Al rapped on his office door. “Mike.”
“Busy, Al,” came Mike’s voice from the other side of the door. It was followed by a strange sound. Bullock wasn’t able to place it though Al realized it was the sound of a saw cutting its way through bone.
Al was a man of multiple personalities and in the presence of the new sheriff, his “I’m just a nice guy” routine was on full display. “Join us on the veranda imminently.”
“Huh?” Mike asked.
The barkeep wasn’t perfected. His default gruffness poked through. “Get the fuck up to the veranda quick as you can.”
Al forced a smile at Bullock and then added one more thing for Mike. “I’d like you to meet the new sheriff.”
A short silence followed by…”Oh. OK.”
The barkeep put an arm around Bullock and led him upstairs. “Got my assistant cleaning my office for me. It’s a real mess. But the air will do us some good. What’d you say your name was?”
“I didn’t,” Bullock said. “Seth Bullock.”
Al snapped took his arm off Bullock’s shoulder and snapped his fingers repeatedly. “Bullock….Bullock…Bullock….where do I know that name? Oh!”
Bullock stayed quiet as he walked with Al up the stairs.
“The Johnny Do-gooder who held off a wild mob with a shotgun while he hanged a no good horse thief all by himself.” Bullock said.
“That’d be me,” Bullock replied.
“Ah,” Al said. “So the town council went out and hired an honest man, those cunts.”
“Pardon?” Bullock asked.
“They hired an honest man for once,” Al said.
Al lead Bullock into his own personal quarters. Pretty drab. Nothing hanging on the walls. Just a lonely bed and a chair to sit in. He opened up a set of doors and walked out onto a veranda that overlooked the town.
Bullock leaned over the railing and did some people watching. From a distance, the lives of the townsfolk as they hustled and bustled, fought, argued and lived seemed halfway interesting.
“All right,” Al said. “Now that we’re alone lets cut the bullshit. How much do you want?”
“Excuse me?” Bullock asked.
“McKenna was a greedy fuck,” Al said. “Took his pay from the council. Hit me up for even more. It got to be too much, and he was an incompetent lowlife fat fuck who never met a pie he didn’t want to shove down his throat. You actually look like a halfway useful person so you’ll be worth the extra scratch. How much you thinking?”
“I’m not thinking about that at all,” Bullock said.
“Then what are you in my face for?” Al asked.
Bullock pulled his pistol. Whereas many men would have reached for the sky, Al indignantly folded his arms.
“And what the fuck do you suppose you’re going to do with that?”
“You’re under arrest, Al Swearengen,” Bullock said. “For the murder of Patrick Farley.”
Al couldn’t keep a straight faced. He laughed and laughed. “You’re…you’re serious!”
“As a bullet through your head,” Bullock said.
At that moment, Bullock heard the distinct sound of a pistol’s hammer being cocked behind his head.
“That can be arranged,” Mike said.
Undeterred, the sheriff kept his weapon pointed at Al. “You want to call off your dog?”
“Mike,” Al said. “Remember what I said…”
With his weapon still pointed at Bullock, Mike walked around to Bullock’s left side so as to avoid the possibility of shooting Al by accident.
“That and the other thing,” Al said.
“I won’t shoot till your say-so, boss,” Mike replied.
Bullock cocked his hammer and leered at Al. “You better tell him to drop it right quick.”
“Tell you what,” Al said. “Howsabout you both drop your steel and we have a little talk?”
“Whatever you want, Al,” Mike said.
“I don’t negotiate with lowlives,” Bullock said.
“You might consider it,” Bullock said. “The kid’s a hair trigger and not right in the head.”
Bullock sighed. “Fine. On three.”
Hearing agreement all around, Bullock counted down. “One…two…”
On three, Mike lowered his weapon only to have it immediately snatched out of his hand. Bullock now had two guns and pointed one at each scumbag.
“Mike,” Al said. “I swear to God you are the worst fucking henchman ever.”
“Both of you,” Bullock said. “Let’s go.”
“Fine, fine,” Al said. “I wanted to talk like gentleman but if you have to be Mr. Squeaky Clean Law Abiding Fuck then let’s do this the hard way. I’m not going any where.”
“The hell you aren’t,” Bullock said.
“Which one of those turd sniffers put you up to this?” Al asked. “McGillicuddy? Nah. He wouldn’t dare.”
“Less talking, more walking,” Bullock said.
“Merrick!” Al shouted. “It was that fucking newsboy wasn’t it? Aww I ought to chop of his pecker with a rusty razor and run it through his printing press.”
“Enough,” Bullock said.
“Now that’d be a short edition.”
“I don’t want to hear another word,” Bullock said.
