The robbery had reached a low point.
Sure, it started as a routine situation for the Moody Drunk Saloon. In the years after the Final War, any place that served food and water was used to getting robbed on a daily basis. When the first gang hit, it was frightening. By the thousandth time, it had become nothing more than a minor irritation necessary in their daily lives. Everyone in the saloon was accustomed to the situation, and had already assumed their normal positions when the seven men sporting the “Pepper Gang” jackets burst through the door.
“All right folks, good to see you again!” the leader, known as Doc, yelled to the whole saloon, “We’ve done this plenty of times before, and it’s good to see you know the drill, so this should be quick. We got a pair of recruits doing their first run today, so we’ll be doing this one by the book. Hands in view, all weapons on the table. Be ready to give these nice gentlemen any bullets, food, or water you may have. Nice and easy.”
It was at this point where things started to turn for the worse. A young man in the corner, fueled with a charisma that could be born only by stupidity, had been nursing a glass of water when the Peppers came in. Now he was sauntering up to Doc with a look and swagger that said he would be unharmed and knew it.
“Now yew listin’ here!” The young man explained, saliva flying from his lips as he jutted out his jaw for emphasis, “Yew think yew can come in here an’ boss us around! But wee’ve had enuff of it! Wee ain’t havin’ no more of yer lip, are we folks?!”
“Shut up, Steve.” a voice sounded from the saloon.
“We don’t need a hero! Stop being dumb!” another voice added.
“You smell like feet!” came a third voice.
The young man, face turning a shade between red and purple from a combination of anger and embarrassment, turned to the others in the saloon, “WHAT?! Theese people are takin’ all yer stuff! And y’all don’t even CARE?!”
“Meh,” was the only response.
“Well I ain’t takin’ it!” He screamed, and drew his gun. A quick trigger pull and one of the recruits fell in a lump to the floor. “Ha! See?! We ain’t got nuthin’ to worry a-“
The young man was silenced by a shotgun to the head.
Doc, letting his gun cool before reloading it, turned to the patrons in the saloon. “Well now…I was hoping this would be a normal day. You give us your stuff, we get out of your way. Now one of my boys is dead and I need to set an example.”
“…..what kind of ex-“ a man sitting at the bar started to ask, before he was blown over the counter by the shotgun. “That kind,” murmured Doc. A few more shots later, and the population of the saloon was severely decreased.
“Now then,” Doc started, as sirens started to fade in (and a megaphone was being filled with clichés like “come out with your hands up!”), “looks like the rest of you are going to have to be good little hostages. You’ve seen what we do to heroes…” he kicked the young man’s body to make his point.
Then suddenly, as if brought in by the wind, a man walked in the door. Without any time to process how his long jacket and cowboy hat didn’t fit with the wooden swords he had on his waist, he dashed at Doc and, with a swift draw, slammed his sword into Doc’s abdomen. Doc’s face could only mean a rib had broken, at minimum. Doc did not stand much longer before kissing the wooden floor. With swift precision, the tall stranger felled the Peppers one after another. Then, without a word, he just walked out of the saloon. The megaphones that could be heard in the saloon were blaring something about how thankful The Wanderer happened to be nearby to solve all the problems. The patrons were frozen in shock from all that had transpired. One man rose to his feet, looked out the door, and turned to the rest. “What the fuck just happened?”
“And that, children, was the start of my life-changing adventure.” The old man closed the book he was balancing on his leg, and looked up at the circle of people around him, completely absorbed in the story. “Wasn’t that an exciting opening?”
A wide-eyed child with his jaw agape was the first to speak, “So YOU were the WANDERER?! WOW! You’re a living LEGEND! Tell us about the Holdup of Crimson Creek!”
“Oh no, child, I never said I was the Wanderer. Not even close!” The old man replied, laughing.
“But…you said that was the beginning of your story! That was a story of the Wanderer! If you wasn't the Wanderer, then…”
“Yeah, some days I do miss that cool jacket.”