A panic-stricken Ben Ames rides a rough trail into Carter County, in desperate search of a mythical town renown as a haven to outlaws looking to go straight. Wrongly accused of murder, Ben walks fearfully into the office of Sheriff Amos Rockwell, an oldster whom clearly, despite his age, can whip any gunslinger. Amos bids the outlaw to enter, sit, and spill his guts.
Ben does just that, slaps his circular on the desk, and describes his scenario. Sizing him up, the sheriff extracts a worn black book and shows Ben the contents. It is filled with pages of WANTED posters. Each page has annotations by the sheriff in the form of “when arrived,” “details of behavior,” and dates of death and why they died. For, Amos has one rule: walk the straight-and-narrow and if you don’t, he’s gonna shoot you dead. And he legally can hide behind the justification that you ARE, in fact, after all, a WANTED MAN !!!
Trusting in Ben’s wish to do go straight, he offers him a job, as a secret deputy. But then a young lady enters and is also deputized. Ben Ames wonders if Amos has lost his mind. In short minutes, he has done just that, as a Sharps rifle-blast rents the air and blows a hole through the sheriff.
Left in charge of keeping the county civil, he finds that the nearby mining town’s wagon train is robbed, within a day of the sheriff’s death. Realizing now the cause of his death, Ben Ames sets out to find the murderers and bring justice back to Carter County…in a fashion after the hard-hitting stylings of the ex-sheriff.
But when Ben is blackmailed by a cretin wielding the black book, who is also married to the deputized girl, Ben finds his back against the wall, for if he fails to adhere to the demands of this creep, he’ll call the United States Marshal to pick up: Ben Ames: Wanted…for Murder!
Ben is one man alone against a county of villains, or, is he? When ex-outlaws-turned-straight-honest men approach him in the sheriff’s office under the cover of darkness, he learns that these outlaws might be the secret strength needed to back his play to….well, you’ll just have to read the novelette yourself.
Honestly, this is an excellent western, screamingly scrunched into 33-pages using a font type smaller than what you are currently reading here on Facebook!!! Tightly packed and murder on the eyes (grab yourself a magnifying glass) you can count on Robert Moore Williams to supply a highly competent Western yarn in his usual first-rate story-tellin’ style!
Outlaw Guns was published by the Archer Press in 1948. It was originally printed in the USA pulp Mammoth Western (November 1947).