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In the Year of our LORD Jesus Christ
2017
-- As of January 20, 2017
A Sigh Of Relief With The Inauguration Of Donald John Trump as President of the United States of America, And Hope For A Prosperous Future For All United States Citizens (we who are a nation called "the melting pot of the world"). We shall be great and exceptionally great again.




Peace and Liberty. Semper Fidelis.





Thursday, July 30, 2015

Recollections of a Western Deputy (1871 -1897): Friday, October 24, 1879 Celebratin' Our Little Neighborhood Hero: Fanny

Recollections of a Western Deputy (1871 -1897): 
             Celebratin' Our Little Neighborhood Hero: Fanny

Friday, October 24, 1879       One of the things I enjoy lookin' at is when a child or a group of children in their innocence remind me of me.  I don't mean they look like me or are kin to me, but that some of the experiences I get to see them go through are a lot like the ones I had as a young 'un.    Take 9 year old "Fanny" Magnusson.  This little blond haired and blue eyed girl who Scottish Family traced back to the Vikings,  led about a group of 6 or 7 children about her age down to my eldest son Winchester's age of 6.  When I was a child, my hair was very light brown to an almost blond in summer, and it would darken in the winter.  Later on, it turned a medium brown and stayed that way, but one of my childhood friends was also a gutsy little blond and blue eyed female, who when she got older, moved away as she began changing into a beautiful woman, and dashed the hopes I had of askin' her for marriage, though she was just a year older than me and I was 12 and she was 13.  I heard tell she married a month before I left to serve as a scout for General Lee for a while, bein' reassigned with the highest honors and recommendations from a genuine Christian gentleman and shrewd soldier who had only recently commanded at West Point, and used to happily chuckle how he would have loved to have had me as one of his fine young cadets at West Point, as if it were a prayer and a wish that could somehow someday come true.  
That aside, come to think of it, I've been callin' this 9 year old little girl "Fanny" for so long, and so have her friends, I forget what her first name really was.  No matter.


  About a year ago, Winchester had adopted a Momma house cat with the kittens, and that was when he and little "Fanny", a neighbor from down the street who was 8 then and Winchester was 5, well that was when these two children took a gleam to one another and became friends.  They was so close, you would have thought they was kin, like me and my cousin Beth.  It was really cute to see these two together, and they never argued with one another neither.    A few days after Winchester found  this Momma house cat who had her litter over by the big tree next to the horse stall, some 40 feet from the kitchen side door of the house later, a group of 4 wild cats attacked the Momma Cat and her litter in front of a frightened  and screamin' Winchester, and killed them all afore the wife could run out of the house and kill one of them wild cats with a meat cleaver toss and them grab another by its back and neck skin (as it jumped to attack as the other two skedaddled).  Well sir, the wife bein' who the real fine woman that she is, she brought that wild and clawin' cat around head  high and vertical, and then she kicked that cat in the rear end like it were a ball near 30 foot up that tree over by the covered horse stall where I generally keep my horse "Reindeer" at.  The neighbors all up and down the street heard that wild (might as well be an alley cat)  critter's dyin' scream and came a runnin'.   But by then it was all over.   The cat sunk its claws at just over 29 feet up that tree, and died clinging.  A few hours later I returned home, hearin' the news from every neighbor as I slowly rode up the street.  A couple of the neighbor's children boast smilingly how "Mrs. B.  kicked the cat!" , and "Mrs. B. saved Winchester's life!" afore bein' chased or called inside the house by one of their parents.    I was concerned over that last utterance.  But when I got home, the wife came out the Kitchen door and told me what had happened.   I climbed up a ladder and used a pruning hook extension, I pried the dead wild house cat off the tree, and we watched it fall to the ground and bounce a few inches and come to rest.   Sure enough, it was in rigor mortise.    Well sir, there was one sole survivor in that litter that those wild house cats didn't kill, and Winchester named him "Danny".    That was last year.

    Now a few days ago, "Fanny" came over, and Winchester followed along to the front corner of the property, and then came back with her to speak to the Mrs. to ask permission to play and be kept an eye on.    Because of Winchester's age, and him bein' the first of our children,  the wife and I had forbidden him to go past the corner of the property, and if the neighbor's children was invite him to play in the road, they'd have to ask permission, as the wife would watch from the kitchen door and keep them up near a direct line of sight.  Furthermore, any time a horse or carriage or wagon came down the road, they was to call out to stop, clear the road, and not resume until it was safe to do so. Well, the wife consented to watchin' them, but was drawn away to change the undergarments of Winchester's siblings when another wild house cat attack happened again.   
This time, Danny the cat was near where the children was playin'.  He was a smart and gentle cat, that was somethin' to behold.  One time some months back, Danny the cat almost got hisself run over by a passin' horse drawn buckboard as he crossed the road.  Winchester saw it.  After which he spent weeks keepin' a sharp eye on Danny whenever he got close to the road.  He would them scoop him up, and lecture him, plant him gently on all 4 paws, and turn his head to look up the street and then the other way down the street, and carry him across.  He then got to the point where he would just shout out, "Danny!  Look!"   And sure enough, at the edge of the road, that cat lookin' back at Winchester then looked Left, and then Right, and if the coast was clear, he went.  If there was traffic, that cat kept a lookin' until it was safe and then went.  Pretty soon people could easily spot and tell it was Danny from a quarter mile away.  He was the only cat in town that stopped by the side of the road, looked this way and that to see if it was safe to cross, and only then crossed the road or street that he was at.  I even seen that dang cat at the other end of town do that look this way and that in order to cross the street and then, to my alarm,  enter under the porch at the house of ill repute that the Town Council, the Mayor, the Judge, and many others liked to think they would visit on the sly.  As I rode by on reindeer, I heard the Mayor's voice call out, "Here, Pussy!" and thought to myself, "He better not be callin' that dang cat!", as I was lookin' back to see what I could tell by the shadows on the window shade as I was passin'.  When I saw it was the shadow of a woman standin' on the bed over him..."Phew!!!...What a relief!"      

   I told the wife about it, and she gave me this look.  It wasn't just "a look," it was "THE look."    As my mind raced back to try to figure what she was givin' me "THAT look" about, she then threatened to knock me up side the head with somethin' hard when I wasn't lookin' if I put the scare into Winchester by tellin' him where his cat was disappearin' off to of late, and tellin' him some "blue story" with it.   When she said "blue story", I went, "Oh!" and knew what she meant.  (I was goin' to leave that part out anyway.)      But it still could be from bad to worse, as he could make his way over thar' and find a litter of more critters, and the town would be askin' why he would bee-line straight to a place like that, and then where would I be?  Six feet under and sent there by the wife, that's where I would be!

