Madame Bitters cracked the heavy velvet cutains that framed her office window in response to the gunshot she'd just heard. She was just in time to see the Deputy falls to the dusty street.
It seemed Deputy Slim Pickens was the latest law enforcement casualty in Bordello Falls. Being a lawman in a wild west town was dangerous, but having the Sherrif and the Deputy shot dead in the same afternoon was something else entirely.
Then Madame saw the man standing above the Deputy's body. "What in tarnation...?" She trailed off as she watched the stranger with suspiciously wet pants.
"You say something, Madame?"
She turned away from the window and back to Doctor Vic, who was seated in front of her desk. "Deputy Pickens was just shot. The coach just got here and I guess Slim wanted to see if the new Sherrif was on it."
"Did you say a stagecoach just come in?" Doc asked frantically as he dabbed at his face with a hankerchief.
Madame looked closely at the Doc. He was sweating like a hog and he'd suddenly developed a very noticeable facial tic. The sweat might be explained by the oppressive heat-- it was at least 100 degrees outside-- but the heat had nothing to do with the onset of his tic.
"That I did. You expectin' someone?"
"No," Doc blurted out loudly.
"Then what the hell you still doin' in here? I done paid you to examine my girls and sheep for VD. Have you got to it yet?"
"Well, what the hell you waitin' for," Madame yelled, "for me to say please? Get to it, man."
Doc jumped up and left Madame's office (not without first grabbing the small bag of silver coins that constituted half his fee. The other half was upstairs.)and she laughed after his departure.
It's a good thing Doc doesn't play poker, she thought as she turned back to the window. The stage was long gone, but body was still there, along with several men who were looking at it and talking amongst themselves.
The stranger she saw a few minutes before was gone, but two new strangers (or was three?- she couldn't tell from where she was watching) had taken his place, along with a big donkey and a wolf.
Nick Funson was nowhere to be seen. Madame hoped he hadn't made the trip to Bordello Falls. Maybe his hemroids are acting up, she thought. He was prone to such ailments of the ass.
Madame left her office and she went through the swinging door to the bar for some liquid refreshment. She stopped short when she saw the man in the bowler hat on a stool at the far end of the bar. Several empty glasses were on the bar beside him.
She walked behind the bar and found the barkeep on the floor, drooling and snoring in a drunken slumber. Last time I hire a bartender who's Irish, for damn sure.
"You good?" Madame asked the stranger, as she poured herself a shot Chica Loca brand tequila. She wrinkiled her nose; her suscpicions about his wet pants were confirmed-- the stranger had not yet changed them.
The stranger met her eyes. "No," he moaned. I fear I've made a huge mistake in coming here! Nobody knows what football is! Or a pint! The missus was right, I should have just stayed in Manchester.
"Today is also St. Swithins Day and I was looking forward to the celebrations, but nobody knows what that is either! And these bloody, uncomfortable boots! How in the world do you people walk in them?"
"Well, first off if you got your boots bloody, then you need to wipe 'em off 'fore you come in my bar trackin' it on the floor. We see a lot of blood in here, but since it's spilled by payin' customers once they're in here, I usually don't make a fuss 'bout it. Trackin' it in though, that's a different story.
"And second, when I asked if you were 'good', I was askin' you if you want anymore to drink.
"Thirdly, I don't know who or what a 'Swithins' is but I'd be willin' to stack your holiday fun 'ginst a regular night here in Bordello Falls."
At this point Madame leaned over the bar, showing her ample clevage and said, "Especially when you let a few of my girls show you a good time." She smiled and winked.
The man's eyes opened wide as he caught the full meaning of her offer. He backed slowly away from the bar. "No, no, no. I- I don't need ones of...those. I'm a- a happily married man!"
Madame nodded and said, "Well, that may be so, mister. But since you still drunk my booze, you owe me some money. By my count you got four drinks, so I'll be takin' my silver piece now."
The man threw a couple of gold coins on the bar and hastily made his exit, nearly knocking down two of her regulars that had just arrived in the process.
"Howdy, Madame," called Eli. Me an' Cletus here wanna bottle o' bourbon, two glasses, one broad and," Eli waggled his eyebrows towards Cletus, "one sheep."
The barkeep, who was still taking his liquor induced siesta under the bar, groaned and mumbled "Not tonight, Father". Madame kicked a few times with the pointed toe of her shoe and he yelped.
"Wot's s'matter," he slurred.
"Get up, you miserable sack o' manure. We got customers. What the hell you doin' anyway?"
He yawned. "Jus' takin' a nap, I am." Then he felt a splash of water. His eyes flew open to see his boss holding a bucket of dirty dishwater.
"You rested up now?" asked Madame as she threw the metal bucket dangerously close to his head. "Now serve these customers and clean up the water- both on the floor and in the chair that limey British bastard was sittin' in! And be quick about it!"
She left the bar and went upstairs to get the requested girl and sheep.
All Madame knew was that Doc had better be finished examining her employees and collecting his payment or she would not be happy.
And if Madame ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.