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Shootin' Irons


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Mature Content: No.

Author: Anaesthesia Orr

With: Oskar Winter plus any other customers.
Location: Gunsmiths.
When: Saturday, 8th July 1876
Time of Day: Morning.

 

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Well, there had been quite a to-do about it, and no mistake. The Orr family were far too polite and, well, socially advanced, far too civilised, in other words, compared to the bulk of  the ingrates who inhabited Kalispell, to have a family row, even about this contentious issue. But there had been a conversation. Mrs Orr had been the main opponent; dear Papa had, of course, been wrapped around Anaesthesia's finger from the outset.

 

Anaesthesia had been on the backfoot at first: for her major source of truth, The Young Lady journal, had a great deal to say about poetry and flower arranging and the latest fashions from Paris and how to politely turn down an invitation to high tea by somebody who wasn't quite of one's own social class: but on the subject of guns it was quite mute.

 

However, her Mother's own little foible, her dabbling in the occult realms of spiritualism, had been her Achilles heel. In the days following the awful news of the Custer disaster, everybody, even gentlemen like Mr. Orr himself, had been seen toting a gun in the street: a sort of militia had sprung up, ready to repel the inevitable Indian attack upon Kalispell which, to the population's mingled relief and disappointment, never came. When the dreadful Wigfall girl had appeared at the house to arrange that Sunday's Spiritualist meeting with her Mama, she was seen to be carrying a sawn-off shotgun in her hand, wearing an impressive looking revolver over her apron, a bandolier of bullets across her chest and a vicious looking kitchen knife tucked under her holster belt. "If I run outta bullets, I'll plug one last one with my knife!" she had explained with some gusto. 

 

Well, if lowly females like Jemima Wigfall were allowed to tote firearms to defend themselves (although Jemima seemed to be actively looking for trouble, it had to be said) then why not their social betters?

 

+++

 

Mr Winter's store didn't have a tinkling bell when one entered, Anaesthesia noted. Was it really even called a store, a gun smith's place? A Smithy might be more correct. She resisted the urge to run home and consult Webster's upon the subject. She pushed forward, into the odd emporium which displayed a rather monotonous looking stock of guns, guns, guns and more guns, in neat rows, all looking very much the same to Anaesthesia's untrained eye: except that some were the long ones with wooden handles and some were smaller short ones that one could let off, or fire or whatever the phrase was, with one hand. 

 

There was a neat looking older man with a beard just like dear Papa's waiting for her behind a counter. How should a young lady best address such a person? She could just imagine the likes of Jemima Wigfall crashing open the door and yelling 'Hey you, I wanna buy a gun!' Gun, urgh, such a brutal, crude and uncouth sounding word. 

 

"Good day, my man, I wish to purchase an item of ordnance, if you could be so kind" were the words of polite introduction that she finally settled upon.

 

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The business had indeed done well these past few days, with the town up in arms (quite literally) about an impending attack. Oskar had been working around the clock to assemble and clean what stock he could, before it was snatched up immediately by the grasping hands of overeager townsfolk. Those weapons which lined the cage walls were mostly American makes; the people of Kalispell sure liked their 'home-grown' Colts, and he was in the process of pushing a cylinder lug back into a Single-Action Army when one most atypical customer came through his door.

 

She was exceedingly young, and of course; a woman, which would not have been particularly unusual - heavens, that Wigfall girl seemed half intent on purchasing this entire stock - but this girl was dressed in fine clothing, and carried herself with the air of someone who had never worked a day in her life.

 

"Good day, my man, I wish to purchase an item of ordnance, if you could be so kind."

"Fräulein." he greeted respectfully (rich sorts generally appreciated an insinuation of their multilingualism). "It would be my pleasure to do so. Did you have any idea as to the type of firearm that interests you? Something for hunting? Or self-defense?"

He slyly whisked the Peacekeeper he had been fiddling with under the table. .45 Colt wasn't the heaviest caliber, but from the looks of the poor child's dainty wrists, shooting the handgun might snap her in two.

@Javia

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"Fräulein." he greeted respectfully (rich sorts generally appreciated an insinuation of their multilingualism).

