Chuck Wendig: Weehawken

This week’s Chuck Wendig flash fiction challenge is to genre-flip an iconic scene from a movie, book, etc.  I have chosen to take an iconic scene from The Princess Bride and mash it up with an equally iconic scene from Hamilton.  Hopefully it’s as much fun as I think it is. Please to enjoy.

Also, note that I am planning to do NaNoWriMo this year.  To that end, I am going to catch up on all the Chuck Wendig challenges I have missed since March in an effort to get my writerly muscles used to flexing again.  WATCH THIS SPACE.  FOLLOW THIS BLOG FOR FLASHY FICTIONAL GOODNESS.

End shameless self-promotion, begin story.

Weehawken.  Dawn.  Guns.  Drawn.

Fog rolled in off the Hudson.  Two men stood atop the cliffs facing each other in the purple gloaming, which was already fading to grey.  Soon the sunlight would break through and the morning would show her face to the world.  The men were there to conclude a matter of honor.  Words had been laid down that could not—or would not—be taken back, and proper etiquette must be maintained.

They stood, pistols held loosely in their left hands, pointed at the ground.  They were positioned to present their left sides to each other, showing the narrowest targets they could.  Their seconds and a few other men stood around watching.  One, a doctor, stood away from the others, facing away from the dueling ground.

One of the men stood to the south of the other.  He called out a greeting.  “You are a decent fellow, Hamilton!  I hate to kill you.”

Hamilton smiled, though it did not touch his eyes.  He did not answer aloud, but murmured to himself.  “You are a decent fellow as well, Burr.  I hate to die.”  He raised his pistol to point at the sky, and pulled the trigger.  The gunshot echoed in the early morning air, the sound rolling out over the river towards the city on the other bank.

Burr tilted his head, confused.  “You are throwing away your shot?”

Hamilton nodded.  “I thought it fitting.”

“You must expect me to do the same.”

“It is said that men of honor will do so.  You, however, are not always a man of honor.”

“I admit it,” said Burr.  “You are better than I am.”

“Then why are you smiling?” asked Hamilton.  He still held his gun pointed toward the sky.  A thin, wispy stream of smoke was curling out of the barrel and drifting up to blend with the fog around them.

Burr’s smile widened and his eyes twinkled merrily.  “Because I know something you don’t know.”

Hamilton frowned.  “And what is that?”

Burr’s eyes were suddenly cold, his voice flat, without inflection.  “I am not left-handed.”  He turned to face Hamilton directly, deliberately moved his pistol from his left hand to his right, looked into Hamilton’s eyes, and summoned all the courage he required.  He raised the pistol.

He fired.  The gunshot echoed in the early morning air, the sound rolling out over the river towards the city on the other bank.  It seemed to be a deeper and more sinister sound than the earlier shot had been.

Hamilton collapsed without a sound.  He lay bleeding onto the rocky ground.  The bullet had hit him just above his right hip.  It fractured a rib and did significant damage to his internal organs.  The doctor hurried forward to attend him.  Burr made a move towards him as well, but was quickly hustled away by his second.  He was stunned, and told his second, “I would as soon destroy a stained-glass window as a man like Hamilton.”  Making no further comments, he and his second boarded their boat and headed back across the river.

Hamilton was overcome by his wounds and slipped into unconsciousness.  Wanting nothing more than to get him back into the city, his second and the doctor placed him into a boat and took him back across the river.

He was taken to his home, where he would die the following day with his wife at his side.  He regained consciousness long enough to hold her hand and speak to her one last time.  His final words, before he slipped into the silence of the longest night of all, were this:  “Find Burr, Eliza.  Find Burr and tell him…tell him I’m not left-handed either.”