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  • Writer's pictureAaditya Shetty

It's High Noon

In the town of San Pierro, in the outlands of the Wild West, two men stood at the ready. The entire town had come to a standstill and all hustle and bustle had ceased. The pastor prayed to the Lord to have mercy on their souls. The men stood in the gunslinger’s stance, holster leg in the back, hand near the revolver handle, ready to fire at a moment’s notice. The tension in the air was so thick, you could cut through it. A few gentlemen looked at their pocket watches. 11:58 AM. The time wasn’t right yet. The two men stood there, watching each other, waiting for the other to make a slip. The town of San Pierro was not too big. There was an entrance on the Eastern end, with a small watchtower and a water tower. The sheriff’s office was located nearby, along with a few residential buildings. The saloon was located towards the centre of the town, near the hitching posts and the well. Towards the Western side of the town, there was the church, with the mighty bell tower.

One of the men, John Bell, with his dark brown hair, dusty coat and engraved service revolver stood at church, looking at his opponent, the fearsome Arthur “Butcher” Black. A huge, imposing beast of a man, with black hair and a dark grey coat with bloodstains on it. This man had gained the title “Butcher” because of his exploits as an outlaw. Robbing trains and banks, pillaging peaceful settlements, attacking the law and other heinous acts. This made him very infamous and a huge bounty was placed on his head. Five thousand dollars. Bell had tracked him down and had come to collect as was a bounty hunter who generally acted as a peacekeeper as well. Though he was his own man, he preferred working with the law, bringing order to the West. “Ain’t my time now, tracker!” Black taunted Bell. John stayed silent, his teeth clenching on the cigar he was smoking. Bell thought of what had led to this moment, everything he had done to get here. John had started out as a Pinkerton, a detective who held the law and specialised in train robbery cases. It was one of these cases that had led him to Arthur Black. A member of the feared Eastwood gang, Black had risen through the ranks and became the lieutenant of the leader, Dutch Eastwood. Soon after, Black betrayed them all and watched them get arrested by the Pinkertons after a train robbery. The outlaw got away and it was here that John picked up on his trail. Following a string of train robberies that matched Arthur’s modus operandi, the detective started piecing things together. After a month or so, John resigned to become a bounty hunter as this allowed him more freedom to operate.

By this point, the Arthur Black case had become an obsession. He really wanted to hunt down the most feared outlaw of the West and bring him to justice. For about a year, Bell tracked him through the West, going from the mountains to the caves, from the coasts to the towns. After two years, John Bell found the man he was looking for. In the town of San Pierro.

Located on the outskirts of the wildlands of the West, it did seem like a good place for a dangerous outlaw to hide out in. Two days ago, John Bell walked into the nearest saloon, disguising himself with a scarf. He asked the barkeep for a drink and sat down, surveying the room. There, in the corner of the room, near the back exit, he saw the Butcher. Knowing he had found his mark, Bell tracked him down and noted down the location of Black’s quarters. He then went to the town sheriff and asked him if he could settle things and bring peace by duelling the bandit. The sheriff was hesitant to grant him this request because two of his men had already fallen to the quick hands of the outlaw. The sheriff told Bell that if he wanted this, it was his choice but he would surely die. John Bell, the dashing bounty hunter, told the sheriff with a smile that he accepted this. The next day, Bell prepared everything. He wrote a will in case he died. He made arrangements for a pastor and for a grave to be dug. The sheriff sent a notice to Arthur Black about the duel. He gave into his pride and accepted. “What can a lowly hunter do to me?” he scoffed. That was yesterday. Bell snapped back to the present. He had a bandit to take out.

“11:59! Gentlemen, prepare yourselves”, said the Pastor. Both men shifted uncomfortably. “This town ain’t big enough for both of us, friend”, Black said to Bell. “You’re certainly right. Time to decide who gets to stay, for it’s high noon.”

That day, in the town of San Pierro, exactly at 12:00 PM, the church bells rang twelve times but thirteen sounds were heard and the town had one less inhabitant.

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