CONVERSATION PIECES XIV: THE GUNFIGHTER

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By: Wayne Brown


The mouth always gets a little dry just beforehand. That’s why I always sip a beer up until just before I go outside. Gunfights are a “Main Street Thing” always held outside for all to see. I’ve had more than my share of them. I understand the drill completely….not that I care much for it but my exposure to it has brought me a deep understanding of the event.


Throughout time, man has challenged another man’s hand for a litany of reasons most related back to the basics of one man having control over the other in some instance of time. Cavemen used clubs and fought to the death for dominance just as some animals instinctively fight to the death for the dominance of a group of females or to be looked upon as the “leader of the pack”. That title always comes with the promise of yet another challenge from yet another challenger; it is just a matter of time and circumstance.


I normally don’t completely finish my beer before I go out into the street. I leave about one-third of it sitting there in the mug. The bartender has learned to leave it be for a while. When things are done, I return to this spot and down that last one-third before ordering a fresh one. It is sort of a “I’ll be back” symbolism I suppose one could conclude. I guess it’s a bit of a superstition for me as well, you know playing on the luck that I will win the face down and come back to drink the beer.


I don’t go looking for trouble but it normally does a good job of finding me. You earn a name as a gun-hand and sooner or later some young buck comes along wanting to buy into that fame by leaving you dying in the streets. They push and prod and some even threaten to shoot you in the back if you don’t come out and face them like a man. They seem to have no limits as to what they will do to earn themselves a notch on a pistol butt and a fast-hand name. Few, if any ever stop to weigh what comes with that title and reputation, and it just keeps coming and coming.


Most of these itchy-handed kids got more courage than brains. They don’t think things through. They never see themselves lying there in the dirt of Main Street bleeding from a gut wound that can’t be fixed. They never see themselves pursued by others like a wild animal pushed, prodded, and cornered until a fight is inevitable. Oh, I could take the gun off and put it away but that would not change anything. That fact has been proven time and again as unarmed men have been shot down in cold blood by some wanna-be-gunhand hot to earn himself a name. No, once you stand and fight, you have to stand and fight.


Some might think it gets easier every time but they would be wrong. Each time is different. Each man is different. I know this gun like the inside of my soul. I can handle it in my sleep. I can use it rapidly, accurately, and effectively every time it comes out of the holster and into my hand. I have no doubts about my own abilities with a gun, none whatsoever. That does not mean that I don’t think things through time and again before each confrontation. I play it through in my mind, piece by piece, step by step.


Gunfighters and those who want to be are a breed somewhat like women. Each one of them prefers different things. Some want to chat before hand; others want to get right to it. Some want you to back down and keep offering you that chance…as long as it is you doing the backing down. Every time I go to the street, I have size up what I am up against and decide when I think that moment of truth will come; when his hand will move toward that pistol and threaten me with death. I can’t guess about that, I have to be right ten times out of ten or I am the one lying in the street.


With a past as long as mine, you might assume that killing another man comes easy to me. You assume that I have done it so many times that it is simply second nature to me. I can’t speak for others who have worn the gun and walked in these boots, but I will say that it is something that I never get use to and I hope that I never will. When that fatal shot is fired and the other man goes down, I turn to walk back into the saloon thinking that somewhere a mother waits for a boy will not come home. Somewhere a girlfriend grows up that he should have married but won’t be able to now. I think about the waste of human life all for a function of envy. It’s a poor trade at best.


Each time I walk back to this bar and sip that bottom third of that warm beer, I say a little prayer hoping that the last man has come to that door looking for me. But in my heart, I know there will be others and they will come until there is no reason to come. You see, that is the truth that I know to be the one truth. It matters little that I am a man who is better than most with a gun. What matters is that if you go out there enough, sooner or later, the odds are no longer in your favor…no matter how good you are. Luck always plays into every equation and this one is no different. So even if I believe that I am truly the best gun-hand around, I have admit that luck may not always be on my side. That’s a fact friend.


Now if you’ll excuse me, I believe that I am due out on the street about now. I’ll just leave my beer here so that you can keep an eye on it until I get back. I would appreciate it if you would do that. And, if by luck I should not return for it. How about just drinking it yourself…one last one on me.


© Copyright Wbrown2011. All Rights Reserved.

