The Talisman
by  Deborah



Scott and Johnny Lancer came out of their hotel restaurant in Stockton.  They were in town to meet their father for a Cattleman’s Meeting the next day.

“Well.”  Scott said yawning.  “I’d go up to the hotel room for a nap if I hadn’t  just got up 2 hours ago.”

“Yeah, we can’t have you reverting back to your Boston ways.”  Johnny replied smiling.  “I got an idea about a way to pass the time.”

Scott gave  a half laugh.  “Oh I know I shouldn’t ask, but what is the idea?”

Johnny pointed at a shop across the street.  “That “.

Scott looked over at where Johnny was pointing.  “Madame Exodus Egyptian Fortune Teller?   Really Johnny, you don’t believe in that stuff do you?” he asked an incredulous voice.

“Ah come on Scott.”  Johnny said.  “I  ain’t saying I believe in anything just that I’d like to try it.  I’ll pay for you”

Scott held up his hand.  “I’m sure I’m going to regret this but alright.”  Scott said with a slight smile.  They made their way across the street and stopped outside the door.  “Are you sure about this, brother?”  Scott asked.  He smiled as Johnny did not answer but went inside.  Scott followed him into a semi-dark room.

“Come to the back, gentlemen.” a female voice said from behind a heavy tapestry.  Scott went first behind it.  This room was dark too.  A beautiful woman sat a table with two chairs in front of it.  Scott thought it very hard to tell her age.  He finally thought about 30 but he couldn’t be sure.  She had long, flowing dark hair.  Her skin was light brown.  She had a heart shaped face with long beautiful eyelashes and dark brown eyes.  She motioned to the chairs and the brothers sat down.  Scott stared at  her, oddly she looked very much like she could be from Egypt.   She had a crystal ball in front of her that glowed with a strange blue light that Scott could see no origin for.

She smiled at both of them.  “May I  know your first names?”  She nodded as each man gave his name and began to look into her crystal ball.  “Johnny, I see that you have lived by the gun but you have given that up mostly because of your brother Scott.  I see you having a few hardships but your life will be full and fruitful.   You will marry and have 6 children, 3 of each sex.  I see your brother Scott sharing this life with you but this part is very hazy.”

“Scott I see you having a full life on your ranch with your brother Johnny.  You are from the East and will visit a few times throughout your life.  You too will marry and have 3 children, 2 sons and a daughter.  You and your brother’s children will give your father much joy.  Madame Exodus looked at Scott very hard.  Scott your future is seen through haze.  This means you will face danger that may end your life but you could survive too.  This is why the haze.  It is uncertain.  You will come upon this danger soon.  That is all.”

Johnny looked at Scott in dread.  Scott stood up with a thin smile.  “Thank you Madame Exodus.  That was very… entertaining.  Johnny pay the lady.  I’ll be outside.”  Scott said in tight voice and left the room.  Johnny dug out two dollars and put it on the table.  Madame Exodus grabbed Johnny’s arm.

“Your brother is in grave danger Johnny.  Take this talisman and make sure he carries it.  It will protect him.”  Madame Exodus said in an urgent voice.  She pressed a black coin about the size of a silver dollar in to Johnny’s hand.  With that she left the room.  Johnny went outside with coin.

“Scott she gave me this for you.”  Johnny said tentatively handing Scott the coin. 

Scott scrutinized then black metal coin.  “It has the Pyramids of Egypt on it. What am I supposed to do with it?”

“She said you were supposed to keep it on you, that it would protect you.” Johnny said his voice sounding worried.  “Come on Boston, humor me.”

Scott laughed and slipped it in to his shirt pocket.  “You’ve been listening to Jelly too much brother.”

“Maybe.” Johnny said smiling relieved Scott had kept the coin.

“Well, I promised Teresa I’d get some ribbon she likes from a shop down the street.  I’ll stop at the bank on the way back.  Want to come?”  Scott asked.

