As Jason rode into the town, there were all sorts of commotion
on the street. People gathered outside the saloon and even
children scurried around excitedly. One little boy named Tommy
Kendall wanted to see the shootout that was evidently going on
inside the saloon, but his mother, Dora, ordered him to stay
away. She actually told him to go home, but instead he went to
hide behind a wagon.
Dora walked toward the saloon, then turned to hurry away.
Bang! Suddenly, that’s the noise she heard. She froze in
her steps, dread filling her body. She was afraid of what the
news would be. The sheriff stumbled from the salon and fell
Jason had dismounted his horse and stared in shock as the events
unfolded. The town’s sheriff was dead – killed by some unknown
gunfighter! Men gathered around the body of the Sheriff. Even
little boy came to stand beside him. Dora ordered the boys to
go home then kneeled down beside the Sheriff’s body. After one
moment, she lifted her head. “He’s dead,” she announced, grief
lacing her words. She looked around, desperately. “Well,
aren’t any of you men going to do anything?”
The men didn’t answer, but merely turned and walked away. Dora
grabbed the gun still in the Sheriff’s hand and hurried to enter
the saloon. Jason hurried to check on the sheriff’s condition.
Inside the saloon, the deputy and some of the townsmen stood
watching the gunman as he re-filled his gun. He was gloating.
“Deputy, you wanta try your luck?”
The men hurried away from the deputy to give him a wide berth.
But before the deputy could do anything, the cocking of a gun
could be heard. The gunman and deputy turned to see Dora
holding a gun on him. “You know he hasn’t got a chance against
you,” she muttered. “But I have. Your kind always riding into
town killing one sheriff after the next…”
“Now look, lady…” the gunfighter laughed nervously. “I don’t
know who you are.”
“Well I know who you are. Joe Latigo. Your father killed my
husband.” Her words were spoken with much bitterness.
“Now, I can draw and kill you before you pull that trigger.
Just because you’re a woman, don’t think I won’t…”
Just then, Jason hurried into the saloon. He pushed Dora’s gun
to the side. “You’ve done enough damage already,” Jason told
Latigo. Leave it as it is.”
“So, we’ve got a hero in Silverton,” Latigo declared softly.
Jason pushed Dora out of the way and took his position to fight
Latigo. “Alright. You wanta make it a double funeral?”
Jason drew his gun and shot Latigo before Latigo could even move
his hand. He fell to the ground dead.
A man in a grey suit called out to Jason before he could turn
and leave. “We sure could use you around here. The sheriff to
keep Silverton safe for our wives and children.” The other men
“Thanks. I’m just passing through,” Jason was quick to answer.
He explained that Sheriff Baker was a friend of his He had
written Jason to tell him the mines needed an engineer – that’s
where he was heading.
“Well, if you’re a friend of
Jedd Baker’s, that’s a mighty good
recommendation to be Sheriff here.”
“Hey, wait a minute, Mr. Trent.” Deputy Tomlin stepped up.
“I’m next in line for that job.”
“You stood in line when you were called out, Tomlin. You missed
your chance.” Trent turned back to Jason and asked him again.
Jason was a bit surprised that he’d pin a badge on a man he’d
just met. How did he know Jason would be any good. “You’re
good alright. You beat him to the draw. Joe Latigo is
fast…real fast. No, you’ll do just fine.” Jason thanked him,
but told him he was headed for the High Country. But that
wasn’t good enough for Trent. He assured Jason he’d make a lot
more money staying in Silverton. “As Chairman of the Citizens
Committee, I’m prepared to offer you twenty dollars a day in
gold if you’ll stay here and be our sheriff.” Jason was a bit
surprised at the steep wages, and of course Mr. Trent was kind
enough to remind Jason just how much he would need to get way up
into the high country.
“Well uh…I’m still passing through. But if you like, I’ll stay
long enough to earn enough for that pack mule and supplies.”
They agreed he would stay two weeks.
Then he asked Jason his name. “McCord,” Jason answered. Jason
wasted no time giving orders. “Some of you men get that man out
of here. And Deputy, see about Mr. Baker, huh?”
Deputy Tomlin walked up to Jason. “Yes sir,” the deputy said a
Jason walked up to Dora and asked her if Sheriff Baker was a
relative. “No. The sheriff before him was my husband. He was
shot down the same way by that man’s father.” Jason told her he
was sorry. “Why? This is not your town…not your problem. Why
did you take that job?”
“I need the money.” She thought he was crazy for him to give up
his life for the price of a mule and some food. Jason didn’t
see it that way.
