A Western.

It had been a funny thing to watch a man bleed to death.

Butch Robinson stuffed his Colt back into it’s holster and took a deep breath of the cold mountain air. His aim had been impeccable, and he had struck the coward Tom Jones with all six of his shots. Put four bullets in his chest, and two in his legs.

Trails of thick, crimson blood slowly crawled down the rocks underneath Jones as his lungs tried to take at least one full breath of air, and failed every time.

Butch spat a thick wad of phlegm onto the ground and snorted. Then he stared hard into Jones’ eyes. He wanted to savour every second of this moment; this hard fought handful of seconds.

He had chased the coward for hundreds of miles. He’d been through rotten towns and good ones. He’d ridden across endless plains, hills, and through frozen gulches where the wind bit his flesh to the bone and made his fingers bristle with endless pain. He remembered passing dead animal carcasses as he rode forward, into mountains where it seemed no living thing could survive.

It was times like that, when the sun refused to shine through the cold clouds, and it seemed nothing around him moved save the flecks of snow, that Butch Robinson thought of home.

Home was a farm. A warm place with long stretching wheat fields and tall green trees. It has been the place where he felt the most peace. It was there that he and his wife had known happiness away from his old days of blood and whiskey.

It had been her idea for him to volunteer his time as sheriff of New Reno. It would get him out of the house and maybe he’d run into someone in town who he could have a talk with, or someone to fish with.

It was his fourth week on the job when the townspeople found the girl in a ditch two miles out of town. Marcy, A showgirl too far from home for anyone to know her last name.

Marcy had been stabbed at least thirty times by his count. Her throat was slit, and the shreds of the dress she had been wearing were nothing but blood soaked strips. When he saw the body she had half a smile on her face, frozen that way in death. It was a funny thing, he thought then.

Butch had done terrible things in his time; he’d killed men, butchered men, and shot thieving kids too dumb to know how to fire a shotgun.

But killing a girl was low. And her death smile would not let him sleep. He wouldn’t let the coward or cowards who did such a thing to escape unharmed. Justice or whatever you’d of called it was too good for them. His wife, bless her, understood what he meant to do and didn’t try and stop him. She only cautioned him to remember his scarf and gloves, as it was getting cold out there.

He had forgotten of course, in his haste to leave.

Once out into the maw of the landscape he had searched high and low for clues to Marcy’s murder. He scoured back end bars, sleazy whorehouses, and poker rooms thick with cigar smoke. He beat rumours of names and locations out of faceless drunken snitches till his knuckles were a sticky map of dried blood, tooth marks, and bruises. It was in the back room of a movie theatre in Wyoming that he heard the name that would send him into the cold. A name coughed up with blood and spit when pulled his gun out of the snitch’s throat.

Tom Jones.

A woman beating son of a bitch. A liar. A coward. The snitch told him everything he needed to know to find Tom. He told Butch that Tom was hidden out in a hole-in-the-wall border town way out in nowhere-land, where he drank cheap whiskey and played poker, and avoided any law-men who might come looking for the man who cut up a showgirl named Marcy. The snitch almost finished describing how the girl deserved it before Butch broke as many of the man’s ribs as he could before his hands went numb.

Then, he rode. He rode through the night without stopping, without eating, and without sleeping. Tireless.

He hit the border town. Somebody had beaten him there. Tom was gone, far gone into the mountains they said. He had gone too far to stop now.

Butch finally found him, perched on the edge of a cliff out in the wastes. Barely visible through all the snow, Tom was crouched over a small fire, huddling for warmth.

Butch upholstered his gun and walked right up to Jones. He startled him. Butch squeezed the trigger six times.

. . .

The life was leaving Tom Jones’ eyes. Butch watched. He had travelled so far for this moment, and now it had arrived with all its sick demented details; Tom’s gnarled hands frozen with cold, his body mangled with lead, and his clothes caked with dirt. Above all that though, his face is what struck Butch. It was cocked in an almost half smile. Just like the girl’s had been.

“ Didn’t think a cocksuckin’ son of a whore like you would have a sense of humour.” said Butch.  Then he spun open the cylinder on his Colt and dropped the shells. He reloaded, and put a bullet right in the smiling face of Tom Jones.

 

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