Helldorado by Peter Brandvold

Book: Helldorado by Peter Brandvold Read Free Book Online
Authors: Peter Brandvold
shoulders. Another slug made him show his teeth below his straggly brown mustache and above his straggly brown goat beard.
    The gunman jerked back slightly, then turned full around and scrambled to the back of the shed. As Prophet fired two more rounds, the man disappeared over the shed’s far edge, seeming to half leap, half fall to the ground behind it.
    Prophet snapped off another shot in anger, then leaned the rifle against the wall and rummaged through his saddlebags for a fresh pair of longhandles. The spares had collected some trail dust seeping in around the flap, but they were as clean as Prophet needed.
    He struggled into them quickly, grunting and wheezing with exasperation, then stomped into his boots, donned his hat, wrapped his cartridge belt with its single holster and Colt Peacemaker around his waist, and grabbed his shotgun.
    Holding the shotgun down by his side one-handed, the lanyard swinging slack, he clomped out the washroom door. The Chinaman stood several feet away, eyes wide and sparkling. He yelled in Chinese while a skinny gent stared at him from a near doorway. The man’s grimy longhandles clung to his pale, wet skin, and a shabby brown bowler sat at a precarious angle on his head. A girl with curly brown hair stood behind him, staring wide-eyed over his shoulder.
    “What the hell’s goin’ on, amigo?” the man said in a slow Texas drawl, his prominent Adam’s apple bobbing in his leathery throat. He jerked a red thumb at the girl. “One o’ them blue whistlers almost took Loretta’s head off!”
    “I do apologize, Loretta.”
    Prophet turned away from the trio and pushed out the door at the end of the hall. Just beyond the door, he paused, looking around, taking the shotgun in both hands, and thumbing back the rabbit-eared hammers.
    “Where are you, you bushwhackin’ son of a bitch?”
    His deep voice echoed off the shed and woodpile. His heart hammering with red fury, he strode quickly across the rocky yard littered with wood shavings and stray logs amongst the rabbit brush and skunk cabbage and stopped at the front of the shed. It was missing both its front doors and the inside of it was cluttered with wagon wheels, rims, felloes, and sundry other junk. Prophet stopped at the far end and edged a cautious look around the corner.
    There was nothing beside the shed but more junk, including moldering sluice boxes called Long Toms, dilapidated ore drays, and heavy rusting axles, all swallowed by brush. Prophet swung around the corner and strode straight back along the shed’s west wall, holding the shotgun straight up in one hand, his right hand resting on the worn walnut handle of the his low-slung .45.
    A man stumbled out from the back of the shed. The pin-striped shirt behind his black vest and tan duster glistened with fresh blood.
    Prophet stopped.
    The man moved shamble-footed toward Prophet, dropping the Sharps carbine he’d used to interrupt the bounty hunter’s soak, and gritted his teeth as his cobalt blue eyes bored into Prophet angrily. “You killed me, you fuck!”
    “Not yet,” Prophet warned, dropping the double bores of his ten-gauge.
    Foolishly, the bushwhacker clawed at the long-barreled Remington holstered on his right thigh. He continued stumbling toward Prophet and gritting his teeth. Prophet had no choice but to trip the shotgun’s front eyelash trigger and blow the man ten feet into the brush and rocks behind him.
    The man had no sooner hit the ground on his back and expelled a last, gurgling cry, when the sound of a boot snapping a thin branch rose behind him.
    Prophet spun, saw the second man beside a gnarled cedar aiming a Spencer carbine at him, and tripped the barn blaster’s second trigger. The boom sounded like a cannon blast echoing off the shed’s near wall. The concussion blew Prophet’s hat from his head.
    The second bushwhacker rose nearly as high as the first one had, triggering the Spencer skyward as he went flying off into the brush before

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