Jeff Tsuruoka’s Picture Choice: One
Title: The Gun That Won the West
“There's this great speech in Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid.
It takes place early in the film, when Butch and Sundance go to visit a veteran lawman they've come to know and trust.
'You should have let yourselves get killed a long time go,' says the lawman to our heroes. 'You may be the biggest thing to hit this area, but you're still two-bit outlaws. It's over, don't you get that? Your times is over and you're gonna die bloody. All you can do is choose where.'”
I sat back in the hard kitchen chair and stared at the revolver in front of me on the table.
Colt .45. The gun that won the west.
“That lawman was pretty smart, wasn't he?”
Marco, seated across the table from me, didn't answer. A sucking chest wound'll do that to a guy. His eyes darted from my Colt to my face, like he couldn't decide whether to eyeball the gun or the man who killed him.
“He could've been talking about us, Marco.”
He blinked. His thinning black hair sat matted to his sweaty head and his little mustache had blood in it.
“Well, you, anyway,” I continued. “For now. I'll give you that.”
The small room still stank of gunfire, gunfire and blood.
Marco sat across the kitchen table from me, dying and taking his time about it.
Two shots to the midsection had made him docile. He'd dropped his own gun to hold his guts in. When I told him to have a seat he had a seat.
I didn't have to worry about the three guys he'd brought with him.
A man packing a Colt, who knows how to use it, is a hell of an enemy. Marco's clowns got off one shot between them before they died, seconds after kicking down my mother-in-law's kitchen door.
Marco had come in fast behind them and he came in firing.
He got me too, creasing the right side of my ribcage before I could put two shots into him, center mass.
The fourth guy ran.
It didn't have to come to this.
Marco had his piece of things. I had mine. There was plenty for everyone. But that wasn't good enough for Marco. No, not for Marco.
Six years we'd been after each other, strike and counterstrike. I think between the two of us we kept the local undertakers in business.
“I'll tell you Marco,” I said, picking up my Colt to reload, “all the crap we've put each other through, the fighting and everything, I never took any of it personally.”
His eyes fluttered open but I don't think he was seeing much of anything. I waved my hand at him. His eyes didn't track it.
He slumped a little lower in the chair. His wiry body maintained the same posture. Rigor mortis was setting in. He just didn't know it.
I finished loading the revolver, then placed it back on the table.
He didn't stir.
“I never took that shit personally,” I continued, “until you came after my family.”
That got me a chuckle from him. It wasn't much, more like a strangled burp, but was enough.
“Even at our worst, Marco, I always thought there was a certain... honor... in the way we went about it. But then you had to go after my family. You set my fucking house on fire, Marco. My fucking house. With my wife and kid in it.”
I shut up for a second and listened.
The clock ticked. Floorboards settled. Crickets chirped outside.
“They're all right,” I went on, “but you know that. My wife got burned, but she's tough. Two skin grafts and she's pretty much good to go. My daughter still has nightmares about that night. We got her in therapy.”
I, picked up the Colt, then stood and paced around.
My mother-in-law's kitchen used to be a nice room, with good hardwood floors, a simple off-white paint job, with an antique table and chairs, and framed family photographs on the walls.
Now it was covered in blood and brains and had holes in the wall. And a kicked-in door.
My mother-in-law had passed almost a decade before. We kept the house because we liked it. It reminded us of her.
We'd moved in after the fire and we were pretty happy there. My wife and daughter didn't want to go when I told them they had to. I'd worked hard luring Marco to the house. Last thing I wanted was my family in a crossfire.
I heard the grumble of my pal Moe's engine in the distance. Only one van complained the way Moe's van did.
Moe drove a piece-of-crap van but he was the best cleaner in the business.
I leaned down to look Marco in the face. His jaw had gone slack and his eyes no longer had any of the shine they usually held. His breathing was ragged and irregular.
He'd be dead by the time Moe was ready to do his job.
“I wanted you to know why this happened, Marco,” I said, “to make sure you understood you had it coming. You're gonna die now and I'm gonna leave you to it. If your boys have a beef with me about this... well, I'll burn that bridge when I get to it.”
I stuck the Colt in my belt and headed for the door.
“See you around, Marco.”
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Jeff Tsuruoka is an author in search of a writing career. He has found a home in the Flash Fiction circuit and is grateful to the blog hosts that give him the opportunity to get his work out there. You can follow him on Twitter @JTsuruoka and be sure to keep tabs on his weekly contributions to Daily Picspiration.