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Broken Rider(10)

By´╝ÜSasha Stark

“I was the same way honey, and now I can shoot a tick off a horse’s ass without blinking. You’ll get used to the idea, I promise.”

Erin smiled but she seriously doubted she would get used to owning a gun, never mind shooting insects off an animal’s ass with one. “I suppose you’re right,” Erin said. “I just hope I don’t end up blowing my own foot off with it.”

“I doubt that will happen. But just to be safe, make sure you meet with Christine and have her show you the basics. She would make a better teacher than me.”

“Okay...I guess.”

They headed into the gun store and were greeted by a stout middle-aged man. “Hello there Cindy,” he said and turned to face Erin. “And you must be Ms. Campbell. I’m Chris Mitchell, it’s nice to meet you.” Cindy has told me all about your concerns regarding firearms. I wanted to let you know that I not only appreciate your concerns, I applaud them. A healthy respect of firearms and the damage they can cause is a good thing. Just don’t allow the fear to paralyze you young lady. A gun is nothing but a tool, just like a fork. Use it wisely and you should have no worries.”

“Thanks Mr. Mitchell and it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“Call me Chris. And the pleasure is all mine, Ms. Campbell.” He motioned for the women to follow him towards the back of the store. “I took the liberty of picking out a rifle for you, I hope you don’t mind.”

“Not at all,” Erin responded. “It’s not like I would have any input to add anyway.”

Chris reached behind the counter and produced a rifle with a long skinny barrel. "It’s a Remington Field Master bolt-action .22 caliber. It’s a fine rifle and I should know, I’ve been carrying one for close to fifteen years now.”

He handed the weapon to Erin and she took it in her hands. It was lighter than she expected but she nevertheless hated having it in her hands. She quickly handed it back to Chris. “It seems fine,” she said. “I guess I will take it.”

“Another satisfied customer,” Chris joked. Erin laughed, but her smiled disappeared when he mentioned the price. “That will be $595 please.”

“Six hundred dollars?” Erin gasped. “Can’t I just buy a used one or a cheaper model?”

Chris nodded. “You sure can buy a cheaper model, but I wouldn’t suggest it. Not only will this rifle last you a lifetime, it also has a very high reliability rating, and trust me you don’t want to need a rifle and have one that doesn’t work.” Erin looked to Cindy for advice and Cindy nodded her agreement.

“It’s the same rifle we have on the ranch, Erin. I have to agree with Chris. This rifle is most likely the best choice for you and finding a used one will be difficult. For one thing, most people out her don’t have computer access, so it can be hard to find one online and perhaps more importantly, people generally don’t sell this rifle once they own it. It really is a great gun.”

Erin sighed. “If you say so.” She handed Chris her credit card and while he was running the transaction she asked Cindy where they were off to next. “We should head to the electronics store and get you a satellite phone and GPS unit. If you get out to explore the land you will want to know how to find your way home, and the phone is for the cabin. We don’t get cell service out here, nor landline service.” Erin leaned her head back and began calculating the costs in her head. She figured she would be lucky to get back the ranch without spending $1,500. Starting a new life wasn’t cheap, that was for sure. Chris wrapped the rifle for her in brown paper and tied it with a string. “Here you go, Ms. Campbell. Happy hunting my dear.”

Erin thanked him and the women exited the store. They jumped back in Cindy’s truck and drove down the nearly deserted street and parked outside the electronics store. Erin decided to ask about Jack, the biker staying on the property.

“So what is Christine's cousin like? Has he been living in the cabin long?”

“Three years now. Ever since his wife passed away.”

"How did his wife die?"

“It was a car accident during a storm. They were living in Bismarck at the time and his wife was working as a nurse. She wasn’t even scheduled to work that day, but they called her in on account of the storm. When it gets cold like that the homeless will flock to the ER so they needed extra hands on deck. Anyway, she hit a patch a black ice and spun out of control. At least she probably died quickly.”

Erin gasped. “My god! That poor man.” She was already apprehensive about asking the man to leave the property but she was now sure she wouldn’t be able to. If he wanted to leave on his own terms that was one thing, but she doubted she would be able to straight up evict him. “He’s been living in the cabin since?”