''Squeeze, don't pull.'' Clarke said, pointing at the gun. He fired. The target, a rusty bucket that was most left of all the lined up target emitted a loud tack before falling off the hay bale it had been positioned on.
Clarke lowered the pistol, a large calibre revolver and gave it to the boy next to him.
The boy took the gun and raised it, supporting his right hand around the butt with his left.
He aimed at one of the targets in the middle and cocked the revolver.
''Remember. Squeeze, don't pull.'' Clarke said.
The two were standing in a large courtyard of Clarke's house in the centre of Eastfield, the Capital of The East, where also the King and the rest of the Government housed. It was a large, large for their standards at least. The city was surrounded by large ends of plains where cows grazed, herded by the Cattlefolk and the cowboy's.
Clarke, the Royal Lawbringer, had a large house in the middle of the bustling city, where he trained future Lawbringers and Bounty Hunters.
Now, he was training a new boy, learning him how to fire a revolver.
The boy still held the revolver in both his hands, aiming at the middle target.
The middle target, an old plush teddy bear, exploded in a large mush.
Clarke nodded in satisfaction. ''Good, but you need to learn to aim faster. If that had been a gunslinger, or maybe even a bounty, he wouldn't have waited for you to carefully take aim.'' he said. Shoving back his straw-coloured cowboy hat. It revealed his unkempt, brown hair and made him look younger than he was. If it hadn't been for his beard, he could have been twenty.
The boy lowered the revolver and turned his head towards his teacher. He looked at Clarke. Worried.
Clarke smiled and shook his head. ''Don't worry. You aren't bad. You're still learning and I have to say you're learning a lot faster than most other Bounty Hunter. Even faster than I can remember I did.'' he said.
The boy's eyes became big. He having more shooting talent than Lewis Clarke, the fastest Lawbringer in The East and The West. It was something he couldn't believe and so he didn't.
''Nobody's better than you, Lewis.'' he said.
Clarke looked down. ''I don't know kid. Maybe someday, somebody will come who's better than me.
One day when I'm old and used up. I'll lie in my bed all day long, enjoying my retirement. Until one day a fool may come who wants to make a name for himself by gunning down the fastest gun in The East and The West. By then, I don't think I'll be that fast anymore.''
Clarke shrugged and then said: ''But come on, let's continue your practice session.'' he said, waving his hand around in the known gesture of ''hurry up''.
The boy focused on the targets again, raised the pistol, which looked unbelievably big in his hands, and aimed at a target, this target being an old cup. He took aim for a second and then pulled the trigger.
The cup flew back a few metre's before clattering against the wall of Clarke's yard and falling onto the grass. Clarke shook his head. ''Have you already forgotten. Squeeze, don't pull.'' he said.
The boy lowered the pistol again and looked at Clarke with a sad look on his face. Clarke noticed the look and said: ''You know what? You set the targets back up and I'll show you the trick.''
The boy's eyes became bigger again and a look of excitement fell on his face.
He handed Clarke the revolver and ran off towards the hay bales.
First he picked up the old bucket and laid it back. Then, he put the remains of the teddy bear on the middle hay bale and went to fetch the cup that lay all the way back.
When he was finished, he ran back towards Clarke, who was now standing ready with his revolver in his hands, his brown vest waving around a bit in the soft breeze. The boy stopped next to Clarke. Clarke turned his back to the targets and took a step away from them. He holstered his revolver and took another step. Then, he quickly turned around and, in one motion, drew the revolver, cocked it, and fired six times, fanning the hammer with his free hand.
BANG, there flew the bucket. BANG, there went and old hat. BANG, there went the cup, this time flying over the wall. BANG, the remains of the teddy bear exploded again, leaving an even bigger mess of plushy stuffing. BANG, an old chess piece flew away. BANG, a straw basket broke up in small pieces.
Clarke lowered the smoking revolver and looked at the boy. ''You'll get there one day, son.'' he said.
The boy looked at him in amazement. ''I don't know if I'll ever be that good, Lewis.'' he said.
