Sunday, May 19, 2013

Short Fiction: Oh, Dear. I Seem To Have Brought A Knife To A Gunfight!


How dreadfully embarrassing!  I seem to have misinterpreted your gracious invitation, for I have arrived at this event with accouterments completely inappropriate for the afternoon’s planned activities. What an unfortunate faux pas.  I certainly have egg on my face, don’t I?  I wonder if any of the other attendees might have spare equipment which they could loan to a poor, embarrassed bungler.  They do not?  Perhaps we could reschedule?

I think, under the circumstances, this comic little misunderstanding was reasonable, and I hope it can be easily resolved.  You see, the other day in the saloon, when you and I were both quite tipsy from the barkeep’s fine moonshine whiskey, and we were amorously eyeing the same twenty-five cent harlot.  As an object of lust, she wasn’t terribly compelling, but there was a real fire to her spirit; a certain irresistible joie de vivre, once you looked past her lazy eye and her missing teeth and those strange, oozy yellow-green sores.  And, as both of us found our entertainment options limited by the influence of the current macroeconomic tumult upon our personal finances, and since neither of us was in a patient mood, the question of who might have the first roll with her became a topic of some dispute.

As discussions became heated, I called you a dust-sucking sheep rapist, and you intimated that I was a worn-out drunk with a tendency to crawl upon my yellow belly.  I expressed my belief that your cross-eyed mother must have been kicked in the belly by a mule to produce offspring as deformed and stupid as yourself.  You claimed that my horse looked mangy and accused me of feeding it improperly and neglecting its grooming.   Then you spat a thick brown liquid upon the floor, and I spat the juice from my own terbaccky chaw upon your newly-shined boots.  You took grave offense.
"Why don't you come over here and say that?"

At that point, negotiations broke down. 

Ever helpful, I suggested that the dispute might be satisfactorily resolved were we to make something of it.  To illustrate the point, I smashed a whiskey bottle on the bar, and menaced you with its jagged edge.   Initially, you seemed amenable to exploring such mechanisms to satisfy our disagreement. However, you felt that the timing was inopportune for such activities; it was more to your convenience to reconvene today, at high-noon.  I found I was available, and we made our date.

Based on the tone and context of our previous exchange, I had believed that you had invited me here for purposes of engaging in barroom brawling and fisticuffs, and I came equipped with this here Bowie knife, and a vague plan that I might jam it into your kidneys.  Or, you know, cut your throat, or stab you in the eye.  But you can imagine my surprise to learn that you had actually intended to invite me to duel with pistols.  And here I am, without my sidearm or bandolier.

So, we’re left with a conundrum.  If someone would be so kind as to lend me a reliable pistol, I would be happy to shoot you at ten paces.  Alternatively, if you’d like to come over here, I’ll stick this knife into your guts.  Or we can take a rain check.  It’s really up to you.

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