A jolt of yellow light moved about the holster. The Yellow Flash had struck again. The twelfth bell sounded out from the clock tower but high noon had long since passed. Blood had already pooled out around the torso that had toppled and lay splayed in the dirt. The victor slowly sauntered across the beaten road that cut through the town. He was donned in gray from top to bottom which made everything else about him stand out that much more. His revolver was on main display, its handle crafted from a strikingly yellow wood. From that came his moniker. So fast on the draw it was just a yellow flash before it was all over.
He stood over the newly fashioned corpse, a lad no more than seventeen, mouth agape and eyes wide in horror. He looked down at the dead boy and tipped up his hat, exposing some of his dirty blond hair which was more dirt than anything. He put his hands on his hips and let out a theatrical sigh. “Late to your revolver, early to the grave,” the Yellow Flash bellowed, making sure that all the onlookers would hear his words of victory. He looked only to the corpse, he knew all eyes were on him, just as they had been for all of his victories. He fished into his breast pocket and plucked out a silver dollar. He flipped it in the air and caught it, “I suppose it just wasn’t your lucky day kid,” and placed the dollar heads up on the boy’s forehead, leaving his shocked expression as it was.
The Yellow Flash then reached over to the boy’s holster and slid the revolver out with ease. “Couldn’t even get it out of the holster when being stared down by a real man.” He stood and spun the revolver in his hand and whispered to himself, “little fool,” and jammed the barrel of the revolver into the chest of the boy. It messily sunk into the bullet wound, forcing itself into the hole that was too small for it. He withdrew the revolver and held it up to the sky as blood dripped down the barrel and fired it. The bullet that was meant for him launched into the sky, covered in his victim’s blood.
With his routine complete he sauntered on toward the saloon and the undertaker quickly moved to the boy and spoke a prayer under his breath. The Yellow Flash’s grin widened further and further as townsfolk ducked out of his way, a few looking on with reverence. He winked to beautiful women that he would bed in due time. He stared down others who dared to look at him with anything but respect. As he neared the saloon a glint of light struck him in the eye and his grin turned into a dark scowl.
The sheriff stood outside the saloon, his vest struggling to contain his portly belly. His badge was displayed prominently over his heart and it shone with a brilliance that rivalled the flash of the Yellow Flash. But that wasn’t the only thing that shone with brilliance. The sheriff’s hair was like golden hay and billowed out from his hat which itself was a brilliant white. His eyes were a deep black and his stare would cut into a man. He had the red nose of a drunk but never touched a drop. His mouth was small and his teeth gigantic in contrast. His most distinguishing feature however were the two golden shocks of hair that framed his face, a brilliant set of mutton chops that matched the colour of his hair exactly. From that came his moniker, Sheriff Hamhock.
Hamhock stared at the Flash. Hamhock held eye contact with him, boring holes into his face and spit at his feet. Hamhock’s badge caught the sun sending it right into the Flash’s eyes and he put up his arm to shade himself. “You get yourself and that damn badge away from me before things get messy here you cake eating bastard,” Flash spit right back at Hamhock’s feet, trying to still look tough while shying away from the badge’s glint.
Flash’s dancing as he floundered about the badge’s glint made Hamhock lighten his expression, “Ooohwee, look at you boy, can’t even stand the sight of a great lawman without cowering away! Ham ham ham ham ham,” he gruffly chortled.
“Now don’t you try and make fun of me fat man, don’t you see this?” Flash angrily lifted the bloodied revolver, “I’ve got dozens more of these, all covered in the blood of men that thought they could best me. Might be nice to add a lawman’s revolver to the collection.”
“I’ve heard word of you, ‘Yellow Flash’. Roy Bolton from over in Shadestone sent message just the other day that I would have a dandy to deal with. And well, here you are, Irvin Isaacs. One who fancies himself a top tier gunslinger but only deals in tricking young boys who’ve barely held a revolver in their hands to duel. Ham ham ham. It seems you ran away from Roy Bolton with your tail between your legs but you won’t get by me.”
Folk were gathered up in and outside the saloon, giving the two a wide birth and listening on with murmurs. Flash looked about at the onlookers, their expressions changing from fear to smugness. Their sheriff’s words had emblazoned them with more courage than they had had moments before. “All you filthy bastards think you could even put a scratch on me?! Drop your goddamn smiles before I put a hole in every one of you!” Some of the onlookers again shied away but some held strong in their belief of Hamhock.
