Tag Archive: angstman

“It isn’t as if you liked him. I hardly think you can feel sorry that he’s lying six feet under.”

“He’s not exactly six feet under,” Richard replied to the haughty woman, as he tugged on her husband’s limp arms and battled to keep the overcoat sleeves from slipping free. The battle lost, the dead man’s arms dropped from the sleeves, and a pocketwatch dropped simultaneously from the pocket, slamming against Richard’s polished wingtip, splattering mud droplets up his spats. Its tick-tock-tick-tock amplified in the darkness, the sound thudding against Richard’s chest like Elda’s heartbeats.

Elda. What a dame. Any man would die for her, and one did. What a dame; what a shame, Richard had always said. Yet, here he was, lifting Elda’s fourth husband into an early grave without the bravery of questions.

He watched her clench the shovel like she would a man’s heart, twisting its handle, jabbing it into the ground with repeated blows. His heart hurt from the careless repetitions, hurt like a heart would hurt if she squeezed it or drove a shovel through it.

Dawn creased the horizon by the time he’d kicked the last batch of dirt and leaves over the hidden grave.

“You didn’t like him,” Elda whispered again.

“No.” He wiped his brow. “No, I never liked the man.” There again, the tick-tock-tick-tock rose like a degüello, and Richard eyed the timepiece resting near the toe of his shoe. “Might I have this watch?”

“For memories, Rick?” she chuckled coldly. “Old times’ sake?”

“For payoff,” he returned just as coldly. “Lord knows I’m not getting what was promised from you. So you oughta think real hard about keeping me quiet.”

Elda raised a brow and her pretty lips curled, but void of thought, her hands clenched tighter on the shovel.


Raps at the door rivaled the wind’s burden against bound shutters.

“Pinkerton, Mr. Westgate. Open up.” The Pinkerton detective scanned the dying ranch. Nothing stirred; he realized he held his breath, galvanizing himself for what would come. Westgate—eh, the man could rot. The woman, however, was innocent; but she’d be standing by the man she’d married.

The cranky drawl of rusted hinges split the heat, and the detective wiped his brow, his gaze sweeping the lanky cowpoke glowering through the cracked door. Homemade door, the Pinkerton corrected, lopsided, sagging with foundation shifts, scraping resistance into the floor at the rancher’s spurs. Westgate wore his spurs indoors: showed what kind of woman he’d married, eased the Pinkerton’s guilt—but not the finger that itched on the Union-issued Colt Navy.

Westgate cocked a brow. Years hadn’t changed him. He was still an arrogant sonuvabitch and held his set jaw like a murderer. A particularly cool snarl spoke: “Hell, Carson, been a while. Guess they don’t pay you to leave jobs unfinished.”

Detective Carson heard the click behind the door and could picture that LeMat, how it glinted in the sun when aimed at a pretty girl’s throat. Carson’s wife had never let him wear his spurs indoors. “Hang ’em up at the door,” she’d said, so sultry, so huskily. He’d always hung them up, but no one asked him to, anymore.

Westgate moved to slam the door, lodging it upon Carson’s swifter boot. A string of oaths left both men, but Carson wedged himself inside, Navy drawn, facing Westgate’s LeMat. A woman shrieked, frozen in the corner, and the two men circled each other like feral cats.

“Your move, Detective,” Westgate hissed. “You’ve waited a long time for this.”

“Yes, I have,” Carson whispered. “My God, yes, I have.” Faster than a blink, Carson drew his bead from Westgate and pulled the trigger, the detective’s bullet shattering the air with a deafening pop and an accompanying whir. A heartbeat later, the woman slumped to the floor, a circle of red on the wall behind her, a hole clear through her throat.