 

Anaesthesia was taken aback by the address in what she recognised as German. Had it come from some smelly rough-hewn immigrant farmer, she would have turned up her nose, but 'clothes maketh the man' as the saying goes, and coming from the well dressed and dapper gentleman, it seemed excitingly continental and sophisticated. Pity she couldn't speak German back to him, just some execrable schoolgirl French.

 

"It would be my pleasure to do so. Did you have any idea as to the type of firearm that interests you? Something for hunting? Or self-defense?"

 

"For shooting Indians , please." she replied serenely. She wondered, idly, if there was a special type of gu... ooh yes, firearm the man had said, that was a much nicer word... a special type of firearm best suited for exterminating those dreadful naked savages. Ever since the news of poor gallant General Custer's brutal murder by the treacherous redskins, she had been haunted by terrible fantasies of being closed in on by half a dozen of the brutal copper coloured young warriors in their scanty loin cloths and their painted slim, but muscular, torsos. How disdainfully she would laugh as she 'filled them full of tin', or whatever the phrase was. 

 

He slyly whisked the Peacekeeper he had been fiddling with under the table. .45 Colt wasn't the heaviest caliber, but from the looks of the poor child's dainty wrists, shooting the handgun might snap her in two.

 

The curious Miss Orr lifted herself up on tiptoes a little to peep over the counter, she was impatient to see what the perhaps older, but quite attractive and suave, German speaking gentleman had to offer her. 

 

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"For shooting Indians." Oskar repeated. "I'm sure we can find something to fit that need."

He drummed his hands enthusiastically upon the countertop and flashed the young lady a smile, before ducking his head down to one of the lower cabinets. She'd need something with a small powder load, lest she be knocked flat on her back in any attempt to use the thing. No doubt the young Miss would want to shoot the thing once or twice before she bought it, and customers generally didn't choose products that left them with sore wrists and bruised egos. It's actual utility wouldn't really be an object - so long as it went bang and severely wounded whatever it was pointing at.

She'd probably never even use the thing, but of course; Oskar was a vendor of sound mind, so much as he was of weaponry.

 

He rose from below the counter with a small derringer pistol in each hand, depositing them both before his customer, then ducking down once more to lay a third, and final pistol next to the others.

 

"The derringer family of pistol are sworn by many fine ladies and gentlemen." he began, bracing himself against the counter. "Easily concealable in a sleeve, hand bag, or pocket, a derringer may be brought where politeness would otherwise dictate the absence of a pistol. Say, for the sake of the argument, you were at a dinner party, and a furious Indian were to burst through the door, eyes ablaze while you sere sitting down to eat!"

Oskar leaned forward and flared his eyes behind a smile, enunciating the theatrics of his story.

"One with a large and unwieldy firearm might feel foolish, having left his weapon by the door so as not to give offense to their host. But you, my good Miss, need not fear, for you have kept your small derringer in your handbag, and need only pull it out to put the brute down."

 

The salesman in him had never really died, and Oskar couldn't help but grin at the old dance; tell the customer what they want to hear, play on their fears, let them know that they are making the right choice in their purchase.

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"The derringer family of pistol are sworn by many fine ladies and gentlemen." he began, bracing himself against the counter. "Easily concealable in a sleeve, hand bag, or pocket, a derringer may be brought where politeness would otherwise dictate the absence of a pistol. Say, for the sake of the argument, you were at a dinner party, and a furious Indian were to burst through the door, eyes ablaze while you sere sitting down to eat!"

 

Anaesthesia frowned, these didn't look like the guns that Jemima and all the men about town were totting, they looked little more than toys lying there on the counter. But she let the man continue on with his patter, he did seem so awfully nice. 

 

Oskar leaned forward and flared his eyes behind a smile, enunciating the theatrics of his story.

"One with a large and unwieldy firearm might feel foolish, having left his weapon by the door so as not to give offense to their host. But you, my good Miss, need not fear, for you have kept your small derringer in your handbag, and need only pull it out to put the brute down."

