The Mountain

a story
2021-03-15 13:57:58
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"Oh, you're so brave," Delilah swooned at the bar, "I couldn't ever imagine having to go up against so many pirates."

"Well, when it is ship-to-ship their numbers don't really mean much," Arnett had a smug look on his face, "And let's not forget, I had a job to do. I won't pretend it was easy but if more people could do it than Pirates would take up moisture farming."

The woman gave an obnoxious laugh as if Arnett had just formed the most satisfying joke.  Arnett understood what she was fishing for, and he had no intention of doing business with her. However, he had been taking small job after small job for weeks and now it finally started feeling like he had some spending cash and a reason to celebrate.

He was clean shaven, bathed, his clothes had been cleaned a few days ago, and for the first time in a while he found himself in-between jobs. Arnett was enjoying the attention, but mostly he was enjoying feeling like his old self again.

"Well, I'm sure it sounds all glorious now," continued Arnett, "But at the time, I just had to act."

"If only more men around here could step up and act," Delilah said, "Maybe I'd be tied down by now, instead of being such a free spirit."

"What can you expect? Not everyone can be heroes," said Arnett, "Then who would be moisture farmers?"

Arnett allowed himself a chuckle at his poor joke to pass the time while Delilah cackled out her laughter. His chuckle was cut short, however, as a large hand slapped down on his shoulder, and a growl more akin to a bear then a person rumbled behind him.

Arnett was spun around on his barstool to face a mountain of a man with tanned, leathery skin and a protruding forehead. Behind him, three other guys glared at Arnett from around the mountain's shoulders.

"What's wrong with moisture farmers?" growled the man.

"I think he says we can't be heroes," chimed in another man, "Called us boring."

"Cowards," shouted another man, "He said we was cowards."

Arnett brought his hands up in defeat, "No, guys-"

"Back off. He's a real man," touted Delilah, "A couple of potatoes like you wouldn't size up to him."

The hand on Arnett's should squeezed, sending pain and panic up Arnett's neck.

"Stay outta this, Delilah," grumbled the Mountain, "You've sized up enough men to make the tightest prude loose."

"Please, big guy," said Arnett, his hands moving to remove the Mountain's large claw, "I have nothing against-"

"Perhaps you'd like to step outside with us," said the Mountain, "Have a little conversation. Man to Boy."

"String him up!" shouted one of the men behind him.

"Turn him into jelly!" shouted another patron from somewhere in the bar.

"I have no interest in questioning anyone's manhood," wheezed Arnett as he struggled to break loose from the man's grip, "Moisture farming is an honorable career. Very stable. Moist."

"I think the little man and his little ears don't hear so good," one of the Mountain's boys smiled and rubbed his knuckles.

"Outside," said the Mountain again, "Now."

Arnett smiled awkwardly, "Surely not before I finished my drink."

Arnett quickly grabbed his glass and tossed it, as hard as he could, into the Mountain's face. The alcohol splashed against him, but the glass did little more then bounce off his cheeks and fall to the floor, shattering.

The hand released just enough to move from Arnett's shoulder to his neck. He squeezed, and Arnett instantly felt the air cut off. He attempted to suck in a final breath but had it cut off easily.

"Fine" growled the Mountain, lifting Arnett off the stool by his neck, "We'll do it here."

The Mountain's other fist was wound back, and came at Arnett much faster then he expected. Even as he started seeing black around the edge of his vision, his face was slammed by the Mountain's fist. The other hand released his throat in the same motion, and Arnett was tossed a short ways back with the force of the punch.

He hit the floor with great force. His face screamed in pain, his cheek felt as if it would start puffing any moment. However, Arnett knew he had to act fast and act now. He was outmatched and out muscled. If he couldn't hit back soon, they'd be ontop of him again in seconds.

Arnett scrambled backwards, just out of reach of the Mountain's hulking hands reaching out to grab him once more. Rising to his feet, Arnett grabbed an empty chair and jabbed its legs at the approaching group of men.

Other patrons scattered. Those sitting around them rose and backed off. A few by the door took the opportunity to outright leave. The bartender shouted someone's name, but he barely moved from his location next to a cash register.

The bulky farmer easily reached out and grabbed the chair from Arnett. Arnett let go quickly to avoid being dragged in. He stared down the group closing in on him.

The massive mountain of a man and his two cohorts loomed- two? Arnett weaved a little to peak around the Mountain. Two? Wasn't there a third?

A bottle shattered. The goon to the left stiffened before his eyes rolled backwards and he dropped to the ground. Gwen did not wait a beat for him to fall. She had already pushed past the last goon as she swung a second bottle up at the head of the Mountain of a Man.

