Thursday, August 22, 2013

Gauntlet - Episode 27.



Episode 27 – A Gun-Bunny Hops Again

Over the years Grandma Grael had picked up on a good many things. She had learned how to pick out the young ones who might cause trouble, those who struggled with temptation to take and could even predict those customers who promised to pay later and would. You didn’t run the only real resource for the necessities out here for very long without adapting to survive.

So when the sharp staccato sound of footsteps outside ended at her door she already knew that they carried someone bent on business other than what her shop provided. It was the driven drumbeat of purpose, the hallmark of impending interrogations. Unfortunately for them, Grandma Grael wasn’t in the mood for playing games.

“Here on official matters,” Sheriff Arbiter announced as he stepped over the threshold to stand just inside the doorway. “Afraid I am going to have to ask you to hand over the wanted outlaw known as Gauntlet. We both know he’s been staying here, and unless you comply I’ll have to charge you with obstruction.”

Arbiter stood with his head cocked to the side, an almost look of pride in his posture. His gun was still holstered at his side, one hand held near it as if to warn that he meant his threat. But all Grandma Grael saw was the same young bully she had watched grow up. The familiar friendly smile was nowhere to be seen upon her face as she fixed him with a stern stare.

“Now you listen to me, Pierce Arbiter, we both know a lot of things,” Grandma Grael countered. “We both know that you’re no real sheriff; you’re nothing more than a fancied up guard dog for Adrian Taurus. I’ve minded my own business for far too long about the matter. I’ve turned an eye and went on about my way. But you never have learned which critters to leave be.

You’re boss did take that lesson to heart long ago. Let me share that little pearl of wisdom with you; everyone has a past and it’s often best to listen to your elders when they warn you about those who came before you. Adrian’s father knew me well back when we settled Redemption; he often told him some of the stories about who I used to be. And if you’re curious what that has to do with your situation right now, well, let me clarify it for you.

Adrian would have told you before you ever even thought to set foot in my store making demands that it would be the biggest mistake you ever made.” Without any dramatic gesture or attempt to conceal the fact Grandma Grael let the barrel of a shotgun rest atop her counter pointed directly at the Sheriff’s chest. Her eyes had the look of cold steel as she dared him to call her bluff.

“For the record,” she continued to explain. “They used to call me Gun-Bunny Grael. My past wasn’t exactly a pleasant one, and I have tried to put it behind me. But I have watched you bend the law to suit your own corrupt and perverse needs once too many. So I am going to give you the only warning you’ll get from me – to show that I am a little more merciful than I was in my youth. This isn't a pea-shooter pup, unless you want some holes in you I suggest you run back to your big-headed boss and deliver this message; he crossed the line.”

While Pierce listened to every word his eyes found it difficult to remove their focus from where they remained fixed on Grandma Grael’s trigger finger hovered a hair from his own messy demise. He had heard a handful of stories, whispered conversation mostly from some of the older townsfolk after some drinking about some old wildcat woman. They had called her Gun-Bunny, he knew that much, but he had never heard anything more than the occasional old rumor. It was like frontier folk tales he figured were more exaggeration than anything, now his doubts were quickly dissipating.

“Alright, you win,” Arbiter admitted with his hands held high, careful to keep them clear from his side arm. “But one way or another something is going to happen to want-to-be hero. The Red-Bull will never tolerate even a single man to interfere with his interests. So my friendly advice to you is to steer clear of him. And as for this, well, I’ll try to forget we had this little unfortunate encounter. But I make no promises others might find you’re lack of respect disappointing.”

“Tuck your tail and get gone pup, this trigger is a might touchy,” Grandma Grael advised. Arbiter found the cold brush of fear tickling its way up his spine. He had no question that she meant it either, and he wasn’t about to risk finding out. So he slowly started to back his way out to the street while his pulse raced in response. The second his heels hit street he wasted no time in putting as much distance between him and the legendary lady. Let her see him run, live today, deal with her later.

As she watched the sorriest excuse for a Sheriff she had ever known sprinting off into the shadows, Grandma Grael allowed herself a chuckle. Pierce was still just a petty punk compared to the kinds of people she used to deal with, he even ran like a frightened critter. In the past he never would have made it past the door to insult her, and on the rare chance that he had never would have made a single step towards the street.

Considering that thought she wrestled to decide if that meant she was slipping, or simply a better person. In the end she shrugged it aside as something that didn’t matter. Something told her that shortly word would start to spread of how the infamous Gun-Bunny was hopping once more. It was more than enough to make her smile again while she laughed. Who’d have ever thought that would happen? For some folks, she supposed, old habits were just too stubborn to be rid of though.