in the

By Heather F.

Disclaimers: Not mine, no money made (here or in RL)

Acknowledgements: Beth's March Challenge - use a poem for the basis of a story. The story can be any AU and the poem doesn't have to be apart of the story and it can be the creation of the author or someone else's work (credit due where it belongs however)

Warnings: My English grammar or lack there of….and
This is my first attempt at poetry.

Look in the Mirror

In this world of shifting greys
And in this town of brutal haze
Its sometimes hard to raise your head
Its sometimes hard to fight your dread.


I look in the mirror
And what do I see?
Mocking green eyes
Staring back at me.

In this world you stand alone
No real friends and no real home
When a constant frown mars your face
And there seems to be no lasting grace.

I look in the mirror
And what do I see?
A leering smile
Staring back at me.

In this world you sometimes drown
And all you want is solid ground.
You search the sea for any land
But all you find is shifting sand

I look in the mirror
And what do I see?
A gambler's determination
Staring back at me.

When your dreams tumble down in a heap
You hide your tears and try not to weep.
Knowing its easier to walk away.
Knowing its easier to fade away.


I look in the mirror
And what do I see?
The strength of a friend
Staring back at me.

When this world gets you down.
And all you can do is wear a frown.
When life deals you nothing but dread
And sometimes you think you are better off dead

I look in the mirror
And what do I see?
A golden tooth
Staring back at me.

Sometimes its hard not to fade away
Sometimes its hard to keep the world at bay.
And You hang your head and want to cry
But all that's left is a tired sigh.

I look in the mirror
And what do I see?
A conman's cunning
Staring back at me.

In this world full of toil and woe.
In this life of constant sorrow.
You face your demons all alone
You laugh at the hurts that cut to the bone.

And you think you've hidden your wealth of pain
You think you've hidden your contempt and disdain

But I've looked in the mirror
And I've seen

The silent pain in your eyes
and the guiless smile that never dies.
I've seen the distrust that always lurks and
I've noticed the words that always hurt

So look in the mirror
That, I know you can do
And take notice…
Of Six strong friends staring back at you.


I have looked in the same mirror
And what did I see?
The same six friends staring back at me.


Ezra Standish held the missive in his cut and swollen fingers as he leaned back against the chilly stones of his cell.

They were here.

Despite the harsh words, the angry shoving and the liquor fueled fury that had spewed forth from him only nights ago, they were coming.

He worked the paper edges against themselves and closed his swollen, blackened eyes against the pain that welled from his heart. He had pushed and shoved, had battled and fought and had left with his anger lacing his tone as whisky stole his judgment.

He had staggered from the saloon ignoring Inez's pained expression and he had reveled in Larabee's building fury.

He had rode out of Four Corners very much his own man, independent and uncaring of the others he left behind. He had taken his last undisguised look of scorn from the citizens of Four Corners. He had accepted his last unanswered curt remark from the up standing populace of the surrounding area.

He had taken his last perceived look of distrust from Larabee and the others and had left.

He had left with heated words on his liquored breath, and blood on his knuckles. He had simply walked out of Four Corners….. and into the arms of a brutal backwater town on the near edge of extinction.

He had pulled one too many cons, dealt one too many cards from the bottom of the deck. He did it simply because he knew he was that good and because he could do so without the disdainful looks from his fellow peace officers.

And he did. He had swaggered and laughed, conned and cheated himself right into a frightful beating and a jail cell.

And he had rotted here for days, fed haphazardly, watered less but not ignored nearly enough.

With no hope for rescue, no friends to watch his back, he took his punishment with as much glib and fierce sarcasm as he could while he still had teeth.

And in the darkest hour of night, when his ribs would take no more abuse, and his spirit lay on the verge of breaking, through the high barred window a small scrap of paper dropped onto his battered shoulder. It tumbled onto the vermin laden blanket that brought its own form of torture. He had stared at the folded creased piece of paper no more than the size of a gold coin. He had stared at it, and even a time or two had reached a tentative hand toward it only to retract it, unable to explain his blind fears in the middle of the night.

With swollen blunted fingers bruised and twisted, discolored and marred, he fumbled in picking the small paper up and worked with single minded determination to unfold the missive.

He had smiled almost to himself, JD would do something similar, fold a piece of paper so small. With a longing in his heart, created by his own verbal brutality, he looked to the high window hoping to catch a glimpse of his young friend, knowing full well JD would not be coming to his rescue.

No one would. He, himself, had made sure of it with his parting viciousness just a few nights back.

With shaking hands and through eyes swollen to slits and fuzzy vision he read the words of a friend that he had thought he had lost, or worse, destroyed forever.

