Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 31

Welcome back! Y’all are lookin’ mighty SPARKLY out there. Let’s pretend we’re all dripping with diamonds and not nasty stinky sweat, k??? 

In addition to today’s Flash! Friday party, we’ve got the fabulous Dog Days of Summer contest going on. Click here or on the Tom Sawyer-esque pic in the sidebar for details and to enter. You’ve got til July 22. (I know, right?! Two whole weeks?! And cash prizes!? DRAGONS GONE MAD!)

Today’s prompt, following hard on the heels of last week’s American Independence Day, rises out of another important, if rarely mentioned, day in American history: the July 11, 1804 duel between sitting Vice President Aaron Burr and former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton (one of the Founding Fathers — this was something like his 11th duel, and he had lost a dueling son three years prior). If you’ve got a minute to read about it, you should. What a tale. Can yours beat it??  


We’re thrilled to pieces to have four-time Flash! Friday winner Betsy Streeter taking the judge’s seat today. Her clever writing is matched only by her clever cartooning and the still cleverer judgery we are about to witness. Read about her and her judgy tastes here (hint: she loves powerful word choices and thoughtful use of detail).  


Awards Ceremony: Results will post Sunday. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner post Wednesdays.  I (Rebekah) post my own unbalanced writings sometimes on Tuesdays or Thursdays. That is, when we don’t have nutty things like Dog Days going on.  

Now line up your seconds, and let’s get to it!

Word limit150 word story (10-word leeway) based on the photo prompt.

HowPost your story here in the comments. Include your word count (140 – 160 words, exclusive of title) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one. If you’re new, don’t forget to check the contest guidelines.

Deadline11:59pm ET tonight (check the world clock if you need to; Flash! Friday is on Washington, DC time)

Winners: will post Sunday

Prize: The Flash! Friday e-dragon e-badge for your blog/wall, your own winner’s page here at FF, a 60-second interview next Wednesday, and your name flame-written on the Dragon Wall of Fame for posterity. 

***Today’s Dragon’s Bidding (required element to incorporate somewhere in your story; does not need to be the exact word(s) unless instructed to do so, e.g. “include the word “bravazzo'”):


***Today’s Prompt:


“Hamilton-Burr Duel, After the Painting by J. Mund.” Illustration from Beacon Lights of History, by John Lord, 1902. Public domain image.

115 thoughts on “Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 31

  1. Failed Early Attempts in Interstellar Colonization

    The rules of engagement are important details in any military conflict, but honor is generally the only thing enforcing them. When honor is not present, all is fair in love and war. And hate. And revenge.

    In the early days of star drives, a colony was settled on Hamilton—the third planet orbiting the star Americus 76. They proclaimed they owned the entire system—any other attempted settlements would be taken as an act of war.

    Shortly thereafter another group settled on Burr, the second planet. When offers of friendship were snubbed, they began by transmitting propaganda demonstrating their planet’s superior qualities. A war of words followed, ending with declarations of war.

    Hamilton launched a doomed attack. It ended with the entire party stranded on Burr’s moon. Burr took notice and launched a doomsday device, totally destroying Hamilton. They felt victorious. They felt justified.

    But soon they felt Burr’s orbit begin to degrade without the stabilizing influence of Hamilton.

    160 Words
    @CharlesWShort (www.charleswshort.com)


  2. *** Judges entry, for your reading pleasure ***

    Ready, Fire, Aim

    Another shot whizzed past Hamilton as he fumbled with his pistol. The crowd peeked over their shoulders, hoping this ordeal was finally over. Upon seeing both men still upright they collectively sighed and resumed their positions, facing away to maintain the charade of not witnessing anything illegal.

    Hamilton hurriedly reloaded, tapping his foot impatiently. He immediately fired, missing by several feet. His lifelong friend and second approached, “If I may offer some advice Alex, it is customary to aim before firing.”
    Hamilton snapped, “Aiming takes too long!”
    “Perhaps, but we’ve already been here for three hours. If this continues I will need to send for more ammunition.”
    Hamilton tried to listen. He peered down the barrel and took a deep breath. This was it, he was going to win this stupid duel.

    There was a thud and he fell down, his shirt turning a deep crimson. He looked at his second and muttered, “if anyone asks, we only fired twice!”

    160 words


  3. Methodus Pugnandi

    My opponent is psyching himself up, shadow boxing, oblivious to the dank water splashing up over his jeans. A few voyeurs have ventured out into the alleyway. Ready to watch a battle conducted in the neon light of the club sign.

    I take a breath. Remind myself to keep it pure Eastwood.

    She’s watching, perched on a beer crate, dragging deep on her ciggie. A siren, wrought of curves and blonde hair. Two dances, three drinks. All seemed green lit for an enjoyable night together. Then her eyes started to wander, checking out any better prospects on the dance floor.

    Thankfully, Tyson here chose that moment to slam into the two of us. Sending drinks spilling, raising tempers.

    Me, being a proper gent, naturally demand compensation for his slight.

    So here we are. Gladiators in a urine scented arena.

    The prize: a maiden’s adoration.

    I give him a wink. He strides forward.

    The best wingman a boy could wish for.

    160 words



  4. A Sad Day
    Ian Martyn, @IBMartyn
    160 words

    The day dawned with a crisp chill. Breath misted in the air that separated the two. They had been inseparable, best of friends, until ‘she’ came along.

