Short Story Fiction
Piano Man

A saloon, a big breasted woman and a drunk. It was a deadly combination.

Piano Man imageIan Dooley/Unsplash

Seth Freeman was a drifter. He had been most of his adult life. His wanderings were limited to a familiar territory west of the Rockies. It was the Sierra Nevada area that held his highest interest. Specifically, a saloon called the Cactus Flower in the town of Madera.

It was his watering hole of choice. It had a nice piano and Seth had a passion for playing. Something his mother had taught him as a child. He was a natural and enjoyed tickling the ivory any chance he could get.

He was partial to the free drinks and an occasional coin or two dropped into the empty glass he kept on the lid. It was all the compensation he required. The money wasn’t for him. He didn’t need it. Whatever ended up in the glass was divided between the women who worked at the saloon.

He was an only child. The son of a rich widow. At her passing she left him a sizable ranch that he leased out for a steady income. He had no intention of working it himself. He wasn’t the ranching type.

Like most evenings, the music flowed easily from his fingertips while he kept a keen eye on a fine looking young lady who was working the crowd. Her name was May. Her job was to flirt with the men, enticing them with her wit, her charm and her breasts. She was well-endowed and she used every inch of her cleavage to her advantage.

She knew how to play the men. It was easy to get them to stick around and buy another drink.

Seth found it interesting how she would set the men up with one of the other girls, but didn’t partake in any of the men herself. She was there for one reason only: to make money. An arrangement with the saloon’s owner gave her a percentage of the night's take as long as she worked the room. And work it she did.

Seth had taken on the responsibility of being her self-appointed bodyguard. He liked May and always made sure she was out of harm's way.

The bartender saw it coming long before anyone else in the room. He had a knack for sniffing out trouble as soon as it walked in off the street. Tonight was no exception. The trouble went by the name of Harley Winsor. He was new in town, and the saloon was becoming his favorite hangout. The bartender had taken a disliking to him early on. He was overly boisterous and a lousy drunk.

Like most of the men in the saloon, Harley had his eye on May. Most of the men knew better than to try anything stupid. They had seen the bartender and the piano player defend her on more than one occasion. It was not a pretty sight.

Harley had heard, but he didn't care. Looking at those big breasts and deep cleavage was more than he could handle. Tonight, he planned to have his way with May, whether she approved or not.

Harley made a few off-the-cuff remarks about May as he stood at the bar nursing a bottle. The bartender advised him to keep his hands to himself if he knew what was good for him. Harley paid little attention. The first time May came close, he grabbed her arm and drew her in as he derided her. "How about planting a big wet one right here?" For emphasis, he touched his chapped and weathered lips with a dirty finger.

May handled the situation easily enough as she smiled and pulled away with little more than a half-hearted laugh. It wasn't the first time this had happened to her. Usually, that was the end of it. The bartender was now on full alert.

But Harley had an agenda and one too many drinks. He wasn't about to be denied so easily. He grabbed his bottle from the bar and once again caught May by the arm as she moved across the room. He spun her around and grabbed the back of her head. He forced a kiss from her.

Harley had stepped over the line and someone in the saloon took offense. A shot rang out. Harley dropped to the floor.

The sheriff was close by and had heard the shot. He entered the saloon only to see Harley's body laying in a pool of blood. The sheriff did his best to investigate the murder scene. He scanned the room. "Where's the piano player?" He asked aloud expecting someone to answer. Seems no one was talking.

Seth Freeman was already riding hard. He would find himself another piano somewhere in Mexico.

© Copyright 2023 by Scott A. Gese. All Rights Reserved.

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