with the rest of her outfit.
“You been standing there long, Red?” Courderoy asked.
The young woman winked and sat a glass of whiskey down in front of him. He picked up the glass and took a sip. She knows me so well.
“Only long enough to figure out you’re sticking out like a sore thumb in here. I’m surprised you came so early. The others are just now on their way,” she explained.
Her name was Red Velvet. She worked as a saloon girl here in town, and in just about every town she and the posse traveled to. Courderoy never ceased to find himself amazed when the group would travel from town to town and Red just-so-happened to find someone she knew. Better yet, the people knew her. Most of the time it came in handy – she could gather information, she could always find a supply of something to drink, and when it came down to it the girl knew how to make money. Red was light on her feet, easy on the eyes, and she had a fire about her that set her apart from other women. In a different time, Courderoy may have found her as quite the catch, but her heart belonged to another.
“Well then,” Courderoy replied, “looks like I’ll just have to sit here and wait on ‘em.” He took a sip of his drink and spoke again, this time in a lower tone, “So, have you found out anything of value about jobs in town?”
A smirk came across Red’s face. “Well, now I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t, would I?” She took a seat next to Courderoy at the table, leaning in close. Courderoy didn’t have the heart to tell her that she let a bit of herself show when she did that. Then again, maybe she knew?
“It turns out there may be something big happening here. There’s word that some hotshot business man is coming down from the east coast. He deals in buying and selling land, and it appears he’s got his eye out for something on the edge of town.”
She sat back up in her chair, looking satisfied.
Courderoy shot her a smile. “That sounds about right.” He jotted a thumb at the guys playing poker at the table next to them. “Sounds like word’s gotten ‘round town. On top of that, right before I came in here, someone who took it upon himself to look pretty darn important pulled up in a nice-looking coach. My money’s on this stranger.”
Just then, the saloon doors swung open again, this time accompanied by a loud squall.
The words followed a man busting through the doors, clad in a duster coat and dirtied-up jeans. He wore his dark hair long, accompanied by a handlebar moustache. His spurs clacked against the floor as he stepped into the saloon. Immediately the patron swung his eyes over to Courderoy and let out a big belly laugh as he headed towards the table.
Behind the man followed a woman who walked in slowly, her right hand pinching the bridge of her nose. She wore typical rancher clothing, complete with a few accents. Her dress was a bright blue, adorned with a white stripe pattern. She wore a large rifle strapped to her back and two side bags at her waist. She pushed on through the doors and made her way to the table.
“Do you really have to make an entrance like that every time we come in this place?” the woman asked the man with the moustache.
“Shucks, lady. Sometimes it pays to make a scene! Besides, when you got somethin’ to show off you do it!” The moustached man was none other than Roland Poreley – quickest draw this side of old Brimstone. He walked around the table and grabbed Red by the waist as she stood to meet him. They shared a kiss and sat back down, accompanied by the woman in the dress.
“Well, have you ever thought that maybe some of us don’t want to look so stupid?” The woman shook her head, and turned to Courderoy as she sat. “I’m sorry we’re late.”
Courderoy smiled to her. “No worries ma’am. I’m just glad you’re here safe and sound.”
Now this woman, she was more Courderoy’s type. She was tall, tanned, and knew how to hold her own. She went by the name of Lynette Beckshaw. The two of them met back in a small town called Gamorrah. Courderoy was stationed just outside of town and posted to help the local law handle a shipment of ammunition running through the area when he ran into Lynette in the general store. Turns out Lynette has a ranch of her own that was passed down to her by her father. She’s spent every day since she turned 18 tending to the land and keeping it safe from harm. She’s worked hard for what she’s earned, and it shows. In fact, her will and resolve is what Courderoy found most attractive about her. That, and she sure did know how to shoot a gun. She was quite nice to look at, too.
“Roland decided to spend over an hour polishing his pistols before we finally left the hotel. I nearly left without him,” Lynette explained.
“Hey,” Roland interjected, “it always pays to have a clean firearm, little missy. You never know when you’re gonna need it, and it helps to keep all your toys in working order. Ain’t that right honey?” Roland shot a smirk to Red.
As usual, Red pretended he’d not even said a word.
Courderoy sat up straight in his chair and addressed the group. “At least we’re all here. Now, we need to talk about what our next plans are. There’s a lot of money to be made here, not to mention all the stuff that’s been floating around town as of late. On top of that, we can’t be letting whatever’s out in those mines get here to the town.”
“True,” Lynette said. “And we also have to figure out what we’re gonna do with that Dark Stone we took out of the mine before it collapsed. I just don’t feel right carryin’ that stuff around with me.”
“If we had more money, maybe we could put some of the Dark Stone to use?” said Roland. “I heard there’s a blacksmith here in town that can make some pretty neat stuff with it, but you better have a thick wallet, or you won’t be getting’ a thing.”
“Maybe I can help out with that?”
The voice came from behind them. Courderoy spun around and his eyes were met with the sight of the man he spotted in the stagecoach before he entered the saloon. The man stepped closer to the table and eyed the group.
“My name’s Perry Montague. Perhaps you’ve heard of my arrival to town?”
“That’s a coincidence Mr. Montague,” answered Courderoy. “In a way, we were just talking about you. Word doesn’t stay locked behind lips for too long in a town like this.”
“Ah, good,” said Montague. “Then I can assume you know why I’m here?”
“Not exactly,” Lynette responded.
Montague moved over to an empty chair at the table and held his hand out. “May I?”
“Of course,” Courderoy said.
Montague sat down, unbuttoning his sharp dress coat. He took off his hat, revealing a balding head pocked with salt and pepper hair that matched the man’s massive moustache.
“If anyone ‘round here knows what they’re talkin’ about, then you’d know I’ve come here from the east – New York to be specific. I deal in real estate. I heard about some land out here for sale and I thought I’d take it upon myself to travel out here and stake a claim. I aim to get this area restored to its former days.”
Roland leaned up in his chair, one arm still locked around Red. “Well that’s so very righteous of you Mr. Montague. Now, if you don’t mind me askin’, what’s this got to do with us?”
Montague smiled. “I’m glad you asked. Y’see, I recently acquired some land not too far outside of town. After surveying it, I discovered it has an underground mine running right through it. I haven’t had the time to look deeper on the property yet, but I’ve already got plans for some construction and I need the place ready for it.”
Roland and Courderoy shot each other a look. After a moment, Courderoy spoke. “So what exactly are you getting at, mister?”
“Well,” Montague looked at the group individually. “I was wondering, are you all looking for some work?”
*Image credit goes to deviantART user whatyoumaydo.