Friday, April 27, 2012
Now Playing: Hellfire
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Episode Three concluded with:
Olsen bent down and grabbed Hosea by the collar of his black frock coat. He dragged him out of the room and shouted from the second floor, “The preacher man is all tuckered out after spendin’ time with one of our girlies. I gotta help him downstairs.”
The entire saloon exploded in laughter as Lars Olsen dragged Hosea down the stairway. When they arrived at the bottom, Lars picked Hosea up while still holding him by the collar. “He was prayin’ for a miracle all the way down. Kept askin’ the Almighty for a body made of rubber!”
More laughter followed as Olsen walked a stumbling Hosea to the bat wing doors and tossed him out. “That girlie wants nothing to do with you! Stay away or I’ll kill you!”
Rance Dehner rode slowly into the dark town of Hellfire. This was not his kind of town. There was no law in Hellfire. Killers gathered here like worms crawling into a coffin. Dehner was in town to bring one of those killers, Lars Olsen, to justice. The detective had no illusions about peacefully arresting the outlaw.
The circumstances that brought Dehner here were also strange. He had received a telegram from a friend, Stacey Hooper, informing him as to Olsen’s location. Stacey was a professional gambler: not the type who was usually concerned about law and order.
Dehner figured the time to be approaching midnight. Down the street, two men were firing guns into the sky and finding it hilariously funny. Other men were staggering from one saloon to the next. There were plenty of drinking holes to choose from.
Dehner halted his bay. His attention went to the Quick Dollar saloon, where a blond haired man had just tossed another man into the street. “That girlie wants nothing to do with you! Stay away or I’ll kill you!”
The man who had been tossed got up slowly. He was a thin man of medium height, with a surprisingly deep voice. “Your days of killing people are numbered, Olsen. Judgment is coming on you. Coming on this whole sinful town!”
Dehner tied his horse at the hitch rail outside the saloon. He went unnoticed by Olsen, who laughed as he stepped back into the Quick Dollar. The detective approached the deep voiced man who was brushing dirt off of his trousers.
“Are you okay, friend?” Dehner asked.
“I’m blessed, if that’s what you mean.” He extended a hand. “The name is Hosea Rimstead. I was named after the Old Testament prophet.”
Rance observed that the man looked like a prophet, with a thick black beard that, to some degree, masked his youth. A close look at his face revealed that Hosea was in his early twenties. “My name is Rance Dehner. I was named after a rich uncle my father was trying to borrow money from.”
To Rance’s surprise, Hosea laughed good naturedly. “Did it work?”
“No. I disappointed my daddy the day I was born.”
Hosea smiled broadly. “Guess we all got our burdens to carry.”
“Reckon so. You look like a man who has acquired some recent burdens.”
“Yeah.” Hosea touched his face lightly and quickly retracted his hand. “I got what was comin’ to me.”
“What do you mean?”
“I challenged a man much bigger than me to a fight. In other words, I put the Lord to the test. You ain’t supposed to do that. It never turns out good. Enough about my troubles, what brings you to this cesspool of sin, Rance?”
“I’m here to arrest Lars Olsen. That was him who tossed you out wasn’t it?”
“Last time I saw him, he had a beard. That was three months ago. He gave me the slip back then.” Rance looked toward the batwing doors of the Quick Dollar. Tendrils of smoke oozed out like pus from an infected wound. “Good meeting you, Hosea.”
“Wait! You could be going to your death! Olsen’s got plenty of friends in the Quick Dollar.”
“I’m sure he has plenty of friends in this town. I want to take him now, before he has a chance to arrange an ambush.”
“I’ll go with you!”
Dehner was surprised by Hosea’s offer, which sounded genuine. The man was wearing a black frock coat, black trousers, white shirt and no gun.
“You’re not armed, Hosea. Going back into a place like the Quick Dollar without a gun…after being thrown out…well…you could be setting up another test for the Lord.”
“Good point. But listen, you won’t be alone, brother. I’ll stay right outside here and pray for you.”
Dehner stepped onto the boardwalk and glanced backward. Hosea’s head was bowed and his hands clasped together. His whispered words sounded intense. Rance couldn’t decide if the man was loco or genuinely devout. He reckoned that was a question for later. He pushed open the batwings and entered the Quick Dollar saloon.
Monday: Episode Five of Hellfire