Western Fiction posted December 5, 2013

This work has reached the exceptional level
How a Cowboy Met His Untimely Fate

The Ballad of Kathy Campbell

by vkmack

She looked down at the blood that had dried in the dust. Then, Kathy Campbell stood up slowly, pushing the hair out of her eyes. Billy's six-shooter was heavy.

He said that his money was stashed out here. They would ride out, get the metal box he had hidden, and then head on to the preacher, he told her. She believed every word of it. But now, with him lying dead on the ground and mistakes trailing behind her like tumbleweeds, she only wanted to go back and undo it all.

Billy had been coming into her family's Bar None Saloon for three years. He always arrived with the big cattle drives and stayed across the street in the Forget Me Knot Hotel. Papa had hated him right off, but Mama thought he wasn't so bad.

"Besides, if you don't loosen the reins on that girl, she's gonna hop on the back of the first horse that slows down long enough for her to get a grip" she had stated flatly. "It won't matter who's on it."

But Papa was worried that Kathy would be like Edna's Girls, who offered the cattlemen comfort. He called them "the worst trash I've ever seen."

Well, Kathy was a lot of things, but no one could say she was trash. She was eighteen years old and completely untouched--until last night.

Billy had promised to take her away on the first day they met, when she was only fifteen. "You can't spend your life trapped here in Dime Box, " he'd told her. She agreed.

Then, last night, he had taken her out under the back stairs and tried to kiss her. But she worried that Papa would see them.

"What's wrong with you, girl?" Billy had snarled. "Don't you know that lovin' is natural?"

"Yes, I do," she tried to be nice. "But I want to wait till we have our own place and get settled."

That boy had stared at her like she was crazy. Kathy knew he dreamed of her; she thought of him, too. But all her imaginings started with a church wedding and ended with a white picket fence.

She had no way of knowing how desperate Billy was to have her. When he told her his money was stashed out at the old Johnson place, she didn't even flinch. They just got on Old Benjy and rode out.

But when they got to the abandoned farmhouse, and she asked where the cash was hidden, he got angry.

"Money's all you think about, dammit," he accused.

Then Billy put his hands on her.

Later that night, when he fell asleep, she took the gun and tried to sneak away, but he woke up. He pulled Kathy off the horse and said he wanted his revolver. So she gave it to him. He would never put those hands on anyone else.

The sun had been up for several hours now, and the girl still couldn't cry. Billy's crooked smile was gone, taken by a clean shot to the head.

The six-shooter seemed to be part of her hand. Kathy pried it loose from her stiff fingers and tossed it aside, then straightened her torn and bloody clothing. The wind was blowing hard over the prairie as she mounted the horse and turned her sights toward Dime Box and home. Papa would be so proud; their target practice had paid off.

Write a short story beginning with writing prompt entry
Writing Prompt
Write a flash fiction story that is between 300 and 600 words.


Word count on Microsoft Word is 571. Wordcounter.com count is 570 words.

Dime Box exists, and I have been there, but it is not on the prairie. I just liked the sound of the name for this story.
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