The Tainted Archive is proud to present, as part of the Wild West eMonday celebrations, Gun Justice by Edward A. Grainger and Chuck Tyrell:
Edward A. Grainger, aka David Cranmer, is a member of the Western Fictioneers and is editor/publisher of BEAT to a PULP. His work has appeared in Needle: A Magazine of Noir, Out of the Gutter, and Crimefactory, and his eBook Adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles is currently in the leading five of Amazon's Top Rated in Westerns. He can be found at www.davidcranmer.com.
Chuck Tyrell AKA Charles T. Whipple, an international prize-winning author. Whipple was born and reared in Arizona’s White Mountain country only 19 miles from Fort Apache. He won his first writing award while in high school, and has won several since, including a 4th place in the World Annual Report competition, a 2nd place in the JAXA Naoko Yamazaki Commemorative Haiku competition, and the first-place Agave Award in the 2010 Oaxaca International Literature Competition.
by Edward A. Grainger and Chuck Tyrell
Cash Laramie rode into Macyville with his badge in his pocket and revenge on his mind.
He’d ridden in ahead of the man he was following, the man who’d shot Cash’s friend down in cold blood. Brant Macy. And it was no coincidence the town’s name matched the man’s.
Brant Macy. Brash. Bold. Flashy grin. Hell with the ladies. Used to getting everything he wanted. But not this time.
Cash dismounted in front of Williams Merchantile on Main Street and wrapped Paint’s reins around the hitching post. He climbed the steps to the boardwalk and turned to watch Macy ride up the street. Cash leaned back against the front of the general store, pulled a cheroot from his vest pocket, struck a Lucifer on his boot, and puffed the smoke alight. His eyes never left Macy.
“How’s it going, Ev.” Macy’s voice held a chuckle.
“Making out, Brant, making out,” said a man loading a sack of grain into his wagon.
Cash blew a cloud of smoke upward. Macy noticed him, and put a finger to his hat in greeting and smiled. He reined his horse to the rail.
Cash Laramie’s eyes followed the brazen young man as he sauntered up the boardwalk, then angled across the street. The flat-crowned hat with its carefully curved brim. The checkered shirt and red-and-white calfskin vest. The tooled buscadero gun rig. The striped California pants tucked into calf-high boots. The happy-go-lucky smile and friendly but condescending attitude. Everything about Macy said “rich man’s son.” Cash pulled on the cheroot, let the blue smoke trickle from between his lips, then started after Brant Macy. The young man didn’t act like a killer, but Cash knew he was one.
People turned to stare after Cash Laramie as he followed Macy. His iron-hard expression, black hat and clothes, and no-nonsense gun rig with its blued .45 Peacemaker made them take a step back. Perhaps they wondered why a gunman walked the streets of a quiet town like Macyville. Cash ignored them, focusing attention on Macy.
The killer ruffled the hair of a red-headed boy and gave him a penny, as if he were some kind of feudal prince. A blond burst through the batwings of the saloon on the corner. She threw her arms around Macy’s neck and kissed him full on the mouth. His laugh echoed off the sides of the buildings lining the street. He whispered in her ear. She giggled. Then her face sobered when she saw Cash Laramie in the middle of Main Street. She said something to Macy, who shrugged and turned on to Mill Street.
Cash looked at the sign above the saloon. Bucket of Blood, it read. The quirk in the corner of Cash’s lips might have been the beginnings of a smile. Get that bucket ready, he thought.
Macy lengthened his stride, making for the big building at the end of Mill Street. Macy’s Grist and Feed Mill, the sign said.
Just as Macy reached the mill entrance, Cash pulled his Peacemaker and fired a shot in the air.
The whole town froze.
“You’re a killer, Macy,” he said, his sharp-edged voice full of disdain. “I’ve come to take you back to Cheyenne.”
“Where’s your army,” Macy said, a sneer on his lips. “Ain’t no one taking me out of Macyville, no one.”
Cash thumbed back the hammer of his Peacemaker. “You’ll come. Or you’ll die,” he said.
Macy tipped his head back and laughed. “Not likely,” he said.
Cash held the Peacemaker on Macy as he walked down the middle of the street. Twenty feet from Macy, Cash stopped, just as two men rushed from the front door of the mill. Their resemblance left no doubt. Relatives of Brant Macy. One had to be his father.
“I come to get your boy,” Cash said. “He’s a thief and a killer. He’s wanted in Cheyenne.”
One man, an older version of Macy, turned and said, “What is this, son? What have you done?”
Macy simpered. “Just having some fun up to Cheyenne, Pa. Nothing much.”
The father frowned. “How much trouble, Brant?”
Macy indicated Cash with a toss of his head. “That guy’ll tell you I killed a man. I did. But he was just a sumbitchin’ injun. Ain’t nothing wrong with killing a redskin. He was one of them who massacred General Custer, I’m sure.”
