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Writins of Weakeyes Cody

                                  Talented and witty writings

Once Upon A Time In The Mojave ~ Chapter 1
 

Do you enjoy your air conditioning? Glass of ice tea? Being able to shoot across 25 miles for an ice cream cone? Or sit at a well stocked dinner table where fresh vegetables gathered yesterday morning in another state are enjoyed? Fruit from South America?

Come with me then to once upon a time in America, when from out of the past come the wages of yesteryear, where iron tires surrounded the wheels of wagons, and horses pulled the daily conveyances. Where water was drawn from a well, Where locomotives belched black coal smoke and their whistles echoed across valleys of grain, corn, fruit and nuts harvested by the sweat of mankind. Where entertainment was presented from local stages and music was sung and played by neighbors. When screen doors were insect repellants, and hand held fans cooled milady’s face on summer evenings. When streets were cleaned of manure with shovels and out houses were yards away from the houses and when a handshake and a given word was a contract. When we often skinned our dinner, when rugs, curtains, and quilts, were made by women, when people came from all four corners of the earth and proudly learned to speak 'American' as soon as possible so as to become a citizen.

And humor was an instruction.

Once Upon A Time In The Mojave ~ Chapter One

It was getting late and I was glad when the multiple colored mountains of Calico came into view. It had just rained, a blessing that seldom occurred here on the Mojave Desert, and the hills around the town were even more alive with color. I reined my old mule Basil along through the canyon in and around the tents and shacks of the miners, avoiding the makeshift clothes lines with laundry hanging on them and hard looks from some of the women and finally along the main street stopping before a livery. A rather hard boiled looking character stood in the door, pitch fork in his hand looking at me like he didn't like what he saw and I hoped I wasn't headed for trouble because old Basil and me had plodded all the way from Mojave, and I was tired and hungry.

"I need to stable my mule." I informed him as I slid stiffly from the saddle. Hard Boiled grimaced and replied, "I don't wanna put up no mule here in my lots."

"I don't want him in your pen; I prefer to pay for a stall." I instructed, trying my best to contain aggravation.

"That'll be a dollar fer the stall and fifty cents for the feed." Hard Boiled shot back.

A chill early March wind was blowing up my back and my bones ached from a very long day in the saddle. The last thing I wanted was an argument from this governor of the hay barn. "Is that for two nights? Because I only want it for tonight." I explained.

"Uh uh. That's fer just t'night."

"How come so much? I usually pay fifty cents for a stall and two-bits for the feed."

Hard Boiled rolled his cud to the other jaw and spat a load of mahogany colored juice that splattered very near my dusty boot toe. "'At's a mule you got there slick, and mules kick out my stalls and break stuff so I charge more." He declared, wiping his mouth with his sleeve.

"How about I pay the usual and pay you the higher if he kicks out your stall?" I said.

"You want the stall you pay the price. If not move summers else." He drooled.

Peeling off and handing him a paper dollar then flipping him a four-bit piece still keeping an even temper I asked, “Where can I get a place to sleep?"

Snatching the money from my hand and catching the coin he pointed to a building fifty yards up the street. "See that hotel sign yonder? 'At's whur they rent spaces. If yer lucky you can get a spot on the floor if'n ya git there afore the miners get off shift."

Pulling off my saddle and gear I labored up the hill leaving old Basil in the hands of Hard Boiled. I soon picked up the aroma of fried potatoes and onions and it struck me that it had been a long time since breakfast. I walked through the door of the tavern dropping my stuff beside the first available table and picking up the well fingered menu studied the offerings. A pretty young woman soon came over after she had made her way through three other tables surrounded with what looked to be miners.

"Hello Sir, what can I bring you?" She smiled. "What's your name?" I asked her, presenting my best smile. "Effie." She said.

"Well Effie, could you bring me a steak and some fried potatoes?" I was ready and anxious to pay the two dollars for a belly of contentment. I was hungry.

