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By Rob Vaux A tale of Deadlands Weird West

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The doors to the Fat Chance Saloon exploded outward into the afternoon sunshine. A fat man with a tin star on his vest flew into the street and collapsed in an ungainly heap beside a ripe pile of horse apples. His opponent sauntered slowly after him, a tall black man with the easy grace of an accomplished fighter. The stout figure staggered to his feet, his piggy eyes red with booze.

"Black Jack Jackson," he slurred, "I'm playshing you unner arrest fer ashaultin' an offisher of the law."

Jackson stood in the doorway. "Sure you are, Johnny," he said quietly. "Just like Sheriff Coleman will fire you for drinking on duty."

The fat man stopped as the comment sunk in. He swayed back and forth with a Herculean effort to remain on his feet. Finally, he lowered his head and turned away from the saloon. "Thish ain't the end of it," he growled.

"Of that you can be assured," his opponent replied. Pulling a neat handkerchief from his leather vest, he sauntered back into the saloon. The impossibly small bartender continued polishing glasses, his squashed face swinging between amusement and anger.

"Charlie," Jackson asked, "why do you waste perfectly good whiskey on a slug like Templeton?

"The tiny man shrugged. "His money's good. And in here, he ain't buggin' anyone but me."

"And me."

"Yeah, I can see that." He gestured at a pile of broken glass on the floor. "Yer payin' fer that whiskey bottle, by the way.

Jackson tossed a silver coin on the bar and cocked his hat back. "Think he'll come back?"

"I wouldn't bet on it. Boy had enough rotgut in him to kill a horse."

"A shining example of our town's law."

The bartender stopped his polishing and leaned over toward Jackson. His misshapen left hand flopped uncomfortably next to him.

"Now don't go condemin' the law on accounta that skunk's butt of a deputy. The rest do a good job o' keepin' the peace 'round here."

Jackson's face was unchanged. "They're in Sweetrock's pocket, all of them. There isn't a real law here anymore than there's a real mayor or town council. Just the mining company and the people they've bought."

"Yer beef with Sweetrock still don't change the fact that Coleman's the elected sheriff and that he an' his deputies are the law in Gomorra. You'd best remember that the next time ya go pickin' a fight with one of them."

"I don't like bullies, C.L."

Charlie scoffed. "Lord Almighty, no one does! But bullies come in all shapes and sizes, and some got a way o' climbin' to the top of the heap."

"Like the good Deputy Templeton, perhaps?"

Charlie set the glass down. "Let's just say Gomorra seems made fer people like him."

Jackson smiled a wan, little grin. "Well, we'll see about that, Charlie. We'll just see ..."

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