The handshake

(Gail Keck photo)

He sat behind the table, all his guns laid in a row. I spotted him, across the room,
at our yearly town gun show.

The sign clamped to his table read, “Gunsmith and his ware.” The gunsmith
looked the human version of a grizzly bear.

He turned my way, gave me a nod, then stood up from his chair. I said, “You
gotta 12 gauge at a price that might be fair?”

His dark black beard and giant frame were daunting at first sight. He picked me
out a shotgun. Looked to brighten up my night.

The grizzled man gazed at me, then handed me the gun. He said, “You’ll like this
shotgun. Take a closer look for fun.”

The shotgun was a beauty, just what I was looking for. The gunsmith said, “Don’t
need to look for shotguns anymore.”

A Remington 870 with a shorter barrel to boot. With the butt snugged to my
shoulder, then I asked, “How does it shoot?”

He offered me a smile, and then he pinched another chew. He said, “There ain’t
none better. This old gun is meant for you”

I slightly uttered, “What’s the price?” He asked a worthy fare. But my wallet fell
a little short. I’d spent the cash elsewhere.

I feared someone would snatch the shotgun if I stepped away. So, I asked how
much he’d need to hold while getting cash to pay.

He reached, then opened up a hand. His grip as hard as lead. “A handshake’s all I
need today.” And he meant just what he said.

His eyes dang near stared through me with a keen but gentle look. Pure honesty
conveyed to me. A handshake’s all it took.

I found the nearest ATM and pulled out all my cash. Then hurried back so
doggone fast! A record ten-yard dash!

His shotgun now belonged to me. The gunsmith held his word. Another
handshake clinched the deal. A marvel had occurred.

‘Cuz I’d found someone who wasn’t always out for number one. His handshake
was his moral creed. An act that’s all but done.

Now, when I shake another’s hand, I’ll look him in the eye. And hope he’ll know
that talk ain’t cheap. A handshake shouldn’t lie.


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Bryce Angell’s father was an outfitter and guide for 35 years, and Bryce was there to shoe and care for the horses and help him do the cooking. Bryce is from Idaho and still rides into the Tetons, Yellowstone and surrounding areas. His poems are mostly of personal experience.



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