From the earliest of known American History, many duels were fought over women. At Quincy Gulch, the fight turned rather ugly and more vicious when two grown men picked up firearms and fought for a stray mutt named Gerty.
Georgia looks up from the records on microfiche, and says, “This is incredible!”
She plumps the hair on her head.
“What was so special about the dog? Why would one man kill another to possess her?”
Georgia unearths no pictures of the prize dog. Instead…Her mind pictures the dog acting spectator to the brutal event, waiting for one crazy man to drop the other in a heap. In her head, the dog bays, and then circles to lick the loser’s face. According to the text, the duel began as a savage form of chicken. The object of the game hinged upon scaring one’s opponent listless by coming as close to shooting him as possible—without (actually) hitting him. This duel could go on for hours. Bullets whizzed past ears, came within a half an inch of toes inside boots, and often removed and shredded hats. If both men exemplified equal marksmanship, they quickly grew tired and irritable at not securing the prize. Their hands began to ache. A small crowd often gathered, and quickly placed bets on a victor, often sending the gold heraldic eagle into side bouts of waging normalcy.
Both men started by shaking hands as a sign of honor. They started walking, backs facing each other, until the distance between them reached forty paces. Both counted to zero. Soon…Both men found themselves caught up in a defining moment when gunfighters often lived up to their birthright. Each man turned around, and in a simple spin something shifted in the depths of their eyes. A murderous rage tensed shoulders, hands slightly trembled, and each mouth instantly sucked dry. The crowd, once quite talkative and boisterous, became deftly silent. A mother even attempted to hush her child, locked in the throes of slight jibber jabber.
If a dog could have a dating game in order to find a master, Quincy Gulch would offer the best reality show. The loser of the duel would be rolled into some crude grave, often despite a last effort of the body to cling to life. The winner would be re-united with man’s best friend.
Nerves and tendons in their manly necks tensed and pulsed with added adrenaline. Rough hands rose, simultaneously, over embossed leather holsters. With feet firmly planted on the ground, it didn’t take long for one man to react. The duel sometimes could be over in mere seconds, especially if luck and timing became God. In a sudden violent burst of smoke and flames, spectators often ducked behind barrels, wood roof supports, metal troughs, plank flooring, or anything else they could scurry up. Bullets made a dull THUNK! sound as they entered deep flesh, somewhat like bullets entering large slabs of beef.
In the Quincy Gulch duel for Gerty, one man was pushed back nearly a foot, and another moved a foot forward. These defining stances oftentimes prematurely ear-marked a victor. Although shot, one dog claimant walked a few steps forward and fired off a few rounds—before gravity found him. In earth’s union, the man still clutched his pea shooter. Gerty whined and pulled at her taught rope leash, as if she tried desperately to comfort the fallen man; she would have done anything in a beast-state possible to lick either man’s wounds clean.
But the dog found no solace, when the second man collapsed. The duel action made it even harder on the furry companion. Ironically, the second man signed his right to die first.
Both shooters vacated, leaving the dog ownerless. The sheriff of Quincy Gulch had a huge heart. What at first was an obligation to Gerty, became more and more like an out of body experience. In a strange chain of circumstances, Gerty (eventually) became the first police dog of Quincy Gulch, Nevada. Sooner or later, a police dog’s fate mirrored her masters’. Even so, Gerty’s bedeviled life encircled a half dozen owners.
Georgia needs little encouragement to the unconditional companionship of a K-9. She reads up on most of the major breeds, visits the pet store in the mall, and decides she will trust her instincts in the selection process.
A salesclerk approaches.
“May I help you?”
“Yes…What is this one?”
Georgia points to a pup behind the adoption glass.
“Delilah…She’s a Jack Russell Terrier. She’s too expensive for most peoples’ taste.”
“Jack Russell’s are somewhat rare in Terriers.”
“What about this one?”
