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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Lament of the Last Highwayman

I have to buy a ticket soon. Way up to Canada to see the frightful execution of a good friend. Yes, his time's arrived. Another compadre awaiting his sentence. What else can I say? -But that these things begin to occur when one is my age. One by one, my friends dropping like flies, being gunned down and captured in outlandish places. -And I'm always the one standing beside them, right before the board swings from under their feet, left remembering what fine horseman they once made.
Rybee Woods was the first to go. We all knew it would happen. The way he courted danger. I could hear that sad harmonica wail from the first moment I met him. We traveled all the way up to Washington for the day of his lynching. Standing there, I daren't cut the rope but let my mind drift back to the time we roamed through many a Grecian range.
Next was Cashio, a wild and magnificent bandit, being shot down in a Turkish saloon. I think the earth groaned and shook the day one of her best son's took that loathsome bullet. If he should go down so early and so easy, then there ain't much hope left for the rest of us.
Then Jackson fell, taken by a knife stab in the back. It just crept up on him so slowly and so stealthily. You could barely hear his dying words as he collapsed across the card table.
After that, Cheshire was gunned down. His hand....his poor hand was too slow. His lead-filled body matched his own drooping shadow, as he lay a victim of the burning sun's afternoon showdown. So many people were dramatically moved by his burial. I could barely keep myself still, thinking about the days of our youthful abandon and how they now are gone. Two comrades of mine, also bit the dust. Though they were in Russia for sometime with me, I couldn't save them.
Then, the incarceration of my own brother happened. If there wasn't a more sure-footed desperado to fall, I know not whom. There had to be a high price on his head. He was eventually captured, bound, and chained by a bounty hunter that trailed him all the way to China. Now he rests groggily in the jailhouse. This event was followed shortly by the imprisonment of another rolicking outlaw friend of mine, Papa Towell. He sits imprisoned in a cell not far from my present hide-out. Every now and then I see his defeated head through the barred windows, squinting, his eyes unused to the sunlight.
I, myself, not too long ago, was wounded by a poisonous arrow shot from Indian hands, when I wandered somewhere far below Mexico, and was beginning to think the end was near. The arrow poisoned my brain, as it always does. Luckily, it wore off and thru much pain, I'm still standing and back to my senses.
I thought my friend, Jovan, should get out alive. At one time he was chained, being hauled off on a prison-train. -But through a remarkable feat, he slipped the chains and jumped the train, pulling off one extraordinary escape in the niche of time. I was proud of him. "Bravo! Now, that's true grit." I cheered. -But soon, not many months later, the posse caught up with him once again; he just can't seem to stay away from those cuffs.
Now my friend Jeremy Bojarski is headed for the hangman's noose. Mr. Play-it-safe. There was a time when he, himself, thought he was the safest man in the whole band. -But no, not even he escaped ruin.
Yep, though I'm noted for my speed and scars, it won't be long....it won't be long. I've rambled on this side of the Atlantic. I've rambled on that side of the Atlantic. I've brawled and spit and shot and raided. I've remapped deserts and rerouted mountains. I've drunk the sun's rays and sobered myself with the moon's light. I've befriended the stars calling on them to save me when the hour approaches....
......I lay in a town seethed in gunsmoke. Bullets fly every which way. There's a hanging every week. Every which way I walk, I feel the scope upon my neck...Eyes greet me...Such beautiful, lucious eyes in every crowd....They smile....But I know their murderous intent behind those smiles. I just don't know which pair of eyes will be the ones that will lay me low...and belong to my fated assassin. At night, I can sometimes hear their hound dogs baying. They're after me. Sometimes upon hearing, them I freeze. I want to move, but part of me can't move. I can hear a soft weak voice whispering inside for me to yield and turn myself in. Sometimes this voice gets louder and louder until I think it's myself thinking these thoughts. If I can just get out of this town alive, I'll be a true survivalist. Here they come. I've still got a belt full of bullets and a couple of cards up my sleeve....Let them come....I've still got some ounce of wildman in me....Let them come...the sunset never looked so gorgeous in this radiant shootout and glorious freedom never seemed so costly.

7 Comments:

Blogger Jovan said...

Brian ... they're going to sentence me to life September 3rd, 2005 in Dothan, AL 2:00pm at the Westgate church of Christ. There will be hundreds of people there to witness this scoundrel take his last free breath. This time it looks like there is no escape for me. Us cowboys are dying breed. You watch yourself real good.

Click HERE for more details about the sentencing. Pray for me.

8:43 PM  
Blogger hsp said...

Oh Brian, haven't you learned from history? Everybody has to go sometime. Even Jesse James met his match....You know, I think you really want to be caught. You want to die just like the rest of the gang, cause I am sensing that you have learned what the boys know now..after death comes paradise!

9:09 PM  
Blogger Brian Harrison said...

Yes,HSP.."after death comes paradise".... for the narrow road, I should say. You're forgetting the other destination in your little metaphor.

12:45 PM  
Blogger папа said...

Brian,
The man that forever shivers in the shadows behind the bulletproof vest, although safe from the deadly slugs of cupid, fails to experience the fresh, cooling breezes on the skin or the wonders of the freedom of movement, nor does he shower often! Leave the vest on the chair occassionally. Visit the library as often as you like. Thanks for inviting me.

8:13 PM  
Blogger Pizzle said...

Sentencing? Is that what you believe it is? Ignorance, brian, your little "blog" or lament is simply ignorance. The true prison is the child. I applaud you for your valuable view of bachelordom (is that even a word?), and I truely believe that more people should avoid marriage and travel the world (or at least all the US Wafflehouses) in search of mystery and excitment. But if you think that marriage puts the bars on the window...just wait.
The things that accompany a typical baby experience are "silly stories about poopoo", loss of sexual activity (one of the greatest perks of marriage of course), and a transformation in your circle. You go from having young and crazy friends, to the friends that recomend good baby sitters!
No, my friend, marriage is an oasis considered to the desert that accompanies the miracle inside my wife...all that said, my baby is due in August and I'm pretty jazzed about it!

9:25 AM  
Blogger hsp said...

no, brian, i didn't forget the other destination, i was just under the impression that you were on the narrow road. if that isn't the case, then yeah death for you could be not so good.

9:15 PM  
Blogger Carmelle said...

I like "Pizzle's" comment, because it is true that marriage is the oasis.... as for my husband and I, we soon will be "sentenced" for life.... our baby is due in October.... and it has already began (my body is no longer my own). If you want to know imprisonment, try losing control of yourself :)

10:06 AM  

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