Chapter 9: The Mountebank
“Another tune, I’m still listening!” These rants of the patrons crooning along with the piano playing continued throughout the saloon at Faith’s Freedom. Among those, there was a young mature trader, looking intently on his pals.
He was the well-known but secretive Bruce Bennett, with many goods to offer among townspeople all across the lands. Bruce met many friends, but only speaks personally to them for a few days until his next trade where they meet up again. Of what seems of his attitude, he seems controlled and secure.
When looking at the livelihood of the saloon, Bruce looked down at the bar table, focussing on his job the next day. His trail of thought was interrupted when a mysterious man pulled up a chair, and they both had a lengthy conversation.
Mainly their topic was on riches, as the man was Lou Peterson when introducing himself smoothly. He spoke to Bruce mainly on more and more money, and how his power can be increased to his ‘appropriate’ extent.
Lou was very keen on cash, and wanted to be ruthless on his big booms of success. They were talking about a local miner’s granite mine, as the source is valuable. Bruce warned him of the dangers of illegal activity, but he ignored this, quickly stood up and stormed towards his room at the saloon, quietly laughing.
He knew Lou probably will make the wrong decision, but that is his life, and decided to leave him to his own fate. Meanwhile, he headed to a local hotel himself, for his lavish stays and premier accommodation. He made many dollars a day, so whenever he made a successful week, he indulged in comfy apartments will luxurious balconies.
The long day was ahead. He planned; Thistlebush in the morning, Serenity before dusk. Both were important visits, as one was a speciality sale of his amateur but effective drink. Its main effects caused to numb pain and had a noticeable alcoholic taste. The other sale was the same, except a special courier job also. He had to deliver a golden vulture statue, and the pay was high so he needed to succeed.
Bruce heard the horses and carts; morning arrived. He emerged out of his expensive bed and grabbed a horse, setting out to make his own upkeep. When leaving the hotel, his horse was patient enough, waiting all day for his job. When Bruce got on, it reared immediately, and galloped valiantly towards Thistlebush.
The open prairie was always busy, and many stagecoach hold ups were seen on the way to the town. Bruce couldn’t do anything; only a revolver means no luck. Many coyotes were seen feasting on their prey, but this gave Bruce no interest.
He arrived surprisingly early, and was ready to sell his goods outside the walls. Many passed him not noticing him at all, while others just grabbed his drink bottles and paid generously. Then, a majestic fresh woman rode over and actually took an interest in his drink.
“You don’t look like a bartender, mister.” The woman chuckled.
“I am not any barkeep at a saloon. One swig of this and your pain troubles will be gone. You got some spare change. Why not give it a try? It’ll go a long way for both of us…”
“Very well, sir. I still think you are tricking me out of money!”
Slowly mounting her horse, the woman sipped a bottle and licked her lips. “Mm, this has crisp texture.” She then tried to patch up her saying this but it was heard.
The woman bought several bottles of his liquor and they both smiled pleasingly. She then quickly mounted her horse and rode fast towards her destination, probably in a hurry.
His work was done here, so it was time to bring the statue to Serenity before dusk. It was a good thing that he hid the statue from Lou, as with one look he would have swiped it by now. Safely in his satchel, Bruce continued on his journey.
Many thought Bruce was a cheeky beggar, but he actually grew up living in a care-free honest life. He now treats his own home even as a holiday destination, in the hunting region of Bankbrook up north.
Cacti and sand was around him, and because of his early rounds, the afternoon summer raged through the earth. Despite this, Bruce’s horse drove on to reach Serenity. Upon arrival, he saw a few men race down the road in the distance. He ignored this and got out his goods for the glad customer.
When receiving his payment, things did not look good. A group of bandits flooded the area, with one dismounting and hurriedly snatching the golden vulture off the shopkeeper. The local sheriff stepped in and took chase in a puff of smoke and dust.
Confused, Bruce and the shopkeeper were discouraged. Though the shopkeeper did point out, “Don’t worry, Judge will get it back, I know.”
“Judge? We can’t take this to court yet!” Bruce replied in a sarcastic manner.
“You never heard of the Judge? A local folktale around these parts, you’ll know him when you’ve met him even once.” The shopkeeper was proud about Judge’s strive for success on the return of the idol. It seemed important to him.
Bruce thought this would be a while so he stopped at the saloon for a drink. The barkeep was intrigued when bringing in his new ‘wonder drink’. “I say!” The bartender said.
“What is that strange looking drink? May I sample?”
Bruce thought ‘Why not?’ and gave him a taste. The bartender then added,
“I never trusted you charlatans, but you sure know how to make a drink. Tell me, does this have a purpose or do you mix drinks for fun?”
“It numbs pain, SUPPOSIDLY. But I am never quite too sure; I never experimented on it. For now, it is just the exquisite flavour my customers go for.”
“This type of work gets you rich, boy! Marvellous, well, come by again, I’m sure this is a quick way to earn some bread.”
$5 was slipped in Bruce’s pocket. Smiling gladly, he left with a proud expression. He mounted his horse and rode off once again, but this time to Bankbrook, where the wind will take him. He dreads on his client’s attitude for the vulture’s disappearance but he’ll understand. Besides, ‘Judge’ seems to impress him.