Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2314094-Gunslinger
Printer Friendly Page Tell A Friend
No ratings.
Rated: E · Short Story · Western · #2314094
An eastern socialite inherits a property out west. (Contest Entry)

Steel scraped against steel, the passenger train screeching into Bisbee, and Mary Eckhart was exhausted, relieved to finally be at her destination. She’d dreamed of seeing the world but could scarcely afford it, so when the message arrived, all expenses paid by the estate of an uncle she’d only met as a child, she packed immediately. The trip had been too long, a week from Boston and now a day out of El Paso.

Her knee-high boots hit the worn station decking, a broad eastern-socialite hat over tinted glasses, quite the peculiarity back home, now completely appropriate, and protecting her eyes from the powerful desert sun. Mary was grateful to be away from the passenger car, which cooked like an oven in the Arizona heat, though the barrenness of the terrain offered her little comfort. Only the meagerness of a desolate sand-beaten town interrupted the bleak, rolling desert.

“Ms. Eckhart?” A slender man in a dark suit stepped from the shadow of the station overhang. “James Ogelsby.”

She opened her parasol, stepping away from the train. “Indeed.”

He wiped his sweaty palm on his trousers and extended it, “Welcome to Bisbee.” She returned the gesture with a lace-gloved hand. “I am your uncle’s attorney. Your things have already been unloaded and I’ve a motor carriage for you. This way.”

Twenty minutes along a bumpy, dusty road, more fit for horses than automobile, brought Mary Eckhart to the home of her uncle, Festin Merryweather, a local copper baron, who, for some ungodly reason, built the largest of homes upon a small knoll in the middle of nowhere.

Oglesby turned off the engine and its absence became eerily potent - only the breeze upon the clapboards and teasing a small wind-beaten American flag on its last threads. “We’ll get you settled, first,” Oglesby said.

“With respect, Mr. Oglesby, I’d just as soon get down to business,” she remarked. “I don’t intend to stay the night.”

“As you’d prefer, Ma’am.”

The double doors creaked wide to a darkened interior full of old oak trim, and every bit of furniture covered in fine dust. Mary sighed heavily, “Oh Uncle, what could have driven you out to this barren wasteland?”

“You knew him?” Oglesby asked.

“Hardly,” she admitted. “Though I remember him from my childhood.” She spied an old painting of the man standing proudly next to a heavy armchair draped with a tiger skin, smoking pipe in hand. “He was kind, but also proud, almost overly so…very assured, to be certain.”

“That, he was Ma’am, and a good friend.”

“I’ll admit, I’ve truly wanted to see the world, but this?” she despaired, running her fingers along the dust.

“He always said there was an energy this place.” Oglesby produced a box from within a nearby desk. “He left you these, hoping you’d know what to do.”

Beneath the wooden lid, she discovered a pair of finely polished revolvers. Their ivory handles had a copper inlay. “Whatever shall I do with them?” she pondered, pulling the gloves from her hands and picking them from the box. An immediate surge coursed into her, and she spun the pistols in both hands, horizontally then vertically, tossing them into the air and catching each with such a precision as she might have had them her whole life. She blasted two shots out the open doorway, sheering the flagpole in half.

Astonished, she dropped the weapons and stepped fearfully away. “What was that?”

“Your legacy,” Oglesby replied. “And only a relative can wield them.”
“But how? Why?”

“The materials for these pistols come from the land, forged for your uncle by a master Mexican armero during el dia de los Muertos and blessed by an Apache shaman, magic if you ask me, but I’ve seen your uncle do things – help the downtrodden, defeat enemies you wouldn’t believe. He was the most respected gunslinger in the West.”

“So, how did he die, then?”

“Unfortunately, matters kept him away too long and the power could no longer protect him.” Oglesby returned the guns to their box. “It’s been three long years now. These pistols, and this estate, will allow you to see the world if you’d like. Merely cross the barrels and they’ll take you anywhere, though you must return in no more than thirty days.”

“Need I live here, then?”

“That’s the price this place requires. Stay faithful to the land, and the land will stay faithful to you.”

“So, what must I do?”

“First, let’s get your things.”
© Copyright 2024 Chris24 (cnancedc at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2314094-Gunslinger