The high-stepping mare balked, tossing a proud but weary head, and whinnied a protest as the dust-covered gambler stood high in his stirrups and surveyed the forbidding terrain in front of him. A hundred miles.... Maybe more, he thought. A burned and blasted desert...filled with hostiles, and no water but what he carried in the two canteens slung over his saddle horn. A wide-open inside straight if ever there was one, he cursed angrily, knowing there was no choice but to draw to it despite the odds. Not more than an hour behind him were nine, maybe 10, hired guns.
The gambler gritted his teeth and roweled the lathered flanks of the mare. She reared at this latest outrage, plunged, and then resigned herself to the rider's choice. Gingerly, hesitantly, she stepped out onto the rocky, splintered surface. Wes Farley knew the mare was trying to warn him that death waited for both of them out there under that blistering sun.
If Wes prided himself on being a gentleman, despite his disheveled finery, he was also aware that the mare considered herself a lady, and not used to the treatment she'd received over the past few days. She was a creature that thrived on pampering and was bred for speed and beauty. Wes suppressed with difficulty a natural feeling of guilt for pushing her so hard. While nothing might catch her over the short haul, almost anything on four legs could outdistance her in time...and that was a commodity Wes Farley was critically short of.
A week now they had been dogging him...ever since Central City and the game....
©1991 Edward Easton (P)2017 Edward P. Malerich aka Edward Easton