Sheriff Otis Claghorne settled his considerable bulk into the chair behind his desk, grimacing at the creak the wood emitted. Mopping his greasy forehead, he glanced up at the clock. Barely ten o’clock of the morning and already hotter than inside Satan’s bunghole. Twerern’t gonna be no good kinda day for a hangin’ but a hangin’ there would be. High noon, on the mark, to be exact.
Sighing with anticipation of the dust and smell that would already be strong on the streets, he supposed he best drag his lazy ass to the saloon and round up his deputies. He’d likely need all three of them before the day was out.
Abel Carson weren’t much of a criminal menace but the judge had sentenced him to die and it were up to Claghorne to see it over and done. For a two-bit grifter and scoundrel, the fool had sure enough had him enough visitors.
Claghorne had been the sheriff of Clayton Corners for nigh on twenty years and realized his reputation must have been more known than he’d expected.
It weren’t exactly as if he turned a blind eye to the law, but he had, on occasion, exercised his discretion and…commuted a sentence. He chuckled at his mind’s settlin’ on the word commuted. In plain talk, he’dd taken him some compensations over the last two decades. Sheriffin’ didn’t pay none too good and a feller had him a right to safeguard his future, didn’t he?
He weren’t any too sure what the Sweeney brothers had thought they was up to. How the hell you gonna bribe a man when you ain’t got a shaved copper penny to yer name? It amused him to see the resignation on Carson’s homely face when they informed their friend they had no solace to offer. That alone was worth lettin’ the pair in to see the prisoner.
Things had taken a turn for the better when Josiah Carson had shown up late that evening. Without words, he slid a leather pouch across the sheriff’s desk. Claghorne spilled the coins out into his grubby hand and nodded. Seven dollars weren’t gonna buy no house on the hill, but it were somethin’. Though he’d yet to make up his mind while Josiah was still there, he played his role well and let the brothers think the matter settled.
Well, either he weren’t so good an actor as he imagined or the younger Carson brother had a devious mind too and had decided to sweeten the pot a bit with some additional…offerings.
Early yesterday morning, Abby Carson had slunk into the office barely meeting the sheriff’s questioning gaze. In a low voice that dripped with sadness, she allowed as how, if he were willin’, she might yield up her womanly favors in exchange for him allowin’ her brother to live as a free man. Truth be told, she weren’t really Claghorne’s type of woman…all angles and bones and her tits weren’t no bigger’n a coupla old winter apples but who was he to turn away a bit of leisure, eh?
He’d availed himself of her far more vigorously than he’d original intended and felt he’d gotten a purty fair bit of enjoyment for his trouble. It was a durned good thing there wouldn’t be no sittin’ places in the town square as he seriously doubted himself young Abby would be doin’ much restin’ on that backside after the way he’d had at it.
It did make it a certainty she’d not be in no position to protest much when she realized her brother wasn’t about to be leavin’ town any way but for the town graveyard. Oh yeah, he’d thunk on it considerable and had arrived at the conclusion there was an election comin’ and he couldn’t afford to be seen as goin’ light on a lawbreaker. And hell, if the Carsons wanted to ruffle any feathers, well it wasn’t as if they had them no witnesses to any…transactions betwixt them and himself. Naw, they’d just have to make their way along without their shiftless brother.
Hearing the clock chime the half hour, he struggled up to his feet and headed towards the saloon. Business called.