Word count 870
Originally posted to Lancer_Writers Yahoo group on August 2, 2013
August 2, 1870:
“You’re joking, right?” Scott Lancer stood with raised brows eyeing his brother.
Sweat dribbled from under Johnny Lancer’s hat and cut a path through the dust on his face. He swiped it away with the back of his hand, leaving a smear from the inside corner of one eye all the way to his jaw line. “Afraid you can’t take the heat?” he softly drawled.
Scott stiffened. “I’ve taken hotter.”
“Then what’re ya draggin’ your heels for? Ain’t afraid of gettin’ your pants dusted, are ya?” Johnny flashed one of his devilish grins.
“Not in the least.” Scott doffed his hat and wiped his own brow with the back of his gloved hand. He set the hat in place, retrieved his canteen from off his saddle horn, and unscrewed the cap. “Actually, I was more concerned about you biting the dust.”
Johnny let out a snort. “Me? Not a chance. When the dust settles, unless you’re too chicken and think you can’t take the heat, it’ll be you kissing the dust . . . not me.”
“You think so, do you? It’ll be a hot day in Boston in the middle of December before that happens, Little Brother. I’ll have you know—”
“Then whatcha standin’ there gatherin’ dust for if you’re that sure you can beat me?”
Scott lifted his canteen. “Just let me cut some of this dust first. Then we’ll see who leaves who in the dust.”
Johnny let out a war whoop as Scott took a drink. “I knew if I put a little heat on you, you’d cave.”
“Laugh while you can, Boy. In a few minutes, you won’t see anything but my dust.” Scott took another swallow of the lukewarm water and caped his canteen. A cool beer sure would taste good.
“Ready?” Johnny rubbed his hands together, his face filled with the anticipation of a child.
Scott hung his canteen on his saddle, walked away from the shade of the tree where their horses were tied, and dug a furrow in the dusty road with the heel of his boot. He looked back at his brother and pointed at a boulder that was about two hundred yards away in the opposite direction. “To that rock and back. Loser buys the drinks when we get to town. Is that right?”
“Yep.” Johnny nodded and moved closer.
“Just one thing.” Scott rubbed his chin. “How do you propose we make this a fair start?”
Johnny’s mouth twisted. He glanced down and picked up a pebble the size of a walnut. “How about I give this a toss, and we go on the third bounce?”
Scott nodded. “Sounds fair enough to me.” He toed the line with his left foot, bent his knees, and shifted his weight to the other foot. “Let’s get at it. I’m dry as dust.”
Johnny got into position, leaning slightly forward. He tossed the pebble and dropped his hands to his thighs.
The pebble soared through the air. One bounce. Two bounces. Three.
Scott lunged into a run and quickly stretched into full stride. Elbow to elbow with his brother, he raced down the road, around the bolder, and back to the starting line.
“I done dusted ya,” Johnny said between gasps for breath.
Scott panted, his face burning and his shirt sticking to his back. “You did no such thing. It was a dead heat, if it was anything,”
In the heat of the moment, they argued—toe to toe.
Johnny’s face glistened and the dark stains beneath his armpits grew. Finally, he raised his hands and turned toward their horses. “All right. It’s a draw. We’ll each use our own gold dust.”
Scott slapped the back of his brother’s soggy, red shirt. “That’s the most sensible thing you’ve said, all day. Now, I suggest we get to town before this heat turns us both to dust.”
They were in their saddles, in no time, and headed toward town a half a mile away. Behind them, they left a cloud of dust as they raced to beat the heat.
This story was written for the August 2013 “Heat and Dust” challenge on the Lancer_Writers group on Yahoo. The object was to use at least one phrase about heat and one about dust from the following lists. I managed to incorporate them all into the above story.
Can’t stand heat’
Putting heat on someone
Taking the heat
In heat of moment
Dry as dust
Cut the dust
Bite the dust
Dust someone’s pants
Kiss the dust
When the dust settles
Done and dusted
Like gold dust
Not see for dust
Leave in the dust
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