    ‘Nell was mine I tell you, mine.’ Morris’s voice petered out into a sob.

    Nigel laughed. ‘You fool. Nell was anyone’s with a few silvers in his pocket.’

    ‘You lie!’ Morris screamed. He blew his nose, levelled his pistol, closed his eyes and with a final sniff pulled the trigger. There was a flash in the pan and a load retort. Clarence, who stood thinking he was safe, ducked as the bullet thudded into the tree next to him.

    Nigel shook his head, lowered his gun and fired into the ground. He watched as with a cry of pain and anguish his friend rushed towards him pistol raised in one hand and hanky waving in the other. He met him in the middle. Their guns clacked together. And so ‘Morris dancing’ was born.


  5. The Girl
    Friends in all matters except Rose, the boys played together through long summer days. Marbles kept things clean for a time. Like rivalling gods they would lock their steely eyes when decisions about their girl needed made. Then they would unleash the spheres that spun and clashed with titanic fury: the victor awarded the prize of offering to carry her school bag, or a seat beside him on the bus or himself as escort home.
    When marbles lost their power, a coin might flip their fate or any pursuit that ranked them first and last.
    But as the summers passed, their heads and fists grew bigger. Bone rattled against bone leaving both bloody and only one standing.
    ‘Rose, will you marry me?’
    ‘No. I can’t’, said Rose.’What made you think I would marry any man that could hurt either of you?’


  6. “I love the name of honour more than I fear death”
    William Shakespeare: Julius Caesar

    Holding his pistol aloft, he stood like a finely plumed rooster, crowing over his past victories; his seconder clucked around him, pecking at compliments to feed his misplaced pride.

    The artist sketched hurriedly; swift lines capturing the darkling copse and, centre-stage, Alexander Hamilton, King of Duelling, Master of all…

    With complete assurance, Hamilton had commissioned an illustration of his impending victory, a testament to his skill and prowess. Something to boast about to his friends over cigars and brandy.

    ‘Hurry up, Man! I can’t stand here all day. I need to dispatch and return to town.’

    Burr raised an eyebrow. Stirrings of fear had been replaced with abject irritation; standing in the damp morning air whilst his renowned opponent fussed about his ‘best side’, bumptious arrogance oozing through the branches and bracken.

    Hamilton felt a cramp in his shoulder; lowering his pistol, he stretched his aching arm. His pain eased just as Burr’s belligerent bullet whistled through his chest.

    160 words


  7. Numbers 12 and 13
    by A J Walker

    Nervous excitement crackled through the men in the clearing. A surreal formality dropped across the group like a silk sheet and all chatter ceased.

    Henry stood apart passing the heavy gun between his hands, feeling the weight, visioning it as an extension to him.

    ‘Feels good,’ he said.

    Roger held his gun limply in his right hand. Awkward; his hand sweaty.

    Already time was stretching out for Henry, the sounds of the woods lengthening. Bird songs becoming strange and the rustling of the autumn leaves beneath the mens feet sounded like a thunderstorm. His hairs began to bristle as adrenaline pumped through his veins in slow driven pulses. He was controlling time now and he watched as a leaf curled and flowed through the air tumbling in a slow dance barely pulled by gravity.

    The win was never in doubt.

    Roger’s second collapsed to his knees, this was murder. Next week he’d return to try to avenge his friend’s death.

    (160 words)


  8. Duel Purposes
    By: Allison K. Garcia
    160 words

    What was the reason? Why did it even start? We cannot remember. We used to be friends. Though fogged by anger, there was a time when we’d spend hours talking about our lives, our struggles.

    Now we use our knowledge as darts. Sharp, painful words to destroy. Unsuspected, one can pierce you. You don’t hear it ‘til it hits.

    How did we get here? What started all of this? The offense is lost in time. The purpose of this deadly duel is missing. All that is left is the aftermath, the fight. We used to have each other’s back.

    Now we stand, back to back, counting steps, hands on our holsters, fingers on the trigger. Whoever gets in the first shot wins.

    Will one of us back down? Or will this be the end of us? Bitterness eats at my soul like burning acid. Though part of me still cares about you, I worry.

    Perhaps soon I will feel nothing.


  9. Daily Duel

    My enemy faces me. I know from his drooped shoulders, his stench of failure and his uncertain glances through bloodshot eyes that he has lost this duel already. His life is in my hands.

    We have no fragments of friendship left, only the residue of contempt remains. I look at him, his weakness permeates through his shop-brand generic clothing, and his head hangs from his neck like a submissive dog. He offers me no resistance. He knows he is a walking shadow.

    I shout at him, goad him, but he has no answers.

    He is me and I am him.

    The mirror is our conduit; it is the gun in our infinite duel of submission and loathing. The apparition faces me; he now starts to challenge me. Face another day; I dare you! I double dare you… Can you make it through without screaming or breaking down? I walk away. Duel deferred, until the next reflection…

    156 Words @Making_Fiction


  10. The Worth of Death

    Witnesses of the duel sauntered through the early morning streets. All would swear they saw nothing. John watched them pass and waited for the corpse. The coffin was ready. In summer it did not do to wait.
    A cheap watch flicked open in his palm. The doctor would be here soon.