“They’ll be no need for that boy. It’s going to be you and me. Tomorrow. At high noon. Just like how you like to do your killing with theatrics I myself am quite partial to a showdown with the sun high in the sky.” Hamhock shifted slightly and the sun glinted off his badge again right into Flash’s eyes, but this time he only winced and didn’t shy away.
Flash’s face was boiling as he got angrier and angrier. With his outfit he looked like a beet placed on a stone. “I’d love to oblige you, you old rat bastard! It’s a deal!” he roared. “Now leave me be for the rest of the night, I have whisky to drink and women that can’t wait for my talents. I’ll pop a bullet right through that badge of yours tomorrow,” Flash then leaned into Hamhock and whispered, “then I’ll have my way with this town as I see fit. That’s what they deserve for having a worthless sheriff.” Flash turned away without waiting for Hamhock’s reply, smashing his boot through the saloon doors. “Whisky, now!”
Sheriff Hamhock stood firm, chortling to himself at the Flash’s child-like attitude, “ham ham ham.” He looked about at the townsfolk he held a pledge to protect. “Don’t worry now folks, Irvin Isaacs will be swiftly dealt with tomorrow by none other than myself. Now if he gets up to a ruckus tonight, I’m not far away, I have my eye on him. Sleep easy folks, boys like him got no power ‘round these parts.” With a wink and tip of his hat, Hamhock turned away and made for his office.
The moon hung high in the sky, unimpaired by any sort of cloud cover. Flash looked out the window of his rented room at the saloon, “Goddamn weather, where the hell are the clouds when you need ‘em.” He picked up his satchel and coat and made way out of his room, to the back of the saloon. He pulled his hat down and a bandana up about his mouth. His movements weren’t as swift and sly as he would have liked. With the bulk of his coat and his bags, he stumbled down the stairs. Luckily with all the drinking and singing about the tables and piano he had no trouble slipping away out of sight from the patrons and working girls. He sulked his way around the side of the saloon and peered out past the edge of the building to the main road. The few that would be out and about at this time of night were all already holed up in the saloon in a drunken stupor.
Flash sidled up along his horse and unhitched her, quieting her low whickers by patting her head. He hopped up onto the saddle and quietly began trotting off to the edge of town, away from the sheriff’s office. He made his way along without incident. None had even as much as peaked their heads out as he neared the edge of the town and he could gallop away without needing to worry about Hamhock. His horse trotted on, passing the last building along the main road when a door slammed behind him. The Flash looked back wild-eyed but saw no one. He turned back his head and there was Hamhock, atop his horse, rifle held in his hands. The colour drained from Flash’s face and he put on a gruff voice, trying to pull by the sheriff. “Watch where you’re going there friend, I nearly ran you down.”
Hamhock walked his horse forward, further blocking Flash’s path. The shocks of hair upon his face glowed with the moonlight, along with his badge. “I suppose they were right when they gave you the name Yellow, boy.”
The colour rushed back into Flash’s face so quickly that it gave him a head rush. Flash ripped the bandana down from his face, “What the hell did you just call me you pig suckin’, grease swiggin’, shit swimmin’ rat bastard?!”
Hamhock met Flash’s rage with complete calmness. “You heard what I said Irvin Isaacs. It looks to me like you were skipping town after I challenged you to a duel. So then it would seem you’re taking that name of yours and living up to its real meaning. The Yellow Flash, the man that runs from any fight faster than you can say his name.
“You keep those lies to yourself Hamhock! I always go out for a midnight ride to clear my head before a duel. Now I suppose it won’t matter what you say about me, by noon tomorrow you’ll be dead in the dirt with the filth where you belong!”
“Ham ham ham, oh yes indeed. As long as you stick around for it I’m sure it will be quite the duel Irvin Isaacs. Now how about I escort you back to your room. I don’t think the ride will do you much good this time around. There’s a chill in the air after all, don’t want you catching sick before your big day.”
Isaacs’ sneer turned into a forced smirk. “Yeah, sure sheriff, why don’t we both get some rest. Big day tomorrow with the funeral and the hiring of a new sheriff. Quite a lot of work to be done.” Isaacs’ turned away and let out a huge barking laugh before setting off back to the saloon.
