I knew what he was. He knew that I knew. He had no choice, and neither did I.
It was still dark out and the morning air was cold and moist. Twenty paces in front of me stood the dark silhouette of a man ready to die. I could see the faint glow of his burning eyes fixed on me, studying me. His face was hidden in the shadow of his wide-brimmed hat and I couldn’t tell what he was going to do. No; that’s not right. I knew what he was going to do. I just needed to know when.
There we stood, as still as scarecrows. I don’t know how long we spent like that, but before long I could feel a burning heat on my left cheek and a wave of color washed over the world and I knew that the sun was rising beside us. I could see him better now, but not by much. He wore a brown duster and let one side hang over his chest and the other side pulled behind the holster of his gun. He had a navy blue shirt and dark jeans and a black hat. His face remained hidden, except for those two burning eyes like lit cigars. I couldn’t see his face.
The road between us was of cold, hard dirt trampled flat by the horses and coaches and people that have passed this way in the six decades since settlers first claimed it. Alongside this road were boardwalks and beside those boardwalks were houses and inside those houses were people and those people were looking outside their windows at the road on which he and I stood and like us they were waiting. But I could not see his face.
We could have spoken then, but we remained silent. Respect for the dead. Or soon-to-be-dead, as the case may have been. We’ve had our whole lives to speak, and there was nothing we could say now that would change fate. I knew when to speak and when to think. I also knew when to do neither, and that time was coming soon. I just needed to see his face.
It was almost time. I could feel it, even though my eyes saw nothing but a shadow and two burning embers beneath the man’s hat. The silence grew awkward and edgy instead of calm and thoughtful. I could see his fingers twitch and his weight shift from one leg to the next. I felt all the eyes watching us from nearby windows and balconies. I slowly began to tune in the distant sounds of the city streets surrounding us instead of basking in the muted quiet of the standoff. Now was the time.
There was a sound like a thunderclap as all three guns fired simultaneously. Bright sparks flew in the darkness with unmatched speed – two from me and one from him. There was no need to fire again.
The sound of the gunshots eventually faded and there was silence once again. There were four eyes staring back at me. Four little lights in the shadowed face of my enemy. He stood for a few more moments before dropping his gun and falling to his knees and collapsing onto the dirt road beneath us. He was still. I never saw his face, and now no one will ever see it again.
Day 146’s three random prompt categories were, “Standoff,” “Four-eyes,” and, “Silence.”
They might not be cowboy wizards. You don’t know.