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Nice Weather We’re Having Today

By S. A. Barton

Copyright 2012 S. A. Barton

Smashwords Edition

Find other stories by S.A. Barton on his Smashwords profile.

“Nice weather we’re having today,” the drifter said, and he put his boots up on my desk. It didn’t matter much—there’s not a lot of paperwork that goes with running a town of 1384 people, so there were no papers for him to disturb.

I looked at the boots. They had been nice once. Good, heavy leather, square toe, thick sole, broad heel. Working boots, the kind that cost as much as an old used car and last until you send your grandkids off to college. But these hadn’t been taken care of. Miles and miles of Texas grit and sun had sucked the life out of them and he had put nothing back in; they were cracking at the sides where the toe flexed and the leather was scuff-fuzzy at the heel and toe. I waited to see what else a man who wouldn’t take care of good boots had to say. He shifted his feet, then took them down.

“I said, nice weather.”

“I heard you,” I said, “and it’s not. It’s been thirty-eight days and over a hundred degrees every one of ‘em.” He slid something out of the pocket of soft jeans so sun-faded they were almost white—or would have been without the dry brown of parched, wind-blown topsoil ground into them. He turned the something over in his hands and stroked it with his fingers, then set it on the desk in front of him: the head of a hammer. It was the old fashioned ball peen type, pitted with age and oddly shaped. It had probably been new sometime around the First World War. It sat on the tired but freshly polished desktop between us as if sitting atop a nail it had newly driven.

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