    Anyways,  the wife was off changing baby and infant dirties in another room, and Danny the Cat was watchin' Winchester and some neighborhood children play with a ball in the street.  Suddenly, 3 wild "house cats" attacked Danny.  Winchester immediately ran to protect a screamin' in pain Danny the Cat from three attackers and got bit and scratched on the hand and arms.  Fanny then jumps in thar' as Winchester falls back, and kicks one cat off, and grabs another up by the tail, and whirls it around over head like a ball on a rope, just as I was ridin' up the road at a distance beholdin' all this.  She whirled it 2 or 3 times over head and then smashed its head against a horse hitchin' post.  The melee then goes into the side yard of my property toward the covered horse stall and tree by it, and "Fanny" catches a second cat pursuin' and on top of Danny, whirls that wild house cat around a few times over head and tosses it head first into the tree.  The third cat then attempts to jump on Winchester's face, but one of the other children grabs it by the hind legs and pulls it back so that it lands belly flat on the ground, and then they all begin stompin' it to death.  Fanny gets herself a club shaped  (near 18")  log from the loose logs near the horse stall, and comes out and finishes the job, clubbin' that last cat to death with several hard precise blows to the top of its head.  

Some of the parents that came runnin' were upset at the first, but I hailed Fanny as our little neighborhood hero, and announced that in two days hence, all these children and their families was invited for a Barbecue of a fatted calf I would butcher and open pit cook out in the Front Yard, with all the fixins except dessert, and asked if some of the women might supply pie or some other somethin'  like that they would like to share.  This would be to honor Fanny and her savin' Winchester from serious harm and also for her savin' Winchester's cat. 

Afore I knew it, the Marshal and the Sheriff and their kin invited themselves over, and the wife invited her family as well as Beth and her young uns from mine, as well as the 4 good ole boys from the Great War and their kin.  In fact, we had over 400 folks, I reckon, perhaps nearer to 500, and of all the leftover beef I thought we would have left over,  there was only bones for people's pet dogs, or to be used as soup bones. But not one went without a good portion of beef, either spit turned or seared perfect on a 5 foot by 5 foot cast iron plate I got hold of and hadn't known what to do with until now.    It was a huge success.  I haven't seen anywhere near as much laughin', and singin', and just plain fun and gettin' along since afore the Great War.  And that only once, and not lastin' near as long neither.   From late mornin' until about a half hour after dark, it was a wonderful whole day affair.  I don't reckon I've ever seen the Mrs. and her family so proud of me as I did of them as we was puttin' the last cleanin' up touches that night, most of the folks cleanin' up after themselves, so it really wasn't very much that was left.      

--  Deputy B.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Fictional Short Story: Recollections of a Western Deputy (1871 -1897): Horse-shoes A Fallin'


July 5, 1879            Horse-shoes A Fallin'


    On July 4, we had another odd duck day.    At the Rodeo celebration, two men billed themselves as Trick Shooters, and decided to do the bullet into the horseshoe trick.  This involves 7 horse-shoes all of the same exact size and shape.  The first is blank with 6 nail holes, the second has a .44 slug in the first nail hole, the third horse-shoe has two slugs in two of the nail holes, and so on.  The one who throws the horse-shoe up in the air, always acts like a Circus clown, and always puts the horse-shoe in a small barrel before tossing it up in the air again to be shot.  Each of the slugged horse-shoes hand on an inner ring numbered by white paint on the barrel wall as to how many slugs is in the horse-shoe below it.  It gets tricky on really cloudy days, as once they did the trick for the first slug, and all 6 was placed in the horse-shoe they showed to the crowd in St. Louis or somewhere that someone told me once when I was 9 days out trailin’ a skunk who shot and near killed two of the Governor’s servants and barely missed the Governor at his house, putting two bullets through his coat tails.  That killer fell of a mountain tryin' to take a quick trail on the 10th day, and rock-slid down off the trail after it gave way some 40 paces and went over a cliff to the rocks below, and split in an upper and lower body at the belly, missin' about a foot in between all splattered on the rocks.  
That fella with me on that manhunt told me that when the crowd (in St. Louis or somewheres like that name) saw these trick shootin’ fellas was usin’ blanks and makin’ the crowd out to be fools, they skinned every lick of clothin’ off of those phoney sharp-shooters, and made them do a farewell down the middle of Mississippi River, chased by rowboats of angry folk shootin' up the water to keep them floatin' down to some down river town to be arrested later for indecency.  It appears that the naked sharp-shootin' phonies were taken up, and charged and then served 60 days hard labor afore getting’ out.  Yet, here they was, 3 years later, once again pullin’ the same act hundreds and hundreds of miles away, hopin’ no one was the wiser…only one of them was too dead drunk to go on. 


So, needin’ the money for the act, the one who threw the horse-shoes decided to go on anyways.   He quick learned a fella who was about only half as drunk as he was, and swaggered about half as much when they walked out to do the act.  The one who was to throw the horse-shoes high up in the air, 40 feet or more, stood about 30 feet away from the fella who he quick learned regardin’ the act.  The other  drunk was supposed to take a six gun and shoot the horse-shoe in one or more of its holes while high in the air at or near its zenith.  Unfortunately, he looked a little sleepy.    The shooter bein' drunk, watched the first horse-shoe  go up and watched it fall.  And when it was dead between him and his partner at about eye level, the dang fool shot his partner about 8 inches below the heart, just missin’ the kidney, intestines, and artery.  He forgot to replace the quick learn fellas lead bullets with blanks.   Once shot, the fella who threw the  horse-shoe bent over like he was punched in the gut, and walked away, and left the Rodeo, grabbin’ the local horse doctor to pull the bullet out in the privacy of a new Livery that was two buildings away from where they was when he grabbed the horse doctor.  I followed along to see what the problem was, and caught up to them as the horse-doc was layin’ his patient on the ground and sayin’:
“Leroy, even if you had twice your brains, you’d still only graduate from bein’ a dimwit to to bein’ a half-wit!  And if you had even 4 times the smarts, you’d be so full of gas , that if someone like me came along and poked you with just one finger in the belly, my guess is that you’d give a new definition to blowin’ your brains out!” 
Leroy replied,
“Ain’t nuthin’ you could ever prove, you old horse-quack!”


And with that, the horse-doctor pressed one finger hard into the center of the patient Leroy’s stomach, and Leroy passed gas so badly that even I had to leave and open both barn doors to the Livery to spare the animals in thar’ the misery.  I was lookin’ quick for a pipe or cigar smoker to help undo the stench that went up my nostrils, and instead had to stick my face in a water trough and blow out one nostril at a time with a forceful exhale on each one.  And while I was off doin’ that, the horse doctor got the bullet out, but he operated on the ground next to a mule (about an arm's length to the patient’s right and about so to the horse-doctor’s left). 


