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Boomtown: The Insider's Guide to Bank Robbery

“This town ain’t big enough fer the both of us!” growled Black Bart from underneath his dark cowboy hat. Shadowy eyes stared soullessly from his rigid face, the skin greasy and unwashed.


I clamped my brown fedora firmly onto my head, grazed the black hatband for luck and smoothed the brim to show I was ready.  My fingers twitched over the holster and brushed the rusty handle of my six-shooter. It was just me and him, alone against the drama to be played out with one or the other triumphant. A single bead of sweat dribbled down my forehead.


Black Bart sneered. “You ain’t nuthin’ but a lily-livered polecat. Now draw!”


His eyes flashed; my hand struck down, pulled up and squeezed the trigger. Pistols barked. Ka-Blam! But Black Bart was quicker.


“Got you, snake-bait! Ha-Har!” Black Bart’s mechanical mannequin arm replaced the plastic pistol and the automaton gunfighter moved back into the ready position. 


“Care ta’ try your luck, agin’ greenhorn? Only two-bits.” Every now and then, his recorded voice taunted tourists and drunks. Or, as now and oftentimes, my empty bar.


Wiping sweat from my nose, I carelessly shoved the old Colt into the deteriorating holster stand. It was only a prop pistol; not real, an imitation only, a lot like the tourist trap I’d bought.


The Cave Inn Hotel & Saloon was a deteriorating old brick building, a survivor from the pioneer days when the gold mine had made a dusty arroyo into a boom town. The Hotel offered ancient rooms with uneven floors and the Saloon faked authenticity with Old West relics hung on nails. In a concession to newfangled ways, I’d installed wi-fi internet throughout and electric-car charging stations by the horse railings. Outside, the wooden walkways warped and the asphalt street bubbled, cracked and curled around slanting buildings that had forgotten what square meant. On the far side of the empty lot next door, the once magnificent Burnswoode Bank crumbled under the weight of its own history (although a modern ATM machine out front kept up with the times). 


I liked running the Cave Inn Hotel & Saloon and apart from a tendency to slip into Old West jargon now and a’ then, I was as content as a cowboy eatin’ beans. Sinking every centavo I could beg, borrow or steal into the ruin had seemed like a good idea at the time and I was certain there’d be trendy customers whom I planned on cheating. In all honesty, I wasn’t one to walk the chalk and I skinned long ago that deep down I’m a crook. 


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