An old western gun fight with a twist
I pushed the swinging doors open and slowly stepped into the tavern. The tavern consisted of 4 tables, 16 chairs, a bar and an old potbelly stove almost in the center of the room. There are 2 tables with 8 chairs setting on the left side of the tavern and 2 tables with 8 chairs setting on the right side of the tavern. There are 3 strangers setting at the table furthest from the bar on the left. Doc, Patty, Jim and Don are playing cards at the table on the right side closes to the bar. At the bar on the right side of the tavern Sam and Steve are standing drinking. Pete the bartender was standing behind the bar and he spoke when I entered the tavern.
He said, “Hi Jake come on in and have a beer.”
I walked across the floor to the bar. Leaning on the bar with my left arm I put my left foot on the rail. Pete the bartender brought me over a beer.
Pete said, “How is your day going Jake?”
“Not too bad Pete but I think it is time I quit at least on of the cleaning jobs.”
“Jake, you have been saying that for years now.”
“I know Pete but the arthritis in my hands is really hurting me today.”
One of the men that had been setting at the table on the left got up and walked up to the bar. He acted as if he had tripped and spilled the remaining beer he had in his mug on me.
He said, “I’m sorry old man. Let me buy you another beer.”
I said, “No thank you mister that will be all right.”
He said, “So you are telling me that you are to good to let me buy you a beer. Hey, bartender this old man is too good to drink with T. Taylor.”
Taylor then reached out with his arm and gave me a shove.
Then he said, “You know you look a lot like Jake Slade.”
He brought his face up close to my face and he looked me over real good.
Taylor said, “By golly you are Jake Slade. Hey boys, look here, this is Jake Slade.”
Taylor went back to the table. As soon as he sat down the 3 of them started talking quietly about something.
I said, “Pete, trouble is about to happen, again.”
Pete said, “No, I think they are going to leave. They are all getting up and they are all heading for the door.”
At the door Taylor stopped. Then he turned to face me.
He said, “Everybody says that you are number one. You are not number one I am number one and soon I will prove it. Jake, I will be waiting in the street for you to come out. If you do not come out I will come in here and kill everybody I can.”
With that, he went through the door followed by the other 2 men that had been setting with him.
Pete said, “Jake you can not go out there. I saw Taylor last year when I was in Abilene. He gunned down two men in the street while I watched. His hand moved so fast I couldn’t see it move.”
“If I do not go out there. Just what do you think I should do, Pete”
“Well, Jake you could go out the back door and go home.”
“Yes that is one thing I could do and if I did that, Pete, what would that accomplish? First Taylor will come back in here and kill all of the people in here. Then Taylor will just come to my house and try to shoot me in the back. At least in the street he will have to meet me face to face.”
I took my gun out of my holster to check it. I opened the loading latch and slowly rolled the cylinder of the gun along my sleeve. As it rolled along my sleeve I could see there was a bullet in all of the 6 chambers. Gently and ever so lightly I placed the gun back in the holster. Picked up the mug of beer and drained it.
I said, “Pete if this is the day I’m slower you know what to do.”
Pete said, “Wait a minute Jake.”
Pete reached under the bar and pulled out a nice looking bottle of whisky.
He said, “Put your hands over the bar, Jake.”
I put my hands on top of the bar and Pete poured the whisky over my hands.
Pete said, “Now rub that into your hands for a minute.”
I rubbed my hands together until almost all the whisky was gone. It took about a minute.
I said, “Pete the hands feel almost like they were young again.”
Pete said, “Jake, it will not last long but with gods help it should last long enough to give you at least a small chance.”
I walked to the door, and said, “I’m coming out Taylor.”
Taylor said, “Well come on out Jake I’m in the street waiting for you.”
I stepped out the door and walked into the middle of the street. The other 2 men, who had been setting in the tavern with Taylor, were also standing in the street on both sides of him.
Taylor said, “Jake I want you to meet the man on the right of me his name is Slim Willow. He is the fastest gun in Texas. Then the man on the left of me is Hank Walker. He is the fastest gun in Arizona. I want everybody to know that so when the they are carving your tombstone they will know you was killed by the soon to be first, second and third fastest guns in the west.”
Just then, Patty walked through the swinging doors. I guess she saw what happened at the bar while she was a playing cards with Doc, Jim, and Don. Then she must have watched the rest of it from the swinging doors. She walked straight out into the street and stood beside me.
Patty said, “Jake you take Taylor and I will take Slim and Hank.”
I said, “Ok Patty, what ever you say.”
I though the 3 of them was going to fall down they were laughing so hard.
I stand six feet six inches tall and Patty stands four feet eight inches tall. I imagine standing there beside me she looked like a small child.
Taylor said, “Little girl you had better get off the street before you get hurt.”
Patty said, “I stand beside the old man. If you 3 big men want to kill the old man then you 3 big men will have to kill me.”
Taylor said, “If you want to hide behind a little girl, Jake. Then the little girl will die right along with you.”
Hank said, “Taylor are we going to kill this old man and the baby or are we going to stand out here and talk all day.”
I said, “Taylor, Hank and Slim let me give you one more chance to live. All you have to do is to walk away and it is over.”
Taylor said, “No, Jake today I kill the number one gunfighter. Hank and Slim are here to make sure nobody will back shoot me. When you and the baby are dead there will be nobody faster than me.”
I said, “You can tell everybody you are number one and I will tell everybody that you beat me fare and square.”
