Old Man, Old Wounds.Mature

"That sounds like a mighty fine idea." Said the barkeep. "Don't bother coming back in ... either of you."

The scruff sneered, "Good to meet you too jackass." He said, taking the shot of whiskey before he got up and turned to the man addressing him from behind. He looked him up and down. His white hair and beard flowed from beneath a wide brimmed hat. A well worn long-jacket covered an ominously familiar bulge on his hip.

The scruff looked him in the eyes, with its deep crows feet clawing off on either side. "Sir." He said, "There ain't no way in hell I'm walking out that door with you behind me."

"If I was gonna shoot you in cold blood I'd a done it already."

The scruff cocked his head to the side. "Alright." He said, taking his word and walking out the door. As he made his way on the dusty road, he turned around. "So if you happen to find this Cyrus fellow -"

"Here." said the old man, throwing him a pistol holstered on a belt. "You said you needed a gun to kill a man. I happen to have two."

"As I was saying. What would you do with the man?" Asked the scruff, while his eyes wandered down to the worn pistol grip on the revolver at his feet. His eyes widened with recognition. "Where'd you find this?"

"In a brunin' house, ‘bout ten years ago." He said plainly, pulling a leafy cigar from between his moustache and beard. "As you were saying ..." He threw down the cigar and stepped on it. "If I found the Cyrus fellow, I'd challenge him to a duel."

"A duel?" the scruff said, his nervous smile so large you could see the yellow green through his tangled beard.

The locals, as if their ears perked up, vacated the street. Windows were shut, doors were barred, and the law was being looked for. They knew when a storm was coming.

"Any reasonable duellist has a reason to duel. What would this Cyrus fellows reason be?" asked the scruff.

"There's a woman. Or rather there was a woman."

The scruffs face fell, his eyes hollowed like the pits of hell.

"She was hanging by her neck in a tree by the time I got to her. There were ten of them, and I took them all. But there wasn't enough time."

A single burning tear raced down from the scruffs eye as the only show of emotion on his steely face. It travelled down an old scar and disappeared into the forest beneath his rosy cheeks, now turned a pale gray.

Horace sighed and pulled his coat back to rest his hand on his gun belt. He continued. "I'd a saved her if I had more time. If I'd a had more than bullet holes and dead horses to point me in the right direction. If you hadn't been a selfish bastard and ran after Herschel, leaving her alone for his boys when they came back around. They had their way with her you know; over and over again.

"Shut your gullet." Cyrus said, fastening the gun belt on to hip. "You're talking about things you know nothing of."

"Like hell Cyrus. You left her there to die."

"I loved that woman Horace. I loved her with all my heart. I still do and you know it. She was my wife."

"She was my daughter."

"And he was your son!" He yelled, pointing an accusing finger.

"That don't matter. You're the one who let her down, who swore to protect her and failed. I should have shot you the day I met you."

"You did!" Cyrus said, laughing slightly. "Right in the ass with birdshot as I jumped out of the loft when you found me in the barn with Mary."

Horace laughed too, a tear struggling through the trenches of his face.

"I still got the scars from that damn birdshot."

Horace steeled himself, wiped away the salt on his face and stared at Cyrus with an eye that burned through the soul.

The End

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