I guess I should've left town but I did what I did and what's done is done. After the late Sheriff Elroy Frehley passed his badge over to me it was expected by the townsfolk for me to give him a proper eulogy, but, balls! Let the worms eat his ass. He humiliated me before the entire citizenry of Jonestown and I wasn't about to boo hoo hoo like the rest of the liars assembled.
Damn straight I was going to make an appearance at his burial...way in the back of the chapel. When they did turn around to peer at me during the service there was fear in their eyes. They had a lot to be afraid of. They treated me like an abused tom cat and now it was my turn. Being the new town Sheriff gave me all the turns in the world that I wanted, they knew it, and they were scared, scared shitless.
The first thing we did was get our shit from the hotel to our new office, throw Frehley's crap out in the back and use his long bottomed drawers to wipe the mud off our horses. Fuck him.
Mumblin' Pete might be one of the quickest draws in the country but he couldn't make a pot of coffee for shit. It tasted like butt paste. On the plus side he rubbed tons of castor oil over my cuts and bruises that I had all over me. I needed a lot of relief because every inch of my body burned like hell.
We kept waiting for that coward Deputy Shugg to drop by but I guess the fear of God was all over him, too. He never did turn up. Too bad. I had some serious jawing to do with him and I was chomping at the bit.
I sat back in the Sheriff's chair with my long legs propped up on the desk watching Mumblin' Pete sweeping up the floor.
"Quit sweepin' for a second. Can't you hear everybody weeping outside?"
"Mnhjhgsh sgssh opw fehk".
"I know they've been whining all morning, but for some dad blasted reason I'm not getting tired of it".
Mumblin' Pete spat a big gusset on the floor. "Gfdsds uyt!"
The jail cells were pretty empty and I thought it might be a good idea to start pulling a few yokels in so they'd get a good idea of what they've got to look forward to. Besides, it wouldn't help being stuck in this office all day or else we'd look like the real prisoners.
"Drop that broom, Deputy, we got some patrolling to do. I reckon we'll start, at, ahh....Sailor Jerry's".
Pete got excited and ditched the broom lickety split.
The little stroll we took over to Sailor Jerry's Dancehall was something to see. All the pretty, pretty people of Jonestown parted at the sight of us and split off to all the extreme corners out of our sight. It suited me just fine.
Jonestown was in a state of mourning for days following Frehley's funeral so Mr. Butcher left out one of his big free lunches for all the mourners. The usual fare was out on display: possum, hogs, squirrel, gopher, chicken, beef, lamb, and probably an unlucky iguana along the way.
Mayor Randall was jamming his fat worthless face by a table near the bar. Every once in awhile Jerry would step away from the bar and play some sad tune on the pipe organ.
"Froou sfg rt bjigc hhu ouijbxd?" Mumblin' Pete asked.
"Nah, you get the drinks", I said. "I'll just hang back here. I'm getting mighty tired of watching everybody look all scared".
Pete was a stand-up guy, though. He got the whiskey shots. When everyone noticed him buying, folks figured we were both here and gaped at me standing by the corner. Pete also grabbed two plates of food.
"You can have mine. I'm not much for eating today", I told him, not leaving my gaze at the frightened mob.
My eyes caught Randall beckoning me over to his table. I didn't budge. He made fun of my singing and my good looks, too, so he can sit in the dog house until his ass gets eaten by worms. I took my shot and just shook my head slowly. All that was missing was my turning my thumb down like some Roman emperor.
Miss Odessa saw me and put her money where her mouth was, walking up to me.
"Where's the other gals? Clara and Teresa seemed mighty fired up when I was being disgraced and all".
"Teresa's kinda hiding after the big fracas and Clara left town, scared out of her wits. Right before she left she kept saying that if you didn't brand her hide the Hiss Ranch would after they shot up the Sheriff".
I sighed loudly.
Odessa shook her red hair and shrugged her pretty shoulders.
"If it makes a difference to you me and Charity never believed you were a killer and we stayed out of that whole circus going on last week".
"I believe you". She picked up a bottle and poured another shot for me.
