A GIFT PISTOL – Part 1 of 3

His mind seemed to be racing in circles. “This monster on me — it’s not moving — it must be dead!” Bent, twisted, and lying part of the way under 450 pounds of muscle and hair, Tex freed his right arm. Slowly he wiped the dark red ooze from his mangled face.

His flickering thoughts told him that the sulfur smell still lingering in the cool Alaskan air meant the Colt “Forty-Niner” had done its job. “Where’s my pistol,” he mumbled as he slowly felt around his right side. Suddenly his hand felt the smooth walnut grip. A slight grin passed on the pain-numbed face. “There you are little friend, looks like you’re gonna be with me to the end,” he said as his trembling hand gripped the familiar pistol.

Pulling the old handgun closer to his body, Tex’s mind slipped into the past.
He could never forget that special day. It was his seventeenth birthday. His dad had just returned home from the Civil War and had given him his first real gun, a genuine Colt – a model 1849 pocket revolver. There were several things that made this revolver special to Tex. Its model number was the same year as he was born; his dad had taken it from a captured Union officer and this alone made it a conversation piece, but more important, the gift pistol implied he was a man. He could drive the longhorns “up North” with the other men.

On that drive the “Forty-Niner”, as he fondly called his pistol, spoke only two times, but those two times saved his young life. Trying to bring in a half wild longhorn, Tex’s horse was suddenly turned upon by the heavy horned bull; horse and rider were sent sprawling. Tex could taste the dirt as he pulled the pistol and sent two .31 caliber lead balls into the forehead of the enraged bull.

Tasting blood and dirt his consciousness brought him back to the present. Opening his eyes he moved his head around. Pain streaked through his body and he could sense that life was leaving him. He knew the end was near.

Slowly raising his hand he could see his “Forty-Niner”. “Old friend I wish I could make you a gift one more time. I am a dead man but you still have life,” he grunted. Suddenly in the upper reaches of his blurred vision he saw an open hand reaching out over and above him. Laying the pistol on his bloody chest he wearily wiped his blood soaked eyes and looked again. It was not a hand but a sapling of a tree growing from the ground near where his head lay. Reaching skyward, the tree ‘forked some five feet above the earth. It was this fork that had appeared as an open hand.

“My friend you are not through. I am going to put you up where you can be seen. You’re gonna to make some sourdough a fine gift.” With tremendous effort the once blond bearded giant of a man began to drag his broken body backwards, out from under the still warm beast. Inch by torturous inch he crawfished to the base of the little tree. Each time he moved he checked to make sure the pistol had not fallen from its balanced position on his claw-torn chest. Arriving at the base of the tree he was exhausted.