    Two men carried the corpse to the back room. Some foolish rich boy whose frail honour cost him everything; his murderer secretly known to all. The murderer could be the one carrying the corpse.

    John took their payment. He, too, would be blind to the game, to their faces. He checked the time. The doctor will be here soon.

    A knock on the door. The doctor strides inside.

    “She’s upstairs.”

    He leaves the corpse in the back room.

    The doctor looks at the faded woman under the sheets.

    “Been married forty years. Can you save her?”

    “For payment, yes.”

    Maybe the boy’s death had some worth.


    Words: 158


  11. Tamara Shoemaker
    156 Words


    the same story, repeated over, trails this way
    every now and then;

    the bayonets, scalded from fire bursts,
    life blood the reward of some heated bullet.
    men, boys really, who sweat in the sky’s heat
    and shake in the season’s cold,
    bloody footprints tracked in snow
    as shoes grow tired
    and eyes sting blind
    and rations fail
    and hopes sink dim behind endless
    marches and ragged formations.

    time travels on and bayonets die
    under the advance of technology;
    bombs, jets, explosives—
    how many ways can you kill a man?

    the story’s still the same;
    the play goes on until
    one side or the other pulls the final curtain.
    it scrolls across the stage, the last act,
    and the players take their bows,
    not without scars from their parts.

    each side returns to their lives,
    indelible ink scribing a story on each heart
    the bleeds into history—
    a tale of sorrow never forgotten

    until the next time.


  12. Sacrifice for a Friend
    by Geoff Le Pard

    ‘Can you imagine that? One man killing the other in cold blood.’ Tom squinted at the Hamilton-Burr painting. ‘Barbaric.’
    John looked over his friend’s shoulder. ‘Different times, different values. They believed that dishonour was worse than death.’
    Tom snorted. ‘Bloody odd concept of honour, if you ask me.’ He looked back at John. ‘Why’d you want to risk death for a principle? What’s worth dying for?’
    John smiled slightly. ‘Friendship?’
    Tom turned away as John said, ‘Putting friendship above your own life. Surely that is the purest form of love.’
    John felt guilty. Just a little. He knew Tom hated any sort of emoting. “You’re just being silly,” Tom said.
    John remembered that painting, that conversation as he lowered the pillow over the emaciated face of his friend, his lover. He didn’t feel guilty now.

    135 words @geofflepard


  13. R.A. Williamson
    152 words

    “I say, my good lad,” Jack Godfrey bellowed. “Put down thy pistol or I shall be forced to perforate thee most heinously!”

    Samuel whispered into Jonah Brown’s ear. “You would do well to heed him, sir.”

    “I cannot,” Brown muttered. “My sister’s honor must be avenged!”

    “It is a small thing, sir,” Samuel said. “Mr. Godfrey merely expressed an opinion on the quality of the young mistress’ cross-stitch. Would you throw away years of friendship—not to mention your life—over an honest critique?”

    Jonah clenched his lantern jaw and hissed: “She worked hard on that.”

    Sweeping golden ringlets away from smoky blue eyes he shouted, “Mr. Godfrey, you cad, I daresay I never liked your wife’s mulberry jam! Ha-ha!”

    “What? What! I will not tolerate such impudence,” bellowed the old senator. “A duel it shall be!”

    Flame and smoke belched forth in the predawn mist, and Samuel watched both men fall.


  14. The Duel

    As they drew, their eyes met. What had gone wrong? Theodore and Chester had been best friends since they were nine. Every weekend they played cards and board games. They spent their summer holidays together at the seaside when they were twelve. They never returned, because puberty hit and their parents didn’t want them to be corrupted by all those naked knees and elbows. At the age of seventeen they saw ‘La Béarnaise’, an comedic opera by André Messager. Afterwards they decided to follow singing lessons together. They became a popular duo, entertaining saloons all over the country. But their heart lay with opera. In 1902 they both auditioned for ‘Dornröschen’ by Engelbert Humperdinck (the German composer, not the British Indian pop singer). On the scene of the Royal Opera House they met Margaret, who was to play Sleeping Beauty. Right. Margaret.

    Theodore fired first. Chester didn’t stand a chance.

    150 words


  15. Christopher Smith
    153 words

    Mortal enemies since their earliest days, Captain Barnanut stared at Mr. Monenik over the barrel of his pistol.

    Onlookers could almost taste the dislike in the air as Monenik drew his weapon from beneath his white coat, checking the action to ensure it would perform its most dire duty.

    “Are you prepared?” he asked Barnanut, dismissively.

    “Yes, except…” Barnanut paused, flipping the gun from his left to his right hand. “I do not shoot left-handed, sir!”

    Onlookers gasped.

    “Neither do I,” Monenik responded emphatically. “And furthermore…” Monenik reached behind his neck to grasp a zipper. With a terrible unzipping sound, he shed his skin, revealing a great ape.

    The onlookers were astounded, but only moreso when Captain Barnanut grabbed a similar zipper and stepped out of his skin – as a gigantic banana!

    Tears of joy formed.

    “I had no idea…” Barnanut choked.

    “Friends, then?” Monenik asked. Barnanut nodded with his whole banana-body.


