Shot To The Arm A new short by Charles Goetzinger

 

Shot To The Arm

 

 

 

Beneath a blazing noon sun stood Jake McGraw.  Across from him and a good forty feet away, stood the man who had called him out.  Staring at the man he couldn’t help but want desperately to check the revolver on his hip.  In the back of his mind, it all reminded him of a movie.  Only the racing in his chest, and sweat stinging his eyes seemed different than what he remembered seeing.  After clenching his fist to relieve the nervous trembling, he stretched his fingers as far as they would go.  It helped some, not enough though.  The dead steely eyes of the man across the way made him wonder if this would be his final fight.

 

“Jake!” screamed a frantic female voice from the batwing doors of the old saloon.

 

It was Kady, the gorgeous freckle faced girl he’d only just met.  They had hit it off decent enough, or so he figured.  She hadn’t rejected his offer to buy her a drink at any length.  Most of the women he met in the clubs, took one look at him and laughed.  But here, he was a different man.  Tougher, with an edge few men could match.  Here the ladies loved him.  Sometimes, they even fought to see which one would get the honor of him buying them a drink.  Other times, they just seduced him into take them up the rickety saloon stairs to the upper rooms. 

 

“Be there in a second, just got to deal with this no-good snake,” said Jake, his gruff voice echoing in the still air.

 

Almost on cue, he saw the stranger reach for his gun.  It was an all too familiar scene, but one he loved nonetheless.  Before the man could even clear his holster, Jake felt his revolver buck once, then again sending two bullets racing from the barrel towards the man.  Unlike the other times, he saw a small puff of smoke escape the other man’s barrel as well.  Fear shook him to the core when he felt a sharp, fiery sting tear its way into his shoulder.  The other man didn’t have the luxury of fear as two crimson blossoms began to spread across the man’s denim shirt. 

 

A teary scream shattered the still air as a small whiff of perfume enveloped him.  Clenching his teeth against the shooting pain, he looked over to see Kady burst from the saloon to run over to the man.  On her face, he could just make out the tears streaking down her cheeks.  When he felt two soft hands cradle his head, he turned back to see the face of a woman he vaguely remembered.  She could have been any of a hundred women he passed on his way to work every day.  Still, her gentle touch and tear filled eyes, filled him with something he’d long ago grown cold too.

 

Basking in the scent of her flowery perfume, and the feel of her tender hands stuffing a white kerchief in his wound, he nearly forgot about the agony of the wound itself.  Laying there in the middle of the dusty, horse manure covered street, he knew he was where life meant for him to be.  Back in the old days, when men were men, and the love of a good woman was something to be cherished.  It was all a far cry from the way things were in his reality.  Looking into her loving eyes, he saw her mouth open to speak.  Despite the movements of her lips, no words came out, just a loud rhythmic beeping.  The more she tried to speak, the more insistent the beeping became, until at last his mind realized where the sound was coming from. 

 

Then, there was the wet, sloppy licking as if something otherworldly was cleaning his fresh wound.  The only thing that felt real, was the burning in his shoulder.    Slowly, he began to hear the buzzing of passing cars mixing with the howls of emergency sirens.  All too soon, it would be over, and he would be forced to return to a time where he didn’t belong.  With one last sigh, he shook himself awake.

 

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