Okay, so I'm pretty sure this is my first short story since about 7th grade. But I went to the website chatoicshiny.com and used the "writing exercise" generator there for a quick idea. It presented me with the challenge of writing for at least 600 words about a duel, a spider and a flirtation. I was pretty proud of what resulted, so I decided to seek out a forum to post it on. Thus my posting here.
Please to enjoy, and do be cruel and harsh in your feedback of my story.
Jay Simms wasn’t a man to back down when challenged. And in the saloon where he spent his days, in the dry, sandy wilds of Texas, he certainly wasn’t going to let another man try to get on with his woman. No, indeed Jay would defend his woman’s honor with a bravery that was imbued mostly thanks to a mighty cocktail offered by the tender for a doomed man. And now, out in the streets, with the entire town watching, Jay Simms and his foe took twenty paces in opposite directions.
At five paces, Jay was confident in his skills as a sharpshooter. At ten paces, Jay wondered, if he dies, would Abigail run away with the man who shot him down? At 15 paces Jay was distraught with the very real possibility of his own death. Without him around who would protect Abigail? Maybe if he couldn’t fend for himself in a duel than he wasn’t fit to protect her in the first place. This strange man might be better suited for the role. At 20 paces Jay had become complacent in his possible fate. Regardless of the outcome of this duel, Abby would be in safe arms, and that was all Jay really cared about in life; the safety and happiness of Abigail, his love. As Jay reached the final step, his eyes focused on a small spider, right beneath him. It sat in the shade of his stomach, unworrying about the fate of its mate or the outcome of a duel. Jay plucked his gaze from the small spider and spun, drawing his gun from the holster on his waist and pulling the hammer with the palm of his other hand in a swift, trained motion.
The booming sound of gunshots being fired in both directions blocked out the sounds of terrified screams and barking dogs. The sound reminded Jay of the time, a couple years back, when a few unpleasant kids had placed a spittoon bucket over his head while he was sleeping and threw rocks at it, aiming to make Jay soil his pants. They succeeded. But not without harsh scolding from a woman who was walking by at the time. She yelled at the kids and sent them home before turning to check on Jay, make sure he wasn’t hurt. Her name was Abigail, and she was the most beautiful woman Jay had ever laid his poor eyes upon.
As the smoke was clearing and the onlookers were settling, Jay looked ahead to see if his opponent was still standing. Much to his surprise, the other man was nowhere to be seen, and in fact the only thing ahead of him was the bright blue sky. Far away, Jay could hear the frantic cries of a woman, familiar cries. As Abigail ran up beside him, tears rolling down her face, Jay finally realized what had happened: He had lost the duel.
“I’m so sorry, Abigail. I’ve let you down.” Jay spoke with tremors in his voice. He could feel blood welling up in his throat.
“No, Jay, don’t you dare say that. Don’t you dare!”
“Maybe you’d be better off with that other fella’, huh? He certainly got th’ best o’ me.” Jay’s body ached. It was getting harder to breathe, and he knew that he wouldn’t be for much longer.
“I don’t think so. A dead man ain’t much of a husband.” Abigail was clasping Jay’s hands in hers.
“Oh, so I shot th’ bastard after all. Guess I can shoot drunk.” Jay laughed, and it hurt. He looked into Abby’s eyes, for what he knew would be the last time. “Abigail, I love you. And don’t you forget it.”
“I won’t, I promise.”
And that day, on that road, Jay Simms died with a gut full of booze and lead. As did Timothy McCreed, the owner of the bullet that killed poor Jay. Abigail lived on for a few years after that, never bothering to meet anyone else. When her time came, she made sure she was buried right beside ol’ Jay Simms. And as Abigail Simms was buried, a small spider spun a web between their gravestones.