It was dead quiet in Dust Devil, Wyoming. All eyes were on the two men facing each other under the hot, noon sun. There was going to be a gunfight on Main Street.
One of the men was going to die.
“Well Bronc,” said the younger man, dressed in black with silver spurs jangling on his polished boots, “seems like folks are expecting us to fight.”
Bronc, a big hulk, not nearly as fashionably dressed, merely grunted, his beady black eyes riveted on the kid in front of him.
“Now, I think it’s only fair,” the kid continued, “that you have a realistic idea of just how fast I am, so you don’t have any illusions you might beat me.”
Bronc grunted again and the kid smelled whiskey on the grizzled man’s breath.
It was true that no one had ever outdrawn Johnny Ringo, but it was also true that he’d never killed anyone who face him, but nobody in town knew that. They just knew he was a legend, the fastest gun in the West.
Johnny reached into his shirt pocket, pulled out a bright, shiny silver dollar, and reached out to Bronc.
“Tell you what,” Johnny said, “before we get serious, I like your hat. Here, I’ll trade you mine for yours, and even give you this silver dollar.”
Surprised, but not stupid, Bronc thought a moment, then took the dollar and the men exchanged hats.
Johnny smoothed the felt on the faded, beat cowboy hat he held, “a fine hat, Bronc. thanks.”
Bronc pulled the stylish, new, black sombrero over his mangy hair and smiled. He’d certainly come out ahead on that deal.
Johnny stared him down. “Pay attention, Bronc, watch how fast I draw and shoot this hat out of the air.”
Before Bronc could even smirk, Johnny tossed the old hat high into the air.
Bam! A shot rang out and echoed from the storefronts along Main Street.
the hat changed direction, floated down, and settled at Bronc’s feet.
Bronc gaped at the hat. there were two holes in it. Shot clean through. Dumbstruck, he looked up at Johnny.
The kid spoke, “Did you see my draw? Want me to do it again?”
Bronc hadn’t even seen the kids hand move. Damn, he really was fast.
Johnny picked up the hat, dusted it off, held it out to Bronc. “Now friend, we could get on with the gunfight, but I think you know now how that will play out. The next time I draw there’s going to be a bullet going through your head.”
Johnny paused to let this reality sink into Bronc’s liquor clouded brain.
“You can either walk away alive or..”
Johnny continued. “Play it smart and I’ll give you your hat back and even autograph it.”
Bronc’s gun hand was shaking as he reached for the black sombrero. Johnny took out a pen and signed the shot up hat.
Trading hats, they parted ways.
The town gasped in relief.
“Jeez, that Johnny Ringo is lightnin’ fast.”
“Did you see him draw?”
Nobody had. He really was the fastest gun in the West.
Johnny sauntered into the saloon, smiled at the reverential faces, and paid for a round. then, making his goodbyes, he headed for the livery to find his horse.
“Well, Johnny, you beat the odds again,” said a voice from the barn’s shadows.
A young woman with a big smile and a mess of brown curls spilling from under her cowboy hat, came into the light. She had a rifle under her arm.
“Sure as shootin’ Janey,” Johnny answered, pulling her into a tight embrace and kissing the lips he knew so well.
He whispered, “Damn, you are surely the best shot I’ve ever seen.”
Moral: If you’re going to be a legend, it helps to have good backup.
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Category: Life Journey Poems & Prose
tags: humor, fiction, life lessons