“Oh…That is a Welsh Terrier. She needs frequent brushing, and stripping—two or three times a year.” The woman adds, “Any animal you’d like to play with, in the adoption room, just let me know.”
“How about this one?”
Georgia points to a small dog at the end of the top row.
“That one? Oh…You like the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I call him KC for short.”
“From KC and The Sunshine Band!”
“Can I see KC in the adoption room?”
“Sure. Give me a few minutes.”
Georgia walks around and looks at row upon row of aquarium fish. The baby inside her gives her a firm kick she hadn’t felt for days. KC makes a great first impression. But Georgia wants to see more of him. The young woman peruses various informational manuals on the various aspects of selecting, raising, and training dogs.
“Georgia, is that you?”
Georgia meets the voice she hears with a turn of her head and a smile. She tries to assess the speaker’s familiar face, not able to place where she has seen it before.
“It’s Melissa…From Ann Harbor.”
“You live here?”
“Well…In Carson City.”
“Why don’t we exchange phone numbers, and do lunch sometime, Melissa.”
“I think I’d like that.”
Melissa finally notices her old friend’s overhanging belly.
“When are you due?”
“I don’t see any rings on your fingers.”
“I’m a single mother.”
Melissa ignores the answer thrust before her like living maggots.
“How about you—you married?”
“Several years now.”
Melissa slips Georgia her number, checks her watch, and adds, “In fact, I’m supposed to meet my husband for lunch—in a half an hour.”
“Talk to you later.”
Georgia questions her own fate, as she watches her old friend slip out of eyesight.
“Ma’m, KC is ready to meet his new mama!”
“Huh?” Georgia replies, half in a daze.
Once Georgia steps through the door, the dog runs up to her with its tail wagging playfully in the air. Georgia thinks it is as if KC knows the doggy smile. The Spaniel barks, excitedly. In its eyes, Georgia finds relief from a great deal of pain; she finds love spew from the constraints of animal responsibility.
“Oh…You’re quite a cutie, KC.”
The dog eats up sudden attention from the stranger.
“Do you want to be my little guy?”
The dog barks, as if attempting a reply.
Georgia waves the pet store clerk over to talk. The clerk is glad to see the other woman is closer to a decision.
“What do you think of KC?”
“I’ll take him. Can I place a deposit, if I promise to pick him up by the end of the week?”
“Twenty-Five dollars—up front. End of the week will be fine.”
“If you would sign this invoice, it would be official and make my boss happy.”
Georgia scrawls her name by an X circled by the pet store clerk. Then, she fills in her occupation Bank Teller, her address, and her phone number. Georgia tosses back her hair, before taking out her wallet and seriously starting the adoption process for the mutt.
“What if I take KC home, and I’m not completely satisfied with him?”
“You have thirty days to return him—for a full refund.”
Georgia can’t wait until KC can come home. She longs for some companionship and to come home to the cuddle and warmth of her own dog. KC is unaware he will become a third element in a very despairing world; a world where he can melt his owner with dark, marble-like eyes.
On the drive home, Georgia can’t help but post a smile. She finds her heart lightens. She finds herself letting out a long, deep, satisfying gasp of air from her lungs. In the moment... she let’s go of all the things beyond her control, as well as her sense of loss. But the resolve to find out what truly happened to her fiancée becomes a personal vendetta. This resolve grows every time she looks at the old polished weapon, encased in glass, sitting upon a display shelf among many trinkets of posing clowns. Georgia is a collector of every type of clown imaginable, many exemplifying a wide range of human emotions. Only the rimfire’s history, mystery and intrigue speaks the woman’s name.
Georgia finds insomnia has its way with her. Some nights she lay awake at night contemplating what it all means: the blinding light, the old crystal-ball like book, and a guy named Lucky. She sees Lucky as a foreign speaking phantom, one which casually taps into her telephone line. The prophetess inside the woman can’t help but daydream about her belated lover re-engulfed in her arms.