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In the Year of our LORD Jesus Christ
-- As of January 20, 2017
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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Fictional Short Story: When Horseshot Harry Came To Town ----- Recollections of a Western Deputy (1871 -1897)

When Horseshot Harry Came To Town And How He Was Himself Horseshot

 Wednesday and Thursday October 17 - 18, 1883

Recollections of a Western Deputy (1871 -1897)

As far as I reckon, not a single one of them thar Eastern Reporters has ever written a single stitch of words on Horseshot Harry, the most notorious outlaw of the West.  To this day, he is seldom spoken of except in saloons and the like where someone needs a good laugh, but rarely is he ever mentioned in anything above a whisper outside of them; and never to any children. 

Sheriff Bond was away with a couple of prisoners he captured, to give testimony as two two trespassers who ran down the Keeler family dogs and set their chicken coop and barn on fire for the heck of it were tried over before the Federal Judge two days ride at a just amble along pace away.  

Marshall Jackson had also decided to take the widow Beavers, his wife’s first cousin, and her 16 year old son Kenneth, who was a well trained butcher like his father was,  over into the other direction about a three hours hard ride to visit her kin and to pick up his wife, caring for an ailing aunt who recovered thanks to Mrs. Jackson’s good down to home cooking.  My stomach envied that auntie of hers, as Mrs. Jackson is the best cook, I dare say, for what must be  one week’s hard ride in any direction you want to take from town.

So here I was, on a cold windy morning about two hours after dawn on Wednesday, October 17, 1883, looking out from the Marshall’s new 8 foot wide by 24 foot long porch down here at the jail, looking at the orange dusty sky they said was from some volcano called Kracky-toe that went whoosh, way on the other side of the Earth.  It was a strange sight to see it mix in with the storm front that was a brewing.  It wasn’t natural.  

Main Street was unusually busy.  It was crammed so tight with wagons and horses and carriages and people moving this way and that, ya’ll would think that our big city of 9,000 was now like one of them great big ones with 50,000 or more.      We now had 30 teachers running classes from their homes for the children, but they all came together and placed themselves under one school master to prepare the children to one day be the founders of a new University they hoped would one day be created through them, and their children when they grew up.  

The new school master was recently emigrated from Ireland, and from the first day he introduced the illustrations of a new newspaper make believe man he called "Probably O’Hea", getting family picked Irish news mailed to him every 3 months or so from Cork County, and explained politics to these children at a more grown-up level.  He taught them to spend an hour more at their chores at home, and in return, the parents didn’t mind them spending two more hours a day at school, napping mid-day for half an hour or more like they do down in Texas, besides.  These young'n learned math that made them so smart, smarter than many engineers that came through (be they with the Army or surveyors for the railroad), that the townsfolk nicknamed “Probably O’Hea’s  Little Engineers”.  Every one of them was taught the ins and outs and dangling particles of English, with lessons also teaching Latin, German, and a bit of French and Spanish; and little by little, the children  were all becoming quite fluent in a secret language they kept to themselves and with the schoolmaster: Keltic.
So there I was, taking in the nip with a crowded just after dawn Main Street of what must have been more than half the townsfolk pushing and a shoving and a cramming to move along maybe the space of 50 buildings or not even 300 yards of a street some 60 feet wide, wagons and horses and carriages and people all stuck on one another like flies on glue paper.
Then from the east end of that mob a cry went up, and almost on top of that went up another from the opposite end,   “Horseshot Harry is a comin’! Horseshot Harry is a comin’." 

Well sir, when them thar horses when they heard it, even they had the sense to leave the street!  In fact, they’s was the first to pop their eyes a wide open just about out of their heads in fear, and run for cover.  That street, which was so full you couldn’t move this way or that more than a few steps at a time, if that much, now cleared in the lickety-split time it took to draw six pulls on a good cigar.    They was a jumping out of their boots through windows,  one jumping so hard, right in the middle of Main Street he jumped clear out of his britches with nothing on, like he just came out of a scalding bath.  For a man of 60, he ran like he was sprinting at 16.  Some were knocked unconscious in the rush and being dragged by the heels through the doors of nearby neighbors, while the horses that weren’t hitched bolted right in through the font doors of some of the shops and then being let out the back way.  

If'n you'se never heard of Horseshot, and you'se are from back east with the city slickers concerning yourselves with the latest gadgets and clothes, I wouldn't be surprised. 

Horseshot Harry was the scourge of the War for the Confederacy that no one ever talks openly about, yet everybody knows.  During the War, Horseshot started out in the Calvary for the South under JEB Stuart.  He had 17 horses shot out from under him in the first few months of the war, and 13 fell on top of him.  The last fall put him out of the War for almost a year.  After that, Horseshot spent the rest of the war as an infantry sniper for the South under Bedford Forrest, Stonewall Jackson and a couple others, and he went from being a happy-go-lucky southerner to a mean grifty-faced Confederate.  And I ain’t exagerratin’ when I say mean!

