“The Man on the Ground” is a short story by Robert Ervin Howard where two men are fighting a final duel. First published in Weird Tales 1933 July. Howard earned $20 for the story.

It is a brief short story (under 2200 words) set in Texas about two men (Cal Reynolds & Esau Brill) who have been feuding for so long that no one really knows how their feud began. 

The story begins like this:

Cal Reynolds shifted his tobacco quid to the other side of his mouth as he squinted down the dull blue barrel of his Winchester. His jaws worked methodically, their movement ceasing as he found his bead. He froze into rigid immobility; then his finger hooked on the trigger. The crack of the shot sent the echoes rattling among the hills, and like a louder echo came an answering shot. Reynolds flinched down, flattening his rangy body against the earth, swearing softly. A gray flake jumped from one of the rocks near his head, the ricocheting bullet whining off into space. Reynolds involuntarily shivered. The sound was as deadly as the singing of an unseen rattler.

From the letters

In a letter (#253) to August Derleth, ca. after July 9, 1933, he mentions the story:

Thanks for your comments concerning “The Man on the Ground”; I rather like the yarn, myself, because of its efforts at realism.

To Carl Jacobi (letter #297), ca. Summer 1934, we learn:

You ask me why I do not use Texas settings more in my stories. I really should, since Texas is the only region I know by first hand experience. Three of my yarns in Weird Tales have been laid in Texas: “The Horror From the Mound”, “The Man on the Ground” and “Old Garfield’s Heart”. Sometimes too thorough a knowledge of a subject is a handicap (not that I claim to be an authority on the Southwest, or anything like that; but I was born here and have lived here all my life.) for fiction writing.

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