Monday, December 13, 2010

And Hell Came With Him...Part 5

Wil Sunday and his dog, Buck, stepped off the boardwalk in front of the hotel walking toward the livery. He saddled Goldie and led her across the street, hitching her to the rail in front of the gunsmith. Stepping up on the boardwalk, Wil opened the door of the gun shop, ringing the bell mounted above the door on a taught spring.

Hans Larson, known as Swede, sat at a workbench with his back to the door. He turned on his swivel stool when the bell rang.

“Wil Sunday,” said Larson, with a heavy Swedish accent and a big smile. He got up from his stool, circled the glass display case and pumped Wil’s hand vigorously. The Swede had been Wil’s personal gunsmith when he was hunting bounty. Wil paid regular visits to Gunsight to see him.

“Didn’t know if I was going to see you again,” said Swede, “They said you was in a bad way.”

“Hell, Swede, It’s gonna take more than a coupla pieces of lead to stop me.”

“You may get a chance to find out. The Walker brothers were Jarod McKinney’s gunhands.”

“So I’ve heard. Everyone keeps tellin’ me how much trouble I’m in. Well, Jess and Aaron was with them that killed Cassie. I did what I had to do.”

“Won’t matter to McKinney,” said Swede. He held up a finger at Wil, picked up a ring of keys from his workbench and went to a nearby cabinet and unlocked it.

“McKinney never goes anywhere without three or four of his gunhands, so let’s even it up a little.”  Larson took an oilskin bundle from the top shelf of the cabinet and laid it on the glass display case in front of Wil and pointed to it.

“Go ahead, open it,” offered Swede with a grin.

Wil took his Bowie knife and cut the twine around the oilskin. He smiled when he unwrapped the bundle. “I thought I’d seen the last of this.”

Wil picked up the Greener shotgun. The barrels and stock had been sawed off to make for easier handling. It had been a valuable weapon to Wil in his bounty hunting days. He sold it to Swede when he married Cassie, but Swede couldn’t part with it and kept it cleaned, oiled and wrapped. Now, he was giving it back to its rightful owner. The old gunsmith went back to the cabinet and retrieved the saddle boot that went with it, putting it in front of Wil, who slid the Greener into the boot.

“You may need it sooner than you think,” said Swede, nodding to the front window of the shop. Jarod McKinney rode with three men down the street.

“You have a back door?” asked Wil.

Swede pointed to a curtained doorway. “Through there.”

Wil started toward the curtain. “Hey,” shouted Swede and tossed Wil a box of shotgun shells. “It works better with these.”

Wil smiled, touched two fingers to his hat and slid through the curtain.

Jarod McKinney rode into Gunsight with his foreman, Cinch Riley, and two of his gunhands, Wade Jessup and Briley Cole. They turned into the hitch rail at the Marshal’s office and dismounted.  Stepping away from the hitch rail, Riley nudged Jarod McKinney as he stepped up on the boardwalk.

“Seen that yeller horse before?” Riley asked.

“Yeah, I have,” replied McKinney and turned to Jessup and Cole. “Go check out who owns that yeller horse and bring him here to me.”

The two gunhands walked across the street and into Swede Larson’s shop. The old gunsmith was rearranging a gun display, “Where’s the fella that owns that purty horse out front?’ asked Jessup.

Swede shook his head. “He didn’t come in here.”

“Well, we’ll just take us a little look around,” said Jessup and went behind the counter to look in the room behind Swede.

Briley Cole walked to the curtained doorway, slid back the curtain and was greeted by the double-barreled blast of the Greener, hurling him back into the gun shop. Wade Jessup bolted from the back room with his Colt drawn.

“Didn’t come in here, huh?” he said to Swede and hit the gunsmith with the barrel of his Colt, knocking him to the floor. Jessup crept over to the narrow doorway and looked down at Cole lying in a twisted heap. Peeking around the corner into the room, the back door stood wide open. He eased into the room and stopped at the back door.

Cinch Riley  burst through the gun shop door with his Colt drawn, looking down at the blood pooling around the dead gunman. “Jessup,” he shouted, looking around the gun shop.

“Back here,” Jessup shouted back. Riley moved through the narrow doorway and met the gunman at the back door. “Ol’ man said he wasn’t here, but he was waiting when Cole come through the curtain. He went out through here,” Jessup informed Riley.

“See if you can find him, I’ll tell McKinney,” ordered the foreman. Jessup slipped through the doorway into the alley.

“We’ll deal with you, old man, when we’re done with him,” said Riley as he hurried through the gun shop and out the front door.

