Thursday, June 30, 2011
Chapter 3: Ludleyville
The Gunslinger picked an apple off the tree beside the road and tossed it to the kid. Afterwards, he picked another one for himself. The Gunslinger was deep into the first week on the road. He had picked up a companion along the way. After the Burnt Mills, young Charlie Livingston had no more ties, nowhere to go. So he joined the Gunslinger on his unknown quest. They traveled down the road. Charlie had lived on this road for a couple of years now. He knew of the different towns, camps, farms, grounds, and villages that made up the road down the mountain. As he walked along with the Gunslinger for almost two days now, he still could not tell whether or not the dark gunman knew of the danger that lie in his way.
They walked together silently in the early morning dew. The sun had not yet pierced the skies, but the echoes of its rays made the night light blue. They pounded the moisture off the road with their boots as it turned into the atmosphere. The Gunslinger could sense something with them on the road. Charlie stayed behind him, weaponless. He feared for a showdown that he would be unable to defend himself. He did not want to have to rely on the Gunslinger for protection. As he was warned before he joined the man with the dark-rimmed hat, he would have to be accountable for his own life and safety.
Charlies' first step would have to be to get a weapon. The Gunslinger did not worry about such things. He worried about the road ahead. They passed a sign freshly hung on a wooden post that read, "LUDLEYVILLE".
Charlie knew this town. He knew they would have to cross through it quickly. Ideally, they should have gone around, but the road leads right through it, dividing the village perfectly in half. Charlie followed the Gunslinger in.
"We shouldn't be here..." he worried.
"We're just walking through." the Gunslinger comforted.
Together they walked by the quiet private homes. This was an eery place, Ludleyville hated outsiders, to them, they brought nothing but trouble. The villagers of Ludleyville were not wrong. When the Gunslinger passed another dark house a saloon came into his sight. Charlie tried to get the Gunslinger to continue his path down the road. There were fires and chanting coming from within the saloon. The Gunslinger's path began to diverge towards the saloon. Charlie could not stop him.
"I wonder what's going on in there..."
"This is a bad idea, Gunslinger."
The Gunslinger pushed the double-doors open and the cheering and singing came to an abrupt stop. They all froze and turned to look at the strangers in the door. The Gunslinger walked in and consulted the bartender. He acted as though he did not care about their piercing glares.
"We're fresh out."
"Then I'll have a whiskey."
"Fresh outta whiskey too."
The Gunslinger put his hand on his still holstered revolver. "What's going on here?" he declared as he tapped his foot.
"We don't want any trouble, Gunslinger, take your money and go."
"I'll go after my drink."
The bartender put the bottle of whiskey on the bar and shooed them away, "Take it and go."
The Gunslinger picked up the bottle and flipped a gold coin onto the bar. It bounced once and the Gunslinger turned his back on the bar. It bounced twice and guns were drawn. It bounces three times and spun to a stop, flat on the bar counter. . .
The Gunslinger walks out of the bar. One of his guns smolders with now two empty chambers. He left with Charlie, who was in awe. He scurried back behind the Gunslinger as they headed for the other end of town. "One in the elbow, one in the knee...you didn't mean to kill them?"
"There's no reason to kill a couple of bigots, not when they just want to keep to themselves."
The clouds in the sky got noisy. They gathered and turned gray, preparing to open up. The other men in the rushed outside for the Gunslinger. He had raised hell in their bar, he would not escape unpunished.
The Gunslinger touched his foot on the road and the gunfire started again.
He rolled the whiskey to the floor softly for cover. The clouds focused and charged above them. Thunder in the short distant. Lightning within view. A storm was coming. The men from inside the bar had emptied out before it, guns in-hand. Firing off like madmen. Charlie panics. The Gunslinger yells at him to get the whiskey bottle.
Charlie weaves between bullets spearing through the air, bullets intended for his blood. He gets to the bottle behind a desolated rock wall before the road, which parts through the town like a spine.
