An experimental short story/work in progress/western
© Christoffer Petersen, 2021
Cal waited for the bearded man, Sam, to climb over the paddock gate. He nodded for him to keep going, around to the right of the barn. He sent two men to the door, and the other three to the left. He’d seen this kind of barn before, and there was usually a large door on the side. One of the men whistled when he found it.
“All right,” Cal said to the two men in front of him. “Open that door.”
“You said she had a gun?” said the shorter of the two. “Your gun?”
“That’s right.” Cal broke the barrel of the shotgun, thumbing the dust from the shells as he nodded. “What of it?”
“You want us to just open the door?”
“You’re scared now, huh, laughing man?”
“I ain’t scared,” the man said. “I just don’t wanna get shot, is all.”
Cal snapped the shotgun closed with a click. He tucked the butt into his shoulder and fiddled his middle finger onto the trigger. It was awkward, but no more so than trying to shoot left-handed.
“I got you covered. Go on now.”
The man took a step closer to the door and nodded for his partner to open it.
The girl twitched behind the door, crawling back from the peephole. The door shuddered as the men outside took hold of the handle. The girl coughed, doubling over, searching for breath, as the horses in the stalls behind her fidgeted and snorted.
“She’s right there,” said one of the men.
The girl caught her breath and grasped the revolver in both hands. She brought it up to her chest, and then stretched her arms like she had seen white men do. She curled two fingers around the trigger, and when the men opened the door, she squeezed.
The kick threw her back into the dust and straw on the barn floor, but she didn’t let go of the gun. The girl scrabbled to her knees, pushed off the floor with one hand, and darted into the first stall. It was empty. She tucked in against the side and listened to the man outside as he cursed the girl and God, and Cal Pine for ever roping him into his God-damned posse.
“She shot me, and I’m dying, Cal. It’s all your damn fault. All of it.”
The man said a whole lot more, but Cal stepped around him, pointing the shotgun into the barn, lifting his chin to get the laughing man to step away from his wounded partner and go inside the barn.
“I got you covered,” Cal said.
“That’s what you said before.”
“Well, this time I mean it. Now, get to it.”
To be continued…
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