**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Man Who Killed Dan Odams
by [?]

When the light that came through the barred square foot of the cell’s one high window had dwindled until he could no longer clearly make out the symbols and initials his predecessors had scratched and pencilled on the opposite wall, the man who had killed Dan Odams got up from the cot and went to the steel-slatted door.

“Hey, chief!” he called, his voice rumbling within the narrow walls.

A chair scraped across a floor in the front of the building, deliberate footsteps approached, and the marshal of Jingo came into the passage between his office and the cell.

“I got something I want to tell you,” the man in the cell said.

Then the marshal was near enough to see in the dim light the shiny muzzle of a short, heavy revolver threatening him from just in front of the prisoner’s right hip.

Without waiting for the time-honoured order the marshal raised his hands until their palms were level with his ears.

The man behind the bars spoke in a curt whisper.

“Turn around! Push your back against the door!”

When the marshal’s back pressed against the bars a hand came up under his left armpit, pulled aside his unbuttoned vest, and plucked his revolver from its holster. “Now unlock this here door!”

The prisoner’s own weapon had disappeared and the captured one had taken its place. The marshal turned around, lowered one hand, keys jingled in it, and the cell door swung open.

The prisoner backed across the cell, inviting the other in with a beckoning flip of the gun in his hand. “Flop on the bunk, face-down.”

In silence the marshal obeyed. The man who had killed Dan Odams bent over him. The long black revolver swept down in a swift arc that ended at the base of the prone official’s head.

His legs jerked once, and he lay still.

With unhurried deftness the prisoner’s fingers explored the other’s pockets, appropriating money, tobacco, and cigarette papers. He removed the holster from the marshal’s shoulder and adjusted it to his own. He locked the cell door behind him when he left.

The marshal’s office was unoccupied. Its desk gave up two sacks of tobacco, matches, an automatic pistol, and a double handful of cartridges. The wall yielded a hat that sat far down on the prisoner’s ears, and a too-tight, too-long, black rubber slicker.

Wearing them, he essayed the street.

The rain, after three days of uninterrupted sovereignty, had stopped for the time. But Jingo’s principal thoroughfare was deserted — Jingo ate between five and six in the evening.

His deep-set maroon eyes — their animality emphasised by the absence of lashes — scanned the four blocks of wooden-sidewalked street. A dozen automobiles were to be seen, but no horses.

At the first corner he left the street and half a block below turned into a muddy alley that paralleled it. Under a shed in the rear of a poolroom he found four horses, their saddles and bridles hanging near by. He selected a chunky, well-muscled roan — the race is not to the swift through the mud of Montana — saddled it, and led it to the end of the alley.

Then he climbed into the saddle and turned his back on the awakening lights of Jingo.

Presently he fumbled beneath the slicker and took from his hip pocket the weapon with which he had held up the marshal: a dummy pistol of moulded soap, covered with tinfoil from cigarette packages. He tore off the wrapping, squeezed the soap into a shapeless handful, and threw it away.

The sky cleared after a while and the stars came out. He found that the road he was travelling led south. He rode all night, pushing the roan unrelentingly through the soft, viscid footing.