Another couple of characters in my current project “The West Wind.”
Eli Hardy slouched in a rear pew of the old stone church; a half-empty bottle of whiskey in one hand and a loaded colt revolver in the other. A small balding priest approached in whispering robes through a strong odor of whiskey mixed with horse manure and a sour sick smell that hung in the hot still air.
“Please my son, think this through” the priest raised his hands in a pleading gesture. “This is not a path you should choose to travel.”
Eli could see the priest’s hands shake and absently wondered how much of the man’s calm exterior was a lie.
“I am not your son preacher man.” Eli said. “I am Jakob Hardy’s son.” Eli’s voice trailed off, “though I wonder if even he realizes that at times.”
“Jakob is a good man,” the priest said.
“A good man? Ha! That’s what you think.” Eli could feel his anger burning through the haze of the whiskey. “His money built this town. Built this church.” The gun in his hand forgotten as he waved it around pointing for effect. “Probably even paid for the fancy robes on your back.” Eli said in a slurred voice as he pointed the gun at the priest. Eli looked over the barrel of the revolver and saw the priest’s eyes go wide and his face drain of color. Time froze.
Eli heard the door of the church flung open and the spell was broken. He turned and squinted at a tall man silhouetted against the afternoon sun.
Eli blinked and the man was next to him. It was Jeremiah Wilkins. Wilkins’ anger revealed by the livid purple scar that crawled from the right corner of his mouth back to a missing ear lobe.
“Eli!” Wilkins’ voice boomed in the small church. “Put that gun away. Stop being foolish.”
“Oh Wilkins, what a surprise” Eli said then laughed. “He couldn’t bother to come himself then. Couldn’t pry himself away from that mahogany desk.”
“Eli.” Wilkins voice softened. “Put that gun away, you are scaring the priest.” Wilkins dismissed the priest with a slight nod. The priest scuttled away without looking back.
Eli watched at a distance as Wilkins gently took the bottle of whiskey and gun with his mechanical hands, precision gears whirred quietly within the protection of the brass framing of his hands and forearms that protruded from the pressed linen sleeves. Wilkins set aside the bottle and tucked the gun into the back of his trousers in the process revealing his own well-oiled holster and revolver beneath a crisp black jacket. Eli was suddenly embarrassed by his own grubby appearance.
Eli let himself be half lifted out of the pew. The unnatural strength of Wilkins augmented arms assisted him through the door of the church and into a hydrogen powered carriage that waited outside in the bright desert sun. Wilkins mounted the driver’s seat and the carriage soundlessly pulled away from the church.
The carriage passed a small two-wheel horse drawn cart driven by a boy that seemed large for his age with a happy expression and a vacant look, the reins held in his meaty hands. An attractive woman with long black hair tied smartly at the back of her head rode with the boy.
Eli turned his head as he watched the two-wheel buggy pass and was surprised to see the woman staring back at the carriage with a shocked look of recognition. Eli could not recall having met the woman or her large companion. He puzzled over this briefly before sleep overpowered him.
More yet to come…