The Gunman: Part one of the Broken-Spear Chronicles

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
The Sheriff, the Gunman, the Rancher. Three men all very different, brought together for one moment. A moment that will define the men. Part one of the Broken-Spear Chronicles, a collection of apocalyptic short stories, by Tylor Fox

Submitted: May 27, 2014

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Submitted: May 27, 2014



The sheriff poked his nose out of the window, looking up to the grey morning sky, the red clouds indicated a storm, but the old man had no inclination in his joints and bones, he shrugged it off, and closed the window, his years of cattle herding hadn't prepared him for his silver. He stepped to his desk, opened the drawer and removed his handgun, checking the cylinder for ammunition. Five rounds, he looked down the barrel now, calculating. He felt the cold on his tongue, the hard steel against his bottom teeth, he took a deep breath squeezed the trigger, paused. He shook his head and threw the pistol to the ground, he cursed himself. Cursed being too old to be useful, but too much of a coward to fix the problem.

Sarah opened the door to the jailhouse, she set a small basket on the sheriff's desk, she turned to leave and he grabbed her hand, pulling her close, running his nose close to her neck, taking in her scent. Sarah's skin crawled as he hummed in lust. The sheriff kissed her neck, he toyed with her hair, and he squeezed her wrist. Sarah pushed away from the vile man.

Sarah ran out the door, the Sheriff stared after her. Smiling.

The Gunman rode, his mount swaying this way and that, the Gunman cursed and stuck his spur to the nag's flanks. Nothing seemed right as he snuffed the last ashes of his cigarette. He shrugged and rode toward the Podunk he could see in the distance. The water tower made his eye sort of water and his tongue flick across his lips. His black hat he removed and pushed his hair back up under it, the sweat ring turned the black hat even darker, his dark blue chaps were turned almost black by horse sweat, his dark grey duster and red shirt were stained by continuous use, blanket, pillow, chew plug, oil rag, everything. He pulled the black bandanna down and felt his scruffy facial hair, his beard extended further down his neck than he liked, and his mustache was a bit darker than it was when he left Denver. He lifted the bandanna back up and removed his sunglasses, rubbing his eyes making sure they didn't have anything around them. He checked his dark boots, cursed and stepped down off the horse, he spat on each boot then wiped them with the back of his duster. Climbing back on the nag he shifted his pistol out of sight and popped some mint chewing gum in his mouth. He let the menthol flavor fill his mouth as it burned slightly. The nag needed tending to as well, but the Gunman felt it unnecessary, the look of riding a distances, was something most men took pride in, might help him blend in.


The Cattle Rancher wiped his right eye in exasperation, drawing his large pistol. He pressed the steel barrel into the side of the black Angus' head cursed to himself and squeezed the trigger, the sound of the pistol made the rest of the cattle stir, but wasn't, it seemed, important enough to get up and check out the noise. The Ranch Hands moved in closer, each with a large trail knife, slashing and cutting the steer's flesh, skin and bones, trying to get the meat and marrow, as well as the leather of the kill. The Cattle Rancher sat, his back resting on his tall saddle, arms crossed across his aged chest, pushing a button into his barrel-chest, stinging a bit. He grunted, looking at the dark sky, had this been an average day, the clouds would have ached his bones and cracked his joints, but today was anything but average. He looked east, where he was driving the cattle, he cursed his old self and spun his horse west, yelling at the sky and himself, and the cattle, and god.

The water tower dripped as the Gunman’s nag swayed into the little town, he eyed the life-giving puddle on the ground, the curs and bitches fought over the wet dust. With each drip from the rusted crucible, the angry beasts tore into their spots, lapping the dirt. After a moment, the dark brown turned darker, one of the starved dogs was hurt, the others turned on it, and the growling drowned out the other thing’s yelps and cries.

The Sheriff watched from the office porch, sucking the end of a cigarette. The women who saw him crossed awkwardly to the other side of the street, and those who couldn’t cross in time ducked their heads and cursed their luck. The Sheriff simply smiled, people didn’t like him, and that was how he liked it, he had enough power, as he thought was necessary to keep the people behind him, what more could he need?

He paused, looking down the street, a man in dark clothes on an equally dark horse was riding past the water tower, His water tower. The man rode up to the Sheriff, almost onto the wooden sidewalk. The man seemed not to see the Sheriff, the man’s saddle was loaded with weapons and a large machete-like knife hanging from the left side. The man grunted, stepping down from the horse, which was actually healthier than the Sheriff had anticipated at first glance. The Sheriff caught a glimpse of several large and small pistols hanging on the man’s hips, hidden by his duster.

