As the sun set in the Rockies one evening, a lone traveler led his horse down the winding road to a tiny town. The traveler was unremarkable, but looked road-weary and well-worn. With the last gasps of daylight filtering through the pines, he meandered down the main street of town, stopping in front of the saloon to hitch his horse to the rail.
The raucous crowd at the saloon ground to a sudden, silent halt as the traveler entered. Striding to the stool at the end of the bar, he took a seat and leaned in to the barkeep. “Tequila. Neat.”
As the barkeep fetched his drink, a low buzz went up throughout the bar. Four men at the corner table spoke in what they thought were hushed tones.
“Who you think that fella is?”
“Looks a bit like Rypien the Kid to me”
“Naw, man, he was the king of the West! No way he’d end up in a dive like this!”
“I heard tell he got roughed up by some cowboys a while back”
“That’s nothin’, my cousin said he got beat up in his own cabin by a gang of Aztecs!”
“Y’all dreamin. Watch this.” One of the men stood up, hand on his pistol. “Hey, buddy, you the one they call Rypien the Kid?”
The traveler looked up from his drink. “And what if I am?”
The man from the table spat at the traveler’s stool. “Well if you is, you should know this is my town”
The traveler downed his tequila before responding. “I see. And what kind of man lays claim to an armpit of a town like this?”
In a flash, the man from the table had his pistol out and smacked the traveler across the face with it, knocking him off his stool and onto the ground. “Best mind your manners, fella, you’re talking to One-Legged Ty of the Nevada Gangis, AND THIS IS MY TOWN!”
The traveler rose to his feet slowly. “They do call me Rypien the Kid” he drawled, producing a double-barreled shotgun from under his duster. “and you can keep the town.” Rypien let loose with both barrels, and One-Legged Ty went flying.
The other three men from the table jumped up, and two drew their weapons.
“Y’all with him?” asked Rypien.
“I’m KJ Carta-Samuels, and this is my brother Collin Hill” the two men with their weapons drawn stepped forward.
Rypien the Kid dropped the shotgun and pulled two revolvers of his own, one trained on each of the advancing men. “Quite the thing to be brothers with three different last names”
The advancing men stopped. “Well, it’s a funny story, see...” Before they could get into particulars, Rypien the Kid dropped them where they stood.
“Never did much care for backstories” drawled Rypien, gun smoke wafting from his six-shooters.
The last man from the table stepped forward. “Sir, as an airman for the Union Air Force, I’m going to have to take you into custody”. He brandished a triple-barreled derringer menacingly.
Rypien cocked his head to one side “Whatever the hell an ‘air force’ is, they should look into getting you some modern hardware.”
The airman grinned. “It don’t look like much, but it can do some damage!” As he raised his derringer to shoot, Rypien fired one shot from across the room into the airman’s forehead.
“Too bad for you this gunfight ain’t in an outhouse, kid” Rypien snorted as he kicked away the three-barreled pistol.
As the smoke of the gunfight began to clear, Rypien walked back through the now-empty bar and sat at his stool. Cautiously, the bartender stood up from his hiding spot behind the liquor.
“You aim to kill me next, Mr. Rypien?”
“No sir, you don’t shoot the hand that serves you. Another tequila, if you please.”
“The name’s BJ, and I just gotta say it’s just too bad nobody stayed to watch that gunfight!” The bartender shook his head, and slid another shot of tequila down the bar to Rypien. “What’re you aimin’ to do at home, if you don’t mind my askin’?”
Rypien knocked back the second drink in one slug. “I need to settle score with a young religious man named Wilson. Wears a cougar skin jacket, but can’t aim worth a damn.”
BJ the barkeep perked up. “I’ve heard tell of him! They say he might be selected for the Heisman award!” he chortled excitedly.
Rypien slipped his hat off and stared down the barkeep. “Anyone who thinks that Wilson boy is up for a marksmanship award has been smoking too much of that Eugene stinkweed, and you can quote me on that.” He stood up from his stool. “Thank you kindly for the drinks, but I’d best be on my way. Gotta make Fort Boise by sundown Saturday.”
The barkeep nodded. “Take care, sir. And don’t forget your fedora! It looks authentic.”
Rypien stared grimly. “It’s a Stetson.” In one deft move, he flipped his hat back on. “Gonna have me a redemption, methinks.”
Unhitching his horse, Rypien the Kid slowly trudged off into the night, leaving the dazed barkeep surrounded by the cooling corpses, a grim memorial of the gunfight that had been.