(NOTE: This is the eighth and final part in a serial-type story about the origin of the Lone Ranger. In the last part, Tonto was recalling how John Reid saved his life when they were boys.)
Fight to the death
As Tonto and the teenaged Dan Reid Jr. watched from the canyon floor below, Butch Cavendish stared in disbelief as the man before him on the canyon rim removed his mask to reveal his identity. The realization that the Lone Ranger – a man he vowed to kill – was really John Reid – a man he thought he had already killed.
All of a sudden the troubling pieces that have tormented him for 13 years fell into place, completing the picture in his mind that led to his imprisonment. How the physical evidence came to be used against him at trial and how the prosecutor had such an accurate account of the ambush suddenly made sense.
“You’ve wrecked my life for the last time, Johnny,” Cavendish said, practically spitting out the name in disrespect. “I killed you once and I’ll kill you again. And this time I’ll make sure you stay dead!”
Reid dropped the mask and bandana. He felt his aching muscles tighten as he readied himself for action. Cavendish lunged toward him with his knife held high. There was nowhere to go with the ledge behind him and scant room to move left or right.
At the last moment, Reid stepped to the side and reached out to block the knife-wielding arm. He moved just a shade too late. The blade cut into his thigh. The blow brought Reid to the ground. He clutched the wound to stem the flow of blood. Cavendish raised the knife again, bringing it down hard and fast.
The move was clumsy and Reid easily rolled out of the way – too easily. He rolled over the side but was able to grab onto ledge before plunging to his death below. The blood on his left hand made his grip tenuous at best. Cavendish stood there, glowering down at him. He raised his foot to stomp on Reid’s hands. As he did, Reid grabbed hold of boot, causing Cavendish to slip. As he fell, he drove the knife into the ground, giving him a firm handhold. He hung off the side with Reid precariously grasping him by the right foot.
Cavendish shook his leg and kicked vigorously at Reid with his left foot. Reid not only maintained a firm grip, but he was able to snare Cavendish’s other leg, securing his hold and preventing any more kicking. The more he struggled against Reid, the weaker his grip became on the knife and ledge above.
Giving up on dislodging Reid, Cavendish focused his strength and effort on pulling himself back up. As he got his waist over the side, Reid was finally high enough to grab the ledge himself. Letting go of his adversary, Reid climbed back onto solid ground and both men lay there gasping for breath.
Slowly, the men climbed to their feet and they lunged at each other, hammering blows with their fists. They battled for only a couple minutes when a blow to Reid’s face, coupled with the loss of blood from the knife wound, made him wobble and fall. Triumphantly, Cavendish charged and dove for Reid. Reacting instinctively, Reid grabbed Cavendish by the wrists and brought his legs up under him. He flipped Cavendish over his head. The enraged man slid over the edge, grabbing hold of the ledge in an attempt to stop his fall.
“Butch! Take my hand,” Reid said, laying on the ground and offering his hand to his former friend and mortal enemy.
“Never!” he shouted. “I’d rather die.”
With that he let go and he plunged nearly 60 feet to the canyon floor. He was dead the moment he hit the ground.
It took Reid about a half hour to climb back down and join Tonto and his nephew at the place where Cavendish’s body lay. A blanket was already spread over the corpse.
“So that was the man who killed my father,” Dan Reid said, more as a statement than a question.
“Yes Dan,” Reid, masked once again, said. “He killed your father, my brother, and Tonto’s father as well.”
“It is not good that any man should die,” Tonto said. “But I will not mourn him. A hate within me has been set free today. I am glad his is dead.”
“You are right, Tonto,” the Lone Ranger said. “A great hate was released today.”
(Copyright 2010, Joe Southern)