A Stranger In Town

This is just the beginning. Follow the story as it develops.

It was raining as the bus, an off-brand coach company with 29 passengers headed down State Road 5 toward the small town of Seven Roads, Georgia. The sound of the tires on the road made a whining sound that, coupled with the sound of the engine, sort of relaxed you.  

It was just after seven pm when the bus pulled into Seven Roads and stopped at the Post Office. A bearded stranger dressed in a long black duster and wide brim black hat pulled low stepped off. He stood there for a moment and looked around before proceeding to the side compartment to retrieve his bag.  When he got it, he threw it over his shoulder and stepped back, waiting for the bus to pull away. As it did, he got a good whiff of the burning fuel that old diesel engines make, and it made him choke just a little. The stranger looked across the street and smiled. He remembered a different name for Molly’s Diner. He stood for a moment looking around. The traffic light, where all the roads intersected was still there and of course going through its sequence of Red, Yellow, Green. It was amazing it still worked and that it was even there at all. “Oh well,” he said out loud, “I’m hungry and I need a cup of that good old eat it with a spoon coffee.” He noticed the old red caboose sitting on the tracks, sort of an icon you might say telling anybody who came into town that there used to be a railroad here. However, something seemed a little off. There was not a lot of people on the streets and very few cars or trucks. Maybe the place shuts up early and the people are at home, he thought. “Maybe,” he said out loud. He began to feel a little uneasy. He decided to keep his guard up.

As he started to cross the street the sound of a car got his attention. It was coming up one of the seven roads. When it came into view the driver pulled off the side about a block from the Post office. The stranger thought, wow, I haven’t seen a 1968 Mustang in a long time. Nice. He could see the driver, as he stood looking at the car. All at once a cold shiver ran up his back and the hairs on back of his neck stood up. He has had this feeling before. As a matter of fact, many times and it always meant one thing, trouble, and most times the deadly kind of trouble. It looks like the guy in that car is not here to make friends or to be friendly. The stranger crossed the street to Molly’s. He stopped just outside and looked back at the car. The guy was still in it. The stranger turned and walked into Molly’s.  

Chris Dawson, a six-foot tall, thin build with light brown short wavey hair young man of twenty five. He was from the next town up the road, and every-once-in-a-while, he would come into Seven Roads for some fun, but this time he had something different in mind. After stopping his car, he saw a man standing on the sidewalk in front of the post office. He figured he must have gotten off the bus that just pulled out. He watched as the stranger walked across the street and went to the front door of Molly’s and paused for a moment, then went inside. Chris sat there for another minute or two, took another quick look around for traffic, then reached down to the front floorboard and picked up his sawed-off pump shotgun. He pumped a round into the chamber, opened his door and got out. He wore a long over coat that was perfect for hiding the shotgun. He closed his door and slowly walked across the parking area.

Before the stranger entered ‘Molly’s’ he kept thinking, Remember, you are an outsider. A relative newcomer, so you are bound to draw attention that people may be suspicious of. He opened the door and stepped in.

The manager of Molly’s watched as the stranger came in, then stood at the door for a moment looking around. He slowly walked over to a far corner and sat at a table where he had good visibility of the door and most of the interior. He put his bag down and sat down. A few minutes later the waitress came over.

“Hi, my name is Maggie,” she said as she handed him a menu. “What can I get you to drink.”

“Maggie, I’ll have a cup of coffee.”

“You got it. I’ll be right back.” Maggie spun around and walked off.

Maggie came back quickly. “Here you go, one coffee. Now how about something to eat.”

“I’ll have the special of the day.”

“Very good. I was going to recommend that anyway,” she said smiling. “One special coming up. She once again spun around and headed off to put his order in. 

When she left, he adjusted the chair for maximum coverage. He figured that the man in the car was about to make his entrance and smiled when he saw the door open and the young man step in. As the flap of his long coat opened, the stranger noticed a shotgun hanging down by the man’s side. The stranger’s survival instincts instantly came alive.

The young man with the shotgun stood in the doorway for just a second before moving toward the back. He wanted to check it out and make sure there was an escape route if he had to use it.

The stranger waited for his meal and watched the young man with the shotgun go to the back and in a few minutes come back and stop in the middle of the dinning-room. Everyone in the place was oblivious to what was about to transpire except the stranger. He eyed the young man carefully and he seemed a little fidgety.

Mister shotgun stood in the middle of the place looking around until his eyes focused on the man at the corner table. The stranger was watching him, and it began to make him feel even more nervous. The man continued to stare without expression and sip his coffee. He set his coffee cup down, leaned back in his chair with his arms crossed on his chest, and stared with those ice blue eyes.

 Chris felt as though the man knew what he was there for, “Well, old man, it looks like you have something on your mind.”

A hush fell on the place as every eye turned to see what was going on. The stranger continued to stare at him as he slowly stood up, pushing his chair back. He had one thought in mind.

