Cavanaugh: The Last Bounty

CAVANAUGH takes the reader into a wild land with the man called "Manhunter".
Contact Tom "Forty Rod" Taylor at

Someone called out, “They’re movin’ ”. 


     Three men came from behind a building on the other side of the street, and crossed to our side where they went behind the building next to the stage station.  Diamond spoke over his shoulder, “Carlson, you and Ambrose get up on the roof.  Watch the buildings across the street and be careful!”


     As I watched, a man I hadn’t seen before suddenly came out of the alley next to the hotel carrying a rifle, and stepped up on the boardwalk not thirty feet across the street from me.  Another stepped into sight down the street at the other end of the hotel.  I eased my left hand Colt out and held it down by my side.  Out the corner of my eye I saw Oakes come out the door of the stage depot, and the man closest to me raised his rifle, aiming it at Pete.  I tilted my pistol up from where I held it and shot the man with the rifle. As he started to fall, I took more careful aim and put another one into him and he dropped to his knees before falling forward off the raised boardwalk right on his face.  Behind me I heard Diamond’s gun go off, but I didn’t look around.  He would have things well in hand back there.


     There was a flurry of a half dozen shots down the street.  As I turned to look, I saw the man down the street was lying in the dirt and not moving, and Oakes was limping back inside the stage station, the smoking little sawed-off shotgun still held in his right hand and a six-shooter now ready in his left.


     For a long count of four or five there was silence in that dusty little town!  Then in an instant the full length of the street turned into a flame-laced corner of hell.  Guns blasted, men cursed, horses screamed, a man screamed, guns were flashing yellow-orange into the thick smoke that rapidly cut vision down to a few feet. I heard glass break, heard yelling, and a bullet hit something hard and went crying off into the distance, while more bullets struck wood or metal or dirt.  I moved to my right, saw a man charging at me out of the smoke, firing as he came.  We fired at the same time and I felt the shock of a bullet, saw him dive face down in the dirt and lay still, the back of his head a gory mess.  My left leg hurt like the very devil and I could feel it bleeding, but I staggered on a few more steps to get a better position.


     On the roof of the hardware store a man looked over and was shot in the face by someone above me.  His partner made a run for it and I thumbed two shots at him, then a third.  The fourth time the hammer fell on an empty round.  I dropped the gun back into its holster and fetched out the other pistol.