  16. “Family Honor”
    John Mark Miller – 160 Words

    “P-please, Father,” Philip’s lips quivered violently, slurring his speech. “I cannot do this.”

    Hamilton took his son’s trembling fingers and wrapped them around a dueling pistol. “You will not dishonor our family, boy.”

    Philip’s eyes doubled in size. Seconds later, those same wide eyes stared lifelessly at Hamilton as he cradled his bleeding son.

    And he knew. This pale, marble stare would forever haunt him.


    You will not dishonor us, Father…

    Hamilton’s fingers shook with such abandon that he nearly dropped his pistol. The countdown began, and he willed his quaking foot to move forward.


    You will not dishonor me.


    Hamilton whirled, letting out a bloodcurdling scream as Philip’s gaping stare filled the sky!

    “Mercy!” he shouted, firing wildly into the pale, marble clouds.

    Hamilton’s opponent watched incredulously. With a surge of compassion, he aimed for the ground. But at the last instant, an unseen but tenacious grip hoisted the pistol.

    Hamilton gasped.

    So this was honor.


  17. I killed a man in Reno

    And then in Arizona, Liverpool, England and Hollywood, USA.

    I left him in a dirt grave in Mexico, while Peckinpah sat in his trailer, screaming obscenities through the window for motivation.

    In 19th century Washington, I even gave him a duelling scar on his cheek, though that was more to do with a misfiring squib than my expert marksmanship. It’s still there too; I leant in close to say goodbye and saw it under the mortuary’s pancake makeup, one of the million marks we’ve left on each other’s lives.

    I’ve lost count of the number of times I pulled him from burning wreckage, threw him through the window or trampled him beneath my hooves. And every time he got back up, smiling, high fiving the techs and the cameramen and me.

    But not this time.

    This time, there are no FX guys, no camera tricks or jumpcuts.

    See, even stuntmen die eventually.

    We just do it better than everyone else

    160 words


  18. Intervention
    no Twitter handle, 160 words

    I watched with growing horror as the two men decided that their duel must go forward as planned. Neither of them was willing to back down.

    I knew both of them well. The long walks in spring when hope was renewed by the burst of new growth. The picnics in summer with cakes and ale. Hunting foxes in the fall to protect their chickens from the clever ones who hid in their dens. They had taken one last walk now, in the heat of summer, hunting for their deaths.

    They had been my friends since they were children. They were still childish.

    They paced off the distance and time grew short. I roused myself. I had to time it perfectly.

    * * *

    A bough from the old oak tree fell just as they fired, the bullets impacting the wood instead of each other. The two men, sensing the hand of Providence, agreed to end their feud with honor satisfied.


  19. The Time Travelers’ Guild.
    by J M Filipowicz

    “… meeting of the Time Travelers ’ Guild. July 11th, 1804.”

    Sweat soaks my costume, suffocating my body in its moist cocoon. Summer is terrible for 1800s fashion, high boots, long coats, powdered wigs. As Raymond leads the meeting, my colleagues and I nearly faint despite the forest shade.

    “…problem of time madness…”

    It affects us all. We leave our time secure in our moral code, but soon the past’s collective consciousness overcomes us. Recently returned from 1986, I found it strange that this meeting was closed to women. Now the exclusion feels as natural as the pistol strapped to my hip.

    “…buddy system to watch for signs…”

    Foolishness. We are losing our minds together. I haven’t felt sane since I first entered a time portal. My hand closes on the pistol’s hilt. Morality is relative.

    “…Stop..no…put the gun away.”

    “I’m taking control,” I say, aiming at Raymond’s heart.

    150 wrds. @jmfilipowicz


  20. Dilemma
    146 words.

    “What do we do now?” asked the blacksmith, wiping sweat from his forehead. Alexander stood over the body and shrugged.

    “We did not think this through,” said the clerk next to him, shaking his head. “This one is over six feet tall; he made it for you, Alexander. But who will make the coffin for the coffin-maker?”

    They stood around the body of Mr. Burr, wondering how to bury the body without a coffin or a coffin-maker. Alexander suggested they stuff the larger coffin with linens. The blacksmith suggested the carpenter saw off an end to make it shorter. They argued back and forth about the best solution. The heated argument started threatening their friendships so the clerk suggested a good drink might help them calm down and think better.

    They found the answer to their dilemma at the bottom of the large wooden ale barrel.


  21. *** Judge’s Entry – Just for fun! ***

    ‘Til Death Do Us Part
    Margaret Locke (@Margaret_Locke or margaretlocke.com)
    158 words

    She stared at the picture, tracing her finger over the tricorn on one gentleman’s head.

    How did it come to such a place? How did people ever get so stuck in their problems with each other that murder seemed a viable option?

    She looked up to glance around the room, her grandfather’s room in the old cabin on the edge of the lake. As a child, she’d loved coming here. It’d been all excitement and fun, splashing in the water, chasing butterflies, catching lightning bugs.

    But now? Now she was here because she’d run out of options. He’d bled her of all he could, taking the house, the car, the money. The children. How had they become enemies, she and the man she’d thought was her best friend?

    Tears rolled down and splashed onto the book she still held.

    Maybe the better question was not how people ever got to such a place, but how they did not.



    I lean from behind the oak. All eyes on the duel. Don’t know the reason for their feud. Don’t care. Pistols go bang, one falls down and then there’s one less rich prick lording ‘round town. If they both fall down then that’s double trouble.

