Word Count 1,271
Response to the January 2021 Lancer Writers challenge.
Clothes make the man. Always make a good first impression!’ “That college boy can sure come up with some crazy ideas. I ain’t never seen how clean clothes and a trip to the bathhouse can make me better at catching criminals and keeping order. Oh well, I made this resolution thing so I may as well try it. I hope I can keep up my appearances so I don’t break my resolution.” Val was keeping up a steady conversation with himself as he headed toward his desk.
Looking out the window he noticed Barranca being tied to the hitching post by his Amigo.
“Oh great! Here comes trouble.”
Walking into the sheriff’s office Johnny did a double take. “Excuse me; do you know where Sheriff Crawford may be?”
“Very funny, smart ass. Close the door, ya letting out the heat. I just got this place warmed up.”
Grinning, Johnny looked his friend up and down. “Dang, Val. I hardly recognized you. New clothes, a shave and real haircut. You breaking in a new pair of boots, too? What’d you do, hook up with some rich widow lady or something?” Johnny was smiling at his own remark while he picked up Val’s new hat off a stack of wanted posters.
“Get your paws of my hat. I don’t even have it or my new boots broke in yet.” Val snatched his hat from Johnny.
“What are you doing here in town in the middle of the week? Your daddy leave you off the leash early?”
“Yeah, I got off early for good behavior.” as he headed for Val’s coffee pot.
“That’ll be the day. So you come to town just to worry my nerves? I tell ya, these new boots can kick your butt just as good as the old ones. And you get away from that pot. I didn’t offer you any.”
“Aw come on Val. You know I love your coffee.” Johnny was putting on his little boy pout.
“Go ‘head. Refill my cup too.”
“Come on Val, spill it. I know you are too tight to put out money on all these new duds. Who is she?”
“You are about 3 seconds from getting thrown out of my office. There ain’t no she. This is all compliments of Mayor Higgs.” Val wanted to laugh at the expression on Johnny’s face.
“You expect me to believe Higgs bought all this for you? Higgs?”
“Yes he did. After I saved his store from being robbed, the widow Hargas and some of the other town folk thought he should give me a reward. You know Higgs is too tight to turn loose of money so he decided I could pick out anything I wanted from his store that day, and it would all be on him. Guess he thought I would make a quick trip in and out. I hardly go in there. When he saw all that I put on the counter, I thought he was going to have a stroke. “
Johnny laughed at the thought of Val shopping and Higgs’s reaction.
“Since I had all these new duds, I decided to treat myself to a bath, shave and haircut.”
“Well, I like the new Sheriff Crawford. You look a sight better than the last time I saw you.”
“You know your appearance can use some sprucing up too, Amigo!”
“Me? What’s wrong with my appearance?”
“Well for one thing, those pants with the flashy conchos down the legs. They are so tight it is a wonder you can even throw your leg over that flashy horse of yours.”
“There ain’t nothing wrong with my pants. The girls at the Soiled Dove love me in these pants.”
“Seems they love you out of those pants more, boy.” Both enjoyed a laugh.
“And if your hair gets any longer, you are gonna have to get a pink hair ribbon to match that pink shirt of yours.”
“My hair is not that long. You sound like the old man, and I am tired of telling everyone my shirt is not pink! It is faded red!”
The friends enjoyed their coffee and banter for a while before Johnny’s suggestion.
“Hey, I am hungry. You wanna go to the café for lunch? I hear there is a new waitress there.”
“Sounds good Amigo, and I may just let you pick up the bill.”
Entering the café, the men were met by an attractive mature lady who took their order. “Hello, I am Janet. I am new in town and I am afraid I have not met many people yet. I see you are the Sheriff of our town. Sheriff Crawford I believe? And this young man with you; is he your deputy or a younger brother?”
“Well Miss Janet, it is nice to meet you. The youngster over there is my friend, Johnny Lancer.”
“Howdy ma’am. Nice to meet you.” Johnny noticed how Janet was looking at Val with a smile.
Janet left to get the order started. Val’s eyes followed her until she exited to the kitchen.
When Janet returned and served the food, she doted on Val. “Is your steak okay Sheriff? I hope it was cooked the way you like it. The vegetables are fresh picked from the garden. Would you like me to refill your glass? Oh, and we have desert too. We have fresh made peach cobbler.”
“Everything was just fine ma’am. I believe we both would like some of that cobbler, and some coffee, please.” Val looked across at Johnny who was grinning.
When Janet returned, she had a huge portion of cobbler she sat before Val. Johnny’s was much smaller. She served the coffee, and left to attend to another guest.
“Oh boy Val, I think that lady likes you. She’s been catering to you special since we walked in here. I seen you checking her out too!”
“You mind your manners boy. There ain’t nothing wrong with looking.”
Janet came by to collect the money for the meal. Johnny paid and gave her a nice tip.
“Well, it was certainly nice to meet you Sheriff. It is nice to know our town is being protected. A lady living alone worries about her safety. You see, I’m not married.”
Johnny and Val stood to leave. Val was suddenly at a loss for words, until he found his voice.
“Well, Miss Janet, my job is to protect the citizens. I thanks ya’ for a wonderful meal. I will be sure to drop by for lunch often. Now you have a good day.”
Trying to his a smile, Johnny spoke to Janet. “Goodbye ma’am. Lunch was really good.” Janet gave Johnny a motherly smile, turned back to Val for their goodbye.
After returning to the office, Johnny started in on Val. “That lady sure took to you fast. You gonna court her?”
“No I ain’t gonna court her. We just met. I may just ask her to the town social next month. I guess that brother of yours was right. Always make a good first impression. I think I am gonna keep this resolution. Now, get out my hair. I got work to do.”
On his way out, Johnny had a parting shot. “Oh Val, you are invited to supper Sunday. You can bring your lady friend if you want. Bye now.”
Val stood, coming around his desk, he headed for Johnny. “Boy. Wait til I get hold of you!”
With catlike reflexes Johnny made it out the door before Val got to him.
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