Revenge is a Western that explores the shades of difference between revenge and justice.
Fifteen year old Jimmy McClelland crouched behind the rock. He carefully set the barrel of the rifle on the rock and sighted down its length to see the bunkhouse. Several men, some mounted, some not, were milling about in the first light of morning, waiting. Jimmy waited. Uncertainty clouded his thinking. Which of the men was the boss and needed to be killed? What was the range of his rifle? Could he hit a target from this distance? Could he really kill a man?
A large bearded man with a black hat and coat came out of the bunkhouse, crossed the porch and mounted his horse. Jimmy remembered seeing him before. He had been at the lead of the gang that had paid a visit to the McClelland homestead days before. Though Jimmy had not been a part of that meeting, he remembered the hushed late night conversation of his father and mother.
"Elizabeth, I don't know what we're going to do. I feel we're between the proverbial rock and a hard
place. Damned if I do, damned if I don't."
"You'll figure it out, Jason, you always do."
"I don't know. It's coming to a fight, I can feel it. If he dams the creek, he'll starve us out."
"Is there anyone you can send for, you know, to help us out?"
"A hired gun? Elizabeth, I might as well pick up a gun myself. I made a promise. Hiring someone else to do my dirty work is no different than doing it myself."
While hiding from his little brother, Jimmy had found the rifle and bullets hidden in the loft of the barn weeks earlier. He pried open the long, narrow wooden box to discover the rifle, hand guns, holsters and bullets. He wanted to ask his dad about them, but was afraid. Something told him they were hidden for a reason and if his dad wanted him to know, he would have told him.
Now, however, none of that mattered. His family was being threatened, and if his dad wouldn't use the weapons, then he would. Early in the morning, Jimmy left the house, went to the barn to get the rifle and led his horse away from the house. When he was far enough away, he mounted and rode for the ridge. His hastily conceived plan meant he had to position himself above the Burroughs ranch before sunup. From there he would shoot any or all the men he could who planned to run his family from the land.
The moment of truth arrived when activity at the Burroughs ranch increased. On silent orders all of the men mounted up. Jimmy wiped the perspiration dripping into his eyes and drew a bead on the big man in black. He squeezed the trigger and the explosion knocked him on his butt. He quickly peered back over the rock and saw the riders pointing to the rocks where he hid. The man in black was on his back beside his horse.
The enormity of his action frightened Jimmy more than anything had in his life. He backed away from the deed and ran to his horse. Mounting, he rode away from his crime as fast as he could. He knew he couldn't lead the men to his home, so he headed in the opposite direction. Jimmy had no idea where he was going; his hasty plan had not included details of an escape. He only knew he had to get away and he couldn't go home, maybe never. That thought didn't occur to him until he was sure he had outrun the Burroughs cowboys. By then he could take none of his actions back and he knew he was on his own.