    Their companions watch carefully, making sure it’s fair. You want to talk about fair? Rich pricks ‘play’ life and death while my friends starve. I sell one of those fancy pistols I could feed my gang for a month.

    All eyes on the duel and still no one notices little old me. I calm the horses and then climb my scrawny ass up onto the coach. Sure a pistol’ll feed mouths for a month but imagine what me and the guys’ll get for this fancy coach and two horses.

    Shots ring out. A woman cries. I snap the reigns.

    Lesson to you all; never leave valuables unattended.

    Brian S Creek
    152 words


  23. Burr’s Defeat.

    I begged him not to go.
    ‘I’m defending my honour,’ he claimed. ‘I demand satisfaction. I will not be insulted publicly, by that pompous idiot.’
    I insisted that it was illegal, that it would end both their political careers.
    ‘No-one will see us. We will go to the cliffs below Weehawken on the Hudson River.’
    I reminded him of his family, and his political future.
    ‘He deserves to be taught a lesson. He won’t get in my way again.’
    I finally implored him to decline as a tribute to our friendship. I couldn’t watch him die.
    ‘Neither of us wants to die. We’ll both intentionally miss, although I’ll try and shoot the rascal’s foot off!’
    I knew Hamilton wouldn’t shoot to kill, but I also knew that my brother-in-law was hungry for vengeance.
    The first shot flew above Burr’s head, he smiled at me.
    The second shot pierced Hamilton’s heart.
    I watched Burr die that same moment.

    Luccia Gray (157 words). @LucciaGray


  24. Take That Back
    156 words

    “Take it back,” said Hamilton. “I do not dress like a girl.”

    “You’re wearing ladies’ stockings,” said Burr. “They actually gleam in the sunlight.”

    The Best Foot Forward Gang had grown up together, mercilessly poking fun at one another in that curious way in which boys demonstrate affection. Their growing up had not included emotionally, and they still believed that there was no truer sign of friendship than a barbed insult, apart perhaps from a good slap with a wet towel.

    But they did not usually impugn one another’s manhood. It is a sign of the gravity of Burr’s error that none of them sniggered at that last sentence.

    Hamilton fired, but as he did so a lifetime’s friendship jerked his hand upward. The shot hit the branch above Burr’s head and ricocheted into Hamilton’s chest.

    Or, rather, into one of the socks he had stuffed into his bodice. Luckily, he did dress like a girl.


  25. Like You’re Aaron Burr

    “Ten paces and then we shoot.”

    “Ten? Is that enough for M-16s?”

    “You crazy? Switch weapons. We’re using Desert Eagles.”

    As Jim loaded his handgun, he pressed his back against Ryan’s. Staring at the desert sand whirring outside the dome, he smirked. “Ten bucks says you can’t beat me.”

    Ryan scoffed and cocked his weapon. “You’re on.”

    The men stepped away from one another. When they reached ten paces, they whipped around and fired. Grunts fled from each of their chapped lips as they ate bullets. Jim hit the sand-ridden ground. The thunder of tapping and gunfire subsided. Ryan raised his arms, firing a celebratory round at the sky while Jim panted on the ground with one in the chamber. He aimed at Ryan before popping him square in the face.

    “Final stand! Suck it!” Jim shouted, triumphantly brandishing an Xbox controller.

    “That’s cheap. One more.”

    “You sure, bro? At this rate you’ll be droppin’ Hamiltons like you’re Aaron Burr.”

    Words: 160


  26. Safety Off (160)

    Reilly was the pale, squat kid with dim-wits in the neighborhood, which made his pairing with Dominique all the more peculiar. Unlike other fourth-graders, Dominique seemed like an adult poured into his Spongebob Velcro shoes.

    And Dominique was exotic in the small Irish suburb; he was the Tickle Me Pink you found once in a lifetime in a box of Crayola’s. Except, if you tickled him, he’d punch you in the mouth.

    Naturally, Reilly did what Dominique said, so when Dominique tired of jabbing sticks at each other and wanted to play a game of duel with his father’s Smith & Wesson SD40, Reilly went along with it.

    He made Reilly use the stick; he had the gun. He was strong enough to apply the pressure for the hammer, but kid enough to not know it was loaded.

    Dominique, unaccustomed to hot tears carving a path on his cheeks, came accustom on that day.


  27. Cocks Strutting.

    How many Sunday mornings had I stood here watching the re-enactment of the Hamilton-Burr duel. They dressed up in period costume with even the ugliest looking debonair. This week Tommy was Burr he usually played Hamilton and had perfected collapsing to the ground clutching his chest and groaning that sometimes I really thought he had been shot. I imagined him being carried off to his friends house and dying the next day. I vaguely knew the story of America’s most famous duel.

    Tommy gave me that look again. I stood leaning against the oldest oak tree in the wood looking like a Vogue model. He couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t dress up in character like the other women.

    The shots rang out and both duellists fell to the ground. Gasps of horror that Tommy had forgotten he was Burr. He should be strutting about now as the triumphant winner, bit difficult though with a load of lead in your chest.

    160 words


  28. Friendly Fire
    Jessica West
    159 words

    Friendly Fire

    Amidst quarreling in cramped quarters of the Senate House, Alexander had somehow been misunderstood to have challenged Jacob Adams to a pistol duel, of all the absurdest things.