Cash pulled the badge from his vest pocket with his left hand. The gun in his right remained pointed at Macy’s belly. “U.S. Marshal,” he said.
“Shit,” Macy said. “I know you. Cash Laramie. Raised by injuns, they say. More injun than white, they say.”
“You’ll not get out of this, Macy. Misun, the Sioux you killed, scouted for General Crook. Even saved the general’s life. Got a medal. The job he had at that saloon kept his wife and children from starving. And he was my brother. You’ll go to Cheyenne. Or you’ll die. Your choice.”
“No injun lover’s gonna take me outta my own town,” Macy roared.
Cash stood motionless. He knew what the Macys saw. Cold blue eyes staring from under the brim of a black Stetson pulled low. A flint arrowhead hanging from a leather thong around his neck. Square jaw. Thin cheroot that no longer smoked. Colt Peacemaker at the ready.
Then Cash put the pistol back in its holster. “Even odds, Macy. You and yours against me. What’ll it be?”
“Mr. Laramie, I’m Avery Macy and this here’s my brother Mike. Brant’s my son, sir. Maybe we can talk this over. What do you say?”
“He killed my blood brother. No deal.”
“Shit, Avery. The lawman ain’t gonna listen to good sense. He’s come for a killing.” Mike Macy squinted at Cash, who stood in the center of Mill Street, feet spread shoulder-wide, hands hanging naturally at his sides. He looked almost nonchalant, but also seemed like a coiled spring.
“Spread out,” Mike said, holding his voice to a loud whisper.
Macy took two steps to the right, then moved even farther. Mike went to the left. Soon they made a thirty-foot arc facing Cash.
Cash spit out the cold cheroot. He turned his face right, then left, using his peripheral vision to check for possible onlookers in the line of fire. There were none.
Avery spoke, his voice trembling. “C’mon, now. Things don’t need to get out of hand. Let’s sit down and talk.”
Cash stood stock still, his eyes wide open, unblinking.
Mike Macy couldn’t stand the tension. He went for his gun, but he was slow. Too slow by far.
Cash drew, took two quick steps to his left, and fired into Mike Avery’s chest. Avery’s arms flew wide, and he fell over backwards, but Cash wasn’t watching. He’d already shifted aim to Brant Macy who’d finally got his gun out. Again Cash sidestepped, this time to the right, and Macy’s bullet whipped by his ear. Cash’s Peacemaker roared and the bullet took Macy in the center of the forehead, exiting through the back of his head in a cloud of blood and brain matter. Macy dropped like an ear-shot hog.
“You. Killed. My. Boy!” Avery Macy roared. He pulled the trigger of his Remington Navy revolver as quickly as he could thumb back the hammer, but his anger spoiled his aim. Bullets flew wild as Cash dropped to one knee and carefully put two bullets into Macy’s chest. The patriarch of Macyville crumpled to his knees, then fell on his face.
Cash ejected spent shells from his Peacemaker and pushed new bullets into the cylinder.
People now lined the sidewalk. Cash made a slow turn, holding his marshal’s badge high in the air. “U.S. Marshal’s business,” he said. They stayed put.
Pistol in hand, Cash strode over to look down at Brant Macy’s dead face. His eyes were open in surprise, and a half sneer curled his dead lips.
“What’s going on here?” The call came from down Main Street, and a pot-bellied town marshal hurried around the corner.
Cash held up his badge again. “U.S. Marshal,” he said. He pointed at Brant Macy. “Killed while resisting arrest.”
“Oh,” the town marshal said. “Nothing much for me to do, then, I reckon.”
“You can get those men buried,” Cash said.
“Yeah. Better.” The town marshal shuffled away.
Cash walked back down Mill Street with people keeping pace on both sides. He turned onto Main and stopped in front of the general store. As he reached for Paint’s reins, the red-headed boy gave a shout.
“God damn you, mister. God damn you. I swear. When I grow up I’m gonna hunt you down and kill you like you killed Brant. I swear.” Tears ran down the boy’s freckled cheeks. A woman in a light blue bonnet put her arms around the boy from behind. He turned to wipe his face on her apron, then once again faced Cash.
Cash mounted Paint and turned his head toward Cheyenne.
“I’m gonna kill you, mister. I am.”
Cash rode out of town, and the kid’s words followed him all the way to Cheyenne. Could he have handled the situation differently? Could he have taken Macy alive? Maybe. But then, Cash decided it didn’t matter.
Misun was his blood brother. A word from Cash to the saloon owner had gotten Misun the job that killed him. But no man, red or white, black or yellow, deserved to be shot in the back. Cash wondered what Misun’s family would do now. He’d find out when he got to Cheyenne.
Usually he felt empty after killing a man, like taking a life took a little part of his own. This time it felt right.