East of the dueling ground’s grassy clearing, the Mississippi rolled past, unaware of the insignificant human drama playing out its banks.
Two pairs of men stood apart. One well dressed, the other still trying to figure out what they were doing here in the first place.
“Don’t like this, Luke.” Said Sam, staring at the flintlock pistol in his hands. It was worth more than anything he’d ever touched.
“Well, that might’ve been a thought before you went and pissed on that Manhattie’s shoes last night.” He’d taken to calling the rich man that, despite his repeated protestations that he was from Boston, not New York.
“Gentlemen? Are we ready?” The Manhattie’s second called to them.
Sam thought about running, but didn’t want his momma knowing her boy had died from a shot to the back. He nodded.
“Excellent.” The second motioned Sam and the Manhattie into position, back to back, then told them to count out ten paces.
And that’s just what Sam did before turning and pulling the trigger of the gun the Manhattie had loaned him for the duel.
“Aimed wide,” said the well dressed man from the east, before he shot Sam square in the heart.
Today, the dueling grounds are an overgrown bit of the space on the west banks of the Mississippi River. But, during the period before the Civil War, they were a place where murder by combat was protected by custom, if not legality. People would travel from great distances, presumably from places that the common sense to outlaw dueling, to settle their disputes in very permanent ways.