Spiders in the Daffodils

Stephan Trask didn’t mean to throw the sheriff through the front of the saloon window. It just happened to work out that way.

Excerpt from the novel of the same name, written by Nelson W Pyles, published by Burning Bulb Publishing, 2017

Spiders in the Daffodils 

Stephan Trask didn’t mean to throw the sheriff through the front of the saloon window. It just happened to work out that way.

Trask fancied himself a peaceful man, but it was hard to argue that point with the patrons of the Goshen Saloon who had just witnessed such a thing.

Sheriff Bowler had simply asked Trask to kindly pay his tab and exit the saloon. Something Trask would have normally been willing to do without issue. To be fair, Trask had been tired; he’d been playing poker for about ten hours straight after arriving from Galveston the day previous. And he’d been winning.

A lot.

The players all had begun to suspect that their new poker “friend” had been cheating. All of them cheated of course. It would have been almost rude to not cheat, but the manner in which Trask had been cheating was a complete mystery to all involved.

That was unacceptable, unless he was willing to share.

And Trask was not inclined to share.

So, the sheriff had been sent for when Trask’s lack of sharing had been questioned.

It should have gone a lot quieter.

Trask sat with his back to the saloon door, smoking a cigar and drinking cheap whisky waiting for the next hand of cards to start. He had heard the sheriff enter and walk to the bar to talk to the bartender.

Judging by the fall of the sheriff’s footsteps, Trask reckoned the man was at least over two hundred pounds and a little over six feet tall. From the sheriff’s breathing, he also figured he was nearly in his forties and grossly out of shape.

Words were exchanged and Trask pretended to ignore it, but he heard every word of it and smirked.

He decided that he wouldn’t make a scene. He would grab his things and his money and quietly leave with the sheriff. It was the plan. Besides, it wasn’t worth getting into a fight with a man so very much incapable.

“You Steven Trask?” the sheriff said behind him.

“It’s Stephan, and yes. I’m Trask.”

The sheriff took a moment to spit on the floor casually.

“Name’s Sheriff Bowler, Mr. Trask. Need to talk to you in my office,” he said. “We don’t want no trouble here, so if you’d pay your tab and come along all peaceful like, I’d surely appreciate it.”

Trask was about to tell Bowler he would come along quietly and that there would be no issue at all.

Then, Sheriff Bowler put his hand on Trask’s shoulder.

What happened next occurred so fast, Bowler didn’t know something had happened until he was going through the window.

The hand sat on his shoulder for half a second as Trask inhaled from his cigar. Trask grabbed the sheriff’s hand while rising from his chair. As he rose, he bent the sheriff’s wrist back almost to his arm, snapping the bone and opening the skin. Trask, who still had not fully risen, then spun and grabbed Bowler by his collar bone tightly. He lifted the man off his feet, breaking the collarbone. He whipped completely around and flung Bowler through the plate glass window of the saloon, which was a good ten feet away. Very few people saw it, which was temporarily in Trask’s favor.

As the very last piece of glass hit the hardwood floor, Trask took the cigar out of his mouth and exhaled.

“Well, damn.” Trask said. He didn’t have to look around the room to know all eyes were on him. He regarded the shocked poker table and smiled. “I guess our friendly game has come to a sudden conclusion, gentlemen.”

He carefully picked up his money and walked to the bar. He put down a wad of cash down on the counter and looked coolly at the bartender.

“For the damages, plus the drinks. Also, buy these folks a round on me. Oh, and one more thing,”

He took an additional pile of cash from his winnings and stuffed them into the bartender’s shirt pocket.

“For the sheriff and his injuries,” Trask said. “No hard feelings.”

He smiled and turned to face the patrons.

“Guess I’ll be on my way,” Trask said loudly. “Had a lovely time, folks.”

He turned towards the saloon doors when the deputy walked in, gun drawn.

“You just wait a goddamned minute,” the deputy said. He was a younger man and from the looks, quite inexperienced. It was easy to spot. A very thin smile broke out onto Trask’s face.

“Why, deputy. I was hoping to have cleared out by the time you got here.”

“Put your hands on the bar,” the deputy said, visibly shaking.

“Now, there’s no need for this, young man. It’s quite a misunderstanding.”

The deputy did a double take.

“Misunderstanding, my ass!” the deputy said. “Mister, I don’t know what the hell you and your friends did to the sheriff, but he’s damn near dead out there. The doc’s on his way, so you and whoever else threw that man out of the window line up along that bar. Now.”

The bartender walked over to the far part of the bar.

“Clyde,” he said. “It was him. Ain’t no one else but him.”

The Deputy looked at the bartender. Then he looked back at Trask.

Trask wasn’t a tall man and had an average build. But he looked frightening if you looked at him too long. Short blonde, nearly white hair, pale skin and bright blue eyes. The Deputy watched as this man smiled and it sent a shiver through him.

“Ain’t no way, Bill. Sheriff’s damn near in the middle of the street.”

Trask moved forward, starting to smile a little broader.

“No, the barkeep is quite correct, deputy.” Trask said. “And believe it or not, I didn’t mean any harm. I sure hope he recovers, and I really think you need to back off now, son.”

The deputy pulled the hammer back on the gun.

“Put your goddamn hands on the bar, son.” the deputy said, gritting his teeth.

“You saw what I did to your sheriff,” Trask said. “And that was a pure accident. What do you think I’m going to do to you?”

The deputy, having Trask dead to rights, fired his gun.

He blinked and Trask was gone.

Not dead, but physically gone from sight.

The Deputy looked around the saloon and saw open mouths, staring in disbelief at him.

“You couldn’t help yourself, deputy.” Trask said, suddenly standing right next to him. He grabbed the gun and tore it out of the deputy’s hand. “I can understand that,”

Before he could react, Trask grabbed the side of the deputy’s head with one hand and with the other, drove the gun, barrel first into his temple. The Deputy didn’t have time to even scream as he felt the barrel break through his skull. It made a sound like someone shoving a broomstick handle into a watermelon. The deputy shook uncontrollably, wavered and then collapsed onto the floor. His eyes were wide open and a thin line of drool fell into a growing pool that also was filling with blood.

Trask looked up and regarded the saloon again, this time not smiling.

“You folks don’t have any other lawmen lining up in this town, do you?” Trask asked.

No one said a word.

“Well,” Trask said. “I reckon that says it all.”

He turned to walk out of the saloon but turned back around.

“Oh, I’m taking somebody’s horse. Not stealing it. If you want it back, I’ll leave it for you in Corpus Christi,” he said. “Wait about three weeks though. And don’t come looking for it too soon.”

He nodded and walked out of the saloon.

The patrons, the poker players, the barkeep and even the whores in the upper rooms all held their breath and looked at the Deputy, spilling blood all over the saloon floor.

No one dared to breathe.

his piece introduces the main villain, a man named Stephan Trask who quietly terrorizes a saloon in Odessa Texas in 1895

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