Retribution at Hollow Creek

Prompt from
Inspiration Monday: How did you get in here?
(200 – 500 words)


Cody spit the grounds from his cup of coffee, if that’s what you wanted to call it, into the fire and picked up his rifle. He thought he heard a noise. Cougar and bear were often wandering this time of morning and he wasn’t taking any chances.

He waited a few moments and when no threat appeared, he packed the rifle on his horse. He dumped the remainder of the brown sludge and rinsed the enameled pot in the stream. He doused the fire and tossed on several handfuls of sand.

As he climbed into the saddle, he couldn’t help but think about having a real meal at the hotel in Hollow Creek. Gawd, he was tired of beans and bacon and rabbit. He had only two more days of riding and he’d be there. His mouth watered at the thought of steak and potatoes and apple pie.

Every morning he woke up feeling good, but as the day progressed and he tired from riding, the anger set in again. Barratt still owed him nearly two hundred dollars from last spring’s poker game at the ranch. He’d promised to pay in the morning when the boss paid them. In the morning he was gone. It took some doing but he eventually uncovered Barratt’s whereabouts.

He finally rode into Hollow Creek just as the sun was passing long shadows across the main street. He tied up in front of the Clay Billing’s Hotel and got a room.

After a bowl of twenty-five-cent chicken stew, he headed for the saloon. Barratt would surely be there trying to filch someone else of their hard-earned money. He wasn’t there.

Cody asked around and learned that Barratt was seeing a particular whore regularly down at the Ruby, the other tavern in town. He peered through the doors and, sure enough, there was Barratt with a young red-headed gal sitting on his lap whispering in his ear. He laughed as though he hadn’t a care in the world, swilling whiskey and telling tall tales.

Cody slowly retreated and went around back. Lucky. A door to the upstairs rooms was ajar. As he mounted the stairs, a lady, obviously of the tavern, was coming down.

In response to his query, she said “Room 5. You lookin’ for some company, mister?”

“No thanks, ma’am. Just need to see Room 5.”

“He keeps it locked, but I have the key. It’ll cost ya, though.” She held out her hand expectantly. He passed her his last dollar and her smile widened.

“Right this way, mister.”

Cody got comfortable in the corner chair, laid his rifle across his lap and waited.

He had nearly dozed off when Barratt came stumbling in. He nearly fell over when he saw Cody waiting.

How’d you get in here?” he spluttered. Fear lit his eyes.

“Don’t matter. I’m here to collect.”

The next evening, Cody sat in the dining room of the Clay Billing’s Hotel and ordered steak and potatoes and apple pie.

***

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