Long Sunset

This is a very short chapter from my long running Western "The Thousand Devils". I've been working on this/not working on this for closing in on 10 years. Earlier this year I completed the first draft in the screenplay that most likely doesn't make much sense.  That's what happens over 10 years, you develop as a writer and the words you put down at the beginning of a span that long don't mesh at all with the words you are putting down now. I'm no longer a late teenager full of angst... I'm now a late twenty-something full of angst. Not really, but you get the idea.

So with all of that being said, I'm different now than I was then, meaning I have a different perspective from which I write. An epic in which a guy must hunt down and kill a bunch of demons now no longer gets me excited as a writer. I have to find a way to explore the characters. For the longest of times I was going to make Michael (the hunter character) my primary antagonist all the while keeping Wyman Rustwine, the retired Confederate soldier with a grudge against anyone who considers themselves a Yankee, the sidekick, stock character. But recently, I've been playing with the idea of making the narrator Rustwine and having him be "our eyes" through the story. So the following super short story is my way of working with that approach. Enjoy it . Hate it. Disregard it. Who cares... after this much time "The Thousand Devils" is a story I will either tell in due time or one that I will not. Hopefully I will finish the story someday... but I'm cool either way.


Rustwine turned to Michael.

"How long we been riding together," he asked, making sure his head was behind the large boulder they were using as cover. Even though it was night, they couldn't be too careful.

Michael shrugged.

"Couple years, why?"

"In all that time you've never thanked me," Rustwine said.

"I thought it was a given," Michael said, peaking around the boulder to see if more bullets were on the way.

"Well it wasn't," Rustwine said, getting in Michael's face. "I'm out here everyday bustin' my tookus for you, for all of this... and for what? I could be makin' a lot of money shootin' renegades, thieves, injuns, ya know?"

"I know," Michael said. "And don't call em injuns, that's wrong."

"Sorry," Rustwine said, getting ashamed of himself a little. "I got fired up."

"You don't have to apologize to me, Rustwine." Michael said. "But the next time you come across a Native you'd better ask for their pardon."


"You done whining?"

" I suppose," Rustwine said. "But I'd be remiss if I didn't say a simple thank you would be nice from time to time."

Michael smiled. Rustwine hadn't seen one of those on his face in a long while. Too long in fact.

"Thanks for bustin' your tookus," Michael said. "Now can we go take down these murderers and rapists?"

"You're welcome," Rustwine said, pulling back the hammers on his double barreled shotgun.

Michael drew his pistols out of his hip holsters, stood up from behind the boulder, and started blasting into the sage brush the murderers and rapists were using for cover. Rustwine did likewise. Pretty soon three men, or better yet three demons who were disguised as men, scattered from their barricade. Rustwine, lowered his sites on the slowest moving one, pulled the triggers, and blew a hole through his chest. The demon fell fast to the ground, dying in it's earthly body.

The trouble with diablos, Rustwine thought, is that they possess people. Those people don't deserve to die, the need to be rescued, exorcised of the demon living inside them. He and Michael didn't kill those poor folks. The only ones they killed were either full demonic beings, the ones with red eyes and god awful breath. The ones the Enemy left on Earth thousands of years ago after the Gate was built. After sin entered in. They were outcasts from Heaven and outcasts from Hell. They were absolute evil.

He and Michael didn't mind putting them down.

The other diablos that had to be killed were men who openly aligned with evil and accepted demonic possession. He and Michael didn't so much like killing them. Despite being human they'd taken an unholy vow and their lives were forfeit.

The diablo Rustwine's shotgun had just opened up was one of these types.

"Sorry hombre," Rustwine said, ducking behind the rock.

He watched Michael, on the other side of the boulder, continue the fire fight. The last round from Michael's right revolver clipped the heel of the second diablo. The demon howled in pain and collapsed to the ground.

"Cover me," Michael said. "I'm gonna give it a shot."

"No," Rustwine said, knowing exactly what his compadre was thinking. "You're not."

"Fine don't cover me," Michael said. "We'll just leave it in the hands of the man upstairs."

Michael holstered his spent guns. Rustwine shook his head.

"Bastard," he said. "I've been coverin' you for two years. Think I'm gonna stop now?"

Michael nodded with that grin again.

Michael took off toward the demon he'd shot. It wasn't impossible to save a lost soul, they'd both saved a few of this sort before. Michael told stories of when he'd rode with Silas and how the two of them would hunt down diablos just to save their lives. To exorcise their demons. Now Silas was dead and the war was getting uglier. The Enemy knew what they were up too and if they weren't careful they'd be dead soon too.

But Rustwine knew he couldn't tell Michael to stop. Telling his compadre to stop would be telling him he couldn't save his wife from Hell. That he couldn't break down the Gates of Hell, march down to the Lake of Fire, and snatch her up from the horrible fate she didn't deserve. That's what this was all about anyhow. Redemption.

And that was why Rustwine just watched Michael charge into certain doom. Because he believed  everyone could be saved. That everyone had a second chance. That everyone, including a demon possessed man who'd said yes to Satan and not Jesus, deserved a fighting chance.


I don't know if anyone else has had to deal with allegory in their work. I've struggled with whether or not I should tell this story as a religious allegory or not. Whether I should I keep the biblical references out, the praying out, the exorcising out, etc. After so much internal debate, I think I'll leave it in. I know that by leaving it in it may alienate people who may think I am being negative or small minded in using religious structure and systems to tell this story, but that is not really my intention. I am using my beliefs to structure a story that can be appreciated by everyone. "Demons" can be anything, right? They don't have to literally be demons possessing people right? They can struggles we all have. From addictions to just being a jerk, we all things that hinder us. In a way all of us have Demons to face... it's just that for Michael and Rustwine what they happen to be fighting are actual demons.

Much like The Three Amigos and their struggle against El Guapo.

Lucky: In a way all of us have an El Guapo to face someday. For some, shyness might be their El Guapo. For others, a lack of education might be their El Guapo. For us, El Guapo is a big dangerous guy who wants to kill us. But as just as sure as my name is Lucky Day, the people of Santa Poco can conquer their personal El Guapo who also happens to be the actual El Guapo.

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