Jack Buchannan earned the nickname “Smelly Jack” due to the fact that he and soap weren’t exactly good acquaintances. His hat and duster were covered in stains. That’s because he never bothered to wash either of them. Ever.
His beard was filled with little chunks of food. Amongst the populace, there was a difference of opinion as to whether Jack was saving his lunch for later of if he was just a sloppy eater. The answer was likely a little from Column A and a little from Column B.
Worst of all, he was bat shit crazy, a murderous psychopath who should have been thrown in an insane asylum the day he was born. And that’s just what his mother had to say about him.
BLAM! Jack blasted his Remington straight in the air. His boys were rowdy. Anxious. Itching for a fight. They shared their leader’s grooming habits. Most of them were Jack’s brothers. Some were his cousins. Some were even his brother-cousins. The Buchanan family tree was more of a flat, branchless log.
“WELL, WELL, WELL, WHAT HAVE WE GOT HERE?!”
Jack hopped down off his horse and got right up in Slade’s face. The outlaw’s rancid breath wafted into Gunther and Doc’s nostrils, giving each man an upset stomach. Slade took the brunt of the odor but didn’t budge. He moved for no man.
“Rainier Slade!” Jack said. “‘Aint you the no good rotten louse who lead the posse that put my brother Dave on the end of a noose?”
Slade and Jack locked eyes. It was on.
“Yup,” Slade said.
“Why in the hell did you go and do that for?” Jack asked.
Slade studied Jack’s face. It was barely visible behind all the unruly whiskers. “He broke the law.”
Jack laughed. He laughed and laughed and laughed some more. His boys joined in. Then abruptly, the killer shouted ever so maniacally, “I AM THE LAW!!!”
Spittle sprayed all over Slade’s face which, as you might expect by now, did nothing to dissuade our hero’s steadfast resolve.
Jack spotted the bottle in Doc’s hand. “What’s that?”
Doc’s favorite question. He handed the bottle over. “Why it’s my Miracle Cure-All, sir! Please, do help yourself, its been known to calm even the most unruly of dispositions.”
Down the hatch. Glug…glug…glug. “Not bad,” Jack said as he passed the bottle to his boys, who each took a taste. “Could be stronger.”
“Oh, as a man of science I assure you any stronger and you wouldn’t be alive,” Doc said.
Jack pressed a finger into Slade’s chest, pushing it hard, as if in an attempt to push it straight through.
“‘Aint no law out here ‘cept what the strongest man says is the law,” Jack said. “Might makes right, if you got the steel you make the deals and if you take the lead then you’re dead. Simple as that.”
Gunther cleared his throat. “I wonder if there might not be some kind of peaceful resolution to be had here.”
“SHUT UP OLD MAN!” Jack shouted. “I ‘AINT TALKIN TO YOU!”
“All right then,” Gunther replied.
“Tell you what, Marshall,” Jack said. “I’ll give you till the count of three to walk your sorry ass away before I blow your head clean off. And I’ll enjoy it too because I miss my brother somethin’ awful.”
Slade chomped on his cigar. He was moved enough to come out with a full sentence. “Looks like you got plenty of brothers to spare.”
“Yeah,” Jack said. “But Dave was my brother AND my uncle, so he was doubly special to me.”
Gunther and Slade traded glances. Neither one of them wanted to bother trying to figure out the scenario that made that possible.
Jack reached his hand downward, curling his fingers over his sidearm. Slade did the same, as did the rest of the Buchanan Boys. Gunther held his Winchester tight. Doc prepared to flick his wrists.
At this point, you, the noble reader should imagine yourself viewing this scene on a big screen television. The camera whips around quickly to each character and zooms in on their eyes, leaving you, the viewer, to wonder what is on their minds. Is this for real? Is everyone about to kill each other?
Throw in an emotional song filled with trumpets, whip cracks, and men grunting in a guttural manner and you’ve got the quintessential Western movie showdown scene.
“Rain,” Gunther whispered. “If you got an ace up that sleeve of yours, now would be the time to play it.”
Slade had nothing to say.
Jack started the count. “ONE…”
“Aw shit,” Gunther said. “Well, I had a good run.” He looked up to the sky. “I’m a-comin’ Mavis.”
Doc looked around. “I say, gentlemen, I just recalled that I have a very important appointment tomorrow morning and it would be quite rude of me if I were to die and miss it so I think I shall just excuse myself and…”
Slade took out his cigar and inserted two fingers into his mouth, one on each side. He blew a loud, sharp whistle.
Rustling sounds. War whoops. On the rooftops on the stores lining each side of the street, over a hundred Native American braves appeared, bow and arrows and rifles at the ready.
Behind our trio, a dusty cloud barreled down the road. Galloping sounds. More battle cries. A hundred more warriors on horseback.
“Rain, you magnificent son of a bitch!” a wide eyed Gunther said.
Jack didn’t share that assessment. “Goddamn pussy!” he said to Slade. “Lettin’ Injuns do your dirty work!”
Insults like that didn’t bother Slade. He was the type of man who had to respect a man before his insults could bother him.
“Boys,” Gunther said. “I reckon y’all will want to let your steel hit the ground and put your hands up now.”
The Buchanan Boys may not have been known for their brain power, but they knew when they were outfoxed and outnumbered, so they did as instructed.
Chief Standing Eagle. He stood over 6’5″ and had a bare, broad chest with muscles upon his muscles’ muscles. He wore a full feathered headdress. It was colorful. White. Red. Black. It shook gracefully as he dismounted his horse.
The look in the warrior’s eyes when he saw Jack. It was definitely personal. Even Jack knew it.
“Aww shit, Slade!” Jack cried. “You can’t do this!”
Standing Eagle and Slade traded nods. The Chief walked forward, darted out his right hand, clasped it around Jack’s throat and lifted him off the ground, high into the air.
“Slade…SLADE!!!” Jack’s whining was interrupted by coughs and sputters as the Chief tightened his hand. “You can’t turn me over to this…to this…SAVAGE!!!”