Cowboy

by Luke Otley

He stood in the middle of the street. The street was wide enough for five or six horses, the dirt was hardened nicely and the road tended to regularly, the deeper hoof-falls filled in. The track into town wound itself a ways down from the mountains in the west, where the sun now drooped, seemingly glad its toil for the day was almost over. He spat, lazily. The brim of his hat unnaturally low for the hour. His head moved slowly to the left, then to the right.

Suddenly he moved up the street. A cloud of dust formed from the stomping of his boots. His step seeped violence. His left arm hung limp at his side as he walked, and when he reached the saloon he pushed through the doors with his body turned. The wooden floor of the bar resonated the clap clap clap of his walk, cutting through the silent afternoon.

Then silence, again, fell. Minutes passed. Finally he pushed into the fading light with a woman in skirts, heavily made up, a whore. She cackled happily, lifting her throat upwards and showing teeth, in answer to an untold joke. He lead her by the arm. Some way down the street, he looked over his shoulder once, then nodded towards a space between two buildings. The woman reciprocated, brushed at the dust gathering in her skirts, and entered. She held out her arms, palms flat to the walls as she moved deeper into darkening space. The sun, duty done, left. The woman’s skirts were luminous in the grey twilight. The man followed her into the space. He was pulling on a pint of whisky. His left arm hung limp, and scraped lightly against wall of the building. The pair stopped, and he offered her the whisky. She took a strong pull, passed back the bottle and turned her back to him. She slunk slowly downwards onto her knees. Without hesitation, he brought the bottle down on the back of her head. There was a soft clunk. Her face thudded into the sand, her neck at a strange angle. Her behind in the air. With his left hand he fingered his belt buckle.