The Gunslinger

         The two men squared off in the heat of the blistering sun.  One man was a cold-blooded killer and the other was just a simple farmer; this was not going to be a fair fight and the whole town knew it.

         The farmer glinted through the rays of the sun at the devil, another disadvantage stacked against him.  Typically, gunfights were done at high noon to avoid this type of situation, but the farmer couldn’t wait any longer, someone was going to die this day, right then and right now.

         “You murdered my wife, you slaughtered my cattle, you killed my children’s dog,” the farmer claimed, letting the accusations hang in the air for the whole town to hear.  He looked over at his two small children huddled in the crowd. 

         Bobby-Sue clutched her little ragdoll, tears streamed down her innocent, tender face.  Her older brother, by only a couple of years, stood beside her, his lower lipped quivered as tears began to well up in his eyes.  They both knew the inevitable, the whole town knew, and there was nothing anyone could do to stop it.  The farmer needed a miracle, but there was no miracle that day.

         The farmer turned his gaze from his children back to the devil standing before him; he felt like his heart was beating out of his chest.  He took a long, slow gulp of saliva to clear his throat, then spoke.  “God willing, I’ll send you back to hell to where you belong.”

         A half-smile crept up on the devil’s face.  “Son, I am god…” and in a blink of an eye his gun was out of his holster, smoke curling up from the end of the barrel.  The farmer’s hand never even made it to his gun.  He fell to his knees in defeat and looked over to his children. 

         He expected death to be painful, but it wasn’t.  He turned and looked back to the devil with a grim expression on his face, waiting for death to take him home.  But death didn’t come for the farmer, death was busy somewhere else.

         The farmer sat there on his knees; his eyes fixated on the devil when he noticed something peculiar.  The devil had a stream of blood running straight between his eyes.  The farmer’s gaze followed the trail of blood up a couple of inches to a hole right in the center of the devil’s forehead.  A ray of sunshine streamed out of the hole.  The farmer followed the ray from the devil’s forehead all the way back to himself, where it stopped directly on his heart. 

         The farmer looked up at the devil; the devil, gun still in his hand, fell backward to the dusty ground with a loud “thump.”  Death had taken him back to hell.

         The farmer turned back to his children.  They came running to him, enveloping him with huge hugs; tears streaming down their faces. 

         The town began milling about, all except for one, who was leaning against a post, smoke rising up from the bottom of his holster.  We watched the farmer and his children lost in a loving embrace, thankful to be together.  Not on my watch, he thought to himself as he moved away from the post and headed into the saloon.

         No, the farmer didn’t need a miracle that day, all he needed was The Gunslinger.

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