Jihwan Kim
The W & W

    It was a scorching day in the fall of 1883 in the sleepy, ride-through town of Livingston. Livingston sat on the Yellowstone river in Southwestern Montana and served as a waypoint for fur trappers on their way to hunt beavers on the Oregon coast, dusty cowboys in search of work, and the occasional homeward solider with a pack slung over his shoulder. Its sole claim to fame was the fact that in a town with a population of 3,000 on a good census year, it boasted 33 saloons, enough to serve every type of adventurer or outlaw that ambled into its borders. Gamblers and gold prospectors found their way to the Bristlebark Saloon, where a man either walked out with a pocket full of coins or a chest full of bullets. The more law-abiding miners or sheep-herders preferred Auntie Em's place, where they could find comfortable chairs and enjoy the hostess's scandalous stories over slugs of firewater. The Deadwood Saloon was known more for its women than for its whiskey. If a daring man rode into town wanting to make a quick dollar on the fugitive market, he was quietly directed to Bill, the county Sheriff. Bill was known for being able to keep tabs on every man that rode into town. He was too fat and cowardly to personally apprehend any outlaws himself, but if a braver man wished he could find him at his corner table at The Evening Star, red-faced and willing to part with his dangerous information for another shot of Tequila to add to his impressive daily supply.

    On this particular day, a gentle-faced Episcopal priest with slender hands and a mission from God found his way into town. Looking for a place to cool his feet, he wandered about the main drag in wide-eyed astonishment at the cornucopia of sin to which the good Lord had led him. Emboldened by his duty to sober up the town, he bravely walked into the first saloon he saw, resolved to speak with the proprietor about repentance and grace. Unfortunately, that day the Sheriff was in an especially drunken state after having lost yet another wanted fugitive due to his own incompetence. He was furious at himself and eager to prove his station when he heard the firm voice of the priest ask for the owner. Convinced that he was in the middle of a holdup, he wheeled around at the man of God and shot him four times in the back with his revolver.

    Since there was no higher authority in the county than Bill, the matter was dropped on the basis of mistaken identity. The priest was buried under a withered fig tree in the long-forsaken church graveyard. The townspeople, feeling the need to pay its respects to the deceased, but not knowing how to properly mourn a clergyman, built a saloon to honor the dead man. It was named The Water and Wine — or the W & W for short.