“Well, you will. Dave Baker was the third sheriff to be killed
here in less than a year. They all thought they were too fast
to die. Even my husband. But they did. And now Joe Latigo’s
father and some of his friends will be after you. And so will
every other gunman looking for a quick reputation. It’s one big
game…like a turkey shoot.
That’s all a sheriff is in this
town…just target practice.”
One of the first things Jason did was put up a sign:
Notice: No guns will be worn in Silverton. Check all guns at
this office. They will be returned upon leaving.
After Jason went back into his office, men gathered around the
sign and laughed. “If he wants mine, he’s going to have to come
and get it,” one man declared.
Another cowboy said, “That’s just how I feel. I think I’ll go
inside and tell the Sheriff he’s starting off on the wrong
foot.” He did. “Sheriff, I read your sign. You print real
good. But you went to an awful lot of trouble just for a joke.”
“Just wear that gun in one hour, and you’ll find out it’s no
joke,” Jason retorted.
Muhler told him Bud Lee, the dealer at the saloon, thought it
was real funny as well. “He said if you want his gun, you’ll
have to come and get it. You should know, Sheriff…Bud was a
good friend of Joe Latigo…The man you killed.”
“One hour, Mister.”
Jason went outside to make his point clear to the men who were
standing around. “If you want to stay in town, you’ve got one
hour to deliver your guns to my office. Otherwise, they’ll be
“Maybe you better take Bud’s first,” Muhler suggested. “He
asked you to. He’s fast, Sheriff.”
Jason was standing just outside the saloon. He gave no warning,
but slammed the doors open with his shotgun. Lee stood up in
surprise. “Alright, turn around and put your hands on the bar!”
Jason demanded. Lee had no choice but to do as he was told.
Jason ordered the deputy to get his gun.
“Isn’t a man entitled to a fair draw in this town anymore?”
“I drew against you before I came in,” Jason muttered. Lee
thought that was a cowardly way for him to face the law. Jason
was just about to leave, but on those words, he turned and
walked toward Lee. He held the shotgun on Lee. “It kept you
from making a mistake, and saved the
town the expense of burying
you. That’s my idea of law enforcement.”
Muhler told Jason he had expected some shooting. “It takes two
guns for that, Muhler. Let’s have yours.” Muhler didn’t move.
Jason walked up to him and took his gun. “The rest of you still
have an hour.”
“You ain’t gonna last as long as the others, McCord,” Muhler
threatened. “There’s more where that came from.”
Later, Jason came outside his office to find a note tacked up on
his notice. He took it down while Muhler stared at him. “That
a Di-rect challenge, Sheriff. You think you can meet it?”
“I’ll meet it,” Jason declared before walking back into the
sheriff’s office. He handed Deputy Tomlin
the note. “Did Latigo tack that up there himself?”
Jason looked out the window, awed at the crowd. He didn’t know
there were that many people in latigo. Tomlin explained that a
lot of them rode in after they heard Latigo had challenged him.
“Took the day off to see the fight. He’ll be along soon.”
“Well you tell them to move down the street. It’ll be safer
there and they won’t miss a thing.” Tomlin reminded Jason that
Bill had a lot of notches to his record – he was better than his
son. He was probably the fastest gun in the territory. “Aren’t
the all?” Jason asked.
Deputy Tomlin went out to deliver the message. He hardly got
his words out when he saw Latigo coming up the street. The men
scurried away while Latigo continued walking up the street.
When Deputy Tomlin went back inside, there was no sign of
Jason. “Sheriff, it’s me…Latigo.” Deputy Tomlin came out the
door. He told Latigo Jason had gone out the back way.
Sure enough, Jason was on top of the roof across the street. He
pulled a rifle on Latigo and told Tomlin to get his gun.
“You’ll probably find another one in his saddlebag,” Jason
“Sheriff, did anybody ever tell you you’re just plain yeller?”
“Tomlin, get his gun,” Jason ordered again. Tomlin just stood
there, staring at the men on the street and up at Jason. “I
ain’t the first one to ever call your Sheriff yella. You know
who he is? You ever seen that broken saber he carries? You
know how he got it? The army gave it to him when they kicked
him out for being a coward. He’s Jason McCord, yellow-tailed
from Bitter Creek.” Jason again told the deputy to get his
guns. But again, he stalled. “That boy you killed…he was
really fast. I taught him all he knew. Is this the way you
tricked him? My son?” Latigo turned his head to look at the
deputy “You’re kind of chicken livered too, deputy. You better
pay a lot of attention to your boss. Maybe you can stand up and
become a gutless wonderer like he is when he goes…because he’s
Jason continued to hold the rifle on him. “Latigo, drop your
gun or ride out of town. One or the other right now!” Latigo
chose to ride out of town. They watched him leave. Jason
climbed down and came out to talk to the people.