She scribbled on her pad and in a flurry of skirts that fanned me a whiff of lilac was off with a nod. I sat eyeing the crowded room filled with miners going and coming from the Silver mines burrowed into the mountain above. Some had just finished a twelve hour stint and others were obviously idle for the evening. A few suits were seated apart from the miners and I guessed were most likely merchants and business men. A few eyes were scanning me all the while. I figure they didn't see much past a trail dusty old man with his saddle piled beside his chair, a Model 66 Winchester, a bedroll and a Nickel plated Colt on my side. Some of the miners bore signs of being downright uncivil while others appeared tired and ready for rest.

"Your supper Sir!" Effie announced breaking my preoccupation with the occupants. She set down the plate and was gone in another pivot of feminine furor. They were getting their money's worth from that gal, I figured. She was only one of two hustling the room of well over fifty.

I took my time savoring the surprisingly good meal, or maybe I was just overly hungry. Either way, I enjoyed the end of my long days ride and was hesitant to restart my way on up the street to the hotel. But I did. Hoisting my gear on my back and stepping from the porch of the tavern, I looked back down at the livery and decided to make sure my old mule had been fed and cared for. Dropping my gear beside the door, I entered the main area of the barn checking the stalls and finding my transportation still eating four ears of corn from the manger. Fresh straw was at his feet and he wriggled his ears at my approach. Hard Boiled were no place to be seen and that made me happy I didn't need a refresher in his negative persona.

Picking up my gear I took several steps up the grade toward the hotel when Hard Boiled's voice violated my thinking.

"That mule kicks my stall partition loose I'll beat hell outa it." He growled from the corner of the barn. Old Basil was a great mule. Smart, and with an easy ground covering gait that pleased me. He had carried me for eighteen hours with no feed and little water. He was one in a hundred of his kind and Hard Boiled had managed to touch a nerve with a threat to my property. Easing the load to the ground I stepped slowly up to Hard Boiled until I was inches from his nose.

"You touch that animal Sir and I'll blow your head off." I said just above a whisper, then stood waiting for a reply. Hard Boiled backed up a few steps and muttered, "I just don't like damn mules."

"And I don't like people who mistreat animals, you savvy?" I said. "Anything happens to that animal and I'll hold you personally responsible." Hard Boiled  turned and disappeared around the corner of the barn whence he came. Picking up my things I continued on to the hotel.

It was dark now and only a few lanterns lit the streets and store fronts. A lantern hung from beside the door of the Hanks Hotel as I stepped up onto the porch. Opening the door I met the eyes of a slight built man sitting behind a well-used desk, his boots resting atop the desk. Two toes were leaking through a hole in one of his boots.

"Evenin'," I said, standing expectedly before the desk peering at the man I judged was the clerk. The brim of his hat was turned up in front and on second glance didn't resemble a desk clerk but more a mixture of desk clerk and general smart aleck. "Whatta yuh need stranger?" He asked, his eyes sweeping the lot of me.

"I need a place to flop for the night." I said, still a little angry from the confrontation with the livery proprietor.

"Weeeeel, that's what you can do cause we don't have nothin' but floor space, t'flop on." He replied picking his teeth with a match.

"What's the cost?" I asked pulling my clip from my pocket.

"Two Bits for the floor mister." He said, dropping his boots to the floor.

"Cheaper than stabling my mule." I grinned.

"You'll most likely be more comfortable sleepin' with your mule." He said behind a slight grin.

"Well it's warmer in here anyway." I said, dropping a quarter on his desk.

"You ain't from around here." He stated dropping the quarter in a box.

"No," I said. Easing my burden to the floor. "I live up near Olanchia. Got a small spread north of there about ten miles."

"My name's Mel. They call me Misfire around here." He said offering an outstretched hand.

"Cody." I said giving his hand a quick shake. "Glad t'meet'cha."

Miners were entering the door behind me as we talked so I pulled my saddle aside to make room in the small entrance.

"You've wandered a little bit far south for cow country hasn’t you.?" Mel questioned.

