Another day was dawning in Dodge. The townsfolk peeped out through a gap in their white lace curtains. They were waiting for the train to pull in.
It carried a very special passenger, who many loved, but many others feared. Everyone had an opinion about him. Whiskey drinkers in the National Saloon raised their glasses to him. Craft beer drinkers in the Twitter Saloon cursed the ground he walked on.
His name was legend across the whole Wild West. There wasn't a soul who hadn't heard of The Outlaw Hosking.
He'd been coming into Dodge once a week for as long as anyone could remember with the same specific mission: to stand on the dusty main street, and shoot questions from the hip, aimed straight at Sheriff Ardern.
The Outlaw Hosking had fired a lot of zingers that hit their mark over the years and it was pretty obvious the sheriff didn't like that one bit. Sheriff Ardern generally treated him like a child and it was pretty obvious he didn't like that one bit. In all that time she had never refused his challenge – until now.
Inside the county jail, Sheriff Ardern sat at her desk with her boots on the table and her hat pulled low over her eyes. If she heard the train pull in, she didn't let on. She didn't stir. She didn't move.
The Outlaw Hosking stepped out on to the platform and narrowed his eyes. He wore a damned strange shirt and his haircut was pretty crazy too but it had to be said that he was clean as a pin. He was itching for a fight. He wanted to show her a lesson. She thought she was above it all with her highfalutin' ways but he wanted to bring her down to reality, and challenge her with his low-falutin' ways.
"Sheriff," The Outlaw Hosking called out from the main street. He had a beautiful voice. "Sheriff. Come on out, Sheriff."
But the sheriff just sat at her desk.
The townsfolk had a meeting to discuss the sheriff's refusal to stand in the main street and face The Outlaw Hosking.
The whiskey drinkers said she was nothing but a chicken. They said she was depriving the town of an ancient spectacle. She owed it to the people of Dodge to answer his questions. Everyone else gave her a free ride. Sheriff Key had done it before her; did she think she was somehow better than him?
The craft beer drinkers said she was a goddamned hero who deserved respect. They said The Outlaw Hosking was a mean varmint without so much as a drop of the milk of human kindness, and the Good Lord knew that Sheriff Ardern placed a high value on the milk of human kindness. She didn't have to play his games. As for Sheriff Key, everyone knew The Outlaw Hosking only ever arrived in town to shine his boots.
The Outlaw Hosking was good and mad. He got on his high horse and rode all across the Wild West, cursing out Sheriff Ardern's name.
The Outlaw Hosking remained good and mad. He got on his high horse and rode back across the Wild West, cursing out Sheriff Ardern's name.
Sheriff Ardern sat at her desk with her boots on the table and her hat pulled low over her eyes. It was a real peaceful week, she thought. Real peaceful. That suited her just fine. As for The Outlaw Hosking, let him ride and curse out her name; it didn't worry her none.
And as for the townsfolk, who in the hell did they think they were?