“Are you sure you want to buy one?” Susan asked.
“I have to buy one if I am going to open a saloon,” I replied. “You know the clientele we receive aren’t all bankers and ranchers. We need some sort of security, you more than me.”
“I know how to look after myself.”
“I’m sure you do, but a little help goes a long way and a gun will help us a lot.”
We entered the gun store and stopped short of the glass display case that made up the counter. Insider were many armaments of various sizes. These were the expensive pieces, the ones that would put me in the poor house before any unsavoury character paying a visit. However, a regular gun, like the ones piled on the tables in the corners, were as cheap as can be.
I approached one such table and began eyeing the pieces with my hands in my pockets. However, Susan wasn’t so cautious around the weapons. Plucking one off the pile, she began checking every moving part with an untrained eye, but she tried to make it look as if she was.
“Good morning,” a slow voice murmured towards us.
Turning on the spot, I saw a short, old man wearing a face of boredom. His round head was only made textured by the wrinkles that layered his forehead and mouth. A truly run-down individual, but the clothes he wore were enough indication that he had more than a pretty penny save up.
“Ah, good morning,” I replied smartly, walking up to the counter with Susan adjusting her dress to follow. “I am looking for some means of protection. I plan on opening a-”
“Shotgun,” the old man nodded to himself, turning away from me and wandering off into a dark back-room.
I stood there with mouth agape, luckily Susan closed it with a short poke.
“Not exactly the chatty type,” Susan murmured. “But he knows what he is doing.”
“Indeed, but I felt there would be something more suitable for me as well as the saloon than a simple...shotgun,” I muttered.
“A shotgun will do it,” the old man called from the back-room. His hearing was sure intact, surprising both Susan and I. “Howe’er, yer gonna need to ensure yer gun is loaded, all times.”
The old man returned from the backroom carrying a short-looking shotgun and placing it on the counter.
“This is a new ‘un,” the man told me. “You load two shells, one pull trigger shoots one shell, the other shoots the other, yer see?”
“Yes, I do,” I replied slowly, observing the old man’s fingers.
“If ya have enough strength in yer pull, ya can pull both triggers an’ really let ‘em have it!”
Susan and I eyed the man curiously as an excited smile spread across the previously disinterested face. I suppose it wasn’t the clients that interested him, not us anyway.
“Ya are welcome to try yer gun in the back, see how it fits ya,” the old man murmured.
“I don’t think that-” I began.
“C’mon, Sam, let’s try it out,” Susan excitedly chirped, shaking my arm.
“Now, yer first break the chamber, pull down so the barrels are revealed,” the gun store owner explained.
I did as he instructed, holding the handle firm and pulling the front of the barrel down. With the latch loose, it wasn’t too difficult.
“Now, load the shells, yer can figure that out.”
The shells were a tan color, save for a metallic end which had a lip preventing them from falling down the barrel. Loading the tan end first into each barrel, the metal clicked softly. I then lifted the barrel and then was surprised by a loud click.
“There, ya should be ready,” the old man told me. “Now, these are cut short for manoeuvrability, it’s gonna be hard to load a long shotgun with all those bottles ‘round ya.”
“I was thinking the same thing,” I replied, my eyes focused on the gun, still weighing it in my hands. It was heavy.
“Just be careful where ya point that as well,” the old man continued. “The last thing ya want to do is maim yer paying clients.”
I lifted the gun and rested a finger on the first trigger, aiming at the old wooden planks resting against a barrel. Not exactly a high-quality shooting gallery, but from the array of bullet holes in the sacks of dirt in the back, I take it his old targets were no more than toothpicks by now.
I pulled the trigger, not surprised by the kick of the shotgun. I kept my hand loose, but held the handle strong to make sure it didn’t fly from my hand. I saw Susan jump as it roared, peling one wooden plank with a spray of pellets that tore it apart. It was a terrific sight and it was only one barrel of the shotgun.
“Ya handle the kick well,” the old man murmured. “Most drop the shotgun on the first shot.”
“Let me try,” Susan chirped, jumping next to me.
I handed her the gun cautiously, the old man eyeing us, amused by our lack of confidence around the gun. However, what surprised us both was Susan’s quick learning. She broke the chamber, loaded a shell to replace the first and cocked it back in a few swift moves. It was remarkable and more than that, she aimed at the barrel that held the planks.
Pulling both triggers, we saw the barrel explode from the force and accuracy. A large hole appeared and murky water poured from inside.
“Well, I’ll be…” the old man murmured, watching Susan take the kick as if it were nothing. “Yer’ a natural, girl.”
“Do you think so?” Susan replied with a chipper expression.
A short exchange of money later, Susan and I left with the shotgun and a box of ammunition. It wasn’t easy hiding it from prying eyes, but Susan simply took it from me and hid it within her dress.
“Don’t want the whole town to know what we’re packing,” Susan murmured. “Do we, Sam?”
“As always, Miss Roberts, you leave me curious and fearful.”
Susan giggled and I smiled with her as we returned to our saloon.
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