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Short Story

   Duke Mullins



It was a cold winter day, the wind was blowing hard when Duke Mullins rode into town. He rode down the street lookin’ for a Saloon. Duke saw a Church at the end of the street, then he saw a sign, a big sign, with a picture of a gal, she had her dress pulled up a little, she was sayin’ Dokeapill’s Saloon, the finest Whisky and Beautiful Ladies. Duke rode his horse up to the hitchin’ he post got off. He tied Ace up, he looked at his horse, he told Ace, “I’ll be back in a little while boy”.

He looked up and down the street, saw a café, called The Okra Stalk, a Hotel and a livery stable.  Duke walked up to Dokeapill’s Saloon, he looked at the swingin’ doors, he saw two bullet holes in them door’s comin’ from the inside. They looked like there was some more, that was patched and painted over, ya can’t hide billet holes too well.

 Duke thought about what he saw. He thought, I guess they was from another squabble. Somebody’s always getting’ mad about somethin’, usually fer no reason, then I have to kill’em, I sure do hate that, don’t like killin’ folks, makes me sick, but it happens.

 When he got through the doors, he looked the place over. To his left were two men sittin’, they was jawin’, then he looked to the right, he saw a poker game, with five men sittin’ at the table, he looked again, that was all he seen, there wasn’t no Ladies, I thought that sign said, Beautiful Ladies, it was too early anyhow. Duke thought no one looked my way, they didn’t notice me, he liked that, Duke didn’t want any trouble, he just wanted to have a nice quiet drink and ta be left alone.

 Duke walked to the bar. He leaned against it, he saw a burly lookin’ bartender, who had a long scar on his right arm and a big belly, he sat a shot glass in front of Duke, poured it full. The bartender said, “Two bits”. Duke reached in his pocket, he tossed a quarter on the counter, it rolled off the bar, fell on the floor. The barkeep started to say somethin’, when he saw Duke’s gun and the way he wore it. That Bartender, looked at Duke, then bent down, that barkeep picked it up, turned and walked away not lookin’ at Duke, not saying a thing. When he saw the way he wore his gun, he knew he was a Shooter, he wondered who he was. Didn’t make no difference ta Duke, he wasn’t gonna bother nobody. He hoped they would return the favor.

 Duke slumped over the bar, looking at that whisky glass, he saw it look wavy, he wondered that was causin’ that. Then he saw a gun fight in it, he saw a man get shot, the man went down, then another, still another. Duke thought, that’s what happens when ya get a little tight, I need ta quit drinkin’ whisky, I need ta start drinkin’ coffee, maybe it’ll change me a little, why I might even-------------------------. Duke was day dreamin’.

 Duke pushed that whisky back across the bar, he straightened up.  That’s when he heard man with a big mouth, a loud man, someone Duke knew had come into the Saloon. Duke didn’t like it, he kept his head down, maybe just maybe that big mouth old boy will leave.

 Duke recognized the man’s voice, he heard it before. That man was telling everyone who he was, his name was Buck Smith, a known Shooter, a ruthless killer. Duke’s body began to get hard as he waited for Buck to come see’em.

 Duke stood at the bar with his back to Buck, he had his arms crossed, his hand close to his gun, he didn’t turn around, he knew if he did, he have to kill Buck. Duke didn’t want to have to kill no one. Duke was tired of fightin’, tired a raisin’ hell, but he knew it was comin’.

 Buck yelled again sayin’ “My name’s Buck Smith, I’m a mean son-of-a-bitch”. Duke’s body tensed again, he was gettin’ ready to kill Buck Smith, but he didn’t want too. Buck was one of Duke’s kind, a shooter, he hated to kill a shooter, but that’s the way he got his reputation.

 Buck walked to the card game, he said, “Git outa here”. Them five old boys didn’t move fast enough, he grabbed the table by the side, gave it a shove, he turned it over, the players got up, they scattered, those that could leave, left. Buck looked down the bar, he saw Duke at the bar. He started walkin’ that way, just walkin slow, headed for Duke.

