An Old Time Showdown

By: The Great Duhmimchi

Some people have a knack for finding strange things; strange things always seem to find Zane Legends. But there was nothing strange about the steel bars that now surrounded the cell in which Zane found himself. It was a small cell, with wood walls that did nothing to keep out the dusty winds that were blowing up something fierce outside. The dust blew in through the only window on the wall that kept Zane from the outside. It blew hard enough that no one wanted to stand up and look outside for their last looks at the freedom they had lost. All, including Zane, had resigned themselves to sitting on the wood post beds or the dusty floor. All, except the old codger who found it necessary to shout at the guards from the cell door.

"Lemme outta here!" He shouted. "Youse got da wrong guy! Ize jus mindin me business, dem otha two started the brawl! C'mon you lousy yella bellied sons of Ingin's! Get off dem kiesters an open dis cotton pickin door!"

The old man had been rambling the same thing for hours now. He changed the curses every now and then. Zane, for one, was especially surprised at the eloquent way in which he could fit in different animal names with references to the guards. "Pig snouted', donkey ear'd', and cow hided" were a few of his personal favorites.

"Will you give it a rest old man? Obviously shouting doesn't get their attention, but maybe if you sit down all quiet like they might die of surprise and we will all be free men." Zane chuckled to himself.

The old man shut up, and strode over to where Zane was sitting. He stared him straight in the eyes. The man could stifle the growl of a hungry mountain cat with that stare. But without saying a word he turned to walk hobble away. Zane let out a sigh of relief and turned to laugh with the man sitting next to him when he suddenly felt something thump him on the back of his head. It was almost like getting hit with a wooden club. A little dazed he turned to see the old man staring at him again, griping tightly the prosthetic leg that he had taken off a clubbed Zane with.

"You bes hold dat forked tongue of yorz boy! Before da snake you stole it from come back to bite ya!" The old man didn't laugh, and didn't even seem aware that he had made a joke. He just stood there gripping his wooden shell of a leg.

The tension in the room was so thick a boot knife could barley cut into it. But it wasn't a knife that broke the tension in that room. Before the old man could club Zane again, it was the sleepy prison guards.

"Knock off your fightin' you old coot!" The guard said. "I'm comin' in. You fella"- he said while pointing to the man sitting next to Zane- "time to go. You too." The man in the far corner joined the other and walked out the cell door.

"Figures," Zane said.

"Well lookie dat!" The man that was walking out said. "The lovely couple finally gets some alone time." He nearly fell down from laughing so hard.

The old man said nothing, he just sat down on the bed opposite Zane and began to strap his leg back on. And then as if he could sense Zane staring at him he said, "Packs a whallop don it?" He smiled. "I los tha thing tryin' ta fight a train when Ize a boy."

"I guess the train won then" Zane said wryly.

And without missing a beat the old man said, "Naw, you shoulda seen da train!" The old mans smile was the complete opposite of the scowl that he gave Zane earlier. He almost saw an actual person hidden in there somewhere now. "Looks like youze got your own setta scars too." He said, pointing to Zane's temple.

"Oh yeah, this, well it wasn't a train I was fighting, but it was. . . "

"Don matter none who you were fightin'" The old man said. "What matters is if ya won!"

"Right" Zane said, nodding slowly.

"So how'd you like to get outta dis place?"

You had to admire the man's commitment. At least he was trying to follow through with what he started. "Get out?" Zane said. "I was just starting to get used to it in here."

"I'm offerin' youze a way out boy! Don be a fool. I was jus holerin earlier to keep the guards away, an now dat theyze gone wit da other boys we can ski-dattle!" The raspy laugh that the old man wheezed out reminded Zane of an old Hog about to go to the slaughter.

"Tell you what old man, the minute you start running out of this place, I will kiss that leg of yours!" Zane turned to face the wall and lay down when suddenly the back wall exploded. Shards of wood and steel were everywhere and there was a hole big enough for a cart of oxen to walk through where the wall used to be.

Coughing, Zane pushed himself to his feet and tried to clear the dust from his eyes. "You ok old man?" There was no reply. Zane slowly staggered over to where the old man was sitting only to find an empty bed. He turned to the hole leading to his freedom- he didn't even have a second to react, his last memory before the leg struck him square in the face was of the old man laughing while he said "Pucker up youngin'!"

When morning came Zane found himself still in the cell and on the bed- guards all around him. He didn't need a mirror to see that he had a swollen eye and a cut lip. Just before he woke up completely; a bucket of cold water splashed down on his face.

"Time to wake up son, Judge is here."

"The gallows don't have stairs do they?" Zane said, spitting out the water that had fallen into his mouth. The guard only laughed and pulled him to his feet.

Genre: Western
Setting: In prison
Character: Old person