I decided to stay a spell in Jonestown, partly because I was worried about running into that drive team I ran out on and partly because, well, for such a small town they had more than a few pretty lookin' gals.
After my regular morning shit and shave I grabbed my stuff and left my room at The Jonestown Hotel. The first person I saw when I entered Sailor Jerry's Schooner was my dear friend Mumblin' Pete, who was holding a mug of beer in one hand and helping himself to the free lunch by the bar.
"Morning, Walker!" Sailor Jerry's dark bronze face cheerfully greeted me, looking dapper in his shirtsleeves and bitty string tie. "What'll it be, Hoss?"
"Shot o' Cactus Piss, Skipper!"
"Mnnnbbgdlogfh!" Mumblin' Pete burbled at me, grabbing endless slices of meats, some reaching his little plate and others hitting his hungry maw before he even had a chance to breathe. What a hungry hombre! And who could blame him?
"Grab a plate and eat up, Mr. Walker, the Real Hungry Boys should be arriving at eight strokes of the bell", Sailor Jerry planted a shot glass in front of me.
"Eight bells of what?"
"That's sailor talk for 12 noon, Mister, uh, Walker was it?" A tall, gray-haired man, somewheres scratching about fifty-five years old with a star on his chest walked up to me, extending his hand.
"Crash Walker at your service", I stammered. I always get nervous when the law wanted to know my name, a fear I've faced since childhood.
"I'm Sheriff Frehley, Elroy Frehley". We shook hands and I hope he didn't feel my hands trembling. "Well, don't stand on ceremony! Eat up!"
We both walked over to the little table with all the pickled eggs, potatoes, chili, bread, beans, and dozens and dozens of meats, all red, pink, gray and brown. We both started picking at all the meats and slapped them onto our plates.
"So tell me, Mister Walker, what business brings you to our modest little town?"
"I'm looking for work, Sheriff Frehley".
"Call me Elroy, son".
"That's quite a handle, Sheriff".
"What kind of work exactly are you looking for, if I may ask?"
"Why, I'm a rodeo rider, bulls a specialty!" I bluffed. Always lie to the authorities. A habit I picked up from when I was a little sprout.
"You don't say? How long have you lasted on a bucking bull?"
"Why, about twenty seconds!" May I not be stricken dead for lying. "I was taught the ancient art of bull riding by a New Zealander of Brazilian ancestry".
Sheriff Frehley grabbed as much meat as he could. We occasionally knocked over Mumblin' Pete out of our way, who kept getting in our way near the delicious looking beefs.
"Why is there so much meat here? This is a real spread", I asked nervously.
Sheriff Frehley told me about the town butcher who had a Polish name nobody could pronounce so they renamed him Mister Butcher. Mr. Butcher slaughtered everything in sight, cows, pigs, lambs, goats, possum, venison, chicken, rabbits, squirrel, the occasional snake and anything else he could get his burly bohunk hands on. I swore I smelled some cooked gopher and prairie dog on the table, too. All of the meats on the table were dried, smoked, boiled, fried, pulled, or broiled. We ate and we ate heartily, but I wondered what animal I was chawing on each time.
While old Frehley was telling me all this - by this time we were both kinda drunk and getting on just fine - Sailor Jerry got away from the bar and sat down to an old pipe organ and played it with his good hand while he banged his hook on a broken piano next to it. The broken down piano leaned to one side since the leg was broken and some of the keys sounded out of tune, but it didn't matter. He played a bunch of old sea shanties. He sang songs about gals waiting by the harbor for him, his voice rising higher and higher.
"I left my true love at the altar,
Standing alone by the shore,
Bid her fare thee well on a frigate bound,
To the ocean blue forever more".
Sailor Jerry's big purple lips wailed and howled like crazy and I looked over at Mumblin' Pete and noticed he stopped his chawin' because his lower lip started trembling something awful and his eyes welled up like an overflowing gully.
Mumblin' Pete cried into his beer, makin' me wonder if Pete ever left a girl high and dry at the altar. I kinda believe he did. That old rascal.
While one man was playing and another man was crying I looked into the mirror of the saloon and saw me, Crash Walker, twenty-five years old staring right back at me. He was about six feet tall, head of black hair, dark blue eyes and a lot of faded blue and gray clothes with a heavy brown leather pair of chaps from my cattle driving. No matter how many times I washed up my face always had dirt lines marking the contours of my face.