Jerry played a nice, slow dirge, probably some old Maritime tune about burial at sea.
"The ocean is my resting home
Waves rock me Lord, so I won't be all alone
The rolling sea, Jesus spake to me..."
Mumblin' Pete was bawling all over again. He would've kept it up, only something funny happened. This hombre stepped in and he looked pretty familiar. I couldn't place his face too well so I just squinted and peeled my eyes a lot.
The guy was as dressed in dark blue, wide as a freight train and kinda barked at Sailor Jerry like a mangy mutt. What little I heard I didn't like. The bar patrons kinda backed off him the way they did to me just a second ago. Some of them even looked at him and then at me. What gives.
Jerry got up from his organ and went behind the bar, looking kinda nervous. I was kinda nervous, too. He went out of his way to serve the guy. I bent my ear closer to what was going on. It didn't sound too good.
There was a lot of nigger this and nigger that. I know Jerry's always dealt with loudmouth guys before but this guy had an extra scare on him. People were quietly walking away from this scene, washing their hands from the whole deal, just like they did when my head was on the chopping block.
Randall glanced at me from time to time, wondering what my next move would be. He wasn't alone. Jerry was about to rip the jackass across the face with his hook but saw me coming closer to the action.
I marched slowly towards the front of the bar. As I came closer I realized who the bully was. He was the big jerk who came in with Hiss the other day when old Hiss made his ultimatums.
"Ahoy, friend", I said. "Care to tell me what your business is around these parts?"
The bully turned around with a frozen sneer on his face, blue eyes blazing with cold fire.
"Just here to have a drink, partake in the funeral rites for the Sheriff, and teach this coon some manners".
"You had your drink. Now before you leave I want you to apologize to my friend for your bad manners".
His eyes widened. "Over my dead body".
"You know", I raised my voice so everyone could hear. "That reminds me of a story. Once I worked on a ranch. We had about a dozen horses on this ranch. We had black, brown, white, spotted horses, all kinds. But there was this one brown horse. The most aggressive horse I've ever seen. It kept biting and kicking the black and white horses. It would only run with the other brown horses. The ranch hands kept trying to get this stupid brown horse to ease up around the other colored horses, but it just kept kicking and biting away. Well, you know, they had no other choice but to take that dumb fucking beast out in the field and shoot it in the head. Now, what do you think of that?"
"That's the stupidest story I've ever heard".
"Well, I reckon you'd say that because you're just like that dumb ass beast".
He reached for his gun, and before he could fire I pulled mine out and shot him in the leg. Pete shot him in the hand so he got a double-dose of gunfire. The shot to the leg made him fall like a sack of bricks. I jumped right on his chest and pinned his arms down.
"I KNOW YOU! YOU'RE THAT GEEK EVERYBODY LAUGHED AT!"
I punched him in the mush.
"BUT NOW I'M THE SHERIFF! NOW APOLOGIZE!!!"
I got off him and he limped up and smashed me with his good hand in the face with his gun, hobbling out fast from the saloon and riding off. I almost passed out.
Mumblin' Pete ran out the doors and peeled out a few shots in the air to scare the bully off.
I staggered to the bar and Jerry gave me the whole bottle and rang his bell. I saluted him and walked out.
"Come on, Pete. This damn town's been harmful to my health".
"Bnghhw ebj svkl wwxg eeubm cdennm okjkn xbwhbhj, xuwhwjh! Qswhhj?"
I dunked most of the bottle for the rest of the night. My head was throbbing like crazy. We pulled the cots out of the cells and slept in them, right by the stove, catching some warmth from the cold Arizona night.
Two hours later, the darkness of our room were cut through by bright flashes of lightning. Pete opened the door and there was a massive torrential downpour of rain coming down, the kind you only get in the desert. The rain was punctuated by booms of thunder and bright flashes of lightning.
I woke up for a spell and cussed.
"Close the door, Pete. Don't things ever slow down around here, nohow?"
"Ghfr hgjs iofjk dcmnkdj egddjk!"
