A loud old drunk, dandles a waitress on his knee. Her laugh, an irritating, squeaky thing, pierces the other noises of the bar.

His hand rests on her rump, taking substantial liberties with her person. Her smile, is altogether too bright, forced. But he pays well, and it’s not the sort of place where management prevents the waitresses from doubling as entrepreneurs. She can’t stand him, this buffoon, groping, and sweating, and breathing in her face. His breath, sour with the liquor he’s been downing since midday. Suppressing the urge to gag, she forces another laugh past her ever smiling lips, faking merriment at yet another of his ribald stories of drinking and whoring two towns over.

He sits, and watches, drinking, the gun sits heavy on his hip, its dark wooden handle rubbed to a polish by the hands of lawmen and murderers alike. His eyes rove around the dimly lit bar, as a wordless tune warbles from half-blown speakers overhead, fuzzing and hissing with every drum beat. The whore, the drunk dandling her on his knee, a couple of down on their luck miners looking sour about the world, all the assorted sacks of useless flesh seem to collect in this hovel, flies drawn to the midden heap. This particular crop of humanity disgusts him.

Sloshing, he drunkenly pours from the bottle, mostly into the glass, knocks back another bourbon. Down the hatch like water, his scarred throat immune to the burn of cheap hooch. Too many nights like this. The game playing out between whore and her mark at the other table, was it worth it? Worth it to her? All the groping, and fondling, the constant violation, men wanting her, suffering, aiming their callousness in her direction. Was she used up? How hard must she be by now? Calcified? What did she give up to get here? Her face, a mask of enigma. What was she still giving up? Where was she trying to go? Off-world? Nowhere. What did she want? Ah, fuck, who cares.

He stands up, pushing back quickly against the chair, upright, mostly. The metal feet of the chair screech on the hard wooden floor, and it tips over with a wooden clatter. Suspended for a moment, pushed beyond limits. Slowly, swaying a little, he feels the hard grip beneath calloused fingertips, caresses it, his only lover. In one fluid motion, draws and fires, gun smoke hangs in the air.

The whore falls to the floor, her fake laugh still echoes in the silence. Stunned by the violence, deafened by the explosion, her drunken mark sits, rheumy eyes wide, his hand perched in the air where her ass was but a moment before. The shooter still sways, almost in time to the crackling music, then turns on a booted heel and walks, stumbling once, to the door.

The door bangs open, and he is gone. In the distance sirens sound.