I returned just in time to see the patient sit up and cry out like a jackass in pain, which type of scream startled the mule, which then kicked the horse-shoe thrower in the right side of the head so that he died.  And what was worse, is that the mule’s shoe was loose, so that it stuck in the side of the man’s head in a perfect indentation over and around his right ear.   There was exactly $1.09 in Leroy’s pocket, and a pair of spiffy new lookin’ boots on Leroy’s feet which the horse-doctor took as his rightful fee.  The town’s newly arrived mortician got a hold of the body, set up a tent peak show as the folks left the Rodeo, and charged 5 cents a look, and 10 cents more to touch.  He made some $73.90, gave the man’s partner $5 (when he finally regained consciousness that evenin’ or last night) and buried the horse-shoe thrower free of charge, usin’ an old paint stained tarp he was goin’ to burn as trash anyhow, but at least made the hole 8 feet deep, as he threw another body on top of that, of some unknown fella who died getting’ bucked off in the Bronco bustin’ event, and landin’ in his head.  When his neck snapped, it jiggled like limp noodles on a fork that the Latin folk out of Italy eat.     Yessir, the mortician not got a two for one on that grave, but he then buried the widow Morning Star’s -- who we call Widow Morganstern’s – cat at about 4 feet down, and placed a 140 lb natural rock that was headstone chiseled to the cat in exchange for $2, two free coat sleeve and inseam sewings,  and 5 chickens.  So if you folks ever get to the Common Graves in an otherwise overgrown and abandoned acre in the southwest part of town, and you find the stone dedicated to a cat, just that two fellas are buried under you know what. 

Most folks still hold to buryin’ their kin on their own land, which is their right to do.  Folks round here, and I suspect most anywhere (except perhaps those who live in the big cities and whatnot) only require that such buryin’ always be far enough away from a common underground water source so as not to contaminate it for the rest of us that is livin’.  It’s called common sense; and in my experience, most city folks don’t seem to possess anywhere near enough of it. 

After conferrin’ with Marshall Jackson and Sheriff Bond, I went home and checked on the wife, who is 6 months along.  I found her layin’ down on our bed, sweatin’ up a storm.  I changed her clothes, and the sheets, and gave her well water cool downs on her face, neck, and arms. I made sure the children were well, clean and fed and not thirsty, and the like.   I tried to talk to her mother, who was lookin’ after the children, but after I got home, seemed to be doin’ little more than slammin’ this or that door shut every few minutes.  Her mother was stormin’ back and forth through and in and out of the house.  If she was doin’ anything after I got home aside from door slammin’, I was in uncharted waters to apprehend what it was.   

After my mother-in-law’s  husband died, I bought her a property less than a 5 minute walk away to the West of my 11 acre place. From the front gate of my house, a normal person can run there to my mother-in-law’s place  in less than a minute.  She was upset…hell, she was always upset about somethin’.  That old battle axe was still mad at me not just for marryin’ her daughter, but also because I didn’t buy the new house bein’ built on the property to the west of mine, where the town just finished gradin’ the last of its in town streets.  After the house to the west of my property, the town graded a north-south street, and then there is that house on the opposite corner and hers to the west of that on the next corner of that same  block (they call “town land” inside the same three or more sided section of roads “a block” now).  While she has a now graded level dirt street to walk up and down on, she’s upset she has to walk so far.  Who wants to live right next to a mother-in-law hoverin’ over anything and everything you visibly do?  She practically lives here all day anyway.  I have a nappin’ room that I want to eventually turn into a bedroom for my oldest child, Winchester, and two of his little brothers (the twins) in another year or so, but for now, she uses it to lay down in some several times durin’ the day, as she is hoverin’ about the wife and children 6 days a week from 7 am to near 4 in the afternoon.


Sometimes she can’t sleep, and I find her at 4 in the mornin’ in the kitchen. 
What I don’t like, is she helps herself to my supplies and sometimes takes baskets of food and even some of the smaller livestock.  Last week it was 2 chickens and 10 pounds of flour and half a pound of salt.  This week, she had her son take and butcher one of my goats.  He promises to make me a fine waterskin bag out of the hide after havin’ it a couple of months or more.   He was hopin’ to make it a weddin’ present with the 3 other goats he took over the last couple months previous…goats I though ate through their ropes and ran away. 


 Sometimes in the last few weeks…correct that, since about the beginnin’ of May, if I come home durin’ the day when the old battle axe of a mother-in-law is at my and the wife’s home, I have to sneak up to one of the windows.  And if my mother-in-law is in a real bad temperament…like how my wife gets for 2 or 3 days in a month when she has one of her moon rages, usually only when she’s not carryin’, but sometimes will also get just as upset when she’s carryin’…I’ll only sneak up to the window of the room I see the wife at when her mother isn’t with her, but only after mufflin’ the horse hoofs with cloth I tie to the hoofs.  On those occasions, I usually only get to whisper with the wife a few private words quickly, afore kissin’ her and sneakin’ off.

Otherwise, I will generally just wait for the mother-in-law to leave, and usually the coast is clear like clock-work about 4 in the afternoon, usually by 5 minutes after 4 on most days. 

   Once, that old battle axe caught me and the wife while I was on my horse whisperin’ to the wife at one of the windows, and that snappin’ crab pulled the wife back and broke that rollin’ pin she brought with her out of the kitchen (for some reason or other), she quick as lightnin’ broke the rollin’ pin of on my head, and one of the pieces that broke off and killed my one and only turkey that I was fattenin’ up out thar’ in the yard.  Of course, she took up and kept the turkey and took it home with her. That fat bird was near 26 pounds as best I can figure, and was near prime for eatin’.   The next day, I saw it curin’ out on a hook off her front porch, and two of the in-laws sittin’ outside eyein’ me and smilin’ and wavin’ even as they was guardin’ it.  She was takin’ no chances, as she knew I would take it back if no one was lookin’.   That’s her idea of gratitude.  It’s no wonder the Dutch side of the wife’s family asked the Danish side to move out.  They was all nice, really nice and honest and good folk on both sides…with one exception…you know who. And from what I hear, she used to also be really really nice,  years ago.   


For them that wouldn't know any better, my mother-in-law is a very lovely to look at woman in her own right, but she has this foul temperament to those who ain’t of her own kind.  When a woman gets that way, she can be like a beautiful apple on the outside, at first pleasin’ to the eye, but if you bite into it and it is sour or rancid in some way, even if you just look at the unbit side, that displeasin’ knowledge, for you, makes it an eyesore that turns your stomach.  I think that describes how I felt about her more times than I care to admit, and how she must have generally felt about me. 

Between the wife and my father-in-law afore he died, I know some of the history that led to that twice fallen Valkyrie to bein’ how she was.  In or about 1851, she married a merchant (my now late father-in-law) who hailed out of Holland, who had originally intended to live and settle in Denmark, and this made her and her family very happy.  While in Denmark, the wife was born.  

