The two men swaggered up to the bar, shiny guns strapped to their thighs, shifty looks slapped on their faces. Johnny slumped a little straighter in his chair.
It took only a few beers and a few dozen whispered conferences over a paper one held before they turned to Johnny. They'd gone twitchy eyed, with fingers to match. "You and us, we got what you call a date with destiny, Madrid," one of them said.
"Date's wrong," Johnny said, nudging his beer to where he hoped it would survive. He was getting tired of this.
The strangers went for their guns. So much for Scott's code of the west.
Johnny's pistol was smoking before their bullets could hit anything but his beer. Damn. He stepped over the bodies, picking up the paper from the bar. It was old news, the notice of a reward for bringing in Johnny Madrid by May 1. Only whoever wrote it had forgotten to mention the year. Sometimes Johnny wondered if the asshole had maybe done it on purpose, like it was his idea of a joke. It was a study in human nature that it took most men almost to the deadline before they finally got their courage high enough, or their finances low enough, to make a run at collecting.
He shook his head at the spilled beer and splattered blood. What a waste. Every damn year, a month of this shit.
The barkeep handed him another beer. "You know them?" he asked.
Johnny shrugged, sliding over some coins. Not personal like, he didn't, but he had a name for their kind.
--April 1, 2009