Whitey Collins, leader of the Collins Gang, sat in her attic and looked down on the main street of Dodge. She held a porcelain doll in her lap, and combed its yellow hair with a pearl-handled brush. Bright sunshine cast long shadows across the town. Summer was in the air.
She could see across to the saloon, where most of the Collins Gang sat all day playing cards and sipping rotgut. Next door was the library, where Inky Bridges hunched over a sheet of paper, and composed yet another page of his extremely important thoughts about things. Next to that was the church, where Bishop Luxon prayed for salvation. The rest of the gang loafed around town in twos and threes, whispering.
The plain fact of the matter is that no one had anything to do ever since Whitey assumed the leadership. The townsfolk shunned the gang and paid it little mind. More pointedly, they shunned Whitey, and paid her no mind whatsoever.
A riderless horse crossed the street. Vultures roosted on a telegraph wire.
"It's quiet," Whitey said.
Whitey went to the feed store and ran into Jacqui from Waitaki.
"Good morning," said the Otago rancher.
Whitey felt this was an odd greeting on account of the fact it was late in the afternoon, and asked her if she was feeling alright.
"Something," she replied, "has been playing on my mind."
She told Whitey that five years ago at a barbecue at Baron JK's hacienda, she walked past Inky Bridges and overheard him make a lewd remark.
Whitey said, "This is a plain case of #MeToo!"
Jacqui from Waitaki said, "What's a hashtag?"
After another day of stultifying nothingness in Dodge – the loafers loafed, the soaks in the saloon soaked, Inky Bridges signed copies of his latest book, Bishop Luxon anointed his bald head with sacred oils – Whitey suddenly screamed, "It's too quiet!"
She hollered demands to lynch Inky Bridges to the nearest tree, and when no one moved, she smashed all the windows in her attic, and set it on fire.
Someone yelled, "Send for a doctor!"
Doc Reti was summoned from his bed.
After a long meeting in the saloon, Whitey was stripped of her badge, and bundled into a carriage.
"At least let me pack my principles," she said.
"You ain't got none," said Inky Bridges. "Git! Go on, git!" Horses sped the carriage across the plains.
Broken glass lay on the street beneath Whitey's attic.
"Someone clean that up," ordered Doc Reti.
But no one did. Whitey had thrown her rocking chair out the window during her fit, and its charred remains continued to smoke. Beneath it lay Whitey's porcelain doll. Its glass eyes had shattered.
Dodge was transformed. It was a town of high excitement, especially in the saloon, where the soakers and the loafers ordered endless rounds of rotgut. They toasted Whitey's departure, and laughed long and hard about the last 16 months of her terrible ideas, each worse than the last. But behind the bonhomie and celebrations, little cliques met in corner tables, and whispered.
Two of the gang were absent.
Inky Bridges burned the midnight candle in the library, and wrote another page of his campaign to be re-elected sheriff.
Bishop Luxon knelt in the pews of his church. He prayed for salvation. He prayed for redemption. Mostly, he prayed for his campaign to be elected sheriff.
He stood up, and tried on a range of bright white hats. "Lookin' good," he said to his reflection in the mirror. "Lookin' mighty good!"