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Comments 20 comments

Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 5 years ago from Rural Arizona

Great story Wayne, and a really interesting perspective.


Becky 5 years ago

Very introspective work here. Very thought provoking. Good work.


Truckstop Sally profile image

Truckstop Sally 5 years ago

Well pardner, this is a fabulous one to add to the series. Never thought about a gunslinger having a heart -- considering the waiting Mom and girlfriend. Great touch leaving 1/3 of the beer. Johnny Cash is always good! When looking for you, I typed in wayne brown, but forgot the @hubpages . . . Did you know there is a Wayne Brown Correctional Facility in Nevada County, California? If it had opened earlier, maybe our gunslinger would be living there.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@Old Poolman...Thanks, Mike...I hope you will read the entire series...there are 14 of these now all under "Conversation Pieces" banner. WB

@Becky...Thank you. I try to get into their minds with these pieces. WB

@Truckstop Sally...Yes, I've seen that. There was also a "Wayne Brown" who was a quite well known writer out of Tobago...a poetry man no less. There are over 1800 "Wayne Browns" in some shape or form in the USA. Guess I'm not one of a kind, huh? WB


Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 5 years ago from Rural Arizona

Wayne, one of the things that makes you an outstanding author is your ability to place yourself inside the heads of the characters you write about. You and your readers are looking through their eyes for the entire story. This is a gift and you use it well.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@Old Poolman...That's exactly what this series, "Conversaation Pieces" is about Mike...letting you see it through their eyes...sometimes the eyes are connected to a very warped brain but still, it's their perspective coming through. Thank you so much for the words of encouragement. I've enjoyed writing this series although some of the characters (the more warped ones) are painful to present. Thanks Mike. WB


Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 5 years ago from Rural Arizona

Wayne, you have a great talent, I'm just glad you are willing to share this with the rest of us.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@Old Poolman...I'm just glad to have folks about who appreciate it. My wife thinks I write too much! Say's she can't keep up with all of it so why try! So it's nice to have folks who do keep up. Thank you! WB


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

Wow. I found myself wanting to pray for him and for all those young, foolish boys who leave their mothers crying. Then you posted that song, no fair. I just have something in my eyes, I am NOT crying.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@Hypenbird...If I raised your emotion to that level with this piece, it is a very high compliment for me. People get trapped into a way of life that at one time they thought they wanted. Others follow their footsteps and the pattern repeats...Hope you enjoyed it! WB


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

I sure did Wayne. I need to go now. The gunfighter returned for his warm beer and he bought me one or two. We are out going to....look at wild flowers, yeah, wildflowers.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

It is an interesting point of view. Good job.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@dahoglund...I wanted to think that not all folks who lived by the gun did it on animal instinct alone...maybe fantasy though! WB


FitnezzJim profile image

FitnezzJim 5 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

Outstanding story, and outstanding song.

I agree with Old Poolman.

It is difficult enough to understand anothers perspective. You go far beyond that. That ability to actually put yourself in the mind of your character and write through his eyes, that is a gift.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa

Love this! All about being the superior ruler. And that gun – a substitute for non-existing power. I once knew a guy who was full of himself, a dictator and bully. When his wife left him, he bought himself a gun, went nowhere without it, threatening to kill in order to retrieve his power.....

Today they don’t use guns, but academic degrees or their own tongues, loaded with impressive words/promises/threats...

As always, Wayne, a brilliant piece of fiction. I’ve shot all your buttons up.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@FitnezzJim...Well, thank you. I am glad to be able to share it with readers ahd do hope it is enjoyed even though it can get a bit warped sometimes. WB

@MartieCoetser...Thanks so much, Martie. What you say is true. The nature of mankind does not really change so much as does the weapons with which they joust for power. WB


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 5 years ago

Love this format. I can't tell you how much I look forward to reading more. You would make a very excellent psychologist! Up and awesome and interesting too!


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@breakfastpop...Well, I have to confess that I did stay at the Holiday Inn Express last night! LOL! Thanks so much for the good words here. My office hours are 9 to 11 and 2 to 4 Monday through Thursday. We do take drop=ins. Ha! WB


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 5 years ago from Arizona

Wayne, great work, now I know I'll be doing some ketchup as this is a work that needs seen from the trigger, voted up dust


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@50 Caliber...Thanks Dusty, I appreciate it! WB

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