This is a Chuck Wendig challenge from May 30th for June 6th. The challenge is to randomly choose one word each from 2 lists of 20. I rolled #6 and #14 which came out to be Shotgun Curse. Here is the story I’ve written to fit that title.
Wilson was at the bar in the Oxbow Saloon. It was mid-afternoon and there were four guys at a scarred round wood table at the end of the bar playing five card stud. Two of the ladies that worked upstairs were standing around the table, hoping for a drink or a tip. The bartender wiped glasses as he watched the game.
It had been a bad week for Wilson. His mule had died four days ago leaving him to haul his winter’s catch of furs on a sledge behind his horse. The horse hadn’t appreciated pulling the sledge and had kicked him in the knee which was still swollen and painful to walk on. The mercantile had given him less than he expected for his furs so he couldn’t get the new shotgun he’d hoped to buy. The shotgun he inherited from his father when he died six years ago hadn’t been much but over the winter it had fallen in the half frozen East Verde River and was lost. Wilson had to go the rest of the winter without any protection or way to hunt for food. He needed a new shotgun and now there wasn’t enough money to buy one, not and buy his supplies and a new mule.
He sipped his beer and tried to think of a way to get the extra thirteen dollars he needed to buy the gun. The saloon doors swung open, letting in a blast of sunlight. Wilson turned to see who had come in.
An old man stood there, silhouetted by the light from the street. The bartender walked to Wilson’s end of the bar. “Howdy, Amos. Beer?”
The man walked to the bar and laid a shotgun on it. He looked like he’d been dragged down Main Street, filthy, torn clothes and a hat that had seen better days. “That’d be just the thing, Sam.”
Amos nodded to Wilson. “Afternoon.”
“Afternoon.” Wilson eyed the shotgun. It looked good. Stock was clean and oiled, as was the barrel. The trigger looked well-kept, there was no sign of rust or corrosion anywhere on it.
Amos drank half of his beer down. “The shotgun is for sale, young man.”
“You don’t say.”
“I don’t need it. I’m sellin’ it cheap. Twenty dollars.”
Wilson nodded. He had twenty dollars but he didn’t want to seem too eager. That would leave him with enough money to buy a new mule and his supplies for the summer, too.
The bartender wandered over after Amos stepped out back to the outhouse. “You don’t want that shotgun, son. It’s cursed.” He pulled Wilson another beer.
“Amos bought that gun off of a trapper last summer. The trapper said the gun was bad luck and wanted to get rid of it. Amos didn’t believe it but he’s had nothing but trouble since he got the gun. His woman ran off. His crops got infested with some sorta blight. The Apaches burnt his barn to the ground over the winter and stole all the chickens.” He shook his head. “You don’t want that gun.”
Wilson nodded but he didn’t believe in curses, he’d just had a run of bad luck all on his own. When Amos came back they made a deal and Wilson picked up the gun. Amos left the saloon with half a glass of beer still on the bar.
The next spring, on a fine clear day, Wilson came into the Oxbow. His clothes were in rags, rope was wrapped around his boots to hold them together. His hair was matted and dirty as was his beard. The bartender pulled him a beer. “Looks as though you’ve had a rough winter, son.”
Wilson gulped the beer down in one breath and signaled for another. “Worst year of my life. Wolverines got into my traps and took every animal I caught. The mule took off half way through the winter and not long after that, my horse just keeled over in the stable, dead as a doornail. Mice ate my supplies. I fell in the East Verde, nearly drowned and half froze when a band of Apache chased me half way to Fort Verde and back again.”
The bartender raised an eyebrow. “That does sound like a spell of bad luck. What happened to the shotgun?”
Wilson took another long drink of his beer, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and put the beer on the bar top. “I smashed that shotgun into pieces with a rock and threw it in the river.”
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