The Train Episode 27

“The Devil’s Due”

Dr. Ricer slowly opened his eyes, the harsh glare of the midday sun bearing down on him. He shaded his eyes with his hand and squinted, looking away from the light.
“Put yer hat on, stranger,” a voice called out.
Ricer glanced over to see an old man, his skin leathered from too many years in the sun. He sat in the dirt, resting against a wooden railing, and displayed a wide smile with the few yellow teeth he had left.
Ricer’s eyes followed the railing up to a two-story wooden building. Over the front door hung a sign that read

“Lucky Lawson’s Hotel.”

Two men were unloading the stage coach, hauling barrels into a side door of the hotel.

“Where am I?” Ricer asked.

“In the middle of the street, friend, bout to git run over,” the old man croaked.

Ricer turned to see another stage coach drawn by two horses coming right at him. He quickly scrambled out of the way towards the old man who reeked of cheap whiskey.

When the coach had passed, Ricer stood up and looked around. He noticed that on every building hung a sign with the name “Lucky Lawson.” The townsfolk were all dressed in western garb, and a large crowd had gathered down the street where two roads crossed.

“What town is this?” Ricer asked.

“Lawson’s Crossin’,” the old man said, spitting tobacco juice through his yellow teeth.

“Who is this Lucky Lawson?” Ricer asked.

“You ain’t from around here, Feller?” the old man asked.

“No. I’m from out of town,” Ricer said as he looked up and away. “Far far out of town.”

“Folks went to calling Reginald Lawson “Lucky” when he had a streak of good luck a while back and won him some money. First thing he done is buy the saloon,” the old man said, pointing across the street to another two-story wooden building.

This one had a balcony and three lovely ladies leaning over the railing waving to men and boys as they passed by. The sign on the front read “Lucky’s Saloon.”

“After that, Lucky Lawson bought up the rest of the town and named it Lawson’s Crossin’. Know why he called it that?” the old man cackled.

Dr. Ricer looked the other way and rolled his eyes.

“Named it after hisself. Round here, every tree, root, and rock belongs to old Lucky Lawson.”

“Where might I find this Lucky Lawson?” Ricer asked.

The old man pointed a crooked finger towards the gathering at the crossroads.

“Over there,” he said, motioning with his head before spitting. “Bout to hemp that feller.”

“What?” Ricer asked, suddenly feeling overcome with panic.

Whipping his head toward the crossroads, he saw a gallows just outside the courthouse, its hanging nooses waiting while a crowd formed.

Quickly he ran toward the gallows as the old man called out after him,

“You got any hard money, Bub? I sure could use some vittles.”

As Ricer drew closer to the platform, he saw three men. One was older, well dressed. Somehow Ricer knew he was Lucky Lawson. A third man wearing a long coat, his back turned toward the crowd, stood between Lawson and the man about to be hanged. As the bound and hooded prisoner awaited his execution, Lawson and the other man engaged in a conversation. Ricer couldn’t make out what they were saying, but when the man in the coat turned and stepped away from Lawson, Ricer saw that he was Michael.

Ricer opened his mouth to call, but before he could make a sound, Michael had drawn a pistol and fired the bullet square into the chest of Lucky Lawson, throwing him backwards off the stage. Blood shot from his mouth as the bullet exited his back.

Stunned, Ricer could do nothing but stare at Michael with his mouth hanging open in horror. Just as Michael turned to face Ricer, defeat in his eyes, a rifle shot rang out striking Michael in the chest. He dropped off the platform and hit the ground alongside his pistol.

* * *

Dr. Ricer was jolted awake, his heart racing, his clothes soaked with sweat.

“Hey Doc,” Michael said, “the train stopped. Let’s go.”

Ricer took a few minutes to compose himself.

“Just a nightmare. That’s all it was. Just a bad dream,” he assured himself as he changed into clean clothes.
Slipping on his shoes, Ricer hurried to catch up with the others as they exited the train.

“Where have we stopped?” Ricer asked the conductor.

“No time. Go. The others will fill you in,” Roscoe said moving the doctor along.

Stepping down from the train, Ricer hurried to catch up with the others. When they came through the station door, he adjusted his belt and asked,

“Where are we?”

As he slipped his belt through the loop, he glanced down and saw that he was wearing boots and standing on packed dirt. Slowly he looked up at Michael, dressed in a long coat with boots and spurs.

“1872. Some backwater place soon to be a ghost town. Named Lawson’s. . .” Michael trailed off trying to remember.

“What’s the rest of it?”

“Crossin’?” Ricer asked.

“That’s it,” Michael said snapping his fingers. “Lawson’s Crossin’. Doc, we’re in the rootin’ tootin’ Old West!”

Published in: on July 18, 2013 at 10:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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