Sadly, Southernfrau is no longer with us. Her stories are archived here for her friends to remember her by. Enjoy her legacy to Lancer.
Word Count 450
Disclaimer: I know they aren’t mine, but I always put them back when I’m finished.
Author’s Note: This ficlet was a challenge on our Lancer group. One of the members read Louis L’ Amour’s Showdown at Yellow Butte. She found a passage that describes the character Johnny Madrid Lancer within the pages of the book. She challenged someone to expound upon that passage. Therefore, the first paragraph of this ficlet (in italics) is straight from the book and is the copyrighted property of Louis L’ Amour.
What was it about him that was so disturbing? Not the two guns, for he had seen many men who wore guns, had been reared among them, in fact. No, it was something else, some quality he could not define, but it was a sort of lurking menace, an odd feeling about such a calm-eyed young man.
He was scarcely more than a boy, even though his tranquil eyes told another story, if you looked deep enough. Those eyes, at the moment were a clear icy blue. And they held the promise of reckoning, making him appear more of a harbinger of death than the cloaked figure of the Grim Reaper would be, if he were to float into view.
If I hadn’t looked in his face…his obviously young face, then I wouldn’t have been captured by the determined glare that now has me frozen in place, as I contemplate the odds of getting out of this alive. In fact, had I not seen the steely resolve of the eyes, much too old for the youthful body, I might have discounted the imminent danger.
Any mislead notions I had about the hazard to my life were snuffed out quicker than a candle flame in the wind, when the all too composed voice, as soft as a whispered confession in church, serenely informed me, “I hope you have everthin’ right with the Lord.”
I study this composed young man before me. The utter stillness of his lithe body, the unruffled, rock steady nerve of him sends a flood of dread washing over me. I inwardly curse the signs of my own weakness, as my hand trembles slightly, the sweat trickles down my face and the middle of my back, leaving the eerie sensation of death’s hand lightly caressing my skin.
I try to adopt his brave, relaxed composure, to project a confidence I don’t possess. I knew the very second I made my mistake. I tried to arrange the tall form of my hostage to shield my body, as I pushed him to the right with my left arm, my right hand, with gun clenched tightly in it, shifts away from his temple.
That’s when he strikes, with a lightning swiftness that no man lives to tell about. And I know I have breathed my last. Time seems to slow down; I see the bullet blazing towards me on a straight and true path. My head snaps back; there’s a loud pop. I smell hot lead. My body seems to collapse in on itself. I have no more control over my limbs than a spreading puddle of water.
Now that’s odd, I see me, or what there was of me. There’s a round oozing hole right between my wide open, stunned eyes. Somehow, I have escaped my earthly body, what’s left of me; my thoughts are just floating here, in limbo. As I start to feel heavy, and pulled downward, I see the tall man stand up, and the gunman walks to him. He towers over the calm-eyed young man, scarcely more than a boy, and if I had any breath left to gasp with, I would, as I hear him say “That bullet was courtesy of Johnny Madrid, for threatening Johnny Lancer’s old man.”