He stepped quietly into the saloon, surveyed the room with a glance.
There in the corner sat the dirty double-dealing dog they called Cowboy Lance.
Body steeled and ready our clear-eyed hero circled warily to the bar.
Hands on mahogany he heard that chilling laugh well up from down deep in the dark.

He whirled to face his evil enemy knowing not if he would lose or win.
Why does a man of smooth face and strong chin champion the rights of lesser men?
Why did he face this cowboy demon of doom, nemesis of all that was kind and good?
He did it because he should.

Now again he faced this evil-eyed killer; they had fought many times before.
When they met it was sure one would breathe no more.
How did they live?  Evil-eyed Cowboy Lance had twenty-seven notches on his gun.
Our clear-eyed hero, he of smooth face and strong chin, had thirty-one.

“Draw!” cried the clean-cut protector of humanity.  “You shall sin no more!”
Evil Cowboy Lance jumped to his feet, meaner than even the storied tales of lore.
“Not if I can help it you pure-eyed puritan purveyor of right!
You shall die!  I have you in my sights!”

Weapons boomed from both ends of the room.  Time stood still.
Women fainted, men froze, shocked by the violence of the shots to kill.
When their guns were empty and the smoke cleared, both men still stood.
Cowboy Lance because he could, our clear-eyed hero because he should.

It’s a legend of the West that begs an answer.
In Oklahoma Territory one lady knows and will tell if you ask her.
Why in all those shoot-outs did not one of these unerring fighters ever kill the other?
That evil Cowboy Lance was our clear-eyed hero’s baby brother.

Ray Kenneth Clark

December 12 ·

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