This short story was originally published in the Lancer Great Room Bookshelf Vol. I spring 2005
She walked next to her husband of twenty five years with her arm safely nestled in the crook of his strong arm. It was a glorious fall day; the sun was bright and the air cool. The gentle breeze lifted a few escaping tendrils of her salt and pepper brunet hair, and she sighed with contentment.
As they walked along the uneven boardwalk in the town of Green River, her eyes were drawn to a golden horse being ridden slowly down the center of the street. The sun sparkled off its iridescent coat as the rider turned the horse to the hitching rail in front of the bank.
She watched as the young man gracefully dismounted in one fluid motion and almost carelessly threw the reins over the rail. He stroked the neck of the palomino once as he stepped up on the board walk and headed in their direction.
She’d seen this young man several times, and in the past had once feared him. Now he brought a smile to her lips as she watched him walk toward them with cocky strides, full of confidence reserved for the young.
As he got closer, they could hear the distinctive ring of his spurs as they hit the wooden walk. Her eyes were drawn to the low slung tight pants he often wore and as he approached, she was startled to see the fine pattern of stitching around each silver button that lined the outside of his legs.
She involuntarily gazed at the gun belt worn so low over his slim hips. As he got nearer, she noticed the loose limbed way he walked and for the first time saw the small loop hooked over one of the buttons which held his gun in place.
She was drawn to the design finely etched in leather in the middle of his gun belt and the two buckles of his belt which held his trousers up. She imagined he needed the wide leather to support all his hardware below.
Everyone in the small community had been amazed at the colorful attire this young man was so well known for. Other young men might have taken quite a hazing over the choice of color and style, but not this one. His red shirt bore intricate embroidery complete with butterflies and flowers but on this young man, no one dared call him a sissy.
His confidence in himself was apparent as he walked the streets in clothes no other man dared to wear; his attire a challenge to anyone foolish enough to comment. Few did anymore and the unfortunate few who had, weren’t around to talk about it.
They were just a few feet apart when her hazel eyes were drawn to his deep penetrating blue eyes framed by dark, ridiculously long eye lashes. His high cheekbones and full lips brought a flush of color across her face and she was rewarded with one of his glorious smiles.
He reached his right hand up to tip his hat and she was mesmerized as the blue beads slid down his sinuous arm. He was close enough to touch now as he ducked past the couple. As he stepped by, he spoke. “Ma’am.”
Her husband was taken aback when she came to a complete stop and she turned to look at the departing back of the young man. ‘Ma’am?! When did I become a ma’am?’ The thought stunned her.
She couldn’t take her eyes off him until her husband’s voice broke through, “Martha, are you all right?”
She licked her lips and tucked her hair back into place and patted her husband’s arm. “I’m just fine Ernie…. just fine.” They continued their stroll down the boardwalk on that fine fall day as Martha chose to ignore the fact that she was old enough to be Johnny Lancer’s mother. She could dream couldn’t she? She felt once again a young girl as she thought about that walk, those blue eyes and long lashes, those slim hips and colorful clothes.
She smiled at her husband of twenty five years, and whispered, “Let’s go home dear.”