When Charlie grabs the bottle, fear holds him down back in the corner of the wall.
The Gunslinger looks back and once Charlie remains covered by the wall, he turns his head back and draws his other gun, cocking both of them pointed straight in the air, as he slowly walks towards the villagers.
The bullets pass by him at razor thin odds. He should not be alive. And yet he still walks against them. Against all odds, the Gunslinger plants his feet, bends his knees, and aims his guns.
Thunder cracks the sky opens above them and rain pours between them.
After that, all Charlie can see is tiny explosions muffled by the wetness of the downpour. The Gunslinger advances, reloading the pistol that only had four shells left. The wind kicks the rain diagonally. The Gunslinger snaps his gun closed and jumps through the storm barrier.
Lightning flashes light on the scene and all is exposed to the Gunslinger.
Six men remain, one in arms length. The Gunslinger quickly holsters and grabs the brute's gun-wielding arm and throws the drunkard around, pointing his gun at his own men. They all converge on the Gunslinger and his hostage. Charlie watches from afar and wishes he could do something. That's when he realized....
The bolt action rifle was not with the Gunslinger.
The Gunslinger pulls the trigger-finger of his hostage and kills the last man on the left. The other four open fire and kill their own townsman. Like a meat-bag he absorbs all of the bullets as life falls out of his fingers and the Gunslinger finishes off the rounds on two more of the villagers before switching back to his own revolvers.
This fat comacho with searing aim pops off a couple too many rounds at once and jostles his gun. The Gunslinger uses this opportunity to unload both his revolvers into the fat pig. It did not matter. The last of the villagers waited for the Gunslinger, gun holstered.
"I know the ways of your people!" He called out in the raging rain.
The Gunslinger reloaded his guns with his back turned to the man.
"I demand a duel!"
The Gunslinger rolls the chambers of his revolver over his forearm and locks it in place, holstering it. . .
". . . As you wish."
He turns around and walks over to the villager. The Gunslinger looks back for Charlie but he is not there. So he continues towards the dueler without him. They stand about thirty paces between. The Gunslinger stares at his opponent. As Gunslinger, he is obliged to wait to be drawn upon in any duel before drawing himself.
The Gunslinger watches the wrist of the villager's gun-hand. "That is the key," he was told. The opponent's wrist moves and he draws his gun. In times like these there is no getting around intentions. The Gunslinger fires off two shots before the last villager can get one off. Both shots go into his stomach and, in shock, the villager only fires one shot wildly into the air as he falls to his knees.
The Gunslinger walks up to his defeated opponent. "Then you should know as Gunslinger, I am also obligated to end your suffering...only you should ask...."
The villager looked up to the gunman; now toting his smoking revolver in the shadow of his head eclipsing the sunlight. The man on the ground tried to talk, but coughed up blood and gurgled his words. It sounded like, "Kill me."
The villager looked up over the Gunslinger's shoulder. He was noticing something else. When the Gunslinger began to catch on, the villager grabbed the barrel of his revolver and placing the tip against his head, right between his eyes.
Unbeknownst to the Gunslinger, the bartender had gotten to the roof of his bar and was now aiming a rifle right at his back. The bartender is prepared to fire before the Gunslinger does when a shot not from either of them rings out.
The Gunslinger knows that noise.
The bullet sweeps out from another rooftop and carves out the bartender's chest. The Gunslinger looks up and sees Charlie, kneeling atop a building and reloading the Bolt Action rifle. His trigger is pulled by the villager's hand. At first the Gunslinger thinks he is wounded. But when he looks down he realizes that the villager had committed suicide at the mercy of the Gunslinger.
"We must go." The Gunslinger said to Charlie as he picked the bottle of whiskey back up and they made their way to the road and out of Ludleyville. When Charlie tried to give the Gunslinger back his rifle, he told him to keep it.
"I'm better with my revolvers anyways." He said.