Life in the Saloon

Now that my kids have learned to play the piano, often providing the soundtrack to our lives these days, it sometimes feels like we’re living in an Old West saloon:

While a jaunty tune is played, mingled shouts of mirth and irritability are heard from around the room. Things are starting to kick up, as they always do at this time of day.

A woman sits at a table leaning over a ledger, tactfully disregarding the rabble-rousing while tending to the books. Occasionally, without looking up from her work, she’ll rebuke the room with a, “Now ya’ll cut that out or ya’ll can just leave!”

At another table, a guy with a saber tucked into his belt and a girl with hair that hasn’t seen a comb for days are playing cards. Tensions are rising, as the girl is certain that the guy is cheating, but can’t yet prove it.

Through a low doorway can be spotted a cook, whipping up some breakfast for a group of mostly ungrateful patrons. He’s in his early 40s, but he feels every bit of twice that, or more. He could use a shave, and although he’s never been much for liquor, he won’t deny that a finger or two of fermented corn might be nice. Might be nice, indeed.


Without warning, a token old prospector bursts through the batwing doors, yelling that the McCready gang has been spotted at Deadman’s Fork, headed straight for town at a good gallop. A previously-unnoticed man leaning back in his chair against the wall in the corner adjusts the 10-gallon hat over his face and mutters, “It’s about time,” but makes no further movement.

Back at the card game, the girl has thrown her cards on the table and is standing with her fists raised like a street boxer. The kid with the saber is also on his feet but can’t seem to free his sword from his belt loop, which frustrates him mightily. Somewhere a glass shatters. Smoke rolls from the kitchen, along with a string of frustrated caterwauls. The 10-gallon hat man has vanished like a puff of dust in a prairie tornado, and the prospector is helping himself to what remains of the man’s ale.

Everything is quiet for a moment, and then Camptown Races kicks in and all Hades breaks loose.

Just normal, everyday stuff, really.


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