(Caveat: slight profanity)
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Dust and Dime Novels
by Catherine Russell
The boy sat beneath the tree, clutching the precious book in small hands. Within its pages, outlaws and lawmen dueled beneath sweltering suns on dusty streets. A shadow fell across the pages, forcing him to turn from their darkened text. “Boyd! You’re back!” he cried, all thoughts of outlaws forgotten. Danny jumped to hug his older brother, the dust of travel forming a cloud around them both. “Did you bring me anything?” he asked.
“Well, I do not rightly know,” said the young man. “I haven’t been here but two minutes, and you’re hankering for…” His sunburnt face widened with his grin. “Aw, hell, I can not do it. Here!” He fished in his satchel, found the package wrapped in burlap, and handed it to the boy.
Danny grabbed the package, opening it up right there on the ground. When he saw the pile of books, he threw his arms around his brother. “I knew it! I knew you’d get me more. Thanks, Boyd!” He noticed a dark brown stain on the fabric wrapper. “Hey, what is this?”
Boyd’s face darkened. He snatched the course fabric from his brother’s hands, then flashed his beautific smile once more. “Nothing you need worry about. Just keep reading, do well in school, and you will make something of yourself one day. You won’t have to… you’ll make a better living than I do.”
“Aw, you provide well enough, Boyd,” said the boy. “You staying for supper, or going to see that girl of yours?” Danny scowled.
“Delia’s all right, little brother,” said Boyd, tousling the younger boy’s hair with a laugh. “I know you don’t trust her, but she’s good as gold.”
Danny glared but said nothing. His brother would never hear a word against her, but Danny knew those ruby lips were just a painted smile. Delia’s beauty might fool his brother, but sooner or later she’d show her true colors. The boy could only hope his brother would wake up about her before it was too late.
“Does she know you’re in town yet?” was all he managed.
“No, little brother,” Boyd answered. “I’m heading over there now. She’ll be expecting me though.”
“Stay a bit longer,” pleaded Danny. “Please?”
“I love you, little brother,” said Boyd, “but Delia’s charms appeal to a different part of my nature. But I’ll be back. You know I take care of family.” He tousled the boy’s hair once more, then remounted and headed toward town.
As Danny sat beneath the tree, paging through his new books, he watched his brother’s silhouette recede into the distance – like the hero from one of his dime novels.
The next day – as Danny watched his brother’s body dance and sway from the hangman’s noose – he swore vengeance on the woman who had caused it all.
The bitch would pay.
Today’s flash was written in honor of National Flash Fiction Day. It may be a a UK holiday, but there’s no reason that people around the world can’t celebrate too. This flash was inspired by the western online novel, Dust and Death, from Choose Your Online Adventures. The part of young Danny was performed by my son, Monsterbat.