By Maz McCoy


He stopped in the clearing; a break in the trees where the loggers had once built their encampment. If you looked hard enough you could still find evidence of their presence beneath the long dew-covered grass; a discarded axe, a long forgotten boot and occasionally a piece of rusting machinery. He let out a long breath and watched as it turned to vapour in the cold morning air. This was the place. Out here the sound would not draw attention. His boots and the bottoms of his pants were soon wet with dew as he walked to the centre of the clearing. Reaching into the burlap sack he carried, he set about his task. He worked swiftly. He wanted to get this done before the shadows filled the clearing, before his hands froze, before anyone came looking for him. Reaching into the burlap sack he carried, he set about his task. He worked swiftly.

Satisfied, he walked away. Ten, twenty, thirty feet or more and then stopped. He dropped the sack and let his right hand fall to his side. He flexed his fingers, feeling the muscles in his arm strain, the scar tissue pull. A bead of sweat ran down his temple. He could do this. He’d done it many times before. If only his arm didn’t hurt so much.

Decision made.

He spun on his heels, the Colt in his hand in the blink of an eye, the sound of gunshots ripped through the air and then…Ping! Ping! Ping! Ping! Ping! Ping! The bullets hit their target.

Satisfied, he let out the breath he’d been holding. The tin cans now lost in the grass.

“Not bad,” a man said.

He spun around, gun aimed at the figure before him.

The man held up his hands. “Easy, son. I don’t want to get shot this close to Christmas.” He stepped from the shadows and sunlight glinted on the tin-star pinned to his chest.

Kid Curry gave his gun a quick twirl but couldn’t hide the grimace as he dropped it back into the holster. He had not had time to reload and just hoped the sheriff hadn’t been counting his shots.

“That was pretty fancy shooting,” the lawman said as he approached.

“Beginner’s luck,” Kid informed him.

“If you say so.” The sheriff waved a hand at Kid’s right side. “I guess the Doc did a good job on that wound.”

“He did,” Kid agreed. “How did you…”

“I’m the sheriff,” the lawman interrupted. “I know everything.” For a long moment, a very long, uncomfortable moment, he held Kid’s gaze then smiled and looked away. “Beautiful place. In a week or two it’ll be three feet deep in snow. You won’t be able to come out here shooting then.”

“I hope to be on my way before then,” Kid stated.

“I’m sure you do.” The sheriff looked back at Kid. “I don’t think we were ever properly introduced, what with you being unconscious an’ all. Name’s Newton, Theodore Ignatius Newton. Quite a mouthful, I’ll agree. Folks round here call me Tin.”