The Peacock Claim: Part 1

The Peacock Claim

By: D.E.Hague


The second bullet struck the woman’s horse in its front right shoulder. She held tight to the reins as her horse screamed and raised up on its hind legs. The horse’s front legs gave out as it crashed down to the dry ground. The woman was flung forward out of her saddle and smacked into the dirt to the right of the trail. Her horse rolled end over end before sliding to a stop on the other side of the trail.

The woman laid still, face down in the dirt. Only her chest moving up and down as her lungs breathed in the brown dust.


Dust choked the back of the woman’s throat.

Cough…cough. The woman rolled her head to the side and spit out bits of rocks.

She opened her eyes and blinked them several times. Inching her fingers forward, her nails scrapping against crumbling rock. The woman again blinked her eyes this time until they watered. Looking up she saw a light grey boulder pointing towards the sky. The boulder had a rounded point at the top and sloped slowly down on each side. 


The woman grunted as she dug the points of her boots into the dirt. She stretched out her arms and gripped what she could of the boulder. Her chest strained against her corset as she dragged herself up to the large rock. Resting her face against its hot surface she caught her breath.

The woman kept her body pressed to the boulder as she adjusted her position so her back was against it. She sank to her butt and used the skirt of her dress to wipe her face. She looked out in front of her and across the thin dirt trail.Her horse on the other side had blood oozing out of its wounds. The horses left flank was slowly rising and falling as air wheezed out its nostrils.

“I told you to gallop girl.”

The woman looked to her left. She saw the cracked rim of a dried lake bed. The rim rose slightly then dropped down into the old lake. The ground of the lakebed was dotted with petrified tree trunks.

The woman reached into her dress pocket and pulled out a snuff tin. She took a pinch of snuff and held it up to her right nostril. Snorting the tobacco, she looked to her right. Several feet away she spotted her 45-70 trap door rifle in the dirt. Its wood stock was chipped, but the peep sight was still folded down and seemed unbent. Past the rifle lay another large boulder roughly the same size as the one she leaned against.

The woman reached down to the buckle of her gun belt. She ran her hands along its length feeling the spare cylinders and the butt of her Colt 1851 revolver. Across her chest was a leather bandolier which held 45-70 cartridges. The woman counted the rounds and then made sure the bandoliers buckle was secured. 

The woman looked over the ground between herself and her rifle. The soil was loose and littered with bits of stone. She looked down at her boots as she grabbed a handful of her dresses hem. Hiking up her skirt, the woman brought her knees to her chest and leaned to the right.

The woman let out several sharp breathes before extending her fingers tips just past the boulder.

“Do it.”

The woman pushed off with her feet and lunged for her rifle. 

The heel of the woman’s right boot caught the bottom of her dress. The woman’s skirt went tight and she stumbled forward breaking her fall with her arms.

Zing, crack.

A bullet whizzed over her head and hit a near boulder.


Bits of sharp rock splattered across the woman’s face. Spitting blood from her mouth she crawled back behind the boulder.

Crack, crack.

More shattered rock rained down on the woman.

“Dammit!” cursed the woman as she reached with her left hand down to her gun belt.  Her fingers slid to the butt of her revolver.  She drew out her Colt and cocked the hammer.

Keeping her head low, the woman stuck the pistol above the rock.

Boom. The woman fired blindly. She re cocked the hammer. Boom.

“Well now, come on Minnie!” shouted a man’s voice from below. “Settle.”


“Minnie, shoot’n all crazy. Coulda hit the boy.”

Minnie re cocked her revolver’s hammer. “Jonathan McCoy, you shot my horse!” she shouted as she went to her knees and faced the boulder.

“If it makes ya less bitter, I was aim’n for you Minnie.”

Minnie gripped the boulder with her right hand as she popped out from behind it. Briefly aiming her revolver, she spotted Jonathan McCoy standing in the open. His shiny Winchester rifle was in his hands and aimed in her direction. Several paces to Jon’s right was the boy. The boy was sat on his butt with his back to Minnie. He was tied to a dead tree stump and a cloth gag was knotted around the back of his head.

Boom. Minnie fired at Jon and ducked back behind the boulder.

“Seriously? Bit far for a handgun.”

Boom. Minnie again fired blindly.

“Jonathan McCoy,” spit Minnie


“You are an asshole.”

“And?” Jon shouted back.

Minnie half-cocked her revolver’s hammer and pulled out the barrel wedge. She removed the barrel then the nearly spent cylinder. Tucking the cylinder into a dress pocket she reached down to her belt and removed a loaded cylinder. She slid on the fresh cylinder and then the barrel. After reinserting the barrel wedge Minnie worked the action several times.

 “Did I hit the Boy?” Minnie shouted as she crouched and faced the boulder.


“Dodgasted Jonathan dam Q McCoy.”

“Little high strung there Minnie.”


“Seems fine, probably bitter about your shoot’n.”

“Let me hear him. Let me know he’s alive.”

“Come now, he makes an awful scream.”

“Let me know he is alive, on account my shooting and all.”

“If he was dead, you think I’d be so congenial?”

“After the past three days you owe me this at least.”

“Owe you?” Jon chuckled.

Minnie wiped blood from her lips, “Dammit Jonathan.”

“Fine ok. Only cause you kiss nice.”

There was a long silence. All Minnie could hear was the slow wheezing of her dyeing horse; then muffled threats.

“Bastards. The both of you. Lucky my father got robbed of hanging you….”

There was the sound of a gloved fist hitting flesh then lungs gasping for air.

“Jonathan!” yelled Minnie.

“Ha, what is your plan Minnie? You walk’n him to Newton?”

Minnie looked again to her rifle laying in the dirt and then down at her dress.

