[Please note: This is very much a near-first-draft of this story, so take that into account when reading it. It will be far from perfect.]
Sooner or later, the hammer drops on everyone.
This was the thought running—sometimes repeatedly—through the mind of the man in the long, faded yellow duster and the black hat as he walked through the desert, somewhere between Texas and California. It wasn’t really a mantra; it was more of a truth that he’d gleaned through a life that so far had entailed more than its share of dropping the hammer on others. He had always been good at dropping that hammer—uncannily good, right from the start. It was good to have a talent, he supposed, but it was a shame that it had to be a talent for killing.
If he thought about it, he was sure he could recall the first time he had dropped such a hammer on anyone. And, indeed, as soon as the notion of his very first killing came into his mind, images flashed up from the occurrence. He’d been very young—still a boy, really. He’d been old enough to be smitten with a not-as-young woman who had treated him kindly, even despite his lack of status and prospects. He’d been innocent and naïve enough to think he was protecting her when he’d picked up the gun of a man that he’d presumed had been assaulting the woman—the man had been otherwise occupied, and his gun was not at his side—and had shot that stunned man.
He hadn’t known at all what he’d been doing, and yet…and yet it had felt only too perfectly natural and instinctive when he’d fired the gun, and it had apparently struck some vital organ, presumably the man’s heart, right away, when he’d pulled the trigger after forcing back the stiff hammer of the revolver. There had been no time for the man even to cry out in pain before he had dropped to the ground, twitching only a few times before he became still. Continue reading