Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: IN-LAWS( 07/11/19)
| TITLE: Outlaws |
By Dennis Gallemore
| ~ 6th Place |
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“Evening, Marshal. What can I get ya? The usual?”
Martin shook his head. “Not right now, Gus; maybe later.” Turning sideways, he leaned over the bar, his gaze on the men sitting around the scattered tables. “Seen any newcomers?”
Wiping the bar with a mop towel, Gus grunted. “Not likely. Just a few of the town regulars and the same old cowhands from the Thunder Mountain Ranch. All those boys do is play poker and smoke cigars; don’t hardly ever buy a drink. Don’t make no money that way.”
The bartender’s tirade sputtering to a stop, Martin grinned. “Gus, everyone knows you’re running the Tumbleweed Saloon as a public service to the town of Tumbleweed and all parts around.”
“That’s right funny, Marshal.” Tossing the towel underneath the bar, Gus straightened. “I know why I’m looking for newcomers, but why are you?’
“I got word from a friend of mine, the sheriff over in Tartan County, that a couple of tough hombres had recently passed through his neck of the woods and were headed this way. Thought one of them might be a gunfighter.”
“Did he tell you what those two looked like, Marshal?”
“Sure did,” Martin replied. Straightening, he jerked his head toward the door and the two men who had just entered the saloon. “Just like those two.”
Crossing to the bar, they stood silently, their eyes on Martin.
“Evening, gents. Welcome to Tumbleweed.” The Marshal smiled slightly. “Passing through?”
The closer of the two, his face weathered from riding in the Arizona sun, slowly shook his head. “I reckon not for a while. Me and Jasper Tate, my cunado here, have some business to take care of in town.”
Gus frowned. “Cunado?”
“Brother-in-law,” Martin replied, his unease growing. “In Spanish.” He pushed away from the bar. “What kind of business?”
“You might say that we’re here on family business. I’m Johnny Owens, by the way.” He waved a meaty hand at Gus. “Two whiskies.” He slapped coins down on the bar. “Family business makes me and Jasper thirsty.”
Gus poured two glasses and set them down in front of the two men, picked up the money, and stepped back, the change forgotten. “Sonora Johnny Owens? The gunfighter?”
“One and the same.”
Gus’s face paled. “I’ve heard of you,” he said, his voice dropping to a whisper.
Martin nodded. “We’ve all heard of you, Sonora.” His voice dropped a notch. “And what we’ve heard has been all bad. So, I’m asking you again; what are you and your brother-in-law doing here?”
Stepping further back, the gunman turned toward the sheriff as Tate swiveled in the same direction. “They say blood’s thicker than water, and I reckon it’s true. Jasper’s not one of my favorite people in the whole wide world, but he’s kin. He’s my wife Luella’s brother and she shore would be hard to live with if I don’t set things right.”
Glancing down, Martin noticed the tied-down guns that both of the newcomers wore. His face tightened. “What things?”
“Remember about six weeks ago when you gunned down Jake Lawrence, Marshal?”
“Yeah, I do. He tried to rob the bank here in town. I got the drop on him but he took a shot at me and I drilled him. What’s that got to do with…”
Tate stepped forward. “Everything, Martin. He was my cousin.”
The sound came of chairs scraping across the hardwood floor as men scrambled to get out of the way of the developing fight.
“In-laws, Marshal,” Sonora said. “You killed Jasper’s. He’s no gunfighter, but his in-law is. Me.”
“You don’t have to do this, Sonora. Neither do you, Tate. Let it be.”
Sonora shook his head. “Can’t, Marshal.” His right hand swept down in a blur.
Almost too fast to see, Martin’s gun cleared leather and spat flame before the outlaw managed to trigger his own gun. Clutching his stomach, Sonora crumpled to the floor.
Martin turned his gun on Tate. “Blood is thicker than water, Tate, but it’s still blood. Get on your horse and get out of town.”
He turned back to the bar. “I’ll take that drink now, Gus. The usual.”
The bartender, his face white, bobbed his head. “Right, Marshal. One sarsaparilla coming up!”
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