I studied the man as he replaced his well-worn boots upon the desk. He may or may not have been honest. His eyes told me he could go either way. But it was plain that he wasn't making a lot of money at whatever he did for a living.

"I'm down here looking for a market for my beef." I ventured. "I just had a pretty good steak down at your restaurant and was wondering where they buy their meat?"

"I think they buy a beef about twice a week to keep these miners fed. "Mel said. "I see them driving them up from the rail yard cattle pens. They most likely come up from the ranches east of San Burdoo."

"I'll have to ask the owner." I replied, feeling my tired bones begging for relief. "I'll see you in the mornin' Mel. Obliged for the information." I picked up my stuff and opened the door to a large room with bodies scattered about and little room to walk between them. I carefully weaved my way to the wall and spread my blankets down and shucked my boots placing them under my saddle. Unbuckling my pistol I placed it along with my rifle under the blanket then hooking my old Stetson on the horn I lay my head on the saddle and despite the variety of snores and audible purging of gas I was soon asleep.

It didn't seem long before I was waked from a good sleep by something warm and wet combing the back of my neck. Sitting bolt upright I was looking at the silhouette of a good size hound. What in blazes a dog was doing in here I knew not, but I wasn't about to add his licking my neck to the other offences, so I immediately gathered my belongings and made my way out of Hanks Hotel. Nobody was behind the desk as I went past and the street was quiet. I swung the door of the livery barn open and walked to old Basil's stall where he greeted me with a grunt and wriggle of his ears. Climbing over the manger and into the stall I spread my stuff on the floor thankful for the fresh hay. There was plenty of room for Basil and me and he wasn't about to step on me mules being a careful lot. This was far more comfortable than the hardwood floor of the hotel and smelled a lot better.

I heard voices. I was getting warm and comfortable and things were feeling good but I heard voices just inside the barn. But then I couldn't very well protest being an unpaid guest.

"All we need Purg, is six of us to pull it off. They never have more'n four guarding that payroll shack and none of 'em wanna get shot over somebody else's money." I heard one say. Listening I figured only two were involved.

"An I don't wanna get shot neither! A pocket full o' money ain't worth much if'n I'm dead!" I recognized Hard Boiled's voice. He was Purg.

"Look," Said the other voice. "We know the quarterly payroll for the mines comes in the first of April. There's probably a million dollars there and for only a few hours before it's issued to all the mine owners. But sittin' there in that shack it's surely there for the takin' with only four near sighted dumb ass men with shotguns to guard it. We get the drop on 'em and it's all over but the shoutin'. Nobody gets hurt and we ride away with a million paper dollars."

"And how do you plan to get the drop on 'em Bismarck?" Purg whined.

"Look, it's dark when the Santa Fe` drops the payroll at the Daggett depot. Four of 'em take that payroll over to the company exchange shack to wait for the escort to haul it up here to distribute among the mine owners. We put two men inside the shack and four of us outside and when they enter the shack we all tell 'em to drop their guns and we got 'em. They ain't gonna fight."

"You can't be sure of that Bismarck. One of 'em is liable to cut loose with a round and the whole damn town of Daggett, will be on our asses." Purg said.

"They won't be able to shoot us." Bismarck laughed.

"And jest zackly how you figure that? You gonna hypnotize 'em somehow and jest walk up and take them shotguns outa their hands?" Purg drooled.

"Better'n that." Bismarck instructed. "I know how to make sure their ammo is unloaded."

"Well are you aimin' to share that wit me or keep it a secret?" Purg whined.

"Sure. Slim Densmore loads all their ammo. I can unload their shotgun shells and fill 'em with sand. All they'll have is the primers and shells full of sand."

"Oh yeah? And how kin you make shore you've got all the shells unloaded or loaded wit sand.?"

Go in there the evenin' before and gather all their ammo and exchange the sandy loads for the live rounds and take the live rounds away. I can load the same shells they use with the sand and they'll never recognize the difference."

