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Friday, February 3, 2017

The Dual


A drop of sweat beaded down his forehead and rolled into his eye. He blinked, squinting at his adversary. The sun sat high in the sky, baking the Earth beneath. They stood just feet apart, facing each other on a dirt path behind the building. Rob opened his mouth to speak, Ricky interrupted.
"Time for talkin's over. Let yer pistol say it instead."
"Them's fightin' words, partner."
"I know it."
"You mean it?"
"Sure do."
"You'll wish you didn't."
"Oh yeah?"
"Yeah."
"Let's do this then."
"Let's."
They spun on their heels and took ten paces each in opposite directions. 
"On the count of three." Ricky said with his back to Rob. "One . . . Two . . ."
"Three!" Rob finished. 
They turned together, guns drawn and began to fire.
---
The woman stood at the sink, peeling potatoes, looking through the window into the back yard. Summer was almost over and she couldn't wait. Not that she didn't love having her chicks in the nest, but even a mother hen needs to rest now and again. She finished her peeling and gathered the shavings in her wet, raisined fingers. Carrying them to the trash and stepping on the opener, she realized it was still full. 
"Dammit, the boys were supposed to do their chores before they played." She said out loud to no one. 
The peelings were dumped on top of the overstuffed trash bin as she briskly walked out the sliding glass door onto the back porch. She could hear the boys whooping and laughing on the running trail behind the back fence.
"Ricky! Rob! Get in here, now!"
Their elation went silent. She waited a moment. Presently, her two boys slunk through the back gate wielding Super Soakers, their cowboy costumes from last Halloween soaked through.
"What did I say about chores?" 
"Chores before play." Rob said dejected.
"I told you!" Ricky said addressing his older brother.
"Shut up!" Rob said.
"Enough. Both of you. Don't make me get the spoon." The woman threatened.
"Them's fightin' words." Ricky drawled.
The woman raised her eyebrows.
"I mean, I mean, yes mam!"
They ran into the house.

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