---------Rated R for language and violence.----------
Bastien sat in an old wooden rocking chair. It’s creaking was the only thing that broke the unbearable silence. He rocked slowly back and forth with his hands on the rests beside him. Sunlight poured in through the window and lit up his face, defining each etch and giving him a deep, shimmering aura. His gun was under his right hand and he tapped his fingers on the barrel in rhythm to the ancient chair’s moans. His eyes were hidden under his dusty brown hat, but they were steadily fixed on the man who stood before him.
Clayton stood just inside Bastien’s door. The light that came in through the door lit up half of the quaint one-room house. He winced from the glare in his eyes and stepped forward into the shadow. He stopped almost as soon as he began when he saw the man sitting in front of him; when he saw the gun the man had. Clayton put his arms out to his sides at hip height and shrugged his shoulders.
Bastien nodded slightly and for a second only the top of his hat was visible. When his face came back into Clayton’s view, he smiled his wickedest sneer. All of a sudden he lunged forward, grabbing the gun as he stood halfway up from his chair.
When Bastien lunged, Clayton started backwards and stumbled a couple steps. He cringed and shut his eyes and when he opened them again, Bastien was once again seated in his chair calmly. Smiling in that sadistic way only a mad man can.
He hadn’t even got up really, only psyched me out, that bastard, Clayton thought to himself.
He shook his head as he looked up from the floor, and leveled his eyes with Bastien. This time he was angry, and met his glare with an equally loathful undertone.
Bastien kept smiling, he was laughing uproariously inside, and did not want to hide it. He picked up his gun in his right hand casually, and twirled it around in hypnotizing circles. He looked at the gun himself, watching the years of practice flow from his fingertips. When he turned his face, the right side, closest to the gun, went into shadow.
Clayton didn’t move when Bastien flipped up his gun. He remained stolid and watched the gun twirl around Bastien’s fingers, picking up momentum, and becoming blurry. Then Bastien turned his head and looked at the gun himself. When he did so, the darkened side of his face looked pallid and sick, like the face of a corpse. This sight, contrasted with the angelic glow from the sun on his other half, gave Clayton a terrible notion. This man is the apotheosis of hero. Yet, inside of him is the most terrible evil I’ve ever known. All of a sudden Clayton saw Bastien for what he was. A man with nothing to lose.
As if reading his mind, Bastien stopped his mesmerizing gun dance, and put the barrel to his temple.
Clayton’s eyes widened and his mouth fell agape.
Bastien thumbed back the hammer, and stretched a smile even wider than before, finally revealing a perfect set of teeth. He stared at Clayton and watched as an expression of shock and horror came over his sweaty face.
An eternity seemed to go by for Clayton. He couldn’t tell if Bastien was going to actually blow his own brains out the window or not. It sure would make my job a lot easier, he thought. Then Bastien pulled the trigger.
Nothing happend. Bastien was the only one who knew how many bullets were actually in the gun. Fucking hilarious! He thought.
Clayton didn’t flinch much when Bastien aimed the gun at his head, but he sure flinched when Bastien pointed the gun directly at him.
After a couple more intricate spins, the big old six-shooter was pointed right at Clayton’s face. He had to use every bit of will he had to stay calm. A raven wailed and fluttered down onto the windowsill beside Bastien. It cawed again, this time more timidly and shuffled back and forth, tufting out its chest. Bastien sized Clayton up once more before averting his attention to the bird.
When Bastien looked over at the bird, he cocked his gun’s hammer back in place and set it down again. He got up from his chair after a final rock forward and stretched his arms into the air, cracking his back. He didn’t look back at Clayton, just walked over to the only table in the room, which was in the corner behind the chair, and grabbed a loaf of bread. He nodded at the other man and held the loaf out in front of him.
Clayton shook his head. His fists were clenched at his sides, and he was grinding his teeth to the point that it was audible. He watched as Bastien broke off a piece of bread and fed it to the raven. The black beggar snatched it from his hands eagerly. Then Bastien went over to the small stove that stood opposite the table in the other corner. On the stove was a pot of coffee Clayton hadn’t noticed until now. In fact, until seeing the coffee, he hadn’t taken notice of any smells, and now the scent of the coffee tingled his nostrils, and made his mouth salivate.
