The Peace Comes After

After Appomattox, before the Mississippi.

The man had his six and six more and six more after that. There were those who would fight him but he refused to discern between shootist and mother of five. With steady hands and steady feet, he moved through the town seemingly unaware of the bullets landing all around him. With an outstretched hand he shot forth. The townsfolk would later say that he shot blindly but everyone there knew he aimed for everything he took.

James Shifton, 12, had the uneasy thought that he was indeed the stuff of heroes. He held his father’s Harper’s Ferry pistol in his hand and prepared a dire shot. It was a double barrel musket and no match for a Peacemaker. There was a 25 year difference and the gun had evolved since. If James were to miss and then miss twice, he would have to sequester himself behind some wall to ram down two more bullets. A battle hardened man might use 20 seconds but while brave, James was too long a distance from a man. He had to do this all while hoping the man did not notice him.

Still the boy had to try. The hand was steady and for a brief moment James wasn’t there. He was just an assembly of motors that conspired for the purpose of murder. From somewhere cold he pulled back the hammer and shot. Not waiting for a reaction, he pulled back, took aim and shot again. It found purchase in the gunman’s back.The weak pale man with the hollow eyes came against James so fast and simply ripped the arm out of his hand, throwing it aside.

As James stared into those eyes, James realized to his horror that he was looking at absolutely nothing but a gun and the hand to hold it. What James had been for a moment, this man had been forever. Shiloh, Wounded Knee and all those other bloodied times were etched into a tapestry of pain and suffering inside that… something. This was a harvester in its season.

“Not yet.”

With that a rifle cracked and the gunslinger was blood from the neck up.

Next day, winter came and everyone had more pressing issues.