The right side of his face burned pink from riding against the east since dawn. Bad James had to hit town today or be called a welch, and that was one of the names he could not abide. He tied off his horse, grabbed a bag and pushed through the bar’s swinging door.
Red waited for him at the nearest table, a quarter-full bottle of whiskey keeping him company. He leaned up to see inside Bad James’s holster.
“I don’t see your gun, James. Are you welching?”
“I keep honest.”
“Looks like you’re trying to keep your six-shooter.”
James dropped his bag with a clank and sat on the chair opposite Red. His palms rested on the edge of the table like he might flip it over.
“You cheated on that wager, pretending you were drunk so you could win.”
Red’s lips twitched into the closest thing to smiling these sorts of men did.
“Sure sounds like a welch.”
“I’m not trying to welch.” James scratched his scruff. “Just riled. I never lost a bottle shooting match before.”
“Wonder how many of your past opponents were drinking cider instead of beer.”
“Well I got some questions about the terms.”
Red tipped his hat and poured another whiskey. “Ain’t many terms about it.”
“So if I was to set down and eat the gun, could I take it apart first?”
“Sure. Want me to get you a knife and fork? Some catsup?”
James did not rise to the bait.
“Could I eat it slow? Say, a piece a day?”
“You want to eat the trigger today, swallow the barrel tomorrow? That’s fine. You’ve just got to eat that whole gun eventually or you welsh. It’d be downright disrespectful of you to live through so many gunfights and then die shitting one out.”
Bad James leaned down. Red stiffened, looking around the side of the table for a threat.
James’s collected his bag. He set it on the table, tugged the strings and let it yawn open.
Red looked inside. It was half full with little metal pellets, smaller than rabbit crap.
“That don’t look like a gun,” said Red.
James reached in and picked up a single pellet. He held it for Red’s scrutiny.
“It’s the shooter, melted down to once daily vitamins. Should only take a hundred days to finish her off. Now as I recall, your terms gave you buying me a beer to wash it down. Would you like to pay for a hundred now, or should the keep set up a tab?”
John is away this weekend. If you're a #fridayflasher, please a leave a link to your story so he can read it later. All comments are welcome on this piece, except Wales-bashing.