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Southern Sanctuary


The deputies advanced as Nick stood. “Don’t put your hands on me, Bronson!” said Nick. Ignoring his warning, both deputies reached for him. Nick’s first blow was quick and vicious. The punch had such force that it propelled Bronson backward. He staggered on his heels across the room where he crashed into the men in the booth of the opposite wall. Nick then delivered a barrage of punches to the face of Cowboy Galyon, who immediately crumpled to the floor. The preacher stood and staggered out of his booth, struggling to maintain his balance. “My God!” he exclaimed.

      Only the rasp of Bronson’s breathing intruded on the silence that now enveloped the room. With his mouth agape, Mussey stood motionless behind the counter.

      Instead of making any attempt to escape, Nick welcomed the upcoming combat, for a terrible anger had long been festering inside him. Like a pugilist in a boxing ring, he squared off, awaiting retaliation from the deputies.

      Bronson wiped away the blood that flowed from his mouth and pried himself from the booth. Pulling the blackjack from his hip pocket, he cautiously moved forward toward Nick. Cowboy Galyon struggled to his feet and drew his revolver from the holster, pointing it at Nick. Together, they slowly advanced to within three feet of him.

With lightning speed, he again struck Bronson, this time in the nose. Blood spurted, and as he reeled backward, it began to gush onto the front of his shirt. When Cowboy swung the revolver, the butt of the weapon caught Nick squarely in the side of his head. Almost unconscious, he struggled to maintain his balance. Cowboy repeatedly bludgeoned his head, as Bronson, who had now regained his composure, began to beat Nick across the face with his blackjack. “Hold him, Cowboy while I finish off the son of a bitch!” Moving to a position behind Nick, Cowboy pinned his arms behind him as Bronson continued to beat him.

      The preacher became enraged. “I’ve never before raised my hand in anger against my fellow man! But there’s such a thing as righteous anger! Turn him loose, you servants of the devil!” He swung his fist, hitting Bronson in the face. The pitiful blow only served to further enrage the deputy. With one swift blow, he quickly dispatched the preacher. His limp body fell onto the floor like a sack of flour.

      Nick was now unconscious. He slumped to the floor where he lay motionless beside the preacher. The deputies stepped back, with Cowboy Galyon still pointing his weapon at Nick. “We ought to shoot the bastard!” he said.

      Deputy Bronson picked up the preacher’s vodka bottle from the table. He then poured the remaining contents of the bottle onto Nick’s face and upper torso.

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