 

"No, I don't like them" said the eighteen year old in the same way that she would send away a proffered bonnet or pair of gloves that didn't quite meet her taste at Pettigrew's. "I want one I can kill six Indians with in a row and... and I can wear... outside" she said, looking around. By 'outside' she meant outside her dress.

 

"What about that one?" she asked, gesturing (but not rudely pointing) at one of the cabinets with a gloved hand. A slim looking old Lefaucheux '58 six-shooter had caught her eye: as long as a peacemaker but a whole lot lighter.

 

"I want to try that one!" she said and although she didn't physically stamp her foot, she did seem very determined indeed to at least try firing it.

 

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"No, I don't like them"

Oskar tilted his head. "No? Very well."

For all his efforts, the whims of young gentry were entirely unpredictable. He obediently nodded and swept the series of derringers to the side.

"What about that one?"

The gunsmith followed the girl's finger to one of the handguns on the wall cabinets; a French pinfire revolver, and winced a little in doing so. The '58 Lefaucheux had a smaller load, but a double-action; a difficult pull for even the sturdiest ranch-hand fingers.

 

"Ah, very well." Oskar said, as he moved to unlock the case in question. He lifted the revolver from it's mount, setting the hammer to half-cock, opening the loading gate, and giving the cylinder a spin to show the young Miss that her prospective weapon was presently unloaded.

 

"The Lefaucheux model 1858, possibly one of the first cartridge-loaded pistols, comes in 7 millimeter cartridges - that's .275 inches - enough blackpowder to stop any human foe." he placed it down on the counter before her. "The ah, action is self-cocking, meaning the pull is quite heavy, here..."

 

He shut the loading gate and lowered the hammer, before offering the handle to the young lady. "...see if you can squeeze that trigger back."

@Javia

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"The Lefaucheux model 1858, possibly one of the first cartridge-loaded pistols, comes in 7 millimeter cartridges - that's .275 inches - enough blackpowder to stop any human foe." he placed it down on the counter before her. "The ah, action is self-cocking, meaning the pull is quite heavy, here..."

 

All this was all Greek to Anaesthesia, but it sounded thrillingly arcane and mysterious, and talk of Lefaucheuxs and millimetres so dangerously French. 

 

He shut the loading gate and lowered the hammer, before offering the handle to the young lady. "...see if you can squeeze that trigger back."

 

She put down her parasol against the counter and took the piece, surprised at the weight: well after all, it was a largish piece of metal when all was said and done. She didn't want to look like she had made a mistake, though, so weighed it in her hand and lied "Oh! I thought it would be much heavier!" before lifting it up to what she supposed was a firing position and screwing up her eyes in case it really did go off, and pulled jerkily on the trigger, rather than squeezing it like a pro. It was stiff all right, but did at least make a satisfying click as the hammer fell into place.

 

"Hmmm, let me try again!" she said "I pull this down, yes?" she asked re-cocking the revolver. Miss Orr might be closeted and ignorant of much of the real world outside her fancy townhouse, but she was not unintelligent and she was certainly very observant. Pulling the hammer back was more difficult than Mr. Winter had made it look, but she managed it and 'fired' the thing again, this time with her eyes open, looking down the barrel at an imaginary redskin.

 

"Oh, this is tremendous fun!" her pretty face beamed at Mr. Winter "One more go, then I want to see it go off properly!" she said. In her haste she forgot to cock it and found the trigger almost impossible to budge. "Oh it's broken", she cried. Nothing daunted she steadied the butt against the hard whalebone stays that covered her stomach and using both forefingers managed, with an unladylike grunt, to pull the trigger back.

 

"Oh Mr. Winter, look what I have discovered" she gasped at the veteran gunsmith "If you don't pull back the thing first and just pull the trigger, the thing goes back anyway and the doo-dah turns around on its own! Isn't that clever?!"

 

Her arm was hurting with the weight of it, and her hand aching, but once you knew what to expect, she found you could put your mind to it and do it again more easily. She used the double action again and then turned to Oskar, her blue eyes bright with excitement.

 

"I want to fire it with real bullets!!" she demanded. For the first time in her life, Miss Anaesthesia Ether Orr was madly, passionately in love: with a 1858 model Lefaucheux double action revolver.