The man with the shotgun turned and faced the man. He gave him a threating look, but as he looked at the man’s eyes, he thought he saw a flash of lightening. It gave him the feeling that this man was not anyone that anyone in his right mind would choose to tangle with. But Chris was already committed, at least in his mind.

“Well,” Chris said with a noticeable quiver in his voice.”

With his eyes still on him the stranger moved out from the table and took a few steps toward the bad guy want-to-be.

All eyes were on the stranger who exhibited no fear and all confidence. Some figured he might try and talk the younger man down. Others thought that the stranger was about to teach the young man some manners.

The stranger did not want a confrontation, so he decided to try and de-escalate the situation by talking to the young man.

“Kid,” he said.

“I’m not a kid,” Chris said.

“Right, not a kid. Young man, my name is Hank Smith, what’s yours.”

Chris did not respond right away, and the stranger waited. “My name is not important.”

“Okay, well, I know that what you have in mind is gonna cause a lot of grief for not only someone in here, but your family.” Hank paused. “Where you from,” Hank asked as he slowly began inching his way to mister shotgun.

“Well.”

That was Hank’s cue. In a flash he was on top of the young man, had him disarmed and down on the floor in zip tides. He could hear a few gasps and whispers as he stood the young man up and walked him over to a chair and sat him down. The young man was still in a state of shock. He has never seen anybody, young or old move that fast. The stranger picked up the shotgun and called the manager over.

“Here,” he said. “Take this and call the police.”

The manager looked at the shotgun, nodded and took it, but did not say anything. He just watched as this stranger went back to his table, pick up his duffel bag and retrieved his hat. He put it on and pulled it low over his salt and pepper bearded and very rugged face. He put a ten-dollar bill on the table for his coffee and tip and then left. When he walked out the door it was silent. The stranger turned right, and he was gone.

Officer West, a ten-year veteran of the Seven Roads Police department the only one of the two officers allowed to stay on was working part of the next shift. He thought about it and still did not like it, especially without justification. With the old Mayor resigning and the complete turnover of the governing body of the town he had a bad feeling that everything was going to change, and not for the better. He decided he was going to keep an eye on the new Chief and the Mayor. 

Officer West was just a few minutes from Molly’s when he heard the call about an attempted robbery and said he would take it.  Dispatch told him, “The man had been subdued and was waiting to be picked up. No one was harmed.”

“Copy that dispatch,” West said.

In five minutes, West pulled to the curb of Molly’s and got out. When he went in, he was met by the manager.

“Howdy West, I hoped it would be you coming,” said Lenny Johnston the manager.

“Hey Mr. Johnston, West said, “So, tell me what happened and is that the perp.” West pointed to the man in the chair with his hands behind his back.

“Yes, that’s him and well … I wish you were here to have seen it, you would not have believed it, I mean you just would not have believed it.”

” Alright, Lenny.” West said, “just calm down and tell me what I wouldn’t have believed,” he opened his small note pad.

Lenny told him how the stranger took down the young man with the shotgun. “It was the fastest thing I ever saw. The old man was on him like a bolt-of-lighting.”

“A bolt of lightning, okay, so can you tell me what he looked like,” West said as he continued to write.

“Older man,” Johnston said, “was about five-ten or eleven, more than a medium build, salt and pepper hair and beard. The beard was not scraggly but neat. His hair was thick and medium length. He was wearing a dark black duster, like one you would see a cowboy wear and it had seen its better days. He also wore a wide brim black hat that was in the same shape his coat was in. His pants were a tan color and in good shape. He also had on some of those half finger gloves. Oh yea, the duffel bag, green military and I didn’t see any marking.”

“Do you have a surveillance camera? And did you see what direction he went when he left.”

“Yes. One camera over the bar, another one over the door and another one in the back. He turned to his right and that was the last I saw of him.”

“Did you get his name? And could you get the tape from the camera over the door.”

“Nope, no name. But if you will wait just a minute, I’ll get the tape.”

“Did he get anything? And how did he pay for it?” West asked as the manager came back and gave him the tape.

“Yes, a cup of coffee and house special. He paid for it with a ten-dollar bill that’s still on the table.”

“Okay, thanks.” West then went around to all the others and questioned them separately. Everyone had the same to say, in a split second the older man takes down younger man. He had him disarmed, zip-tide and put in the chair in less time it takes to change your mind.

“Anything you want to add Mr. Johnston.”

“Nope, that’s it? Oh, and this.” He reached behind the counter and handed West the shot gun.

West examined it, and said, “Okay, let’s get mister stupid here down to the station. Thanks Mr. Johnston.” West stood the robber up, turned him around and searched him.

“Alright,” West said pointing to the door, “Let’s go.” He walked him to the patrol car reading him his rights as they went. “You, Mr. Stupid, have the right to re-main silent ….”