Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The Man in the Hat

The breeze blew along the street, through alleyways and loose doors, but nothing rattled or moved, out of reverence for the unfolding moment.

At either end of the street, two men stood. They faced each other down with a tense silence. They were static; holding themselves rigidly with their arms poised at their sides, inches from their holsters, but neither moved. They were unperturbed when the wind played through their hairs and coat tails, lingering in the moment before whisking away.

Under the brim of his hat, the man gazed out at his opponent, and at the other side of the street he gazed back. His eyes narrowed and his fingers curled slightly. The standoff continued.

Around them, the street was deserted. Everybody had retreated indoors and out of harm's way when the two men had faced off. Some heads cautiously peeked from behind doors and over windowsills. Nobody in the nearby bar moved. The pianist was silent, the barmen stared down anyone who tried to move. Hands of poker and blackjack lay exposed on to opponents on the tables, but nobody looked away from the unfolding events.

The man in the hat grimaced slightly, continuing to study his opponent. His eyes moved from his hand to his face and back to his hand again, which seemed to be sneaking closer to his holster. Could he be...?

He wasn't trying to pull a fast one!? A bead of sweat perspired on his forehead, followed by another. Soon, his forehead was damp with nerves.

Enough! He wasn't going to let this upstart humiliate him!

There was a scuffling sound as the man in the hat went for his gun, followed by a single crack of gunfire. It blasted out through the silent street, destroying the tension, before everything fell silent, and tense, once more.

The man in the hat looked at his opponent. Did he get him? He looked to his hand, the smoke from his gun to be his confirmation, but it was not there. Moreso, the gun itself remained in its holster, a mere twitch away from his hand. He hadn't got to it. With a grimace of recognition and pain, the man with the hat crumpled to the ground, blood seeping into his clothing from the wound in his chest.

At the other end of the street, his opponent replaced his revolver, fired from his hip, in its holster without a flourish, and turned back towards the bar.

In twenty minutes the man with the hat had been forgotten. Even the breeze blew over his body as it meandered through the alleyways and loose doors, rattling the frames playfully.

(Written, perhaps not very well, and owned by Peter Stewart. Creative Commons copyright applies).

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