“Well you’re going to,” Al said. “Because I own this town. Look around you, Bullock. Everything you see is mine. We’re outside the United States, so if I wanted to, I could build myself a throne, pop a fucking golden crown on my head and declare myself ‘King Al the First, Rightful Ruler of the Drunk Fucks of Deadwood’ and no one could stop me, least of all you.”
Curiosity got the best of Bullock and he allowed Al to keep talking.
“But U.S. Grant,” Al said. “Mr. Unconditional Surrender himself. That bearded fuck could stop me. He and all his political lackey ass kissers would love nothing more than to march their fat asses up here and take everything that isn’t nailed the fuck down. I’m the one who greases the right palms, whispers into the right ears and most importantly, bribes the right shit bags to keep a vote on whether or not this fucking territory should be taken the fuck over by America from happening.”
Bullock did not like the direction of this conversation one bit.
“Everyone with an office in this town is expected to be my puppet,” Al said. “Shut the fuck up, do what you’re told, act like you’re doing something important so that it makes it hard for the politicians to just send the Army up here to wipe us all the fuck out. Oh sure, the government can slaughter scores of the heathen savages all day long and twice on Sunday and no one gives a fuck but harm a bunch of simple townsfolk who even went to the trouble of forming a rudimentary government with a mayor, a council and a sheriff? That’s a whole other story.”
“You broke the law,” Bullock said.
“What law?” Al asked. “There are no laws here. You are a sheriff in a land without a single fucking law on the books.”
Bullock scoffed. “You got to be shitting me.”
“Nope,” Al said. “Not one. Why do you think people come here? Sure, out of a sad hope they might find a shiny gold nugget or two, but they stay because this is the only place in the world where you can do whatever the fuck you want and no Goddamn nosey lawman sticks his nose in your business. Why would you want to ruin a good thing like that?”
“No more bullshit,” Bullock said. “Time to lock you two up.”
“Where?” Al asked.
“Huh?” Bullock asked in return.
“Where are you going to lock us up?” Al asked. “There isn’t a jail.”
“There isn’t?” Bullock asked.
“Nope,” Al replied. “No jail. No Sheriff’s office. No judge to try us, no jury to convict us, no law except for dog eat dog and I’m the biggest dog here.”
Beads of sweat collected on Bullock’s brow. “That can’t be right.”
“Woof fucking woof,” Al said. “And let me assure you, Bullock. You put one in me and there will be over a hundred assholes lined up to put two in you. There’s no end to the list of people I’ve got on the take. Once I go, the livelihood of a lot of people go with me and they’ll make you answer for it, I assure you.”
Bullock’s stomach was queasy. His head ached. It was an experience he’d never been through before. A criminal had talked him out of making an arrest.
He kept his guns pointed at Al and Mike as he backed his way toward the door.
“Good idea,” Al said. “And don’t show your face around here until you’re ready to be a useful part of the operation.”
“Don’t tell me what to do,” Bullock said.
“I’ll tell you whatever I want you to do,” Al said. “And you’ll do it and like it.”
Mike grinned. “Yeah. And if you don’t we’ll cut your wife’s tits off.”
That did it.
Bullock’s eyes widened. His nostrils flared.
Al was displeased. “Oh Christ, Mike.”
“What the fuck did you just say to me?” Bullock asked.
“I said if you don’t…”
Before Mike could finish his sentence, Bullock was pistol whipping Mike across the face. It only took a couple of blows before the young man was on the ground, but that didn’t stop the sheriff from continuing his assault.
Al put his hands on Bullock’s shoulders, attempting to pull the lawman away.
“Bullock!” Al cried. “That’s enough!”
Bullock was too focused on pounding Mike’s face.
“He does not have permission to speak for me!” Al shouted. “Don’t kill him!”
The thought that continuing his attack could lead to Mike’s death was enough to bring Bullock back to his senses. He stepped away.
“I’m not completely without honor, Bullock,” Al said. “I’ve yet to punish anyone just for being the relative of a dumb fuck I didn’t like. I assure you that your wife’s lovely tits will remain quite stationary.”
Bullock headed for the door then stopped. “As soon as I figure this all out, we’ll talk again.”
The sheriff was gone before Al could think of a snide comeback. Instead, he put his energy into helping Mike to his feet.
“You all right?” Al asked.
Mike clearly wasn’t. His face was bloody and he was having a hard time staying upright. Al took his lackey’s arm and put it over his shoulder.
“Just can’t get it through your stupid skull can you?” Al asked.
“I’m trying,” Mike answered.
“Try harder,” Al said. “Speak when spoken too. Come on. Get cleaned up. I have to show you something.”