scanned the street, saw people peeking and peering
around houses, barrels and boxes. He smiled and
holstered his Colt, the day starting warm and bright.
He had to know who this was he was facing, and the sun
would help in the outcome. Confidence was high in Jase
mind, and he wanted to add another gun to his trophy
case. He pondered what to do next, after this day was
over. Maybe move further west, there were gold finds
springing up all over and there might be a job for the
right man with a gun and reputation like his. The shade
was cooling and Edwards felt no danger, the man he
sought obviously liked to start the day with a long stay
in bed, he chuckled. He felt no danger, until he was
suddenly aware of a figure standing in the street to his
A momentary panic
grabbed Edwards, and he near leapt to his feet to face his target.
The sun played on the stranger's face making it hard to pick out
features clearly. Sneaky vermin had come up on him through the
alleyway and on his weak side too. Flushed with shame that he had
allowed himself to be caught out like this, he also noted that the
stranger didn’t have his gun drawn already to take advantage of
Edwards' sloth. That might prove costly; he grinned, and took a
pace into the street to face off. Something about the stranger
seemed familiar, the clothes maybe. Edwards was ready, no matter
what doubts or thoughts were playing across his mind. This was what
mattered, what counted. Now it was a contest; no money or power
could match the feeling of this moment. With is adversary in his
sights, Edwards thought to himself how small he looked in the middle
of the street.
Vic had walked
quietly but quickly along the alley, it was empty apart from the odd
drunk sat in the shadows or stray cat strutting through the trash.
Taking off the hat enabled Vic to peek around the corner of the
telegraph office, and see Edwards lounging on the steps of old Nev's
saloon. Now the sun wasn’t an issue and Vic strolled silent into
the middle of the street. The thought of drawing the old .45 and
just shooting him dead now crossed Vic's mind, but it was shouted
down by the chorus of vengeance that bayed for a fair and squared
off fight to quieten it altogether. It had to be done right, so it
was justice and not murder that Vic dispensed. Standing now in
plain view it was only a second till Edwards noticed and reacted.
"So, you're here
for me too. You took down my boss so now I got no job. Hope your
worth somethin' to somebody." It was quite a speech for Edwards,
but he was determined to let this saddle tramp know just what he had
set in motion. Both noticed townsfolk dotted around the buildings
and walls behind each other, but focussed to blot them out. A step
closer, Vic moved slow. Edwards stepped too. The gap was closing a
pace at a time, both eyeing up the other, looking for a weakness, an
edge, something to gain over the other. "Well, you must have
something to say, son." Edwards disliked the silence; most men when
facing off spouted verbal till the shooting started. He didn’t want
this tiny sack of offal to un-nerve him but the quiet was getting to
him. "You’re not going to live through this day son, throwing that
spanner into my works like you done." Closer still, and now the
face took shape, the set of the boyish jaw, small white teeth
gritted tensely. A look of concentration was on the
young.......Edwards stopped dead. His eyes widened in surprise.
"You got to be kidding me. You're joking, surely?!" Vic spat at
his feet and moved to the old .45 slowly. Edwards’s eyes opened
wider still, and then narrowed to slits as he went for his gun.
Both guns cleared
leather faster than lightning, hammers cocked and triggers pulled.
Two shots as one, a crack of thunder that echoed down the street and
rolled off the doors and windows. Vic felt the bullet hit, pain
flared down the left arm as it tore through and Vic spun to the
floor. Edwards’s right hand took the full force of Vic's shot,
middle fingers smashed as the bullet tunnelled into the pistol grip
and sent it flying across the street. Vic tried to push up with the
right hand, still grasping the gun. Struggling onto both knees the
.45 was cocked again, and Edwards dropped to his knees to present a
smaller target as he reached with his left hand for the Bulldog in
his pocket. Vic's eyes watered through the pain, it was hard to aim
and there were four Edwards in front of the gun sight. Edwards took
advantage of the sudden pause and the Bulldog was free of his
pocket. Blinking madly, Vic saw the gun in Edwards’s left hand and
again fell as the shot passed close by. Landing on the shattered
shoulder Vic let out a scream of agony, the hat came off and the
mass of dirty brown hair fell free. Edwards stood and advanced on
the downed gun, the Bulldog poised ready.
Sobbing in hurt,
the .45 was a lead weight in the hand laying pinned underneath Vic's
stomach. As the shadow fell Vic looked up into Jase Edwards pained
face. "All the fights I been in, the shots I took, the men I
killed, and all without a scratch." His voice shook with anger and
pain. He kicked Vic hard in the back, venting his frustration.
"You ruined my hand, you took my future!" Edwards continued to kick
hard as Vic struggled to get to all fours. Now you’re finished!"
Edwards gave one final boot, sending Vic rolling into the steps of
the saloon. Coming to a stop, Vic's hand sprung up, and shot
Edwards point blank in the stomach. Dropping straight down to his
knees, Edwards coughed. A puzzled expression coloured his face, his
jaw worked to get words out. Vic cocked the .45 again and aimed at
Edwards' head. "You can't kill me, you can't." The single shot
proved him wrong as he slumped stone dead at Vic's feet.
As the silence fell
across the street, Vic used the saloon post to get upright. Hair
tangled and matted in the blood from the shoulder wound, and it took
some effort to make it to the bar inside. Pouring a large measure
into a glass, and downing it in one Vic sat in a chair whilst
tipping the rest of the bottle painfully over the bleeding hole torn
open by Edwards' bullet. Slowly, people crept around outside, and
finally, entered the bar. Vic looked up, gun raised ready. The
three men lifted their hands and walked slowly over. "Easy, we just
want to make sure you're ok." One, a doctor, took a black bag and
opened it, applying a small gauze bandage to Vic’s' injury. "So, is
the shooting over?" He asked. Vic nodded, eyes tired and head
buzzing from the gunshot shoulder. "I thought you looked familiar,
didn’t your daddy have a small holding out in the valley? It was
Bulman and Edwards did for the family?" Again, Vic nodded.
The other two sat
down, and after whispering amongst themselves for a few seconds,
came over. One had a puzzled look on his face, as he scratched his
head and said; "So, where'd a girl learn to shoot like that?" The
doctor looked at them both and smiled sadly; "John Bailey always
said Victoria was the devil herself with a gun and a temper."