Thayne pushed open a swing door and glanced around the saloon, smoke from his cigarillo curling and drifting into a haze as he listened to the ebullient tinkle of piano music, punctuated by the occasional broken glass.
The rickety wooden chairs at the haphazard collection of tables were all facing away from him, their occupants – a motley collection of cow-herds, merchants, miners and whores – all clapping, cheering and stamping their feet in time to the music. Peering into the gloom he espied two men on the stage at the back, playing fiddles while a woman in a ruffled dress and boa feathers stomped her boot and sang a raucous ditty.
Exactly the kind of flea-pit that Clay might visit. Hell, even if he wasn’t here, maybe there’d be someone here who had heard something of him.
The bar was on the left; he sauntered over there, spurs jingling with every step, not that anybody would have heard this over the din. He pulled out a tall stool, sat down as the barkeep strolled over to him.
“What’ll it be sir?” asked the barman cheerfully.
“Whiskey”. Thayne eyed the short, balding, anxious looking man. “Don’t bring me no rotgut neither.”
“Only the best liquor here, yes sir!” replied the barman, eyes wide as he reached behind for a bottle. “No rotgut here; we don’t cut our whiskey with no turpentine or horse-piss here, no siree!” he continued, as he placed a shot-glass on the bar and poured out a double measure.
Thayne knocked the drink down in one swallow, felt the pleasant burn of genuine bourbon slide down his gullet and warm his belly. Thayne smacked his lips appreciatively and tapped his fingers on the bar to indicate that the barkeep should pour another.
“What’s your business here, friend?” asked a voice beside him.
Thayne glanced over under the brim of his hat. A cow-herd, leaning back, elbow on the bar, supping whiskey.
“Hah – you’re chasin’ a rainbow.”