Big Hoss Luxon heard the lonesome whistle of a train approaching Dodge as he sat back in the barber's chair and had his head shaved.
The barber heard it too and his hand paused on the razor.
"That train," he said, "is bringin' Inky Bridges. Are ya afraid? Are ya scared he's gonna blow your god-damned head off?"
"I ain't afraid of nothin' and no one," said Big Hoss Luxon, who suddenly and in one smooth, fast moment turned in his chair, held the barber's wrist with one hand, snatched the razor in his other hand and pressed it against the barber's throat.
Big Hoss Luxon knew the barber was one of Inky's stooges. He could have killed him right there and then, but that wasn't his style. He liked to keep his enemies close. He was all about unity. He needed to mobilise every man, woman and child in Dodge for the battle ahead. It was one thing to draw against Inky Bridges at high noon on Tuesday to see who would become the next Sheriff; but the big picture was to become next Governor of the whole state.
He gave back the razor and settled in his chair. "Do your job, son," he said, and closed his eyes. The barber gave him the best shave he ever had.
Big Hoss Luxon met Inky Bridges at high noon on the main street of Dodge.
They stared at each other through narrowed eyes and stood with their feet apart. Sunlight glistened on their spurs.
Townsfolk peered through their curtains.
Doc Reti stood in the shadows of the Last Chance Saloon with his medical bag.
Someone somewhere played a haunting dirge on the banjo.
And then suddenly and in one smooth, fast moment, Inky drew first - a diagram, with arrows and bullet points, ceding the Sheriff's badge to Big Hoss Luxon in return for a good position at the bank.
"Done," said Big Hoss Luxon.
A new era in Dodge had just begun.
A relatively new era of fantastic popularity for Twerky Seymour had just finished.
"Our relatively ancient era of fantastic popularity," Governor Ardern said to her advisers, "is under threat."
It was greeted with dread and horror.
"Wait," cried a heathen, "Big Hoss Luxon is old-timey Christian. Let's attack him on that!"
"I was raised Mormon," said the Governor.
"Well," wailed a faceless bureaucrat, "he's pretty inexperienced! Let's play that one!"
"No one really gives a hoot in hell about that," said the Governor.
"I've got it!" shrieked a liberal. "Big Hoss Luxon is very, very wealthy. Let's use that against him! The townsfolk won't want someone rich, successful, and confident!"
Someone somewhere played a haunting dirge on a fiddle.
Big Hoss Luxon set out from Rancho Botany on his magnificent white stallion and rode across the Eastern ranges to the fabled Palace of Eternal Blueness.
He was expected. A welcome sign hung from the Palace gates.
He was led inside and told to wait in the library room. It had one book in it.
Big Hoss Luxon had the feeling he was being watched.
He looked up and saw a familiar floating head smiling down at him from the ceiling.
"Will you teach me how to do that?" asked the guest.
"I will teach you everything," said Almighty Big Hoss Key, "in the battle ahead."