The town was quiet when the Poet rode in
Not a soul was to be seen
A dog barked somewhere and a door banged noisily in the wind,
He wore a long grey coat flecked with dirt and mud
Two buttons had been left undone and there through the opening could be seen, his gun!
His eyes they had a tired look as if looking out wearily on the world
As he moved up the street, curtains parted and nervous little eyes peeped out
Suddenly a door opened and a woman rushed out across the street
Behind a barrel outside the hardware store, a small boy... hiding!
She began to scold him. "Ah Ma! he protested, I just wanted to get a good look at him, see him up close"
"Quiet!" she commanded, then turning toward the Poet while shielding the boy
She said defiantly "Their bad! Their wicked evil men!
But the Poet just kept on going, riding on as if she wasn't there
His eyes fixed straight ahead,
Finally he stopped outside the saloon, dismounted, tied his horse to the hitching Post
Went inside, the spurs of his boots clanking on the floor as he walked
"What'll it be Stranger ?" offered the Bartender
"Gimme a whiskey", said the Poet,"an Irish whiskey"
At a table playing cards, some heads turned
Then there were some excited whispers
"Look! it's the Bardo Kid, the Bardo Kid!!!"
"What has you around these parts Stranger ?" asked the Barkeep inquisitively
"I'm looking for someone", answered the Poet, "goes by the name of... Zardo!"
Another man drinking at the bar suddenly began to splutter
As if his drink had gone down the wrong way
Bardo eyed him suspiciously
"Don't look at me Bardo, I'm not Zardo, Me! I'm Vargo"
"Well Vargo", said Bardo, "you seen Zardo around ?"
"I ain't seen Zardo Bardo" said Vargo
Then he quickly drained his glass and hurriedly left
Bardo watched him go.
"Whose looking for Zardo ?" came a voice suddenly from the stairs and the shadows
It was a woman's voice. It was Miss Lilly, the Saloon Madam, a mature lady, still pretty but who'd seen better days
She came down the stairs out of the shadows
Walked right up to the Poet
But then almost losing her breath in surprise
Almost as if she'd just seen a ghost
She said with a strange note of familiarity "Bardo!!!"
The Poet too, seemed taken aback
"Lilly!" he said a bit shyly and took off his hat,
They both stood there looking at each other for a moment
"You've gotten older Bardo... more worn, I'd hardly know you"
"Been a long time... I guess" replied the Poet awkwardly,
"Where... what...whatever happened to you... Bardo ?.... I often wondered".
It was a very disarming question, for a moment the Poet seemed lost for words
"I...I've been away... far faraway"
Then gathering himself he said with a tinge of bitterness
"What happened. Life happened I guess, dealt me a bad hand, I suppose I was never gonna measure up. It was inevitable wasn't it... me and this world
I could only have turned to a Life of...a Life of Rhyme"
Bardo looked at Lilly standing there in her tawdrily ostentatious red Saloon dress
Showing a bit of cleavage
Grown slightly plump now, with some grey strands through her hair
And crowsfeet starting to appear around her eyes, he asked sadly
"What happened to you... Lilly ?
For a moment she looked like she was going to cry.
"O! I do a bit of singin' ..dancin'... deal cards, serve drinks, and do a whole lot of listenin' to lonely men and their troubles, try to cheer them up and get them to buy some more drink, keep the party going. That's the game anyway" she admitted almost ashamedly. Then she continued. "We seen some good times though, didn't we, you and I, once when we were younger, for awhile there we ran young and wild and free, didn't we ?"
"Yea, young and wild...and... and stupid" answered Bardo with regret.
"What's this... what's this about Zardo ? asked Lilly smiling, "remember you always used to like that name".
"He's been saying things about me, running me down... damaging my reputation
Says he's faster than I am, that he could take me anytime, says I'm nothing but trouble, that I'm a no good lowdown critter, said he's gonna bring me in one day soon.
I was curious about him, thought I'd maybe like to meet this person".
"But he's only young" replied Lilly defending him, " he was just shooting off at the mouth, you know young people, their full of arrogance and foolish pride. You know how Life twists people and makes them into something their not".
Bardo looked at her closely "Do you know him ?"
Lilly hesitated a moment, then said almost tearfully " He's my son Bardo".
"I never knew you had a kid" said Bardo very surprised.
Lilly looked Bardo right in the eyes and then confided "He's our kid Bardo... you remember that time, that Summer we had together, that brief moment in time when we found each other and we thought this world was ours" .
"Why didn't you tell me, why didn't you send word, you could have reached me, I would have come", said Bardo.
"O! You'd be so proud of him Bardo, he grew up to be strong and straight and true
He has a job here as a young Deputy now".
Suddenly they heard a commotion outside and then the batwing doors of the Saloon swung open
And in strode a lean figure wearing a Tin Star
It was...it was Zardo!!!
A big crowd had formed behind him, they were egging him on
"So!" he said looking straight at Bardo,"we meet at last, if it isn't the Great, The Bardo Kid
The Fastest Pen in the West
The Fastest Rhyming Couplets this side of the Pecos
I'm taking you in...Old-timer
Heh! You don't look so tough,
I bet I could take you easy".
Lilly tried to intervene "No son, you've got it all wrong !
"Stay out of this Mom !" he warned coldly, a bit embarrassed seeing her there
Then almost as if he'd just realized something very important he said angrily to Bardo
"What are you doing talking to my Mom ?
Why you ***** rotten varmint".
Lilly screamed "Nooo!!! "
Zardo drew first but Bardo was quicker
Before Zardo had got his gun out, Bardo's had already cleared his holster
Lilly cried "Please Bardo don't hurt my boy!!"
Bardo let off a whole barrage of shots
Zardo only got off one solitary shot
But strangely... strangely it was Bardo who dropped to the floor
Zardo stood there shaken and dazed
"How can I still be alive?" he said,"he was way faster than I was. And he fired so many shots, he couldn't have missed them all'.
Suddenly the Bartender let out a shout and pointed his finger
"Look!" he said in amazement, Look! Look at the wall behind you"
They all turned and there on the wall behind Zardo, drawn in bullets... the outline of a little heart.
A bit like Red River this without the cattle LoL. I have to own up here and say. I had the first part of this written for a long time but couldn't do anything with it. But then one day I was remembering back and remembered I read a Western story one time as a child. The hero's name was Lane I think, Life had been unkind to Lane, he got into a lot of scrapes and developed a Bad Reputation. The story ended with him meeting his old childhood sweetheart and her telling him they had a child and he was now a Deputy. They then have a showdown, the Deputy son insults the Dad not knowing who he really is, Lane is quicker on the draw and draws a heart on the wall with his bullets. -I thought I'd try and put my own spin on it. Was never able to track that book down again.- And don't worry he only winged me LoL.