I sat on the old wooden bench, feeling the roughness of the grain and one pesky splinter trying to work its way through the weave of my worn-out pants. I checked my revolver again, third time in the last hour. The action worked fine, and each cylinder housed a deadly .44 caliber round; no worries on that account. I slipped it back into the holster, giving it a final push to seat it in place. I pushed the brim of my Stetson up a little, not too much, so I could watch the swinging doors of the cantina. I squinted in the bright light of the afternoon sun and after a bit I moved the brim back down. The heat was a physical thing; the occasional puffs of breeze brought only more heat instead of coolness. I shifted my position to gain some measure of comfort and one of my spurs jangled in protest. Should be anytime now, I told myself.
As if my thoughts had been transmitted into the cantina, the doors were pushed wide as a pistolero came out onto the boardwalk, directly across from me. He stopped there in the shade of the long porch; perhaps for my benefit? Was he trying to project power, his aura of machismo? He wore a sombrero and had a serape draped up across one shoulder. There were two gunbelts criss-crossed around his waist; shiny pistols filled his holsters. He glanced my way, knowing beforehand that I was there, then cut his eyes quickly to right and left, just checking. His gaze came back, rested on me.
Without losing eye contact he deftly rolled a cigarette, dragged the match against his leather chaps to ignite it. Minutes passed while he slowly puffed; I hoped it was a symbolic last cigarette. I got to my feet, re-adjusted my hat, double-checked to see that my Texas Ranger badge was still affixed and in full view. I stepped out into the full sunlight, feeling the pressure of the heat pushing down on me, feeling a trickle of sweat working its way down my back. He stepped out in response to my movement, still facing me, eyes locked on mine.
In a few measured steps I was in the middle of the street; he obligingly came out to be opposite me, perhaps thirty yards separated us. It was going to be close work; no trick shots required, no aiming really, just a contest to see who could get their gun clear of its holster first and then send a messenger of death toward the opponent. I watched his eyes, looking for the slightest flicker that might indicate the moment of decision.
There it was; I saw his eyes narrow just the slightest bit, his arms flexed slightly to begin the motion toward the holsters. I knew it was time, time to kill this man as I had killed all those others. All of them had stepped outside the law, all of them paid the final price. I could feel the twitch, the anticipation, in the palm of my right hand; my gun hand.
I began my part of the dance, crouching very slightly as my hand moved ever so quickly in that practiced way, filling my hand, ready to launch the lethal projectile.
I glanced at my hand involuntarily; something was wrong, deadly wrong. I heard the roar of the pistolero’s gun as I stood there dumbfounded. How could this have happened? I was in a gunfight but was holding my tv remote instead of my weapon. And, why was I in my pajamas?
No more late-night burritos for me, amigo!