It might sound like a story from Kentucky's violent past, but a Pulaski County man is accused of challenging his brother to a duel.
Rodney Abbott, 44, got into an argument with his younger brother, James Abbott, on Aug. 17, according to Pulaski County Constable Mike Wallace, who investigated the case.
Wallace said Rodney Abbott went to James Abbott's home later that day with two handguns, placed one gun on the hood of his pickup truck, and invited his brother to pick it up and shoot it out.
"He told James, 'Get that pistol, I'm going to give you a fair chance before I kill you," Wallace said in a phone interview.
When James Abbott declined and went back inside his house, Rodney Abbott allegedly fired several shots into the building. Wallace said one bullet went through James Abbott's pants leg without hitting him.
"It was pure luck he wasn't hit; you couldn't do it again in a million years if you tried," Wallace said.
According to authorities, Rodney Abbott fled in his truck. He had two guns and clips of ammunition in his possession when he was stopped and arrested, Wallace said.
A citation filed in the case does not include the word "duel." But it states that Rodney Abbott told his brother to pick up the gun, and "went to shooting" when he refused.
A Pulaski County grand jury indicted Rodney Abbott on Sept. 5 on several charges, including criminal attempt to commit murder, first-degree burglary, and first-degree wanton endangerment.
Wallace, the only witness called before the grand jury, said he'd never handled such a case before.
"I probably never will again," he said Tuesday. "Duels have gone by the wayside."
Duels were common in 19th century Kentucky, but probably no more common than in many other states, particularly in the South, said Georgetown College history professor James Klotter.
Several prominent Kentuckians fought duels in an age when gentlemen of wealth and refinement routinely sought "satisfaction" for perceived slights by challenging antagonists to fight it out.
Abolitionist Cassius Clay fought a number of formal duels, plus several informal ones, with pistols and Bowie knives. William Gobel killed a man in an informal duel in Covington in 1895, only to die from an assassin's bullet in 1900 after being elected governor.
Even Henry Clay fought two duels, almost dying in the first one, which could have changed Kentucky and U.S. history, Klotter said.
Andrew Jackson and James Dickinson settled a dispute in 1806 by traveling from Tennessee to Kentucky to fight a duel. When the smoke cleared, Dickinson was dead and Jackson was wounded by a bullet he carried for the rest of his life. The fight, however, did not prevent him from being elected president of the United States in 1828.
America's most famous duel occurred in New Jersey in 1804, when Vice President Aaron Burr mortally wounded former U.S. treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton.
Eventually the "code duello" fell out of fashion, and the Kentucky Constitution has long required people being sworn into office to affirm that they've never participated in a duel.
According to Wallace, the incident between Rodney and James Abbott began as a family dispute.
"They got into it because their mother had broken up with her boyfriend of 17 years, and Rodney actually thought that James caused that," Wallace said. "He was pretty hot."
Wallace said Rodney Abbott called his mother on the day of the incident and told her to meet him at James Abbott's home "if she wanted to see him alive again."
According to Wallace, their mother was trying to intervene when Rodney Abbott fired at his brother.
Wallace said Tuesday he didn't know whether the brothers have made peace since the incident, or whether their mother had gotten back together with her boyfriend.