There Comes a Reckoning

The last thoughts of Joseph Ramsey

Optimism went down with the sun and died with the coming of the weird west.

Ever feel like the world’s out ta git ya? Guess ya could say I ain’t feelin’ like we’re gunna leave here, so I’m writin’ this just in case.
Marty gathered his moxie sooner than we had speculated. He felt good ta take the girl back ta town before mid day and saddled up. I thought ta ride after the posse as they only had a couple hours lead on me and I’d be followin’ fresh tracks. I passed some dead on the way; injuns, looked ta be, hope they weren’t none of the 7 Feather tribes we just acquainted ourselves with.
Well, I caught up ta them quick. The full moon an’ stars came out givin’ us light ta ride well inta dusk, ‘fore a fog rolled in. Some kind o’ creepy, I felt, an’ as we stopped ta set camp against some rocks, Miss Blackstone and Mr. McMains thought ta seein’ roof tops just ahead.
Makin’ camp just out of town makes a person feel the fool in the morning, but hindsight bein’ what it is we might have been better off… I’m gittin’ ‘head of myself ‘gin.
Well, we gone and rode up into the small town, the sign comin’ in was blasted all ta hell an’ we couldn’t read the town’s name. We weren’t certain as ta what town may be out this way.
The first buildin’s was a stable house and the general store. Both were rundown, but we heard horses from the corral. They sounded a little spooked so me an’ Miss Blackstone moved ta take a look. Stumbling through the fog, I lost track of the pretty lady an’ found no horses in the corral. The weirdness of it still hasn’t been lost on me. The horse sounds came from no more than a couple feet from me, at one point, an’ Elisa’s voice seemed ta come from nowhere. The horse may have been a ghost of some sort, but the Elisa bit was just too offputtin’ ta explain.
I got back ta ma horse just as our lovely companion come out the front door of the buildin’. She was, surely, further away but clear ta ma eyes. Luggage in her hands musta come from the buildin’ an’ had medicine supplies in it. Looked like a doc packed up ta leave and didn’t.
Johnny, Elisa, and McMains headed into the general store lookin’ fer a person. I don’t know why they tried that buildin’, wit’ the doors fallin’ off and the injun statue freshly shined and lacquered, I s‘spect that any person livin’ there should be fixin’ those doors ‘nstead a polishin’ his wood. Things as they were, the negro, Mr. Jones and me stood guard watchin’ fer those things that people wanderin’ ‘bout in these territories ought ta be expectin’. The three found nothin’ inside an’ came out ta inspect the carving.
It was an injun wit’ a bow and quiver across his shoulders and a tomahawk in his right hand. Elisa was kneelin’ in front of it when it started movin’! The tomahawk raised clear above its head, poised ta mess up Elisa’s purdy head. Johnny’s first move don’t have much effect on the arm wit’ the ‘hawk, but McMains’ saber nearly removed the hand from the wrist. Johnny’s second hammer punch cleanly removes the entire arm –somethin’ ain’t right wit’ him… all gimpy but fast as lightnin’. Justice, sittin’ on his horse, next ta me, fires a couple times while the iron on my side reports three times, wit’ the last two removin’ the torso from the legs. I smiled as the gun twirled up ta my lips, my breath gave haste ta the lazy smoke ‘fore the warmed steel spun back home.
Sometimes I wonder what it’s like ta do somethin’ fer the last time… I didn’t, and don’t, got a good feelin’ about this town…
Only the saloon and whore house remained an’ the hope fer somethin’ ta wet our whistles drew us ta the darkened bar. The lovely Miss Blackstone remained outside wit’ me an’ the other three went in. Lights came up, shortly, invitin’ us in. Miss Blackstone was quick ta lay eyes on every bit of the place, but I slowed, offput agin, this time by oddities like women’s gloves layin’ on the piana like the lady playin’ just ceased bein’. Justice said somethin’ ‘bout the piana playin’ ‘self an’ I shrugged it off, but, wit’ the eerie hangin’ ‘round, we were expectin’ it. Johnny, Elisa, and McMains creeped up the half rotten stairs in the back ta lay eyes on the goin’s’ons but found nothin’. I found a shiny double barrel behind the bar, wit’ no ammo… shiny in this town means special. Hopefully, I’ll live long ‘nough ta use it.
Just when the trio come down the rickety stairs the gloves kicked ta life pouncin’ on the keys like two-a Johnny Wilks from back home… Johnny was born wit’ no fingers on his right hand, ‘fore the weird happened. We all hightailed it out, ‘cept the preacher who went an’ slashed the gloves ta bloody bits. That were the most awful thin’ I think I heard… might rather hear that widow’s voice houndin’ me, may the Lord’s perfect peace surround her, that she might not witness my downfall.
We figured the last place ta check fer our quarry is the house of ill repute. The lights musta been low enough ta not notice outside, ‘cause they were on, dim, when the door opened. The dimmed lanterns shown on the fine furniture, as I looked fer a piana. None found a few of us wandered upstairs fera look-see. McMains saw somethin’ in a mirror an’ told us, but when I looked I saw a woman in the mirror. She looked ta want ta tell me somethin’, maybe her price… When I got near enough she reached through an’ grabbed at me. My right hand found the comforting weight of my Peacemaker and the mirror shattered wit’ the roar of fire. I shot her square wit’ no ‘ffect as she sliced at me wit’ a knife. My pistol dropped ta the floor as I grabbed fer her hands in d’fense. Suddenly, Justice and Johnny were there, wrestlin’ my left hand behind my back an’ the apparition ended wit’ me wonderin’ where the woman went… Justice told me that I was tryin’ ta gut myself wit’ one hand and fightin’ back wit’ the other… guess I’m glad fer them grabbin’ the right arm or Johnny Wilks might be havin’ pity on me!
Takin’ care ta keep our eyes out the mirrors, we went about smashing ‘em all. A glance ‘bout our ranks and we left ta sleep under the stars. We walked the horses out the other side of town… only ta find a shot up sign welcomin’ us ta a town wit the name blasted out… F***.

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