Excerpt for The Other Gunfight by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


THE OTHER GUNFIGHT




STEEVEN R. ORR


Smashwords Edition


Copyright © 2018 by Steeven R. Orr. All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, businesses, events or locales is purely coincidental. Reproduction in whole or part of this publication without express written consent is strictly prohibited.


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OTHER STUFF TO READ BY STEEVEN R. ORR


EBOOKS


THE ADVENTURES OF NORMAN OKLAHOMA VOLUME ONE (Pre-order)


THE OTHER GUNFIGHT


HOLLIDAY’S GOLD


WEB SERIALS


THE ADVENTURES OF NORMAN OKLAHOMA


THE MIGHTY PINATA


THEN A PENGUIN WALKED IN


LET ME CLEAR MY THROAT (SHORT STORIES ON-LINE)


OUR ADVENTURE CONTINUES (WEB COMIC)





To you, the reader, for giving this story purpose.






1

WYATT EARP


THE SMELL OF HORSE dung clung to everything. It was like a swarm of ants on a sugar cube and I began to taste it with each breath. Even my horse wrinkled his nose in disgust at the reek that lingered in the air around us. I tried to ignore it, but the stench coming off of Tombstone, Arizona was hard to ignore.

It’s not that Tombstone smelled worse than any other town. That’s just how it was out here. Horses were everywhere and they defecate where they please, so you’re gonna have to put up with the smell if you want to make it in the West. And I do, put up with the smell, but I don’t have to like it. At least it ain’t New York City. Now that is a city that stinks. There are some areas in New York that smell like an outhouse in July. No thanks. Give me the smell of horse and the wide open spaces any day. But still, I could do without it.

I eased up to the hitching rail outside the nearest saloon, Hafford’s, hoping that the taste of whiskey might make up for the smell. I tied off the horse, grabbed up my saddle bags and, throwing them over a shoulder, stepped into the saloon.

Tombstone was supposed to be booming, and it certainly seemed to be, but as I strode into Hafford’s, I found it all but empty, apart from me and the barkeep, who was too busy wiping down the top of the bar to pay me much attention.

“How do?” I said, touching the brim of my hat as I cozied up to the bar.

I didn’t need to worry about him recognizing me. I’d aged a bit, and grown a beard. Besides, once I’d died the papers had stopped writing about me. The dime novels were still in full production, but they never could get anything right. More fiction than fact, they were. Almost as bad as the newspapers.

“What’ll it be?” the barkeep said.

He was an older gentleman, gray and stooped. What little hair he had on his head had gathered mostly around the ears, leaving the sun to bounce gentle beams of light from off of his bald pate. The rest had long since migrated to his eyebrows and mustache, leaving his face just a nose and chin that stuck out through a forest of gray.

“Whiskey,” I said, slapping three large coins onto the worn but clean bar top. “The good stuff, not the watered down piss you give your regulars.”

I’d never been in this particular saloon before in my life, but I’ve been in plenty, and if there’s one thing I know it’s that every single one of them keeps two types of whiskey behind the bar. The whiskey they’ve watered down and the whiskey that they have not. The former they serve to the endless mob of regulars who come in each night–miners, cow hands, teamsters, and such. The latter they keep on hand for folks who were willing to pay a little extra for a bit of the real thing.

Folks like me.

He didn’t move. It was hard to tell through the eyebrows but I figured he was glaring at me. I didn’t blame him; I was rather choice with the words I’d used to describe his whiskey. Some bartenders tend to take stuff like that a bit personally. So I showed him one of my best smiles and eventually he tossed the rag aside long enough to bang a shot glass down in front of me. He was silent as he filled the glass from an old, dusty bottle; just continued to stare me down through those bushes over his eyes.

I tilted back my head and threw the whiskey down my throat in one quick gulp, grimacing in sick satisfaction as it burned all the way down my gullet.

“That’s some mighty fine whiskey,” I said. “I’ll take the bottle.” I slid a couple of folded bills across the bar top. “And some information.”

“What kind of information’re you looking for?” the bartender said, setting the bottle down in front of me.

I snatched the bottle and pulled out the cork with an audible squeak and pop.

“I’m looking for a man,” I said. There was no reason to lie. “Goes by the name of Claiborne.” I poured myself another shot. “He been in today?”

“He’s one of them cowboys,” he said, spitting out the last word like an insult. “What business you got with him?”

“My business is my own,” I said, then downed the shot.

“Well he ain’t here,” the bartender said. “And today ain’t a good day to go looking for him either.”

“He comes in here though?” I said.

“Sure. From time to time.”

“I got nowhere to be for now,” I said. I pulled my pocket watched and checked the time. I had less than thirty minutes. “I’ll wait.”

“Suit yourself,” he said. Then he went back to wiping down the bar top.

I took the glass and the bottle and found a table near the back. Before I took more than four steps toward it, however, I turned back to the bar. The barkeep was back to wiping down the bar, but his attention was focused on the street outside the window.


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