Gunfighter’s Tale by Desert Sun

Word Count 1,226

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(This story was first written in answer to a challenge issued on one of the Lancer Yahoo group lists in 2004.  The objective was to write a story using the following list of words: battles, blisters, carpet bag, Dragonfly, salve, trout, jackass, magic, propensity, clover, castor Oil, abrogate, fetor, horizontal, skillet, yoke, and holster.  I did a few minor revisions before putting it into the files here.)

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If Jelly Hoskins, our all around handyman and horse wrangler here at the Lancer ranch, told you I made a Jackass of myself yesterday, I’d have to agree.  Never in my life have I done anything so dumb.  Nobody’s ever gunna let me live it down.  Never!

I know.  Now I gotta tell ya what I did.  Well, it was like this:

Scott and I took the day off to go fishin’.  It was Sunday, and we figured we’d have a little fun and relaxation.   Murdoch had taken Teresa with him the day before to spend the weekend with an old friend in Green River.  The hands were either in town or up in the mountains keepin’ watch on the herd.   How was anybody to know how we spent the day, right?  We didn’t even tell Jelly our plans, or he’d o’ had to tag along . . . and brag about it, to boot.

Well, we set out a hour before dawn and reached our favorite fishin’ hole up Clover Creek a little after sunup.  Have you ever seen sunlight dancin’ on water?    Every little ripple glistens like diamonds.   It’s pure magic when the trout are as rambunctious as they were yesterday mornin’.

Forgive me for gettin’ sidetracked.  Scott says I have a pro . . . propens . . . propensity for takin’ my listeners down every side trail I come to.  Anyway, back to my story.

We turned over a few rocks and hunted up some fat ol’ night crawlers.  You should have seen the way the fish went wild when our hooks hit the water.  In no time, we had a whole carpet bag full.  I didn’t have to shoot a one like I tried to do that day Willie Sharp high-tailed it with Scott’s fish.

Oh, before I forget.  Don’t ever let on to Teresa about us usin’ that old bag of hers.  She’d have a fit if she knew.  You wouldn’t wanna be responsible for my ears gettin’ blasted, would you?  Didn’t think so.

Well, as I was about to say, we headed back to the ranch.  Neither of us had breakfast that morning, and I was starvin’ by the time we got home.  Scott was to, so we headed right into the kitchen and dug out the biggest skillet we could find.  In no time, fish was sizzlin’ in the pan.  Mm-mmm.  Did it smell good.

I couldn’t wait to fill my plate.  As soon as the first load was cooked, I grabbed the handle of the pan and headed for the table.

Did you ever try to hang onto somethin’ that was burnin’ the hide off ya?  Well, it ain’t too smart.  I didn’t drop that pan, but I sure paid the price.  My hand was covered with blisters.

Scott slathered some of Jelly’s salve on the burns.  I sure was glad Teresa wasn’t home.  She seems to think Castor Oil is a cure-all for everything.  I’m not sure whose remedies are worse: hers or Jelly’s.

Anyhow, once my hand was wrapped up, Scott fried some eggs to go with the fish.  Then we sat down to eat—talkin’, jokin’, and havin’ a good time.  It sure helped take my mind off the pain gnawin’ at my fingers and the palm of my left hand.

Did I ever tell you about Scott going to Harvard?  He knows more words than anyone I ever met.  Do you know what tabletops, fence rails, and lines all have in common?  Fetor.  That’s right, f . . . e . . . t . . . o . . . r.  Fetor.  Sounds like somethin’ that smells awful, don’t it?  I guess it can mean that, too; but it also means flat, straight, level, or runnin’ side-by-side.

Enough of that, though.  You’re prob’ly anxious to hear the rest of my story.

Well, we had just cleaned up the last of the fish, and I was about to put my plate in the sink when I heard somethin’ rattle.  I looked around but didn’t see anything at first.  Then there it was: the wigglin’ tail of a rattlesnake behind the bowl of apples just inches from where my left hand was resting.

I dropped the dishes, snatched my pistol from my holster, and snapped off several shots as the snake’s monstrous head appeared.  Bits of apple flew in all directions as bullets bounced off the stone wall in front of me.

Finally my gun was empty and I surveyed the damage.  The snake was nowhere in sight so I looked behind me.  I thought my heart had jumped into my throat, and I felt like I was chokin’ me when I saw Scott lyin’ on the floor next to the stove.

“Scott!  Scott!” I yelled as I rushed to his side.  He looked up at me and glared?  “What’re mad at me for?” I asked him.

Scott didn’t answer.  He just got up and dusted himself off.  Then he bent over and picked up this ugly looking thing off the floor.  It looked like a giant fly.  He dangled it by the tail for a moment and said, real threatin’ like, “Brother, I’ve been through some crazy battles in my life, but this is the most ridiculous war I’ve ever had the misfortune to be a party to.  The next time you get a wild notion to take on a Dragonfly in a gunfight . . . don’t!  I’ll abrogate the fracas by laying you out horizontal on the floor so fast you won’t know what hit you.”  With that, he dropped the dead fly on the table, told me to take care of it, and then walked out—leavin’ me to wash the dishes!

I hollered at him that he’d been readin’ too many of those fairytales.  Dragonflies.  Humph!  I figured the next thing he’d be telling’ me was that those huge flies can breathe fire.

All would’ve been fine, if Jelly hadn’t walked in about then with this yoke slung over one shoulder.  You know Jelly.  He has to know everything.  Can you believe he had the nerve to laugh when I told him what happened?  By dark, everyone on the ranch will know about me mistakin’ a harmless fly for a deadly snake.  I ain’t never gunna live it down.  Never.

The End
September 2004
Revised November 2013

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