John and Rob are eleven and have been saving their pocket money for months. They want to buy two six-guns from the toyshop next to the bus stop they pass each day on the number 46 to school.
On Saturday the bus has hardly stopped when they jump off. They are anxious. Will the two silver six-guns still be in the window?
As they burst into the shop the bell behind the door jingles and an elderly gentleman comes out from a door behind the counter and asks, morning, boys, and what can I do for you?
John does the talking. The two silver six-guns in the window, we’d like to buy them please; we’ve got the money.
Not robbed a bank, have you? the man asks, or is that why you want the guns?
No, sir, we’ve saved up, Rob explains.
The man fetches the guns from the window and sets the cellophane fronted cardboard boxes on the counter. Special, these are, he says.
The boys’ eyes are wide as they read the words on the boxes. “LONE STAR RANGE RIDER MKII”
The shopkeeper says, these are authentic reproductions of the guns used in the wild west – that’ll be twelve shillings and sixpence, please. You’ll need caps for the bullets; they’re a penny a packet.
In unison the boys gasp, they have bullets?
You got holsters?
No, we haven’t, Rob replies
How long have you been saving up for the guns?
Nearly a year, John answers.
The man reaches under the counter and produces two leather holsters.
We’ve no more money, John explains.
It’s my birthday today, the man says, so it’s presents for you two. Off you go.
In John’s back garden they practice the ‘fast draw’ and each time they argue.
I got you first, Rob says.
No, I got you, John replies.
While they are reloading caps into the metal jacket at the base of the solid bullets, John suggests, why don’t we take in turns?
I pretend to be shot and then you?
Yeah, one day you die and I die next day, or it could in the morning or safters.
I don’t want to be dead for a whole day, Rob objects.
John nods. Mornings and safters. Let’s shake on it?
Rob takes out his penknife. Let’s be blood brothers instead.
They rub the blood from the small nicks on their thumbs together and swear, brothers forever.
After the phone call Rob goes to his room and takes out his Lone Star six gun from a drawer.
At the wake, John’s distraught elderly mother, Margaret, hugs Rob. I have something for you; he would have wanted you to have it. From her large handbag she removes a brown paper bag and hands it to Rob.
Opening the bag Rob sees the other six-shooter. He weeps. Why did he do it, Margaret?
No one knows, love, no one knows.
We were only supposed to play dead, Rob says.
I hope you enjoyed this story. Remember, I publish a new story every Sunday.
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© Phil Cosker 2021
Phil Cosker has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved; no part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted by any mean, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.