(Arizona Blue, over 226-Internet sits have picked up on these Episodes, this being the 30th)
Arizona Blue was always proud of his skill in shooting, and not timid to display it. He always looked a bit ready, or like a man preparing for target practice. It was July, of 1876, when Blue was in Falstaff (had been there going on five weeks or so), Ernie Hard, a gun-slinger out of Abilene was in town, Arizona knew of him, a young buck, not too young, was playing cards at the Do-drop-Inn. He was a tall man, with large teeth, buck teeth, and red hair, he had itchy-fingers, so his legend goes, which precede him, eager to kill, and he always muttered, so no one could tell what he was saying, somehow that seemed to put his opponent off guard.
“Go to hell,” said Tom Doyle, a local farmer, and one of the five card players at the table, in the bar, he was speaking to Ernie Hard; Ernie had told him he had won without showing his cards.
“Put down the cards,” said Tom “I want to see them!”.
“Do what you can, or shout up…!” ordered Hard, and he started to take the money from the pot in the middle of the table, no one said a word, and Tom started to turn frigid in his face.
Tom pulled out a forty-five with a cut-off barrel, tucked deep into the side of his belt; it was hidden by his jacket. Ernie, eying the farmer boy, saw his snub-nosed muzzle, which meant he had to be in front of him to shoot it with any accuracy, thus, he smiled and held his breath, then muttered a tinge, the next moment (seemingly a gap in time) the sound of loud gun against a moment of silence came abruptly, and the guy next to Tom spat tobacco onto the floor as if in shock,Tom fell backward, dead, and surprisingly, Ernie fell flat onto the table, the discharge of Tom’s gun had shot through his shoulder.
Said the barkeep running up to Tom “What in hell did you do that for?” Of course he could not speak, he was dead. At that very moment, Arizona Blue turned about, he was watching everything from the bar mirror, for once he wanted to stay out of harms way, but he was cursed, as many folks had told him in the past, wherever he went, seemingly he could not avoid trouble.
He walked over to the table, $400.00 was in the kitty, Ernie knew of Blue, his reputation anyhow, saw him shoot a few times, and he was perhaps 15-years younger than Blue. Blue looked at Ernie, plainly, then chuckled, as Ernie went to take the money, but Blue pushed them back–Ernie’s hands back, looked at his cards, he had two kings, one pair that was all, then he looked at Tom’s, three jacks…”You lose,” said Blue.
“Wait until my shoulder’s better, we’re going to have a shootout.” Said Ernie; but that was not a good thing to say, evidently he did not pay all that much attention to his reputation.
“You’d never guess, sunny boy, but the shootout is going to be now.”
“But I can’t,” said Ernie, his face transforming into grief and dread.
“Then I’ll shoot you dead right here, or get on you knees and beg for your life!” The entire bar was watching.
The bartender nodded to the table of card players to move, and they did.
Blue knew the game, if he let him live, he’d just follow him, so he put Ernie in a cowards position, and to his surprise, he got on his hands and knees and begged for his life. Then Blue turned around, got thinking: there’d never be a better chance than now, he waited a moment, hoping Ernie would go for his gun, and then Blue threw down his second pistil in front of Ernie, “Sorry, but one of us will have to die this evening!” Said Blue.
It seemed hopeless to Ernie, but he knew that was the deal, and therefore, he leaped for the gun, and clutching it grimly he shot off one round, Blue simply dodged back, then fired his gun, that was it. He knew he’d be clumsy, and let him take the first shot, that way; there’d be no question of who was in the right.
The fight was over, Blue shrugged. There was only one thing to do now, leave the city, it was futile to try to explain to the law every detail, the folks saw it all, it would all come out in the wash, he knew, thus he swung his jacket over his shoulder, finished his drink, and bid the barkeep farewell.