There IS Room Enough In This Town For The Two Of Us

Tensions are high. We’ve been standing off for twenty minutes, and I’m sure the townsfolk staring down from their windows, balconies, and behind barrels want to get on with their day. I understand how you feel. Sometimes this place can seem a little intimate. But let me tell you — there IS room enough in this town for the two of us.

I know it’s just an expression, I’ve heard it said countless times on this dusty road stretching through the center of town. Just last week Wild Curtis McKee said it right before he blew off Ole Ringer Sampson’s kneecap. I don’t want to be anal about this. I know it’s semantics. I just think you’re underselling the width and breadth of this place.

Burton, California is no South Pass City, I’ll give you that. You ever been to Coal Ridge? You ride in past those wood gates and it seems like the whole world is contained in that tiny oblong village.

Well let me tell you — we’ve got double the square feet. We’ve got retail, pharmacies, an extremely expensive (and yes, corrupt) town hall. This place is pretty good, size-wise. There’s the finest assortment of restaurants this side of Devil’s Canyon, and there’s TWO police stations servicing different sides of towns. You can’t ignore all that just because it’s convenient for your argument.

I only nitpick to defend this great town, nestled on the edge of the American frontier. As you know, I’m something of a historian when it comes to Burton, California. Think about what Samuel Burton would think. You’d be on the other side of this standoff, I’ll tell you that much.

We all admire Burton here in Burton. When he founded Burton with his goldsmithing fortune, he had high hopes. Hell, you can still see his dream in that gold model village by the watering hole. Sure, we haven’t exactly lived up to it; that 24 carat town is almost double the size of our Burton, regardless that it’s built at 1/8th scale. We never did get that solid gold amusement park with the west’s biggest water slide.

Still, don’t disrespect the dream.

What I’m saying is this — I don’t want to die. It’s not that I’ve got much to live for. I just can’t let my blood mar the beautiful streets of Burton, California.To see a road painted red, to taint the delicate visage of Burton with carnage, well, I just don’t got it in me. Not that it’d be easy to find my blood on the ground, as this town really is quite expansive. It would get lost in the winding streets and lively atmosphere. That’s not an argument in favor of killing me, by the way, I only say it to reinforce that there really is a lot of breathing room when it comes to the spatial proportions of Burton, California.

I know we’ve got a score to settle. But must we insult our home in the pursuit of that settlement?

Let’s put it all on the table. Despite my reservations as to the, shall we say, legitimacy of that card game, I agree that I owe you a lot. Twelve dollars is a lot of money in our time, which is Old West time. My wedding ring too, you won that. Oh, and my kidney, which you insisted I bet after we put a six hour hold on the game to see if I was a blood match for your ill mother. We’re here because I refuse to pay up. Now, refuse is a strong word. More accurately, I can’t.

We both know I lost my wedding ring in that terrible digging accident. It’s a shame, since that ring is all I had left of my wife, who as you know was violently murdered by you. As for the kidney, I’ve only got the one, since you speared the other one with a tuning fork the day you killed my wife. All’s forgiven, by the by, can’t hold grudges forever. Also the money is already gone since I’ve got something of a sweet tooth for Ole Johnny Walliam’s 100% Pure Hand Squeezed Snake Oil.

Which is just one of the many shops you’ll find in this huge town. There’s an abundance of places to hitch up your horse, which in our times is one of the easiest ways to judge the true scope of a populated area. There are many fine posts and many filled troughs. Oh, you are right, I should not have mentioned the horses. I do apologize, sincerely, for your horse’s death in that terrible and freakish digging accident. Maybe you shouldn’t have made me dig my own grave and instead used it for the corpse of my recently murdered wife. Just a suggestion. It was never my intention to cause any harm. You can forgive me, right?

Of course not. They wouldn’t call you Unforgiving Jim if you could. It’s a great nickname, by the way, really suits you. It’s against your nature to forgive, I know. I don’t want forgiveness. I just want you to ignore me. “Ignoring Jim.” They could call you Ignoring Jim. Or not, that’s fine too.

There’s a lot of people ignoring me right now. Well, not ignoring. Me avoiding a guy is basically them ignoring me. I don’t stay at the Three Dog Inn anymore because of what I did to their piano player. Bad accident with the hammers. So I moved across town. I can’t go to the Whiskey Spit Saloon because I took the name literally. I can’t even get that sweet snake oil at O’Shaugnessy’s Pharmacy because of the incident with his daughter and my bathtub on wheels full of snake oil.

It’s not hard to avoid these people at their places of work. I simply don’t go. What is hard is avoiding them on the street. Let me tell you a bit about my work ethic.

I have a calendar, you see. On it, I have recorded every move of the eight dozen or so people in this town who would like to see me dead. I know where they eat, sleep, stroll — I know it all. They take a right, I take a left. They get a haircut on Monday at three PM, I go Tuesday at four. I know where I can and can’t be down to the very second of each day. What I’m saying is I can do the same for you.

And it’s more of a sacrifice now. The more this happens, the less places I can go. But I’m ready, willing, and able. Let’s do this. Where are you on Sundays at 8 am?

Put down the six shooter and pick up your calendar. We’ll have this sorted out by sunup.

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