    Shouts and curses settled round the room as men, and even cleaning ladies, stared slack-jawed at Alex, blinking like dumb cows. Even Henry himself, a third of the trio of friends, worked his jaw for words that simply would not form.

    Alexander, for his part, stood mute, at first uncertain as to what had transpired. The gaping stares all round gave evidence that he’d certainly gathered all attention unto himself. What of the reddening glare of his best friend, Jacob? Dear God, what had he said?

    Today they stand, bearing arms against one another. With pistols yet lowered, Alex considers reparations he would make before firing, would Jacob but listen. An expert marksman and a man of his word, the best Alexander can offer his friend now is a swift death.


  29. Keep Your Friends Close

    It was only after the inquest that everyone began to question how two men who had been such good friends could’ve become such bitter enemies.

    ‘I don’t understand it,’ one of their old junior-school teachers said over a pint in the Good Intent. ‘They always worked with each other, had their heads together over something.’

    At the track, their senior-school running coach shook his head and muttered, ‘but they always trained together. If one of them was here, so was the other. They pushed each other on, made each other faster.’

    On the news, their old university tutor stated that, ‘their relationship seemed so symbiotic. When they studied together, they achieved higher grades.’

    After they’d graduated, everyone had expected them to go into business with each other, and everyone had been surprised when they hadn’t. No one had been shocked, though, when they’d both joined the same shooting club, but everyone agreed that what had happened next was a tragedy.

    (160 words)



  30. Opposing Views

    They were friends until the words that killed that dead, simplicity-loaded. Now they were opposition opposed from one another, face to face at last to shoot straight barrelled across the bar, glass in either hand. Both waiting for the other to speak through the buzz of the night out’s oblivion in the dimmed room, before finally Mark fired first. “I know.”

    “Guessed as much,” Rob responded, shrugging bright shirt clad shoulders.

    Misfire confirmed, Mark aimed again with care. “How long?”

    “It won’t help to know,” Rob said. “Sorry, mate.” Blow landing squarely, wound imparted, he stood, then hesitated, holding a hand towards the other man, though some distance from contact. “I am, you know. Sorry.”

    “Easy to say now you’ve got her and you’re sitting pretty though, isn’t it?” Mark said sharply.

    There was a pause before Rob answered. “You weren’t happy though. You said so yourself. That’s when she came to me – to talk about you.” His parting shot.

    (160 words)



  31. Tommy and Vince.

    I first ran into Tommy and Vince on Main Street, or perhaps I should say they ran into me. It was a cold grey day and them snotty-nosed kids were chasing pranks when one of them banged my shin; had me a billfold lighter before you could blink. And I heard later I wasn’t the only victim that day; they were having some kind of competition.
    Next time I come across them was a couple of summers later. Them boys were both sat, sick green with the apples they’d gotten from stealing from Pa Berry’s orchard. But they were still faster than me.
    Now you’ll not believe this but them there boys both graduated with honours. Yes sir, they took their rivalry right through college and came out equal tops.
    And now they both had successful businesses too.
    Seems mighty rum to see them both here dead over a thousand dollar bet as to who was the best shot.

    @CliveNewnham – 159 words


  32. Just Another Game
    160 words

    “It’s getting down the wire here at Weehawken Field. The New York Burrs and the St. Croix Hamlitons are at each others throats.”

    “That’s right, Scott. These two groups have been sparring across the arena the whole game. Members of each team have been carted off the field.”

    “The score is zero zero and is coming down to the final moments. Can any member of these teams remain friends after a day like today?”

    “There is commotion on the field! One member of the Burrs is challenging one of the Hamiltons to a winner-takes-all score match! The coaches for each team are debating.”

    “It’s accepted! Both are going out on the field right now.”

    “Oh the humanity! They are going at each other like beasts. They’re shooting a ball at each other with a force of a gun.”

    “That’s it, it’s over! THE BURRS WON THE MATCH! The Hamiltons player is down, the last pitch taking him out.”


  33. The First Shot

    The reenactment of the Hamilton-Burr Duel was Dina’s idea. She is brilliant like that.

    “We live in the information era. So many cameras, so many angles! This time there won’t be any doubt about who fired the first shot.” Her fingers fly furiously over the keyboard. “It’s not just the technology, world views on the race and gender issues have evolved. Aren’t we blessed?” She chirps.

    I am awed by her mental agility. The social and cultural divide between us has never put a chasm in our friendship. I must not say anything to her. The less she knows, the better. With all those cameras around, I would have to move stealthily. If I hide behind that tree, I will be out of camera’s gaze.

    A new era! My foot! I aim the dueling pistol at the actor, my rapist, the acquitted defendant! The cameras would only see a flying bullet.

    The first shot will remain a mystery, again!

    159 words


  34. A Near Miss
    Jessica West
    159 Words

    A Near Miss

    Joseph marched into the clearing, pistol raised, and stopped abruptly. “I say, is this thing ready?” He glanced to Simon, who’d stopped just short of running into him.

    “Yes sir. Just pull the hammer back, aim and shoot.”

