Two-Fisted Tales

Tales of Mystery and Adventure


On the wild western frontier, Billy is looking to avenge his brother's death...but vengeance is gonna be a whole lot tougher than Billy expects.  'Cause, fast as Billy is with the six-gun, he's in for the surprise of his life when the clock strikes twelve...


Sins of the Father
a western adventure
 
 

By Alex Zaphiratos


"Mama, Mama, we got a letter from Cattleton!" yelled Billy excitedly as he ran into the kitchen.

"Well, it's about time that brother of yours wrote to us--just because heís the new sheriff of some fancy town he thinks he can ignore his mother! Hand that over!" Billy's mother took the letter from his hand.

As she began to read the letter, Billy knew something was wrong--this letter wasnít from Buck.

"Dear Mrs. Roberts, we regret to inform you that your son Buck has been killed in the line of duty. You may come to Cattleton to claim his belongingsÖ" At this point, Mrs. Roberts had slumped into a chair, unable to continue.

"Mama, Iíll go, but I want you to stay here," Billy said sadly.

"Billy," said Mrs. Roberts through sobs, "youíre only seventeen. I donít want to lose you as well.  With your father running off when you were a baby and now this, youíre all I have left."

"I know, Mama, but I have to do this. Besides, if all goes well, I should be back in a few days."

The next day, Billy was up at dawn saddling his horse and loading up his gear. He didnít expect any trouble but decided to bring his old rifle, just in case. "Always be prepared", thatís what Buck had always told him.

After saying good-bye to his mother, he started off on his trip. As expected, the day-long ride to Cattleton was uneventful to the point of boring. As night began to fall, Billy started to see off in the distance the first few flickering lights of Cattleton. Having only a meager five dollars in his pocket, he decided to camp out on the outskirts of town to save some of his money.

The next morning, he set off for town on his horse. Like any small western town, the arrival of a stranger brought the people onto their porches; Billy could feel their eyes upon him as he passed. Finally, after what seemed like a long time to Billy, he stopped in front of a building marked "Sheriff". As he got off his horse and tied it to the hitching pole, Billy noticed several bullet holes on the front of the building that looked very recent.

"This is it. This is where my brother was murdered," Billy said to himself.

As he stepped into his brotherís old office, the acrid smell of gunpowder hung in the air. A friendly-looking man stepped out from behind his desk.

"Howdy, Iím Sheriff Johnson. What can I do for you?" he asked.

"My name is Billy Roberts. I was told I could pick up my brotherís belongings from here," Billy replied.

"Oh." Johnsonís face instantly sobered. "Iím so sorry for your loss, Billy. Of course you can have his things and be on your way as soon as possible, right?"

"Well, Iím not so sure about that, Sheriff. I was hoping to find out what happened here. I want to find who did this and why," Billy stated.

Johnsonís seemingly friendly face darkened. "Thatís your choice, but I wouldnít recommend it. Hereís Buckís things." He handed Billy a large wooden box. "If I were you, Iíd just forget about this and go," he stated.

"Why are you so scared? Youíre the law--you should be out there trying to find out who did this," Billy answered, his anger flaring up.

"Well, you see, the thing of it is that we do know who did it, but my hands are tied. I have neither the power nor the will to bring this son-of-a-gun down," Johnson answered rather shamefully.

Billy was fuming. "If you canít clean up this town, then I will!"

Johnson laughed and said, "Those were the same words your brother said, and now look at him." Johnson grimaced as he realized what he had said. "Iím sorry. If you wanna find his murderer, go to the saloon and ask around, cuz I wonít give you his name--I donít want your blood on my hands."

With that, Billy left the Sheriffís office and headed towards the hotel to get himself a room; it seemed heíd be in Cattleton a while longer than he expected.

***
Once in his room, Billy started unpacking the box. He found Buckís old black hat; the one Billy used to constantly borrow as a kid. He found Buckís six-shooter, belt and his badge. Billy decided that if he was going to find this outlaw and make him pay, he needed to start looking more like a fighter and less like a farmer.

He took off his old battered hat and put on Buckís. He slipped on Buckís gun belt--which was far too big for his small frame, so he punched an extra hole into it to tighten it--and finally he slipped his new revolver into his holster. Looking at himself in the mirror, Billy was satisfied. He was covered head to toe in black, looking quite mean, and, just for good measure, he practiced his menacing stares into the mirror for several minutes.

The saloon was by far the biggest and most well kept of all the buildings in Cattleton. The swinging doors made hardly a noise as Billy passed through them, but still the entire room turned to stare at him. Returning their stares as he had practiced, Billy slowly walked towards the bar.

"Gimme a beer," Billy ordered loudly.

The bartender looked at him for several seconds and answered just as loudly: "Iím sorry,  we donít serve minors in this establishment." At that, the entire room roared with laughter behind Billy, whose face had turned to a deep red.

"Fine, then tell me this instead," he said more quietly, almost whispering: "Who killed Buck Roberts? I was told someone would know 'round here."

"Mí boy, thereís no need to whisper around here. Everyone knows who shot the sheriff.  It was the honorable George Robertson," replied the bartender.

"Honorable! You mean heís the mayor of this dismal town?" Billy asked incredulously.

"Mayor, banker and owner of every business in Cattleton including this one!" the barman replied.

