The Legend of Louie Anna

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Westerns  |  House: Booksie Classic
The aging legend, Louie Anna, is called out for one final duel.

Submitted: January 31, 2019

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Submitted: January 30, 2019

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The Legend of Louie Anna

 

Louie Anna slumped over the wooden table. Light from the noon sun shone through the window pane like an oil lamp, highlighting his seasoned face. Murmurs lifted in the air, so he arose from his wooden chair and stared down on the town.

Below, townsfolk packed in tight, as if awaiting the final act of a theatrical tragedy. They looked up to their protagonist in the balcony of his second story inn. Drunken cowboys propped their shoulders against saloon posts while dance hall girls hung on their arms. A horse carriage hurried by, kicking dust in the warm air. Children hid behind their teacher’s hoopskirt, hiding their eyes in fear for their hero.

Louie Anna ignored the faces and raised his gaze. There, in the window, he saw the reflection of a face he couldn’t neglect. He looked in awe, like a kid being shown his older self. Where did the time go? he thought.

Queen Louie, get your low-down, no-good, dirty-ass out here,” a grisly voice shouted from outside. “We have a date!”

Louie Anna exhaled a deep sigh and mumbled, “I was hoping you wouldn’t show.”

I know you hear me, old man!” the voice continued.

Louie Anna wiped the sweat from his brow and strapped a satchel over his shoulder. He peered back down through the window and spotted the antagonist in the middle of the street.

I see you,” the man said, glaring back at Louie Anna. “Get down here, yella-belly.”

Louie Anna watched as the townsfolk squeezed together, making a stage for the duelist. He turned away, but as he did, he caught a glimpse of his reflection once again in the window pane. He stopped for a brief moment, eyeing the old mug of a legend. His boots moved toward the door, but his eyes fixated on the fading image. As he gripped the doorknob, the reflection disappeared in the sunlight, a soul evaporating into the golden gates of heaven. With a sigh, he opened the door and walked into the hallway.

The inn was suffocated by a sea of people. They cluttered the lobby, staircase, and second story hallway. Upon seeing Louie, the heavy whispers ceased, and the room full of fearful faces looked upon their elderly idol.

Don’t do it, King Louie,” a woman yelled.

You have nothing to prove,” the inn manager shouted.

He’s just a young punk,” another said, “trying to get a name off killing a famed gunslinger.”

“Y’all don’t think I still got it?” Louie Anna eyed the petrified people and slowly made his way down the aisle of frightened fans. With a broad smile, he pulled back the long slicker, revealing his Peacemaker. “I’m just reaching my prime.”

The joke wasn’t intended to ease the crowd or fool them. The words were motivation for himself and acted as a mental bath, cleansing his mind and washing away muddling thoughts of doubt.

Descending the staircase, Louie Anna noticed pamphlets in many palms. The books bolstered his breathtaking battles. The vignettes validated his valiant victories. And, the pages perpetuated his powerful persona. He was a living legend. Yet, he nodded in a somber gratefulness like a ghost walking to his own funeral.

The crowd pushed back tightly and made an aisle to the saloon doors.

Tipping his black hat, Louie Anna strutted to the exit. With a tight smile, he tried to mask the anxiety that raked his body. He appeared the part of a confident gun-slinging legend like the actors who played him on stage. As he placed his palm against the swinging door, the crowd inhaled a deep breath in unison, but a sweet little voice garnered his attention.

“I believe in you, King Louie.” A small girl stepped out from the people with a dime-novel in her hand. On the cover, Louie Anna stood above a slew of dead cowboys with his Peacemaker lifted in the air.

Louie Anna turned to the child and rubbed her head. “Don’t you worry, little one. I’ll sign that book when I get back.”

***

“Where is this coward?” the man asked to the crowd. He stood underneath the eye of the hot sun, which highlighted the baked grime on his dirty wardrobe. Bullet holes riddled his brown cowboy hat. Mud and blood stained his vest.

“You’re not wanted here, Leo Luck!” An old man stepped out from the barber shop with his fist in the air. Shaving cream covered his cheeks with tissue stuffed in the collar of his shirt. “Quit trying to make a name off an aging hero! The last great cowboy! King Louie!”

The townsfolk applauded their celebrity.

In the blink of an eye, Leo Luck extracted his Patterson Colt revolver and pointed it in the old man’s direction. “My name is not Leo Luck! It’s Leonardo Lucas, you imbeciles. Nothing about me is as simple as the name Leo, and nothing, I mean nothing about me is lucky.”

