A sudden wind swept up a dust cloud, adding to the sullen atmosphere and obscuring onlooker’s vision. The two men drawing the crowd’s attention stood forty yards apart, feet planted firmly with their right hands poised to grab their revolvers as soon as the bells rang. At the top of the hour, the world would be without one of the greatest gunslingers in Oklahoma.
It was only a matter of time before we met. Every pull of the trigger, every shot, every man defeated was merely a means to reach him, my father’s murderer. Each duel he took part in was another chance I may not be the one to kill him. But he lives. He probably doesn’t even remember my father, just another man. The best shot in the west. I’ll never forget seeing sunlight reflected into my dad’s eyes just as guns were drawn.
I remember clear as day. My own dreams remind me constantly. Confident as ever, Rick Faust standing across from me. My greatest adversary and only rival. I remember the bell. I remember seeing the light shine into his eyes. I remember his gun going off split seconds before mine. I remember his son shouting as his father fell backwards to the ground, my bullet having found his chest and his bullet having found wind. Seems William Whitestone wanted Rick dead for holding up his expansion. Rick wouldn’t sell some land he had out east of Norman and Whitestone figured he could coax the wife out of it with Rick dead. I didn’t think he’d do it this way. There’s no honor in that. Then again, Whitestone was no honorable man.
Now I stand across from Rick Jr. There’s no way he knows the truth of things. Been avoiding his challenges for months now, dueling those Whitestone had in his pocket. Each win weakened Whitestone’s grasp and lightened the guilt on my shoulders. Each win probably bringing this young man’s anger to a boil.
“Hold up a sec there boys.”
Whitestone and three of his bodyguards exit out of a house off to my left. Two of the guards had rifles trained on me, the other aimed at Faust.
“Now, you didn’t think I’d miss this lovely opportunity to get rid of two of the biggest thorns in my rear end this side of Oklahoma, did you? No worries there Deveaux, I won’t need no fancy mirrors to remove this here Faust. I think a more direct route is in order.”
The hearty laughter brought with it 6 more men coming out with weapons aimed at us: A couple atop the saloon’s second floor balcony, the rest across from the house Whitestone emerged from. Seems they waited amongst the crowd. Whitestone’s devilish grin was evident under his dusty black bowler. The grin always reached his eyes. He genuinely took pleasure in the demise of others. I see the confusion on Rick’s face change slowly into understanding, then into a seething anger.
Faust takes the first shot, clipping one of the men on the balcony. His speed reminds me of his father, but I can tell he’s never killed a man. I pull both my own revolvers and hit two of the four men to my right. The townspeople all hit the ground or dash for cover.
I hit the second man on the balcony and one of Whitestone’s guards while Faust hits the last two on my right. He’s turning for Whitestone when a bullet shatters his left shoulder.
I hit one of the guards dead center and Faust, not letting the pain hold him back, hits the third.
Whitestone is cowering now, his previous arrogance no longer evident. That same arrogance left him unarmed and alone now. Faust starts to walk toward Whitestone, blood pouring from his clipped wing. I keep my guns out, making sure these were the only men Whitestone brought along. Whether they were the last or the remaining were simply cowards, no one else made a move.
“Please young man. I can offer you anything you want. Anything at all! Women, land, money. Speak it and its yours.
I looked into the eyes of the man behind the death of my father. The man that pushed my mother to the edge, where she took the easy way out and left me behind. The anger I’d kept bottled up for Deveaux was now completely focused into him. One flinch, and I’d leave his thoughts on the wood behind him. He’d never plot another death, swindle another family, or feel the warmth of a woman. I still didn’t think it’d be enough.
“Don’t become what he his son,” says Deveaux as he walks up behind me with Marshall John.
“I’m not your fucking son.”
“I know. I can never replace your father. Neither can Whitestone’s death. You’d be showing him a great mercy if you kill him now. Let him suffer. Everyone out here heard what he said and has seen what he tried today. He’ll never escape his crimes and jail is hell for one who’s lived such a soft life.”
He was right. I knew it, but I didn’t want him to be. This man had taken everything I’d ever known away from me just for a piece of land. I’d lived thinking that my father would want the man responsible six feet under, but then I thought of my mother. The pain she experienced when my father died. The downward spiral she went through. I hope Whitestone experiences something remotely close.
“Marshall. Get this piece of shit behind bars.”