The Reputation

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Matt Bowdre sat on his grulla horse surveying the valley before him. Matt sat in the middle of everything that he owned. A gurlla mustang a .44 Winchester rifle, two saddle bags with necessities, and two bone handled .44 Colts that he was amazingly handy and familiar with.

As he surveyed the empty valley below and saw a long sweeping meadow that was somewhere around 250 acres large with a calm stream weaving down the center of the meadow. The edges of this meadow was mostly ponderosa pines but nestled in the further most corner of this valley Matt could see a pond that fed into the stream.

?Well Sage this looks like our new home? Matt said as he patted his horses flank. He spurred the horse and road into the meadow. The first thing that he did was look for a place to build the house that had been in his mind since he was a child.

After searching he found that this valley was approximately 700 acres and lead off into another larger valley that was mostly good grazing grass that he could run a couple hundred head of cattle on.

The meadow that he was in was in the shape of an L. Matt decided that he would build his cabin in the corner of the valley where the two parts of the L come together. He chose this spot for several reasons including the great field of fire in the direction of the mouth of the valley and he was very close to the pool of water.

After he was finished clearing out the space for the cabin it was getting dark so Matt turned Sage lose on the grass in the meadow knowing the horse would not wonder far and would come at Matt?s shrill whistle. He then started a small smokeless fire and spread out his bed roll. As he lay down he thought over what he would need to buy in town the next day despite the harsh conditions and risk Matt slept soundly trusting Sage to rouse him if any thing came down into the valley.

In the morning Matt saddled his horse and road towards the nearest town, Buckshot. As he was riding he was wondering if his reputation of being gun-slick had traveled this far west. The last man that was trying to make a name for him self was down in the Dallas area. Sadly that man is now a permanent resident on Boot Hill Matt thought, along with all of the others that tried to make a name for themselves by killing the infamous Matt Bowdre. I didn?t try to be labeled with the title of a gunfighter Matt thought.
It all started with the man that killed his pa. He trailed him into town, followed him in to a saloon and called him out. The man called Matt a liar and the man went for a gun. Matt hook and drew, shooting the man before the other man cleared leather. As he walked out he heard the people in the saloon talking about how fast he drew. After that men seemed to follow him around and try their luck but none of them had what it took, he thought soberly.
As Matt road into Buckshot he dismounted and tied his horse at the hitchen post. As he walked up the board walk he glanced over towards the general store thinking about what he needed to buy there after his drink and that?s when he saw her. She was walking into the general store. She was short compared to Matt?s 6?3?? she had long wavy brown hair, hazel eyes, and a round figure.
Matt no longer felt thirsty and changed his course to the general store next door. As he opened the door he saw that she stood at the counter telling the clerk what she wanted to buy. At the sound of the door she turned and their eyes met?and held. For a breathless moment no one said a word. Matt Bowdre felt as though his muscles had gone dead, for he could not move. Her eyes were open wide, startled as she took in the man in front of her. She saw a man that was 6?3?? tall, a broad built chest, narrow hips and two crisscrossed gun belts. The holsters and the guns looked like they had seen a lot of action. The man?s face was wedge shape with blunt features and a few days worth stubble of a beard. He would be handsome she decided, if only he shaved.
Matt was the first to recover from this loss of words and said ?Howdy mama, my name is Matt, Matt Bowdre?
?I am pleased to make your acquaintance Matt, my name is Shelbie Reed. My father owns the Lazy R, are you looking for work?
?No mama, I plan on ranching in these here parts.?
?Really, well we will have to have you over for a meal some time Mr. Bowdre?
?That sounds great Miss Reed?
?Please call me Shelbie?
?Ok Shelbie, as long as you call me Matt?
?That sounds like a deal Matt, well I better get going. I will talk to my father and see when he would like to have you over.?
With that that she took up her bags that the clerk had been getting for her and walked out the door. Well I was just standing their thinking about that pretty face and that meal that I would get to have with her when the clerk asked if he could get any thing for me and I gave him my list of supplies that I needed for the next few weeks. As he was filling my order I started looking around the store. A few minuets later he told me I was good to go and I paid him and walked out the door.
The street was empty when I walked out the door. As I looked the town over it was like all the other cow town that I had been in: Two, two bit saloon, a hotel, livery stable that doubled as the undertaker, a doctor office, a barber shop, and a stage station. I walked down the boardwalk to my horse put my gear in my saddle bags and then walked to the saloon. As I went through the bat wings all eyes turned towards me as I belled up to the bar. The bartender walked down my way and said, ?Whiskey or rye stranger?. ?Rye,? I replied studying the group of men that sat at various tables through the mirror behind the bar.
That?s when I saw the kid; he was young about twenty with blond hair and a small build. I immediately placed him as a kid who saw me in a gun fight up in a Mobeetie Saloon. As I watched he walked to the far end of the bar and ordered a shot. I could tell he was trying to place me? then finally he turned
?Don?t I know you??
?Nope? As I replied I faced him making sure that my holster was clear of the bar.
?I think I do, you were up Mobeetie way in a gun fight.?
?Weren?t me? I replied I could see in his eyes he was itching for a fight.
?Are you calling me a liar??
?I didn?t say that.?
?Mister that can get you killed.?
?Not by you? I replied.
?I had enough of your cut downs don?t make me draw on you?
?You seen itching for a fight but let me tell you this, I aint going to draw on no tinhorn yellow kid that wants the name of a gunfighter, so if you want to start the play I?ll finish it? Now this little statement riled him up good and I saw him reaching for his gun. I figured he wasn?t fast so I waited until he had his gun coming out before I slapped leather. Despite this waiting on my part I still nailed him before he cleared leather. The shot found home right in the middle of his chest. Well that kid looked down at that crimson river that was flowing on out of him looked at me and then fell flat on his face to go and meet his maker.
I turned to the bar downed the rest of my drink slapped two bit on the bar and walked out. As I pushed through the bat wings I saw a crowd already coming to find out what happened. I walked to up to Sage, mounted up and started out of town wondering if I should try once more to drift out of my reputation of gun slick or to build that ranch and see what would happen between Shelbie and I.





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