“What in the hell are you on about, Wright?”
Wright slid off a pair of black leather gloves as he stepped forward.
“It has been brought to my attention that you have disgraced yourself sir,” Wright said with an air of sophistication.
“Is that so?” Bowie asked.
“It is, sir,” Wright said as he pounded the floor with the end of his cane. “You have been spreading a most scandalous fabrication that has proven to be quite injurious to my character.”
“You’ll have to dumb it down for me, sheriff,” Bowie said. “I don’t speak fop.”
“Did you or did you not state a claim to a collaboration of ruffians that I stole the election?” Wright asked.
“I did,” Bowie replied.
Wright raised his cane in the air. “Aha! So you do not deny that you have slandered me, do you sir?”
“I do deny it,” Bowie said.
“Speak plainly, man,” Wright said. “How can you admit and deny the same offense?”
“I admit that I told a few of my drinking buddies that you stole the election,” Bowie said. “I deny that I slandered you because the truth is not slander.”
Wright gasped. “How dare you sir? You slander me again!”
“Well,” Bowie said. “If the shoe fits…”
The knifeman walked to the bar and ordered a whisky. Wright followed him.
“And now you turn your back on me!”
“What?” Bowie asked as he accepted a full shot glass from Brent. “I thought we were done.”
“Not by a long shot,” Wright said. “Until you publicly retract your villainous lie, this matter will not be put to rest.”
Bowie gulped his shot. “Wright, I personally witnessed those Blanchard boys you got in your back pocket stuffing those ballot boxes with more paper than Tavish’s sister shoves in her brassiere.”
Tavish shook his head up and down, then burped. “It’s true. Old Maude is flatter than a carving board.”
“Look, Wright,” Bowie said. “Everyone knows that the political game is like a hyena’s dick. They’re both crooked and they’re both ugly. I didn’t tell anyone anything they didn’t already know so untwist your knickers, quit your bellyaching, and get out of my face.”
Bowie turned his back on Wright once more, but Wright refused to be ignored. He tapped on Bowie’s shoulder.
The knifeman turned only to be slapped in the face by a pair of gloves.
“I challenge you to a duel, sir!”
Bowie was quiet. Everyone in the bar was quiet.
When Bowie laughed, everyone took it as a cue to join in.
“I never figured you for a comedian, Wright,” Bowie said as he pointed a finger at the sheriff. “That’s a good one.”
Wap! Wright slapped Bowie in the face with his gloves a second time and in so doing, knocked the smile right off of Bowie’s face.
“That’s a good way to get yourself gutted from stem to stern, Wright,” Bowie said.
“Satisfaction will be mine!” Wright shouted.
“You’d be so easy to kill it wouldn’t be a fair fight,” Bowie said.
“And you are making excuses for your cowardice, sir!”
Bowie’s nostrils flared. He took a deep breath, then turned his back on Wright again.
“Well then,” Wright said as he drew his pistol. “If you are not man enough to face me then you leave me no choice.”
Wright was known throughout Rapides Parish for being a horrendous shot. The bullet grazed Bowie’s shoulder, cutting a slight rut through the skin of the knifeman’s arm before it landed dead center in Tavish’s chest.
The drunk shouted several choice obscene phrases before falling off his stool. On the floor, he convulsed, then died.
Bowie wasted no time. He grabbed Wright’s arm and shoved him up against a wall. Wright closed his eyes as he felt the cold edge of a knife being held up against his throat.
“You think that does a damn thing for your honor?” Bowie asked. “You try to shoot a man in the back only to murder a useless old lecher instead?”
“This is all your doing, Bowie!” Wright said. “You are the one who refused to face me. That man’s death is on your hands!”
“Shit,” Bowie said. “And I was just starting to like that old coot.”
Brent interrupted. “You just held a knife on him a moment ago.”
“He was starting to grow on me,” Bowie said.
Bowie looked to his left. Brent had walked over from the bar and was holding a rifle.
“Jim,” Brent said. “I don’t mean to tell you how to do your business but one dead body in my bar is too many.”
Bowie and Wright stared into each others’ eyes. Wright saw Bowie’s rage. Bowie saw Wright’s fear.
“And I’m no lawyer but you slitting the throat of a lawman who just fired the only shot in his pistol seems like it will end with you swinging at the end of a noose if you ask me.”
“No one asked you, Brent.”
Bowie leered at his hostage a bit longer, then released him.
“Wright, I accept your challenge.”
Wright coughed and clutched at his throat just to make sure it was still there. He then straightened up, dusted himself off, gripped the lapels of his jacket and turned up his nose at the knifeman.
“Pistols at dawn, sir.” Wright said. “Acquire your second and we shall meet at the sandbar.”
“Yes we will,” Bowie said.
Wright stormed off for the door.
The sheriff stopped but didn’t turn around.
“Do not miss,” Bowie said. “Because if you do, I assure you, my knife will not.”