Published on Wednesday, January 8, 2013
Justice is Silent
By Daniel J. Kirk
In the silence I can hear my stomach. But is it ever really silent. If it were it would mean nothing was happening. And I knew that weren't true.
Off in the distance I can hear the faint hum of a train that is either coming or going. Someone in the hotel across the street sure was snoring and I heard the wind as it pressed against the wooden frames of the jailhouse.
That was most people's idea of silence.
Then that silence was upended. A horse complained and skidded to a halt with a few of its friends and pretty soon I heard the dangle of spurs followed by unoiled hinges.
They dragged me out of my cell into the street. It was so dark out that not a single star could be seen. A couple of lights barely gave the buildings any kind of definition. But this posse had brought some lanterns and I could just make out their faces.
All five of 'em.
"You trying to escape?" They asked me, but they knew good and well what the answer was. I didn't have to worry about escaping. People with money liked my sort.
We made their West work.
"You shot Betsy McCall, Albert McCall, their unborn son and their children Michael and Samuel. In cold blood."
"Not exactly," I said. "My blood's as warm as you fellas. Were that temperature when I shot them."
"Well now you're going to be gunned down like the coward you is. How about you run? Make it look good for the Sheriff."
"You don't know how things work around here do you?" I wasn't all that surprised. "Sheriff knows I don't need to run."
What the Sheriff was on to that these fools hadn't grasped yet, was that the Mayor had appointed me to do his dirty work. And this little town needed to be reminded there could be trouble. It was a good paying job, keeping people on their edge.
Keeping people Christian and God-fearing.
Some might call it God's work.
"This ain't the justice I want," one of the posse said. "I want to gun him down."
"We's going to."
"Nah, I wanted him to know he lost. That he ain't a real gunslinger, just real yellow." The man stepped forward and pulled a gun. "Duel at midnight?"
I heard their laughter as they thought they could embarrass me.
"Toss him your pistol, Roy." The challenger said as he centered himself in the street. "The rest of you can shoot him if he can get a shot off. But I think he's only good at gunning down the innocent and unarmed."
"You know the Mayor won't take too kindly to this." I reminded the young man I now recognized. He was supposed to be guarding my door, making sure no retribution came around while I sat pretty and played the part of a prisoner.
"Mayor gave the okay." He said proudly like a man of my equal. That didn't sit well with me at all.
A pistol hit the dirt in front of me.
"Pick it up." The challenger growled. It felt heavy in my hand, in a good way, the way that I knew could be lightened.
I had six shots. The first one woke most everyone up out of their peaceful slumbers, the second told 'em it was more than just something they might've heard, the night was not silent. My third and forth had a choir of shots to join 'em. But only mine would tell the truly observant ear, that the streets were soaked in blood.
I only let one of 'em live. He surrendered his gun with a whimper and begged. I needed some one to tell my story. Then I went to where the Mayor had been spending most his nights.
I woke the lady first. She must've made extra to fall asleep next to the Mayor's fat self. She didn't scream as I clamped my hand around her lips and dragged her to the door.
"We've got business matters, wait outside." I thought I whispered but I got the feeling the Mayor had woke up. If my ears had been better maybe I would've heard his eyelids flip up. But the change in his breath was good enough. He held it.
"I thought we had a deal."
The Mayor squirmed as I stood overtop his bed.
"We had a deal right up until you went a little too far. Killing the McCalls. You probably could've gotten away with killing anyone in this town but them. And that's what I meant, make an example of somebody! But the McCalls, they were liked, good decent people and they deserve justice."
I pushed my pistol into his fat little nose so I could see if he had any brains up there.
"Maybe you shouldn't try and arrange justice next time, Mayor. Or maybe there's just no such thing."
In the silence I could hear his breath beginning to slobber. I think I could even hear his teeth chattering. But then I shot. And that's all anyone probably heard for that brief second. But I could hear them racing up the steps.
I leapt out the window. Panic exploded through a closed door, women screamed at the sight of a dead man. Men hollered for sweet lady Justice to hear their call. All these sounds helped me escape. Only dust followed me into the dark night, which was lucky since dust doesn't have a sound.
Justice doesn't have a sound, either.
Only difference is I can see dust, but I've never seen justice.
Daniel J. Kirk enjoys watching westerns and now writing westerns. He writes stories of all kinds as many times a day as he can. Practice makes perfect and when he can't do that he's either in a river or up on a mountain, or it's baseball season and he's glued to the television biting nails watching West Coast games that don't end until 3 in the morning on the East Coast.