Aubrey Comes to Yellow High
by James van Pelt
Yellow High's halls smelled like dusty streets in a Texas sun, like mesquite and sand and cactus,
and sometimes like a thunderstorm just below the horizon; and when the double doors at the ends
of the main hall opened, a wind came off the plains, swirling a dust devil, catching paper scraps
and hissing grit across the lockers. Only Aubrey noticed. She clutched books to her chest as she
walked from third period English to fourth period Student Senate, thinking about her campaign
for junior class president and how much she wanted to win. Winning this election seemed like
the only way to make a difference, and more than anything else, she wanted to do something that
mattered. Other students streamed in both directions, racing the tardy bell.
She spotted Sheriff Jane Tremble leaning on the wall next to the drinking fountain, hat pushed
back on her head, left hand grazing a six shooter's smooth handle. The sheriff wore two gun
belts, heavy with bullets, the guns resting on her hips. Lines marked her face, like worn leather,
and she perpetually squinted as she surveyed passing kids.
The sheriff caught Aubrey's eye, and touched a finger to her hat's wide brim.
Around the corner, down the hall, Wyoming Jim and Dry Gulch stepped into view. Wyoming
sported an angry, red scar that started above the left ear, traversed across his face to the corner of
his mouth, before ending at his chin. A revolver stuck from his belt at an easy angle.
Dry Gulch didn't look much older than twenty, but he had an old man's hitch in his walk. A
shotgun hung from his hand like a club.
They stopped when they spotted the sheriff.
"You should'a git when we told you, Sheriff," bellowed Wyoming.
No student reacted. A couple junior girls in lacrosse shirts, carrying their long sticks, walked
around the two gunmen, not interrupting their animated conversation.
The sheriff pushed away from the wall. Aubrey stepped to the side, knowing what was coming