The Gunslinger

Matthias stared down at the bar, his hands gripping the edge of the mahogany surface. He let out a deep sigh as he looked up and stared at himself in the mirror. His face was tired. The lines of the years weighing heavily on his weathered face. Most of his dark hair had turned grey and even his thick moustache betrayed the wear on his life. He grabbed the dirty shot glass in front of him, downed the liquid with one quick swallow, then slammed the glass back down while wiping his mouth with the back of his other hand.

He stared back in the mirror, this time staring at the man in the reflection who had walked in a minute ago. He was brown. Brown derby, brown jacket, brown pants, brown vest, brown boots, brown dust covering most of his body. Everything about him just screamed out brown. “Such a bad color for any man to be found dead in.” Matthias thought to himself. “No self-respecting man would wear that color to his own funeral.”

Matthias watched as the man fiddled with the sidearm strapped to his leg, his fidgeting increasing the longer that Matthias made him wait. “How long you gonna make me wait, old man?” the strangers voice was eager.

“How come you younguns’ are always so eager to die?” Matthias answered back, his eyes locking with the strangers in the mirror. Matthias had seen a dozen of his type. Young men all. Ready to make a name for themselves by beating a legend in a gunfight. How many had he put into the grave this year alone? Three? Or was it four? It was enough to make Matthias tired of his life, but something drove him to continue living. Drove him to continue putting those young flames out.

Whatever it was, that instinct of sorts, that made him so good at staying alive, robbed him of the ability to actually have a life. It made him weary of existence, but fate being what it was, or wasn’t, this is the hand he was dealt. He turned around to face the stranger for the first time, his waist coat swinging open revealing his Model 1890 .45 Colt revolver tied to his left leg. Matthias looked at the man again, taking him in, measuring him up before the afternoons festivities commenced.

“What are you, boy? 15?” Matthias stated.

“What matters that too you, old man?” he retorted back. Matthias snorted at him and started to turn back around toward the bar.

“I don’t fight kids.” he said as he reached into his jacket and pulled out a handkerchief that at one point in its life had been a far brighter shade of white than what it currently was.

“I ain’t no kid. I’ll be 18 next spring.”

“Git on out of here boy, you got a whole life worth of living to do. Today is not your day to die. Not by my hand.” Matthias wiped his brow with the handkerchief.

“I don’t aim to shoot you in the back, mister, but I will. I means to make a name for myself, so this day ain’t done til one of us ain’t breathing.”

Matthias turned slowly back toward the kid. “That how it’s going to be?” The handkerchief still clutched in his hand.

“Yep, that’s how it’s gotta be.” the kid responded curtly.

“Mind made up then. No use talking you out of it I suppose.”

“None.”

“Then I guess the talkings done.”

“I suppose.”

Matthias sighed. This day was not going to end well. He wiped his neck with the handkerchief and took a deep breath. “Well, here’s the matter of it.” He held the handkerchief out for the kid to see. “When this hits the ground, we go. Understood.” The kid just nodded. “Last chance to change your mind.” he offered. The kid just looked at him sternly, set in his gaze.

“So be it.”

Matthias raised his hand with the handkerchief, pulled back his jacket behind his holster, placed his hand on his gun, stared at the kid and let the handkerchief drop. They both watched as it slowly fell, times almost standing still. Finally it reached the ground.

A shot rang out. The kid held out his gun, staring at Matthias, a look of surprise on his face.

Matthias stood for a second longer, both hands behind his back, before he slumped to the floor as the red stain soaked through his white shirt.

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Published by

R. Todd

I'm older than I think I am and younger than I feel. I'm stuck in the 80's but relevant to today (oh I hope that last part is true). I think I am more of an enigma than I really am, but somehow still confound those who try to figure me out (or they just look at me weird, so I infer that). And I really hate my first name. Husband, father, Navy Vet, cat owner (translate.. slave), wannabe writer, and all around big kid who is stuck in an adult world. Overall, I just... um.. something to something, blah blah blah. And that's all I got to say about that.

11 thoughts on “The Gunslinger”

    1. Thanks, I was finding it difficult to get there and stay under the 750 word limit. Give me another 1000 words and I think I might paint the picture I was really going for. 😀 (and thanks for the follow)

      Like

  1. Even if I didn’t know there was a word limit, it wouldn’t have mattered–this piece is wonderfully written! I can’t help but feel proud of one character and sad for the other character. That alone, in my opinion, makes this a wonderful piece!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like all the details you placed in this. The entire environment was vivid and real to me. I felt for Matthias, trapped into a life (not life) that he really didn’t want. You set me up to believe he would win easily. The twist at the end seems almost like sweet relief for Matthias. This is smoothly written and nicely plotted. I really enjoyed it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You did a great job setting the scene. You managed to create a complex character within the word limit, which is no easy task. And I love the ending. Nice work with the prompts! Thanks for joining the Ghouls this week! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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