The bottle shattered beautifully, drenching the man in glass shards and alcohol. However, he was just as unphased by the hit as he was my Arnett. He immediately turned to her. With one motion, he had her by the throat, off her feet, and was dragging her back to the nearest wall to pin her there. He was snarling with rage as his eyes beat down upon her.

"No!" shouted Arnett, his fear replaced by anger.

His eyes locked with the last goon.  Arnett stopped breathing. He felt his body take a shooting stance. His hand shot to his gun, hovering just above the holster. The hairs on the back of his neck were rigid.

He had unconsciously picked up the last goon's stance of a dual. He had his legs spread, like Arnett, in a shooting stance. His hand was already hovering over his gun. His eyes angry. He glared at Arnett. His eyes shot down to Arnett's gun, or his hand. With that, they both understood what was happening, and what was at stake.

Arnett's hand descended to his revolver. In tandem, the goon's hand lowered as well. Arnett was already pulling his revolver free of the holster by the time his opponent started to lift.

The world went silent. Arnett's vision tunneled. His mind raced. The weight of the revolver as he lifted. The calculation of how far he had to lift before the barrel was free of the holster. He tried to remember how far he had to bend his elbow. Where to aim. Did he risk raising the gun to check the sights?

Arnett leveled his arm. The revolver rose, leveling off. It was free of the holster. His opponent was still raising his. His elbow was too bent. His arm jetting out like a bird's wing. Arnett heard the gulping cry of Gwen as her air was choked out.

Arnett brought the gun to level. felt where the hammer was compared to his thumb. Adjusted the aim to the left. His opponent was leveling off his pistol. He was running out of time.

Arnett felt the resistance of the trigger. He forced his finger to move faster. He felt like a sailor tugging mooring lines. He adjusted his aim to the right to compensate for the pull of the-


In a matter of a few second, Arnett had pulled his revolver and fired. The goon groaned, his pistol falling to the ground. He grabbed at his arm in pain, falling back onto his butt, away from Arnett's aim.

"I missed!" thought Arnett in his head.

He turned the revolver on the Mountain.

The Mountain let out a yelp like a wounded dog. With a heaving of his shoulders, Gwen gasped out suddenly, sliding down the wall a little more. She brought back her booted foot and kicked out, again, slamming it into the Mountain's crotch for a second time. The mountain yelped again, this time the pain evident in his cry.

He dropped Gwen, Gwen falling to her butt on the floor. The Mountain slammed against the wall, his legs buckled and his arms protecting his sensitive bits. The force of his impact shook the wall, the oil lamps, and knocked a picture off its hanger further down.

Arnett resisted the urge to pull the trigger. He was rewarded by the Mountain of a Man sliding down the wall, away from Gwen, and shaking the floorboards with his impact. A small, barely audible moan came from the lump of meat he created.

Arnett turned the pistol back to his goons, all three of the splayed out on the ground. The one he had shot gripped his arm for dear life, tears streamed down his face. The other two moaned and carefully picked glass from their hair.

Arnett took a few steps towards them, peaking around one of the card tables, "You alright?"

Gwen coughed and continued to take deep breathes. She held her throat with her hand, but she managed to wave off Arnett as a signal she was fine. Arnett nodded to her, before motioning to the door.

"Time to go," he said.

Arnett pointed his revolver at the goon he shot, "You live. You get my tab."

The man whimpered, and Arnett took that as an affirmative. He gestured for Gwen to go and he followed her to the door. On the way, Delilah came out of nowhere and grabbed Arnett's arm.

"Take me with you," she mewed, "I can't stay here."

"No room," said Arnett, pushing her off, "Besides, you started this. I think they are going to want to have a talk when they are able."

"I can't be denied!" Delilah yelled, "Take me with you! You can't just upset them and leave!"

"This is your fault," said Arnett, "I have every right-"

"Piss off," croaked Gwen, "Or I'll put a bullet in that pretty leg of yours and ruin your going rate!"

Gwen grabbed Arnett and dragged him through the saloon doors out into the night. Delilah pouted and watched them go.

Arnett holstered his pistol, "Way to go, Gwenny, you acted-"

Gwen fell into his arms, cutting him off.

"Help... me," she said, "Body... broken."

"Was this your first fight?" asked Arnett, who tossed one of her arms over his shoulder and he lifted her, "He could've killed you!"

"Mhmmm," coughed Gwen.

"Let's get out of here," said Arnett, "Perhaps we won't come back here, yeah?"

"Agreed," said Gwen.