Sweat dripped down my back as I studied Smith Rock canyon. I’d tracked Blackjack McDougal all day. The trail had been just a little too easy to follow for it not to be a trap, one especially designed for me. Blackjack was a cheating, lying SOB, but not stupid. He had to know I would come after him. Two weeks as sheriff and the town already questioned my right to the job. After all, it was my ex that robbed the bank and blew up the cavalry commander.

“What do you think, Tin?” I asked my four-legged partner. “Do we wait for X-troop cavalry or take him ourselves?”

Tin’s tail flopped, creating clouds of parched dirt. His whimper echoed my thoughts. There was no way we could do this alone. My shoulders drooped and I turned away, almost stepping on a rattler. Tin growled and we retreated to a safe distance.

“I got an idea, Tin.”

It didn’t take long to make the necessary preparations. The sound of hundreds of rattlesnakes echoed around the canyon followed by Blackjack’s screams. Swaying brush marked Blackjack’s trail as he charged out of the trees and smacked into a wooden fence overgrown with weeds. A full flip landed him at my feet. I grinned and pointed my laser riffle at his chest.

“Problems, Blackjack?”

“Rattlers, hundreds!” Blackjack’s eyes were stretched wider than I thought possible. “For old time’s sake, save me!”

The rattling reached a defining pitch as Tin leaped over the fence and stood over Blackjack, steel teeth bared. Blackjack’s face was whiter than a daisy. I struggled not to laugh.

“Nah, that’s just Tin, my new electronic deputy dog. I reprogramed his bark synthesizer. Always said your rattlesnake phobia would be your downfall. Just be glad I found you instead of those X-troop cavalry robots.”

About A. L. Kaplan

I am a writer, artist, and parent.
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