''You will son, now get those targets back on while I'll go get a new cup, okay.''
Clarke walked back into his house while the boy ran off and fetched the targets. While he walked back, he reloaded his revolver.
He reached his house, opened the back door and stepped inside. Inside, it was a lot cooler than it had been outside. Clarke softly sighed and enjoyed the cool. He went into the kitchen and opened the cupboard. He took another old cup, an ugly blue his mother had given him once. He didn't really like the cup and it would feel nice to shoot it to pieces. He laid the cup on the table behind him and took out his tobacco pouch.
He searched inside the pockets of his vest for some cigarette-paper, found some, and started rolling a cigarette. When he finished, he stuck the cigarette between his lips and lit it. He sat down at the table and smoked.
The boy outside was running around, picking up the targets and placing them back. After he had done that, he went back to his earlier spot and waited for Clarke. After a few minutes he saw his mentor's rugged figure emerging from the house.
Clarke walked up to the hay bales, placed the cup on the empty one and walked back to his student.
''Okay, let's continue.''
Clarke and the boy practised for a few hours more, the boy shooting the targets and Clarke giving him more advice.
''Okay, enough shooting practise for today.'' Clarke said after the boy had shot all the targets in row, similar to how Clarke could, but considerably slower and without walking away and turning around like Clarke did.
Clarke, who had lit another cigarette dropped it on the stone floor they were standing on and stomped on it with his boot. He then headed back to his house, followed by the boy. Inside, he went into the kitchen again, opened the cupboard, and took out a few things. A loaf of bread, a few slices of ham and a small block of cheese.
He laid them down at the table and he and the boy started eating. Lunch. They ate for a while without both saying anything. At one moment, Clarke stood up, picked up the things that were left on the table and put them back in the cupboard. They then went to the pump in front of Clarke's house and drank a bit of water.
Clarke wiped his chin and said: ''Training's over for today boy. You're free for today.''
The boy smiled and turned around half. Then, he turned his head back to his teacher and asked: ''What are you going to do, now, Lewis?''
Lewis smiled. ''I have some things to do at the court of the King.'' he said.
The boy smiled back and then walked away.
He immediately headed to the Eastfield General Store, run by a man named Allan Smith. The boy went inside and said to the shopkeeper: ''Good afternoon Mr. Smith.''
Allan, who was a man who liked children, in the normal fashion, smiled and said: ''Hello there, boy.
How's Clarke doing.''
''Still as fast as ever.'' the boy replied.
''Good to hear.'' Smith said. He then turned around and reached behind him.
The boy, who knew Mr. Smith was probably going to give him some candy, was surprised when he turned back with a small package in his hands.
''Can you give this to Lewis Clarke, please, boy?'' he asked.
''Certainly, sir.'' The boy replied.
Smith patted him on the head. ''You're a good boy. You'll make a fine Bounty Hunter one day.''
The boy smiled. His eyes looked dreamy. ''One day.'' he said.
''Now run along, boy.'' Smith said. ''Oh, but I almost forget.''
He turned back again, holding a handful of candy. ''Here ya go, boy.''
The boy left the store and walked through the streets of Eastfield. He passed an older cowboy who tipped his head for the boy. The boy nodded back and smiled, eating from the candy Mr. Smith had given him. He didn't think that the package for Clarke was that important.
After having roamed around the streets of Eastfield for a few hours, he returned to Clarke's house.
He found Clarke in the kitchen, smoking. He stood in the door opening for a moment, looking at his mentor, before walking towards him and laying the package on the table.
Clarke raised his eyebrows. ''What's that?'' he asked.
The boy shrugged. ''I don't know, Mr Smith from the General Store gave it to me.''
Clarke laid his hand on the package. For one moment the boy thought he would open it in front of him. But that hope was diminished when Clarke opened his mouth and said: ''Bedtime, boy.''
The boy's shoulders lowered. ''Lewis...''
Clarke shook his head. ''Bedtime. I'll tell you later.'' he said, still shaking his head.
