"What's the price of your soul, son?" asked the Sheriff. He brushed away the bottom of his coat to rest his hand on the carved ivory handle of his gun. He chewed brown liquid under the canopy of his large mustache and stared his steely eyes down at the young man who stood before him in a heap of torn clothes and dried mud.
The young man stared back, mouth slightly open. His stare was distracted by movement behind the meaty Sheriff. The Sheriff's wife rose from her rocking chair. She clutched a listless baby in one arm, swaddled in a faded tartan blanket. She swayed unsteadily.
"I asked you a question, son," said the Sheriff. He took a step down on the wooden porch. The young man looked at the dirt.
"I ain't got no price," said the young man.
"You sure?" asked the Sheriff's wife with a little laugh.
"You're going to kill me whatever I say," said the young man.
"Now that's not necessarily true," said the Sheriff, who then spat out a wad of tobacco so forcefully it bounced on the dirt and left a dent. He licked his lips and continued. "I may let you live a while longer. If you get killed in some other way before I get around to doing the deed, well, then you can say that, now can you?"
"No sir," said the young man. He shuffled back two steps. The Sheriff descended completely to the ground, but still towered over the young man.
"You want to play with him anymore, Sis?" asked the Sheriff, without turning to look at his wife. She bounced on the balls of her feet and swung her hips.
"She's your sister too?" exclaimed the young man, looking up at each of them in turn in disbelief.
"Womenfolk are scarce in this place. Gotta take what you can get," said the Sheriff.
"Ain't no priestfolk here to tell us what to do," said the Sheriff's wife.
"Killed 'em all," said the Sheriff. "They was meddling like you too."
"I wasn't meddling, I was just lonesome," said the young man, color rising up his neck and face. "She asked me to pay her, that's all. I thought it was just a business transaction. You know, all civil-like. Sir."
"And so it was," said the Sheriff. "But I don't like your wormy little face."
"Please, sir, just let me leave town, and I swear, I swear I will not return." The young man desperately clutched his hands together.
The Sheriff pulled his gun from his holster and held it loosely by his side. The wife descended the steps, babe in arm and barefoot, and circled behind the young man. She stood on tiptoes to breath hot breathe in the young man's ear. He shivered and shied away. The Sheriff raised his arm and aimed the long barrel of his handgun between the young man's eyes. The Sheriff closed one eye and pulled back the hammer. He curled his finger around the trigger. The young man grabbed the elbow of the Sheriff's wife, pulled her in front of him as the Sheriff pulled the trigger.
The bullet slammed into her cheek and tore clean through. The bullet grazed the young man's nose as he turned to run. The wife fell on top of her bundled baby, her blood draining out into the dirt.
"You killed my wife you bastard!" yelled out the Sheriff. He pulled back the hammer again and ran towards the young man, who was now stumbling down the center of the street. The Sheriff pulled the trigger again and the young man fell, a ring of blood bursting from his chest. He lay on the ground gasping like a fish on shore. The Sheriff walked up to him slowly, reloading. He stood over the young man and spat out another wad of tobacco. He shot the young man again in the back of the head.
"I guess the price of your soul is three bullets. Damn you."