Returning the Guns, assumed published, copyright and written by Troy Lawson.
Kirk DeWolf is on the outskirts of a small western town as a stagecoach is being held-up. He is unaffected until he hears a child scream which changes his attitude. He spurs his horse down the hill to find 5 bandits, all of whom he rapidly dispatches with head shots. The boy and an older man are the only passengers and thank him saying he should visit them when and if he gets to their town. The man, although previously a passenger, ascends to the driver’s seat (not an easy task for anyone unaccustomed to handling a stage coach team of horses or mules) and wheels toward home. Kirk does decide to visit the town because he has been on the trail for some time without stopping anywhere. He enters the local bar/hotel but finds it very unfriendly, refusing room, food or even to sell him a drink. It seems the town has been taken over by Remus, a particularly vicious renegade and his hired guns, and the townspeople are afraid to offer anything to strangers. As he leaves he encounters Adam, the young boy he saved, who invites him home for dinner. Here he meets the beautiful Emily, who’s older brother had been the boy’s father. He also had been the town’s sheriff who was killed by Remus. The story continues as Kirk attempts to save the town and its residents as he leads by example and attempts to rally support from the townspeople.
Discussion: Upon introduction, Kirk seems to be an avenging gun fighter drifting from town to town to rectify injustices. This opening impression quickly vanishes, however, from the fact that, although he guns down 5 bandits with remarkably well-placed head shots, it is pointed out that he still has 1 round left in his revolver. Any user of a single action pistol, especially of that era, knows that only rarely does one load such a weapon with a sixth round because of the danger in carrying the weapon with a round under the hammer. Furthermore, he re-holsters the weapon without immediately replacing the spent cartridges – a definite no-no for anyone not knowing when the weapon might again be needed and there is no indication that he has a second weapon. So he definitely is a drifter, albeit remarkably proficient with a gun, on the prod and no doubt carrying a memory or memories that tend to keep him moving.
Summary: Accepting the fact of who and what he is, western aficionados should enjoy this story.
4* Interesting tale of a gun-savvy drifter in the old west.