"Jest makes shore you have all the live rounds" Purg advised.

The two walked out of the barn continuing their plan and by now I was wide awake. There would have been a shooting for certain had they discovered me in the stall. I eased the hammer down on my pistol and laid it nearby. It must be getting late and I needed to get out of here before Purg came in the morning. Damn! I hated leaving this nice soft bed.

By sun-up I had Old Basil fed, watered, saddled and on the street. The miners directed me to Miz El Hazen's Calico Hotel where I was treated to ham and eggs, biscuits, coffee and friendly waitresses. Had I known last evening about this place, I would've gotten myself a good night's rest and been uninformed about any planned payroll robbery. Now, I had to go find the sheriff and report my hearing of the hold up. Paying for my breakfast I stood picking my teeth and surveying the busy street. The air was rife with coal and wood smoke as I pulled up before the sheriff's office. The familiar face of Misfire Mel was seated in a chair with his feet propped up on the porch support and I could see the star on his shirt that I had missed or overlooked last night.

"Mornin Misfire," I said wrapping Basil's reins over the hitching rail. "I see you're the sheriff."

"Deputy." Mel replied through his little go to hell grin. "I just work here. Sheriff'll be along pretty soon. I build the fire and warm up the place while he catches a few extra winks. We take turns workin' nights."

"What time do you expect him?" I asked, taking a seat on the long bench beside the office door.

I had to wait while Mel fingered a pinch of tobacco from the round container and carefully placed it betwixed cheek and gum. "'bout mid mornin' I 'spect. Around nine or ten."

I debated whither to unload my story to the deputy or wait for the sheriff. I may have just been privileged to a pair of drunks expounding on a plan they dreamed up in a saloon last year and just talked about it all the time or they could have been dead serious.

"Maybe I can answer any questions for you Cody?" Misfire was saying.

"Huh? - Oh, nothin' real important Misfire. How far to Daggett?" I asked, reaching for a change of subject.

"'bout two, two and a half hours." Misfire replied eyeing me with a measure of curiosity.

”Alright. I'll catch yuh on the return trip. Maybe tomorrow? Good meetin' yuh Mel you take care, hears." With that I stood stretched and swung aboard my mule. Touching the brim of my Stetson as I reined him down the hill.

With all the mining activity the silver generated and the extraordinary influx of people here in this otherwise sparsely settled part of the Mojave Desert, enforcement of the law was difficult. Fights broke out commonly. Shootings were nearly a daily occurrence, and my reporting of a planned robbery between two ne'er do wells, seemed rather trivial.

Old Basil struck a good pace as I rode parallel to the Southern Pacific Railroad, and we arrived in Daggett around ten o' clock. The early March sun was sending a harbinger of summer heat on my back as I reined onto the main street. I tied Old Basil to the rail in front of a building that read 'Robert Albert Justice Of The Peace.' And stepped through the door.

"Robert Albert, I presume." I said extending a hand to the elderly man behind the rather elaborate desk. "And you'd be Cody?" he replied standing to shake my hand.

"That's right." I answered. "I understand you have a lynching problem?"

Easing back down in his oversize chair offering me a cigar he groaned, "Not anymore. The lynchin' is over. Did you know Bill Pitt?"

Waving aside the cigar I answered, "I did. He was a swamper for Pacific Coast Borax. Helping to run ore out of Death Valley to the railhead here in Daggett."

"Well it seems he beat hell out of the skinner and a bunch of the boys out of the Red Lantern Saloon just hung the man."

"You've got no Sheriff here in Daggett?"

"Not one that can handle an army of pissed off miners." He said, lighting his cigar.

"So you send for federal help after the fact?" I asked.

"Well the sheriff left so I figured we needed some sort of closure." He went on.

"I see. Tell me, do you want the Borax wagons coming in here?"

"We don't give a damn. We've got our hands full with the silver miners up yonder from the Silver King and them other mines." He said, dropping ashes in the cuspidor.

