The following is a page from my new novel of the above title:
It’s just before noon and the sun blisters the earth without mercy in a small wind-blown Oklahoma town. It’s the year of Our Lord 1865. I step into the street and walk toward Brewster. A tendril of sweat toils its way downward through the stubble of my cheek. The white heat of the day does not compare to the blood heat I feel inside; I’m about to kill my first man as Sheriff of Broken Wheel, Oklahoma. Nathaniel Brewster stands 40 feet away, tense and waiting. His eyes narrow to slits against the sun’s glare.
The hot midday breeze chases dust into swirls, but I can feel only the thudding of my own heartbeat. I’m alone in the dusty street. There is no deputy. I’m the law here wherever “here” is. The town people huddle silently behind store front windows and doors. Watching.
I notice the sun glinting off Brewster’s spurs. In my experience, it’s unusual that a man wearing a five-day growth of whiskers, a sweat-stained slouch hat and grimy duster would own a new pair of spurs. But my attention is quickly drawn from his apparel to his posture.
Brewster leans forward seemingly hesitant to reach for his gun. The expression on his face is that of a cornered animal. He knows that his options are rapidly dwindling. His sole purpose is just to survive this moment.
Yesterday’s telegraph said he’d shot and killed a teller in Citizens’ Bank 30 miles away just two days ago. Deputies had lost his tracks in a rain storm. Consequently, I wasn’t surprised to see a tail-worn stranger edge into town early today.
I’d come to Broken Wheel, myself, only a few months earlier looking to earn a few dollars. A strange set of circumstances handed me the badge that I wore now. I wasn’t a trained lawman, but a few years ago in a national cauldron of conflict, I’d been vetted in places such as Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. In those battles and in others like them, I saw too much butchery and too little else. The last place I wanted to be now was in anyone’s crosshairs.
This town hadn’t been a destination on my personal roadmap. By now I’d expected to be in California cashing in somehow on the boom there. I certainly hadn’t planned to be in the middle of Main Street in the middle of Oklahoma facing a fellow with desperation in his mind and a pistol in his hand.
I experience eternity in no more than five seconds. Brewster and I lock eyes. His eyes tighten and he jerks his right hand toward the revolver on his hip. Those deadly five seconds trudge by with feet in quicksand. I see his sudden move and reflexively draw my .44 caliber Colt, train it on Brewster’s chest and pull the trigger. Even though I’d fired this revolver thousands of times, the concussion slams against me like a lucky punch in a bar brawl. Brewster crumples, falls into the dust and remains motionless.
I stand frozen in place waiting for reality to reintroduce itself. Then, dazed, I turn and walk past McGilby’s Saloon and into the solitude of the alley.
Actually, this is the page of my new novel. I expect big things to happen once all three dozen of the pamphlet version of my novel are published. After that, movie offers, interviews in Variety, the magazine of Hollywood, and testimonial deals will make me famous in central Chino Valley, Arizona. Maybe even Paulden!
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