REACH FOR THE SKY

The Gunslinger rode into town like a bat out of Hell firing his pistols at the clear blue sky and just a hootin' and a hollerin'.

He took aim on a mangy stray mutt prowling the dusty street and fired a bullet into its side and laughed when it fell like a sack of potatoes under its own weight. He steadied his aim on the carcass and squeezed off more rounds, catching the poor ol' mutt once in its right paw, once in its left paw, and then -

Bull's eye!

The hat trick concluded when the final bullet slammed into the mutts skull, exploding it like a watermelon left out on a hot summer day.

He sniffed at the tips of his guns, relishing the scent of gunpowder, and with deft precision of his fingers twisted the pistols in looping arcs before depositing them to their holsters.

For now.

The Gunslinger tethered his horse to the worn hitching post in front of the barber shop. The other horses there jumped nervously and flicked their tails as he kicked open the wing doors of the barber and waltzed in like he owned the place. The five barber chairs were occupied by miners and farmers and men who wanted to rid themselves of the desert grit and dust and along the wall a bench held another four individuals looking to be cleaned up.

The Gunslinger sauntered over to the nearest chair, flashed his holstered pistol to the seated gentleman and said, "If you don't get outta that chair right now I'll put holes in ya'!"

The seated gentleman cast the Gunslinger a look of pure agitation but after a moment his anger gave way to apprehension and he finally hoisted himself from the seat, his eyes downcast and full of shame.

The Gunslinger hollered with laughter and plopped down in the chair. "I have the guns, so I'm the boss 'round here! Y'all best remember that!"

The barber, wisely remaining silent, covered the Gunslinger with an apron and went to lathering the raw, bearded face.

"Give me the works," he said to the barber, "Got a hot date over at the saloon so I wanna look nice and spiffy! And don't you dare scratch my beautiful face! One drop of blood and you're a dead man!"

"Yes sir."

The barber worked with the most utmost of care that he had ever mustered in his entire career and although his hand trembled ever so slightly he shaved where he could here, snipped away with scissors there and in no more than twenty minutes the Gunslinger looked like a fresh new man.

He looked at his reflection in the wall mounted mirror, gave his doppelganger a toothy grin and shot the mirror to pieces.

The barbers and patrons stared incredulously after the Gunslinger as he swaggered out of the shop. No one bothered to ask the man to pay for his grooming.

They knew better.

He crossed the street to where the saloon was and reloaded his guns. He held the revolvers up to the sun which glittered with cold metal here and there and smiled devilishly.

It's time for that hot date!

He burst through the wing doors of the saloon, pistols raised and exclaimed, "ALRIGHT YOU MAGGOTS REACH FOR THE -"

At once the eyes of dozens upon dozens of bar patrons snapped to the door and from the pockets of petticoats and dungarees, from the ruffles of bodices and stockings, from boot straps and knapsacks guns, guns, and more guns were whipped, brandished and aimed towards the woefully outgunned Gunslinger. Why in fact the only man or woman who didn't brandish fourth a silver plated advocate was the bartender who just stared upon the surreal scene with stark amazement.

"-Sky..." It was the last word the Gunslinger ever said as a swarm of lead erupted from their barrels and made the Gunslinger jitterbug, jive, contort and convulse like some grotesque, bloody marionette and as quickly as it had begun the last shell casing fell to the floor along with the crimson puppet, its strings cut, the mummers farce done.

"Jesus H. Christ," breathed the bartender, shaking his head. "Am I entertaining a bar full of illiterate bastards and whores or did ye' all ignore the sign? This is a guns free zone!"

THE END