       After 10 years of great success in Denmark, for whatever reason, my late father-in-law decided to move to Holland, even though he grew very wealthy and remarkably successful.  Most of the wife's memories are of how beautiful and wonderful Limburg (a province there) was, and still is.  Apparently, that province dates back its settlement by the Celts to the Roman times, even to the years spoken of in the New Testament and a generation or two afore that (the wife's family says).  Her grandparents worked and lived out of the perimeter of second largest city in in Holland, a place called Maastricht.  When she reminisces of it, I can see in her face how happy and joyous and innocent her childhood was.  That soothes and pleases me.

Many of my late father-in-law's own  in-laws who also were livin’ off what he made and supplied them, followed him to Holland (and made him pay for the passages and fares as well); and for almost another 10 years my late father-in-law then made  his wealth by tradin' and sellin' with the English, the Germans, the French, and finally some American  buyers who happened to be visitin’ Holland at the time.  The wife learned to be fluent in all Danish and Dutch, and German and French, but until we was married, never quite picked up and understood the English language.  Afore he died, her father had me pay to have the wife tutored by two different women teachers who properly educated the wife, as he always said that I did to the English like a sloppy butcher does to a cow, and makes a mess of it all.  
     
      Over the course of 6 or 7 months, the American buyers in Holland who dealt with my late father-in-law in his last year there, well they held him spellbound with history and tales of what it was like in America.  After nearly half a year or more of bein' carried away in his mind with what he was told over long hours of  intoxicatin' drinkin' with intoxicatin' speakin'...afore he knew it, he set up his father and mother in a fine small house on a nice property with plenty of monies for the next 10 or 15 years of livin’, and struck out for the United States not long before war broke out between the Germans and the French over the Lorraine and Alsace regions on their border areas, or somethin’ to that effect.  My father-in-law could have just as easily returned to Denmark and lived quite happily and comfortably, but my mother-in-law grew angry and bitter, and never forgave him for not takin’ her to a beautiful country she so rightly loved. Instead, he sparked out to a new and alien land, filled with filthy people who themselves were filled with filthy manners who couldn’t generally speak a word of the civilized languages that she was fluent in, but that was mostly in certain cities he kept to from New York City to Chicago, until he came out West, and then it really got dirty, where they hitched to a wagon train and settled in a field by a stream away from the west of the wagons who formed a town…this town. 

I don’t rightly blame my mother-in-law for lovin' her heritage, though we have idiots and snobs and ignoramuses who claim heritage is prejudice, just so long as it is everybody else's heritage that is wrong to be proud of and not theirs.  I sometimes try to imagine what life might have been like if I wasn't so blessed with my Mrs.  Then, after a while, I scare myself, and put it out of my mind.  I think if  other men who also are husbands would learn to do that more often, they wouldn't be ruinin' their own marriages or themselves with prostitute diseases, and set about to drinkin' too much to get over their misery.  

Let me give you one example on how I scared myself thinkin' on this recently, just after my mother-in-law filled the top shelf of a closet full of horse-shoes, so that when I opened the closet door, 46 horse-shoes suddenly and without warnin' fell on my head and planted my backside to the floor.  As my head was spinnin' and as stars were a poppin' and a flashin' before my eyes, for 45 minutes or so, until a couple of my infant children found me and tried to work my face with their fingers like they was grabbin' at clay, I sat thar' and thought over what it would have been like had I been a Confederate Sailor instead of havin' served in the Confederate Army durin' the war, and life after I mustered out.  

  Even if I were a sailor, and went to Texas or Chihuahua or somewheres where I could have married one of them fine polite missies out of Mexico, I can only imagine the senora’s mother likewise bein' a battle axe herself as well, be her roots in Mexico or in Spain.  If that were the case, I can't imagine a mother-in-law who wouldn't also be lookin’ down at those not meetin’ her notion of what a husband should be for her daughter or whatnot, especially since I was reared Protestant and most of them beautiful senoritas are Catholic.  I would have to learn Latin, because that is all they speak at Mass; and probably, I would find myself ear drug out of bed so often on early Sunday mornin's...well, I can just imagine havin' this one big long and wide floppy ear droopin' like a hound dog, and me cryin' out in pain every Sunday mornin' as I get cussed out in Spanish and in Latin.  Just think of it...I'd have to go to sleepin' on the other side of the bed just so that kind of a wife could pull my other ear down like a dog just so the ears would match.  And how do you'd think I'd keep thhose long droopy ears tucked up under my hat?  And I can see myself just takin' off my hat in a big wind, my then 8 inch long floppy hound dog ears a stretched out like sails in the wind, floppin' and a flappin' away.  No sirree...none of the pretty little senorita's for me.  I'll take the wife kick and punchin' me out of bed durin' one of her nightmares or chasin' me down with a broom or brekin' somethin' over my head if I've done somethin' wrong.  I'd rather do that than be hearin' "Look!  Here comes Deputy Floppy Ears.  Here boy, go chase this stick!".  
And it was right about at that point that saliva wet sticky fingers gripped my face, and I yelled "Ahhhh!", scared the kids off cryin', as the wife came in and broke her favorite broom on me as she beat me out of the house.  Then, she demanded I buy her a new broom afore comin' back in, and all my money was on the dresser.  When I told my Cousin Beth, she gave me a new broom.  Then when I was leavin' her place, she called out my name, and hit me so hard in the face with a 2 pound sack of flour, that she put my head where my feet was.  When I came home, the wife only said,
"Don't bother to tell me."

and brushed my clothes off with her new broom, and then wiped my face with her apron.  I then followed her in with my head hangin' low, as a couple of the children cheered and celebrated that "Mother beat up Father again!"    

       From what I hear, Denmark has been able to keep the same flag for somethin’ like 7 centuries.   To me, that speaks of the kind of stability and idea of peace and serenity I think she’s constantly lookin’ for and can’t find here.  I’ve killed more men than I can count in times of war and in service as Deputy Marshal.  Let me correct that, I’ve killed more men than I would ever WANT to count, and it is all I can do to ever put it out of my mind, and focus on the good things and beautiful things in life, to ever keep the good in mind, because these things, includin’ innocence, overcome evil just by bein’ good and pure.   Or as the bible says, If the salt loses its saltiness strength in bein’ salty, and becomes without taste or effect, it is no longer of any use, and will be cast down and aside, and trodden underfoot as worthless, as good for nothin’.   If our children ever learn to lose their innocence and purity and in bein’ good, they will lose their strength as a people, and be taken up and cast down as worthless and good for nothin’ by those who destroy and take away their innocence.  And if that ever happens, it would be like the end of the world.  May that day never come. 


-         Deputy B.  





















Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Fictional Short Story: Recollections of a Western Deputy (1871 -1897): Circumstances Leadin' To The Deaths Of The Wife's Father and Judge Cork








January 18, 1877   

Circumstances Leadin' To The Deaths Of The Wife's Father and Judge Cork

       Earlier this month, me and the Mrs. had our 4th Wedding Anniversary.  It seems to be a new thing that people are bringin’ up, as when I was a young un’, sometimes the only way one would ever knows when you was hitched was by peekin’ in your family bible, as even the date and the number of years was just kept THAT private.   Or maybe it was just the way we was in the area I was reared up in, out on the farms and in the small towns about us…I reckon I don’t rightly know. 


