The Shooter

February 3, 2012

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This story originally ran on December 10, 2010.  It was a very quick story to write – probably 45 minutes from when the idea struck me to when I finished.  I’ve always liked it, so I’m re-running it today.

He lay prone on the ridge above the canyon. He watched as the object of his attention came into view. Muriel was as beautiful as the day he had first seen her. That first day, too, he had watched her from afar. She had laughed melodiously as she chatted with friends. And then the inevitable had happened – the boyfriend had shown up.

The boy’s name was Chet, he had later found out. Chet and Muriel were high school sweethearts, and had remained close through college. They moved away from home, taking new jobs out of state. And this was how Philip had come to see them in the apartment building. After he caught his first glimpse of Muriel, he was in love. He would have to convince Muriel that he, Philip, was her true love – or else.

And, so, on this warm day in June, Philip found himself lying in dew kissed grass, waiting for Muriel to enter the clearing and give him a clear shot.

Philip had needed to go to a friend to get what he had needed for this outing. “This should definitely have the range you need,” his friend had assured him. “You could probably get a squirrel from a mile away with this.”

Philip hefted it as he waited for Muriel. As she closed the distance to the clearing, he picked her up in the scope. He trained the crosshairs on her as she moved between rock formations. The formations gave her ample cover, making a clean shot from this angle impossible.

His mind wandered as he waited for Muriel. In his mind’s eye, he could see himself waking up in the morning and gazing at her sleeping form next to him in a comfortable king size bed. He imagined exploring every curve of her body in the dim light of the rising sun.

Philip realized that he was daydreaming and returned his attention to the figure down in the canyon. Muriel had not only entered the clearing, but was nearly to the other side. If he was going to get off a good shot, he needed to take it now.

Philip focused on the figure of Muriel below. He waited for her to cease movement, and then took his shot.

He cursed as Muriel stooped to pick a wildflower, ducking below the spot where he had aimed. It was a momentary setback. When Muriel stood upright again, Philip took another shot. His aim was true, but Philip took three more shots in rapid succession, just in case the first shot had failed to do the job.

Philip stood upright and shook the dirt from his clothes. He removed the expensive lens from the camera and extracted the memory card. By the time Muriel had returned to the ridge, her husband had already uploaded the stunning morning photos to their web site.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Barbara Plotkin
    Dec 10, 2010 @ 15:45:09

    You got me good! Darn! And I pride myself on figuring out these plot twists ahead of time (to date my biggest “win” was figuring out who Keyser Soze was in the Usual Suspects midway through the movie). Great read as always!


  2. kosmo
    Dec 10, 2010 @ 16:00:14

    🙂 I definitely tried to work in some misdirection on this.

    A useful tip to writers: use an accurate, but relatively unknown piece of information to redirect. I suspect that nearly everyone knows that hunting rifles have scopes. I’d bet that far fewer know that camera scopes exist. That’s precisely why I mentioned a scope – to lock you into the idea that Philip has a rifle in his hands.


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