Monday, 27 April 2015

Monday, April 27, 2015 -

Amanda and the Gunfighter

by Patrick West
Published: Feb 18, 2015
Words: 25,876
Category: western, romance
Orientation: M/F
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Clayton Weston dismounted and slowly walked down the rows of headstones until he came to the three he hated to see: his sister Valerie would have been twenty-one, his mother Lillian would have been fifty-three, and his Uncle Jake was fifty-seven when he died. It was nearly ten years since Clay was last here. It took him four of them to find the monsters who put his sister and mother here. Still, it was good to be back in Kansas.

His thoughts went back to when he left home at sixteen and began practicing with an old Smith and Wesson revolver. At eighteen he was a force to reckon with. By the time he was twenty, his draw and accuracy were next to none. During that time he carried the three handbills of the wanted men. As he stared at the gravestones, vivid thoughts came back to a saloon in a town called Flat Rock, and the three faces on the handbills.

He recalled giving the bills to the grey-haired sheriff who entered the saloon, and as luck would have it, the three men wanted for rape and murder were also in the saloon, hanging around at the bar. Catching sight of the exchange between Clay and the sheriff, one of the men stood up, swiftly followed by the other two. The lawman slowly drew his sidearm to make the arrest, but the three men had very different ideas. It was over in a heartbeat. The three monsters that haunted Clay's nightmares lay dead on the floor. From that day forward, Clay Weston became a name people whispered in every town he rode in to.

Shooting the three men in self defense didn't make him wanted by the law, but months later he found himself wanted by their kin or those who would make a name for themselves. Every town seemed to have a saddle tramp who wanted to prove they could do something better than him. The body count went up to sixteen. The American dime novels became the answer to the British Penny Dreadful, and portrayed him as a sociopathic killer. Around his thin waist was a gun belt with a holster set low on his thigh. A pearl-handled revolver rested squarely in it.

No one knew the real reason, and no one really cared. Clay Weston wasn't a vicious gunfighter. As a kid, he had walked into his home to find his mother and sister brutally raped and murdered, subsequently becoming a young man with a heavy heart, a young man who chose to dress in black as he rode from place to place trying to stay one step ahead of the grim reaper. But his reputation preceded him, and over time his notoriety grew.


Clay turned and drew. His father, Will Weston, threw up his hands. "Whoa, boy! Now, I consider those dime store novels and a Penny Dreadful a bunch of cow pies, but they weren't talking nonsense when it came to being damn quick. I should have known better than to come up from behind you like that. I'm just damn glad to see you again, son. Your Uncle Jake asked for you in his final moments. I heard you were in Dodge City and sent a wire."