The boy opened his mouth, closed it again, and turned around, walking to his bedroom. He turned his head one moment and saw that Clarke had already opened the package. He was reading a note he had probably taken out of the small package. Something was glistering on the table. The boy didn't see what it was. He craned his neck a bit, but at that moment Clarke noticed him.
''Get going, boy.'' he said angrily.
The boy turned his head back and went to his bedroom.
There, he changed into his pyjamas and laid down in bed. He thought about what he had seen lying on the table and he couldn't sleep. After lying in bed for a hour or more, the boy's curiosity got the better of him. He slid out of bed and walked out of his room, carefully avoiding the squeaking planks. He walked through the corridor, holding his breath as he passed Clarke's room.
He snuck into the kitchen and looked at the table in the middle.
It was empty. Of course it was. The boy slammed his hand against his head. How could he be so stupid. Of course Clarke wouldn't leave something like that lying on the kitchen table. He knew exactly that the boy would go take a look at it at night.
The thought had just razed through the boy's mind when a hand slapped on his shoulder. ''It's a bit early to get up, boy.'' He heard Clarke's voice say behind him.
He turned around and saw the Lawbringer standing behind him, still dressed and smoking a cigarette. He didn't look angry. Rather amused.
''I'm sorry Clarke.'' the boy said.
Clarke shook his head. ''Don't worry. I would have done exactly the same. Curiosity is a good trait for a Bounty Hunter, but also a bad one at times.'' Clarke stopped talking for a moment. ''You're good at sneaking. I didn't know you where there until I saw you enter the kitchen.''
The boy smiled. A compliment from Clarke was something quite special. Even people who normally were higher in rank than Lewis Clarke could expect a lecture if they made a mistake and compliments were almost non-existent with this men.
The boy looked at Clarke. ''Are you going to tell what was in the package now?'' he asked.
Clarke smiled and shook his head. ''No. Go back to bed. For real now.''
The boy turned around and headed for his bedroom the second time.
''I'll tell you later.'' he could hear Clarke say behind him.
Later. I'll tell you later, boy.
The Bounty Hunter woke up. He opened his eyes and for one moment, he didn't realise where he was. Then, he remembered. He was in a small village named Coldgrass, sleeping in an old bed on the first floor of the Saloon. He sat up in bed and reached for his glasses on the night stand next to him. At first, he couldn't find them, but then he felt one of the frames. He picked up his glasses and put them on.
He slid out of bed and stood in the middle of the chamber, only wearing his jeans. He didn't light the lamp, but walked through the room, looking for his clothes. He found them and dressed quickly. He put on his pistol belt and left the room quietly. He passed the room he had seen the bartender enter and snuck past it. It was dark outside as he walked out of the Saloon and walked towards his horse.
''Going already, I see.'' a familiar said behind him when he wanted to mount up. The Bounty Hunter turned his head and saw Sheriff Ruiz stand behind him. Ruiz' greying beard was slowly waving around in the wind. ''I understand.'' Ruiz said. ''You have to catch up to Kane.''
The Bounty Hunter smiled.
''I hope you have paid Stanley.'' Ruiz said. ''If not I will.''
The Bounty Hunter shook his head. ''No, no I paid all my bills.'' he climbed onto his horse and looked down at Ruiz once more.
Ruiz craned his neck to keep looking The Bounty Hunter in his face. He nodded slowly.
''I hope I see you ride back into town one day, Bounty Hunter. I hope you will and I hope you will then ride East, dragging the corpse of Kane behind you.'' he said.
The Bounty Hunter nodded back and said. ''I hope I will too. One thing I know for sure: I won't ever give up on Kane, even if we kill each other in a duel.'' The Bounty Hunter rode away.
Ruiz stared at The Bounty Hunter's back as he rode away and it slowly disappeared in the dark.
He looked down at his boots and sighed. Then, he went back to his office.
End of Chapter 2
This chapter is a bit shorter than normal, but that's mostly because of the dream/flashback/vision thingy about Lewis Clarke and the past of The Bounty Hunter.