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Fool's Trigger

Revenge is a long, winding road.

But sometimes, The Gutter shows compassion.

Fool's Trigger by Gabriel Land

The ambush occurred just outside of Santa Fe. What I was doing heading towards Santa Fe instead of further south to Lamy—where the railroad was—was trying to avoid ambush. Didn't work.

My accosters were the Wickart gang, three outlaws I had recent trouble with back in the Texas panhandle. Only one among them actually carried the surname of Wickart, and that was Jessup Wickart. Jessup saw to it to adopt a few brothers. I was outnumbered.

Jessup must have figured that robbing me blind would have incurred less wrath from my employers than killing me. He and his boys took everything. My horse, money, rifle, my nice colt pistol, and the native artifact I was employed to deliver. In all his intellectual glory, Jessup couldn't have known the artifact's worth.

"You can hike south to Lamy. I'll leave you a canteen," Jessup said. "Don't you let me see you in Santa Fe today or ever. I'll shoot you on sight."

Then they left for Santa Fe, I assumed.

My own horse kicking up dust in my face, I was unscathed, which was a mistake on Jessup’s part.

*     *     *

After a few hours of hiking, I made it to Santa Fe.

The Wickarts would be in one of the saloons, no doubt, drinking away my dime over a card table.

I found them at the Rio Bar.

As if nothing had happened between us, I walked in, strode up to the bar, and ordered a whiskey. 

The bartender obliged.

Took Jessup a minute or longer to peel his eyes from his cards and recognize me. My back was to him but my eyes were fixed on the mirror behind the bar.

I heard his chair scoot out as he stood to face me.

"Before you drink that last gulp of whiskey you'll ever taste," he said, "I want you to tell the bartender you can't afford to pay for it."

I raised the glass and drank, figuring it may or may not be my last, depending on what occurred over the course of the next few minutes.

My stomach burning, I turned slow on my stool and stood, facing Jessup in kind.

"What are you going to do, Jessup? Shoot me with my own Colt?" I asked.

Jessup grinned. His teeth were rotten. Had he sneezed, he might have lost a few. "You know what? That's a hell of an idea. I'm gonna' shoot you with your own gun."

He cleared my Colt from his holster and aimed it at me.

I heard the bartender behind me twitch.

Jessup cocked the lever.

I waited for it, figuring I didn't have a lot to lose.

Soon as Jessup squeezed, the Colt blew up in his weathered face. He screamed.

I turned and dove over the bar expecting a hail of bullets from the other two Wickarts. All I heard after landing was more screams.

Looking up, I saw the bartender had a double-barrel shotgun trained at the Wickarts, deterring them from shattering the shelves of good whiskey behind him.

"You go on and get him out of here," the bartender said to the gang. "I imagine medical attention won't be helping him much."

I rose to my feet, standing next to the bartender, and surveyed the scene.

The two were crouched down by Jessup, who was wailing as would anyone with their fingers and face blown off.

Never did get that Colt fixed. Didn't have time to on account of my employment, so I was relying on my rifle, should the need arise. I planned to have a gunsmith attend to the pistol soon as I completed my delivery to Albuquerque.

As the boys gathered Jessup to drag him out, I told them to leave the native artifact.

They fetched it from Jessup's coat pocket and set it on the card table.

I also told them to let my horse stay tied up outside.

After they had cleared themselves from the premises, the bartender lowered his shotgun and told me I better get to mopping up the blood, seeing as how I had drawn it inadvertently.

Gabriel Land is a screenwriter, novelist, and playwright based out of California. His work has been called "expansive" and "immersive" by critics and reviewers. Recently, he published his first novel, a noirish sendup of the superhero genre, called Hammers of Thor. When he is not writing, Gabriel practices urban exploration and conducts studies in psychogeography. More information about his work is available on his website: