Wright Shot with Musketry, Part VIII

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Hi, folks. The story isn’t finished yet, and I’m going to change the title, but here is the ending. What do you think?

*     *     *

The commander mounted up and rode back toward Shelbyville with his staff to enjoy a somber supper that Sam was certain would include meat. Once the general had departed, it all proceeded quickly.

The Sergeant Major called up the shooting detail, and a young sergeant marched eight men up from behind the center battalion. Elias gawked at the soldiers as they lined up before him. Sam didn’t recognize any of them. Would there be no blindfold? Perhaps that had been part of Elias’ one-way conversation with his uncle.

“Ready,” said the detail sergeant, not loud but clear against the background clamor of the crows.

“Oh,” Elias said. His shoulders jerked once, spasmodically. A tremor coursed through him, and he pressed his feet and knees tightly together.

“Aim.”

“Oh, God!”

“Fire.”

Eight muskets split the afternoon. Fifteen or twenty fat crows erupted from the tree in a confusion of black wings, and the wet smack of minié balls striking flesh followed in the wake of the weapons’ roar. The shooting detail vanished in a cloud of black powder smoke that hung in the still air. Elias’ knees buckled, and he collapsed like a sack of corn before the echoes had faded.

It might have been a more dignified show than most, but there was never any dignity in death. The body’s legs bent at uncomfortable angles, and the chest seemed to have burst open. Sam always watched for some sign of a soul, but he never had seen one leave a man’s body.

“Jenny,” Sam whispered. He squeezed his eyes shut and saw his future wife’s freckled smile and round hazel eyes, plain as day.

 

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2 comments

  1. Hey, Steven. Something about the tone established by “The body’s legs … the chest” is at odds with your careful sketching of Elias as a person. Making that “Elias’ legs … his chest” might be stronger.

    1. Thanks, Lin. I made a change based on this observation, and I think it kicks up the effectiveness of the image. I just submitted it to an online magazine. Dollars or rejection slips–either way, it’s progress.

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