Readers’ Choice (A Man with a Gun): Snug as a Gun

Snug as a Gun

Margaret Gallop

Maddie stretched out her legs under her desk. Her notebook was open and she was writing with pleasure. She preferred to write longhand, the pen sometimes seemed to have a life of its own.

The young man walked towards the pool bar, his sun bleached hair looked good against his evenly tanned skin. Lifting his drink he walked past a luxuriously outstretched woman in a blue swimsuit. She seemed intent on reading but he noticed that she lifted her head slightly as he passed. He knocked the sunbed gently and paused to apologise. She rolled over and sat up to acknowledge him. Her face was so lovely that he took in a short breath. ‘My name is Larson,’ he murmured. ‘I might see you around.’

‘Finola,’ she muttered, and turned back to her book.

Maddie felt cramped. She glanced towards to the kitchen, with its continuous cycle of temptations and waiting tasks. She looked away. Her partner Sam was blundering around still rubbing her bleary eyes. She had the day off work, it was all right for her. Maddie picked up her pen again. 

There was activity on the nearby quay. Another yacht had arrived. Finola sat up to watch who disembarked. Her eye was drawn to a tall young man whose dark wavy hair caught the light. He walked across to the poolside and made the young barista laugh. Finola lifted her long legs off the sun bed in one elegant move.

Maddie growled. On the one occasion she had got anywhere near a sun bed she had tipped it over. Perhaps Finola smoothly evaded the hazards of rising from a sun bed? No, that ruined the romantic storyline. Speaking of which, where was this story going?

As the new arrival moved towards the quayside tables he glanced in Finola’s direction. She rose to her feet.

Maddie sniffed. She shifted her posture and pushed her unwashed hair out of her eyes. How long could she go on writing like this?

‘Alright, Muffin?’ Sam walked past giving her a quick shoulder massage. She was tall and erect with dark cropped hair… Stop it!

‘Don’t call me Muffin, it’s discriminatory!’

‘Not going well, I discern. Coffee?’

Maddie changed her posture and picked up the pen again. 

Finola moved towards the bar. The barista’s face brightened.

I can’t bear this. Maddie picked up a thicker pen.

‘Stop where you are!’ The dark-haired man was brandishing a shining gun. Finola screamed, a sound quickly stifled as a bag was pulled over her head and she was dragged towards the yacht’s gangplank.

That felt better. 

‘You’re looking happier.’ Sam said, plonking down the coffee.

‘Yes, I got that intolerable beautiful heroine.’

‘You’re going to kill her off? For being superficially beautiful? Isn’t that a tad discriminatory?’

Maddie snarled and wrote A tall dark woman from an upstairs balcony shouted ‘Cut!’


The pen continued writing. Finola pulled off the bag and shook out that long gleaming hair. Then Finn removed his wig.

‘What’s happening?’

The director looked straight out of the story at Maddie. ‘Young men have better legs,’ she said.

Margaret Gallop: I enjoy trying out different kinds of writing.

Margaret is a member of Didcot Writers, and has had her stories published in our anthologies. On this site you can read her pieces Permission, Bees, The baby with skin the colour of walnuts, Mariella and the Singing Flute, Sour Harvest, and April Wayside Blues.

Our Readers said:

• Stands out because it’s different.
• Reads wells, original story, potential for more.
• Very clever, story within a story.

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