Taylor said, “No that will not work. If you are still alive I do not think anybody will believe me. No, Jake you have to die and that means the baby has to die.”
Well, Taylor, “Don’t you think it is worth a chance? That way the 3 of you will still be alive.”
“Shut up Jake today you will die and the baby you are hiding behind will also die.”
I said, “I am sorry but I just had to give you boys a chance to live.”
Hank said, “The old man and the little girl have shot there mouths off long enough, now lets kill them.”
Slim stepped two steps to the right at the same time Hank stepped two steps to the left. I took a quick glance to my right. Patty was standing flatfooted and just a little side ways. Her right hand was just inches above her gun. I believe her eyes looked like they were made of glass. There was not a twitch, flinch or any sign of movement in them.
I looked back just as Taylor’s hand moved a fraction of an inch lower.
He then said, “We have had enough talk.”
Taylor made the first move. Followed an instant later by Hank and then Slim. They touched their guns in just that order. I believe at that time I was a fraction of a second ahead of Taylor. But by the time my hand closed on my gun and it started to clear my leather holster I think I had gained another fraction of a second on Taylor. I tried to widen the vision of my eyes so I could pick up all that was happening. From the side of my left eye I could see Hank and it looked like Taylor was moving a few split seconds faster than Hank. At the speed that everything is moving that is as good as my eyes can see. It looked like Hank was moving a split second faster than Slim. Taylor has now cleared his gun from the holster and he is in the upward movement of trying to bring the gun up the aiming position. Hank had stopped his downward movement and was now only a fraction of a second behind Taylor. The tie down on Slims holster had come loose and it looks like that might have cost him a split second as he was just clearing his holster now. I could not see far enough to the side of me to see how Patty was doing. I could only hope that she was moving at least the same speed as Hank.
All the other muscles in my body were frozen. They were not doing any moving so my arm and hand could use every ounce of the strength I had in my body. I had actually stopped breathing to conserve a minute fraction of energy. You can aim better if your body is not moving to take or exhale a breath. All that does not sound like much but put it all together and it can spell life or death. I had almost raised my gun up far enough to make a quick shot from my waist. All of a sudden, I heard a gun go off on the right side of me. I could see the smoke from the barrel. Thank heaven Patty was moving faster than I was. The main thing is she was faster than Hank or Slim. An instant of relieve flushed over me as I seen that it was Hank that took the bullet. It hit him squarely in the chest. The bullet must have found his heart because his movement froze and his body was flung backwards.
For a split second I was extremely glad that Patty shot Hank first. I believe if she had shot Slim first Hank would have got a shot off before me or Pam could have shot him. I also believe that shot would have been at me. The instant before the bullet hit Hank in the heart. I’ll bet he could not believe that it was a girl that out drew him. My gun was up far enough to fire then so I took a quick shot. The bullet hit Taylor in the right shoulder. As the bullet was throwing him side ways, he flipped the gun to his left hand. He got off a shot almost as fast as his left hand grabbed the gun. The bullet tore through the material on my right shirtsleeve. I got a glimpse of Slim and he was trying to aim at something but not me. Just as his gun reached the right height for him to fire I heard a gun roar just to the side of me. It must be Patty’s gun and the bullet hit him in the gut. He got off a shot but the hit from Patty’s bullet moved his body a little sideways and I could see his bullet missed her. Because it hit the ground close to the front of her feet and ricocheted some place back behind her. Patty’s second shot hit Slim in the chest. It looked like right in the heart. He fell backwards like a chopped down tree. My second shot hit Taylor in the head right between the eyes. His head went backward and then the rest of his body followed him. He landed in the street with a thud and a small cloud of dust.
I just stood there for a minute looking at the 3 dead men lying there in the street. Then I turned to face Patty.
I said, “You know what I think about you gun fighting.”
Patty said, “Yes, dad, I remember every word you said. Did you think I would set their playing cards while you went out here to face these 3 men? Well if you did dad you were sorely mistaken.”
I said, “Patty, if it had not been for all your practicing and training since you were 4 years old, I would not have lived through today. The thing I want to know is how did you know Hanks draw would be faster than Slims would be.”
Well dad, “You always said look for the first move. The first person to move will usually be the quickest. Taylor went first then Hank was a split second behind Taylor. I was sure you could take Taylor so I went for Hank and then I thought I could still get Slim. I do not think they expected us to fire from the waist. Did you see the surprised look on all their faces when we fired with our guns so low?”
“I wasn’t sure you would remember me telling you that sometime you might need the split second extra that firing from the waist will give you.”
Patty said, “Dad let’s go home, because mom will have supper on by now.”
I put my arm around her shoulder and we walked towards the house.
I said, “Patty I want to thank you for what you did for me today. You beat me to the draw. I had not completed my aim when you fired. That means you are really number one now.”
Looking up at me she said, “Dad you were the one that taught me all that I know. You will always be number one to me.”
I said, “Thank you Patty but like it or not you are now number one. By the way, why didn’t you show them your marshal’s badge?”
Well, dad, “I didn’t think it would do any good. Besides I though if it didn’t happen now in the street they would surely try ambush you later.”
“Patty, I thought the same thing. So what do you think mom has fixed us for supper?”
“I think it is fried chicken.”
I said, “Are you sure it is fried chicken.”
Patty said, “She was cutting 2 of them up earlier.”
We looked at each other and started walking faster toward the house.