Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Jul 28, 2023

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2023. #6 Mc Carthy



Chris Grant


His boots no longer made any noise on the sun-baked caliche outside the warped-wood saloon in the small west Texas outpost.

That was the thing he noticed most as he moved toward the swinging doors that led into the dark room where his destiny waited. There was no cracking as he strode toward the stairs. The sound of the ground underneath his boots snapping, collapsing, breaking, disintegrating into dust, as it bore the weight of his substantial body. It was gone. This was likely because he was no longer walking as he moved. No, it was pretty clear. He was floating.


And his boots, where were they? He briefly looked down, expecting to see the shining cowhide, covered by layers of trail dust, hed pulled from the feet a man he killed in Kansas. Brown at the bottom with a white shaft. Hed taken them to the Hyer brothers and had them stitch a rose on the left boot and two guns on the right. Those boots had been his pride and joy. Well except for his saddle. No, maybe his gun. Not the hideaway he kept in the boots, or the one he wore inside his coat, no it was the Colt .45 revolver with the pearl-handled grip which sat in the holster that hung on his right hip. The one he used to kill men. The one he would soon pull from that aforementioned holster in order to perform the days chore in order to collect the days pay.


His boots were gone, but his gun was not. Were his feet even still there? He was floating. He was sure of that, but his lack of feet was not impeding his progress toward the saloon doors. He briefly looked down and considered the fact he could not quite see anything below his knee. His brown trousers were there, as was his gun belt. His chest was still covered by a striped, collarless, shirt and the black-leather vest he usually wore over it. A red bandanna was tied around his neck and fell down from there, spilling over his shirt, the frayed tip just in his field of vision when he looked down. His hat remained on his head. He could feel it and he assumed it was the same wide-brimmed black Stetson he picked up the last time he was in Abilene, taking it from the ground after it fell from the head of a man he shot in the back. The hat was no worse for wear. The man on the ground, with his slug lodged inside his no-longer beating heart, could not say the same.


Up the stairs the assassin silently went, crossing the boardwalk in front of the failing building. He stopped when he reached the swinging doors and looked inside, trying to find his quarry. The Judge was hard to miss a giant of man, the Judge stood close to 7-feet tall, without a lock of hair on his massive body. He was usually holding court to a rapt audience. It was hard for him to see the room as his eyes adjusted from the blinding sun to the mostly dark space inside. But it was never hard to pick the Judge out of a crowd and soon enough he found him, standing by the piano, holding court to an audience of at least 10 men and two working girls. The man pulled his prized pistol from its holster and drew back the hammer as he pushed the swinging doors open with his other hand. He took one step inside the bar and leveled the gun at his target


His boots no longer made any noise as he walked on the dry, cracked caliche which served as the lone thoroughfare through the small west Texas town where he found himself on this particular April day. The man, who most people knew only as Smith, stood was he standing? When he looked down for his beloved boots, he could no longer see them. In fact he could not see much below his thigh, and there was a strong possibility he was actually floating above the ground outside the building bearing the word saloonin faded-yellow paint on its brown facade. Never mind, he thought, hed come to collect a bounty and that was what he intended to do. He moved toward the building and up the shoddily-made, dilapidated, steps. He quickly crossed the boardwalk in front of the saloon and reached the swinging doors. He scanned the room, looking for the man he had been paid to kill. They called him the Judge, although Smith was unsure if he was actually a member of the judiciary. Perhaps he was called the Judge because he was the one who typically was handing out justice. Or, perhaps, they called him the Judge due to the fact he so often had decided what was right and what was wrong for all the people who followed him. Not that it mattered. The Judge was done making decision. Today was the day the Judge died.


Smith cocked his pearl-handled pistol as he pulled it from its holster, then pushed the door of the saloon open and took one step inside. He leveled the gun at his intended target and his trigger finger twitched as he exhaled, intending to shoot the Judge in the head as he did


The assassin floated in the street outside the run-down saloon in the west Texas town of McCarthy. His boots were no longer there. It didnt matter. He had no feet to wear them on. So there was no sound of cracking earth as he made his way over the caliche, toward the saloon and up the stairs to the swinging doors which would ultimately open on his destiny. He paused briefly outside the doors to look inside for his intended target - a bald giant of man they called the Judge. Smith cocked his pistol and pulled it from the holster which hung on his right hip. He pushed the doors open and raised the gun, intent on shooting the man he had been paid to kill, who was at that very moment was talking to an enraptured audience of people gathered around the establishments silent, broken, piano.


Smith would never see the Kid standing to his right, his slender frame pressed against the wall, making himself as inconspicuous as he possibly could. The assassins assassin, laying in wait for the chance to kill the famous killer. Nor would he ever hear the click of the trigger on the Kids converted Colt Navy revolver. He would not ever feel the burn of the fire which sprang from the barrel of the Kids gun as it discharged on his right cheek. Once the projectile, which the gun fired, pierced the skin of his cheek, it would be too late for him to ever feel anything again. Smith would never know any of these things, or experience any sensation ever again, as his misspent life left him eternally trapped in the moment he died.

Art credit is AI-generated. Would like to give credit to the source.

This story is submitted by my good friend Chris Grant, who is the nephew of my late mentor, Glen Grant. You can find Chris at You can also find his most recent novel, Waiting 'Round To Die, at this link on Amazon.

I'll be back tomorrow with the conclusion of our three part-time traveling story.

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