“Sheriff, your stinking reputation is giving this town a
stinking reputation! Now you get out, or we throw you out!”
Jason stepped into the street and started across. “You’ve got
my gun, but I don’t figure I need one to take care of a
yellow-tailed like you. Muhler put a hand on Jason’s shoulder.
That was a mistake. Jason turned and belted him right in the
Latigo’s words really got those town men to thinking.
Before it was over, they started thinking Jason had cleared his
holster before Latigo had even started to draw. Maybe Jason
really WAS a coward.
The boy had been watching and listening attentively. A boy
pretended to shoot all the boys. One of the boys told Tommy
that he wasn’t playing fair because he’d snuck up on him. “It’s
Jason heard and saw it all. “McCord, now that we know about
your army record, it’s abundantly clear why you refused to face
up to these gunmen that ride into Silverton,” Trent declared.
“Have there been any killings since I put this badge on?” Jason
questioned. He said no. “Well, isn’t that why you hired me?”
“We expected you to take a stand against these killers…To deal
them out some of their own medicine. And now we know you’re
just plain scared, it’s going to be worse than ever for us. We
do have our pride, McCord.”
“Pride in what? Are you proud to lose more lawmen than any town
in the territory? Well if that’s it, Trent, you can forget it.
I plan to stay alive.” Jason turned and walked away.
Trent called a meeting of the men in town so Deputy Tomlin could
explain the note. “From Latigo. He says he’s coming to town
tonight for a showdown with McCord, and this time he wants a
fair fight.” The men all agreed.
“Gentlemen, if you back me up, I think we can assure Latigo
he’ll get what he’s looking for,” Trent declared. “I’m fed up
with McCord’s way.” Again, the men mumbled their agreement.
Trent took the note over to Jason and threw the note in his
lap. “Another challenge, McCord. Are you going to answer it?”
“I’ll answer it,” Jason answered.
Dora walked in, having just heard. Jason told her it seemed
everybody had. “Well, if you don’t fight, I’ve been authorized
by the Citizens Committee to dismiss you without pay.” Jason
reminded him of a written contract signed by him. “Alright,
then you hire yourself a lawyer and take me to court. But I
want that badge. You’ve brought enough disgrace to it, and to
“You’re wrong, Mr. McCord. I don’t like to say it, but…” Dora
“Well say what you don’t like to say, Mrs. Kendall!” Jason
“Well there’s some times when you have to face up to a killer.”
“Why?” Jason questioned. “Does a killer deserve some kind of
“But the children…look what you’re teaching them…to be sneaks
“I’m trying to teach them respect for the law,” Jason argued.
“The law says that before a man dies, at least he gets a trial.
These two-bit gunmen are setting themselves up as judge and
jury! Now look…if that’s the way you want it, you can have this
badge.” Jason threw the badge on the desk. “And this town.”
He picked up his hat and walked out.
But before he could untie his horse, Latigo stepped out of the
shadows. “McCord…I’ve been waiting on you, McCord!” Jason
stepped out onto the street. Latigo took a few steps toward
“Latigo, this way one of us has to die. Now that doesn’t have
to be. I’m leaving Silverton right now. As far as I’m
concerned, you can tell everybody you ran me out.” The whole
time, Latigo came closer and closer.
“It’s you I’m wanting, McCord!” Latigo announced. “You can’t
talk yourself out of this one.” Latigo started to draw his gun,
but Jason was faster. He drew his gun and shot twice. Latigo
fell to the ground…dead!
Everyone came out of hiding. Trent had the gull to commend
Jason from a job well done. “What we said in there…let’s forget
it,” Trent said.
“Forget a murder?” Jason asked.
“He drew first, that’s not murder,” Dora declared. “Now that
you’ve proven you can stand up to a man like that, why don’t you
stay on as sheriff?”
“No thank you. I’ll leave that to Tomlin. He can put on your
shows for you. As for your children, Silverton can look forward
to a fine crop of quick-draw killers.” She told him that wasn’t
true, but Jason showed her what his boy was doing right then.
He was pretending to shoot the other boys. “When he’s old
enough for a real gun, maybe he’ll kill most of those kids.
Then he’ll wait around until someone with a faster gun kills
Jason turned to mount his horse. Again, Trent had the gull to
approach Jason. He wanted to give him the money they owed him,
and even said he deserved a bonus for standing up to Latigo.
Jason’s answer? He turned and gave Wes Trent a big punch in the
nose. Trent, of course, was totally shocked that Jason McCord
did such a thing.