Wednesday, 15 July 2009

WILD BUNCH WEDNESDAY: 2 - The Antagonist

Every protagonist has an antagonist - or a bad guy to bring to justice.
In 'The Man From Labasque' Pad McGhee is after a bunch of bandits who have massacred the inhabitants of a small town.
But in 'Lawmen' there is no antagonist as such despite the fact that they are hunting a rustler and Chris Ford is looking for the killer of his father. The antagonist is found within the environment of each man's story.
'Ten Thousand Dollar Bounty' plays with the idea of protagonist and antagonist and asks the question who is the good guy and who is the bad guy. On the one hand there is Matt Broker the bounty hunter and on the other there is Trade Bronson a notorious outlaw.
Today's excerpt comes from 'Ten Thousand Dollar Bounty'. The Lennoxville Bank has been robbed by Trade Bronson and his gang. Matt Broker and Sheriff Guthrie James have ridden out with a posse but Broker has 'found' tracks that indicate that the gang have doubled back and the posse have gone on the chase - a chase that Matt Broker does not join. Nor has Guthrie James been duped by Broker's ploy
"I'm not letting go," James announced. "I'm with you all the way."
"Sure you are," Broker agreed, swinging into the saddle and leaning forward, his weight resting on hands that cupped the pommel. "But you don't really want me to repeat myself."
"I get your meaning," James sneered, moving towards his own horse. "I'll stay out of your way. All I want to see is Bronson dead and you collect your bounty."
"And then?"
"I'm bringing you back," James stated, calmly, turning to face the hunter. "Two crimes were committed in my town today. One was a robbery. The other was the murder of two citizens - by you."
"Me?" Broker scowled. "I killed in self defence and you know it."
"Wouldn't have happened if you hadn't provoked a fight," James fired back, his eyes holding Broker's face and not his hands - and when he dropped his gaze there was a .45 pointed at him.
"Made it plain enough," Broker grinned at the other man's impotence. "Where I go - I go alone."
James glanced down the trail to the disappearing posse hidden by the dust cloud thrown up by their galloping mounts. He shook his head, then let it hang with despair as he realised that they were too far away to be of any help. And when the killing shot struck his body, they would not hear it.
But he did and he flinched. Then showed surprise when he realised that he had not been hit nor did he want Broker to see how scared he was. Only when he heard the loud slap of flesh on rock behind him did he move, his eyes widening as his gaze settled on the blood oozing hole where his horse's right eye had been.
"You bastard," Guthrie James screamed as the gun bucked in Broker's fist twice more.
This time to shatter the horse's skull, before shifting aim to the canteen which bounced under the impact and leaked precious water.
"See you around," Broker grinned, holstering the Colt. "But wherever, you'll only get there on foot."
"Damn you, Broker!" James screamed. "No horse. No water. You can't leave a man like this."
"I can," Broker stated. "I've left you with your gun and your life. Try an use the one and you'll wind up without the other.

Copyright Jack Giles 1986 and reproduced with the permission of Robert Hale Ltd.
Second hand copies can be found on Amazon.
Please check out the rest of the Wild Bunch at:


Unknown said...

Excellent writing and nice excerpt. This blog linking is great fun! I hope readers are enjoying it as much as I am.

Jo Walpole said...

Oh, yuck. Poor horse. I hate that guy!
Good excerpt.

I.J. Parnham said...

I reckon shooting up a horse comes over as more distressing than shooting up a man, so that really sets things up well.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Excellent action

Steve M said...

Great excerpt, really like that last line.