Shapes in the Shade

In Fiction on April 15, 2013 at 3:55 pm


Shapes in the Shade

 “Your color isn’t too good, kid. Maybe you’d better have a seat.”

Tanner was standing at the window, the setting sun full on his face; he tipped his revolver to spill the spent shells on the cabin floor.

“Or you could make yourself useful,” he said with a sideways glance, “and fetch me the speedloaders from the satchel there.”

I wasn’t in much of a mood to be sassed, but I wasn’t in much of a mood to talk back either, so I did as Tanner asked and brought him a handful. He eyed me as he took one and loaded it.

“Say something, kid.”

I turned and looked out the window, down the hill, to the woods where several dark shapes lay motionless in the shade.

“Are they all dead?” I asked. Tanner laughed and pushed the cylinder in with a click.

“You better hope so,” he said. “Or they’ll be up here as soon as it’s dark, blowin’ the brains right out your head.”

“Right,” I said quietly, and I decided to sit. Tanner strode to the table, straddled a chair, and pushed a tin cup of whisky at me.

“It ain’t gonna come to that,” he said.

I sipped the whisky, then tipped the cup back and poured the whole thing down. It burned my throat and warmed my stomach.

“You were with those men,” I said after a moment. “Why would you kill them for me? You don’t even know me.”

Tanner shrugged and poured himself a cup.

“I was with them,” he said. “But I wasn’t with them, if you understand my meaning. Besides—would you rather I’d let them kill you?”

“No, but—“

“Then why ask questions?”

Tanner knocked back the whisky and went back to the window. I studied the bottom of my empty cup.

“So, when this is done then, you’ll let me go?”

Tanner laughed a little and cocked his gun.

“Now I didn’t say that.”

This little story (which lacks quite a bit of context, I realize) is for the Trifecta Writing Challenge. This week’s word: Color.

Click the link for more great stories, and leave your comments (be they friendly or foe-ly) below.

  1. Terrifying ending -poor kid.Great tension and dialogue.

  2. Nice mystery and an ending wanting to know more.

  3. this is a wonderful page-turner…except…sigh – next installment, please 😉

  4. I had a warm, fuzzy feeling about the rescuer… until the last line. Uh-oh! I would definitely like to read more of this story!

  5. You do “dark” really well.

  6. Love reading westerns. This was very well done.

  7. Wooo…. That was good reading. Have hand placed firmly on back of neck trying to make hair stop standing on end ….!!

  8. I don’t think it needs any more context than you’ve given it. It feels very The Road to me, which is another example of great writing that lacks context. It just is. You’re very talented, Brian. Thank you for sharing that with us.

  9. I’m in love. ❤ The dialogue is brilliant and the little bits of descriptive action are so cool.

  10. I don’t know what the context is, but this little slice is as close to perfectly written as I’ve read.

  11. This is an easy comment – what trifecta said – absolutely.

  12. oooh a Western!… haven’t read one of those in a while.

  13. I think the story is good….I’d like to know the ending though…I hope he lets him go…ha!…Diane

  14. It sounds like it’s been a long, harrowing day-and it isn’t over yet! I agree with the others-this was excellent!

  15. So I may be crazy, but didn’t we meet Tanner before? Because I love him like I have loved him before. i agree the tension here is great and the dry humor in the last lines are great.

    • There were similar characters in one of my stories, A Fitful Sleep – and could be the character “Jess” is the same guy. Maybe his full name is Jessie Tanner? We’ll see…

  16. Love the kid not being “in the mood to talk back”. Tries but fails to break the tension. Great dialogue, too.

  17. Nice cliffhanger! I’m curious about the kid, why they wanted to kill him. And what does Tanner intend?

  18. Fascinating tale with an interesting end-can’t wait to read the rest of it-hope you are going to do it soon Brian:-)

  19. Interesting situation you created. I guess Tanner will have to “dance or his supper” or his future.

  20. I’d take the context, but I also like it just as it is. Very much so.

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