    Joseph inspected the gun, which had no lettering whatsoever that would indicate which part was what. He’d seen his father shoot often enough, though, and so he placed his thumb up over the little piece that stuck out on top. He couldn’t quite manage to budge the latch, so he lowered his hands and used both for leverage.

    His finger was still on the trigger.

    The report nearly caused him to wet his pants. As luck would have it, he’d barely missed both his own feet.

    The gentleman across the way, the very same one who’d insulted him the night before – something about a woman – boomed out a laugh. “Good sir, if you please, I’d like a word.”


  35. Burr’s Legacy to America by Laura Emmons (160 words)

    “Hey Sarge, looks like a couple ‘a youts faced off and lost. Youse thinks this was a gang thing?”

    “Given their apparel and body art, I would assume so.”

    “Those tats look like they was from rival gangs in Harlem. Why didn’t they just shoot each other in New York?”

    “Men have crossed the Hudson to die in the Palisades for centuries. Ironically, the seeds of hopelessness which drove these men to kill each other were sown 210 years ago today, when Burr shot freedom in the gut and replaced British tyranny with corporate America. Burr was the first corrupt politician to take money from big business. Now, even the Supreme Court kowtows to the desires of large corporations.”

    He shrugged, “So youse want I should turn this over to the Gang-related Crime Unit?”

    “Yes, please.” She rubbed her belly absently. Because her husband’s company denied coverage of birth-control pills, she had to sacrifice the only career she ever wanted.


  36. The Second
    (160 words)

    They’d always looked so much alike. When the family awoke to find Eric gone, stolen away into the promise of life, when it had seemed their humiliation complete, it had been easy to slip into the stiff white coat he’d left behind.

    To the appointed place, fingers gripping a pistol they’d never been trained to handle. But victory mattered not. Indeed it would mean a loss far more unendurable than death.

    Even Frederick was too frenzied to spot the differences- hair a tinge lighter, lips ever so fuller. Not daring to speak, the contestant in white nodded when asked if prepared.

    Ten paces, a solitary shot, and a white coat drenched red.

    “My god.” The doctor dropped the corpse’s too delicate wrist.
    “No!” Frederick’s knees betrayed him. He knew those lips.
    “It seems the reason for this feud has ended it.”
    “She may have loved you, Lord Elworth, but she loved her brother more.”

    ~Taryn Noelle Kloeden


  37. Gentlemen

    “Gentlemen five paces turn and fire.” called the second.

    ‘Gentlemen’ Charles smirked. Were they gentlemen when they pelted widow Green’s poor hound with apple cores? When they pilfered candies at the general store? When they put-on professor Staub at university? Or when they bolted from the pub trailing card and coin? Surely they did not feel so as they earned “glory” among cannon shot and bayonet. Gentlemen? assuredly not but friends? Friends, yes, ever to the bitter end.

    At five paces Charles turned and raised his pistol. His friend was doubled over in another coughing fit. Charles graciously waited until William finished, stood tall, dabbed the scarlet at his lips with a handkerchief and straightened his coat. Then Charles pulled the trigger. William deserved that. The “offense” writhed about in Williams lungs. It was reducing him to a bitter end indeed. Charles agreed to spare him such, to give William his satisfaction, allowing him the death of a gentleman.

    159 Words


  38. RECESS (Or why I learned how to run fast)
    Evan Montegarde
    (160 words)

    I was nervous as always, our history lesson was almost over, Mr. Gladstone droning on about some ancient fight between guys on ten dollar bills wearing wigs. I couldn’t turn my head but they were laughing at me with their snickers and taunts.

    Recess, as usual, was going to be Hell.

    Everyone gets to pick on the scrawny kid with no parents; I get it, have gotten it and am now just sick of it.

    “Recess!” Mr. Gladstone exclaimed, “Get out of here!”

    At least I had a head start; I made it out onto the playground when they caught me.

    “Running Billie?” Max laughed, “Too bad you ain’t fast, you little toad.” The usual group snickered behind him.

    I prepared mentally for the first punch which never came.

    “You touch him I bust you a new one!” The new girl from the wrestling team said standing next to me.

    I could see we were going to be fast friends.


  39. I really liked the two paradoxes of being uninterested in the “irrelevant” historical fight while being consumed by the reality of the one coming on the play ground. Then there is the paradox between the historical gender roles and now. And emphasis on “fast” … nice touch.


  40. Touched By A Hot Reminding Breeze
    (word count 155)

    Touched by a hot reminding breeze, two men, friends forever, are meeting on a dusty road. Dark witnesses stand hidden by shadows.

    Back to back, they shared memories.

    “Hello, friend, we still have unfinished business.”

    “It is how things have to be, the reason we are.”

    “When you live as we have lived, this is the result.”

    “Ten paces gentlemen, I will count”

    “Remember when we first met.”

    “I remember, boys at the market.”

    “Yes, your father gave me a candy.”

    “I remember Roxanna.”

    “She liked me, you know.”

    “But, I gave her a first kiss.”

    “She said you didn’t know how.”

    “You destroyed dreams!”

    “It was for the good of all.”

    “I am truly sorry.”


    Touched by a hot reminding breeze, two men, friends forever, time after time are meeting on a dusty road.

    Back to back, they shared memories.

    “Ten paces gentleman.”



    Epithets shot back and forth: fiery, lethal words between Hayden and Michael. Bike etiquette had been broached. Such a thing weighed mightily in this small microcosm of the world.

