He looked out the window of the train as they raced by the rushing waters of a river reflecting rays of the spring sunshine. He took another puff of his pipe as he watched the scenery evolve from open fields and flowing waters to a dark forest hiding the train from the outside sun. Mmmm… Cherry pipe tobacco was his favorite. He took another long toke as he sat back in his booth seat.
As the Lox train exited the forest, Mizz checked his watch and decided it was time to get ready. He put out his pipe and left it in its case on the seat next to him. He then entered the small bathroom of his cabin. He slicked his hair with some pomade and combed it back just the way he liked it. He then grabbed the tie hanging from the hook on the wall and put it over his neck, making every movement precise to get the perfect tie knot. He finished it off with his tie clip, and then his jacket. To top it off, he placed his tweed cap on his head. Before exiting the room he grabbed his pipe case and returned it to the breast pocket of his jacket. Mizz also grabbed a tin of Battle Wax which he placed in the opposite breast coat pocket. He then checked his magazine. He was Lox and loaded!
Mizz turned right out of his room and made his way down the narrow hallway of the train car. He stopped at the door just second to last and gave it a few knocks.
The door swung open moments later, and a man carrying an old fashion briefcase appeared.
“Got the pomade and the recipes,” Mizz asked.
The man gave Mizz a confident nod, and they made their way down to the opposite end of the train car. They stopped at the exit as they waited for the train to come to a halt. Mizz checked his watch once more: 11:58 AM. They were right on schedule.
A few minutes passed before the train came to a slowing halt to a small town train station. The train crew piled out of a train car and began opening other cars for passengers to exit. The two Loxmen thanked the worker as he opened the door. They then swiftly made their way off the platform and towards the exit. Today was a big day, and Mizz did not plan on being late.
They exited the train station unto the Main Street sidewalk. Mizz looked both ways but did not see who he was looking for.
“You see him, Big Mike?” Mizz asked.
“No, not seeing him. You’re sure this was our stop, right?”
“Yeah, this is the place. It’s not like AJ to be late. He knows how important the derby is to me.”
They waited a few more minutes, but AJ was nowhere to be seen. As they stood on the sidewalk in the warm sun, a large man dressed in all black approached them. He slipped a note into the hands of Mizz and continued walking as if he were never there.
“Who was that, Boss?” Big Mike inquired.
“I don’t know, but I don’t have a good feeling about this.”
Mizz unfolded the note and read it allowed: “AJ in exchange for the briefcase. Meet me behind the town bank on the train tracks. Midnight. -Johnny Shmuck”
They both stood there on the sidewalk in silence for a few minutes as Mizz thought about the situation. He decided they didn’t have much of an option but to go. To blow some time, they got a room at the Wayne Hotel to rest and think over how the night would unfold.
At 11:30, Mizz told Big Mike to grab the briefcase and prepare for war. The Loxmen exited the hotel and made their way towards the town bank. When they got there, they went around back. They found the train tracks along with a few other men standing on the opposite side of them, including AJ. Two large men stood guard at each side of AJ.
“Happy to see you received my message, Loxmen. Please, come join us.” The snarly remark was followed by laughter by the one and only Johnny Shmuck, leader of water-based pomades.
“Let AJ go, Johnny.” Mizz had a calm but bold voice.
“Oh, you didn’t really think it was that easy do you?” replied Johnny. “First, the briefcase.”
Mizz stood motionless as he stared Johnny Shmuck in the eyes. Johnny twirled his gun in his hand as he smiled a devilish grin back at Mizz.
“This is between you and me, you Shmuck. Leave my men out of this.”
“I’ll tell you what, Mizz. You’re right; this is between us. How about I strike you a deal?” Johnny let out another villainous laugh before continuing. “You and me: a quick draw duel on the tracks. The last man standing takes the briefcase. What do you say? Are you a coward.”
Without hesitation, Mizz accepted the challenge to duel. He was willing to put his life on the line for any of his men. He didn’t have to think twice about making this decision.
Johnny’s men let AJ walk over to the other side of the tracks, joining the other Loxmen. Big Mike handed the briefcase to Mizz as directed and met Johnny Shmuck on the tracks. He placed the briefcase between them and again locked eyes with Johnny.
Only lit by the light of the moon, the men stared each other down. No words were spoken. Both Mizz and Johnny turned in unison with their backs facing each other. They then took ten paces each and turned back around. With a long and intense stare down, everyone stood in silence waiting for the first man to move.
Mizz was never looking to shed blood; he decided in his heart he would not be the one to make the first move. He muted out the slurs and bitter attacks Johnny Shmuck spit at him. Mizz patiently waited for Johnny to make a move.
The minutes began to feel like seconds as Mizz and Johnny stood facing each other with their hands hovering over their holsters. Every few moments Johnny would fake to grab his gun to try and intimidate Mizz, but he stood solid as a rock. He didn’t let anything take his focus off of Johnny’s gun.
Finally, Johnny drew. As quick as lightning, Mizz grabbed his gun to retaliate. They were both so quick that they both shot and both fallen at the same time. It was too quick to tell who had gone down first. AJ and Big Mike rushed to their boss’ side to see if he was all right. There was an obvious blow through the chest of his jacket straight at the heart. AJ looked over at Mike; they didn’t want to believe what they were seeing. They hung their heads in defeat looking back down at Mizz.
“Wait…” AJ said with a puzzled look on his face, “there’s… there’s no blood.”
Mizz opened his eyes and looked up at the Loxmen.
Mizz smiled at AJ. He slowly reached into the breast pocket of his jacket and pulled out a tin of Battle Wax now penetrated by a bullet. AJ and Big Mike couldn’t believe what they were seeing. They helped their boss to his feet to stand in victory. Big Mike went to pick up the briefcase. The pomade wars were over; the Loxmen triumphantly left the scene. There was no need to look back at the damage or to exchange words. Mission accomplished.
They rounded the corner of the bank they were just behind and continued onto the Main Street sidewalk. They walked a few blocks in awe as each one of them replayed the amazing moment back in their head over and over again.
“What do we do now, boss?”
Mizz smiled as he reached into the breast pocket of his jacket and pulled out his pipe packed with his cherry tobacco. “We’re gonna do what we always do, Loxmen. Stay Sharp. Stay Savage.®”