The sun was high in the sky. The Yellow Flash rallied up himself and the crowd with his practised theatrics, spinning his revolver in his hand, the yellow handle ablaze in the light. “What you are about to witness here folks is the end of a worthless sheriff. One that spends more time with his hands in a pie dish than protecting his people!” Flash threw his revolver up in the air and caught it back on his finger and continued spinning it about. “This revolver right here has ended the lives of many a gunslinger. They were all at least twice the man than your so-called protector. And today I will rid this waste of space for you townsfolk. And maybe, just maybe, if you butter me up just right, I’ll step up and take the place of that man. And no outlaw would ever be foolish enough to challenge this town or its people ever again, lest they face off against the Yellow Flash!”
Hoots and hollers shot out from the crowd. “Yeah, you worry about yourself there first dandy! Hah hah hah!” Another called out, “That’s mighty fancy gun toatin’ you’ve got there boy, but it’s nothin’ against our Hamhock!” “Just run away with that yellow tail bet—“
A shot rang out as Flash fired his gun into the air, silencing the crowd. “No more words from any of you!” Flash screamed out. “Just you all wait nice and silent and watch that grease ball of yours as I end. His. Life!”
“Calm yourself now boy.” Flash’s head spun around to see Hamhock striding up to the centre of the road. Hamhock was donned in his full sheriff’s uniform, his badge impeccably shined and placed on his vest, right over his heart. His golden hair billowed out from his white hat and his finely kempt chops proudly sat upon his face. “No need getting your nickers in a twist. May as well show the people a little bit of courage before this is over.”
Flash spit toward Hamhock. “The same goes to you sheriff. Now will those be your last words or do you have some kind of wisdom you wish to impart upon these townsfolk here?”
“Ham ham ham. I suppose all I have left to say boy is prepare yourself.”
“Well then, by the time that clock tower strikes it’s twelfth bell you’ll already be in your grave.”
Sheriff Hamhock and the Yellow Flash placed their backs to each other. The sun hung high in the sky, again not a cloud in sight. The crowd was silent, along with the wind. The first bell rung out and both men took the first of their ten paces. With each strike of the bell they took another step forward. Their steps looked lazy but were held with deliberate focus. At the eighth bell the crowd tensed up. Flash’s stride was much shorter than his previous seven. Hamhock firmly placed his boot to the dirt, his brow furrowed.
The ninth bell sounded and Flash took a step shorter still and before the tenth bell rang out he turned, drawing his revolver from its holster, a flash of yellow. Hamhock turned with the tenth ring to see the Flash with his revolver trained on him. Hamhock spun his body and with a drop of his shoulder his badge caught the sun and it burned right into the Yellow Flash’s eyes. The Flash winced, squinting his eyes and fired wide. A split second later a second shot rang out, followed by the eleventh bell.
“Ahh!” Irvin Isaacs cried out, a wounded dog. He groped at his right hand with his left and fell to his knees. Blood flowed out of his missing pointer finger. Sheriff Hamhock sheathed his revolver, looked down at his badge, shined it with a handkerchief, and began to stride toward Irvin Isaacs. The twelfth bell rung out and the townsfolk erupted in applause.
“You goddamn slimy bastard! You cheated with that badge of yours, blinding me during our duel you sonovabitch!” Hamhock strode closer as blood rushed in Isaacs’ ears and out of his hand.
Hamhock stood over Irvin Isaacs. Isaacs head hung down as he stared at his hand. Isaacs’ left hand slipped away from his right and into his coat. He looked up at Hamhock’s chest with a wild grin and pulled out his hand. A third shot rang out followed by a second scream from Isaacs which silenced the crowd from their cheering. A second revolver, its barrel caked in blood spun out of Isaacs’ grip onto the dirt. Hamhock swiftly spun his revolver and sheathed it again.
“At the end of the day you couldn’t even look a real man in the eye.” Hamhock looked down at Isaacs. Isaacs sat there, crumpled into himself, his head buried down as he moaned and muttered, his two hands bleeding. Hamhock scanned the crowd and called out, “Doctor Abernathy, I’ll be needing your assistance here with Irvin Isaacs, it looks like hes gone and got himself a hole in each hand.” And from that, the moniker of the Yellow Flash was no more.