"My pa was a saint, Mr Tupper. He was a goddamn saint of a man."
Lawton was around two shot glasses from dead drunk when I sat down, slurring virtually every word that came from his lips. My beer was warm, but I drank it regardless.
"He didn't deserve do be shot by those boys. Just when he became rich too. Bastards."
I sympathised with him. He was coping with the grieving process by numbing himself with alcohol. Something I know all too well.
"Law...I'm sorry, what was your first name?" I asked him.
"Norman, I can't imagine what you're going through and it was indeed a horrible way your father died, but he's a better place now.
"I know, he's with Ma and Jesus now."
"Yes, that's right and he wouldn't want you too feel bad. He gave this gold to-"
"Hey, keep your voice down." he barked suddenly. "Nobody knows about this find."
"I'm sorry," I replied in a whisper, "but this gold is yours now and your father would want you to enjoy it, don't you think?"
"I suppose your right, Mr Tupper." His eyes were welling with tears. A drunk's remorse. "He was a goddamn saint."
The whiskey flowed freely.
"That's why I asked you here. I wanted to split it with you."
I was confused at first. I thought he was talking about his whiskey.
"The gold." he whispered. "I wanted to bury it for a spell but after everything's died down, I'll dig it up. When I do that, I'll give you some."
My beer was churning in my stomach. It was as if the air had been sucked out of the saloon and I suddenly felt rather sick. I questioned him.
"What? Why would you to give me any of your gold?"
"Well, you're helping me and...you kind of remind of him. My pa."
"Norman, I haven't agreed to anything. Your idea of using one of my coffins to bury this gold is ridiculous. I run a business, Norman. I couldn't bring myself to do that, I'm sorry."
His shoulders sank and immediately regretted being so hard on him.
"It's very kind of you to offer me a share of your father's find but I wouldn't feel right in taking it. Your father gave that to you. For your life, not anyone else's."
"Yeah, but I like to share Mr Tupper." he whispered. My heartstrings were pulled. This man had been through hell and back and all could do was scorn him for being kind. I felt awful.
"Look, I can't promise anything Norman but...let me give it some thought."
The saloon suddenly felt cold and I looked from the window to see the sunset dwindling on the horizon. Norman looked at me with drunken grin.
"Yeah, just think about it, alright?" he said.
My beer tasted a little better now. I sat quietly with Lawton and we drank together in silence. The barman watched us with interest, probably waiting to see if we would spend more money. His saloon was largely unknown to me. My time was usually spent at home in my study, not mixing with drunks and petty criminals; the usual clientele of this establishment.
Suddenly, I remembered something Norman had said.
"What did you mean when you said 'when everything dies down'?" I asked.
"Huh?" He had slipped into his world. I sat up and looked at him.
"You said you'll dig up the gold when everything dies down. What did you mean by that?"
Lawton looked up at me and thought for a few seconds.
"Well, I can't keep it with me right now. I have to bury it as soon I can."
"Yes, but why?"
"Because Mr Tupper, I think those boys that murdered my father are following me."
All of a sudden, my beer tasted sour.