“Showdown,” my western flash fiction has been published in Impressions, the 2015 Las Positas College anthology. The book is more than 300 pages of prose, poetry, and art. So, what’s so exciting about my short-short story?
I don’t write westerns. Well, at least I didn’t. I’m known for my nonfiction memoirs, inspirational and spiritual tales. I dabble in mysteries, my favorite fiction genre, but none have been published. One evening, this old west tale sashayed across my computer screen like cowboys and cowgirls square dancing.
Violet Carr Moore
“Get the women and children off the street,” Sheriff Brady said. “I don’t want anyone hurt when the Claytons get here.”
“Billy Joe’s got no call to challenge you for puttin’ his no-good brother in jail,” the deputy said, silver hair nodding toward the scruffy cowboy in a cell. “I’m tired of the Claytons runnin’ this town. That’s why I closed down the Mercantile this mornin’ and put on this badge.”
“I don’t know why I let you talk me into deputizing you.” The Sheriff raked his strong tanned hands through wavy black hair that touched his collar. “You’re sure you want to do this?”
“Then clear the street.”
Sheriff Brady lifted the 1851 Colt Revolver from his gun belt hanging on a peg behind a shabby oak desk. He touched the cylinder engraved with a scene from the Second Texas Navy Battle near Campeche, Mexico. The sheriff flipped the revolver open, counted six .36 caliber rounds, and thumbed the cylinder closed. He shoved the pistol into the holster, hung it back on the peg, and reached for his lariat.
“You’re a dead man, Sheriff,” Sam Clayton taunted from his cell. “You and that tin-badge deputy both.”
They made an odd pair. The deputy was old—too old for a gunfight. The sheriff was young—too young to die.
Sheriff Brady closed the door and stepped off the boardwalk. Anxious women stared through windows of the millinery shop. Boot-clad feet crowded beneath the swinging saloon doors as three riders approached in a cloud of dust. They reigned up their horses in a triangle facing the sheriff.
“Billy Joe.” The sheriff acknowledged the leader at the front when the dust settled. “You and your brothers best go on home and leave Sam’s fate to the judge.”
“Can’t do that, Sheriff. Claytons stick together. Now, you gonna go strap on a gun so I can kill you in a fair-and-square showdown?”
“I’m faster than you, so this is fair.” The Sheriff twirled the lariat with an easy rhythm. “Tell your brothers to back off or my deputy will drop them.”
“Nobody’s crazy enough to stand with you against us Claytons.” Billy Joe’s hand inched toward his pistol.
A blast from the Mercantile roof slammed the other two Claytons to the ground and spooked the horses into fast trots. Sheriff Brady dropped the lariat over Billy Joe and cinched his arms tight. Townspeople ran into the street and cheered.
“Glad to see you’re okay, son,” the deputy said as she rounded the corner, carrying a double-barrel, ten-gauge shotgun, her calico skirt curling around her ankles. “I vowed not to kill again after we came west, but you’re all I got left since your pa died at Campeche.” She unpinned the star and handed it to the sheriff. “See you tonight at supper.”