***** Selected for sale in the GETTY IMAGES COLLECTION on April 2nd 2015


This photograph became my 420th to be selected by Getty Images for inclusion in their Moment collection, and I am verfy grateful to them for this amazing opportunity.






I guess you’re feelin’ mighty confused right now. In your search for answers, you hope to rationalise my actions and try to understand my motivation for the life I have led. But you simply cannot. You want me to spout lies and spurious tales of childhood neglect and abuse which cast a dark shadow on a young boy’s mind and led him into temptation and evil thoughts and deeds. You are horrified by the very thought of my callous disregard for the lives of those I have slaughtered, snuffed out like candles in the dead of night, caring little for the legacy of sorrow taht I leave behind in my wake. And in return, I expect of you some form of sympathy, understanding for the pain I now feel and the actions I take. And yet, you are strangely intrigued by my story. You hate me for what I am, what have done, for the stories that I now relay to you, but you are drawn deeper into the realms of my vendetta. Don’t beat yourself up about it none. You’re as human as the townsfolk, men, women and chillen who feel the desire to run out into the dusty streets and eye over the bodies of those I’ve just killed, still shakin’ and tremblin’ as the sound of the bullets bounce off the wooden planks of the towns buildings, lying prostrate and still warm as nerves twitch and eyes fade to a misty white, and I make my exit.

And if you’re searching for remorse, you won’t find it here. Absolution is sought by those who place some semblance of belief and trust in the words of the good book and the false idols they prey to. My Elizabeth had a belief of sorts, a soul so honest and true that it could make me weep, and she saw good in people and situations that I could never see. For all the good it did her. Putting faith into the wooden cross beside our bed, paying homage through the metal pendent around her pretty neck was enough to raise my dislike, though the tears which cascaded down her soft pink cheeks whenever the matter arose was enough to keep me from venturing there too frequently. And me? I prey at no man’s feet, destiny and fate my only companions, survival my only prayer. I tie Wa Ka Liva’s reigns loosely to the post outside of the barber shot, windows shuttered with wood and fearful eyes peeking through the gaps in the slats as I walk slowly by. It ain’t no day for have a go hero’s nor those who talk a better fight than have in’em, today the town will swell with the barbarity of professional killers waiting in the shadows to stake a claim in history and reap the fat rewards for their part in my downfall. By now, legend precedes me and the lure of fame and fortune has anyone with a kill to their name lining up to take a shot at me.

Peripheral vision honed and sharp, I see movement from two shadowy figures up ahead as my eyes try to adjust to the blinding light from the merciless sun which dances across my face like sidewinder snakes in the desert sand. No beer induced stumbling from fools, no jovial banter, these hoodlums mean to mess me up for Steed and Hurst to finish off. What plans are afoot, what cunning strategies have the sons of bitches thought up for my demise? I’m walking with a purpose, striding with arrogance as the young bucks approach me, the first one twenty two maybe, thick set, single holster and shiny steel that glints in the light, a head full’a notions but lacking the balls to see them through. The second man is thicker set, head and neck formed as one, flexing muscles and fingers poised for action, two hundred and twenty pounds of solid untamed aggression and a world full’a ambition all rolled into a walking nightmare. A fighter’s nose, previously broken, and oversized ears hanging like Canyon bat wings from the rim of his hat. He’s hungry for my blood and will fall this day through the impetuous nature of his unskilled hands.

I walk on by, straight past them. I’m guessing that they are considerin’ me taller than expected and meaner than hoped as the reality of fear and doubt meets head on with the bravado of bar room brag and expectation. I have a notion to kill’em right there and then, but a mind to tease and taunt their plans. Ya know what, Let’s play out this scene to it’s natural conclusion. I’m in the mood for some fun as testosterone covets the air, and I have the scent of the kill, a wanton blood-lust that must be sated. I stop and turn back towards the pair. The stocky guy is arched up against a shuttered shop front, as I move back and eye the first man up. My ears prick up at the sound of the blade as it exits the first man’s hand, aimed true and dead straight, right at my chest. Ya know, I’ve gotta hand it to these guy’s, they are playin’ for keeps, a little amateurish perhaps, but entertaining. With a casual movement, I sidestep the whirling blade which finds a home embedded deep into the door of the saloon . The stocky man snarls, revealing a missing couple of teeth and rot that has spread like a cancer through those that steadfastly refuse to flee. At this point I’m guessing that heart rates are increasing, blood pressure rising if the beads of perspiration cascading down the shorter guy’s face are anything to go by. My pulse, by contrast, slows and evens, as then world through my eyes slips into black and white, focus concentrated, every nerve and fibre of my body rising to the job in hand.