But now, near 12 years after the Great War, things are changin’.   We’re a continent where most of both Protestant and Catholic Europe is becomin’ a big part of our one nation, and new traditions are sometimes bein’ created by us; and, you could say, maybe even for us (in order to sell us somethin’ we never knew, wanted, or though we needed afore).   This country is buildin’ a lot of what they call industries in the east, but north of the Mason-Dixon line, and a lot of the financial robbery of the South (which is what them top varmits in their various syndicates  invaded the South over) was found to have been merely to make sure that another country hostile to their greed wasn’t at their underbelly while they often enslave the free white man in industrial slum and mine shack livin',  and for the moment call it "voluntary un-indentured low wage with high profit yield servitude", according to Banker Sneed (whose two older half-brothers work as accountants reportin’ regular to some of these families of high finance out of New York and Boston).  But enough with politics, as to us out here in the near to Wilderness Areas of this vast continent, what happens back East might as well be happenin' on the other sid of the planet for all we care.  It's only what directly affects us that we have either the time or energy or inclination to care about, because livin' is both hard and a family (and sometimes greater group than that) effort.  


The other Deputy Marshals have all gotten sick with the fever, so I have had to stop doin’ what I was special hired to do, in bein’ a ramrod and trouble shooter with a deputy Marshal’s badge and a Marshal’s authority,  and to take over the court proceedin’ duties of securin’ Court Sessions to bein’ peaceable and deliverin’ and removin’ those in or those takin’ into custody.   Personally, I am glad that this will be over soon, as the session we had a week ago is an example of why I had enough of this kind of Deputy Marshalin’ already, even though I will still have to do regular servin' all day in Court at the beck and call of the judge in the future.  This part, I have trouble bein' patient with. 


On last week’s Monday, on the 8th, we had a situation where two farmers livin’ on opposite ends of town argued over who owned a no brand Jersey cow.  One of the farmers was my father-in-law.  Judge Cork was still fillin' in for Judge Hollister, who no one knew what had happened to him, except that he went away south to Texas somewhere.  Unfortunately, Judge Cork was makin' unwanted intimations on the wife's 16 year old female cousin, who was livin' under the watchful eye of her uncle, my father-in-law.  Many of us were concerned that his intent was to corner her somewheres and rape her, be it in a field or in the woods or even by forcin' her into an outhouse or somethin'.  The Marshal said his papers as a Judge were in order, and until I had somethin' definite, I wasn't to touch him.  Over the previous month, I seriously considered bush-whacking him about 30 or more ways, scoped out locations and thought of means and times and ways with most of them almost guaranteeing no witnesses, but I always held back and refocused that to a better use, on helpin' the wife have another little one instead.


Judge Cork knew full well that my father-in-law's cow was the only one with a unique bell-shaped blood red birth spot on its left hind quarter.  I suspect Judge Cork put former banker Redmond's brother-in-law up to lyin' in Court and committin' perjury.  I spoke up as an Amicus Curiae, a friend of the Court, in which I could resolve the matter and speak to a bill of sale that was given Judge Cork in my presence earlier by my father-in-law that he claims to no longer have.  Judge Cork told me to "Shut the hell up.  You will speak only when spoken to, and when I tell you to do something, you will do it without question or hesitation, or I will hold you in contempt of Court and fine you $200 and 30 days.  And in case you wonder why so high a fine and so long a jail sentence...it's because I can."  


The judge decided to see which of the two could better recollect the particulars of the cow.  It bein’ too cold to go outside, I was then ordered to bring that fat she thing into Maywood’s bar, where we was holdin’ court, and produce it near the new fangled pot-belly stove where the Judge was.  After lookin’ the cow over, Judge Cork ruled against both claimants, and ordered that the cow be executed, and that I was to do so forthwith.   So I quick pulled my right  .45 revolver, placed it behind the cow’s left ear, and shot it without hesitation.  That was a mistake, as the cow didn't fall down and die, it went wild, and side swiped me on her left some 9 feet back into the bar, knockin' over tables and chairs, and losin' control of its bowels.  Then it went over to the right side ways and then back end in a circle, knockin' over another half dozen tables and twice that more chairs, and came round and fell iver and on top of the new pot-belly stove, screamin' moo in pain as it was brand sizzlin' and finishin' it bowel and urinary movements.    I then shot it through the forehead, where i should have shot it the first time, and then shot a third round in her again between the eyes just to make sure.  At which time the Judge jumped up and was screamin’ what in the blazes was I doin' as he wanted to hang the cow.  With that, he fined me $50 to pay for damages and ordered the cow be removed and taken to Butcher Beavers, who would divide the cow up into equal portions for him, the Marshal, and the town council.  Havin’ shot the animal in his Court, I wasn’t to get any, and was ordered to clean up the mess.  Not only was I upset that I was unfairly fined $50 for doin' what he ordered lest I be fimed $200 and 30 days in jail,  but my other contention is this.  Now what kind of a Judge would ever hang a cow as a way of slaughtering the critter?  



Afore I would kill this motherless son of a, I wanted my dang money back.  But first I had to hook the hind legs of the cow by rope to the horn of the saddle on reindeer, and drag that cow out of the saloon, where I then hitched the rope to a two horse flatbed wagon, and dragged it the 26 or so rods to Butcher Beavers store, and he took care of the rest, right thar' in the street once I hauled it onto a set of planks he laid out for me to drag it upon.  After which, I took a shovel, a couple of buckets, a broom,  some rags and three gallons of turpentine to the mess.  I moved all the tables and chairs to the side of the room well away from the mess all in the middle of the floor.   After I got the main mess up, between the shovel and the broom, I laid down two gallons of turpentine afore I realized there were still hot coals in that dang pot belly stove.  In an instant, I had the entire center of the floor on fire lickin' flames 4 and 5 feet high!  At first I took a couple whiskey bottles and began pourin' that on the flames, but that didn't work and it only make the stink smell a little better and the flames lick a little more orange. A few of the townsfolk sounded the alarm, and eventually about 20 of us soon put the flames out about 5 minutes later.  No real damage done, but I figure it would be a few months before the stink got aired out.   When I got home, the wife chased me from comin' in the house, hittin' me 30 or 40 times with a broom.  She then sent me to the stalls to change and ordered me to bury the clothes, as she said they was the same as bein' skunked, and beyond savin'.  The kinds of drafts and chills I got changin' as fast as I could in near O degree weather, made me appreciate what them women in dresses have to put up with in cold weather.  The wife then made me privately bathe with hot water in the kitchen, and change clothes again.  After which, she served me up a vegetable stew and fresh baked bread and only cold water to drink  (as we had run out of coffee and tea, and I forgot to buy some from Beth at the General Store afore comin' home).  


