There is no doubt Billy has made some enemies in his life. One of them is pointing a shotgun at our anti-hero and it would appear Billy’s lifestyle is about to bite him in the butt. Let’s see how Billy handles this current mess.
WHEN NO EXITS ARE AVAILABLE
My old man was probably turning in this grave. Lord knows he taught me better, but complacency has been the downfall of many a man over the years, and complacency was the reason why I was staring down the barrel of a Remington shotgun.
I should have known better, but my thoughts were clouded by the birth of Jade, and worry about Genna and, well, there I was, in my underwear, clutching the covers like they were armor. If you’ve ever seen the damage a Remington can do to the human body, you’ll understand how meaningless those blankets were at that moment.
It’s interesting how the mind reacts in certain situations. Some people, when facing a situation like mine, would simply let loose of their bowels and cry for their momma. Me, well, I was raised on the streets by a tough sonofabitch, and his lessons echoed in my head. Never show fear. Don’t let the assholes see you quaking. And when there are no exits, when you’ve backed yourself into a corner through sheer stupidity, well then it’s time to say “to hell with it” and take it to the bastards. Really, what did I have to lose? The sheriff wasn’t going to be struck suddenly with the spirit of forgiveness, so if I was going to get out of this, I would have to spit the devil in his eye and laugh at the flames.
“Here’s what we’re going to do, O’Dowd,” he said to me. “You’re going to get up, put some clothes on, and you and I are going to take a little drive. I won’t lie to you. It’s a one-way journey for you. I’d prefer not to shoot you here. Too much noise and neighbors too close, but I will if you give me no choice, so let’s get to it.”
Mistake number one!
Going for a Drive
He was reasonably careful getting me into his car, but he had already made mistake number two by not frisking me after I had gotten dressed. He made me drive while he sat in the back, the shotgun always aimed at the back of my head, all strategically good moves, but the bottom line was Wyman was an amateur. He was elected into office, he had no training for the job, and during his time in office he’d gotten fat and gone to seed. I was as confident as a man can be considering my situation.
We drove for about twenty minutes out State Road Nineteen, heading north with the rising sun to our right, ground fog rising in the valleys as hawks rode the thermals in search of breakfast. The sheriff instructed me to turn right onto a gravel road that eventually led us to one of hundreds of small lakes that dot the landscape.
“Shut off the engine and get out of the car, O’Dowd.”
Mistake number three!
He kept the shotgun trained on me as I opened the driver’s door and stepped out, but as he reached for the back passenger door I dropped to the ground and disappeared from his view.
The hunter had just become the hunted.
One-thousand one, one-thousand two, one-thousand three….that’s how long it took me to hit the ground, crawl to the front and then crawl under the car. Three seconds, the amount of time it takes to answer a phone call, the amount of time it takes to pull mail out of a mailbox, the amount of time it takes to remember back to simpler times when mistakes of judgment didn’t cost you your life. As Wyman’s feet hit the ground I reached into my pocket and pulled out my pocket knife. One-thousand one, one-thousand two, I jammed the knife into Wyman’s ankle and the battle was effectively over.
Few men can withstand that kind of shock to the nervous system. Wyman wasn’t the type who could. He screamed, dropped the shotgun and then dropped himself to the ground. One-thousand one, one-thousand two, I was out from under the car and picking up the shotgun.
“It’s amazing how fast your life can turn to shit, isn’t it, Wyman?” I asked him as he pulled the knife out and pressed his hand on the flowing blood. It was flowing pretty good. If he’d asked my opinion I would have told him you can do more damage by pulling the knife out but really, what difference did it make in Wyman’s case? The knife wound was the least of his problems.
“What are you going to do, O’Dowd, shoot me?”
Going for Another Drive
I figure the Snake River is just about the prettiest river I’ve ever seen, but you also have to consider I was born along the banks of the Hudson River, so it wouldn’t take much to impress me. Still, on that morning, with the sun streaking through the cottonwoods, splashing down on those clear waters, them tumbling over rocks, surging west, the Snake easily hit number one on my hits list.
Damn it felt good to be alive. There are just some times when life feels extra special, you know? When you look around you, take a deep breath, watch a short film covering the landscape of your life and thank the gods you made it to this place and this time. That’s how I was feeling as I drove home to change clothes and have some well-earned breakfast.
Wyman? Chances were pretty good that birds were snacking on his brain matter at that moment. Pretty soon the scent of his blood would reach the four-legged predators, and by lunchtime, Wyman would be scattered across the county. That’s how it is in the wilderness. That’s how important one lame-brained ex-sheriff is out here in God’s country. That’s how it is when a man comes face-to-face with his limitations.
Breakfast was four eggs and six strips of bacon. I had worked up a hunger disposing of my little problem, so I ate heartily on my front porch and watched two groundhogs play in the morning sunlight. I washed up the dishes and took a walk along the stream that borders our place to the north. Did a little thinking along the way.
A part of me voted to keep Wyman’s visit secret. Why upset Genna, that part of me said? Why give her more to worry about? We now had a daughter, and that fact shouldn’t be overshadowed by the memories of a man not good enough to spit-polish Genna’s shoes?
But the other part of me argued that Genna deserves the truth, and secrets serve no purpose other than temporary respite from responsibility. My old man once told me that the problem with secrets is always having to remember which secrets were held back from which people. Sooner or later a man was sure to forget and trip up, and then the consequences were sure to be worse.
Genna deserved the truth. She wouldn’t be happy about it, but she also understood self-defense, and bottom line is she’d rather have me flawed and alive than dead and perfect.
I walked back to the truck and fired it up. It was time to go see my family.
One-thousand One, One-thousand Two
That’s how long it takes me to say thank you for reading.
I’ll see you next week with another installment of the Billy the Kid Chronicles. If you’re interested, two novellas featuring Billy the Kid are available on Amazon, and a third one will be released in May.
Thanks to you all!
2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)