Dead Ringer

Dead Ringer

By Maz McCoy

“Will you stop twisting around?” Heyes snapped as they headed for the cantina.

“I can’t help it, Heyes. I gotta feelin’ someone’s watching us.” Kid’s eyes scanned the street but he saw nothing suspicious.

“Who would be watching us? We’re south of the border, in a tiny little Mexican town. No one knows us here.”

“Probably.”

“Meaning?”

“Meaning, just ‘cos we’ve never been here before doesn’t mean no one knows who we are.”

“All right, that may be true but I don’t see anyone. Will you just relax?”

“Something’s not right, I can feel it.”

They reached the doors and entered the cantina. Two men looked up from a table, studied the dust-covered men, dismissed them and returned to their discussion. The only other man in the room was the bartender.

“Welcome Senors. What can I get you?”

“Two beers,” Heyes ordered as he surveyed the room. “Any poker games played here?”

“Not until the weekend when the vaqueros are in town.” The bartender placed their drinks in front of them and each man took a long swallow.

“Know of any jobs going?” Kid asked, wiping the foam from his upper lip.

“Not in this town. Not since the trouble started.”

“Trouble?” The partner’s exchanged a glance. That was one thing they were supposed to stay out of.

“Si, since they started building the church there has been nothing but trouble.”

“I’d have thought a church would bring peaceable Christian folk to town,” Heyes observed as he took another swallow of beer.

“You would think so.” The man wiped a dirty cloth across the bar. He leaned forward, conspiratorially lowering his voice. “But there has been so much arguing about who should do this and who should do that. I have never seen the townsfolk so worked up about things.”

The partners looked at the two men across the room. They didn’t exactly look ‘worked up’. They exchanged a glance and Heyes’ shrugged, maybe they were seething beneath their calm exteriors?

“And now they have finished the bell tower, there will be more trouble.”

“Why’s that?” Kid asked.

“Because there are two families who want to christen the bell.”

“And that’s a problem?”

“It will be a great honour. The bell was bought by the Ramirez family but the majority of the money for the church was provided by the Sanchez family. There will be bloodshed. Of this I am sure.”

“Over a bell?”

“Si, Senor.” He muttered to himself as he walked away.

“A tiny little Mexican town…” Kid looked at his partner. “With a feud going on. Great, Heyes, just great.”

“It can’t be that much trouble.”

A sudden volley of gunfire rang out in the street, followed by the loud clanging of the church bells. The men at the table crossed themselves and pleaded to the saints for help.

“We leave, now!” Kid’s glass hit the bar and they headed for the doors. In the street people had gathered around the newly constructed church. A man lay dead at the base of the impressive bell tower.

“What happened?” Heyes asked a man as he scurried past.

“Sanchez brought in a ringer! And now he is dead! Ramirez men did it. You’d best take cover!”

Kid turned to his partner, giving him his smug, patient look.

“All right, so it could be that much trouble. Let’s get our things. I hear Porterville’s nice this time of year.”

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