"Fair enough." I said, standing. "I'll recommend they haul the ore into Mojave. The Santa Fe` will be happy to take it to Los Angeles."

He let go a wheezing laugh and said, "They ain't gonna haul Borax outa Death Valley all the way to Mojave. Hell, that's over 150 miles and across the Panamint range."

"You've got a killin' problem here Mister Albert. You can't seem to stop it so something has to be done to prevent further lynchings."

"Borax is gonna tell you to hire some deputies to ride with them wagons. They won't be travelin' to Mojave." He smirked.

"It's not a federal matter Mister Albert, it's become a corporate problem and I think Pacific Coast Borax, can take care of the problem. Good day Sir."

"Hey now I. . . . . . . !"

It was too early yet for dinner so I figured I'd ride on back to Calico. I fancied the steaks there. I led Basil to the water trough and let him take a long deep pull then stopped at the telegraph office before striking out again. The trail up to Calico was dusty with traffic now. It was bustling with activity. People moving and shaking. It was recess at the school I could hear children playing as I reined up before the sheriff's office again. Misfire looked as if he hadn't moved all the while I had been gone, still in his chair leaning back with his foot up against the support. A younger larger man stood leaning on the remains of the old tree beside the porch talking to Misfire. I could see a star just under his vest as I swung down.

"Ahhhhh, you did come back," Misfire chortled. "didn't figure we'd see you again."

"Why not?" I inquired, dropping reins over the hitch.

"Just didn't figure a big time cattle rancher would find anything more in this town."

"I'm far from a big time cattle rancher Mel. I run about fifty head and if I make enough to feed my family through a summer I'm happy. Is this the sheriff?"

"Yeah that's him." Misfire grinned. "Shake hands with Bismarck Bob. We just call 'im Bismarck."

”You're Cody?" He asked, our thumbs acting as a stop as our hands met.

I managed a nod because my mind was processing the name and wondering how many Bismarck's there were in this town?

"Cody there says he's got a question for ya Bismarck." Misfire went on behind his grin.

"Not anymore." I quickly said, dismissing anything I had to say to him, remembering the conversation in the dark livery last night. Now the question arose, what to do? If the sheriff was plotting a robbery, where did this leave me?

"Did you resolve your question?" Bismarck asked letting go the handshake, with a voice that was all too familiar. "Yes it was about the lynching in Daggett." I replied

"Yeah, the boys it seems got carried away and strung up that Borate swamper from outa Death Valley." Bismarck said.

"Them old boys eat a lot of dust and after a trip outa the Valley with them mules they ain't likely to be good company for anybody." Misfire offered.

"Glad it happened over in Daggett." Bismarck declared. "We don't need that kind of upheaval around here."

"And what if it did happen here in Calico?" I said, inserting the speculative.

"This ain't a Borax town. We got a better grade of people than them Borax muleskinners." Bismarck growled, removing his hands from his pockets and stepping into the street a few paces looking up and down. Then before I could comment in reply he strolled away toward the saloon.

I watched him walk away and as I turned toward Misfire he was looking at me with a studious expression.

"Who the hell are you Cody?" He asked with his head cocked sideways grinning at me.

"Don't hand me that cattle rancher crap." He shot at me before I could begin an answer.

"You carry a nickel plated whore house forty-five, throw an expensive saddle on the back of a Missouri red mule and ride all the way to Daggett, from somewhere else just to ask a damn question about a lynchin'? Who are you?"

The little man had a sharp eye and an analytical mind I decided. And today he wasn't sitting behind a desk sporting worn out boots. He was dressed like a deputy sheriff, clean shaven, clean clothes but he had retained the turned back hat. I decided to gamble on him.

"I'm a U.S. Marshal." I replied simply.

"And I'm Chester A. Arthur U.S. President!" Misfire replied, shoulders shaking with humor. "Yuh gotta join the organization before you're thirty-seven and you ain't seen thirty-seven in a helluva long time. Besides, Marshal's don't ride a damn mule!" He was enjoying himself.

