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.