Dodge West was quiet.
But then it had always been a rather quiet little frontier town on the banks of a slow, wide river that quietly crawled its way through pasture and cattle country.
Sheep lowered their voices. Cornfields swayed in the wind without sound. A dense fog travelled over the river, silently.
Suddenly a shape appeared out of the fog.
It was hard to make out what it was.
It was even harder to guess its purpose.
But one thing was certain.
It was just about as dense as the fog.
“Howdy, everybody,” said Jesse Gaurav Sharma James.
“I hear Jesse Gaurav Sharma James has shown his face in Dodge West,” said Marshall Ardern.
“Yup,” replied a deputy consultant.
“Wants a showdown in the main street at high noon on December 10,” she said.
“Yup,” replied a deputy comms adviser.
The Marshall stood up and buckled on her stardust.
She looked out the window with a thousand-yard stare.
“I’m gonna send in Dansey someone or other to destroy him,” she said.
Her deputy consultant, deputy comms adviser, and deputy boot-licking spineless acolyte looked at each other.
It wasn’t going to be as simple as that, they were thinking.
Diamond Jim Luxon strode into the saloon in Dodge West and said, “Drinks and lower taxes are on me.”
The drinkers rushed to the bar.
“Now that I got your attention,” he said, “I got an announcement to make.”
The saloon went quiet.
He drawled, “I reckon I’ll send a man to fight in Dodge West at high noon on December 10.”
The saloon burst into applause.
Marshall Ardern’s deputy consultant, deputy comms adviser, and deputy boot-licking spineless acolyte sat in a dark corner of the saloon.
They finished their drinks and snuck out the back way to go to their rooms above the saloon and write up their CVs.
Epsom Seymour strode into the saloon in Dodge West and blathered, “I reckon I’ll send a man to fight in Dodge West at high noon on December 10, too! Yessiree. Fellow by the name of Doc McDowell. A good man. A righteous man. A man who ain’t afraid to dog whistle to the lowest common denominator on issues such as introducing ankle bracelets for serious and violent youth varmints, tax relief, and Three Waters. I tell you what. He’s gonna bury Jesse Gaurav Sharma James and whoever Marshall Ardern and Diamond Jim Luxon send in to fight. He’s gonna stand his ground. He’s gonna …”
He carried on in this manner but no one paid Epsom Seymour a blind bit of notice.
Jesse Gaurav Sharma James told a press conference assembled at the bar of the saloon, “I want my constituents to know all of the work I’ve done, often working my arse off late at night.”
He looked at the faces of the press and smiled as they wrote down what he said in their notebooks.
They looked back at him with a mixture of pity and contempt.
Jesse Gaurav Sharma James knew his likely fate on the main street at high noon on December 10.
He’d be taken away in a box.
But he’d bow out with a smile on his face.
As he fell to the ground, he knew that Marshall Ardern, his deadliest enemy, would fall too.
Diamond Jim Luxon would take the credit.
But it was really all his doing. His triumph. His achievement. Him, the wild man of Dodge West, him, the good servant of the people of Dodge West, him and him alone, as in really quite alone, and soon to be forgotten, poor old Jesse Gaurav Sharma James.