“You ain’t got no horse either Jon. We’re both dead out here.”

Sinking again to her butt, Minnie crossed her legs and holstered her revolver. Shaking her head, she took out a folding knife from her dress pocket and opened it.

“Well, it seems I’m just going for the prize of you turn’n dead meat first.” said Jon.

With her right-hand Minnie grabbed of handful of her skirt. She carefully slid the blade into the fabric. Keeping a quick pace, she began cutting her skirt away at the knees.

“Hey Minnie.”

What?” asked Minnie as she tore away part of fabric.

“What you plott’n up there?”

“Nothing.” Minnie reached with the blade behind her legs “Just enjoying the sun.” She answered as she finished cutting away the dress and her exposing her white bloomers.

“It’s awfully hot, how we end’n this?”

“Go sit on a cactus.”

“Well, whatever your plannen do hurry, I want at that water ya got on your horse.”

“You never were patient.”

Crack. A lead bullet smacked into the front of Minnie’s boulder.

“Wasting ammo aren’t you?”

Crack, crack, crack.

Bits of rock flew through the air.

“Water I have not.”

Crack, crack.

“Bullets I have plenty.”

Minnie shuffled around on her hands and knees and faced her rifle.


Minnie dug her fingers into the dirt and leaned back on her feet.

“Now come on, I can feel it in the air!” shouted Jon.

“What would that be Jon?” Minnie asked as she watched beads of sweet drip from her nose down into the dirt.

“The climax of our affair.”

“About time you caused a climax Jon.”

“Come now Minnie, that was …”

Jon cut his words short as Minnie lunged for her rifle.

Zing. A bullet soared above Minnie’s head.

With both hands out stretched Minnie grabbed her rifle and rolled through the dirt. She came up to a crouch and ran for the next boulder.


A bullet hit the boulder directly in front of Minnie stopping her mid stride. Pivoting on her heals she faced Jon and shouldered her rifle.


Minnie only got a brief glimpse of Jon and his shiny rifle as the feeling of a bull hitting her head on shuttered through her ribs.

“Uggh.” Minnie grunted as she fell back on her butt and dropped her rifle.

Zing. Another shot soared over head.

Minnie grabbed her shins and pulled her legs into a cross legged position. Re shouldering her rifle, she rested her right elbow into the pocket of her right knee. She let out a slow breath then rested her left elbow in the pocket of her left knee. Closing her left eye, she flipped up the rear peep site and focused her right eye through its small opening. Minnie centered the front sight on the glint from Jon’s rifle. She exhaled then pressed the trigger.


Minnie watched as a piece of Jon’s left knee was torn away. Jon staggered back as his bloodied leg gave out. He jammed the butt of his rifle into the ground to keep himself from falling.

“God dammit!” shouted Jon.

Minnie stumbled over to the boulder and leaned against it. She drew a 45-70 cartridge from her bandolier.

“We’re both doomed now Jon!” shouted Minnie as she opened up her rifles action. She tipped her barrel upwards so the spent casing fell out of the chamber. Sliding the new round into the chamber she closed the action.

“Shit,” grunted Jon as he un-holstered a stub nosed colt revolver from the small of his back. Staggering around on his makeshift crutch he looked at the boy.

“Yeah, we’re doomed,” Jon whispered as he cocked his pistol.

The boy’s eyes grew wide as he watched Jon aim the pistol at him.

Boom, zing.

Jon’s first shot missed and ricocheted off the stump the boy was tied to.

“Shoulda just told us where the Peacock is,” Jon said re cocking his revolver.


A 45-70 slug burst through Jon’s chest. He fell face first in the dirt, his pistol firing off as he hit the ground.

Jon raised his face and stared at the boy as he gurgled up blood.


Another slug ripped into his back. 

“Bye Jon.” Minnie said with a smile before reloading her rifle.

Going down to one knee she sighted in on Jon’s body and steadied her breathing.


Minnie held her aim on Jon’s breathless body until she had counted to sixty. Only then did Minnie relax her and let her rifle hang low in her hands. Leaning against the boulder she slid down to the dirt and rested.

Minnie placed her rifle at her side and looked down at where Jon’s bullet had struck her. There was a quarter sized bloody hole in her dress. Minnie softly pressed her hand against it.

“Ahh, shit,” Minnie winced.

Minnie looked at the ground. She spotted a short stick and picked it up. Splitting the stick in half she stuck one half into her mouth and bit down on it.

“Ahh hell, Jesus!” Minnie screamed as she pushed her finger through the hole in her dress and into the wound. She pulled out her finger and spit out the stick.

“Dammit Jon,” said Minnie, wiping her bloody finger on her white bloomers.

Minnie looked over at her horse, then down into the dry lakebed.

“Hey kid, I’ll be down in a minute!” Minnie shouted.

Minnie picked up her rifle and staggered to her feet. She stamped her left boot, then her right. She looked down at Jon then turned towards her horse.

 “Oh Ladybug,” sighed Minnie as she walked up to her horse.

Knelling, Minnie ran her fingers along the horse’s brow and down its nose. Ladybug’s wheezing had all but stopped. Her glazed over eyes searching for the Minnie’s face.

“Good bye honey,” said Minnie as she un-holstered her revolver and cocked the hammer.


Minnie said nothing as she watched the life behind Ladybug’s eyes fade away.

“Back to work,” Minnie said as she re-holstered her revolver.

Removing her saddles bags from Ladybug’s body, Minnie took out a bottle of whiskey. She pulled the cork out with her teeth and spit it into the air. After taking a long swig from the bottle, she poured some of the whiskey over her wound.

Minnie slung the saddle bags over her right shoulder. “All right kid, your turn.” Minnie said to herself as she staggered towards the lakebed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s