The Ghosts of Perdition

Chapter Two, Scene Three

Bugs in the Brain

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It was then that ruffian Bart McArthur’s wounds and exhaustion caught up with him. He decided not to continue the hunt for Two Crows, and go get a room at the Grand Hotel up the road instead. Now it was just Bulwork and Jack who made their lantern-lit way cautiously around the Assayer’s Office, following the wolf tracks of what Bulwork suspected was Two Crows in animal form. Around the corner, they were confronted with a large, hulking shadow, lumbering towards them from the direction of the street. The lantern light glinted off a star-shaped badge on the shadow’s chest, and they knew they’d be meeting the local law.

Bulwork held the lantern up to his face and introduced himself, noticing that the Sheriff carried the discomforting combination of a shotgun in one hand and a mostly empty bottle of whiskey in the other. The man was obviously staggering drunk. He demanded they explain what they were doing, but barely listened to their answers. “I have to pee,” he declared loudly, placing both his gun and bottle on the ground to go against the wall. Bulwork and Jack eyed the shotgun, Jack obviously wanting to grab it, and Bulwork gesturing that they didn’t need to invite trouble with the Law. The sheriff was too drunk to be a threat anyway.

The man talked over his shoulder in his gravelly low slur while he peed. “I haven’t always been a drunk, you know.” The guys sighed and rolled their eyes. “Uh-huh.” “Really!” he said. “I got cursed. By a witch!” “A witch?” “Yup. Out in the desert. She put… bugs in my brain.” “And that’s why you drink?” “Right. It’s the only thing that quiets them.” The sheriff finished up and picked back up his bottle and shotgun. “You need some help gettin’ somewhere?” Bulwork asked. “Naw, naw, I’m just going back to my place over here…” The sheriff stumbled away towards the Sheriff’s Office across the street.

Watching all this from the near darkness was a wolf the others knew as Two Crows Redfang. He’d been quietly pacing in the scrubby dirt, crossing his tracks all over the place so they wouldn’t be able to follow him. Now he watched, uncertain what to do. He did not trust humans and feared their weapons, but he had a mission to fulfill in their world, and he would need assistance. He had trouble believing the stumbling fat man they’d met could be the Alpha of Perdition, but human behavior was often contradictory and strange to him. The short, bearded one had shown him some kindness, feeding him when he was in human form. He may be worthy to pack with. The wolf would stay hidden and see what they did next.

At the same time, a thin man with slicked back black hair and a thin moustache starts up a “conversation” with Po-Po in the One-Eyed Saloon. When the man realizes Po-Po doesn’t speak English, he speaks louder and with large hand gestures.
“Poker?!? Cards?!? Do you like to gamble?!?” Po-Po gets the gist, having played cards for money countless times. He joins the gambler and another small, quiet man at the table and plays some poker. He quickly loses 15 dollars, and decides not to risk any more. The mustachioed man tells him, without him understanding much, that if he’d like a higher-stakes game, he should head on up to Trixie’s Dance Hall. “And,” he added confidentially, “I hear the Devil’s back in town this week. You don’t know who the Devil is? Oh, you’ll find out! You’ll find out!” He laughed riotously.

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