Sunday, April 8, 2018
The Gunfighters, by Michael Cebula
I don't go looking for western stories, because that's not what I'm in the business of reviewing, but this one showed up in Mystery Weekly Magazine, and it has plenty of the right elements. Plus it's a good story.
In a cliched western when two gunfighters face off one usually ends up dead and the other unhurt. But as our tale begins the two antagonists are both gut shot and dying.
Deadeye Danny is a "a skinny rumor of a man," so narcissistic that he refers to himself by his self-anointed nickname and talks like a character out of a dime novel.
Harris is a trick shooter, both laconic and sardonic. At one point he asks the doctor if his wound is going to be fatal. The doctor assures him that it is and begins to explain what damage was done.
“Was only asking what time it was, Doc,” Harris said. “No need to explain how the clock was built.”
As the two enemies sit, more or less abandoned, waiting for the end, they try to settle a question: how exactly did they wind up fighting each other in the first place? And there is the mystery, a clever one at that.