A Bullet for Bonney

Flash Fiction

It’s gone midnight when the door bursts open and Bonney crashes in. His pistol is drawn but it’s trained on the men on the porch outside. Me and Garrett are hiding in the shadows at the back of the room like a couple of snakes.

“Who are these guys, Pete?” Bonney calls to me over his shoulder.

The ‘guys’ outside are Garrett’s deputies. They’d arrived just before supper. They’re as ugly as home-made sin and twice as mean. Useless at keepin’ watch too by all accounts. Bonney isn’t expecting the deputies and so he backs into my room thinking it’s safe. He would cut and run if he knew Garrett was lurking in the dark with me.

“That’s him!” Nerves get the better of me and I bleat like some pansy-ass kid.

Garrett gives me a side glance and then glares back out at Bonney. His eyes narrow.

Bonney turns to my voice and, when he sees two shapes in the gloom instead of one, he calls out, “Who is it?”

Garrett doesn’t answer and neither do I. The low moon outside sets Bonney’s outline in the doorway. He’s a sittin’ duck.

“Who is it?” Bonney calls again, his voice raised.

Metal drags on leather as Garrett draws his colt. It’s a nervous, clumsy kind of draw. The hammer click punches through the silence.

Bonney flinches. Is that when it hits him? The realisation? I’m offerin’ him a place to hole up until the heat dies down over them killings in Lincoln County, and he has a $500 bounty on his head. $500 is the kind of tin that makes friends turn faster than a cow catching fire. Maybe seein’ the deputies on the porch did it. Or maybe it was the stony silence in reply to all his hollerin’.

And then there’s my sister.

I’d gotten wind of the late nights, the liquor, the sneakin’ and whisperin’. And now she was with child. Somethin’ had to be done.

Bonney raises his pistol towards us but Garrett has the drop and catches him clean in the chest. Bonney’s left arm flaps up and over his head as the shot spins him around. A devil’s dance in the moonlight. He slumps against the doorframe as Garrett’s second shot whistles out of the door and into the night. Bonney stays like that for an age, his pistol held limp at his side. Garrett moves to shoot again but Bonney thumps to the floor.

“I think I got him,” Garrett mutters. There’s surprise in his words.

None of us move until the hole in Bonney’s chest stops hissin’ and then, by way of a souvenir, they snip a finger apiece. Garrett makes sure to pocket the trigger finger.

William H. Bonney, aka Henry McCarthy, aka Billy the Kid. Wanted dead or alive. Always better dead, cleaner too. The dead take their secrets with them.


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