Steve Braunias: The secret diary of the Luxon Gang

OPINION:

MONDAY

A tall, bald stranger rode into town at half-past dead. The only movement on the main street was the gentle roll of tumbleweeds. He hitched his horse but the water trough was dry. He walked to the well. The well was dry. He took off his hat and wiped his gleaming head with his bandana until it was dry.

He opened the doors of the saloon and stood there for a while to let his eyes get accustomed to the dark. He made out a few good old boys sitting at a table down the back. They were playing cards and drinking rotgut whiskey. He could feel their eyes on him as he made his way to the bar.

In the corner was a padded cell. It was full.

“What the hell kinda town is this,” he said.

One of the good old boys replied from the darkness, “This here’s Natville.”

TUESDAY

The tall, bald stranger stood there for a whole 24 hours until the bartender arrived.

“What can I git ya,” he said.

“Milk.”

“Ain’t got none.”

“Water.”

“Ain’t got none.”

He remembered the well. “Okay,” he said. “Double-shot espresso.”

“That’ll be $3752.50.”

“That’s mighty expensive. Is that because of the demands placed on your business by the increase in the minimum wage?”

“Sure,” said the bartender with a grin. “If ya say so.”

WEDNESDAY

The tall, bald stranger stood there for another 24 hours until his coffee arrived.

“I reckon,” he said, “this town needs a new sheriff. Someone to get it back on its feet.”

The bartender said, “Natville’s already got a sheriff. Whitey Collins. She’s upstairs in the attic talkin’ to herself.”

“Maybe,” he replied, blowing on his coffee, “Natville could do with a new sheriff.”

The honky-tonk piano fell silent.

“What the hell’s your name, son,” asked one of the good old boys.

“Luxon. Christopher Luxon. I rode in from Botany. God-fearing man. Experienced in business and has proven leadership skills. Wildly exaggerated and indeed vainglorious belief in his own importance.”

“I’m with ya,” said someone in the padded cell. He turned to the other inmates. “We’re all with ya! Ain’t we, Todd? Ain’t we, Gerry? Ain’t we, Nick?”

“Don’t pay Mr Woodhouse no mind,” said the bartender.

THURSDAY

Doc Reti walked into the saloon and said, “I hear someone’s trying to cause trouble here in Natville.”

Luxon stood up. “You heard wrong, pardner,” he said. “Someone’s tryin’ to fix this old ghost town. Someone’s wantin’ to show some leadership. And someone,” he added, “has got a whole heap of support. Whose side’re you on, Doc? Huh? Tell me that. You answer me that.”

FRIDAY

Doc Reti stood there for 24 hours and said, “I’ll think about it.”

A terrible scream could be heard from the attic.

“I best attend to that,” said Doc Reti.

The bartender brought Luxon an espresso. “On the house,” he said.

“Thank you, Mr Bridges.”

Luxon blew on the coffee. He wiped his bald head, and then he wiped his badge. They both gleamed inside the padded cell. “Make some room,” he said to the other inmates. “It’s mighty crowded in here.”

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