Arkhaven logo

A Figure in Black image number 0

Episode 54

A Figure in Black

Eyes watering from smoke, Billy Carruthers slashed through the canvas with a buck knife to make a new exit at the rear of a tented whorehouse. He exited with an arm about the throat of a mulatto whore and a long-barreled Colt in his hand. He was jay naked except for his boots but more concerned with flight than modesty. He was halfway to the cover of a copse of dogwoods when a pair of riders caught up with him. The Twisted Tree cowboy spun, raising the Buntline too late. A .44-40 punched through the chest of the girl to rip sideways deep into Billy’s ribcage. The cowboy fell with the whore atop him and squirmed in a fight to regain his feet. The riders reined in to ride about him in a circle, laughing as they took turns putting rounds through the skinny whore and thus into Billy Carruthers. Both lay still under a gray haze of gun smoke. The riders whooped and spurred away to fresher butchery.

Other cowboys, from the Twisted Tree, Three Rivers and smaller outfits, died all over town either where they lay drunk or in vain efforts to make it to their horses. They died in the dust of the street and atop the stained sheets on the cots of fallen women. They died standing on their feet defiant. They died on their knees pleading for mercy from man and Jesus.

Bob Miller, the acting chief constable of Mercury Wells, crept down the stairs from his room at the Grand Prairie. He was in stocking feet and britches, his boots under one arm and a big Harrington Richardson revolver in his trembling fist. He made it to the foot of the stairs and turned toward the registrar’s counter. His immediate design was to make it through the door to the rear of the hotel and from there out into the night where he would find a place to hide until the raiders had spent their wrath on the town.

After all, he was no real lawman. His position was more political in nature. The citizens understood that. It was important that he preserve himself in order to provide leadership in the aftermath of this debacle.

Miller wheeled at a crash of glass. The front doors of the hotel banged open. The high glow of flames at his back, a figure in black strode in to fire a pistol from either hand. Bob Miller stumbled back against the marble-topped registrar desk with twin burning sensations in his chest and belly. The revolver dropped from his nerveless hand.

Joe Wiley stepped across the carpet; pistols trained on the gasping constable. With the toe of a boot, he turned Bob Miller’s face to the light. In the wavering glare he could see four parallel furrows in the face of the fallen man, ragged scars still raised even after two weeks of healing.

The pain was closing like a fist deep inside Bob Miller’s gut. His breathing was coming hard as one lung filled with blood. Despite the pain, growing in intensity by the second, Bob knew he’d be hours dying.

Joe Wiley’s shadow fell over him. He closed his eyes against the killing round but opened them again at the sound of boots stepping away across the floor. He watched the former town marshal stride from the hotel into the flame dappled night, the doors swinging shut behind.

The burning fist inside him closed taut with a renewed fury.

A Figure in Black image number 2
A Figure in Black image number 3
The Sidewinders series cover
A Figure in Black episode cover
27,180 views · 2,036 likes

The Sidewinders

The Legend Chuck Dixon explores the Wild West, with epic tales of gunfighters, frontier justice, savage Indian tribes, and even more savage outlaws.
A Figure in Black episode cover
A Figure in BlackEpisode #54
The Riders Strike episode cover
The Riders StrikeEpisode #53
Breaks in the Line episode cover
Breaks in the LineEpisode #52
The Edge of the Fiery Pit episode cover
The Edge of the Fiery PitEpisode #51
All Damnation Riding episode cover
All Damnation RidingEpisode #50
Empty Wagons at Dusk episode cover
Empty Wagons at DuskEpisode #49
The Angry Sky episode cover
The Angry SkyEpisode #48
Breathing His Last episode cover
Breathing His LastEpisode #47
The Price of Madness episode cover
The Price of MadnessEpisode #46
No Backing Down episode cover
No Backing DownEpisode #45
Riders of the Twisted Tree episode cover
Riders of the Twisted TreeEpisode #44
The Ground Trembles episode cover
The Ground TremblesEpisode #43
Rage and Fear episode cover
Rage and FearEpisode #42
News from the Capitol episode cover
News from the CapitolEpisode #41
The Limping Man episode cover
The Limping ManEpisode #40
The Reckoning episode cover
The ReckoningEpisode #39
Say a Prayer, Cowboy episode cover
Say a Prayer, CowboyEpisode #38
The Killing Starts episode cover
The Killing StartsEpisode #37
Worse Than Expected episode cover
Worse Than ExpectedEpisode #36
Cursed for a Fool episode cover
Cursed for a FoolEpisode #35
Answer to a Prayer episode cover
Answer to a PrayerEpisode #34
You'll See Jesus First episode cover
You'll See Jesus FirstEpisode #33
Cowboys and Irishmen episode cover
Cowboys and IrishmenEpisode #32
A Man Without a Gun episode cover
A Man Without a GunEpisode #31
A Storm is Coming episode cover
A Storm is ComingEpisode #30
The Bounty of the Lord episode cover
The Bounty of the LordEpisode #29
More Law Than We Want episode cover
More Law Than We WantEpisode #28
Ten Bucks per Conviction episode cover
Ten Bucks per ConvictionEpisode #27
Kings of the Jungle episode cover
Kings of the JungleEpisode #26
Don't Kick a Dog episode cover
Don't Kick a DogEpisode #25
The Majestic episode cover
The MajesticEpisode #24
Convictions Where Necessary episode cover
Convictions Where NecessaryEpisode #23
Sober as Sunday episode cover
Sober as SundayEpisode #22
Liquored Up episode cover
Liquored UpEpisode #21
Pools of Blood episode cover
Pools of BloodEpisode #20
In God's Hands episode cover
In God's HandsEpisode #19
The Devil Coming With Me episode cover
The Devil Coming With MeEpisode #18
Sudden Fury episode cover
Sudden FuryEpisode #17
The Scotchman Didn't Lie episode cover
The Scotchman Didn't LieEpisode #16
Paradise episode cover
ParadiseEpisode #15
A Man with Sand episode cover
A Man with SandEpisode #14
The Scent of Money episode cover
The Scent of MoneyEpisode #13
The Hand of a Righteous Man episode cover
The Hand of a Righteous ManEpisode #12
Devil's Freight episode cover
Devil's FreightEpisode #11
A Losing Fight episode cover
A Losing FightEpisode #10
Building an Empire episode cover
Building an EmpireEpisode #9
No Holy Man episode cover
No Holy ManEpisode #8
Blood Christening episode cover
Blood ChristeningEpisode #7
Guardian Angel episode cover
Guardian AngelEpisode #6
High Tide episode cover
High TideEpisode #5
Night Raid episode cover
Night RaidEpisode #4
Man and Boy episode cover
Man and BoyEpisode #3
A Gang of Mongrels episode cover
A Gang of MongrelsEpisode #2
The Wagon Train episode cover
The Wagon TrainEpisode #1
List icon
Comment icon
Prev icon
Next icon
Fullscreen icon