I struggled to draw in a final breath of fresh air, but all I was rewarded with was a strong gulp of my own blood. I coughed it back up with a putrid violence. Gasping, I made my way to the saloon door, pushed my way in past the double swinging doors, stumbled down the stairwell and fell on my face, slamming into the hardwood and sawdust. My nose crumpled like a wad of paper. A smile crept up onto my face. I felt the sawdust collect and stop some of the blood that seemed to be pouring freely from my bullet punctured skin. Some of the remaining patrons jumped out of their seats and backed against the wall, lacking any motivation to come to my assistance. I rolled onto my back and looked up at the grimy chandelier that hung above my head. Damn, I had always hoped that if I was going to die, that at least the last thing I should see was a beautiful woman, or the other guy who shot me falling dead with me. Seemed like I wasn’t about to be that lucky.
I tried to pick myself up, thinking maybe I could get one last drink in. That’s all I wanted now, one last drink. I crawled to the bar, grabbed the nearest stool, and propped myself up. What a sight I must be, covered in blood and sawdust and mud, smiling with a hole in my cheek, my raspy breath blowing blood through the ragged hole.
“Whisky, please,” I smiled.
“Umm… you sure, Marshal?”
“Why not, Tim? Don’t I look like I need a drink?”
“Can’t rightly say you don’t, Marshal.”
“Oh and Tim, since I’m probably going to be dead here in a few minutes, pour me something real nice and expensive okay? You know I’m good for it.”
“Sure thing, Marshal.”
Tim, the bulbous bartender, pulled out a bottle of whiskey tinted a golden honey color from the bottom of the bar. He popped open the top and poured me a tall glass. As I went to slam the whiskey into my ragged flesh, a boy came limping into the bar and stared down at me from the balcony.
“You’re still alive, Marshal?”
“Not quite done yet if that’s what you want to know. But give me a few more minutes and I might be able to accommodate you, Billy.”
“To hell with you! Your smart mouth has sputtered it’s last words! Marshal. I can’t wait a few minutes longer for you to keel over, I want to send you off myself!”
“Suits me, Billy Boy. Guess we should finish this. Forgive me for not wanting to take this outside, Tim. I might not be able to get that far.”
I stood the best I could, almost slipping on the pool of blood that had drained on the floor. Billy came down the stairs, hobbling the whole way.
“Ready when you are, Billy Boy.”
Billy laughed, “Shoot, Marshal, you’re already a dead man.”
“You think? What tipped you off, the bucket of my own blood that has collected on the floor in here, or that bucket I left outside on the street?”
Billy sneered at me, the scar that ran across his face turned a deep bruising purple. He spit on the floor into my blood.
“Hey,” I said, “They might want to try and put some of that back into me when we’re done don’t go and muck it all up, okay?”
“That’s it!” Billy screamed.
He flipped his gun out, and I drew mine. Three shots rang out.