Read Sudden--Troubleshooter (A Sudden Western) #5 Online

Authors: Frederick H. Christian

Tags: #cowboys, #outlaws, #gunslingers, #frederick h christian, #oliver strange, #sudden, #jim green, #old west pulp fiction

Sudden--Troubleshooter (A Sudden Western) #5

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Lafe Gunnison had passed the
word to the homesteaders
– quit stealing
cattle or take the consequences! Up in the Mesquites, the nesters
reacted the only way they knew: they told Gunnison he was a liar
and if he showed up in their neck of the woods he’d wind up with a
tombstone over his head.

It was trouble – big trouble
– all it needed was one small spark to start a war to the death.
Only one man could stop it. One man – backed by his courage and the
guns he wore. A man with a past, scouring the West for two killers
– a man called – Sudden.

 

SUDDEN – TROUBLESHOOTER

SUDDEN 5

By Frederick H. Christian

First Published by Transworld Publishers
Limited in 1967

Copyright
©
1967 by Frederick H
Christian

Published by Piccadilly Publishing at
Smashwords: November 2014

Names, characters and incidents in this book
are fictional, and any resemblance to actual events, locales,
organizations, or persons living or dead is purely
coincidental.

This ebook is licensed for your personal
enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to
other people. If you would like to share this book with another
person, please purchase an additional copy for each reader.

Text © Piccadilly Publishing

This is a Piccadilly Publishing Book

Series Editor: Mike Stotter

Published by Arrangement with the
Author.

 

To a second son, a second
book.

Chapter One


CAN
YU use that gun, or is it
jest to stop yu from blowin’ away?’ The words might have been,
delivered in another tone of voice, nothing more than jest. In the
present circumstances, however, no one could doubt that they were
seriously intended. The scene was a typical Western saloon. A long
bar, with shelves of shining bottles behind it, extended the length
of the left-hand wall, and on the boarded, sanded space in front
were tables and chairs for those who preferred to drink sitting
down. The building was shaped like an ‘L’, and the shorter arm
contained a cleared space for use as a dance hall. A staircase in
the center of the building led to an upper storey with a balcony
running around the saloon; there, rooms were let to itinerants, and
the girls who worked in the saloon lodged in the rest. Hanging
kerosene lamps, surrounded by moths, provided light and there were
mirrors, pictures of a crude kind, and animal heads mounted on the
walls.

The man who had spoken
stood in an aggressive stance by the bar. A thickset, beetle-browed
individual of well over six feet, dressed in a coarse flannel
shirt, homespun pants shoved into the tops of scuffed high boots,
slouched hat, and heavy gun belt, his harsh voice left no doubt
that the words had no humorous intent.


Dancy’s in a bad mood
tonight.’ one of the onlookers murmured.


Never knowed him have a
good ’un,’ returned the listener.

Dancy glowered at the
object of his scorn, a youngster – he looked no more than nineteen
– dressed in range garb that was notable only because its newness
emphasized the wearer’s unfamiliarity with it. The heavy gun belt
hung awkwardly on the boy’s slim hips. Those watching, hard-bitten
veterans of frontier life had a word for kids like this one:
‘tenderfoot’. But if he was a tenderfoot, the boy was trying as
hard as he could to conceal his dismay at being the center of
attention.


You talkin’ to me?’ The
lad strove manfully to keep his voice level, without complete
success.


Nope.’ Dancy told him.
‘I’m addressin’ that jasper sitting on a camel behind
yu.’

He roared with laughter at his feeble joke;
one or two of his cronies sniggered and the boy flushed. The
bartender moved cautiously along the bar, his hands well in
view.


C’mon Jim,’ he
expostulated. ‘Let the kid alone. Have another drink!’

Dancy whirled, his face
twisted angrily, and the bartender quailed. ‘When I want yore
rotgut I’ll ask for it, Tyler!’ roared the big man. ‘If Lightnin’
here was needin’ yore aid, he’d be askin’ for it – right,
Lightnin’?’ This to the youth, whose eyes were moving from face to
face, as if in truth, pleading for help. No one in the room,
however, seemed predisposed to step forward. Jim Dancy’s liquor
rages were well known to the inhabitants of Yavapai, and were
treated like natural disasters. You stayed well out of harm’s way
while they were around, and afterwards repaired the damage as best
you could, meanwhile thanking the Lord that it hadn’t been any
worse. Jim Dancy in a whisky haze was twice as dangerous as Jim
Dancy sober, and Dancy sober was known to be a handy man with a
six-shooter.


I’m not … I ain’t lookin’
for trouble,’ whispered the boy, backing as Dancy took two steps
towards him.


Well, ain’t that amazin’,’
Dancy sneered. ‘There yu was, not lookin’ for trouble, an’
trouble’s gone an’ come a-lookin’ for yu.’ The whimsy left his
voice and his eyes squinted piggily at the boy. ‘I ast yu a
question, Lightnin’. Is that shootin’ iron an ornyment, or can yu
use it?’