    Michael challenged Hayden to a duel. “We’re gonna shoot it out!”

    “OK, Michael; our bike buddies will be the judges.” Hayden, ever the sea lawyer, took care to include everyone in all fairness.

    The circle in the sand, drawn by one of the girls, lay innocently awaiting the shootout. Knuckling down and with deadly aim Michael exploded his targets. Hayden thoughtfully maneuvered his shooter in serpentine manner among his fingers before taking his shots.

    The crowd of bicycle toting kids passed their final judgment on the duel. Hayden clearly took the win for marbles and bike rules, and thus earned Michael’s agate. But in a rush of agape, Hayden offered back the agate to Michael in return for his bike tolerance. Marble-ous!

    WC = 151, excluding title


  42. Carlos Orozco
    159 words

    “…Eight, nine, ten.” We both spun around, he much quicker than I. His commands reverberated in my skull. “Let the pistol swing you, and then drop back onto your haunches.”

    He taught me everything I knew about duels, marksmanship, and women. He grew up poor, and his rambunctious manner enticed both good and evil but most importantly, it lured Anabelle. He didn’t know that I was fond of her, and apologized on many occasions when he found out. The girl was wild about him, and I detested him for that.

    At bars, several doves disguised as whiskey were sent to restore our friendship, but I shot them down. He never quit, not until today. His voice was calm when he challenged me to a duel, and his brown eyes smiled when I accepted.

    Twenty feet away, I can see the slight uptick on the left corner of his mouth. That gives him away. He won’t shoot—but I will.


  43. Friends and Honor
    159 words

    Rob looked around the library unsure what had just happened. One minute he was headed toward the locker room and a well deserved but humiliating beating- the next he was here.

    He wasn’t sure, but something told him he’d have been better off if taking the beating. Anything would have been better than the disappointed looks on his best friends’ faces.

    TJ finally snapped him out of his trance demanding to know, “what were you thinking?”

    “I was thinking I had to back up the checks my mouth was writing…”

    “Forget that noise,” Alex said shaking his head.

    Rob sighed and flopped into an overstuffed chair. “What’s the plan?”

    “Plausible deniability,” TJ answered pretending to read.

    “Plausible… If I don’t show…”

    “You won’t be arrested when the others are…”

    Rob froze and realized exactly why they said to keep your enemies close, and your friends closer. TJ and Alex were a dangerous combination… sometimes, it was better not knowing.


  44. The Friendship Duel (157 words)

    He smoothed down the damp black collar of his jacket as rain misted on his face. But he stood stern and proud. He was about to meet death like a gentleman.

    “Geez, Alex, do you gotta be so serious?” Jimmy stood wrapped in his green slicker.

    They had been best friends forever or at least since kindergarten, which was really the same thing. But now Jimmy wanted to hang with the sports guys. He thought the games they used to play were dumb. He liked Nicole Sterling who was just a shallow flirt. He thought Alex was weird. Jimmy didn’t have to say it. Alex knew. It made his chest ache.

    “Back to back, then walk three paces,” Alex said.

    “Shouldn’t we have seconds?”

    “Just do it. One, two, three.”

    Jimmy was fast with his water pistol, but the bullet from the Glock Alex took from his father’s desk tore right through his friend’s chest.


  45. Love and Honor
    [Judge’s entry – for your reading pleasure]

    This wedding would be one-of-a-kind. Her fiancé stood laughing with his friends beneath the sweltering sun. The preacher waited beneath the shade of an elm tree, in costume.

    My best friend Alex Hamilton has always been fascinated by her unrelated namesake’s famous and fatal demise.

    We’d spent countless childhood afternoons tromping through these woods. Standing in our secret place, sweating beneath our souvenir tricornes, we faced off at the traditional ten paces with sticks as our pistols.

    The day she showed me her half-carat pawn shop engagement ring, I knew what the wedding theme would be.

    “Did you bring it?” whispered Alex softly.

    I surreptitiously dropped the lead ball into her hand, turning away to avoid witnessing her placing it into the breech of the replica Wogdon dueling pistol.

    “I can’t believe he saw that skank! The night before our wedding!”

    A minute later, the preacher convened us beneath the shade tree. “Dearly beloved…”


  46. Double Bluff

    ‘Steady on Jack, don’t point that thing until the Good Reverend tells you.’
    ‘I know the rules, my hand slipped that’s all.’
    Dinah chewed her lip. Every Sunday is the same. Jack loses at Poker and I have to help ease his pride by fighting a duel on ‘Holodeck One’. He cheats every time, it was straining our friendship to the limit.
    Dinah positioned more to the right. Her wig was making her itch.
    ‘Ready, aim and…’
    ‘Wait!’Dinah shrieked. ‘I want a different gun.’
    ‘You can’t change the rules at this stage. Carry on Reverend!’
    ‘Computer, change my pistol to a cannon.’ The gun faded in her hand, a cannon appeared at her side. Jack started dancing on the spot, protesting.
    ‘Ready, aim and…’
    Jack disappeared in cloud of smoke.

    It felt strange walking home alone. How was I to know that Jack had programmed it to ‘real weapon’ mode? Cheating never pays off.

    (155 words) @avalina_kreska


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