Bastien took two mugs from the hooks above the stove, and put them on the small counter beside. He held up a cup and looked at Clayton, who nodded this time. He’s warming up to me, Bastien thought. He poured out two portions of coffee. The cups were smaller, more like a teacup; they were Bastien’s mother’s before she died. He walked over to Clayton and handed him the cup saucer less, as all of those had been broken at one time or other.
Clayton took the cup, and eased his stance a little. At first he only held the glass in his hands, feeling the warmth flow from the coffee, through the cup’s walls, and into his palms. He watched keenly as Bastien sat back down and took a sip of his drink.
The damn bird picked absently away at the chunk of crusty bread Bastien had left it, and every so often let out a low chirp of delight.
Bastien swished his first sip of coffee around in his mouth a bit to fully experience the bold taste of his own home brew. He lowered the glass and smiled, this time more pleasantly. Clayton nodded slightly and took a sip of his coffee.
At the moment the cup touched Clayton’s lips, it exploded into a thousand pieces, spraying hot coffee all over his mouth and neck.
Clayton stumbled back just a step, and dropped what was left of the handle from the cup. It fell to the sooty wooden floor but didn’t break. All of a sudden his hearing and sight came back and he realized that Bastien had shot him. Smoke cleared and dust settled, and slowly the throbbing in his ears ceased to a dull ring. His neck hurt, he thought there were probably second-degree burns, bubbling up and growing redder by the second. Clayton was down on one knee, and as the last of the dust settled, he discretely picked up a jagged three-inch piece of shattered white china. He realized there was some blood dripping from his hands, but it wasn’t oozing, so he paid it no mind. He looked back up from the ground to the chair where Bastien sat, but no one was there. Then he felt a hard grip on his shoulder.
Bastien, immediately after expertly shooting the cup from Clayton’s hands, snuck around behind him and yanked him up from the ground. He spun him with his left hand and swung a hook with his right, connecting with Clayton’s jaw, and whipping his face sideways. Clayton stumbled backwards and Bastien went to grab his neck and punch him in the face again, but as he drew back his fist he felt a sharp jab in his rib.
Clayton had taken a hit or two in his lifetime and this one was certainly the hardest yet. Bastien’s knuckles hit his mouth so hard he felt his eyes shake suicidally in his head. When he turned his face back, he was already coming at him again so he gripped the razor sharp chunk, and whomped it into his ribcage. The action cut Clayton’s hand badly, but he didn’t flinch, couldn’t flinch, or else he would lose his edge.
Bastien followed through with his punch, this time making sure to break this asshole’s jaw. After Clayton spun and fell to the floor, he plucked the little piece of glass from his side, and threw it to the ground. Some blood flung off of his fingers when he threw it, and splashed off his boot and Clayton’s pants. The blood hit the dirt, and balled up as it rolled along. He lifted his left arm and rubbed his side. It was nothing serious. He smiled that maniac’s smile, walked over to his chair, and sat back down.
Clayton was lying at Bastien’s feet, finally coming around. He was lying on his stomach, and when he opened his eyes, the tip of Bastien’s boot was all he could see. He got up to his hunkers with great quickness, but stopped suddenly when he realized the pain in his face. It was unbearable pain and it hit him like a raging bull. He stood up stumbling, and holding his face the whole time, finally coming to a swaying stop a few feet in front of the maniac in the chair.
When Clayton was standing up in front of Bastien, he took a few seconds to get his bearings. First day with your new legs? Bastien thought, and chuckled soundlessly. Bastien watched as Clayton carefully took his hands away from his wound. The bottom half of his face was demolished. His jaw had been knocked out of place, and shifted out to the left. It jutted out almost entirely, making Clayton’s head look like it could spin right off. Tears trickled down his face, mixing with the blood streaming from his gums and the rip in his cheek, and dripped off his chin onto his shirt. Clayton’s eyes were red and unfocused, he swayed in his place like a drunk.
Bastien leaned forward resting his elbows on his knees and said, “ So Clayton. How many bullets do you think I’ve got in this girl?” He looked over to his gun and picked it up. After admiring it for a few seconds he pointed it, once again, at Clayton. He tossed the gun from hand to hand all the while staring at the man in front of him.
All Clayton could feel was pain. Excruciating, mind numbing pain that was relentless and maddening. When Bastien pointed the gun at him he really wished he would stop stroking his ego, and just pull the god damned trigger.
As if reading his mind, Bastien thumbed back the hammer, spun the gun once back, and once forth, and shot the raven.
He’s not going to let me die that easy, Clayton thought. And then he fainted.