The townsfolk gasped, light mutterings made rounds through the crowd.

Leo Luck expertly twirled the gun on his index finger. With lightning speed, he sheathed it perfectly in his holster. A sinister grin widened across his leathery-tan face, showcasing his rotted teeth. “Louie Anna has you people fooled.”

The inn doors banged off the wall, and Louie Anna strode out. His jingling spurs silenced Leo and the crowd. The clunks of his strong heels matched the thuds of spectator's hearts. He strutted out from underneath the inn’s canopy. His silver hair sparkled over his shoulders like strands of diamonds.

“Well, well, if it isn’t my huckleberry.” Leo Luck chuckled. “You’ve known about our little showdown for a few weeks. I half-expected the fearless gunslinger, from the dime-novels, would be ready.”

“I was hoping you wouldn’t show.” Louie Anna stood still, his black slicker flapping in the wind.

“I told ya…” Leo Luck spun to the crowd. “…he’s yella.”

“No. I just don’t like killing in the hot sun.” Louie Anna squinted. “I prefer dusk. It’s cool, beautiful, and pleasant to die.”

Leo Luck cackled even louder.

“Something funny?” Louie Anna asked.

“Yeah. There certainly is.” Leo Luck inched closer. “I can’t believe this moment is here. Ever since I read those bullshit stories, I’ve wanted to prove you wrong. By the way, who’s your writer?”

“None of your concern.”

“Yes. Yes it is. You see…” Leo Luck grinned. “…I might need him to ink this story.”

Louie Anna scoffed. “You need more than a good writer to make a legend.”

“All you need is a good eye and a quick draw.”

Louie Anna shook his head like a disappointed mentor. “You’re missing the most valuable part.”

“Why don’t you school me?” Leo Luck’s right hand flinched toward his holster, his fingers wiggling with excitement above the handle of his Patterson Colt.

“Don’t do this!” Louie Anna gripped his Peacemaker.

The two gunfighters looked squarely in each other’s eyes and awaited the slightest movement from their opponent. A hush fell over the frozen crowd. Tumbleweeds silently rolled by.

Help me! Someone please help!” A man rushed down the entrance of town, kicking up a dust storm. He collapsed but spectators hurried over and helped him to his feet. He eyed the gunslingers and said, “Those savages took my wife!”

Leo Luck glanced to a wide-eyed Louie Anna and released his grip on the Colt. He turned back to the distraught man. “Wait… who are you?”

“Chester. Chester Wilkins, an honest man moving west.” Chester placed his hat over his heart. “And, those damn heathens want to ruin everything. They kidnapped my beloved wife, Carrie Dee. She’s a blessed soul who—”

“How did you escape?” Louie Anna asked.

“I’m ashamed of my cowardly ways…” Chester crumbled to his knees once again, his head in his hands. “I’m ashamed to admit my flaw in fleeing.”

Leo Luck spat to the side. “Where were you ambushed?”

“Up in Hickok’s hills,” Chester said, “near the Lakota stream.”

“What do you think, old man?” Leo Luck glanced to Louie Anna. “Wanna expand your legend?”

Louie Anna rested his grip on the Peacemaker. “I’ll give you a chance to earn a spot in my lure.”

***

This it?”

The three travelers sat on horseback in the middle of a deep canyon. The walls surrounded them like giant gods, stiffened by the age of Earth. Red rocks seemingly stained by the blood of many fallen warriors, and a stream cut through, carrying souls away in the current.

“Yep…” Chester nodded, searching the area with a careful eye. “…this is it, alright.”

Louie Anna leapt down from his stallion and knelt to the stream. He cupped his hand in the cold water and splashed his sun-burnt face. While drinking, he searched with his eyes for tracks on the bank. “I’m not seeing anything.”

Leo Luck jumped down from his horse and rushed toward Chester. “What’s the deal, huh?”

“I swear this is where it was—”

Leo Luck yanked Chester from his horse, flung him to the ground, and jumped on top with his fist balled.

The ruckus frightened Louie Anna's stallion. It neighed and kicked, knocking Louie's satchel to the damp bank. As it hit the mud, a book fumbled out, and the breeze thumbed through the pages. Louie grabbed the horse bridal and calmed his companion while shouting over his shoulder at Leo. “Let him go.”

“What in tarnation are you going to do about it, huh?” Leo Luck released Chester’s collar and walked toward his old nemesis.