Horseshot was so mean, that he shot every Yankee horse that came within his sights and had the ammunition for.  And when them yanks were too far away, he sometimes was so angry, that because they wasn't a close enough, he shot the horses right out from under his own generals.  Matter of fact, Marshall Jackson, who once served two years in the same outfit as Horseshot, told me that Horseshot Harry shot 6 Horses right out from under General Bedford Forrest, only he never know’d it was Harry.  But if the General had ever been still long enough to look, he would have seen that all 6 of them thar horses were shot right in the ass by Horseshot.   General Lee  once remarked of Horseshot in 1863 that Horseshot was killing more Yankee horses than ol’ JEB Stuart was killin’ Yanks.   No one rightly knows how many horses Horseshot killed during the war, but some say it was near to 20,000 according to those who served with Horseshot.
After the war, Horseshot went west, and turned his sights on shooting out the horses under Missouri border raiders at $2 a horse, and was only paid for killin' if a man was ridin' it at the time.  He got 50 cents for each man, enough for a gallon of whiskey, so Horseshot kept killin' horses, and making half the Missouri border raiders (perhaps more) all get the flat foot, not to mention the bumps and bruises and breaks from falling off a horse being shot dead out from under them.   Then later, Horseshot took to  hunting down buffalo, and when that thinned out, he took up long barreled shotguns with rounds where he replaced the buckshot with rock salt and while scouting for the Yankee army, he hunted down the Red Man. After he was too mean even for the army, some say about a summer's campaign, Horseshot would go out on his own, bush-whack small food raiding parties of the Red Man and be a blastin’ away with these round of rocksalt, shooting horse and man alike,  a laughin’ uncontrollably like the crazy man he is, listening to their screams like music to his ears, before he’d blast any that still hung around, and send them to their tee-pees in hell.

So there he came, a walking into town, with a shotgun with four, count them, 4 40 inch barrels, like they was two double barreled shotguns one on top of the other, but with a different hammering in the rear, made exclusive and special.  Horseshot also carried the .50 caliber buffalo rifle, and a .44-.40 rifle as well as two Colts.  A dragoon on his left hip he took off a dead Yankee light colonel he kilt during the war, and a Colt .45 Peacemaker he lifted off a dead sheriff who tried to hang him for just being a Johnny Reb, blaming Horseshot for his two dead brothers at Yellow Tavern.  

Horseshot was smaller than I thought he would be.  Maybe 5'6" and a bullish  muscular 200 lbs. or so.   He looked to be about 50 or more, with long red hair that touched his shoulders and a handle-bar mustache that was almost as long.  I stood there alone, as Horseshot walked up to me, saw my badge, and asked if Marshall Jackson was around.  He and him served way back in the war.  I told him no, but that he could bunk up in the spare bedroom in the jailhouse, as we had an extra bed when visiting marshalls or sheriffs came to pick up prisoners but were so late they had to stay the night.  Horseshot agreed, and I made a pot of coffee, and pointed him to the jailhouse outhouse was, and stepped across the street to have Mr. Pfau rustle up a good breakfast for the both of us, and to send his boy Peter out to bring word to Marshall Jackson to come at the gallop.      

After an hour or so, it was clear that everyone was staying inside, so that it was as if the whole town had the dysentery.   Come about 2 in the afternoon, young Peter rode in with the Marshall, and about a hundred townsfolk ventured into their front doors and into Main Street apiece to see what was happening.  Marshall Jackson and Horseshot met like they was more than old friends.  Come to find out, they was first cousins and childhood pals who abided under the same roof for more than 5 years, and was like brothers than just near kin.  After almost 4 hours of back and forth memories of the good old times they had together, Horseshot excused himself to go to the jail outhouse some 50 yards out back, a ways away to keep away the flies.  

Horseshot took his shotgun along, and leaned it up aside the outhouse and went inside.  Moments later, two Blackfeet Indians rode up with 4 wild horses to sell to Ole Svenson the horse trader.  Well, one of these stallions must have got wind of Horseshot, because he trotted quite a ways away from outside Ole Svenson's corral, almost 300 yards,  and right up to where Horseshot was a-going.  And when he heard Horseshot's voice a cussin', that wild Red Man caught stallion turned right around and began kickin' the outhouse, breaking boards.  I called Marshall Jackson and began running toward the horse to shoo it away.  Marshall Jackson got to the door just long enough to see that stallion kick Horseshot's outhouse three more times, the third one knocking it over and all four barrels of Horseshot's shotgun firing right up in the region where his sitting part used to be.   I caught the stallion by the mane and wrastled it to the ground like a wild steer.  Marshall Jackson had pulled out both revolvers, and with both his glaring eyes having turned totally black, he drew down on the both of us, and for a moment as blood trickled out both Marshall Jackson's nostrils and dripped from his mustache, I thought fer sure I was a goner with this dang horse!    

That night, for the first time, as far as I know, a horse was put on trial for murder, tried and convicted. 

 It took all night by both whale oil lantern and torchlight, but in the morning, we built a scaffold with a 13 foot ramp over a shallow pit, and hung the horse at dawn.  Marshall Jackson (almost happily, it seemed to me) pulled the lever himself.

  Horseshot was buried with the Horse that shot him about a mile outside of town on a small hill overlooking the town.  The Horse was buried head downward and inan upright position on its legs bent under him on a dirt grave slope that started 8 feet deep and ran down to about 13 feet deep, while Horseshot was at an even keel of 6 feet deep behind him, without a casket, and his boot heel on his right foot shoved fully up the stallion's you-know-what.   They was then both covered in white pebbles mixed with gravel on Marshall Jackson's orders.  Horseshot still got the last boot up that horse's backside, both in life and all the way down into hell, even if old Harry was himself embarassingly Horseshot on Wednesday October 17, 1883  himself.  

Deputy B.

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