|He sat cross-legged in the dirt, his back leaning against the wooden frame of a part-built barn off Main Street. His head was bowed, his sharp eyes staring at the guns he held in his hands.|
The big six-shooters had well-worn sandalwood grips, bright sunlight glinted off the ammunition cylinder making him squint and the long, steely barrels pointed to the floor, forming an 'X' between his legs.
For quite a while he examined the weapons which had been with him for so many years. They had spilt blood, helped him dispense justice, committed crime, taken lives and saved lives. They had travelled many miles with him and he considered them to be part of him, as extensions of his hands almost.
His rugged face was shaded by the hat he wore, three days worth of growth adorned his cheeks and his lips moved soundlessly as he read the inscription on the barrels; "To my son. Keep safe".
He stood, head still bowed, placing the guns in the holsters that hung from belts slung around his waist. He brushed dust from the legs and seat of his jeans, kicked it off his worn leather boots and adjusted the heavy cotton shirt he wore. The badge pinned to the lapel of the long overcoat he picked up shone brightly. He put the coat on and walked out into the street.
For seven years he'd been sheriff of this town. For seven years he'd broken up bar fights, captured bank robbers, fought off gangs of rustlers and not once had he felt it was his time. Today was different. Today he felt could be his day. It was almost noon and he had an appointment. He walked to the centre of the street and finally lifted his head.
In the distance a cloud of dust signalled the arrival of the latest gang to try and take this town. He looked up at the sky, burnt almost white by the incessant midday sun. No cloud obscured it, only a flock of birds out in the desert - probably vultures, he surmised - circled lazily.
"Is this it," he thought. "Is this the sky I will die under?"
He rested his hands on the grips of his pistols and waited. The sky waited with him.