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For a second, the statement was lost to Atreus, but he remained focused and silent, while Vick and Effie snorted and laughed. Jimmy’s grin recoiled slowly and faded into a discontented smile. He reached into his left coat pocket and pulled an oddly twisted cigar. It was black, almost ashen and seemed more like a malformed tree root. Jimmy felt Atreus’ eyes on the cigar.
“What this actually has your interest Atro? Ha, you are something else boy. This here was a cigar given to me by my oldest sibling, Rufus; in turn, a close associate gave it to him. You remember him, Rufus ‘The Devil’ Delroy, the leader of the Peacemakers. It’s actually quite good. Never tasted no cigar like this. I wanted to smoke it just now but best if I smoke it after I kill you!
“Now this isn’t exactly the place I would have liked to have done this but I will admit I am an opportunist, this needs to happen. People in town call these woods ‘the place where the devils meet,’ so it seems appropriate we’d be here tonight. I might not know what these trees have fed on but I know what they’re going to feed on tonight … a bastard’s corpse.
“I’ve seen them little Schofields of yours, and in this town only shootists and outlaws wear them. You a shootist now boy, or just a pretender, it don’t matter what a sissy choirboy did in a ghost town anyhow. Hell, I might even have a look-see into what exactly it is you had in that bag. You ain’t walking away from this, boy! You’re nothing … you’re nothing to me. You’re already dead! You’re a bastard, a coward, and a Wainwright! My brother did away with your family years ago and I intend to finish what he began. Vick, Effie step aside, I want him at his best, no excuses. Vick, take this lantern off my hands!”
Victor sprinted over to Jimmy and took hold of the lantern. He was about to run back over to Ephraim but glanced at Atreus. Something in his eyes was different, determined and bloodthirsty. Those eyes frightened Victor. Unsure of what to do he simply walked back to Jimmy and stood beside him, albeit with a little distance. Ephraim did likewise.
Jimmy put the cigar back in its place and removed his brown coat, allowing it to drop down to the ground, revealing a Colt Frontier on his left hip, and a Colt 1877 on his right. He unbuttoned his sleeves and rolled them up. Atreus simply exposed the Model 3 Schofield’s walnut handle on his right hip and did nothing more.
Their eyes darted, up then down; their enemy, their gun. Both licked their lips and breathed deeply. Second thoughts consumed them, tearing away at their courage, exhausting their concentration. Their fingertips anticipated the inevitable.
Eyes darting. Thoughts consuming. Fingers tense.
Both faced down their uncertain Fates.
Eyes locked. Fate affirmed.
-From: Carmine by Juan J. Gutiérrez