 The barkeep’s eyes were on Buck, he watched him go toward Duke, he knew there was gonna be trouble. That bartender had his shotgun down the bar from’em. That bartender eased toward his shotgun, Duke saw’em, looked at’em, with his cold gray eyes, that told the bartender to stop, he did.

 Duke could hear his footsteps comin’ closer. The rest of the card players left, goin’ out the front door. He was going to run this man out of the Saloon too. Buck wanted the whole damn place to himself, he didn’t think about runnin’ into Duke Mullins, but he was fixin’ too.

 He walked toward Duke, Buck yelled boy get away from that bar. Duke did nothin’ he waited for Buck to put his hands on him. Duke could hear Buck getting’ closer, his muscles tensed, his nerves were on edge.

Buck walked up to Duke. Duke could hear’em breathin’. Buck leaned over the bar, he said, “Hey you, Bartender, give me a drink”. The barkeep walked toward his shot gun, Duke still had his head down so Buck couldn’t see his face. Buck didn’t know who he was standin’ next too, but he was gonna find out, in just a second.

 The barkeep poured Buck a drink, it spilled a little on the bar, his hand was shakin”. Buck drank it down, he slammed the shot glass down on the bar, it broke in a million pieces, cuttin’ Buck’s hand a little. He wiped the blood on his britches, looked at the back of Duke Mullins”. Buck said, “Boy did you hear me tell you ta get out of this Saloon”? Duke just stood there, not wantin’ ta turn around, not wantin’ to have a fight with Buck, he knew he could take’em, but he didn’t want too. Duke was tired, he didn’t want ta fight no more.

 Duke was left handed, he wore his gun at an angle across his belly, his hand was never far from it. Buck said, “Boy you better talk ta me or I’m gonna kick ya ass”. Duke still didn’t move. Buck grabbed Duke’s shoulder, pulled him a little, he said, “Boy do ya know who I am”, he jerked Duke hard, it turned Duke around. When he faced Buck, Duke had his six gun stuck under Buck’s chin, with the hammer cocked.

 Duke’s steel gray eyes looked into the small black eyes of Buck Smith. Duke said, “Boy, you’re a sorry son-of-a-bitch, ya want ta die Buck, cause you’re real close to it”. Buck’s eyes were big or as big as he could get them. Buck looked at Duke. Buck was breathin’ hard, he said, “Don’t do this Duke”. “You’re a big mouth son-of-a-bitchBuck”. “Don’t kill me Duke, please”.

 Out of the corner of his eye he saw the barkeep bend down. He reach down under the bar. Duke looked at the bartender he said, “Boy you want ta die”. The bartender stood there bent at the waist, with his hand under the bar frozen in that stance. He said, “No sir, cowboy”.

 “Buck said, “Boy do what he says, he’s Duke Mullins”. The bartender’s eyes got big, his face drained all the blood out of it, he said, “Duke Mullins”? “That’s what he said Mister Bartender, now Bartender, pick up that shotgun by the end of the barrel, lay it up on the bar, nice and easy, cause if ya don’t I’m gonna kill ya both”. Buck said, “Damn it, do it Bartender, he ain’t lyin’, he’ll kill ya, he’ll kill ya deader an hell, and me too”. The bar keep did as he was told. He laid that shotgun up on the bar. Duke said, “Thank ya”. The barkeep said, “Your welcome”. Buck said, “Duke be careful, that thing might go off, ya blow my damn head off”.

 Duke looked at that bartender. He said, “Come out form behind that bar, sit down in a chair out here somewhere, where I can see ya, cause I don’t need none of ya help or I sure don’t need want none of ya hindrance”. The bartender did as he was told. He walked out form behind the bar with his hands held up so Duke could see he was unarmed, his face was pale, his hands were shakin’. He walked to a table, he sat down, he had sweat runnin’ down his face and it was a little cool in that Saloon, then he said, “Is this alright Mister Mullins”? “It is”.

Duke said, “Now back ta me and you Buck, your bad breath is makin’ me unhappy, he took his forty four and hit Buck across the head  he pushed him hard. Buck wound up about even with that shot gun, with blood runnin’ down his face. Duke really tore his face up. Buck didn’t show any pain, but he took his hand and wiped the blood away. He said, “Duke you shouldn’t have done that to me, I can’t see out of my left eye”.

