Fifteen Years Later

The Gun walked into Gladstone's only general store and placed his silver spurs on the counter. "How much?" he asked the small woman who walked out from a back room. She picked up the spurs and ran her hands over them, her practiced gaze pausing at every knick and dent.

"One dollar."

The Gun folded his arms on the counter and met her gaze. "I could melt them down for double that."

The woman's hands closed over the spurs. "Not in these parts. Dollar fifty."

He took the scrap of paper she left on the counter and watched his spurs disappear into the back room. Used to be a gunfighter could get a measure of respect in a town.

"Word has there's a tournament at the corral," the woman said when she returned. "Sell your spurs back to you for three dollars if'n you win."

The Gun turned and walked out the door. He tried to ignore the gathering of men around the blacksmith's corral and walk toward the saloon. One man stood balanced on the corral's middle bar and waved his arms in the air as he spoke, yelling over the voices of the other men.

"For one dollar you have the chance to win $500! Only one dollar for entry and the future could be yours!"

The Gun turned on his heel and headed toward the men. He wasn't sure about the future, but $500 could set a frugal man up real nice. He stopped behind a cowherd with mud flaking off the shoulders of his leather vest. His dollar was snatched away the moment he held it up.

"That's it!" the loud man shouted. "Line up!"

Match-ups were chosen quickly. Rancher versus cowboy. Drifter versus shopkeep.

The Gun stood opposite a boy no taller than his elbow. The pistol he wore stretched halfway down his leg and stuck out like a knot on a stunted tree. Mournful eyes stared out from a face painted up white with the red smile of a rodeo clown. When the weight of the boy's stare became too much the Gun found himself glancing at the others. They had no moment to spare for his confusion. All their attention was focussed on their own fights.

"This is no place for a boy," he said.

The boy's face didn't so much as flinch at his rough tone.

"That gun will take your arm off."

The boy turned and walked ten measured paces away before turning back around. His hand hovered over the grip of his gun and he narrowed his eyes.

The Gun clenched his jaw and counted his paces. Men he had killed without remorse, but a boy? He twitched his duster out of the way as he turned.

His muscles tensed when he met the boy's eyes.

They drew.


The Gun dropped his pistol in the dirt. He staggered back three steps before the world tilted sideways. The last thing he saw was the little boy sitting down on his chest, straddling him like a pony, as he looted his body.

Well, wasn't that something.

Wordage: clown, straddle
Genre: Western
Wordcount: 516


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