It was a crisp October morning with a gentle and refreshing breeze blowing across the North Fells. The distant sounds of the city provided a soft murmuring backdrop to the pastoral peace of the rolling hills north of the wall. The half dozen cows grazing lazily upon the yellowing autumn grass took little notice of the three individuals standing together about twenty yards away.
Jedburgh Dagger, Junie Ginsburg and Emerson Lighthouse were facing a line of about a dozen wine bottles set up on logs a good sixty paces away. The trio stood next to a small folding table that now sat covered with ammunition boxes and various handguns. Jed had been counting out rounds for her old Colt Navy when her expression turned towards that dour humorless look she got as Emerson began to play with his revolver by spinning it on his finger like a Saturday morning kinescope cowboy.
“Emerson, please.” Jed said. “Don’t use the trigger guard to twirl the gun around your finger. Especially if it’s loaded…”
“But it makes me look so fancy.” Emerson said, exhaling purple smoke from the cigar he held clenched between his teeth
“Trust me. It’s not the gun that makes you look fancy.” Jed said dryly. “Okay. Watch me.” Jed stood at an angle to the line of bottles and adjusted her stance. “Just like I showed you before, set your grip, hold it like you’re holding a hammer. Finger off the trigger, hammer back, align the sights, aim, squeeze…” She then fired off six shots, shattering six of the bottles, leaving nothing but splintered shards of glass in their place.
“Woo-hoo!” Junie clapped.
Placing the now-empty revolver on the table, she handed a freshly loaded one to Emerson, grip first. “Okay Emerson, your turn.” Jed said. “Hold your arm straight and steady.” she instructed. “Grip the butt, even pressure. Align the sights, aim at the bottles, keep your arm straight. Now squeeze the trigger with even pressure to the rear….”
Emerson snickered and glanced at Junie. “She said ‘grip the butt.’”
“Emerson!” Jed was starting to sound exasperated. “Do you want to learn how to handle a firearm or not?”
“Right.” said Emerson, narrowing his eyes and focussing on the bottles. He held his arm out straight. “Nothing is happening.”
“You need to pull the hammer back, then squeeze firmly.” Jed reminded him.
“I am, it’s just not…” Emerson’s jump coincided with the revolver’s discharge. He dropped the gun. “”I shot it!” he said proudly bending down to pick up the revolver. “Look. There is smoke coming out of it.” he added, turning the revolver to look down the barrel.
Jed slapped the barrel away from Emerson’s face, and for a moment Junie was convinced that she was about to cuff Emerson in the side of the head. “Emerson. Don’t do that. The round end is the dangerous end.” said Jed slowly, as if speaking to someone whose grasp and comprehension of the english language was suspect. “Now, let’s try again. This time try keeping your grip steady with your right hand, and put your left hand on the grip of the revolver, like this.” she demonstrated.
Emerson very deliberately copied her stance, supporting his grip and sighting one of the bottles along the length of his arm. He squeezed as instructed, firing off a round.
“Dammit.” Emerson cursed. “I missed.” He then fired off three more shots in quick succession.
“Take your time, and use the sights. Squeeze, not jerk.” Jed said.
“That’s okay dear.” said Junie. “They are just little bottles. You’ll get one soon.”
“I think it’s the gun.” said Emerson. “It seems a bit defective.”
“They always want to blame the tool for the deficiency of the workman.” Jed said cautiously, watching Emerson struggle with the loading latch on the side of the revolver’s frame.
As Emerson was adjusting his stance for his final shot a deeply sonorous moo moo sounded behind him. He spun and fired in a single fluid motion, the report cutting through the crisp autumn air echoed into the silence that followed. After several moments Jed finally spoke up. “Well done Lighthouse, you just killed one of Tenk’s cows.”
((Thanks Jed for both the target practice and writing assistance – any spots in the militia, I’m ready to serve and protect!))