Louie Anna tapped the handle of his Peacemaker, warning Leo Luck. “Don’t do anything stupid. We’re out here to find Chester’s wife. We’ll settle our score when we get back.”

The words seemed to tickle Leo Luck’s soul. He chuckled so hard he bent at the waist. As he arose, however, he smoothly withdrew his Patterson Colt and aimed it at Louie Anna. “Well, well, well. Look. At. That. I did beat ya to the draw, you cockamamie fraud.”

Louie Anna submitted his hands.

With his gun outstretched, Leo Luck’s eyes drifted to the ground, to the open book near Louie Anna’s boots. “What’s that?”

Louie Anna shrugged.

Without taking his aim off Louie, Leo Luck turned to Chester. “Read it.”

Chester rolled in the mud next to the stream and crawled over to the book. Thumbing to page one, he cleared his throat and read, “Tha tah-heee… tah-ree—”

“Give me the book!” Leo Luck said.

Chester closed the pages and tossed it up to Leo. “I can’t read his writing.”

With his eyes locked on Louie Anna, Leo Luck snatched the book out of the air and quickly opened it with one hand. “The three—three?” He rolled his eyes at the illiterate Chester before continuing to read silently. After scanning the first few paragraphs, he looked up in a state of shock. “You write your own stories?”

Louie Anna shrugged again.

“Not hard to figure out what this is about after reading the opening summary. How interesting… you save a girl from Indians… for her husband. You even mention my name as Leo Luck. My name is not Leo Luck.” Leo Luck tossed the book back to the damp bank. “You’d sully my nam—”

A damsel’s scream echoed through the canyon, grabbing their attention.

His Patterson Colt in hand, Leo Luck spun to the cries for help.

Louie Anna drew his Peacemaker, but instead of pointing toward the scream, he aimed it at Leo Luck. He closed one eye, glaring down the barrel, and pulled the trigger.

The bullet buried into the back of Leo Luck and tore through his stomach. He grunted in pain and dropped to his knees, relinquishing his Colt to the muddy bank.

As smoke danced from the barrel of his Peacemaker, Louie Anna looked to Chester. “Go get Carrie Dee. It’s over.”

Chester hurried to his feet, kicking up mud, and rushed off for his bride.

“You...” Leo Luck writhed in pain. He applied pressure to the wound, but the life source oozed through the cracks of his fingers, staining the ground below with another fallen soul.

“Like I said…” Louie Anna smiled down to the injured man. “…you need more than a good writer to make a legend. Good eye and a quick draw? No. All you need is brains.”

“You set me up to expand your legend?” Leo Luck spat blood from his mouth.

“Oh, no. You set yourself up after getting upset over a little poker game.”

“You cheated!”

“Well…” Louie Anna’s grin widened. “You should’ve killed me right then and there. Instead, you gave me a week to formulate a… story, I guess you could say.”

Leo Luck gritted his teeth and groaned in agony.

“Listen, you wanted to make a name for yourself? Now you’ll always be remembered in my stories as a hero. You’ll go down fighting courageously against the Indians. Isn’t that nice?” Louie Anna patted him on the shoulder. “You see, we all die, and the only way to live on is in tales of our glory. I’m not the fastest. I’m not the bravest. But, I will be remembered forever for being both.”

I’ll be damned,” a shrill voice hollered. “I’ve been waiting in that cave all day.”

Louie Anna pivoted and reached inside his black vest as Chester and Carrie Dee approached. He extracted a small bag of coins, and after weighing them in his callous palm, he tossed the currency to Carrie Dee. “Does this help?”

The bag landed in the breadbasket of Carrie Dee’s breasts, and the coins jingled with excitement. The sound brought a smile to her face. She looked up with a glimmer in her eye.

“You’re a man of your word,” Chester said.

“For the most part.” Louie Anna winked at the couple before turning his attention back to Leo Luck. He aimed the Peacemaker at his enemy, but the words he spoke were intended for Chester and Carrie. “Remember, the savages came upon us in a mad rush, taking the life of Leo Luck. But, in our desperate hour, my steady aim saved us all.”

“We got it,” Carrie Dee said, “nothing too specific.”

Louie Anna cocked the hammer on his firearm, but as his finger squeezed the trigger, he noticed Leo Luck’s lips moving. In a kind gesture for the dying, Louie Anna said, “Last words, I guess?”

Instead of spitting the blood aside, Leo Luck swallowed the irony taste. “My name is Leonardo Lucas.”

Louie Anna nodded. “Sure thing.”


© Copyright 2019 MELEL. All rights reserved.

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