Red Valley – Chapter I

So one of my New Years’ Resolutions is to turn one of my screenplays into a novel. I’ll be writing and challenging myself in a new form, but it’ll be nice to have a completed story to work with. At the suggestion of my wife I’ve decided to start with Red Valley, my first real screenplay. I’ll be posting the chapters one by one and hopefully this will keep me engaged. Cheers.

I

By 1888, the old west was but a myth, and the characters that once populated it were now but legends, either retired or – the smarter ones – dead. Hank Steel – or West, as he was known in those days – was not one of the smarter ones.

The sun was slowly setting across the Arizona plains and West rode with a speed to match. He was restless but not unhappy making an honest living even if it was under the pretense of a lie. But he was getting older now and this pace suited him just fine. He cursed his age when he heard the hammer click behind him and suddenly he was content.

“Stick ‘em up, old man.” Young Billy Douglas was new to the game and twenty years too late. Being a black man with a chip on his shoulder, he had a lot to prove. West smiled. He’d never been anyone’s first before. “How much money you got?”

“I don’t.”

“Quit playin’ games, old timer.”

“The only one playing games, boy,” West turned around to face him, “is you.”

“Ain’t nobody calls me boy–” The cocking of West’s gun stopped Billy shy of exclaimation. But as the light hit West, Billy could see the gaunt face and the leather features and the lines that were either born from age or a blade. Probably both. And Billy recognized this face.

“Little advice – boyif you’re gonna rob a person, do it to somebody you can actually scare.”

“You — you’re West Steel. But you supposed to be dead.” West lowered his head hoping the hat would throw off the kid but it was too late. “I got your wanted poster hangin’ –”

“I ain’t no West Steel. The name’s Crowley. You got me mixed up.”

“No sir, I’d know that face even in the darkest of night. You’re somethin’ of a hero to me. It’s a real honor.” Billy extended his hand but was met with another click of West’s gun.

“Now I’m willin’ to let you ride off with your brains still inside your head. You stop all this foolish talk now.”

Billy understood and didn’t press the subject any further. He knew the truth and that should have been good enough. As he watched West ride off he was grateful for the meeting but disappointed all the same.

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