Each weekday on this blog you will find an episode of a western short story featuring Rance Dehner, a detective who operates in the old West. When the story concludes, it will be archived for those readers who prefer to read a story from start to finish.
cautiously toward the bar; even so, he collided with several chairs. The back
lights covered only a small patch of the saloon.
But when he got behind the bar he had a clear view of the corpse of Stanley
Wiggins. The lawman inhaled and took a step back as if death were a disease
that could be transmitted.
He slowly stepped toward the body and crouched over it, picking up a piece of
fabric that lay on the corpse. “It’s gingham, looks like it was cut from that
dress Torveen bought for his sister,” the sheriff whispered. A piece of
paper was pinned to the back of the fabric and there was writing on it.
The note made Laverty’s throat go tight. What he heard caused his entire
body to tremble.
out late tonight, Sheriff. Need to get you some rest. I hear you got some busy
days in front of you.”
slowly moved out of his crouch. He was now standing behind the bar facing the
open door of the Shooting Star. A figure was standing in the doorway, in front
of the batwings.
“Who are you?” The lawman tried to
sound tough but his voice wobbled.
The man in the doorway spoke in a
mocking voice. “You should recognize me , Robbie. Why, I’m all you’ve been
talkin’ about lately. I hear that a reporter from the Denver Post will be
arrivin’ soon to get a story about the man who brought down One Arm Lightning.”
“Wes Torveen…” Laverty spoke in a
“Yeah, Rob, I’m here to do you a
“What kind of favor?”
“Why, I’m gonna give you a chance to
kill me again! Jus’ think how impressed that fella from Denver will be when he
finds out you killed One Arm Lightning twice.”
Rob Laverty tried to laugh, it came
out as a sob.
“Step out from behind that bar, Rob.
Let’s find out how fast you really are.”
Laverty pounded his fist on the bar
and screamed at the man in the doorway. “You go back to Hell or wherever you
demons come from! Leave me alone, Wes Torveen, leave me alone!”
Rob Laverty began to cry
uncontrollably. He rested his head on the bar and put both arms over it. He
refused to look up, like a child hiding under a blanket, hoping the boogieman
But he could hear the voice that
continued to taunt him. “I see you don’t feel up to a gunfight this evening,
Robbie. Don’t worry. I’ll be coming back to see you soon.”
Laverty continued to keep his head
down for several minutes after the voice ceased. When he finally raised his
head, all he could see was a vacant doorway made blurry by the tears that
cluttered his eyes.