The boy, hypnotized by the
big man, muttered, ‘I … can … I can use it, if I have to. But
…’


Oho!’
Dancy made an exaggerated leer of terror at this statement, ‘so: a
mouse with teeth!’ He took two lurching steps backwards and
surveyed the youth from head to foot, like a man appraising a horse
he
was
contemplating buying.


How long yu been in this
territory, anyways?’ he asked.


On’y … a couple o’ weeks,’
offered the youngster. ‘I come from Philadelphia.’ His chin lifted
slightly. ‘I’m plannin’ on being a cowboy.’


A
what?’
Dancy’s scorn was elephantine. ‘Yu – a puncher? If that
ain’t—’

The boy’s face set, and he
half turned as though to leave.

‘—
Wait up, there, Lightnin’!’ growled Dancy. ‘I ain’t through
talkin’.’


Well, I’m through
listening,’ the boy retorted defiantly. ‘Just leave me
alone.’


An’ if I
don’t …? ’ Dancy let the question hang in the air as he dropped all
pretence of banter. The appearance of a cold killer dropped upon
his shoulders like a mantle, and his hand clawed above the smooth
butt of his Colt .
45.

The boy regarded him with a
mixture of dread and surprise; as though he could not comprehend
his danger, and yet at the same time fully realized that he had no
choice. He could either turn and run like a scared rabbit or face
this bully on his own terms and probably be killed. His face set,
and an unholy light kindled in Dancy’s eyes.


Damfool kid’s too proud to
run,’ whispered one denizen of Tyler’s with awe in his voice.
‘Dancy’ll kill him shore.’

Some customers, sensing the imminence of
gunplay, shuffled hastily out of the possible line of fire. Nobody
relished the duel; it was a cinch the kid was going to get killed.
But nobody relished the idea of interfering with Jim Dancy in this
mood, either.

The air grew tense. Dancy
glared at the youngster and snapped, ‘Make yore play, Lightnin’:
slap leather or eat crow!’

Without warning, a shot
rang out, and a faint trickle of blood oozed from Dancy’s left ear.
The boy completely forgotten, he wheeled with a screech of pain to
face the direction from which the shot had come, his hand flying
almost automatically towards his holstered gun.


That’d
be a mistake.’ A certain steeliness in the quiet
voice stopped
Dancy’s hand
as if it had been frozen solid. The speaker was a tall, lithe man
in his late twenties,
with a clean-shaven
tanned face, icy steel-blue eyes, and a firm chin which spoke of
determination and courage. In the faint lines around the eyes and
mouth were suggestions that the man possessed a fair share of sense
of humor, but no hint of a smile crossed his face. His leather
chaps, blue shirt, and loose-knotted bandanna, wide-brimmed Stetson
and high heeled boots all denoted the cowboy. Only the heavy belt
with two guns – one of which, still smoking, was trained
unwaveringly upon Dancy’s heart – might mean the gunman. The
stranger lounged against one of the upright pillars supporting the
staircase, but the indolent posture was none the less wary, and
ready for any move that Dancy, his hand clasping his burning
ear-lobe, might make. The stranger spoke again, his voice cold and
cutting.


Was yu born mean, mister,
or did yu have to practice?’

Dancy spluttered with rage.
‘Yu got a hell of a nerve! Who are yu, anyway?’


Green’s the name,’ snapped
the stranger, ‘an yo’re right: I’ve got a hell of a nerve. Yu want
to try me?’

Dancy’s angry scowl
deepened. ‘Talk’s cheap when yu got the drop,’ he
sneered.

The man called Green eased himself away from
the upright he had been leaning against, and walked towards Dancy.
When he was about three paces away from the big man he holstered
his gun in one fluid movement that was not lost on any of the
bystanders.


Look at Jim Dancy’s eyes,’
grinned one oldster, pleased to see the bully for once being forced
to swallow his own medicine. ‘He’s as nervous as a long-tailed cat
in a roomful o’ rockin’ chairs.’

Green faced the big man
coldly. ‘Like yu said,’ he told Dancy, ‘talk’s cheap. Put yore
money where yore mouth is.’

Gone completely was the
lightly bantering air. Before Dancy stood a coldly efficient
killing machine, and the big man knew it. Dread touched his heart
as he realized that if he made a move for his gun he would be a
dead man. He backed away.


I got no quarrel with yu,’
he mumbled.


No,’
sneered Green. ‘Kids is more yore line. Well, let
me give yu cause,’ Picking up Dancy’s shotglass of
whisky from the bar, he tossed its contents full into the man’s
face. Spluttering and cursing, the big man pawed the fiery liquid
from his eyes. Green followed him as he reeled backwards. His open
hand slapped the man’s face: right, left, and right again, bending
Dancy backwards across the bar.


Well …’ he gritted.
‘Where’s that big tough feller I seen here a minnit
ago?’

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