Gunfight at the Crazy Dog Saloon

by Rocky Mason

Solomon Grundy was a tall, gaunt man. His wide, muscular shoulders ran into a slim, hard waist. The shape of his legs were those of a man who had spent much of his life in the saddle. The steel grey eyes were unblinking, intense and set above a thin hooked nose, they had about them a hawk like quality. The slim gnarled hands hung loosely at his side seeming to hover over the two heavy colts tied low to his thighs.

This was Solomon Grundy, Gunslinger; standing now with his broad back pressed against the bar of the Crazy Dog, the only saloon in Comstock Wells. He was sad, worn and tired, gazing thoughtfully out of the window and looking back down a trail of memories, back to the day he had ridden from this town. A hasty word - a curse and he had stood outside the Crazy Dog , feet wide apart, guns bucking and rearing in his hands. Two men had died that day.

Some twenty years had passed and he was remembering how often since then he had stood to defend his name and reputation as a gunfighter. He was older now, sad and filled with regrets, recalling the few good things in his life. His thoughts turned to Ruby, the daughter of old Smiley Duncan who had then owned the store in town. He was remembering how often he and Ruby had lain together in the long lush grass behind the barn. Even now he could see the sadness in her deep blue eyes when he had been forced to leave.

His thoughts were brutally interrupted when his glass was sent shattering away from the bar. The mumbling voices suddenly hushed as he slowly turned to face a young man standing arrogantly with his feet apart and guns tied low at his hips. Solomon Grundy realised that his reputation had arrived before him and he was again being called out to defend it. He stood intent, facing this young man whom he knew he would have to kill. He saw the slight look of uncertainty, almost fear in the boy's eyes. The pink tip of the tongue emerged to moisten sun-baked lips. Solomon stood staring deep into the boy's eyes, intently willing the young gunfighter to back down. He let his steel-hard eyes convey the message: “Don't move your hands son, or I'll have to kill you”.

So intent was he on willing the boy to back down that he was just that split second late. As the boy's fist flew upwards, he felt the burning tear of bullets entering his chest and he sensed the harsh smell of cordite and burning bone. Solomon slid slowly down the bar but with the instinct of many years his hand snaked for his gun.

He saw where the shots hit the boy in the mouth and knew he had killed him. Even before the boy fell to the ground, Solomon was lying on his back in the sawdust of the bar-room floor. He stared up through the forest of legs to the clouded mass of faces above him. He felt himself sinking down through the ground to a dark deep well. It was in the last moments of his life that he sensed a familiar face coming nearer to his own: a face so little changed in twenty years. He looked once more into Ruby's deep sad eyes and heard the last words that he would ever hear: “Solomon Grundy, you have just killed your own son”.

Copyright© Rocky Mason

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