The Greatest Western Writer Of The 21st Century
USA Today bestselling novelists William W. Johnstone and J.A. Johnstone unleash the saga of Falcon MacCallister—wanderer, lawman, heir to a Western family that raised him on courage, vigilance, and gunsmoke.
This Is No Day To Die
In Sorrento, Texas, there is only one law: the hangman’s law. Right now the condemned waits for his last meal in a cramped jail cell. But Falcon MacCallister will not go quietly to the gallows…
Falcon was called to Sorrento by a crusading newspaper reporter trying to expose a conspiracy of greed and corruption—with innocent men dying at the end of a court-ordered rope. As acting U.S. Marshal, Falcon quickly makes some very dangerous enemies. Then he himself is sentenced to hang. But in twenty-four hours he’ll be out of jail, out on the streets, and shooting lead against a small army of gunmen. Because he knows the three men who have taken over Sorrento. And he sentences them to death—the MacCallister brand...
The town of Sorrento, Texas, was filling with people as ranchers and farmers streamed in to do their weekly shopping and, as a bonus, witness another hanging. This would be the seventh hanging this year, and it was only June. But Judge Theodore “Hang ’em High” Dawes was of the belief that it was cheaper to hang someone than to incarcerate them.
Because of Judge Dawes’s propensity to issue the hanging verdict, the gallows with a hangman’s noose affixed had become a permanent fixture and had been added to, painted, and constructed in such a way as to become a fixture of the town. It was even a repository for advertisements, and the merchants paid a premium to have announcements of their goods and services posted on and around the substantial construction.
He Won’t Be Needing
Any More Haircuts . . .
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Two blocks from the gallows, around which a crowd was already beginning to gather, Deputy Sharp walked back to the cell where the condemned prisoner was spending his last day.
“Here’s your last meal,” Sharp said. “Steak, fried taters, a mess of greens, and biscuits. If it was up to me, I wouldn’t feed you nothing but bread and water, but the sheriff wanted to be nice to you.”
“That’s very good of the sheriff. Did you bring catsup?” the prisoner asked.
“Of course I brought catsup. You can’t very well have fried taters without catsup.” Sharp laughed. “And I’ve noticed that the prisoners that’s about to get hung purt’ nigh always don’t eat their meal, so I wind up eatin’ it for ’em. And I like catsup with taters.”
The prisoner took the food, then returned to his bunk and sat down.
“I tell you the truth,” Sharp said, turning his back to the cell and walking to the front window to look out onto the street. “I do believe they’s more folks that has come into town to watch your hangin’ than any hangin’ we’ve ever had before. Yes, sir, this is goin’ to be quite a show.”
Sharp heard a gagging sound from behind him.
“What’s the matter, you chokin’ on somethin’?” Sharp asked, heading back toward the cell.
He saw the prisoner lying back on his bunk. His throat was covered with blood, and his arm was draped down off the bunk onto the floor. The knife, its blade smeared with blood, had fallen from his open hand.
“Sumbitch!” Sharp shouted. Unlocking the door, he ran into the cell. “What the hell did you do that for? You done spoiled ever’one’s fun!”
Sharp leaned down to get a closer look at the bloodsmeared throat, when all of a sudden the prisoner’s hand came up from the floor, grabbed him by the collar, and jerked his head down so that it slammed hard against the table where the food tray was setting.
Deputy Sharp fell to the floor, knocked out, and the prisoner, after wiping the catsup from his neck, stepped outside the cell and locked the door. Then, rifling through the sheriff’s desk, he found his pistol and holster belt. Putting it on, he left through the back door of the jail and walked to the jail livery, where he found his horse and saddle.
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“Hello, Lightning,” Falcon said quietly. “Happy to see me?”
Saddling his horse, Falcon MacCallister rode slowly and quietly down the alley toward the end of
the block. He could hear Sheriff Dewey Poindexter talking from the platform of the gallows to the gathered crowd.
“Yes, sir, folks, as long as I am your sheriff, there ain’t no outlaw in the country goin’ to be safe in this here county, no matter how bad they might be. And this here feller we are hangin’ today, Falcon MacCallister, has prob’ly kilt more men that John Wesley Hardin.”
“But I ain’t never before heard nothin’ bad about Falcon MacCallister,” someone said. “I’ve read about him in books. He’s a folk hero!”
“They’ve made a hero out a’ Jesse James, too, an’ he ain’ nothin’ but a thievin’ murderin’ outlaw. Don’t believe ever’thing you read in books.”
When Falcon was clear of town, he urged his horse into a rapid, groundeating lope.