The gunman’s black beard reached his chest and was tobacco stained. His ominous dark brown eyes peered out from under a large-brimmed, dirty, brown hat that had seen better days. His clothing was covered by a riding duster that was faded brown from trail grime.
I could barely see the mud-caked black boots that stuck out from the bottom on his duster.
He had two large revolvers, probably .45 or .44 caliber Dragoon’s pistols. He raised the pistol in his left hand and pointed it at Mrs. Throckmorton’s head. The pistol in his right hand was still pointed at Caleb’s back.
The gunman had made one mistake. He had positioned his hostages so there was a gap between them where he could see me clearly.
“Drop your guns!” he commanded. “Or I’ll shoot this woman.”
“Who are you?” I countered.
“Well,” I said, “ain’t that just ducky? I get to kill me another Gill in just 24 hours.”
The retort got the response I had hoped for. His eyes suddenly widened, and a gleam of pure hatred radiated his face. He swung both his pistols toward me.
Caleb’s reaction time was just a split second later. In one motion, he grabbed his mother and pulled her down. Both of them hit the floor.
My focus was distracted by his movement. Both of my pistols had been pointed at the floor when Caleb moved. I saw Gill bring his pistols at arm’s length and fire them at me.
The only thing I could do was turn sideways to the right and face the wall. I felt one of the gunman’s bullets crease my chest, leaving what felt like a trough an inch deep.
Another bullet hit the flesh in my left shoulder. It spun me to my left. The impact of the slug made me drop the pistol in my left hand and brought me face to face with my assailant.
He grinned unmercifully as he cocked his pistols for a kill shot.