Monday, July 26, 2010

The Sheriff

The horses feet were restless, stamping dust into the golden air as the deputy pulled back his reins. His leather saddle rubbed against his worn clothes. With every stomp, came the sound of his silver spurs jingling anxiously. The lanky deputy wiped the sweat from his thin brow with his red faded plaid shirt. He slapped his hands down onto the saddle horn, looked down the tracks, then swung his head back at the sheriff.

The badge burned bright with the glare of the setting sun. The sheriff sat tall on his horse. It stood steadfast, fearsome, and still. Its lungs would flood with air and through its muzzle, came the sound of power. His hat sat low as he peered under the brim. His six shooters, on either hip, waited to whistle deaths song.

Like a mirage, waving in the heat, the train appeared in the distance. Its engine chugged on like an Indian war cry. As it approached, the deputies horse became more impatient. The deputy yanked the reins left, pulling the horse into organized turmoil. The deputy glanced at the sheriff for a response but the sheriffs mien was unwavering. The sheriff knew the trouble would come to him and before long, it had.

The train hist and kicked as it came to a halt almost directly in front of the two lawmen. A gust of wind caught up to the train and blew up a small sand storm. The sheriff dipped his hat to shield his eyes. As the sand settled, so did, it seemed, everything around them. The sheriff bellowed out a deep command toward the, now exhausted, beast of wood and steel. A cargo door slid open two carts back, splitting the silence in half like a knife.

The makeshift gang stood there in the doorway, guns drawn and young blood ready to spill. The leader grinned as his lawless eyes went dark. The sheriff raised his head as slowly as the sun crowned the hillside, matching the outlaws eyes. The face of the sheriff was bold, his eyes glazed with the absent fear of death, or life, for that matter. The wrinkles on his face depicted a long life, lived honorably. His clothes, covered in remnants of the west, made him both transparent and outstanding.

He then heard the cold crisp unmistakable sound of a revolver hammer being cocked next to his ear. Had this of been any other time, the sheriff just as soon shot the second he heard that sound. But he didn't. He kept his head still, raised his left brow and peered from the side.

The deputy was holding his single-action revolver right at the sheriffs temple. The sheriff kept his poker face but might as well of been dead from the shock on the inside. When his heart caught up to him, the deputy was side-stepping his horse closer to the train, the gun still aimed at the sheriff's head.

The sheriff sighed remorsefully. He took one last look at the sunset and the hill where his house sat. Then, with the fluidity of water and the speed of lighting, he pulled his right gun out, danced on the hammer with his left hand, and kept his trigger moving. Thunder roared through the plain.

His gun was empty as fast as he drew it. Each of the outlaws wore a hole between their eyes. He saw smoke waving from the tips of their guns but didn't hear the noise. He tasted metal. Dark red saliva dripped out of his mouth as he looked down to confirm what he already knew. He wore a chest plate of blood. He felt the dead load of the bullets inside like fish weight at the bottom of his stomach. The sun had set and the cold desert air invaded him.

He looked back up at the deputy, whose face was filled with torment. The deputy stumbled onto the train cart, never taking his eyes of the sheriff. He watched as the sheriffs eyes faded and his body fell back onto the rear of this horse; his arms flung wide like angel's wings and a surrendering of his soul.

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