One-Horse Town: Welcome to Keene (Chapter 1)

It was roughly a two-day ride from the tiny town he found himself in to the next, and that was across the border in Mexico. Brady stepped off his horse, wrapping the reins lightly to the post, before dusting some of the travel from his britches.

Everywhere he looked, he saw one name and one name only ‘Keene.’

“A one-horse town,” he thought as he searched out the only grub-hole along the dirt street.

Inside, he found the a table in the far corner from the door vacant and sat down. The special on the chalkboard sign read, “Chikin-n-dumpluns.”

“I hope it tastes better than the spelling,” Brady said to no one as he flagged down the counter help to order.

She was a sight he hadn’t seen in days, petite with deep brown-eyes and black hair. She moved quickly to where Brady sat, ready to take his order.

In her hand she held a piece of paper. “Coffee and today’s special,” Brady stated as he read the note written on the paper.

“Help me.”

Knowing that she might be seen, Brady played it cool and nodded slightly. She vanished into the back, beyond the bare wood counter.

Brady was unable to stem his curiosity, he wanted to know what sort of help she needed. He pulled a worn notepad from his shirt pocket and a pencil tucked on the inside of his hat brim and wrote down a two words: “With what?” and laid the pad open where she could read it upon her return.

She glanced down as she set his coffee in from of him. It came in a china cup, dainty and floral, with a handle too small for even his pinky, and sitting atop a saucer sporting the same design as the cup.

Obviously, she was a step ahead of Brady. Folded neatly under the cup was a bit of paper that read “escape.” Brady picked the cup up by it’s brim and in one gulp drank the liquid down.

“Ma’am” he said, as he raised the cup indicating he’d like more.

“Rosa,” she replied.

“And can I get a bigger cup?” he asked.

She smiled and nodded yes.

He then took the time to write out the words, “Out back. Eat first.”

She stepped up to his table and set a clay mug in front of him and a coffee pot, while taking away the ‘good’ china. As he poured another cup of coffee and wiped the last of the gravy from his plate with a dumpling, Brady fingered the hammer of his pistol, removing the leather-loop that secured the six-shooter from falling out of the holster.

Finished, he put away the note pad and pencil stub, and stood up. He removed from his vests watch pocket a couple of coins and set them on the table, before leaving the diner.

Not wanting to draw anymore attention to himself that he already had by simply being a stranger in town, he slowly checked his saddle, adjusted his bed-roll and made certain his saddle-bags were secure. Once mounted, he reined his horse between the diner and what passed for a hotel, coming out in back of the eatery.

Rosa was there, waiting. She already had herself a horse, saddled, supplied and ready to make her quick getaway.


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