|the Irrepressible Terry
by Rusty McCormick
Introduces main characters:
Terry Castle: an adventurer whose luck usually gets him into more trouble than it's worth.
MIKE: his computer and sidekick: M.I.C.H.A.L. ie: Mobile Interface Computer Holodynamic Autonomous Liaison.
Castle calls him MIKE for short.
“Because I’m Terry Castle!”
Castle’s confidence and sternum were shattered by the gunshot that followed. Waking abruptly, MIKE found his companion lying on the floor in a widening pool of blood. On the opposite side of the poker table stood the man who had fired the gunshot; the other players sat motionless, waiting to see what the gunman was going to do next. He turned his smoking revolver toward MIKE. Ignoring the gun, he crouched down to Castle’s side. Terry looked up at his friend in amazement.
“Don’t move,” grunted the gunfighter, “or you’ll be lyin' next to him.”
MIKE disregarded the threat and shook his head at Terry in disappointment. “What did I tell you about irritating the locals?” Castle smiled weakly and coughed up a little frothy blood.
MIKE assured him. “I’ll get some help.” Terry Castle nodded in agreement and then died.
“You’ll get shot!” insisted the gunman, emphasizing the fact that he did in fact have a gun pointed at him. Then, in what was the most blatant act of defiance the gunfighter had ever seen, MIKE got up and headed for the door. For an entire second, the gunfighter (who really deserves a name now that he has been mentioned for the fifth time) stood there in utter disbelief.
Notch Hardy was the most infamous gunslinger in these parts. He got his name because of the prodding of the storyteller and the fact that he had killed so many people that he had run out of space on his revolver butt to carve the notches. He decided to call himself Notch so he wouldn’t have to keep track. No one ignored this man, no one walked away from his drawn revolver. In the afore mentioned second nothing moved; well, nothing except MIKE. Not one of the other patrons in the saloon, not a single barmaid, or the bartender, not even the piano player moved a muscle. The next second was completely opposite. Tables skidded and chairs toppled as anyone between Notch and this irreverent walking dead man hit the floor. Barmaids dropped trays and drinks as they hurried to the kitchen. The bartender ducked down behind the bar and the piano player quietly closed the keyboard and ducked toward a side door. As he got to the saloon doors two bullets went into the back of MIKE’s head and out into the street. He pushed trough the swinging doors and turned left, heading to the alley. Two more bullets shattered the large front windows as MIKE passed; one went through his face and the other through his chest. They both hit a wagon sitting in the street. MIKE continued until he was out of sight.
People started to stick their heads up, slowly. Notch looked at the window, then at Castle’s body, and finally at his revolver. Four shots, he thought. There was no way he could have missed all four shots.
“There’s no way…” he muttered as the people around him began to stir. Arlye Johnson, the piano player gathered the nerve to speak.
“You missed!” He immediately thought better of speaking...
Fortunately Notch was just as flustered.
“I couldn’t have missed.” doubting his own words. Notch thought about this as he turned the barrel of the revolver towards himself.
“People get shot, and they die – it’s that simple.” It proved to be his last thought as he pulled the trigger covering Arlye and the piano with his brains.
Seems he was right – that simple.
© 2005 Frank Tona writing as Rusty McCormick. All rights reserved.