Thursday, May 6, 2010

Frank Harris and the Law (A short story)

"I, Brock Gunslinger, do hereby declare I won't shoot nobody again, after I take care of that dirty skunk, Frank Harris."

I made that statement in the Desert Den Saloon on a Sunday afternoon more than a year ago. I had hung up my guns after almost twenty years as the Sheriff of Rattlesnake County, but now I had to strap them back on and take care of that no-good Harris, who had called me out for being a coward.

"You dirty, cheating. crooked lawman, you coward!" the crumpled-up note from Harris said. "I'll be in the road in front of the saloon at high noon a week from Saturday to settle up accounts and I'm expectin' you to present your cowardly face so I can blast it to Kingdom come, you dirty, low-down, cowardly, sniveling excuse for a used-to-be sheriff!"

I sent him back a short note by Pony Express, saying, "Why you lousy, no-good, lyin', rascal, I'll be a-waitin' to see your ugly, big-nosed face, and this time there won't be any missin' shots. This'll be the last time you ever call me a coward."

Come that Saturday, I was waiting patiently on the boardwalk in front of the Desert Den for him to show his ugly face, when I saw some cowboys ride into the other end of town. It was him, all right, with his crowd of cattle-rustling, back-shootin' cowpunchers. I watched them tie up their broncos down there by the feed-and-grain store and then gather around their boss, Harris. I counted them, slowly, so there wouldn't be any mistaking how many I'd have to face. One......two. Hm-mm. That many, huh? Two of them varmints. Already he's not playing fair, as if he ever did.

I pulled my white ten-gallon down low over my forehead, adjusted the brim to keep the sun out of my eyes, gave it a pat, and stepped boldly into the dusty road, loosening my pistol in its holster. I stood facing both of them, shoulders squared, arms loose at my sides, as they slowly walked toward me. When they were twenty yards away, the cowboy with Harris suddenly broke away afer a short conference and took up a position catty-corner from me on the opposite boardwalk.

"HARRIS!" I yelled. "FRANK HARRIS, ye've come to meet your maker, you dern no-good snake, huh?"

"You're the one going to meet his maker, Gunslinger. I took enough of your abuse when you was the sheriff," he yelled back.

"Fire when ready, Gridley!" I yelled.

"What the Hell does that mean, you double-crossin' skunk?"

I whipped out my pistol and plugged them both while they were still trying to figure it out, a trick I learned from Wild Bill or was it Buffalo Bill?

I walked toward the body lying in the dirty, manure-spotted road. I started to roll Harris over with my boot, when he uttered his death cry, "Gunslinger," he said, "you aint'"



  1. Well done Oscar. I groaned at the end, but I'm still smiling at 'I counted them slowly.. one, two.'

  2. It was a groaner, all right. Appreciate your comments, thanks.