"Well, Misfire," I began, "you might say It's in my background." Now I was grinning. "And old Basil there covers ground kinda easy and he doubles as a buggy animal so I'm partial to 'im."

"What're you investigatin.?" He asked, squinting through one eye. "We've got a ten-stamp mill, one bordello, a schoolhouse, five stores, six saloons, a post office, a Wells-Fargo station, one newspaper, a meat market, and about seventy silver mines of varying size."

I took a step closer to him and bent a little toward him saying, "I think I may be investigatin' the lawmen of this fair mining town, Misfire."

"The hell you say? And what is it that you s'pose we done?"

"I overheard Bismarck and the livery hand planning a payroll robbery last night in the livery barn. What do you think about that?"

Misfire's pale eyes settled on me for a long moment before he replied. "I think you'd damn well better be a marshal if you're gonna accuse us of bein' crooked."

"Not accusin' you Misfire - Accusin Bismarck and Purg. Unless you're a part of?"

"I don't hanker t'git blown away by no railroad guards and I doubt Bismarck is that dumb. He's laid out in detail exactly how he plans to refill their ammunition with sand to prevent that. Not sure how he plans to escape but with that much money they can go seven ways from sundown." I explained.

"Why're you tellin' me this? Why're you trustin' me? For all you know I might be a part of it along with Bob and Purgatory and what would you do about it?" Misfire bristled.

"I don't have any back-up yet Misfire. And I'm takin' a chance that you're straight. Otherwise you'd better reach for that Schofield." Misfire sat looking at me for a long moment and I began to think he was going to go for his weapon. My hand was beside my Colt and I had doubt that I could beat the quick little man to the draw but he was still sitting down and that's an awkward position to be fetching a piece from the holster. Anyway I eased up when he dropped his gaze and began looking along the street.

"I ain't lost no love for Bismarck." He opined. "I've seen him pull a few shady deals but then I don't know you all that well either Cody. So I think I'll just hold out and see how you handle this."

"As a lawman if you ain't with me you're against me Mel." I warned. "But you know as well as I that I can't do a thing based on what I've told you."

"If you're lookin for help why don't you just send for more federal marshals from out of San Bernardino?" Misfire suggested with a suspicious tone in his voice.

"Marshals are rarer than you think, Misfire. And it is actually a federal problem in that they're planning robbing a payroll from off the railroad. But my problem is the fact that no crime of any kind has been committed yet and I can't summon any law enforcement to just come here and stand-by."

"Yeah," Misfire smirked. "It is sort of a personal problem ain't it."

At times Misfire seemed a very trusting sort while at others he seemed an uncaring man with his own agenda. Still, it was me who stood between a rock and a hard place. In reality I had no choice but to simply wait out the situation and maybe somehow prevent it by seeking help from Wells-Fargo guards.

"I'll see you later Misfire. I think I'll stay at the Calico Hotel." I said as I pulled myself up on Basil.

"She has a good livery in back of the hotel Sir." Misfire offered.

"Thanks." I replied. "My mule could use it."

"Good cookin' too." He said.

"And I can use that." I smiled.

Supper was at six I was advised by Mrs. El Hazen. Breakfast at seven. My room was clean and the bed clothes smelled of freshly washed linens. Nothing like sheets that have dried in the sun for fresh smelling. Now I was enjoying the comfort of one of the several rocking chairs on the front porch of the Hotel Calico. But I was enjoying even more the sweet voices of two girls singing across the street in the bordello. With piano accompaniment,  they sang Lorena, then began singing Was My Brother In the Battle - two Civil War songs. I listened to the sad old song and was glad the darkness hid a tear. I never resented sad songs because they are reminders of our losses. A few miners paused in their trek along the street to listen. There's nothing more calming to the soul of a man than the singing of a woman and those girls were top notch singers.

