We drank whiskey like sorrow were rare.
Dead’s dead, I muttered, bottle gone dry.
Hog stepped into the firelight, Colt drawn.
Wasn’t us, Billy blurted.
Hog shot him.
Wasn’t us my foot, I said, and drew.
I hadn’t a chance.
I knew it.
Hog knew it.
God hadn’t a clue.
Originally from the Midwest U.S., Justin Bendell lives and teaches in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he edits the Manzano Mountain Review, co-hosts Point Blank—a podcast about noir, hardboiled, and detective fiction—and records music under various monikers including fuguers cove and Euthanized Horse. His stories and poems have appeared in Meridian, 3:AM Magazine, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Thuglit, Washington Square Review, and more. He loves the desert. See more at justinbendell.com.
In the darkness,
only his face is illuminated by his laptop’s glow.
From another room comes that old Saturday night hop-along music,
Gun Smoke. Matt Dillon fires second, but more true.
The bad guy drops in Dodge City’s dusty main street.
And for a brief moment, the darkness is gone.
Matthew lives in Maine.
Bleeding to death along the sandy road while gun smoke cleared from my head wasn’t a problem. Robbery, booze, and bullets were my life. Figured time would catch up one day.
Main grievance: knowing my own arrogance became my downfall.
Should’ve never laughed at a gun-wielding cowgirl during a standoff.
BAM graduated with a degree in English with honors, helps other writers whenever possible, teaches in Japan, and has awarded publications here and there. Check out bamwrites.com for more.
His hands are trembling. His vision is blurred.
He’s been quicker than many less fortunate souls, but hasn’t been in practice for years now.
He wonders if age will be his demise. Or rust. Or comfort.
After ten paces, he turns and finds too many faces staring back at him.
Eldar calls California home, where he can watch the sun hide behind the ocean.
My hand rested on the top of my Colt Dragoon, fingers wavering over the white vinyl grip.
Being a cheating scoundrel, he’d draw at two. They always did. Which meant I’d have to draw and fire at one.
I tipped my hat in his direction.
“On the count of three…”
Maxwell is a 9th grade student who has problems understanding tablets so sticks to books and his 2002 flip phone.
The cowboy drank until he’d had enough, then topped off his flask for later.
When he turned to go, a couple mean-looking gents had gathered.
“Had enough?” said one.
“Got my fill.”
“Well at this lemonade stand most folks pay before they drink. Now give the little girl her quarter.”
This story was based on the prompt “had my fill” at TypeTrigger.
“I’m just a lonely cowpoke,” Billy admitted. “I ain’t no gun-totin’ hero, really.”
“Aw, shucks,” Milly muttered. “I was countin’ on you to save my ranch from Bad Bart!”
“I’m awful sorry, Milly.”
“Don’t be, darlin’. Truth is, I’ve been lyin’, too.”
“Y’see, pardner, I actually am Bad Bart!”
He was a subculture within a subculture. Cowboys called him “bisonboy,” which wasn’t technically accurate, but it had a better ring to it than “buffaloboy.” He listened to country southern music and wore a 9-gallon hat.
But when he was sad, his tears made mud puddles, just like everybody else’s.
This story was based on a title suggested by @metcarfre.
“This town ain’t big ’nuff fer the two of us,” drawled Brain-dead Bill.
“I’m very sorry,” said his mother to the guests. “Ever since poor Bill was shot in the head he’s been repeating silly lines like that.”
“This town ain’t…”
“Bill, you have to share the Fisher Price toys!”