The following Wednesday evening, Mr. Fester was the last person to leave the Emporium. He went through his ritual making sure all the candles and lanterns were extinguished. The sales staff, all three of them, including Samantha Wigglesworth, left at five o’clock. Fester locked the front doors and left by the side door locking it behind him. The Emporium shared a horse stable and barn with an adjacent hardware store. The hardware store closed promptly at four-thirty every weekday and Saturday. Fester saddled his old horse and was leading him from the barn door. Dusk was rapidly getting blacker.
“Fester.” It was a harsh penetrating voice.
“What? Who’s there?”
Mashpit held the lantern near his face for his identity to be known. “Hold this lantern near your chin.” He placed the lantern in Fester’s hands.
“What? You’re Samantha’s friend. What do you want?” Fester let the lantern move away from his face.
“Keep the light on your face Fester.” Mashpit produced another lantern and set it between them. The light allowed for Fester to look at Mashpit who opened his jacket.
“Why are you wearing guns downtown?”
“It’s Wednesday, Mr. Fester. I always wear my guns on Wednesday. Keep that lantern at your neck Fester.”
“What do you want?” His voice raised an octave.
“I want you to be courteous to Miss Wigglesworth from this point on during your earthly existence.”
“What? You have your nerve to threaten me. I treat my employees however I want. What are you going to do about it?
“This.” Mashpit drew both guns in a split-second and planted each barrel on Fester’s crotch. “Don’t drop or lower the lantern or the guns may fire.” He pressed the gun barrels down hard. “I have one gun for each of your testicles Fester. If I ever hear of you making Wigglesworth unhappy or threaten her with being discharged, I’ll shoot your balls off–one-at-a-time.”
A wet spot formed beneath the gun barrels and then urine dripped to the hay and the dirt barn floor.
Mashpit re-holstered his guns. “One testicle at-a-time Fester.” He took both lanterns and blew out the flame.
That night Fester did not sleep well. His persistent nightmare was of the eerie glow cast by the lit lantern on Mashpit’s face. His groin was sore but there was no obvious injury. The word’s “one testicle at-a-time” resounded between his ears.
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