Chapter 45 continues

The story so far: Miners are forced back to work at gunpoint.


By 10 p.m., Katka was still not back. Luckily, Anton thought, the moon was bright as a lantern. He didn’t like the thought of Katka walking in the dark while the deputized thugs were in town. Anton was tending bar at the Slovenski Dom. Most of the boarders had taken their beer out back or gone into town. He only had two customers. “Beauty of a night we got here,” Anton said as he put a pint of ale in front of Andy, the soda pop distributer. “Bet it still be seventy-five degrees. Why you ain’t outside, smoking in the moonlight?”

“A man gets sick a bein’ in the outta doors,” Andy said. “This heat been good on my business, shore ’nuff. But all day, every day, I’m out there in the thick of it selling the root beer. Them deputies got money to burn. Some of ’em buy three or four bottles at once. By the end of these hot days, I’m plum tired. Just want to set down on this stool and drink ’til I fall asleep.”

“I think it feel real good to be outta doors so much,” Old Joe said. “That’s one good thing about being on strike. Got me a sunburn today.”

The front door to the Slovenski Dom opened and two boarders — Samo and Dusca — came in carrying their empty glasses. “Your wife Lily done kicked us out of the yard,” Samo said to Anton. “Said we keeping up the baby.”

“You tell her to shut the window?”

“Teta Lily? I don’t tell her nothing. Last time I gave her a suggestion — just a little one. I say, ‘add a touch more paprika to the sarma’ — she don’t give me no breakfast the next day.”

“Sound like my Lily. It’s cooler in here now, anyway. And I was getting sick of talking to Old Joe, I tell you.”

They heard horses approaching and, instinctively, everyone in the saloon looked toward the door of the Slovenski Dom. Deputy Moose Jackson entered, followed by four other new deputies. Anton recognized two of them, Eli Sandinski and John Logan. They were a mangy lot, with scraggly beards, dirty clothes and unwashed faces. Their badges were prominently displayed. All four were armed. Moose Jackson was smiling. “Whiskey, Anton,” he said. “All ’round.”

“Dollar each,” Anton said, not moving.

“Dollar? For a glass of whiskey?”

“Times is tough, I tell ya, Moose. That the going rate.”

Deputy Jackson shook his head. “That ain’t why we’re here, anyway, you idiot.”

“Then why is you here?”

“We’re here to shut you down.”

“On what grounds?”

“Sheriff Turner says what you got here is a blind pig. Operating this fine establishment without a license.”

“Sheriff Turner is wrong. We got a license and we pay taxes like every other business owner in town.” He pointed to the liquor license that was framed and hanging behind the bar. “There it be. Right there.”

Moose Jackson took out his Luger, aimed for the frame and shot it. Glass sprayed. Anton barely flinched. “Get out of my saloon.” His voice was steady. “You folks is trespassing. You got a beef with me, you come in here with a proper warrant and we’ll take this up in the court of law. And you can pay for the damages, too.”

Moose laughed. “You forget. We are the law. And you are under arrest.”


Tomorrow: Chapter 45 continues.