Lookit I Knowed I Didn't Ought To Pull The Trigger - A Western Short Story
Lookit I knowed I didn’t ought to do it but I done it anyways and pulled the trigger. Danged if I didn’t.
I tried to stay calm when I first saw him but I'd been drinking that Dry Lightning and my head was buzzing like a hornets’ nest. And, yes, I'd been on a toot those last four nights running so I wasn't thinking too straight.
I was sporting my new clothes an' all, it was my best bib and tucker, a right fancy suit all checks and stripes and bright blues and greens. I reckon I looked fine and dandy, look out ladies I thought.
So anyway I’m sat drinking with Legrand Jenkins in the Tin and Lint and I’m telling him about the time I killed a feller down in Rusk, Cherokee County. That lunkhead thought he was a right smart Alec, he reckoned he knew more about anything than I did. You know the type. We’d been arguing when he got up and disappeared, now as I'd told him to clear off I guessed that’s what he’d done. Then I was walloped on the head.
What the hell, I thought, it feels like someone done hit me on the head with a goddam chair and when I turned there he was holding what was left of a chair. So anyway my head started throbbing, it felt like someone was pounding away with a hammer but this time when I looked there was no-one about with a hammer. I found the feller that hit me later that night, he was trying to hightail it out of town but I chased him across a roof grabbed him by the throat and I settled his hash good and proper. I was explaining to Legrand that killing a man is fairly easy, it’s the killing him and not getting caught is the hard part. I stopped talking so that I could take a drink and Legrand says
‘Gracious sakes, you sure settled his hash, they’re short on brains down in Rusk, they surely are,’ see that’s how Legrand talks, then his eyes widened as he looks over my shoulder and says
‘Gracious sakes, will you look at that durned popinjay.’
I turned and glanced over my shoulder and by the bar there was this feller strutting round like a corn fed rooster. I thought to myself hey mister I hope you ain’t set on annoying me, I ain't got no grief with you let's keep it that way.
I looked him up and down getting the measure of him. He was tall and wide shouldered of course, built to last. He couldn’t have looked more pleased with himself if he’d been as rich as J D Rockefeller. Now to me he was trying too damned hard. He'd a look of a man spending too much time on his hair for a start, it was oiled and brushed ‘til it shone like a curried horse's glossy coat.
There I am thinking I've been out punching cattle this past month while you've been soaping your sweet face and pushing your fluffy hair around your goddam big head.
He looked a sight happier than a hog downwind of a full swill trough. Now we all know there’s more to life than being happy but someone should have told this here feller that. With his smile and his laugh and the folks with him all joining in I figured he was heading for trouble from the off.
I says to Legrand
‘He might look real pretty but I bet he cain’t handle no horse,’ then some fool shouts to him
‘You still bareback bronc riding at the rodeo?’ and he nods and smiles. I hate it when that happens, I thought I heard Legrand snigger next to me but when I turned he was choking on his drink is all.
Now I ain't no different to anybody else in that I don't like folk making fun of me or how I look. You know I once whaled Lem Patchett when he said I had a face like a splintered post, whatever the hell that means. I hit him until he couldn’t handle it no more and he said
‘I cain’t handle it no more.’
Then there was the time that goddam easterner looked down on me while I was smoking and minding my own business. He said something to the feller next to him about bowed legs and says they must have got warped when they was young and lying out nights in the rain back in Hick-town, because they kept their hogs in the cabin.
I've got to break off this story for a minute now. I want a word with you, yes you, I can see you smirking while you read this through. Well don’t you get all smart on me. You ain’t got no call to think you’re better than me, see I know they grow them a little strange back up from where you come from, you hear me on that. And you remember the next time you call in the Tin and Lint down in Sulphur Springs well I’ll be here awaiting for you.
Anyhow I grabbed this easterner’s head and damn near twisted it off, he howled and cried making more noise than a piano falling downstairs, ‘til I quietened him for good if you get my meaning. His friend reckoned he wasn’t talking about me but I know all easterners are liars for a fact.
I was still going over that in my mind and rolling that Dry Lightning around ‘til I couldn’t feel my tongue when I hearded the show-off at the bar.
He's says you couldn't mistake that fool suit across Texas, I looked around to see who he was on about and saw him pointing my way and I thought there's powder going to get burnt here. The no good lounger. If he'd a kept himself to himself he could have saved everyone a sight of trouble is all I'm saying.
I figured he thought he was tough but he’d need every bit of his tough to get through this.
Then to make it worse this same fancy pants bronc rider says something like that feller’s old enough to have owed my grandpa money. Well that was it for me and I pulled my Colt out of my rig and thumbed the hammer back, Legrand says
‘Gracious sakes, he ain’t talking about you.’ I looked at Legrand with my mean look, the one I worked on regular and he shut his gracious sakes mouth right sharp.
I turned to the bar and shot the tall dude without messing about, drilled him dead centre if you must know and hollered something along the lines of how he wouldn't be laughing when he woke up dead.
He lay on the floor his gloss and bounce all gone.
Turns out he'd been messing with some old gink in the corner all the time, seems they'd been friends for years and he was just fooling around with him.
Wasn’t that a caution. Anyways it was too late to put the bullet back in the gun as my old pa used to say whenever he shot the wrong man.
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© 2018 John M McNally