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The Old Man

Ronmar The Only

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Ronmar The Only

A hyena’s cry filled the valley as Tommy fell down in the riverbed slamming his face into the mud and splashing water all around. The cool liquid caused him to momentarily forget the various cuts and bruises that covered his body. He could even almost forget the gunshot wound in his shoulder that still trickled blood. His twisted ankle was a different matter though, aching constantly. He flipped over in the mud and let the river water run over him.


“Don’t you hear them, boy? They’re coming for you. sh*t, even I smell your blood. Now, boy, if you tell me where you stashed the goods, I swear I’ll make it a quick end for you. You’ll hardily even feel it.”


It was his voice on the breeze, that old man. Tommy had first seen his scared face back in town at the saloon when they were deciding on their plan. Jeffery was just beginning when the old man came with a shot a whiskey in each hand telling Tommy to get up and finished both after sitting down. He then proceeded to tell them about his plan. Everything sounded so good. The free drinks he bought for them didn’t hurt.


“Where are you boy? Don’t think that you can hid from me forever. You’re causing yourself more pain pissing me off like this. If I don’t find you, they’ll find you. You might have enough rounds and courage to shoot at a few but your aim will falter and they’ll no longer be frighten, and then they’ll get you. Come on boy, make this easy and just tell me where you are.”


Over the next few days after detailing his plan, the old man had the confidence of all the others in the group. He shared his stories and whiskey without prejudice. He talked about the war and life in the West and how he liked the mountains more than either. He helped Johnny hold a gun and read Ben’s letter from his relatives back East.


Then the plan was put into motion. His plan.


He killed them all.


Tommy knew he was lucky for surviving this long. He almost didn’t even get a chance whenever one of the guards pulled the gun on him and shot him in the shoulder. But that old man killed the guard along with everyone else. He must have not notice Tommy run until he searched for the money. Tommy couldn’t even recall why he took it. He just saw all the bills and grabbed the bag running until his legs gave out under him on a hill.


“There you are, boy. I knew my nose would lead me to you sooner rather than later.”


The old man was drunk, looking down at Tommy with a bottle of whiskey in his hand as he laughed with a crooked smile. Tommy lifted his revolver covered in mud and leveled it as straight as he could with the old man’s chest.


“We both know you’re not going to shoot me, boy. You don’t got it in you. I saw you back there. You had the drop on that son-of-bitch, but you don’t have it in you to kill someone. Come on, now, just put it down and let’s talk for a few moments. No? Well then, just don’t shoot me until I finish my drink, boy.”


“Toss . . . toss your gun over here.” The words barely came out, but Tommy knew the old man heard.


“Boy, you serious?” He cocked his head, laughed then finished the bottle. “Maybe you have bigger stones than I thought.” He threw the bottle into the river and stared at Tommy. “You want this, boy?”


The old man slowly pulled out his revolver and looked over the dirty weapon.


“You sure you want me to drop this gun, boy? Plenty of people have made that request. All of them are in the ground, well, save for the ones that burned. I’m going to make a judgment call for you, boy.” He held the revolver tight in his hand and sat in the mud near Tommy. “I’m not going to let go of my gun, but keep your gun on me. Maybe you’ll be different.”

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