Boot Hill
By: Allen Ashley

They call me Padre. Sure, I was a man of the cloth. Before the whisky. Nowadays, I like to pass the time leaning against the side walls of the General Stores. Sometimes sunny, sometimes shady.

If I've earnt a few pennies, there's the saloon across the street. I'm the only feller here what can read and write proper.

Another starry-eyed prospector comes into town, clutching papers and a map and swinging his pistol like he's Billy the Kid.

"Where's the gold mine, old timer?"

"Boot Hill," I tell him.

"Is that an instruction or a place?"

"That's a decent question, stranger. It's Boot Hill when you're lying on your back and your boots are sticking up. Or it's a state of being."

He spits on the ground. "Smart guy, eh? But I'm saving my bullets for them what deserves it, so just tell me how in hell I should get there, wino."

"It sure is a trek, could be long or short. You should rest your feet in the saloon first. And they'll surely help you on your way."

"I'm parched so I reckon I will."

As he pushes the swing doors, the piano player stops. You can hear the silence from this side of the street.

Gradually, there's some clinking of glasses and some tinkling of ivories. I know the next moves. Raised voices. Gunshots.

The sheriff and two of his deputies emerge, carrying the stranger's body like a steer carcass. They dump it on a wooden cart tied to a post. Then harness up a horse.

Yep, he's sure gonna get his self to Boot Hill.



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