‘The Misadventures of Larry and Lucy Luckless’ – Episode three

The Misadventures of Larry and Lucy Luckless
by Arthor Bookes, Editor-in-Chief of the PCC Creative Writing Club
Welcome, everyone, back to a new season of The Misadventures! We’re so excited to see our beloved characters return to print. Last episode, Lucy stole her neighbor’s horse to save her brother’s life – a noble cause, no doubt! But now, she’s going to have to face the consequences of defying Dewey Donaldson. Read all about it in – The Misadventures of Larry and Lucy Luckless!
The gritty stone of the jailhouse wall pressed cold against Lucy’s skin. Dimming shafts of sunshine drifted through the small barred window. She looked up, watching the motes of desert dust float back and forth. Sighing, she lowered her head and struggled to think of a way out.
Earlier that day, she had been out back of the homestead hanging laundry when she heard the clink of spurs on the front porch and the sound of soft muttering. Turning around, she saw Larry, spine so straight that he was almost leaning backward, staring down the bristly gaze of the town sheriff, Cletus Clark. 
“You’ve got no right, comin’ round here, harassing us-”
“This badge says elsewise, boy,” Cletus said, pointing a beefy finger at the badge pinned to his chest. “Wilkens’ had it up to here with yer sister. Broke the law, she did, and I’m here to collect.”
“Whad’ya you know about the law?” Larry asked, poking his finger into the sheriff’s chest.
Cletus grit his teeth and narrowed his eyes. “I am the law, boy. Ya better stand aside now.” His hand slid to his hip, flicking open his leather holster .
Seeing that, Lucy bustled around the corner of the porch with her hands up.
“There’s no need for that, Sheriff Cletus. I’m happy to come out here on my own. ”
“Always were a smart girl, Lucy. Now, I’m sure ya can guess that Wilkens ain’t too happy ‘bout ya takin’ out that mare o’ his.”
“And I think you know that there was a matter of life and death,” Lucy responded.
Cletus huffed through his nose. “Well now, certain citizens would be liable to disagree, Wilkens bein’ one of ‘em. I’m here to take ya ‘front of a court of law – they’ll decide if yer right or wrong.” He took a step forward, reaching back to unclip a pair of rusty hand irons from his belt.
Larry stepped in between the two of them, fist raised. “She’s not goin’ anywhere with you. If Wilkens’ got a problem with us, he can talk to us himself.” 
“Don’t be stupid,” Cletus growled, stabbing his finger at Lucy. “Yer comin’ with me, if I have’ta hogtie ya and drag ya back to the jailhouse.” 
Larry looked back to Lucy, waiting for her response. She knew that if she refused, Larry would stand with her and fight. She also knew that it was a fight he would lose. 
“Alright,” she said. “I’ll come.” Larry opened his mouth to protest, then closed it again and stepped back.
“There’s a good girl.” Cletus grinned, a gap-toothed and blackened smile. He grabbed each of her wrists, shoving them into the hand irons and clapping them shut. Jabbing her in the small of her back, the sheriff pushed Lucy toward a pair of horses. 
He turned back to Larry. “I think it’s best that ya stay here, boy. My man’ll keep ya company.” Cletus nodded his head at a deputy, leaning against the second horse. The thin, somber man nodded back, hand resting on the butt of his gun. “Come on, Lucy.” He stood back and watched as Lucy struggled to hoist herself up on the horse with her hands bound, snickering to himself.
Lashing her to the reins of the horse, Cletus climbed onto his own and they both set off into town.
Cletus and Lucy dismounted in front of the town’s saloon. The barkeep was waiting outside, grumbling and rubbing his bald head with one calloused hand.
“Ever’thing ready in there, barkeep?”
The man nodded. “Let’s git this over with,” he said, pushing the door open for Lucy and the sheriff. 
Inside, the saloon had been set up for the makeshift trial: the tables had been pushed up to one side, and a group of townspeople – the jury – were already seated around them. From the door, Lucy could see Effie Garrett, the boarding house owner; Barth Biggens, the barber; Mister Wilkens; and several others. The barkeep shuffled over to join the group.
“So you dragged all them into this, too?” Lucy muttered spitefully.
“Oh, I don’t think anyone’s been dragged into anyth’ang, Miss Lucy,” a jovial voice boomed from behind the bar. Dewey Donaldson Sr. leaned on his elbows, cracking a wide smile. “All these ‘ere responsible cit’zens are ‘ere to uphold the law, nothin’ more.”
“Mister Donaldson!” Lucy gasped angrily, her brows furrowing tight. “You’re behind this?”
“I un’erstand that this may come as a shock to you, Lucy, with your pa bein’ such a big man in town, but no one here is above the law.” He turned back to the gathered townspeople, ignoring Lucy’s shouts from the doorway. “As many of you know, I recently received this,” he said, producing a folded sheet of paper from the pocket of his linen waistcoat. “A special authorization from the governor, naming myself as temp’rary justice of this town. I intend to fulfill my duties to their fullest.
“Miss Lucy,” he continued, turning back to her. “You have been accused of serial horse theft. As reported by these good people, you are incapable of showin’ restraint or remorse. How do you plead?”
Lucy sneered and spit on the floor.
Dewey Sr. dropped his smile, running a hand through his hair. “Not guilty, I s’pose. Too bad. I might’ve gone easy on you.” He raised his hand to the jury. “Y’all’ve heard the crime. How say you?”
“Guilty,” said Mister Wilkens without much hesitation.
He stepped back, making room for Effie. “G-g-guilty,” she stammered, then covered her face and pushed back into the group.
One by one, the townspeople came forward and gave the same vote. None of them could look Lucy in the eye.
The barkeep was the last of them. He looked straight at Lucy, then at Dewey Sr., then back to Lucy. Dewey Sr. drummed his fingers on the bar, waiting for the expected answer. The barkeep swallowed. “Guilty,” he whispered. “I get my bar back now?” he snarled at Dewey.
“You do indeed.” Dewey was grinning again. He snapped his fingers. “Take ‘er away, boys,” he said.
Two burly men stepped away from the bar. Each grabbed hold of one of Lucy’s arms, lifting her off the ground. She kicked and screamed all the while, but to no avail.
“I’m pleased that y’all saw fit to do the right thing. I s’pose I’ll see ever’one tomorrow for the hanging.”
The barkeep slammed his hand on a table. “Hanging?” 
Dewey Sr. chuckled. “Miss Lucy here’s just been found guilty of horse theft. I must have forgotten to mention – in this town, the sentence for that is death.”