Excerpt from To The Gallows.
Three gunmen rode up on horseback, fanning out in front of Joseph. Joseph focused his drunken eyes on them and immediately knew they were from the poker table he just left. These men worked on the bridge and had just received and lost their wages in one night to Joseph. Bale lead this trinity of low-life dip shits, followed by Halwell and Randell.
“I don’t like being cheated. ‘Specially, by some Goddamn, Injun.” Bale said.
“That’s good, cause I never cheat.” Joseph stated.
“Bale, I think he called you a liar.” Hallwell stated. He was always sure to stir the pot.
“Did you call him a liar, Injun?” Randell said, trying to puff his chest.
Bale steadied his hands to his pistol. Each of the three men shifted in their saddles. Joseph had been here before. You don’t gamble in these back water towns without getting accused of cheating. At this point, men usually weren’t looking to talk it out.
“You stay with that gamble and you lose more than money.” Joseph said.
He wanted to get back without bloodshed but some things were out of his control.
All three men chuckled at Joseph.
“Three against one ain’t no gamble.” Bale said.
The whiskey actually had calmed the tingle that Joseph felt from the expectant danger. He could see Bale had his hand on his pistol in his belt. He was the one that made the choice of how this would go for the other two. Randell’s lips were pursed. He was the nervous one of the trio. His white knuckle grip on the reins of his horse told Joseph he was ready to turn tail at the first opportunity.
Then there was Hallwell. He sat on his horse relaxed with his hand at his thigh. Hard to read what he intended. Joseph knew either he was just a stupid follower or calm, because he was an experienced gun- hand.
“The money!” Bale demanded. “I’m not askin’.”
Randell’s hand trembled on his pistol grip. Joseph’s mind slowed the action. Randell was no threat. Bale’s shoulder moved. Joseph drew his left pistol and took aim at him. Before he shot, Joseph caught sight of Hallwell. He moved quick and deliberate. Joseph’s right hand pistol came out twice as fast. He shot Hallwell before he could get a shot off. Joseph’s left pistol shot Bale. Both men fell dead from their horses.