In a nutshell:
Sam Gibson used to be a lawman, until the day he made a terrible mistake that could never be taken back. Since then, he has alternated between wishing there were a way he could redeem himself and believing he deserved punishment.
He’s about to get both…
It is 18k in length, about 61 pages, so one or two sittings worth of reading.
And here is an extract:
There were some days when Sam Gibson didn’t feel any guilt at all.
But those days were few and far between. Most days he felt chewed up inside and so full of self-loathing that he couldn’t bear to catch sight of himself in a mirror or see his reflection in a window. Yet he still had enough pride to keep himself clean, and not let his beard stubble grow too far. On shaving days he had learned the trick of imagining himself to be two people. He was both barber and customer, and if he, the barber, didn’t cotton to the customer, well, he’d just nick his face a little. That was why he generally added a cut or two to the other small healing scabs on any shave day.
“Are you coming inside for a beer, or something, mister?”
He stopped walking along the boardwalk and looked down at the young red-haired kid with a freckly face and a wide grin who was sitting on the chair beside the batwing doors of the Gold Nugget Saloon.
“No, son. I have no taste for beer or anything else that a saloon has to offer.”
“There are a lot of friendly folk in here. It’s the friendliest saloon in town, you betcha. Friendliest bartenders and the friendliest and prettiest girls in the whole of –”
“I guess you must be on commission. But the answer is still no. I’m just passing through town and minding my own business.”
“Can you shoot that gun?”
Sam’s hand unconsciously twitched. He swallowed as that familiar lump came to his throat. “Yeah, I can shoot. But like I said, I’m just minding my own business. It’s something that I practice a lot, just so that I can stay out of trouble. You might think about that, son.”
“Oh, don’t mind me. I like to talk, mister, that’s all. And I like to watch folks.”
Sam reached into his vest pocket and tossed a coin at the youngster. “That’s for your trouble. Just point me in the direction of a good eating-house. Not a saloon, just somewhere I can get food and coffee. And then a store where I can get tobacco and stuff.”
The boy had caught the coin and secreted it away in a pocket as quickly as any cardsharp could stow an extra card up his sleeve. “You want Ma Brady’s place, just past the bank. Then come back this way and go down Second Street and you’ll find Kincaid’s Emporium on the corner with Carson Street. That’s the best general store in town”
Sam tipped his hat and walked on along the boardwalk. He was starting to feel cross with himself again and that lump in his throat made him all too aware that the kid had touched several raw nerves and brought those memories that were never far from the surface back to haunt him.
He had thought of stopping wearing a gun, just as he had stopped drinking. That had been hard enough, owing to the fact that whiskey numbed his mind some. At least until he sobered up, when the self-disgust would kick in along with the nausea and the thundering headache that he always used to get.
But the worst thing was the kid himself. He had looked a lot like the youngster he had shot dead.