Come Wednesday, just as you walked in Maywood's, you could still smell the burnt bourbon faintly.  Just about every fella in the place suddenly had the urge to take up smokin'.  Most smoked pipes and cigars, and some smoked that fairy tobacco called cigarette, which is like havin' a tobacco toothpick burnin' off the lip, and is rarely puffed at by those usin' it from what I see.  One out of town fella came into Maywood's and aside from the near fog-thick smoke, he  noticed the "burnt" smell of the floor that looked like it had been through a fire, and said the place not only smelt like it had a fire and but that it had the nice faint fragrance of bourbon.  Then he made a mistake of comin' in a few more steps and whiffed and almost gagged, and asked "What, pray tell, is that other odor?"   In unison, from half a dozen or more came the reply, "Don't ask!"  And with that, he turned and almost ran out of the place.  
Judge Cork decided to invite himself to sit with me and the boys in our monthly poker night, and then upped the stakes from cents we always played for, to dollars.   I got all the money I was fined back at poker on Wednesday night, and cleaned the judge out for the entire $138 he earned in court fees from Monday to that Wednesday afternoon.  He was finger-nailin’ the deck, and I let him think only he knew which cards they was after he had done it.  The then took the $50 I needed for Court costs, and gave the boys $22 apiece as part of the winnings.  They and their wives was all sure happy about that.  



That was the calm before the storm.  Two days after that, on Friday mornin', disaster was comin' and seem to be startin' with the wife havin' nightmares. She kept on wrastlin'in her sleep, twice chokin' me awake at the Adam's Apple and sayin' a whole lot of words in Dutch and Danish, one of which translated was "I will never forgive you." and another translated was, "I will not!  She's not yours to take!  Go to hell!"     


      Twice more after that I had to wake her as she punched and kicked me in bed.  Then finally, she awoke as if in another moon rage again, and was so offended about whatever it was in her dream, that with both feet she kicked me in the front thighs right out of bed.   Then she fully awoke and realized what she did and we checked...yep, it would be two big black and blue marks a comin' on the front of my thighs.  I was grateful she didn't break my legs, but that didn't slow the pain down for the next 45 minutes none.  After a while she was totally settled down, and eventually we both went to a somewhat restful sleep for about 2 hours. 


At about 4 in the mornin', about half an hour after time for milkin' cows,  I got up earlier and set about the kitchen to prepare the mornin' meal when a knock came at the side kitchen door, with word from her 16 year old Dutch female cousin.   She rushed past me and said "Judge Cork had just killed Uncle..." when a knife came flyin' out of the dark as I jerked back, and its sharp blade cut a 19 inch slice through the skin from just to my right side of the inny belly button to a place on my chest just over the heart.  The wife's cousin screamed somethin' in Dutch, perhaps two words, at the top of her lungs.  My left hand caught the left handed knife wielder, and I twisted in such a way that I dropped him to the floor under me, disarmed him of the knife with the right hand, and instantly placed that Arkansas toothpick all the way through his forehead with such force, that the point went through the back of his skull and pinned it to the floor.  I jumped up and reached for the shotgun over the kitchen door and checked a few steps to the outside for others as the wife came into the kitchen wieldin' both my .45   "6 guns" she got from the bedroom.  Two of the neighbors down the street saw there was a commotion and came to look.  They saw I was pulsin' blood and seemed to be losin' some of it fast.  After gettin' me to lay down and have the wife and her cousin apply a clean cloth with pressure, one went for the doctor and the other went for the Marshal.   Judge Cork had killed the Mrs.'  father with a knife blow from behind and chased her cousin more than a mile and a half on foot across the farmin' field, through the woods, and down the road to where we was.  Had Judge Cork stabbed instead of slashed...well, I really don't even want to think about it.  



In most all of 1863 and part of 1864, I served with three different trick shooters who taught me how to become a perfect and near perfect shot most all the time.  They didn’t mind as it help pass dead time and because I already had a natural talent and lots of prior ability in shootin’.    The last 4 months with Corporal Harry Sutter, I was able to make a leather holster rig so that I could learn how to quick draw a revolver, rather than to have it snapped shut and lose precious seconds drawin’ it out when the enemy came on us sudden-like.  Just afore he died, Harry made me a second rig, and we practiced on my left hand fast draw and what I needed to know for two-handed fast draws.  I think he was able to impart most everything I needed to know, but I couldn’t help but always think and regret that there wasn’t one or two more things he could have taught that I would certainly have wanted to know. 



After the war, there was a few times I put on a sharp shootin’ show to make money at it; but 8 times out of 13, the money I made didn’t even cover the cost of replacin’ the ammunition.  Folks was just tired of war and guns and even the noise.  “If you want to pop off them 6 guns”, one town constable said once, “why don’t you head out west of the Mississippi River, and take your 4 ‘follow the leader’ boys with you.”    And that is exactly what we did.  Our homes was all gone, the whole South was turned into a mostly tyrannical and near lawless run place (from what we saw of it)  that sided with thievin’ Yankee Carpet baggers, and sometimes our helpin’ our own was doin’ a bunch more hurt than good.  So we hopped up on our horses, and moseyed out West, crossin’ by ferry in Tennessee.   We had 14 Yankee dollars in borrowed money from a no good carpetbagger who tried to single handedly hold me up, and two gold watches the boys had left from the war...but only one was runnin' and the other was broke and only worth its encasement.   My quick draw and sharp shootin' ability really came in handy after the war...but not now.  Not now.  


And here I was, on a floor, about to have 84 stitches that will lay me up for the next 6 weeks, sliced at my own kitchen door when I was without my guns on and surprised out of the dark like some 14 year old who's not quite what one would expect to be a man yet, and all the fancy quick draw and trick shootin' accuracy I had for that moment I needed my guns and didn't have them, that ability didn't account for a hill of beans without my guns.  I plan on spendin' a lot of time gettin' back to readin' the Bible, which is a regular textbook in schoolin' and education,  so that in perhaps 3 days or less I could reread the entire New Testament and the Psalms, and give thanks for at least bein' able to be able to save my wife's cousin and kill that no good skunk.   I figurin' on that because I found some other passages that say somethin' about grinding even bones of the wicked into powder or dust,  and found them to be comfortin'.  One might even say, inspiring as well.  But who's to say?   


Come Sunday, having left the door wide open, it was discovered by one of the men assigned to doin' a night watch on the town that someone left $50 in gold pieces for a like amount of black powder they took from Jake's Mining and Farming Supply Store, and blew up that no good Judge's corpse into nothin' but sharps - blood splotches - and little red chunks of flesh (at or about  2 in the mornin' after they threw it in his open grave before any ceremony could be commenced for him at 10 that same mornin').   It was by sheer coincidence that I broke 11 stitches after goin' to the outhouse out back of the house near or about the same time the explosion happened more than 2 miles away, and a few of the more vocal women publicly and without proof accused me of plantin' a long fuse, perhaps an 18 minute or longer fuse,  which would allow me an alibi.  I told my accusers they was crazy, and as far as breakin' 11 stitches, that as at least when I go, sometimes I have to use my stomach muscles and grunt a few extra squeezes to get mine to pass, and anyone who don't ever have that experience either uses Castor oil like some drunks down whiskey or rye, or perhaps they must be doin' like the witches and ridin' the broomsticks and gettin' splinters in places they don't want mentioned.  That shut them up right quick.   I sure hope it also make them pack up move out of town to some other part of the country as well, and good riddance.  But so far, all I get now is a bunch of dirty looks from most everybody for havin' said it. 