The Gunman pulled his bandana off of his nose and the sunglasses from his eyes, looking around, the town seemed abandoned except the old Sheriff standing in front of him, looking like he either needed to speak or was heavily constipated. The Sheriff cleared his throat, he glared at the Gunman. If you have ever met the stare of a powerful man, you need no description, if you haven’t it is an indescribable thing, like being the only thing in the world and you are starving to death, you know you will yield. The Sheriff met the gaze of the grey eyed man for a moment, then turned his head. A shudder went through him and the Gunman spat his gum onto the dirt packed street. The Sheriff ducked his head and stepped aside as the Gunman walked down the street.

The Rancher arrived in town from the other side, arriving at the saloon, his fix all. There was a quiet air around it, it was too quiet for a crossroads saloon. He flung the batwing doors open, his tribal tattoo on his wrist showing. He looked over the saloon. A man sat in the corner, The Rancher thought he recognized him, but he might have seen him yesterday, when the caravans came through. The Gunman watched the Rancher with increasing interest, even when the man turned his back to him, the Gunman knew. A man touched a key on the piano and the room looked at him. The Gunman set a large pistol onto the table, a revolver. The room swung back around. The Rancher included.

The two men met gazes and the Rancher’s eyes shot open, he had recognized him and was wishing he had ducked out of the doors.

There are animals that if you meet their gaze and fail to hold it until they grow bored, they will attack, and these two looked at each other as if they were that kind of animal. All the people in the room seemed to have disappeared, the electric gaze of the two was enough to kill if you interrupted it.

The Rancher finally moved, taking three steps to where The Gunman sat. Never breaking eye contact. The Rancher smiled staring at the Gunman, they just watched each other, and the Gunman glowered at the Rancher. The strange duo sat poised to strike, “Let’s take this outside, Ranger, no use getting blood on everything.” The Rancher backed toward the door. The Gunman slid the big pistol into its holster, then followed the old Rancher out into the hard-packed street. The road was quickly evacuated.

Even the Sheriff hid in his office, watching the two coiled vipers preparing to strike. The two men side-stepped the street glaring down their noses at each other. They stood, finally still. They were as still as statues and silent as the grave. The yipping of a far off dog could be heard over the wind. The Rancher slid his hand slowly down his vest. The Gunman didn’t twitch, the other man took a steady breath and pulled his hand back up almost unperceptively. They were in a deadly dance, when one moved the other countered, but neither drew, the draw would be death. The Gunman was so still it was unnerving, it was like the man was a stone, or a statue. The Rancher swallowed, watching the Gunman.

The Sheriff took a deep breath, and with all the power in his arm he threw a paper weight into the window.

The Rancher, taken by surprise at the noise drew, but was floored as he was looking down the bores of not one but two beautiful revolvers. The Gunman held aloft two similar revolvers, one with a black finish, but gold and a red metal inlay. The grips were black bison ivory and silver. The other was a white finish, with silver, gold and a blued inlay. These grips were pearl with black veins running through them. The Rancher was looking down the dark barrels of these pistols now.

The world seemed to turn so slowly, three flares shined in the afternoon sun, the men’s eyes glowed as they struggled with what had just happened. The Rancher had a grin on his face. The Gunman’s face was placid. Blood dripped on the hard packed dust. The Gunman put a hand to his arm, it stung. The Rancher cocked the hammer of his revolver back, and tried to take a step forward. He felt like he couldn’t move, like he was frozen. He looked down, staring at his chest. Two holes bored into it was all he saw.

He crumpled, his breathing was labored. He looked at the Gunman, silhouette framed by the sun. It was a like an eclipse, a final sight. The Gunman twirled his pistols before returning them to his holsters. “Broken-Spear, you are dead. And so are the rest of the Parowanee.” The Gunman knelt, mumbling words no one could hear.

The Sheriff stepped closer to the Gunman, and cleared his throat, “What do you think you’re doing?” There was no sound from the bowing man. Not even breathing.

In a throaty, confident, powerful and commanding voice, the Sheriff heard the words, “I’m trying to finish a war I started five years ago, stand aside.” The Gunman stood, looking through his dark glasses at the older man.

The Sheriff cleared his throat, “Not in my town.” The town gasped, this had been the first time the old man ever stood up for anything. In his head he thought only that this man may end his self-torture.

“I understand.” The Gunman looked at Broken-Spear’s horse, “I should be going, give that grey horse to the undertaker for his troubles, I’m taking that one.” He said matter-of-factly, in a tone that said nothing else would be accepted.

“Are you staying long?” The Sheriff asked, eyeing the younger man’s pistols.

“I might, if I decide.” He looked at the Sheriff who made an obvious effort to bring his eyes back to the Gunman’s. 

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