Thursday, March 12, 2015

Gun Job, Short Story by Thomas Thompson

Gun Job is included in the 14 Spurs Anthology published by Bantam Books.

Jeff Anderson was the sheriff of Alkali for fifteen years and had changed the town from a rip-roaring place to a quiet little spot on the map. When he retired, he recommended Billy Lang to take over the sheriff's job. Billy was not a lawman at heart, having worked in the store selling dry goods, clothing, etc., but he took the the job now that all the hard work was done. But Hank Fetterman saw his chance to take over seeing that Jeff was out of the way.

Throw in a Bohemian who didn't speak good English and a farmer besides, making claims that Fetterman's cattle had ruined his corn crop and broken his fences, and the plot thickens. Anderson is a witness to the dispute as he buys Fetterman a shot of whiskey in the saloon and stays out of it. Lang shows up to see what's going on. Not wanting to face down Fetterman, Lang takes off his badge and walks away. But no bohunk is going to get away with damning claims against Fetterman, and later in the day, Fetterman sets out to the home of the Bohemian to let him know who is boss around here. And it so happens that Anderson is visiting when Fetterman shows up, and this makes a serious dilemma for Anderson, who is now a rancher with a wife and trying to live the life of a peaceful man.

Well, you can bet your last nickel that the conscience of the former sheriff won't let him continue being a peaceful rancher, especially after he told the young son of the Bohemians all about America and what it stands for. And you know that you are near the end of the story when Anderson stands up to Hugh Fetterman.

Whew! With all the reasons not to, Anderson does the right thing with a lot of hemming and hawing and arguing with himself. This was a nice little story and entertained me for a half-hour or so while the wife worked on another quilt.  


  1. Sounds like a good read, I often find myself looking for short stories. Good ones are tightly written and have lots of good action or mystery. By the way, my wife disappears for most of the day with her quilts, I check on her now and again.

    1. It was the first story I've read by Thomas Thompson, but I'll read more of his writing. Sometimes I find my wife sitting and staring at a quilt, then I realize I better not interrupt her, she's measuring something in her head.

  2. Replies
    1. I think you will, Charles. There is a little psychology going on in the writing that I think you'll like.

  3. Add me to the I'm betting I'd enjoy this list.