The Stranger

“You best step away from them hosses, padnah.” The commanding voice boomed out over the dusty expanse of the empty thoroughfare.

The Sheriff and his deputy had caught the offender mid-act by chance, on stepping out onto the saloon porch.

The man did not move. He stood facing away from the two lawmen, his long black cloak and wide hat hiding all features. Strange, thought the Deputy, to dress all in black in this heat.

“I’m afraid,” rasped the man, “I cannot do that.” The Stranger’s voice was low and gravelly.

“Step away, you!” The Sheriff shouted, his hand above his holster now, elbow cocked.

“Perhaps,” came the voice again, up into the whirlwinds of the desert air, “it is you who should step away.”

In a flash the man spun on his heels. Four shots broke the stillness of the empty street crackcrack crackcrack and the Sheriff fell backward onto the rotting boards of the saloon porch.

The Stranger, mounted atop one horse and leading the other, rode over and looked down at the cowering deputy and bleeding marshal.

“I told you not to interfere,” he hissed. “Let others know that night is coming. I shall return.”

He rode off into the blazing heat of the desert.

The deputy was terrified. The man had won the draw with his back turned, and dropped the Sheriff from a hundred yards with four shots square in the chest.

But what frightened the deputy most was what he’d seen on The Stranger’s shadowy face. For beneath the wide brim of that black hat he’d seen only two dark empty pits. The man was blind.

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