The contemplation of the kill is let down by the brevity of the act itself. Ears detecting the footsteps of two more men fast approaching from behind, my brain calculates the options, the scenario playing out as, spinning on my heels, the steel grey form glistens as a lightening quick reflex pulls a barrel up and round. Left hand up under right arm, right thumb cocking the first hammer as the bullet chambers and fires in a single action. Pupils dilate and shock registers on Hurst’s dark and soulless eyes, too slow to comprehend my actions whilst facing the canon fodder sent to distract me. It was a mighty fine plan my friend, for one with so few brain cells as you, but you failed to take into account the anger that’s driving me, the adrenalin that’s coursing through these veins, and the will I harbour to survive this onslaught. Hurst falls heavily, life snuffed out before muscles have become acquainted with the dusty floor. Disbelief registered suitably in a pained expression as hot metal crushes splintered and fragmenting bone, and a pitiful yelp exits his normally vocal mouth. The poor fella never even saw it coming. Single slug, between the eyes, dead centre. Way to go fella. Not bad for an ex-gun slinger who’s a little outta practice and rusty around the edges.

Steed is baring down on me, angrier than a raging bull, and twice as ugly. If this lump of blind rage gets a hold of me, I’m dead meat for sure, as my left hand swings a degree or two and a second bullet loosens itself from the barrel, a twisting, spinning mass of fatal beauty destined for Steeds skull. I could almost feel sorry for him, though unsurprisingly, on this occasion I do not. The second round powers through Steeds left eye socket, like a hammer through a peach, exiting into the wall behind and reverberating in the afternoon sun, as a mosaic of blood spatters the ground better than any painting I’ve ever seen before. His body is still at full pelt when the force of the impact thrusts him into the air, like running into a wall of steel, limbs flailing, as he hits the ground with a resounding thud. Two down, two to go, as I spin around, holsterin my right side gun, hand rapidly acquainted with the coolness of my blade, which is despatched quicker than the stocky guy can react, embedding itself deep into his throat as he cups the hilt with both hands, choking as the blood gushes from the fatal wound and he drops onto his knees scratchin’ at the air as his last breaths pass him by. Left hand still full’a steel, my index finger kisses the trigger which has been machined and polished to my exacting standards, as light as a feather, as eager as a rampant buck. A shot rings out as I fell the remaining fool, who shakes like a tree in the winds and pisses his pants as he pleads momentarily, bleeding and crawling like a stuck pig. Sorry fella, I ain’t the forgiving type. Raised barrel, cocked hammer, conscience clear, I finish him with a round to the brain. Two would have been fun, but I can’t afford the luxury of wasted ammo today.

Blood and tissue matter from Steeds worthless carcass have spattered across the leather of my boots, sizzling under the hot sun. Now that seriously crosses a line! Wait a moment, was that a twitch, a groan from Steed? Still alive, or merely the death rattle as his final breath exits that offensive flesh? Never one to miss an opportunity for payback, figuring its better safe than sorry, I empty two more shells into him, his body rising and falling under the impact with a finality that signals my job here is done. Gasps from behind shuttered windows resound as the dust settles and silence falls like a veil of mist across a naked valley. I empty his pistol and gratefully take charge of his shells which will serve me well. A man’s gotta take provisions wherever he can in these lands. I walk back to my horse and saddle up. The warmth of my guns pulsate through to my flesh and the delicious and intoxicating smell of cordite fills my nostrils as I mount up and slowly leave the town. I was born to this life and I pity those about to feel my wrath.

From the corner of my eye I see a figure emerging from one of the doorways, and instinctively swivel, hand and pistol joined in perfect union in the blink of an eye with the barrel aimed straight for the kill, hammer cocked, finger itching to pull down another sorry son of a bitch who fancies takin’ a pot shot at me and my quest. I stop in my tracks as my eyes fall upon the town sheriff. Fatter than a cow at slaughter, fear etched across his flushed pink skin and grey moustache that was so carefully waxed this very morning, he removes his hat, placing it across his chest, nodding in my direction in a form of submissive gesture that tells me he’s seen it all and will be raising no objections to my departure from his town soon as. I guess he’d hoped for a different outcome to the one that has played out, but beggars can’t be choosers and I ain’t met a man yet who wouldn’t sell his soul to the devil himself for the chance to continue living and breathing.

A bullet in the back is the one that every gun slinger fears, after all, where’s the honour in that tale when told around a camp fire full of eager minds and hungry hearts. There are a few legends of the Wild West that didn’y quite end as the story tellers write in their fancy papers and books. Today won’t be my last on this beautiful land, though it’s coming soon enough. And will my legend be told to future generations who view me with a mixture of respect and ridicule? Will I be hailed a great hero or reviled as a worthless piece of shit? Do you really expect me to give a damn?


Written January 3rd 2010/Rewritten April 5th 2011

Photograph taken in an open field near Sparwood, on the borders of Alberta and BC, Canada on April 16th 2010.

Nikon D90 10mm 1/320s f/10.0 iso200

Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II. UV filter. MetaGPS geotag.

Latitude: 49 43\’36.276"N
Longitude: 113 24\’30.24"W

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