Wade Jessup walked cautiously down the alley checking every doorway and alcove where a man could hide. Passing the stairwell behind the General Store, a stack of crates came tumbling down behind him. A double-barreled blast of the Greener caught him as he turned, killing him before he hit the ground.

“Two down, two to go,” whispered Wil, running down the alley reloading the Greener.

Cinch Riley and Jarod McKinney looked out the window of the marshal’s office at the sound of the second shotgun blast. Riley looked back at McKinney who nodded toward the door. “Don’t come back without him.”

He watched Riley jog across the street and disappear between two buildings. “Who is he, Draper?”

“His name is Wil Sunday and he’s got you outclassed, Jarod,” replied the marshal.

“He’s caused me a lot of headaches. He’s killed, probably, four of my men and he’s gonna pay.”

“He’s a killing machine, Jarod, and believes if a man’s worth shootin’, he’s worth killin’. If you brace him, he’ll leave you lying in the street and walk away.”

“We’ll see.”

Wil Sunday went back through the open door of the gun shop. Hans Larson sat on the stool at the workbench holding a rag to his head.

“You all right, Swede?” asked Wil.

“Jah, will take more than a bump on the head to stop Hans Larson.” He removed the bloody rag from his head revealing a small gash on his forehead.

“I’m going to put a stop to this before anymore innocent people get hurt,” stated Wil. He laid the Greener on the glass display case. “I’ll be back for this.”

“Be careful,” warned Swede, “McKinney’s foreman is still out there. Thery’re not above backshootin’.” Wil went to the front door of the gun shop and out onto the boardwalk.

“Well, well, look what just showed up,” said Jarod McKinney when he saw Wil come out of the gun shop, step into the street and walk toward the marshal’s office.

“Let it go, Jarod, you can’t beat him,” pleaded Draper.

“Watch me.”

“McKinney, Jarod McKinney,” shouted Wil, standing in the middle of the street.

McKinney smiled at Tom Draper. “Let’s not keep him waiting.”

The rancher walked out onto the boardwalk followed by Draper. Stepping into the street, McKinney faced Wil Sunday.

“Let’s end this, McKinney. Enough men have died,” shouted Wil.

“You’ve caused me a lot of embarrassment, Sunday. It ain’t ended ‘til you’re face down in the street.”

“Then, make your play, McKinney.”

Mayor Herbert Addison, in his gray suit and derby hat, walked up beside Tom Draper on the boardwalk.

“You have to stop this, marshal,” ordered Addison.

“I tried, Herb, it’s too late for that now.”

McKinney caught movement behind Wil Sunday and saw Cinch Riley come out from beside the gun shop. With his Colt drawn, Riley moved into the street behind Wil. Inside the shop, Hans Larson picked up the Greener shotgun from the counter, broke it open to check the load and walked from the counter to the door. Buck, left in the gun shop with Hans, began to bark when Larson thumbed back both hammers of the scattergun. Hearing Buck, Riley turned and saw Larson in the window with the Greener to his shoulder. The split second of surprised hesitation cost him his life. He caught both barrels of the scattergun in his chest sending him, flailing, backwards onto his back.

Surprised by the shotgun blast, Wil ducked, turned aside and took a quick glance behind him in time to see Cinch Riley fall to the ground. Seeing his chance, McKinney drew his Colt and fired a hurried shot at Wil .  Turning back to McKinney an instant before the rancher fired, Wil dropped to the ground, firing twice.

With a bewildered look on his face, Jarod McKinney looked down at the growing red stain on the front of his shirt. He looked up at Wil and dropped to his knees, letting the Colt slip from his fingers. He toppled over, face first, into the street.

Wil as he picked himself up from the street, as Buck ran up beside him. He thumbed the two empty shells from his Colt, replacing them from his gunbelt. He looked behind him where Hans Larson was walking toward the lifeless Cinch Riley, the barrels of the Greener resting on his shoulder.

Walking up to Jarod McKinney, the crimson stain growing around him, Wil turned the dead rancher over with the toe of his boot. Sightless eyes looked up at the blue sky. He holstered his Colt and, along with Buck, stepped up on the boardwalk in front of Tom Draper and Mayor Addison.

“You have your town back, Mayor. Don’t let it get away this time,” said Wil. He reached over, taking the marshal’s badge from Draper’s shirt and handed it to the Mayor. “I think you need a new marshal too.” Wil turned, stepped into the street and walked back to the gun shop.

The old gunsmith waited for Wil on the boardwalk. "Works good, too," he said, handing the scattergun back to Wil.

Wil offered his hand to Larson. "Swede, take care of yourself."

"Come back real soon, Wil," said Swede, shaking his friend’s hand.

Wil looked down at Buck. "Let's go home, boy."

                                                        THE END

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