Tall tales


Kracker has his arms up as if holding a musket when Miller comes in.

The imaginary musket is aimed at a bear Kracker tries to get us to envision from one of his deep woods tales we love to hear him tell.

His tales are legendary.

He even claims he fought on the French side against General George Washington, and tells the tale so well we always believe him.

Millerís ma and carries a real and loaded musket the tavern keeper says for him to leave outside the door.

Miller doesnít listen, holding it half way up as if making up his mind as to whom he wants to shoot.

We all know who he has in mind and we move out of the line for fire so when he takes his shot at Kracker we donít get hit by accident.

Kracker has a pistol in his belt.

But with his hands lifted half way through his tall tale we already see him as dead, though no shot has been fired.

Miller claims Kracker has been sleeping with his wife and intends to kill him for it.

Kracker says heís been with a lot of wives and no husband has killed him yet.

We see Millerís rifle rise but the spark and bang erupts from the pistol Kracker somehow manages to yank out first.

The smoke fills the air through which Millerís body falls.

The thump of it on the wood floor seems almost as loud of as the shot.

None of us breathe for a spell until Kracker sighs, shakes his head, then makes his way passed the fallen body and out the door.

We heard the thud of his boots resounding on the wooden walkway outside, a fading retreat we follow until it is gone.

Then we stare at the dead man, the stench of his blood rising around us despite the unwashed men.

I guess we ought to feel sorry for him. Perhaps in a vague way we do.

But one thought that rings in our head louder than any other is about Kracker and his tall tales.

Perhaps, we think, the tales were true after all.


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