 Duke looked at Bucks cut, he said, “Maybe you’ll quit foolin’ with people, maybe ya can’t draw no more Buck, that’d make a lot of people happy. Ta be real honest with ya, ya might not live long enough ta hurt anybody, you sorry son-of-a-bitch”.

 Buck stood there. He began to beg Duke not to kill’em. Duke looked at this pathetic man. He saw a cut on his face that went from his hair line down across his left eye, then half way down his cheek. Duke thought, that’s gonna leave a hell of a scar.

 Buck looked hard at Duke out of his right eye. He said, “Ya hurt me bad Duke, I’m bleedin’ like a stuck hog”. Duke looked at that pitiful lookin’ old boy. He said, “It’s just like you’ve done to a bunch of other people, people that didn’t deserve it, ya sorry son-of-a-bitch”.

 Duke could see blood drippin’ off Buck’s face. He said, “Buck, you won’t bleed long”. “Please don’t kill me Duke”? Duke fired his forty four. He shot a piece of Buck’s ear off. Buck was so scared he grabbed his ear, screamed, dropped to his knees, holdin’ his ear, still cryin’. He pissed on himself, it made a puddle in the floor.

 The bartender sat there, he said nothin’, he didn’t want ta be next. Duke said, “Bartender come here, now”! The bartender got up, ran over to Duke as fast as his big belly would let’em. He said, “Yes sir”. “Take his guns off, get them out of his back too”. Again the bartender said, “Yes sir”.

 He unbuckled Buck’s gun belt. Duke said, “Give it to me boy”. “Yes sir”. “Now, get them out of his back”. “Yes sir”. Duke knew Buck carried extra guns. Duke knew where he carried it. “Hurry up Bartender”. The bartender lifted Buck’s coat, there were two guns tucked into his belt, he took them out, laid them on the bar. Buck was thinkin’ if I get out of this mess I’m in, I’ll gonna kill that Duke Mullins, that son-of-a-bitch.

 Duke said, “Boy get his billfold, see if he’s got a money belt”. Buck thought, that sorry bastard, but didn’t say anything. The bartender searched Buck, he said sorry, Mister Smith, got his money belt and billfold. He had to wrestle him a little ta get that money belt. The bartender turned to Duke, then handed them to’em.

 Duke took his forty four, he drew back, he hit Buck again across the other side of his face, it left a hell of a gat in his hide, Buck was still down on his knees, he cried like a baby, he said, “Please don’t kill me Duke, ain’t ya done enough to me”.

 Duke took his guns, his money then said, “Take him to the Doctor”. The bartender helped Buck to his feet. Then him and Buck walked out through them swingin’ doors. Duke took his bandana, he wiped the blood off his face that had splattered on him when he hit Buck. He thought, I hope I don’t have to kill that old boy later on, but I probably will.

 Duke emptied Bucks money belt, put it in his shirt, took Bucks guns, his gun belt, then walked out of the Saloon swingin’ doors, said, “Ya ready ta go Ace. Ace had stood, patiently waitin’ for Duke. Duke put Bucks guns and billfold in his saddle bags. He got on his horse, then turned toward the north, he rode toward the Sheriff’s office going out of town.

 When Duke went by the Sheriff’s office he saw the Sheriff sittin’ in a straight back chair, leaned back against the wall, just relaxin’. He was wearin’ a his big coat, he had his hat pulled down low on his eyes. The Sheriff tipped his hat a little, then that Sheriff thought it’s sure good ta see you leave town Duke Mullins. Duke smiled at the Sheriff, He tipped his hat to the Sheriff. He thought, I got a little more money leavin’ town, than I did when he came in. Duke smiled, he rode off to the north.


I would like to have a conversation with some writers, I write a great deal, but I never to have anything published. I don't feel that I'm a good enough writer for anyone else to read. I would enjoy reading someone's else's stories. I have written a few novels, and many short stories. 
Anyway, I'd like to hear from someone.
This is my first blog.
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