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Bar Keep

"Tale from the old west."
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The cattle drive was over
and the men had drawn their pay –
was time to lose those weeks of blues
and to find a place to stay.

They wandered past an old saloon
built of wood and rusted tin –
a place where scamps and saddle tramps
came to gamble, drink and sin.

The place was filled with drovers
who had just come off the trail,
a ranch’s crew, a drunk or two,
and a boy who’d just made bail.

The air was hot and humid
and a bath was hard to find –
the people there and the lack of air
was enough to fog the mind.

They’d soon forget the stench of sweat
when a singer took the stage –
a blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty
of a young and tender age.

Her given name was Betsy
and her brother tended bar –
they’d come to town to settle down
to a better life – by far.

She sounded like an Angel
with a voice that filled the room,
and stole the place as she danced with grace
to the piano player’s tune.

The beer was flowing freely
and the shots of watered whisky
would ensure no one was sober –
made them bold and a little frisky.

A dude named Ray from the Double K
turned when Betsy passed close by,
pinched her bum ‘tween his finger and thumb –
made her squeal and start to cry.

Her older brother Amos
saw the whole thing from afar,
and he hit Ray’s face with a crystal vase –
knocked him halfway across the bar.

Bloodied, bruised, and battered,
Raymond got back on his feet,
had a few harsh words for Amos –
said to meet him in the street.

Now Raymond’s reputation
was a fast and deadly aim
who’d shot some men for pleasure,
looked at killing as a game.

He stared at Amos standing there
with his apron tied behind,
released his thong, thinking all along
his demand would be declined.

But Amos didn’t falter,
he agreed to Raymond’s test –
took his dare, said, “I’ll meet you there.”
We’ll see which one’s the best.

The streets were lined with people
who were mostly gripped with fear
of an unfair fight ‘tween a killer’s might
and the boy who served them beer.

Face to face in an open space,
they stared each other down,
while Amos pulled his apron loose
and tossed it on the ground.

Underneath that cotton-sheath
was a secret undisclosed,
that unbeknown, what would now be shown
was the threat that Amos posed.

A shiny pair of polished Colts
in holsters lined with felt,
handles honed from a bison’s bones,
and a silver-buckled belt.

It was clear to all who noticed,
that was not a greenhorn’s rig –
from a silver star to attending bar,
or perhaps a slinger’s gig.

Both men stood at ready
with their trigger-fingers itching,
looking fine – from the nickel shine
to their fancy leather stitching.

Raymond bore his .44
and cocked the single action –
then fired a round to put him down,
but missed him by a fraction.

Amos wasn’t quite a quick,
but his aim was slightly better –
before Ray even felt the round,
saw his vest was getting wetter.

A rattled cough, then his heart turned off –
it was Amos won the kill,
then Ray was drug from the crimson mud
to a grave up on Boot Hill.

Now that it was over,
not a soul would shed a tear –
Amos put his apron on
and went back to serving beer.

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