1432 words (5 minute read)



Laine. He was an interesting man, a copy of the Stranger molded from the minds of Joel and Ethan Cohen: stoic with an impressive mustache as he ordered his trademark Sarsaparilla. His doppelganger, only not as epic, or tall...Laine was a gun-toting cowboy grown up in the real world. He no longer played horsey, but Laine woulda placed a wooden pole between his legs to get out one more yeehaw!

He owned his store for almost eleven years. Laine’s Artillery was only open five days a week, and never on a Thursday. Laine prided himself at no more than five foot four inches. Even though Laine premiered the likeness of a monkey in a canoe, out of place and with no care as to people’s perception and judgment, he knew everything about his wares.

He sold everything under the prairie sun: 357 magnums, shotguns, 9mm, assault rifles, the whole ball of wax. His most prized gun, underneath, in the display case, laid on maroon velvet like a spread out vixen begging to be handled, loaded, cocked, and--

"Mosin Nagant M38 Carbine, old school Russian sniper. Spent a pretty penny on it, almost lost my store obtaining that beaut." Laine, a regular six-shooter, knew a historic weapon when he saw them.

Jerry nodded his head, "A real beauty to behold..., to touch one of those--" Jerry said with layered ’Gee Golly’.

"That is for display purposes only chumley. Not a one person could offer me heaven on a silver platter for it. I’ll shut down those scammers real quick."

John walked around the shop and Jerry pretended to shop around: grenades, flak jackets, the ammo upon ammo upon ammo, all the deliveries of a soldier’s fall with honor and a gangbangers drop in a drive-by.

Laine stoked the conversational fire for John. “Something I can help you with sir?” He queried with a coarse voice like someone anxiously whispering in a library.

John turned around to face Laine.

“You again?" Laine, with his big toothy smile, "Forgot something?” He rubbed his right hand on top of the glass counter, stepped back, and placed his hands on his hips.

“Yeah, I know I was in here, but I don’t remember what I bought while I was here...last time I was here I mean, which was--which was?” John strolled over to the glass counter.

Jerry scratched his head. A slight ping, or something rattled in Jerry’s head. A rusty gear rotating the opposite way. Jerry kept an eye on mighty suspicious Laine; Laine reached his hand for something under the counter.

"His head ain’t quite working like it use to." Jerry said, attempting to diffuse the situation and stop Laine’s wandering hand. "Marbles a little glassy." Jerry knew he was unsure, but he tried to blow it off.

Laine smiled and laughed a teensy bit. “I have been there, hoo doggy. It was a Colt Bisley Model .38-40, single action, good condition I might add.” Laine leaned over the glass taking in the pride.

John pulled out the Colt revolver.

"Yes sir, that is the one. Something wrong with the little harlot?" Laine moved his jaw causing his mustache to gyrate like a jumped on fuzzy waterbed.

"Not too certain. Mind taking a look for me Laine." John said, with a western drawl.

"Not at all, bring that girl over yonder." Laine waved his hands with welcoming and warm tidings.

John slowly walked over.

Jerry’s heart thumped and thumped, he sensed fear, chilled.

John handed the gun over to Laine, handle first.

"Handle first, just like I taught ya." Laine smiled as he grabbed the Colt revolver and pulled over a small towel.

Laine took the revolver apart faster than a white-tailed jack rabbit chasing after a two legged squirrel, a mechanical disemboweling right before Jerry and John’s eyes. Next to the dismantled Colt revolver three bullets rested, two pointed up and one on its side..

John’s massaged his chin and cheeks, covering his mouth temporarily. His eyes did not move from the bullets on the counter.. “What about bullets, how much ammo? Did I buy, ehh, purchase?” John bit his inner lip.

“You only had enough for five rounds my stalwart chum, and you paid in full. I liked that.” Laine nodded his head as if a cowboy hat rested on his head.

John’s face turned white.

Jerry, he prayed the two extra rounds would not be found in someone later, discovered during a standard morgue job. Could he have shot someone?

"How did you like her, she handles quite nicely, doesn’t she?" Laine said with blurts of laughing. "I remember my first experience with a Colt."

"You mean, John fired the gun?" Jerry bent his head downward, avoiding eye contact with John and holding his best to not crack his voice with Laine.

"You bet yer bottom’ dollar he did. See," he pulled up one of the pieces of the Colt revolver, "the firing pin still has a lil’ bit of gun powder from when he pulled the trigger." Laine raised his chin a slight, "You look a bit of a frightened Irish setter pup, now granted you look a hell of a lot better than when you last, barged in, to not mince words. May I offer you some good ol’ fashioned H20?"

John shook his head to politely decline and stumbled over to the bathroom.

Jerry came over to one of the side walls. Alongside the wall a shadow box.

Laine finished putting John’s Colt revolver back together, saddled up and walked over. "That over there was your basic shotgun, but there is, let’s say I improved upon it." He smiled and his mustache rested, fully present, each little follicle blazoned on his face.

"Sawed off...barrel is a lot larger too." Jerry peered inside, face to face with the triple locked shadow box.

"Yep on both instances, anything else..." Laine enjoyed the guessing game.

Jerry inspected further. "I’m no expert, but my guess is the modified stock gives it a lighter weight. Silver trigger. Is that white ash tree? You got some crazy glisht goin’ on. I mean, the engraving, the barrel diameter, what does this thing shoot, grenades?" Jerry laughed, and boy did he need it.

"Grenades, that’s a good one. Hardly! Heh heh. That’s a Kresge specialty right there" Laine, proudly, "Took years to find all the dang parts for it. Eli Whitney, you philanderin’ sonuvabitch!"

The laughter from Jerry faded, shut off, as if shocked by an exposed outlet. "Kresge?" Jerry’s innards ran dry.

"Laine Kresge. Putt her there" He put out his hand to Jerry: the acceptance of the Western modernized man.

Jerry reluctantly grabbed his hand. Mylan Kresge? Impossible Jerry knew he heard the last name before.

"Pleasantries and good tidings to you kind sir, but I must be going, the swarms a coming, and my lavatory is but two clicks that-a-way." Laine grabbed his drawers as if to pull them right down and shit where he stood--cowboy style--no matter his company.

He pointed to the back room with a sign: PAYING CUSTOMERS ONLY

Christ, he even sounds like Mylan "Kresge, Laine Kresge." Jerry took one last go around and wondered how he missed the similarities with Mylan’s description. Fiber-optic lighting all around the ceiling and some of the display cases generated syncopated rainbows. John’s futuristic nightmare...coming to life. John came out from the restroom and Jerry grabbed John by the arm, rustling him out of Laine’s Artillery. Jerry worried what tares would occur on John’s mind if he met the realities associated with Mylan.

John reached out toward the counter and grabbed the revolver before John and Jerry exited Laine’s Artillery. "I was always a sucker for the Wild West. With a six shooter on my belt, I ruled the streets. No one will stand in my way..." John spoke.