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The Gunfight

by Roy Tsukishima about a year ago in fiction
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A stranger is challenged to a duel by a notorious Gunslinger

September 24, 1878, Deadwood, Dakota Territory.

Notorious gunslinger James ‘The Butcher’ Jackson, so named since he once worked in a slaughterhouse back in Chicago, rode into town. It was late in the afternoon and James had just completed a long day of riding and was looking for the nearest saloon to wet his whistle. James was the leader of a group of outlaws known as the Butcher’s Brigade. There were usually five others in his brigade, but today, James rode alone as the rest of his gang were going to catch up with him tomorrow, in Deadwood.

The Butcher’s Brigade, were a ruthless bunch of killers as they rode across the west, stealing and killing almost at will. The public had become so terrified of the band of marauders, that the bounty on James Jackson alone was $20,000, dead or alive.

James saw the sign for Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon, and he thought, “The place where Wild Bill met his end, sounds like the perfect place to get a drink.” James dismounted and tied his horse’s reins to the hitching rail outside the saloon. James took a quick look inside the saloon to make sure he didn’t see anyone who would cause a problem. The saloon was not busy as there were still plenty of empty tables, and after a quick scan, James did not see anyone of interest to him, so he proceeded to enter the saloon.

As James entered the saloon, no one paid any attention to him as he slowly walked up to the bar. The bartender saw James and walked over to him and said, “What’ll it be stranger?”

“Whisky.” was all James replied.

The barkeep pulled out a bottle of whisky and put a clean glass in front of James.

“Leave the bottle.” James murmured as he threw his money at the barkeep.

James started to drink his whisky, minding his own business when a man who was of small stature, accidentally bumped into James, causing him to spill his drink all over himself.

“You son-of-a-bitch. Look what you made me do!” Yelled a now irate James.

“Sorry Sir, it was an accident, I stumbled and bumped into you. Let me buy you a drink.” Said the small stranger.

“Fuck that. I’m going to kill you, but I will give you a chance as we will do this fair and square by having a gunfight out on the street.” James said, confidently.

“But sir, I don’t own a gun.” Said the stranger.

“I will give you one of mine.” James said.

“But I don’t even know how to use one.” Said the stranger.

“Well then, I will give you two practice shots, but one way or another, we are going to have ourselves a duel out on the street.” Before the stranger could answer, James, grabbed the scrawny stranger by his collar and dragged him out the door.

James threw the stranger one of his guns and said, “Here take two shots at the Saloon sign.”

The stranger aimed the gun at the sign and fired a shot with his eyes closed. After a few seconds, he opened his eye and saw he didn’t hit the sign.

James was now laughing and said, “That shot wasn’t even close, you better try harder with your second shot as that will be your last practice shot. Maybe, you should open your eyes when you take the shot.”

The stranger just nodded his head and aimed at the sign and fired again. After the smoke cleared, he looked at the sign and saw, he missed again.

James was now laughing hysterically, “You’re not much of a gunslinger, so I guess you are going to die today. But I will give you one last chance, as I will let you fire first, but right after you miss me, you are going to be lying on the ground, dead.”

James now backed away until he was about 20 yards from the stranger. “Ok, shorty, any time you are ready you can fire your one shot at me.”

The stranger aimed his gun, but his hands were shaking violently. After a few seconds the stranger fired, but missed James by a mile.

James again started to laugh, but then the saloon sign, James was standing under, broke loose at one end and came crashing down onto the side of James’ head and sent him flying. The stranger’s shot hit one of the chains the saloon sign was hanging from and after a brief moment, broke loose and hit James at the right angle to send him flying. The force of the blow broke James’ neck and he was dead before he hit the ground.

The crowd that had gathered to watch the gunfight now moved over to where James’ body laid and someone examined the body yelled, “He is dead!”

Someone in the crowd now recognized who he was and shouted, “That’s James the Butcher Jackson!”

Everyone now started to talk amongst themselves, wondering if that lifeless body was the Butcher.

After a few minutes, the town Marshall arrived and examined the body and said, “Yep, that is James Jackson. Who killed him?”

Everyone in the crowd pointed to the small stranger.

“But it was an accident, I missed Mr. Jackson and hit the sign and it crashed down on him and killed him.” Said the stranger.

“It does not matter how you killed him. You still get the reward.” Said the Marshall.

“Reward, what kind of reward?” Asked the stranger.

“Well, the reward for James the Butcher Jackson is $20,000. We don’t have that kind of money here, but I will wire the authorities that James Jackson is dead and the reward money will be sent here in a few days. So, if you just wait a few days in town, you will eventually get your reward money.

“I guess for $20,000, I can hang around town a few days.” Said the stranger.

The Marshall searched James’ body and found a little black notebook in one of his pockets. He opened up the notebook and started to read.

“This notebook is a journal of the Butcher’s Brigade’s robberies and killings. It lists every place they robbed and who they killed. This will make for some interesting reading. Since you killed The Butcher, you might as well keep his journal.” As the Marshall handed the notebook to the stranger.

That night, the whole town celebrated the death of James Jackson as the stranger was paying for the rounds, since he would soon have $20,000.

The next day, the stranger was a little hungover from all the drinking from the night before. It had been a while since the stranger partied like that. The stranger splashed some water onto his face to try to clear his mind and then he wiped himself off with a towel and then exited his room.

As the stranger left the hotel, he could see five men standing outside, all of them with a hand on their pistols.

