Madrid Meets His Match

(or does he?)

By Rosalind 

(This little piece is set MUCH later in the Lancer saga than most of my stories.) 

The customary disclaimers apply.  The nameless young Texan is my own character.


A little gust of soundless, mirthless laughter shook him as the absurdity of his situation hit him once again. Well-wasn't it almost funny.  Johnny Madrid, skulking in a line cabin on the edge of nowhere, because he didn't want to face the new 'gun' in town.

This, he told himself, throwing a fresh log into the stove, was 'staying out of trouble' with a vengeance.  Pity the old man and his brother would never get to know of it-how proud they would be of him-he thought with a touch of unusual irony.  But he knew--had known it, without a shadow of a doubt, that if it came to it, that slender, seemingly innocuous young Texan, with the pale pitiless eyes and low slung gun,   that he had met glances with in Spanish Wells could take Johnny Madrid down.  Had known it, in that little flicker of fear deep down inside-the little flicker of fear that kept the adrenalin flowing and which kept a man on the alert and---alive.  Never under-estimate the opposition and never ignore that icy gut feeling.  Johnny Madridís gut feelings had kept him alive this long-but this just HAD to be the first time in a long long time that he had let them allow him to run away.

The man --no-he was no more of a man than Johnny himself had ever been-the boy-had not seemed to recognise him.  They had exchanged no more than the curt casual nod of mere courtesy as they had passed each other, the one going into and the other coming out of, the newly named Green Back Dollar Saloon. Again Johnny was unsure of his own feelings.  Ought he to be relieved -- or insulted.

(You're getting soft Johnny-soft-and too old. Too old!!!).  He pushed his hair out of his eyes in an irritated gesture --too old. He was 23--a fair age for a man of his 'profession' (his EX-profession, he corrected himself sharply). That 'kid' who was no kid, in town was what-eighteen-mebbe nineteen years old.  Would he make it to 23?  Possibly.  Whatever it was that had driven him to live by the gun-he was good.  Johnny knew the signs-even in a single fleeting meeting.  He had met so many-too many-of them-would be 'gunfighters' that didn't make the grade-and killed some of them too.  He didn't want to have to kill the boy in town--and he for sure didn't want the boy in town to kill HIM.  (yep--he was getting soft).

Still--there were worse places than a well appointed Lancer line-cabin to spend a few days--and then, when the boy who had not recognised him had gone on his way-as he would, he could go home.

Johnny Madrid sighed with what might have been regret for times past and Johnny Lancer began to unroll his blankets for the night.



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