Short Story Fiction
The Vagabond
Scott A. Gese

He was different than most. Folks in this town didn’t like different, as he would soon find out.

the vagabond

At the far end of Main Street a donkey entered town. It bore the weight of a rather rotund man wearing a colorful suit in shades of blue, green and gold.

He rode his donkey up to two men who were sitting on a bench along the boardwalk. He spoke up in a rather pompous tone.

“Ahmmm, Good afternoon gentlemen. You didn’t per chance happen to feast your eyes upon a very colorful wagon passing this way have you? It is delightfully painted with the name ‘Sir William Goodfellow’ in a grand scale across the side.”

The men gave Sir William the once over before replying. “Nope, you’re the most colorful thing we’ve seen all day.”

“Well then, allow me to introduce myself. I, am Sir William Goodfellow, Minstrel, poet and Bard to the queen… and knighted by the very same I might add. I am traveling these parched and desolate lands spreading the glorious sounds of music, song and poetic verse to all those who shall lend me their ear.

I seem to have been separated from my wagon. The driver is of no account. He should not be trusted, but alas, I am at his mercy for he carries the tools of my trade. I shall wait for him at the nearest establishment of libation, if you would be so kind as to direct me.”

Both men carried a puzzled look on their face as they silently tried to decipher what they had just heard. Finally, one of them spoke up. “Well, my name is just plain Frank, and to tell you the truth, Bill…”

Goodfellow cut him off. “Excuse me good sir, but I’m very afraid ‘Bill’ will not do. My full and rightful name is Sir William Goodfellow, the third I might add, but you may call me Sir William if you so have an affliction to the length of my good name.”

“As I was saying, Sir Bill,” replied Frank. “I didn’t understand half of that flowery talk especially that last ‘libation’ part. What the hell is that?”

“Establishment of libation, house of bibulous concoctions, a, a… what do you people call it? Oh yes, a saloon, a place where I may moisten these withering lips and quench my parched cords for I am afraid my vocals are beginning to fail me and that will not do.”

Frank reset his hat and rubbed his chin. “That was quite a mouthful Sir Bill. If you’re looking for a saloon, you have two choices. The Silver Saddle and the Ponderosa. I don’t suggest either one of them, the way you’re dressed. But if you’re insistent on ‘quenching them there cords’, you can find them both straight ahead toward the end of the street.”

“I thank you for your kind directions,” replied Sir William. “I think I shall place an extended visit to the house of the Silver Saddle. My keen intuition assures me it will more than suffice.”

“I’m not sure if I would do that if I were you,” replied Frank.

“My good man. You shan’t worry about me. I am perfectly capable of handling my own affairs.”

As Sir William headed down the street, Frank smiled a knowing smile as he thought aloud, “Betcha I smell tar in less than an hour.”

Sir William found the Silver Saddle, stepped off his donkey and stepped through the bat wing doors.

The piano music came to an abrupt stop. The crowd became silent. All eyes were now focused on the colorful suit that had just walked through the doors.

It was at that moment Sir William realized he should have paid heed to Franks warning.

It was too late to turn back the clock. Sir William quickly realized he had stepped into a hornets nest. There was nothing he could do but stay calm and not rial them up. If he did, they would attack. He continued walking until he reached the bar. “May I have a drought of your finest malt. I am parched beyond measure and in need of relief.”

The bartender replied, “Drought? Malt? Drought we got. Malt? I don't know what the hell you're talking about.” He poured a glass and slid it in front of Sir William. “It's beer. That'll be two bits.”

Sir Williams hand reached for the inner breast pocket of his jacket. The bartender pulled a gun from his side. Sir William gently pulled his coin purse from his jacket and laid it on the bar. The bartender holstered his weapon.

“You ain't from around here are ya?” Asked the bartender.

Sir William took the question as an opening and began to recite the same line he gave the two men down the street. “No sir, I am not. Allow me to introduce myself. I, am Sir William Goodfellow, Minstrel, poet and Bard to the queen… and knighted by the very same. I am traveling these parched and desolate lands spreading the glorious sounds of music, song and poetic verse to all those who shall lend me their ear.”

“We already got us some music,” shouted one of the saloons patrons as he pointed to the piano player. “And as far as singin' goes, we got Miss Lily when she ain't busy doing other things. What we haven't had in some time is a good tar and feather show. Maybe our luck has just changed. What do you think boys?” Several other men in the room thought it was a good idea and voiced their approval.

The bartender shut them down. “I kind of like the way this feller brightens up the room. While he's in my saloon you'll do no such thing as long as he behaves himself. Any man who thinks different will have to answer to me.”

“Thank you my good man,” replied Sir William. “I shall be the utmost of gentlemen while I reside in your establishment.”

Sir William was true to his word. After a couple of beers he decided it was time to be on his way. “I thank you good sir for your hospitality but I'm afraid I must be on my way. I have to locate my wagon or there will be no show. I believe my driver is waiting just outside of town.”

“Good luck to you mister. Once you leave this place I'm no longer responsible for what might happen to you.”

“If you are referring to the 'tar and feather' gentleman. He vacated your establishment some time ago.”

“That's what I'm talking about. He don't like being told what to do. My guess is he'll be waiting for you.”

“Then if you will kindly show me to the rear exit, I shall take it and be on my way. Oh wait. I can't do that. My transportation is waiting for me out the front entrance. I guess I shall take my chances. Good day.” Sir William walked to the swinging doors and peaked over the top. No one was in sight so he stepped outside and headed straight for his donkey.

He was about to mount up when he was approached by two men. One was the cowboy from in the saloon. “About time you showed up. We got a show to put on. I got the tar and my friend here has the feathers.”

Sir William looked at the two men. “Would you like to dance first?”

“Excuse me??? What do you take me for? You're the only one going to do any dancing here. It's called the chicken dance.”

“I must warn you,” replied Sir William. I have been trained by the queens own military men in the art of self defense. If you try to do this you will regret your choice.”

Once the threat was made the cowboy advanced on Sir William. A tussle ensued. The three men kicked up a cloud of dust. A crowd began to gather and someone went for the sheriff. The dust was so thick it was hard to see what was happening. The dust began to settle just as the sheriff arrived. The two cowboys were covered in tar and feathers. Sir William climbed upon his donkey. He spoke as he began to catch his breath. “I may be portly and I my talk may be refined compared to yours, but I am no liar. Everything I have told you is the truth. So how does that chicken dance go?

The bartender stood in the doorway. “I guess I didn't need to worry about you after all now did I.”

“I shall take my leave now, sheriff if I may?”

“Let him go,” stated the bartender. “Those two started it and they got just what they deserved.”

Sir William headed down the street. “I bid a good day to you all. I have a wagon to find.”

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

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