The Next Time
One bullet. One bullet and it would be over, once and forever.
Expressionless, Chris Larabee stared at the weapon in his hand; he had forgotten how many times he'd sat, just like this, in various hotel rooms with these same thoughts in his head. Three years were a damn long time to survive, especially if you didn't see any sense in living anymore.
Chris knew all too well he wouldn't take the final step, just as he hadn't all the other times before. Not that he hadn't been ready to die. Hell, for three years he'd been trying nothing more than to find an appropriate way to do it, but his goddamn sense of honor forbade it.
I don't want to die without reason.
So suicide was out of the question, as was letting himself get shot by one of young men who challenged him with irregular frequency. He'd never wanted the reputation he'd earned, but he hadn't been able to prevent it, either. Anyone who proved himself faster than his opponents a couple of times was automatically labeled a trigger-happy gunslinger, no matter what his motives were.
With a small sigh Chris reholstered the weapon and grabbed for one of the two bottles of whiskey he'd brought with him. If Sarah could see me now... He instantly stopped the thought. Tthe last thing he wanted to do was dishonor her memory by thinking about her while he was drunk. Which brought him to his next problem – what the hell was he actually doing here
Here... that would be some godforsaken backwater town near the border. He couldn't even remember the name, let alone how he'd gotten there. In fact, it didn't really matter; he'd stopped paying attention to where he stayed a long time ago. The first months after the fire were merely a vague memory – not that he would want it any other way. As far as he was concerned he would have erased the past three years from his memory if he could.
The first clear memory after the death of his wife and his son was how he had finally and forever managed to put Buck Wilmington to flight. God knew it had been a long, hard fight, but no matter how stubborn Buck was, Chris accomplished everything he took on.
A bitter laugh escaped him at the thought. If that were the case his family would still be alive, or he would have caught their murderer, at the very least, or he would have managed to bid life farewall in an elegant manner.
But no, what was he doing instead? Drinking himself senseless in one cheap, dirty hotel after another, letting himself being challenged by young, would-be gunslingers time and again, and last, but not least, drowning himself in self-pity.
I've become exactly what I've always despised.
In a sudden fit of rage, he hurled the half-full bottle against the wall, finding a short moment's satisfaction as the liquid slowly ran down the wall and formed a puddle among the glass fragments. The scent of alcohol, mixed with that of unwashed man, filled the room and made Chris gag. He had to get out of there, fast.
A visit to the bathhouse was long overdue, and he should check on Spirit, then he would set off again. He'd heard rumors about another backwater town, three days ride from here. Chris struggled to remember the name as, all of a sudden, and for the first time in three years, it was important to him to know where he was going.
The name rose in his mind out of nowhere and he wasn't really sure if it was the right one or not, but that wasn't important. Chris finally had a goal in front of him, even if reaching a remote border town was pointless.
Whether he wanted to or not, the world would go on spinning, with or without him. And Chris Larabee wasn't ready to die just yet, despite all his actions that seemed to indicate the opposite.
Maybe when he was sitting in Four Corners, in another shabby hotel room, thinking about the unfairness of fate, maybe then he would really want to die, but definitely not here and not now.
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