The sun hung heavy in the sky as a drop of sweat made its way down my forehead and off the tip of my nose. It was no secret why I was standing here, boots shoulder's length apart, muscles taught, eyes staring into Jake's. Jake had killed my family, over him thinking he'd been cheated somehow, and I wasn't about to wait for Judge Proctor to get Jake into the courthouse. This standoff meant I forfeited the right to a judge, or rather, transferred that right onto me and my .45.
Every citizen of Marlbery was watching. None were outside, but they didn't make any attempt to hide their faces peering through windows. Even God seemed to want a good look, as not a single cloud blocked his almighty view. I clenched my fingers into fists, trying to get them to loosen up. Jake spat, leaving a trail of saliva and tobacco running down his chin. I left mine at home, not wanting to be dead with tobacco hanging in my whiskers, but started to wish I'd left my vanity and brought the tobacco to steady my nerves.
Jake was a known gunman. To be honest, I didn't have a chance of winning this fight. I'd bought the .45 a week after Jake massacred the rest of my family, and my stand off was three weeks after that. I wasn't ready, but I couldn't let justice wait for Proctor to get off his ass. For the hundredth time, I licked my lips, but the dry couldn't be cured. The sun seemed to sizzle my spit, and fry my lips further. I could have used a drink, but I wanted my wits about me.
Sonny was chosen as the unlucky soul to yell 'Go.' He was the only other person outside there with us. He was a friend of mine, but an honest one, so Jake didn't mind him calling it. It's not like I had a chance at winning this one anyway, even with someone trying to cheat for me. My forehead longed for a breeze to dry the perspiration, but none came. I guess God didn't just want to see it, he wanted it to be fair: no wind, no rain, no shadow. It was just Jake, me, our guns, and poor ol' Sonny.
Finally, Sonny finished his cigarette and walked over to where he was supposed to stand. "You both ready?"
Jake smiled a little, "You know Carl, you don't have to do this. We can go see Judge Proctor right now."
I ran my teeth over my lower lip, "Nope Jake, you know I can't do that. Not after what you done."
Jake's smile spread, "Alright then. I'm ready Sonny."
"I am too." I could feel my gut shake. I didn't want to die, but this was the only honorable thing I could do.
Sonny's eyes plead with me to reconsider, but when he could see I couldn't be deterred, he nodded, and after gaining some composure, yelled, "Go."
My hand shot to my pistol, but it never left the holster before Jake's gun went off, and I felt hot lead burn into my chest. Jake shot again. And again, and again, and again, until my body hit the dirt and my arms spread wide to show my riddled torso. I stared into the blue sky for just a moment, as my last breaths sputtered blood from my lips.
I knew I wouldn't win, but it was the only thing I could do for my family. The only honorable thing. The only thing that would let me keep my head up high when I met them again. Breath left my body, carrying my spirit to, wherever. It was done. I was done.