Wednesday, March 27, 2013

True Grit by Charles Portis (The Overlook Press 1968)

I pointed the revolver at his belly and shot him down. The explosion kicked me backwards and caused me to lose my footing and the pistol jumped from my hand. I lost no time in recovering it and getting to my feet. The ball had struck Chaney's side and knocked him into a sitting position against a tree. I heard Rooster or LaBoeuf call out for me. "I am down here!" I replied. There was another shout from the hill above Chaney.

He was holding both hands down on his side. He said, "I did not think you would do it."

I said, "What do you think now?"

He said, "One of my short ribs is broken. It hurts every breath I take." I said, "You killed my father when he was trying to help you. I have one of the gold pieces you took from him. Now give me the other."

"I regret that shooting," said he. "Mr. Ross was decent to me but he ought not to have meddled in my business. I was drinking and I was mad through and through. Nothing has gone right for me."

There was more yelling from the hills.

I said, "No, you are just a piece of trash, that is all. They say you shot a senator in the state of Texas."

"That man threatened my life. I was justified. Everything is against me. Now I am shot by a child."

"Get up on your feet and come across that creek before I shoot you again. My father took you in when you were hungry."

"You will have to help me up."

"No, I will not help you. Get up yourself."

He made a quick move for a chunk of wood and I pulled the trigger and the hammer snapped on a bad percussion cap. I made haste to try another chamber but the hammer snapped dead again. I had not time for a third try. Chaney flung the heavy piece of wood and it caught me in the chest and laid me out backwards.

He came splashing across the creek and he jerked me up by my coat and commenced slapping me and cursing me and my father. That was his cur nature, to change from a whining baby to a vicious bully as circumstances permitted. He stuck my revolver in his belt and pulled me stumbling through the water. The horses were milling about and he managed to catch two of them by their halters while holding me with the other hand.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

I watched the film today. It's a good one. Didn't think to check it's literary origins. Mind you a lot of pulp has been written on the Old West from even when it was still thriving.