The Devil's Breath

"Thank you, Charlie. Riding with that uppity horse face was not the way I want to spend the rest of my life."

Marshal Cain gives the undertaker a nod to let his boys start shoveling dirt into the grave. From the saloon, Cole's assistant briskly returns with a damp towel over his arm and a warm cognac on a saucer. He stops sharply with a look of shock across his face. His startled appearance quickly fades to a look of relief as a smile begins to form on his lips. He wipes the sweat from his brow and promptly downs the cognac before walking away.

Cain shakes his head and lets out a sigh. "Last round today. Murdock Clowery and Tommy Two Aces."

The crowd parts as the two gunmen make their way to the graves. Tommy stops at his mark and traces the etched aces on the handle of his pistols. He whispers to himself "Lord. I've got too much to drink and women yet to love. Give me the speed and the aim I've grown accustomed to and I promise to deliver you more souls for your kingdom, or at least clean up this dirt ball and protect those that deserve it. Now, cut the cards and deal."

He turns to face Murdock. From his profile, Tommy can tell the man is experienced and serious. The long coat is a size too large to help mask where his body hides within it. His gun slung low to shorten his draw time. His head tilted forward, bringing the rim of his hat down enough to cover the tell signs in his eyes. He is not going for the aimed shot. He has speed and confidence enough to shoot from the hip, cutting down his time on the draw. He is going to wait for my move. The rain is starting and the wind is picking up.

I guess the Lord wants me to keep drinking. I wait for  the right moment when the breeze tilts the brim of his hat just a touch over his eyes. Pushing off with my left leg, I spin backwards. His shot rings out and the bullet screams past my head. I knew he was going for the hard shot and his aim was already trained for that target when I moved. As my back faces Murdock, I push down on my grips and let loose my aces while they are still holstered. Murdock's heart and head feel the hot breath of Devil's Gulch for the first time from within. I stand facing away from my opponent until I hear his body slump to the dirt. I smile and turn my head to see Cain staring back at me.

"Does the government pay for our whiskey and woman too?" I ask.

The End

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