Peculiar, I thought, our destiny in life. We had leniency for those girls only when they sang so beautifully or performed for us. Yet in many ways their lives were better than the wives of some of us. They were attended by doctors regularly, had dental care when necessary and dressed better than the average spouse. And, I figured, had more fun. But sadly only while they were young. The piano lifted into a frolicsome tune and the clapping of hands in time with the music soon had men from the street entering the door to join the festivity. The girls continued to sing and masculine chords were soon offered in the songs and the floor resonated like a drum to the stomping boots. Nothing like music to create a mood and good music had the ability to raise the spirit. Saturday night and Calico, was coming alive.

I enjoyed the music for a while but the hours I had spent without a good night's rest soon caught up with me and I began to nod off. Standing and stretching I was about to enter the hotel when an argument erupted in the street in front of the bordello. Three burley miners were throwing profanity at a character hidden from my view, his back to the hitchrail.

"You can say or think what you will my friend," He was saying. "but I have no claim on any of the girls in there - I do favor a few of them but they're just my friends."

"That's a damn lie Jack!" The tallest one shot back. "You got Jenny on your lap all the time when you're in there and you know it!"

"Alright Porter," the cornered one spoke in a low tone. "fun's over. Now I'm goin' to bed and we can finish this when you're sober and thinkin' more clear." With that he stepped around the three and into the center of the street. He was a rather rotund man, maybe near six feet, not imposing but what was unusual about him was his weaponry. Two revolvers were holstered on his sides, a small pistol hung from his suspender, and I could see another grip in his boot along with a knife of good size. There may have been more but these I saw in the glare of the street and porch lamps.

Then, as his back was turned to the group the largest man swung his ham like fist striking him in the back of the head. Staggering and almost going down he recovered with his two side arms directed at the belly of his brawny attacker. This stopped the advance but the other two moved to get around behind him. "Stop right there!" He ordered, leveling his left hand gun at them. The two stopped their advance, but slowly moved on to the center of the street still angling for his back.

"You got yourself a case of the braves behind them pistols, Jack, but you know you ain't a-gonna shoot nobody." The tall one droned behind a threatening grin.

From what I figured this was a simple case of three against one and was developing fast toward a killing. Just maybe I could even the odds and prevent a shooting? The stillness of the night air magnified the three clicks of the hammer as I cocked my Colt. "Sooner or later boys, somebody is about to get shot." I said, watching for any farther movement. I was looking down from the elevated porch and could clearly see the four below.

"Who the hell are you?" One of the nearest growled at me.

"I'm the one with the forty-four aimed at you telling you to break this up." I answered.

The one called Jack suddenly impacted the barrel of his gun into the belly of the tall one and said, "I told you Porter, I wanted no trouble but now you've got it and I got a headache. Now git yer ass away from me before I kill yuh!"

"You ain't heard the last of this Jack! Nor have you up there on the porch." He threatened.

"You know my name and where I live, Porter." Jack said between his teeth. "Now git outa here!"

The three gathered again and walked into the bordello talking between themselves with menacing backward glances. Jack stood with drawn guns a long moment after the bordello door was closed then holstering them turned to me. "Thanks stranger." he said. "Them fellers been sore at me for a while and tonight they decided to jump me."

Lowering the hammer on my gun and dropping it back in the leather I said, "I didn’t like the odds and I figured to stop a shootin'." "Well Sir," He grinned, "I believe you may have 'cause my finger was getting' tight on a hair trigger. They call me Jack," He said. "Smokey Jack." Extending a paw toward me as he strode up the steps.

"Name's Cody." I said. Matching his firm grip. "You stayin' here at the Calico Hotel?"

"Best cookin' in town." He grinned, rubbing his belly. "And the beds are nice too."

"I was just about to sample my bed when you interrupted." I chided.

"I apologize for that Sir." He grinned. "Hopefully, it won't happen again."

"Hopefully." I replied, watching him disappear around the corner of the hallway. He must've had eighteen pounds of iron and lead on him. He could conduct a battle all by himself.

- to be continued.....

 

~ Weakeyes Cody 2012