-- Deputy B.  














Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Guest Blog: Stratfor's George Friedman -- "An Empire Strikes Back: Germany and the Greek Crisis"

"An Empire Strikes Back: Germany and the Greek Crisis

is republished with permission of Stratfor."

An Empire Strikes Back: Germany and the Greek Crisis

 
A desperate battle was fought last week. It pitted Germany and Greece against each other. Each country had everything at stake. Based on the deal that was agreed to, Germany forced a Greek capitulation. But it is far from clear that Greece can allow the agreement reached to be implemented, or that it has the national political will to do so. It is also not clear what its options are, especially given that the Greek people had backed Germany into a corner, where its only choice was to risk everything. It was not a good place for Greece to put the Germans. They struck back with vengeance.
The key event was the Greek referendum on the European Union's demand for further austerity in exchange for infusions of cash to save the Greek banking system. The Syriza party had called the vote to strengthen its hand in dealing with the European demands. The Greek government's view was that the European terms would save Greece from immediate disaster but at the cost of impoverishing the country in the long term. The austerity measures demanded would, in their view, make any sort of recovery impossible. Facing a choice between a short-term catastrophe in the banking system and long-term misery, the Greeks saw themselves in an impossible position.
In chess, when your position is hopeless, one solution is to knock over the chessboard. That is what the Greeks tried to do with the referendum. If the vote was lost, then the government could capitulate to German demands and claim it was the will of the people. But if the vote went the way it did, the Greek leaders could go to the European Union and argue that broad relaxation of austerity was not merely the position of the government, but also the sovereign will of the Greek people.
The European Union is founded on the dual principles of an irrevocable community of nations that have joined together but have retained their national sovereignty. The Greeks were demonstrating the national will, which the government thought would create a new chess game. Instead, the Germans chose to directly demand a cession of a significant portion of Greece's sovereignty by creating a cadre of European bureaucrats who would oversee the implementation of the agreement and take control of Greek national assets for sale to raise money. The specifics are less important than the fact that Greece invoked its sovereign right, and Germany responded by enforcing an agreement that compelled the Greeks to cede those rights.


Germany's Motivations

I've discussed the German fear extensively. Germany is a massive exporting power that depends on the European free trade zone to purchase a substantial part of its output. The Germans had a record positive balance of trade last month, of which its trade both in the eurozone as well as in the rest of the European Union was an indispensible part. For Germany, the unraveling of the European Union would directly threaten its national interest. The Greek position — particularly in the face of the Greek vote — could, in the not too distant future, result in that unraveling.
There were two sides of the Greek position that frightened the Germans. The first was that Athens was trying to use its national sovereignty to compel the European Union to allow Greece to avoid the pain of austerity. This would, in effect, shift the burden of the Greek debt from the Greeks to the European Union, which meant Germany. For the Germans, the bloc was an instrument of economic growth. If Germany accepted the principle that it had to assume responsibility for national financial problems, the European Union — which has more than a few countries with national financial problems — could drain German resources and undermine a core reason for the bloc, at least from the German point of view. If Greece demonstrated it could compel Germany to assume responsibility for the debt in the long term, it is not clear where it would have ended — and that is precisely what the Greek vote intended.
On the other hand, if the Greeks left the European Union, it would have created a precedent that would in the end shatter the bloc. If the European Union was an elective affinity, in Goethe's words, something you could enter and then leave, then the long-term viability of the bloc was in serious doubt. And there was no reason those doubts couldn't be extended to the free trade zone. If nations could withdraw from the European Union and create trade barriers, then Germany would be living in a world of tariffs, European and other. And that was the nightmare scenario for Germany.
The vote backed the Germans into a corner, as I said last week. Germany could not accept the Greek demand. It could not risk a Greek exit from the European Union. It could not appear to be frightened by an exit, and it could not be flexible. During the week, the Germans floated the idea of a temporary Greek exit from the euro. Greece owes a huge debt and needs to build its economy. What all this has to do with being in the euro or using the drachma is not clear. It is certainly not clear how it would have helped Europe or solved the immediate banking problem. The Greeks are broke, and don't have the euros to pay back loans or liquefy the banking system. The same would have been true if they left the European Union. Suggesting a temporary Grexit was a fairly meaningless act — a bravura performance by the Germans. When you desperately fear something in a negotiation, there is no better strategy than to demand that it happen.


The Resurrection of German Primacy

I have deliberately used Germany rather than the European Union as the negotiating partner with the Greeks. The Germans have long been visible as the controlling entity of the European Union. This time, they made no bones about it. Nor did they make any bones about their ferocity. In effect they raised the banner of German primacy, German national interest, and German willingness to crush the opposition. The French and the Italians, among others, questioned the German position publicly. In the end, it didn't matter. The Germans consulted with these other governments, but Berlin decided the negotiating position, because in the end it was Germany that would be most exposed by French or Italian moderation. This negotiation was in the context of the European Union, but it was a German negotiation.
And with this, the Germans did something they never wanted to do: resurrect fairly unambiguously the idea that Germany is the sovereign and dominant nation-state in Europe, and that it has the power and the will to unilaterally impose its will on another nation. Certainly the niceties of votes by finance ministers and prime ministers were adhered to, but it was the Germans who conducted the real negotiations and who imposed their will on Greece.
Germany's historical position was that it was one nation among many in the European Union. One of the prime purposes of European integration was to embed Germany in a multinational European entity so that it could develop economically but not play the role in Europe that it did between 1871 and 1945. The key to this was making certain that Germany and France were completely aligned. The fear was that German economic growth would create a unilateral German political power, and the assumption was that a multilateral organization in which France and Germany were intimately bound together would enable German growth without risking German unilateral power.
No one wanted this solution to work more than the Germans, and many of Germany's maneuvers were to save the multilateral entity. But in making these moves, Germany crossed two lines. The lesser line was that France and Germany were not linked on dealing with Greece, though they were not so far apart as to be even close to a breach. The second, and more serious, line was that the final negotiation was an exercise of unilateral German power. Several nations supported the German position from the beginning — particularly the Eastern European nations that, in addition to opposing Greece soaking up European money, do not trust Greece's relationship with Russia. Germany had allies. But it also had major powers as opponents, and these were brushed aside. 
These powerful opponents were brushed aside particularly on two issues. One was any temporary infusion of cash into Greek banks. The other was the German demand, in a more extreme way than ever before, that the Greeks cede fundamental sovereignty over their national economy and, in effect, over Greece itself. Germany demanded that Greece place itself under the supervision of a foreign EU monitoring force that, as Germany demonstrated in these negotiations, ultimately would be under German control.
The Germans did not want to do this, but what a nation wants to do and what it will do are two different things. What Germany wanted was Greek submission to greater austerity in return for support for its banking system. It was not the government's position that troubled Germany the most, but the Greek referendum. If Germany forced the Greek government to capitulate, it was a conventional international negotiation.  If it forced the government to capitulate in the face of the electoral mandate of the Greek public, it was in many ways an attack on national sovereignty, forcing a settlement not in opposition to the government but a direct confrontation with the electorate. The Germans could not accommodate the vote. They had to respond by demanding concessions on Greek sovereignty.
This is not over, of course. It is now up to the Greek government to implement its agreements, and it does so in the face of the Greek referendum. The situation in Greece is desperate because of the condition of the banking system. It was the pressure point that the Germans used to force Greek capitulation. But Greece is now facing not only austerity, but also foreign governance. The Germans' position is they do not trust the Greeks. They do not mean the government now, but the Greek electorate. Therefore, they want monitoring and controls. This is reasonable from the German point of view, but it will be explosive to the Greeks.


