My boss was always hounding me to do more than he was willing to pay for.

It was the same shit I got when I lived back east, and more than half the reason I came west, thinking I could get away from bastards like him.

But a boss is a boss no matter what part of the country.

But when he ranted on me this last time, he set me off, so that I told him Lincoln freed the slaves already, and that I hadnít come to Phoenix to have some bastard like him putting me in chains.

The truth is, itís not just him.

The whole west seems to have gone sour, turning into something that looked just like the east, with people stuffed into every corner of Phoenix until the seams broke.

With all the traffic jams I got into and all the people pushing and shoving, I might just as well have stayed back in New York.

And it was even worse when I stormed out after telling my boss, people beeping at me and edging up to my bumper, and giving me the finger when I wouldnít move quick enough for them.

I always thought a man could find peace out here.

But if it wasnít the boss telling me what do to, or the crowds, it was the law, making so much illegal I had to think before I even took a breath.

So I got even more riled when I finally broke out of the clutch of cars and pumped up the car to a speed that would get me somewhere and a cop pulled me over.

He made me take a drunk test even though we both knew I hadnít yet had time to get drunk, then gave me a speeding ticket when I passed.

So with ticket in hand, I finally did get drunk.

I was always an angry son of a bitch, pissed off about how unfair life was, and how I couldnít feel good about anything any more.

I knew I needed to find some space or I would explode.

So when I had enough booze in me, I hit the road.

I drove out of town, up along the California border and a stretch of highway I knew would not have too many cars on it and where I might find some vacant space.

No boss to hound me.

No law to pull me over.

No crowds egging me on like the Indy 500.

Just me and Mother Nature, my temper cooling under a sky full of stars.

Okay, so maybe I was still a little drunk when I swung into the rest stop to take a pee, and annoyed to find a convoy of tourists there, hogging up the facilities.

And maybe I did tap the bumper of a camper.

But that was no reason for the owner to yelp at me, harping on as my boss ever did.

The sheriff wasnít any better when he shoed up, telling me that he was going to have to take me in and impound my vehicle.

It was like someone hat lit a fuse in me and I exploded, grabbing up my revolver before the sheriff could pull his.

Wrong or not, I felt good seeing the blood dribble out of the sheriffís chest, like I had struck a blow against some evil empire.

And when I shot the owner of the camper I felt as if I had shot my boss.

The rest came natural, me clearing out the mass of unwanted people that had cluttered up the west on me.

I took real pleasure in watching them scramble for cover each time I paused to reload.

When it was over, I felt amazingly peaceful, that rage inside of me calm for the first time in as long as I could remember.

It didnít last, of course.

I kept thinking of my boss, and about the ticket Iíd got, and how all those folks in Phoenix had crowded out the real west so that a man couldnít find peace anywhere any more.

I knew I would never stop feeling angry until I did something about the mess.

So I left that slaughtered rest stop and headed back to Phoenix, stopping off at my house for a little heavier armament and a lot more ammunition.

I shot my boss first from ambush watching him drop dead in front of his own door.

Then I went looking for the cop and shot him, too, when I found him.

I kept shooting, too, anyone and everyone, even dogs and cats.

But I soon came to realize that Phoenix had become so over run I didnít have time or ammo enough to kill them all.

By that time, word was out about me and the cops were searching for me everywhere, even though they didnít exactly know who I was.

And I knew the old code of the west wouldnít protect me from the humdrum masses of people who like my boss would turn me in the moment they realized who I was and what I had done.

If I had been hot before, I was worse now, so peeved I might have killed my own family had they crossed my path.

So now all I can do is keeping on shooting, hoping sheer numbers will ease my rage.

Each time I kill I see the face of someone just like my boss and I know Iím destroying a piece of the evil empire that has come to rule all our lives, making it easier for some other schmuck like me to breath easier.

I even think of it as a public service, saving Phoenix from the madness that has seized it over the last few years.

And maybe the cops will get me and put me in jail Ė or worse.

But I figure Iím already a prisoner with all the laws they got. I just putting up the bars where I can see them better.


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