He leaned against the moldy stones let his damp head rest against the unforgiving wall. The moisture seep through the thin shirt and into skin that radiated heat though muscles shook with a chill all their own. He held the paper tightly while split and swollen lips cracked themselves into a slow grin. Though the dimples lay hidden beneath the bruises and discoloration, the macabre smile still glowed with embarrassment and relief.

They had come.

He fisted the paper in his hand and raised an awkwardly clenched fist to his forehead as he leaned back against the unrelenting wall and battled down the hitching breaths that fired lancing pain through his chest.

They were out there, just behind the wall perhaps, at least one of them, maybe three or even six.

They were here.

Standish dropped his shaking hand and slid sideways onto the sagging cot.

His hunger and thirst had long ago disappeared. He lay on his side and faced out toward his cell and beyond that to the thick woodened door that kept him isolated from the rest of humanity.

He no longer noticed the stink of vomit, that of his own and those poor fools that had preceded him. In the twilight of glimmering hope, he faded in and out of awareness trying to listen for clues over the thundering of his own pulse.

They had come.

With his note balled tightly in a twisted mangled grip, he waited shivering in the breezy night for the others.


"Shit…watch his head."

Standish tried to move, to react. The cot disappeared out from under him a wind blew under his side. He wrestled back the best he could, knowing he had failed as miserably has he had at friendship. Something cinched him tighter, bringing him closer to a soft pliable wall that radiated heat and a heart beat.

"Easy brother, don't fight me now," The deep words vibrated through the wall and the cinching grip tightened.

He fisted the letter tighter, trying to hide it.


The creaking and rocking of a wagon muddled its way through his befuddled mind. A cold wind lashed across his chest and stomach. He curled instinctively way from it.

"Hold on Ezra, don't go movin' on me yet," Nathan's tone held a note of sympathy and tension, "Buck put that blanket under his shoulders, it'll keep'im warm til I'm done with his belly.

"Damn, that has got to hurt." The awe in JD's voice had Standish wondering , 'what must hurt?'. Then pressure on his abdomen sent fiery pain shooting across his midsection and down to his leg. He moaned and tried to draw his legs up.

"I know Ezra, I know….one more stitch and we'll be done."

"What about 'is ribs and hands, Nathan?" JD's worried question was nearly drowned in the rocking of the wagon.

"Ain't gonna forget them either JD, let me git one thing done at a time."

A sudden jolt and an even more violent lurch sent the occupants of the wagon flying into one another.

Standish never heard Josiah's apology through the flap of the wagon nor did he see Chris as he held his black gelding in check so he could peer inside the back of the covered wagon and ask , "He alright?"

The gambler missed it all; his release from jail, the wagon ride home and even the indignity of having Josiah and Nathan carry him up to the clinic.

Instead, he floated in a cushioned zone, a haze of greys and pain and murky reflexes and befuddled senses.

At times the pain was sharp and nearly sparked him to full awareness and each time in those infrequent, random moments of clarity, he found one of the six near by.

Conversation was nonexistent and dialogues, amusing or poignant were lost long before they reached the black and blue ears of the gambler but the comfort was all the same.

The paper lay crinkled but folded under the emerald coat draped carefully over a neat pile of clean clothing across Nathan's room in the corner.

The note remained unread, its privacy protected as fiercely as the man in the cot, or the others that made up the seven.

Time passed and waking moments lasted longer than those sleeping turns induced by Nathan's herbal teas. Conversations were not as one sided as they had been and stories became raunchier and funnier as bruises dulled and melded their once brilliant well demarcated colors.

Late afternoon, as Standish lay propped against pillows, cajoling and nursing bruised fingers to do his bidding with the cards, Larabee entered the room.

Standish flashed a green eye upward and then cut quickly back to the deck. Larabee had been scarce at best, nearly a ghost in the fuzzy haze that had hallmarked Ezra's earliest memories of being back in Four Corners.

"Next time tell someone where your heading too when you lite out of town, don't care who ya tell, jist let somebody know,….. next time we'll git there quicker," Larabee turned and headed for the door but stopped and turned back around, " 'Know it was the whiskey talkin' that other night…"

Standish moved the cards quicker from hand to hand, almost in tempo with his heartbeat. Heat rose, flushing his cheeks giving him more color than he had days.

Larabee smiled half heartedly to himself, "Its done and over with…far as we're all concerned."

The door opened and closed and spurs jingled fading with each step back toward the saloon.

Standish let lose a careful sigh and closed his eyes. He leaned his head back against the wood wall and controlled his breathing, feeling every stitch pull. The cards lay forgotten in sore fingers. Discomfiture and humility vied for dominance as an enveloping sense of warmth coddled and threatened him at the same time.

Once again he was indebted to these men, though he understood the price, he didn't know how to repay them.

The end.

Comments: flah7@tds.net