Despite having lived his whole life in Halesowen, Jethro has always been fascinated by tales of the old wild west, a founder member of the Halesowen Sure Shooters, a western re-enactment group and keen local historian. Jethro divides his time between documenting the lives of famous gun smiths and bus spotting. Unsurprisingly, he still lives with his mother. this is his first foray into fiction.





Catch–me –if- you-can McCormick was the meanest, ornery

critter this side of the Pecos and as he walked down Main Street in

El Paso his spurs jingled and the dust danced around his boots to

their tune. Shopkeepers quickly shut their stores, mothers shooed

their children indoors.

Coming the other way was Judge Dead Collins. He was called

Dead because he’d been shot that many times he should have

been. It was sheer bloody-mindedness that kept him standing up

and he was as mean as a rattler’s mother-in-law. There was whole

lot of meanness on Main Street that morning. The only other person

on the street was Françoise Del Vallon the town undertaker, and he

hovered around like a vulture looking for rich pickings, a tape

measure around his neck like a badge of office, fluttered in the dry

El Paso breeze.

The two men stopped with just ten feet between them. Judge

Dead Collins never spoke, but he was big on staring and gunplay.

Catch-me-if-you-can McCormick was the first to speak and he

addressed the undertaker, never taking his eyes of Dead Collins.

“Got a fancy handkerchief on you Vallon?”

“Of course Mr Catch=me-if-you-can, direct from Paris France.”

“Well step right here between me and the Judge and wave that

thing and then count to three, drop it then run like hell – when it

hits the ground we start killing. Ready to die Judge?”

“That’ll be the day,” drawled Dead Collins.

The undertaker did as he was told and retreated behind a water-

butt, rubbing his hands in anticipation.

The handkerchief fluttered towards the ground and just as it was

about to land a gust of wind lifted it up again and again. In fact that

darned handkerchief danced between the two killers for hours. As

night fell the fascinated townsfolk rigged up kerosene lamps across

the street – all eyes focused on the fancy material as it danced it’s

dance of death in the breeze. The two killers never moved a

muscle, their eyeballs following the cloth’s every move. Finally as

the cock crowed the handkerchief gently hit the ground like a

virgin’s kiss and guns blazed.

Catch-me-if-you-can McCormick’s bullet passed through Judge

Dead’s cheek, taking off his right ear and ending up in the

hindquarters of a startled burro which slowly hit the ground, braying

loudly. His second bullet embedded itself in Dead Collin’s spleen.

Judge Dead’s first bullet took McCormick’s eye out the second

grazed his temple and ended up in a barn door – you can still see

the hole it made today. The two men slowly folded up like a couple

of tents with their guy ropes cut, both dead before they hit the


The next morning the two men lay in their coffins propped up

outside the undertaker’s place of business. Small children would tip-

toe up and poke them with a stick, then run away squealing wildly.

Silver dollars from the dead men’s pockets covered their eyes.

After all you could not spend it where they were going.

But at about four o’clock that afternoon, while the townsfolk

enjoyed their siesta, Judge Dead Collins, stepped out of his coffin,

tipped the silver dollars back into his pocket, walked fifty paces to

his horse and slowly rode out of town. Judge Dead Collins, just too

damned awkward to die, and that’s the last he was heard of ever

again – now that’s what I call a legend.

About cathi rae

50ish teacher & aspiring writer and parent of a stroppy teenager and carer for a confused bedlington terrier and a small selection of horses who fail to shar emy dressage ambitions. Interested in contemporary fiction but find myself returning to PG Wodehouse when the chips are down View all posts by cathi rae

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