 

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"Hmmm, let me try again!" she said "I pull this down, yes?"

"Er... ja." Oskar nodded. "The action itself means you don't need to, but..."

 

He trailed off as Anesthesia discovered the revolver's function in real time, with a cry of; "Oh it's broken" and a subsequent;

"Oh Mr. Winter, look what I have discovered"

 

"Yes. That happens, but I'd ah... personally caution against it. That effort might send the shot flying off who-knows-where."

"If you don't pull back the thing first and just pull the trigger, the thing goes back anyway and the doo-dah turns around on its own! Isn't that clever?!"

He nodded patiently. "Yes, quite clever. The double action uh... doo-dah is one of the marvels of the modern age."

 

"I want to fire it with real bullets!!"

 

Of course she did. "Right." Oskar intoned. "Of course. One moment, please." and he disappeared below the counter once more to grab a box of small pinfire cartridges. He had half a mind to pull off the bullets and let the girl fire blank rounds, lest the back of his store end the day with a bit more of a draft than that with which it had begun, but young Miss Orr was evidently the persistent type, and obstructing her desires would likely get him nowhere.

 

"If you'll come with me, Fräulein." he told the girl, as he stepped out from behind the counter. There was a jangle as he pulled a set of keys from his pocket and unlocked the back door, leading outside to a sort of miniature shooting gallery. Some fifteen yards away lay a set of bottles as targets, and further back still was a novelty wooden cutout of a bandanna-wearing outlaw, complete with red targets upon his head and heart.

 

"Have you loaded or fired a gate-loaded revolver before?" he asked, as he thumbed three cartridges into his palm.

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"I want to fire it with real bullets!!"

 

Of course she did. "Right." Oskar intoned. "Of course. One moment, please." and he disappeared below the counter once more to grab a box of small pinfire cartridges.

 

It wasn’t very ladylike, but again Anæsthesia stood on tiptoes and peered over the top of the counter to see what the clever foreign gentleman was up to now: he looked like a little grey squirrel, scrabbling around for nuts. He came back up, holding the most darling little box.

 

"If you'll come with me, Fräulein." he told the girl, as he stepped out from behind the counter.

 

“With pleasure” she beamed, holding the pistol close like a baby or a dolly or some other precious toy. Mr. Winter used his impressive set of keys to open the back door (a man with a big set of keys always seemed so important, and Oskar had a set almost as big as her Father, the Postmaster's!) And as for his shooting gallery in the back yard! Oh, it was a virtual wonderland for the want-to-be shootress. She especially like the wooden ruffian at the far end.

 

"Have you loaded or fired a gate-loaded revolver before?" he asked, as he thumbed three cartridges into his palm.

 

She looked at him densely for a second and then held up the pistol.

 

“Gate-loaded… Oh, is that what this is?” she smiled “No, I am afraid not. Could you be so kind as to show me what to do, Mr. Winter, you are so very clever at this sort of thing.” She said so very politely: the editorial staff of The Young Lady would have been proud of her.

 

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“Gate-loaded… Oh, is that what this is?”

The gunsmith nodded confirmation. "Yes, hence the uh... loading gate."

“No, I am afraid not. Could you be so kind as to show me what to do, Mr. Winter, you are so very clever at this sort of thing.”

 

"Your flattery is most charming, Miss Orr. Of course." Oskar replied, a little queasy in the stomach at the sickly sweetness of it all.

 

"First, you pull back the hammer to half-cock, or halfway." he told her, placing his hands over her own to perform the action. "This allows the cylinder to spin freely, and the loading gate to open, see?"

To illustrate his point, he spun the weapon's cylinder and thumbed open the gate at the side of the revolver. Next, he pulled one of the pinfire cartridges from their little paper box and handed it to the girl.

"Now, you take one of these... and slot it into the gate, there. Make sure the little pin is sticking into it's notch, otherwise the hammer won't hit it and the weapon won't fire."

 

For this part, he was careful to stand back from Anesthesia. As enthusiastic as she seemed to be about all this, he didn't entirely trust her not to defy all logic and set off a round in some way or another.

@Javia

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