The Red Shirt

December 16th, 2009

(In Four Spenserian Stanzas)

His hands were sweating as he held the bow
And watched intently from behind a rock
For Lew’s red shirt along the trail below.
He’d shoot this arrow through the pocket–zock!
Right through the heart–should give ol’ Lew a shock.
He thought he heard a sound. Behind him? No.
He shook his head–some echo from the stock.
“Just nervous, Billy Boy. Don’t let it show.
Let’s hunt like Lew, ‘Apach’ . . . like ol’ Geronimo.'”

He’d learned from Lew, the vet’ran, in Vietnam.
“No one like Lew to teach you how to kill,
To twist a knife through some gook’s diaphragm,
Or use a garrote, in the night . . . ‘pure skill!'”
Back from the war, they both were hunters still–
New Mexico–he’d come back home with Lew.
“Why Lew taught me to use this bow . . . the thrill
Of killing deer . . . we both have bagged a few . . .
Now I’ll bag Lew! The money! Nothing he can do.”

Their money gone, Lew’d said, “Let’s rob a bank,
Go hunt Montana . . . but with all that loot.”
He’d laughed then, said, “Hey, kid, I’ll take the flank–
I’ll go alone . . . wear your red shirt . . . and shoot
And pistol-whip a few. Give some the boot!
That’s all that they’ll remember . . . just the pain.
Back to the cabin . . . change into a suit . . .
Then ditch the horses, and we’ll catch a train.
You just be ready!” Billy thought, “It sounds insane!”

Still, he was ready. “Look! Down there! The shirt!”
“They’ll know Lew did it . . . me, they’ll never see!
One step . . . one shot . . . and then I’ll hit the dirt.”
The arrow’d pierced a dummy . . . horse ran free.
There was a noise behind him, by the tree.
Barechested Lew, the “Indian brave,” sat squat.
“Hey Billy Boy, who taught you that? Not me!”
In Lew’s hand was his pistol. “I hope not!”
He saw the flash (I think)–but never heard the shot.

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