Carson couldn’t explain what drove him to drink. He was never in any shape to. He spent every minute of every day with a bottle in hand, and would wake up in the morning drunk. Sometimes he’d take a job, usually some new face in town who didn’t know his reputation. He didn’t need to.

His mama had left him quite a sum in her death. A smarter man might have spent it well or invested it. After paying off a few debtors, Carson took to a life of hedonistic whimsy, and the money flowed out faster than a runaway horse. Days and nights passed in the embrace of the Mar County Saloon, the comfort of many a dance hall girl’s loins. He’d fallen for the charms of a traveling singer, in time, but she broke his heart and left town. At some point, one of his fellow gamblers had threatened his life. Carson didn’t really recover from either incident, same as he didn’t quite recover from his mama’s death. Things happened, time passed, and Carson drank more and more to deal with it all.

Noontime came quickly that morning, and Carson rolled himself out of his cot to drift downstairs to the bar. He was usually up and drinking by 10 at the least. His head was a little clearer than normal, and he didn’t like it one bit. He could hear someone plucking away at the upright while he ordered his first round. The barman joked he had to drink double today to make up for lost time, or the place’d go broke.

It was then Carson heard her voice, Anna Mae, his lost love, singing sweetly along with the piano. Being sober hurt more than anything and tears welled up in his eyes. He didn’t want to talk to her; he didn’t ever wanna see her again after she left him.

For the first time in years, Carson decided it was high time for him to spend his day outside the saloon. Anything so he wouldn’t have to see or hear from that woman ever again.

Some say it was the worse decision he ever made, some said it was the best. One thing’s for certain, though, the bar did end up going out of business just a few months later.

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