Sunday, July 28, 2013

Gauntlet - Episode 9.



Episode 9 – When Good Men Can Do Nothing

Running alongside the General Good and tucking neatly behind it was a small alleyway that lead to where Grandma Grael kept her waste bins and the like. It was also where folks like Jeb and Cut-throat Charlie liked to meet to do a quick spot of business. “You remember to bring your coin this time Chuck,” Jeb joked as he rubbed at the scruffy stubble that littered his chin. “Long as you made sure to not forget to bring with you what I might need it for,” Cut-throat countered before spitting at the ground.

Jeb grinned eagerly from ear to ear as he eyed the potential purchase and awaited the show of money to seal the deal. But instead of reaching inside his jacket’s front as usual, he marked Cut-throat’s hand slowly going for the back of his pants. “Hey, what’s this you’re trying to pull now,” Jeb demanded as he immediately tried to draw a weapon himself. Neither back alley dealer managed to be faster than their opposite as both heard the sound of slapped leather as guns quickly lent themselves to hand.

“You done been cheating me for too long,” Cut-throat challenged, careful to keep his pocket-sized pistol trained on Jeb. “It’s just business,” Jeb said with a shrug as he managed to keep his own weapon locked on his would be mark. Both men watched the other with growing irritation as their trigger fingers itched along with their impatience. That is until a third voice called from the street to draw at least a measure of their attention.

The slight slender shape of a man moved from the sunlit street back to investigate the shadow shrouded landscape of the alleyway. Standing just less than 5 feet tall Deputy Rook had never been known to strike any real notion of terror let alone invoke any measure of authority into those who he came across. As a Gael-Noir he had come to find himself an awkward sight here on Newport and even more so out here in Redemption.

He often wondered if it was the pale purple-grey tone of his skin or the deep iridescent violet of his eyes that made everyone look at him the way they did. But over the years he had come to find it even simpler than that. The fact that he was small, thin and often referred to as ‘that twisted child looking thing’ had come to lend more than enough understanding on the matter.

Despite the feelings others had on the matter he still refused to let that interfere with his job. As the Deputy it was his duty to see to the upkeep of law and order here in Redemption. Even if his authority was vastly limited when compared to the Sheriff’s, he still felt obligated to do all he could. So with a short sigh he relaxed his mind and let a rippling calm slip through him as he entered the alleyway to examine the sudden sound that disturbed his ears as he walked by.

“If anyone is back this way, I would highly recommend they declare themselves. This is Deputy Rook, state your name and business,” said the Sheriff’s substitute. Warily Rook kept his hand on the holstered weapon that hung at his hip as his eyes scanned about in the dim light searching for the source of the sound. He could almost feel it on the air around him that something or someone was back here in the alley. The same instinct also lent him the insight that while he wasn’t authorized to engage in open force on the streets he might be about to walk into a situation where he would have to.

♦♦♦

“Would you be so kind as to take this bundle out back to spare an old lady the strain on her back?” Grandma Grael asked as she pointed down at a small parcel that sat next to a few broken remains of what might have once been a broom handle. Judging that he had managed to gather everything to satisfy the Mayor’s order and only required a second pass to ensure the matter, Marshall nodded his agreement.

“Just point me as to where they need putting and I will see to it,” he acknowledged. Grandma rested her hands on her hips and puffed out a petite sigh before jerking her head towards a rear hallway. “Right through there and out the back door is where you’ll find the bins. Mind you, it’s best to be careful sometimes folks rummage about back there.”

“Don’t worry none, I’ll take this stuff out and be right back to finish my work,” Marshall promised. He claimed the bundled bag in one hand and the busted broom handle in the other before heading down the hall. As his hand reached for the door knob he could hear the clear command for anyone to identify themselves, sparking in him a sense of alarm.

Tightening his grip on the handle in his hand, Marshall eased the door open cautiously at first and let his eyes survey the situation. What they found waiting to be witnessed was a grizzly pair locked in a standoff with weapons drawn on each other. Whoever had called from around the corner for everyone to announce themselves had sounded distinctly like an officer. They also it looked like to him were about to walk into a messy situation outnumbered.

There didn’t seem to be much a decision about the matter as Marshall seized on the element of surprise to take action. With a grunt he heaved the bundle like a bullet to slam into the figure on his right, knocking him off balance. Following up the garbage gambit, Marshall rushed into a swing that directed the broken broom to bash the other man’s gun up and away. The brutal blow sent the firearm flying free from the grip that guided the gun to skid away back down the alley.

Reading the registered shock on his victim’s face Marshall continued his crusade and returned his attention towards the other armed assailant. Already spinning to shake off the stun the bag battered bully was raising his weapon for a shot. Reflexes reacted automatically from within Marshall to send the ruined remains in his hand sailing on a collision course with the man’s middle that ended with a groan that emptied him of air. Not wanting to wait for the other suspicious stranger’s shock to wear off, Marshall brought his right up in a savage uppercut to send him toppling to the ground. Then he granted the gasping gunman a quick jab or two as well before pulling the two to lie limply together.

“Hold it right there,” Rook declared as Marshall retrieved both of the men’s weapons. He ignored the order and simply handed both guns out handles first to offer them to the officer. Confused by the gesture, Rook puzzled over the sight of the pummeled pair upon the ground and then looked back at Marshall hoping to find an explanation. The two of them locked eyes, warm walnut staring back into vibrant violet.

Both men measured the other in the unspoken moment and found for themselves a feeling for one another. Of the two, Marshall was the first to break the silence by speaking. “Apologies officer,” he began respectfully. “But you were about to walk into a nasty bit of luck. Both of these men had weapons drawn on one another and if not for myself might have done harm to you or one another.”

“Appreciated, and you are,” Rook asked inquisitively, a slight shimmer in his eye. “My name is Marshall Lawson,” Marshall admitted and offered his hand. As Rook accepted the polite gesture Marshall continued. “I’m new in town and currently at the mercy of Mrs. Grael’s charitable disposition.”

Deputy Rook nodded as he accepted the offered explanation but then his face turned somewhat sour. “Like I said I am grateful for the assistance, truthfully I am. However I am afraid that I have to strongly advise you to refrain from any further such actions. Technically speaking by engaging in open violence on the streets of Redemption I am obligated to see you arrested. But, seeing as how you spared me a potentially permanent end to my duties I am willing to overlook the matter.

Be that as it may, if the Sheriff hears of this he is liable to force the issue and demand you be placed behind bars. Now, I’ll do what I can to try and keep this between us but it would be wise to steer clear of anymore heroics. Understand?”

“Yeah, I understand,” Marshall replied. “But just tell me this though; what would you have done if I hadn’t been around to ambush these two?” Deputy Rook had to consider the question for a moment before he ventured an answer. A wry grin crawled up one side of his face when he found the only possible action he could have chosen. “I would have done my duty as the Deputy of Redemption.”

Marshall never let his eyes leave the deputies as he answered the question. There wasn’t a single waver or sign of weakness in their depths, and he was certain that the deputy would have undoubtedly tried. Fortunately though, Marshall reminded himself with a chuckle he had been around to take out the trash. “I best be getting back to my work,” he excused himself and started back for the door. “Likewise,” said Rook as he held up a hand in parting before turning to gather up the groaning men still on the ground. And then both men returned to their tasks with a fresh friendly grin upon their face.