Tuesday Morning In Hadleyville

The bullet sprung loose from the bank robber’s gun, travel stray ricochet out the front door, hit the steel spittoon outside the barbershop, made the metal pot wobble on the rough wood walkway, make it tilt, tumble like a ten pin, the black slush pouring out, soaking the steps, the horses tied at the hitch look up and complain out loud.

Deputy Varmin run into the Sheriff’s office, clutch his hat to his head. “Sheriff! They’re here! They’re doing it! They’re robbing the Hadleyville Bank! Bart Fargo and his gang!”

Sheriff Busser took a deep breath, sit back in the old wooden chair at his desk. It creaked slow as he tilted, the aural ache of an elderly man standing up under Arizona sun.

Sheriff Busser looked back blank at Deputy Varmin.

“Did you hear me Enos? Bart Fargo is robbing the bank.”

“Now just hold on, Floyd, hold your horses...” Sheriff Busser slipped his thumbs into the belt loops of his coarse fabric pants.

“You calm yourself, Floyd. I want you to take a good gasp of air and get collected. Panic don’t do nobody any good.”

Varmin obliged, inhaling and exhaling exaggerated. The eyebrows of his thin angular face forming a tension-filled V. He tried again. 

“Sheriff Busser: Bart Fargo's back. He musta broke out. He and his gang just rode into town. They went straight for the Hadleyville Bank. They’re in there right now, just across the street. They’re robbing the bank. Right now.”

Sheriff Busser pulled a cigar sloppy-rolled from an envelope on his desk. He brought it under his nose and sniffed. “Real Carolina tobacco. My brother in law Percy bring it in from Raleigh.”

Sheriff Busser put the stogie between his lips, begin to gum it slow. Deputy Varmin watched him in disbelief.

“The Bart Fargo gang-”

Busser winced like a wasp had stung his backside. Floyd Varmin looked away.

Sheriff Busser pulled a match out his desk drawer, struck it against the desktop, lit his cigar slow, the dry tobacco making audible crackle as it sizzle under the flame.

The Sheriff inhaled, letting the rich smoke fill his lungs. “Nothing like a good cigar in the morning time.”


"I find I enjoy the simple pleasures much more as I get older: a fine-rolled cigar, a good brandy... the touch of a whore as she makes a sandwich of her womanhood..."


"I learned how to shoe a horse just last week. Wyatt the smithee show me: how to tack the nails into the hoof. It's tricky work but I like it. I find it... satisfying."


"He fought at the Alamo, ya know. Wyatt the smithee."

“Sheriff Busser... the bank...

“Now Floyd...” he began, a gust of smoke filling the room between them, “the word on the street is that Bart Fargo’s gang come into town.”

“I know. I’m the one what told you.”

Gunshots could be heard just outside.

“And as I hear it Bart Fargo and his gang are robbing the Hadleyville Bank. You know anything about this?”

“You mean that thing what I told you? Just now?”

“Some people say it’s just a rumor.”

“It ain’t no goddamn rumor... yeah Bart Fargo’s gang come into town. They come into town and they’re robbing the goddamned Hadleyville Bank is what I’m telling you!”

“That’s what you say,” said Sheriff Busser, and then, “Isn’t this Hadleyville's problem?”

Deputy Varmin took off his hat. “THIS IS HADLEYVILLE!”

Sheriff Busser took another long drag off his cigar, the dense smoke making fog. “That’s what you say.”

A gun fired and a woman screamed from the bank across the street.

“Sheriff... we gotta do something.”

“Now I don’t know about you but I reckon we ought to do something about this.”

For a long moment neither man spoke.

Varmin finally exploded: “Well what are we gonna do?!?”

“About what?” Busser’s handlebar mustache gave him the droopy surrender of a walrus eating scrambled eggs. “You’re more riled than a polecat on payday. More jumpy than a squirrel on Easter Sunday."”

“Sheriff... what in Jesus’ name is wrong with you? Bart Fargo is robbing the goddamn Hadleyville Bank! Across the street! Right now!”

Sheriff Busser sat forward, suddenly aware. There was a steel-fire in his eyes and Floyd could see the old man's heart was pounding hard. The Sheriff stiffened, his hands on his desk, palms down on the knotty wood. He had reached a decision.

“I think I’ll have beans for lunch.”

Deputy Varmin: “Awww for shit’s sake!”

Sheriff Busser stared into the cigar smoldering, laying it down in his ashtray as Deputy Varmin pulled his gun and walked outside toward the bank. The lit tobacco dwindled lazy.

“Sometime I just like to watch it burn,” Sheriff Busser said to no one in particular.

Bart Fargo sent him a postcard.

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