Western Short Story
Dark Night of the Soul
Scott A. Gese

The time had come for retribution. Image Source: Pixabay

He blamed the town. Tonight, the town would pay.

Western Short Story

It was a dark and stormy night. Dell Perry sat easy in his saddle on the far edge of town. The clouds had come out of nowhere at the end of a hot Summer day.

It’s not letting up, he thought. Better get this done with. ​

The storm didn’t really matter to Dell. Nothing mattered these days. The world no longer made sense. Life had lost its meaning. In his mind, tonight was no different than any other night. It had been that way ever since the lynching.


Dell Perry had brought his wife and young son to Crystal Springs when the town was still in its infancy. They had traveled close to a thousand miles across grassy plains, high desert sage and tall mountain passes.

As others kept moving in search of elusive buried treasure, Dell marveled at the abundant tall timber in plain view. He bought it cheap and set to building a mill. If this town was going to grow, it would do it with his lumber.

For ten years he struggled. He built his mill along with a name and reputation. He built a fine house for his wife and son. His lumber did build this town. It was his life blood, and now the town had betrayed him.

It started with the mill fire. It was clear that someone was unhappy with the way Dell ran his business. He was bull headed when it came to making deals. He always got the upper hand even if it meant being a little underhanded. It was a tough business and only the strong survived.

Two weeks after the fire, his wife took to her bed. She was a frail thing and had become distraught over the loss of the mill. She never recovered. Her passing was unexpected.

Dell’s son, Frank, was sixteen. He was a hot headed kid not unlike his father. He thought the Mayor had set the fire. He had recently become a competitor and it only made sense in his mind that he was the culprit. Frank went after him one afternoon and shot him dead in front of several others. The Mayor was well liked and the townsfolk took offense to young Frank shooting him. They went after the boy and lynched him from a tree just outside of town.

Dell was beside himself. He had lost everything that gave his life meaning. He blamed it on the town.

The sun had set and most of the towns businesses were shuttered for the night. The time had come for retribution.

The town had turned against him. Now he turned against the town.

He pulled the torches from his saddlebags and lit them. He slowly rode down the street tossing them through the front windows of several businesses, including the town hall.

He was surprised to have made it all the way through town before the commotion started.

The rain poured down. It was indeed a dark and stormy night…except for the flames.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.