Storytime – Gunfight

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!

4 responses to “Storytime – Gunfight

  1. you are a good storyteller, sucked me right in.

  2. You rat! I was SO THERE! And then I woke up! lol

  3. What a surprise twist ending — love it! 🙂

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