I became a ranch hand when I was only sixteen years old (I bluffed to get that job, too) but I was always a restless young buck and ran off to do other jobs whenever the spirit possessed me. I always did a little of everything else. Everything but bull riding.
"Well, Walker", Frehley woke me from my spell, "You're just in luck. My cousin runs a rodeo, a traveling one, and they're fixing to come by these parts within the next few weeks, so I guess we're in for a little treat. Get to see your twenty seconds of power on top of a bucking bull!" He slapped me on the back.
I thought I was about to chuck-a-luck all my greasy meat and rotgut all over the saloon floor.
"If you'll excuse me, Sheriff, I gotta tend to my horse for a spell. I'll be right back!" I waved at Pete, who followed me out of the place.
Things settled down some once Mumblin' Pete and I rode out to the plain, away from town, away from the Sheriff, away from Sailor Jerry, away from Miss Willa and all those dance hall gals and everybody else. All there was the vast expanse of the plain with me and Mumblin' Pete.
Pete set up a line of medicine bottles, whiskey bottles, food tin cans, hair tonic bottles, beer glasses, and other fool things on an old wooden fence for us to shoot at. I had first crack at shooting, and stepped out about ten feet away from the line of bottles and cans.
"Alright, now, Pete, don't get too jealous now when I show you what a great shot I am, but anyhoo, here goes", I went into my best pistol stance, got a good bead on the line of targets, reached for my six-shooter and drew my gun. I fired away and only hit three of the ten objects lined up. My faced turned red as a rooster's butt.
"Mgh wtrerdrgdgf?" Mumblin' Pete cocked his head sideways at me questioningly.
"Hell, I'm just gettin' warmed up!" I snarled. "What the heck!"
"Ghbctou!" Mumblin' Pete cussed.
I put my best shooting face on and aimed at the targets lined up, the sun burning down on me and the white heat lighting everything up until I thought I'd go blind and then a big gust of wind hit me from behind with a loud roar. I turned around and saw five horses race right past us from behind.
They rode right by us, just a bunch of regular hombres riding with rifles hanging from their saddles, all except the dude in the middle, an elderly man dressed all in black who turned to stare at me for a second. I'll never forget his face. It was long, thin and scaly. He had the smallest eyes which looked like tiny pools of black holes. The expression on his face was a mean, bitter, pinched face filled with venomous hatred. He had the face of a mean old rattlesnake. They rode towards Jonestown.
As they rode away, Mumblin' Pete said, "Khgl moubf ervdjy!"
"I don't know what the hell that was all about, Pete. Let sleeping hogs lie, boy!"
I reached and drew my gun, blowing four items off the target line.
"Fiddlesticks! Those bastards just blew my aim!"
"Huh!" Mumblin' Pete waved his hand at me and scoffed. I felt like kicking his old fashioned ass clear across the Pecos for handing me that business.
Pete took my place, stared long and hard at the targets and drew his piece. He blew out every can and bottle off the fence.
He turned to me and smiled.
"Well, alright, Buddy Boy, it's my turn to set everything up, don't get such a big head about it. And, by the way, don't lose your head over Miss Willa spending the night with us. Once she saw that horse-dick gambler's roll you were flashing you looked prettier than a gold coin piece to her".
"Kitrf dfvjh erwv hjgsi!"
"I'm just telling you for your own good, don't fall in love with her. It's not your good looks she's after".
"Pogh frew miku cfdes".
"I AM NOT jealous".
We both sat down for a spell and I pulled out my makings, filling the tobacco over the paper and rolling the paper and lighting up. Mumblin' Pete pulled out his chaw of tobacco and started chewing away, then spitting up a storm.
"Jhity frop bhij dekoo festry lwep", he grunted and then spat another dark brown missile of spit, splashing against a big rock, making a spotted lizard run away. The lizard probably thought it was raining shit.
"Listen, Pete, you enjoy your tobacco your way and I'll enjoy it my way!"
We both got real quiet for a second and then Pete buzzed.
"Klop fedts jik ubb greft ilhy sdet mkoij quelo ctroiyu ahjty?"
"I don't know who those hombres were but they sure were ornery looking. That old gent had a face like a mean old horny toad".
I pulled on my cigarette and Mumblin' Pete kept spitting away. I often wondered if it was all that chaw in his mouth that made him talk all funny like that. We had a few more hours to kill and then who knows what we were going to do next?
Be sure to get a copy of the complete novel "Wranglers' Canyon" in eBook form to be released in July 2015 by Book Baby. Don't miss it!