So, being insane, I signed up to participate in a blogfest/challenge in which we write four entries set in a shared world, Renaissance. You can read more about it here, or on any other number of great writing blogs. Okay, I’m not totally insane. Upon reading the premise and rules, I knew that I had to get in on it, as I had a good idea.
The only catch? Each week has to incorporate a separate writing prompt, and has to be from a different viewpoint. I’m not crazy about the shifting viewpoints, as I’m rather fond of the narrator from this week, but them’s the rules. We’ll see how it goes.
My chosen prompt this week was There Is An Argument. My viewpoint character is William S. Kayson.
Episode 1: The Stranger
Any hope of escaping the Stranger’s business ended when the dark-skinned, tanned-leather wearing outsider strolled into the Tavern. The sun outside was still creeping toward the horizon, making it early enough that few folks took notice.
Of course, only takes one to cause trouble. That one was Stubs Hartnett, who jumped out of his seat right into the stranger’s path, hands on his hips.
“Y’all kind ain’t welcome here,” he said.
The Stranger smiled. “What kind would that be, Mr. Hartnett?”
Stubs narrowed his eyes. “Do I know you?”
The Stranger took a step forward. “I don’t believe we’re acquainted, but if you don’t want your laundry aired in front of these folks, I imagine you’ll let me pass.”
Stubs said, “you people ain’t naught but trouble.”
“Be glad I’m not your trouble. I’m just here for business.”
Stubs pointed at him. “I know the business your kind does.”
“I’m giving you a chance, partner. Don’t say another word.”
Stubs stepped aside, cursing the man’s lineage as he stormed out of the tavern.
Folks went back to their conversations and their games, and the Stranger sat at the bar. He ordered a drink made of tomato, melon, and two types of liquor from the other outposts. I slid it before him.
He sipped, then studied me. “I’m looking for someone.”
“I know just about everybody in town. How you know Stubs?”
He smirked. “I know just about everybody in town.”
“Good businessman doesn’t reveal sources.”
“Fair enough. Who you looking for?”
“Once upon a time, I rode herd not too far from Heriot’s Pass. One night we caught this traveling act.” He produced a scroll from his jacket pocket and rolled it out. “Two brothers. Last name of Kayson.”
“How ‘bout that. That’s my last name, and I have a brother. At least, I think I do.”
He laid both hands on the bar. “Being a reasonable man, I thought the claim that one could heal utter nonsense, until I saw an old woman that I damn well knew had the Fever hobble up to the stage, walk away a new woman.”
“Sounds like some sort of boondoggle,” I said.
“Think so, huh?” He tapped the scroll. “That fellow looks like you.”
“What is this?”
“The inquiries of a curious man. Look closer.”
Didn’t have to look. I knew what it was the moment he produced it: a playbill, to attract folks to a wandering act. “What you want? Why you come here dragging along these questions?”
“My wife’s got the Fever. Not looking too good.”
“You reckon he can heal her?”
“Yeah. That’s where you come in. My understanding is you don’t know where he is. I’m a bounty hunter. Trade in information. I got some on his hiding place.”
“Where?” I whispered.
He held up a finger. “You have to come with me, convince him to help my lady. I’ll throw in some money. What you say?”
I gritted my teeth. “I have work to do.”
“Understood. Some things are more important.” He rose. “Your call. If you’re interested, meet me behind the church, before dawn. Bring enough for a four-day journey. No need for a horse. You can use mine.”
“You know I can’t let you take a sick woman near Jeffrey, you son of a bitch.”
He smiled. “That’s the spirit. We’ll be waiting.”