The lead man standing in the middle said, “We hear you are the one that killed James Jackson.”

“That was an accident.” Said the stranger.

“I don’t care how you killed James; I just want to know if you were the one.”

“Yes, I was the one that killed James Jackson.”

“Well, my name is Logan Peters. Over to my far left is John Patrick. Next to him is Tom Gregory. On my far right is Dave Bishop and next to him is Oliver Jones. We are the Butcher’s Brigade and you killed our leader. So, today, you are going to die.”

“But I told you, it was an accident.” Said the stranger again.

“I told you I don’t care how or why you killed him; we are still going to kill you.” Logan said.

“I am supposed to be getting the reward money in a few days. If you let me live, I will give you the reward money.” Said the stranger.

“Oh, we plan on getting that reward money before it gets here, as we plan on robbing the stagecoach the money will be arriving in. But first, we plan on killing you. We can’t do it here in town, as we don’t want the Marshall interfering, so you are going to come with us and we are going to head out of town where we can find a nice place to kill you.”

The stranger was not given time to answer as John and Tom grabbed and hauled him away. They gathered their horses and forced the stranger to get on the extra horse the men had brought. “This was James’ horse. We are going to use his horse to lead you to your grave.” Logan said.

The stranger said nothing as the group of men headed out of town. After about an hour the men came across a ravine along the river. “This looks like a good spot for your grave stranger.” Logan said as he dismounted and the rest of his men followed suit.

The stranger slowly got off his horse, but he continued to remain silent.

Logan threw the stranger a gun belt. “This was James’, you can use his guns since you were the one that killed him. After we gun you down, we will take it back.”

The stranger walked over and picked up the gun belt and put it around his waist like he had done this before. James’ gun belt was a two-gun holster and the stranger felt the handles of both Colt 45s that once belonged to Jackson. He pulled out the Colts one at a time and checked to make sure both chambers were loaded, and then put them back in their holster.

Logan shouted to the stranger, “Any last words before you die?”

“I am not the one who is going to die here today, the five of you are all going to die in this spot.”

Logan was stunned by those words, but he ignored the stranger’s comment and just laughed it off. “Any time you are ready, you can draw first.”

The stranger waited a few seconds and then with hands so fast, drew both pistols and began firing. He drew his pistols so fast; James’ men could not react and none of them were able to draw their weapons. The stranger with his right hand, shot Logan first, but only to wound him as he shot him in his right hand. Logan was right-handed, so with this one-shot, he was disabled and he would no longer be a threat. The four other men were not as lucky. Tom Gregory, standing to the far right of Logan was next to be hit as the stranger hit him with his left-handed Colt with a clean shot right through the heart. Dave Bishop, standing to the left of Logan was next to go down, as the stranger aimed his right-handed Colt, a little to his right, and then put a bullet straight through his heart. Next to meet the grim reaper was John Patrick, standing to the left of Tom Gregory, as he was shot with the strangers’ left-handed revolver with another shot that pierced the heart. Finally, Oliver Jones, standing to the far left of Logan was hit as the stranger shot from his right-handed pistol, again, another clean shot through the heart.

The stranger slowly walked up to the wounded Logan with both Colts pointed at him. Logan, looked over at his now dead, former Butcher’s Brigade members and then looked at the stranger, while holding his bleeding right hand and said, “Who the Fuck are you?”

“I’m Shorty Lancaster.” Said the stranger.

“Shorty Lancaster, the so-called fastest gun in the West?”

“Yep, that’s me.”

“But Shorty is dead.” I read about it six months ago, he died in a gunfight in El Paso.”

“That was all fake. I faked my death so I could escape the life of being a famous gunslinger. Anyone who could hold a gun wanted to challenge me. So, I decided it was time to hang-up my pistols.”

“But I heard how you killed James, you missed and hit the saloon sign and it fell and killed James. That was an accident.”

“That is how I wanted it to look. You see, I noticed Jackson, as he entered the Saloon. I watched him walk across the floor and up to the bar and order his drink. I knew there was a $20,000 bounty on his head and I knew if I walked up to him and then accidentally bumped him to make him spill his drink, with his temper, he would challenge me to a gunfight. But, of course, I couldn’t just kill him with a quick shot through the heart, that would be too easy and it would put the spot light on me as the man who killed James The Butcher Jackson. So, I had to make it look like an accident. Do you know how hard it is to kill someone and make it look like an accident? I had to make sure I got the angle right for the sign to come down and hit James in the proper place to break his neck. I had to take into account the wind, to figure out how much effect it would have on the falling sign. And, I had to do that with someone else’s gun, one I had never fired before. You see Logan, the killing of your boss was my masterpiece. Taking out a piece of shit, asshole like Jackson and making it look like an accident, I can’t think of a better way to end my life as a gunslinger. And getting a $20,000 reward for it, well that’s just icing on the cake. Unfortunately, you are the only person besides myself who will know about my masterpiece and you are about to die.”

Before Logan could answer, the stranger emptied the chambers of both barrels into Logan’s body. As Logan’s lifeless body fell to the ground the stranger threw away James’ guns and took off his gun belt and threw it away.

The stranger took out James’ little black notebook and a pencil. He opened it up to a new page and wrote down the date and the names of the former members of the Butcher’s Brigade and then wrote, “Six dead assholes.”

The stranger walked over to James’ horse and checked it out. “Well, all I can say is James Jackson did pick a good horse.” As he mounted the horse and rode away.


About the author

Roy Tsukishima

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