Merc Rule 50

Written by J. D. Wiley --- Art by J. D. Wiley

Merc Rule 50: A coward dies a thousand deaths, but still outlives a fool.

Nobody likes a coward. And that’s a damn shame, ’cause it’s a whole lot of work living long enough to be branded one. Sometimes a merc gets the name and don’t even rightly deserve it. When you’ve got a pair of running shoes in one hand, and a meeting with Old Man Death in the other, the choice is clear. Or at least it is to most folks. Depends on how bad a name you get stuck with. Mercs can be some mean bastards. And they never forget a coward. Even if half of ’em fit the bill.

Take French Hicks for example. Didn’t get the name Frenchie by leaving his white flag at home. Even so, I guarantee you he’s seen more bullets whizzing by his head than most. His missing ear can attest to that.

Now you might be thinking, a coward’s gotta live with the shame of ducking out on a fight. He’s gotta face ridicule from everyone that ever saw him tuck tail and run. And that could end up being a damn lot of folks. Especially if the coward has had more’n one occasion to prove he’s fleet of foot.

And that’s all true.

But you could do a lot worse than getting a name like Frenchie. You could wind up some nameless fool in a mud coffin. Besides, cowards have their advantages. They can sniff trouble ten miles off. A dead man, however, is no use at all. And that’s exactly what fools get promoted to.

That don’t mean you should high tail it from every shadow in the street. But it does mean you don’t always have to be the hero. Weigh things, and if you ain’t likely to come out the other end… well, maybe hot-footing it is the way to go. All depends on how creative your buddies are when it comes to hurling insults, and how well you hold up to that kinda thing. A name like French Hicks ain’t hard to live with. While a name like Piss-leg Trey will haunt you the rest of your days.

But, as Frenchie will tell you, it’s better to be a coward missing an ear than a fool missing his whole head.

-Coyote Joe, Memoirs of a Merc

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