Once upon a time in a place that could be nearer than you think and not so long ago as you’d like, an old cowboy looked around the town and wondered how the new sheriff was going to cope. The town was still a bit rough, a bit ragged around the edges despite the years and the various waves of change sweeping through, but its heart was in the right place and most of his work was done here.
The new guy was less than prepossessing to say the least. Crueler people, and there were many in the town who cheerfully called a spade a spade and a fool an idiot, would not find it possible to see what it was that had elevated this man. The cowboy looked at the sheriff, peered into his pale watery eyes, failed to find a chin, or anything defined about his face. His complexion was pale; pasty really, and his hair was mousy and dirty-blond under his new black ten gallon hat that sat uncomfortably on his head. His colourless lips quivered over his over-bite and the cowboy was put in mind of a blobby jellyfish. How would he survive in the heat of this place?
‘You’re one of my heroes,’ the sheriff said to the cowboy.
The cowboy nodded. He was used to being admired. But not liked very much, well by a select few but that didn’t matter: he had a job to do and all that mattered was that he did it well. He looked to the horizon, to where he needed to be sooner rather than later, to where his new boys were waiting for him.
‘There’s a lot to be done,’ the sheriff said looking around the dusty town, at the saloon, the bank, the store; down the street to where the church sat, seeming to watch over them all. He didn’t really like that he would be able to see the graveyard from his desk. ‘Will you be staying long?’
The cowboy shook his head. ‘Need to be moving by the morning. Be out of your way then.’
The sheriff’s hands shook a little as he rested them on his skinny hips, standing with his legs astride in what he hoped was a dominant pose. ‘I thought you might be around for a bit so we could chat. You know, shoot the breeze about how to tame this place, make it the promised land like the boys at home want us to, like those other places are.’
The cowboy almost smiled. ‘No. It’s time for your sort of law enforcement, you were elected to sort out this place, so you need to begin as you mean to go on. I’m not the sheriff, just a lone cowboy doing his best.’
The sheriff allowed himself a smile. ‘Ah, Mick, you shouldn’t under-rate yourself. Between us we’ll turn this county around and show those boys back home in the big smoke how to run things. And then, who knows what triumphs will follow?’
The cowboy nodded. ‘Yep. We’ll make a difference. But you here, in your way and me out there in the wilds, in my way. From time to time our paths will cross but for now I’ll let you settle in and get the measure of the town yourself.’
The cowboy gave the sheriff one last look up and down and wondered what would become of the place. How aligned were they? Could this weed of a man make a difference or was he just bolstered by his devoted supporters and his own rampant ego? Mind you, as the cowboy well knew, a big ego could take you a long way. If he was to give the sheriff any advice it would be to trust his own instincts, not to listen to the nay-sayers and especially not the hedonistic, ne’er do wells in the saloon. If he had his way the whole place would be blown sky high. This land, this hot, dusty inhospitable environment was a place for work, hard work and no shirking. It was a place for devotion, for determination, for sacrifice and courage. He knew these things as truth and expected others to come to that truth as well, willingly or not. He knew his single minded approach to law enforcement, his own maverick brand of justice was the right thing. He guessed that as the new sheriff was a fan then he would be in accord with the cowboy and they would make the land over in their own image.
The idiot watched the cowboy fade into the sunset and felt a shiver of determination wash over him such that he stood a little taller in his shiny new boots and stretched his giblet neck to assume an altogether bigger posture. He would shake this town up like nothing on earth. He knew, as sure as eggs were eggs and the sun rose in the east that this town was gonna change. He smirked, as he was wont to do, these townies hadn’t a clue what was coming. He knew what he wanted, and this place bore no resemblance to the sort of town he wanted.
For a moment his vision glimmered in the heat: he saw the golden age, a place and time when the world was as he wanted, where it was just like where he grew up: where things were good and right. He would have that time again. (Images from Google Images)