We both finally nodded off back to sleep, even though the sky was pissing rain and St. Peter was playing drums and Baby Jesus was flipping the light switch on and off like a maniac. Two hours later we heard an even bigger boom, only this one came from the front door. And it wouldn't stop.
Someone was banging to Kingdom Come on our door, so I finally cussed again and woke up in my drawers. I flipped the door open and saw Shorty from the hotel.
"Sheriff! Sheriff! The barber shop and general store are on fire! Hurry!" Shorty screamed, all drenched in rain, his features pale. I looked behind him down the street and noticed not all the bright lights were from the thunder, but from a string of wooden buildings burning down.
I ran over to Pete and shook his ass up and threw my clothes and coat on. "FIRE!"
Pete jumped up and threw his duds on and we raced down the street to see the flames leaping wildly from our favorite joints. The flames were getting closer and closer to Sailor Jerry's.
"GHET HNJHLKLK OPOOI HU!!!!"
A crowd of people were trying to bang blankets against the fires.
"STOP THAT!" I yelled at the crowd. "NOW LISTEN UP! I WANT Y' ALL TO GRAB BUCKETS, AS MANY AS YOU CAN AND BRING THEM OVER HERE!"
"GET SOME SHOVELS, TOO AND DIG FOR DIRT. DIG UNDER THE MUD UNTIL YOU REACH SOME DIRT AND FILL THE BUCKETS WITH DIRT. WE'LL KEEP DOUSING THE FLAMES WITH DIRT! C' MON! GO!!"
For a second they just stood and stared and then Bo the Blacksmith jumped to my side and yelled, "YA! LETZ GO I HAF BOOKETS SHERIFF ISS RIGHT!!!"
They all skedaddled and ran to get their shovels and buckets.
We formed a line of folks digging and others passing the buckets to a few hardy men throwing huge masses of dirt into the flames. It was working slowly but not fast enough.
"COME ON, FASTER! THE FLAMES ARE CATCHING! WE GOT TO STOP THE FIRE BEFORE IT GROWS!!!"
The fire didn't stop the rain from pouring heavier and heavier, the sky flashing like a lantern going crazy and the thunder booming so loud it made us all jump.
While I was working on the fire fighting train I saw a figure in the distance on a horse holding a torch. The man looked pretty big and wide, kinda like that bum I clobbered the other day.
"DEPUTY, TAKE OVER! I HAVE SOME SHERIFFING TO DO!!!"
Pete looked up at me with a confused look on his face. Good luck to anyone who can understand his orders.
I vamoosed over to Clyde as fast as I could, loosening the reins and hopping on him. He looked pretty freaked out over the thunder and lightning, the poor old guy. I kicked Clyde's ribs with my spurs and we rode off as fast as we could. The man with the torch saw me coming after him from the distance and dropped his torch, riding quickly away.
Thanks to the lightning I could catch quick spurts of light illuminating him riding away so I couldn't lose him. The wind blowing the rain in our faces made riding tough. The thunder made Clyde so panicky he rode faster than I ever remember him riding before. He ran like the Devil was after him.
We reached the town limits, getting into the forest and the mud felt deeper and more slippery than ever. For all of Clyde's running the poor beast slipped and sent me flying off him, ass over elbows into the mud.
Clyde breathed heavily, steam pouring out of his nostrils and he trotted around in circles. I was covered in wet mud. I got up from my knees and looked up.
"I think I broke my tail bone", I groaned, rubbing my poor ass. "How about you, Clyde?"
The lightning flashed a few more times until I noticed a looming shadow not five feet away from me. I looked up at where the shadow was and finally figured out what is, now was. I found Deputy Shugg.
Deputy Shugg hung from a tall oak by the neck, his nose cut off, his eyes gouged out, half his fingers cut off and his peter was missing, too, I think. There was a lot of dried blood between his legs. It was hard to tell because I had to go by the lightning blasts every ten seconds. One thing's for sure, I finally found the Deputy.
This concludes the public edition of "Wranglers' Canyon". To see how the rest of this ruckus turns out be sure to get the eBook edition of the complete "Wranglers' Canyon" coming in July 2015.