“Naw,  I’ll just sit here on the bench.”  Johnny said lazily.  Scott nodded and made his way down the boardwalk, past the bank and into a material shop.  Johnny sat down and leaned back and closed his eyes.  He wanted to talk more to Scott about the fortune teller.  There were things she knew that he didn’t know how she could.  He thought about her prediction for Scott.   It made him feel uneasy. 

Suddenly there was a commotion at the bank, yells of bank robbers and two men with bandanas on their faces ran out of the bank.  The town sheriff was sitting outside his office further down the street and shouted “Hold it” and drew his gun.  The bank robber aimed his gun at the sheriff.  Unfortunately Scott exited the shop turning to walk back to the bank unknowingly putting himself  in the line of fire.  The bank robber fired hitting Scott.  The sheriff fired back and took out the shooter.

Johnny watched in horror as his brother’s body jerked and then crumpled to the ground.  “Scott!” Johnny shouted.  The other bank robber leveled his gun at Johnny but was too slow and Johnny cut him down.  He ran to where his brother lay.  Scott was lying on his side, eyes closed, his face pale.  He seemed to be struggling to breathe.  “Dios, Scott”  Johnny said in a worried voice.   He pulled Scott into his arms hoping raising him would help Scott’s breathing.  Finally Scott seemed to take a deep breath and then another.  His eyes opened filled with pain and questioning.

“Johnny”  Scott rasped.  “Damn that hurts.  I don’t believe this.”

“Scott, I know it hurts.  Someone went for the doctor.  Just hold on brother.”  Johnny said in a heartbroken voice stroking his brother’s blond  hair.

“No, you don’t understand.” Scott breathed.  He reached into his pocket and pulled out the talisman so Johnny and he could see it.  Buried in the middle of the coin was a misshapen bullet.  “It knocked the wind out of me and my chest hurts but I’m not hit.”

“Thank God.”  Johnny said in relief and hugged his brother tightly to him.   “Scott, I was so scared.”

Scott smiled.  “I know, Johnny.”  Scott said in a reassuring voice,  “I was scared too.”

The town doctor came over and examined Scott.  He had a round bruise forming on his chest and a moderate amount of tenderness.  The doctor recommended that he rest for a while and that he should be fine.

Johnny helped Scott up and held up the talisman.  “Do you believe now, Brother?”  Johnny said smugly.  “Let’s go show Madame Exodus the talisman and thank her.”

“I don’t know what to think.  It’s unbelievable.”  Scott said in a confused voice.  He let Johnny lead him across the street to Madame Exodus’s place.  Scott stopped dead after they entered.  Things looked different.  The tapestry was gone and you could see the whole room.  A different woman sat at the table with some cards in her hand.  She was plumper and her face was painted up with make-up.  There was no way she was Egyptian.

“We’re looking for Madame Exodus.” Johnny said in a confused voice.

“I am Madame Exodus.”  The woman answered in a pleasant voice.

“I’m sorry.”  Johnny said looking at Scott.  His brother sure had a funny look on his face like he was going to be sick or something.  “I’m looking for the woman who was here about 45 minutes ago with a crystal ball.”

Madame Exodus looked confused.  “I am sorry.  There is no one here like that.  I have just returned from lunch.  I use Tarot Cards to tell your future, not a crystal ball.”

“We’re sorry to bother you.”  Scott murmured looking shell-shocked and leaving the shop.

Johnny ran to catch up with his brother.  “Scott what do you make of that?”

Scott looked at Johnny.  He still had a strange look on his face Johnny thought.  “I’ve just developed a huge headache, Johnny.  My chest still hurts.  I am going to the hotel and take a long, long nap.  Then tonight when we go to the saloon I am going to drink lots and lots of whiskey.” Scott said in a strained voice.

Johnny fell in step along-side his brother.  He smiled.  Damn Boston hated things that couldn’t be explained.  He knew they probably wouldn’t speak of this day again.  Johnny was okay with that.  He had his brother walking beside him.  That little piece of black metal had saved his brother’s life and Johnny was certain that the haze hanging over his brother’s future was gone.







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