Tuesday, March 31, 2020

tales of Barrett the old gunslinger

So here are two more short pieces of fiction I'd written for Gravoca. Both are about Barrett the old gunslinger, a man who's seen his share of death and is now old and weary. The two passages appear in the same unit and give the student an idea about pacing and rhythm. The first piece is calm, slow, and meditative; the second piece is pure action.

     The wind was blowing hard and autumn-cold when Barrett and his horse reached the mountaintop. The angry afternoon sun glared down from a crystal-blue sky, as hard and cold as the wind. All around the old, tired gunfighter, dry leaves rattled and clung desperately to the trees; some leaves lost their grip and flew away sadly into the void like abandoned children. Barrett slid off his horse, sauntering over to a tall boulder that gave him a grand view of the fall-colored valley below. He sat on the rock’s hard surface and just watched as the trees writhed in the wind like souls in hell, their agony echoing the agony in Barrett’s own heart.

     Barrett was old, but he was fast and experienced. He had already counted his enemies: five gangsters—Brody, Chuck, Dwayne, Maynard, and Collier—surrounded him. The little town was quiet and scared, waiting for the fight to start. Quick as a snake, Barrett drew his gun, whirled, and fired twice at Brody, striking him in the heart. The man coughed once as he died. Barrett’s next shot took Chuck between the eyes; Chuck said nothing as he fell onto the dusty ground. The remaining three men moved quietly around Barrett, trying to confuse the old gunfighter, but Barrett understood his enemies too well. Another shot, and Dwayne was struck in the stomach; the bullet hit his spine, paralyzing his legs, and the brute fell onto his side, groaning loudly like a wounded bear.
     Barrett saw Collier’s leg poking out from behind a carriage. He shot Collier’s knee; the boy was only eighteen, and he screamed like a girl as he fell over, exposing his face to Barrett’s gun. Barrett fired again, and the young man died in a pool of blood. Only Maynard was left. Barrett stood perfectly still, guessing that Maynard would jump out and try to shoot. That’s exactly what Maynard did, and Barrett pulled the trigger... but his gun was empty. Six shots—gone. Completely unworried, Barrett calmly holstered his gun, drew his knife, and went for the last gang member.

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