Billy turned around, facing the large room and asked: "Which one of you is George Robertson?"

At this, two men stood up and, as if some signal had been given to the rest of the room, everyone else just scattered. The bigger of the two men slowly walked forward and said: "Mr. Robertson be our boss, so if thereís something you wanna tell him, you tell it to us."

"Fine," Billy replied. "Tell him Iím gonna do to him the same thing he did to my brother Buck--kill him."

The large man stood motionless--then, quick as a flash, he drew his pistol and aimed it towards Billy, who had already jumped behind the bar. As both men fired towards Billy, glass and whiskey rained onto Billyís head as he crouched behind the bar. Billy had never been in a gunfight but Buck had taught him well before he left. When he heard the clicking sound of the empty chambers, Billy stood up and unloaded five bullets into the first manís chest and put another into the other manís shooting arm. Unable to hold his pistol, the man ran out of the saloon clutching his arm and yelling behind him: "Mr. Robertsonís gonna hear about this!"

"Good," Billy yelled back."Tell him Iím waiting for him!"

When he was sure the man was gone, Billy stood up, dusted his hat off and, noting the hostile stares from the remaining customers, decided he had outlasted his welcome here.

***
Feeling quite confident with himself after his victory, Billy returned to his hotel room and decided to sleep early, knowing he would need his rest tomorrow. As he was falling asleep, a nearby crash jarred him awake. He looked at his window and noted the gaping hole. On the floor by the window, there was a rock with a note tied to it.

Billy grabbed the note and read the two words neatly printed on it: "Tomorrow, noon". The signature read "George Robertson". Billy, although nervous, was happy. He would have his chance at revenge against the old man, not his gang of outlaws.

***
The next day, Billy woke up and walked downstairs.  He heard the hotel owner and his wife quietly chatting.

"Öpoor boy, he seemed nice enough--what a shame," whispered the hotel owner.

He turned and, when he saw Billy, a look of surprise crossed his face, and he quickly turned away embarrassed. Billy was also surprised; after what happened in the saloon the previous night, he thought of himself as quite the gunslinger. Why were these people already pronouncing him dead?

The same thing happened to him everywhere he went that day. The restaurant owner and the gun shop owner, where he had purchased some shells, both expressed their sadness at his impending doom. At about eleven oíclock, Billy decided to stop in at the sheriff's office to speak to Sheriff Johnson.

Sheriff Johnson was there, sitting behind his desk, polishing his gun. He looked up as Billy entered and smiled rather sadly.

"I heard about your duel. You should have followed my advice and left while you had a chance," Johnson stated.

"Who is this Robertson? Why is everyone so scared of him and feel so sorry for me?" asked Billy.

"Heís the fastest with the gun that Iíve ever seen; no oneís even close to him. He didnít murder your brother Billy--your brother had been breaking up all of Robertsonís businesses, so Robertson challenged him to a duel and killed him before Buck even had time to pull his gun," answered Johnson.

This answer shocked Billy; he had always thought of Buck as the fastest gunslinger in the west. He paused to think and was suddenly terrified at what he had gotten himself into. The thought of returning home crossed his mind, but only for an instant. He knew he couldnít; he knew he had to face Robertson, no matter the consequences.

"Well, itís almost time, Iíd better get going," Billy said somberly.

The town clock read eleven forty-five; Billy decided to wait outside on the street. At about one minute before twelve, he saw a rising cloud of dust coming in from the east side of town; he knew it could only be Robertson.

As the man approached, Billyís fear grew. The man who got off his horse was not old and frail as Billy had hoped, but rather in his late thirties. He was tall and gaunt, his darkened face covered mostly by his large white hat. He was dressed entirely in white, except for his gun belt, which was pitch black. He stared at Billy and sneered.

"This is Billy Roberts," he said loudly; "this is the boy who challenges me?"

Although Billy couldnít see his face, it seemed to him he heard a faint quiver in the manís voice.

"I ainít no boy, so shut up and draw," Billy snapped back.

As the two men sized each other up, the clockís hands slowly tipped towards twelve. At the sound of the first bell toll, Billy saw Robertsonís hand flinch slightly--so, as fast as he could, he drew his own gun and put two slugs into Robertsonís chest, who had not drawn his gun at all.

Robertson hit the ground to the amazed gasps of the entire town, including Billyís. Billy slowly and carefully walked towards Robertsonís inanimate body. Standing over him, he could see the damage his shots had caused; one bullet had hit him in the gut, the other above the heart, but he was still faintly breathing.

"Why didnít you draw, when you could have finished me off easily?" Billy asked.

"I couldnít do it, boy. I couldnít shoot you, too. I killed your brother cuz he was ruining my business, but I couldnít kill the both of you," Robertson gasped out.

"Why the hell not?" Billy asked again. He took Robertsonís hand with a newfound sympathy for the man who looked so familiar to him now that he could see his face.

"It ainít right for a father to kill both his sons--I need someone to carry my name on." With those words, his eyes closed, his head fell back onto the dusty ground, and he died still clutching his sonís hand...

The End.





 
 

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Sins of the Father is copyright 1999 by Alex Zaphiratos. It may not be copied or used for any commercial purpose except for short excerpts used for reviews. (Obviously, you can copy it or print it out if you want to read it!)