The old wooden doors squeaked as they sashayed back and forth; in a strange unison with his boot spurs as he entered the Abilene town saloon; a few days ride from Dodge City.
Black Bart had been through a few of these establishments; so common now, these agricultural settlements out here in these parts of Missouri and Kansas.
His job as a hired Sheriff, though not very popular, paid reasonably well.
Cattle towns like this one were flourishing in 1867 here on the prairies.
Several million heads of cattle were driven north from Texas, on the Chisolm, Great Western and assorted other trails.
Being a railroad shipping point, Black Bart knew there was money to be made here, and where there was money to be made, there was also trouble.
Trouble had a ways of finding you out here in these parts.
The sound of a fiddle filled the air as Black Bart entered the Easy Peasy saloon.
Questionable women, scantily clothed, were flitting about the saloon, trying to make their appearances known, like bright fireflies.
“I sees that shiny star on your shirt, Darkie, you must be the new lawman.”
“Me and my boys been on the trail for 3 months Sheriff and we’s enjoying us some of this here local moonshine!”
Cares to joins us in a poker game Sheriff?
“I promises I’d leave you with something to go home with the missus.”
His flunkies roared with laughter.
“Names Lil Red, I’m part of Ned’s crew.”
Black Bart nodded assuredly slowly fixing his eyes on all of Ned’s crew.
One had stopped playing the fiddle as he had walked in.
Black Bart’s fingers calmly encircled the trigger of his six-shooter.
“I need to talk to Ned.”
“He’s upstairs Sheriff. ‘Cepting I don’t think he’d appreciate being bothered right about now.”
“He’s taking care of some business if you knows what I mean.”
“I reckon he’s gonna have some more business needs tending to.”
“Seems some of his steers been reported as coming from Texas with the splenic.” replied Black Bart.
Quarantine laws barring Texas cattle carrying the fatal disease, splenic fever, were recently enacted.
If one head of cattle was found with the disease, the whole herd must be put down.
Costing the cowboys bucketloads of money; that they had figured to be rightly earned on the trail.
Sheriffs were needed to make sure the drovers stayed compliant.
Black Bart headed up the stairs.
The fiddling and dancing died down for a moment and Black Bart could see Lil Red hunched over, eyes bulging, explaining things to his curious crew.
Some turned their heads and glared at him as he ascended.
He had seen these exact looks on mens faces before in these parts.
He knew he would be ready.
He kicked open the door.
Ned was in full fornication with some hussy.
“Ned Hickock your cattle has been reported to have the splenic fever.
“You and your boys need to see the judge.”
Ned jumped out of bed and grabbed hurriedly for his revolver; tripping on his pants, as his face registered astonishment.
“Dammit Sheriff, you ain’t stopping me from selling my cattle and earning my keep.”
He pointed the revolver at Black Bart and bam! He was done in with a shot right between the eyes.
The prostitute screamed and fell, with a loud thump, as she hid her naked body under the bed.
Before he could turn around two shots pinged off the door.
Black Bart again kicked the door open; rolled to the floor by the stairway railing, and commenced to firing.
Men were frantically running out of the saloon knocking each other over tables.
When the smoke cleared three men; including Lil Red, lay dead at the poker table.
The fiddler strummed on nervously.
“Hot Dang Sheriff!”
“You just done blown up my damned saloon!”, cried the bartender.
“Names Black Bart.”
“I’m the new Sheriff in town.”
“Folks need to start respecting the law.”
He tipped his black cowboy hat ever so slightly and walked through the smoke filled saloon.
Opened the creaking and swinging doors.
The sunlight rushed in illuminating the dead bodies.
Outside dust was kicking up on account of the men and women fleeing the saloon.
Black Bart walked over to his trusty horse Nightrider; tethered to a hitching post, and whispered, “Told you I’d be back soon enough.”
He always felt reassured by these little talks with his steed before a job.
Not that he needed to.
He jumped up on his saddle and with a slight kick of his spurs to the horses side yelled, “Come on Nightrider we got some cattle to rustle.”
“Let’s go on and get paid.”