The Potential for Continental Unease

In World War II, the Germans occupied Greece. As in much of the rest of Europe, the memory of that occupation is now in the country's DNA. This will be seen as the return of German occupation, and opponents of the deal will certainly use that argument. The manner in which the deal was made and extended by the Germans to provide outside control will resurrect historical memories of German occupation. It has already started. The aggressive inflexibility of the Germans can be understood as an attitude motivated by German fears, but then Germany has always been a frightened country responding with bravado and self-confidence.
The point of the matter is not going away, and not only because the Greek response is unpredictable; poverty versus sovereignty is a heady issue, especially when the Greeks will both remain poor and lose some sovereignty. The Germans made an example of Cyprus and now Greece. The leading power of Europe will not underwrite defaulting debtors. It will demand political submission for what help is given. This is not a message that will be lost in Europe, whatever the anti-Greek feeling is now.
This is as far from what Germany wanted as can be imagined. But Greece could not live with German demands, and Germany could not live with Greek demands. In the end, the banking crisis gave Germany an irresistible tool. Now the circumstances demand that the Greeks accept austerity and transfer key elements of sovereignty to institutions under the control or heavy influence of the Germans.
What else could Germany do? What else could Greece do? The tragedy of geopolitical reality is that what will happen has little to do with what statesmen wanted when they started out.




Fictional Short Story: Recollections of a Western Deputy (1871 -1897): Reminiscing

  

Fictional Short Story: Recollections of a Western Deputy (1871 -1897): Reminiscing

December 10, 1876

     Most of the town is talkin' non-stop about what "8 fingers General Mackenzie" did to the Cheyenne at the Powder River in what I knowed not that long ago to be the Red Harrigan (Indian lover) part of the country.  The hope is that this will bring peace negotiations and lasting peace between the savages and humanity.  As I heard a number of people talkin', it got me to thinkin', and then I made a mistake I rarely make, it also got me for just one sunny afternoon on a day off, to drinkin'.  I bought a bottle of whiskey and took it home, sat a chair in the yard under a tree in the warmest part of the day in this warm spell break in the weather, bein' now in the mid-50s on the new thermometer gadget I bought several weeks ago, and I began to down the whiskey like it was tea.  I thought I would get drunk, but for some unknown reason, even at near two-thirds of the bottle down in less than 20 minutes, I felt like it had no effect.  I saw the wife come out the side door, and shake out a throw rug, and look over kind of concerned like.  She then quietly went back inside the house.   I felt tired.  I never tired lookin' on the Mrs.  Never.  Usually she always pepped me up.  I had a hammock with a blanket on it pitched between two poles, and the sun was shinin' down so it still felt warm, and the breeze was blowin soft like.  So I lay myself down, threw the blanket over my legs, and remembered.  I don't know why.  And then, I think I fell asleep, but still rememberin'.  I awoke to the wife kissin' me awake a few hours later, but before that, this is what I was reminiscing on in my dream, and all of it was true.  


     In early 1872, about mid-March,  I first saw the young woman who was to become my Mrs., only I didn't know it, and frankly, I didn't expect it.  I was now (at that time) 28 years of age and she was all of 16.  And at the first, I didn't know quite what to make of her, as I rode up on my horse to investigate a horse stealin' complaint.   It had rained heavily the night before, and I had to trot my horse carefully through the fields to get thar' as there wasn't yet any roads in that part of town back then as we was still new.   Her family lived just out of town along a Creek that flowed out and even tributaries a small branch of it off which regularly filled Duck Lake, past the hills north of Rustler's passed, Rustler's Pass bein' just outside the boundaries East of town. They had been here all of 4 months by then, rarely had anyone but a few of the older men come into town, and didn't associate with anyone except Lars the Blacksmith and his wife and kin, it seemed to me. 


 Already they built a 9 bedroom one story house, and had perhaps 16 men and boys and 9 women and girls livin' thar, a mix of familial relations all pitchin' in on a 160 acre section with 40 acres of farmin' land that they would be plantin' in 20 acre alternatin' year rotation, while bringin' only certain kinds of leafs  and prairie sod  (sometimes grass but never with weeds)  to compost in pens, and then spreadin' it in the fallow fields as fertilizer.  They had also erected a mostly completed barn with 14 stalls, and was just beginnin' to put the fencin' in.  I noticed that they was makin' the mistake on their fence posts by not soakin' that two foot section they was puttin' in the ground with coal oil.  You always want to soak it at least over night, by a day to no more than a day and a night is better, as it keeps the part that is in the ground from rottin' out, and makes the fence last years longer.  I would later tell and show them this, and eventually get pulled into doin' more than 400 fence posts for them...but that's for later.    


As I rode up for the first time, from a distance, all I saw from the back was a bunch of  far too over-sized clothes that looked like they belonged to what might have been a boy tryin' to grow into his father's britches, or somethin', and put to very hard labor to prove it.  Her hat had a large brim, and if it were any larger, it might have passed for a sombrero, but it wasn't.  I was half-expectin' some buck-toothed freckled face boy who the family was a hidin' because they was workin' all out by their lonesome.



 I rode up closer, to within a stone's throw, and when she turned, I was so taken aback on how beautiful and radiantly so wonderful and breath-taking she was at that moment, I guess I must have been tryin' to dismount, because right then I fell off my horse on the opposite side from where she was, my left foot caught up in the stirrup.   My horse, Reindeer, then proceeded to step on my hat, and then my left hand (pressin' it into the two inch mud I was sittin' in) as I slap the back of his leg with my right and he quickly got off afore puttin' his full weight on it.   But as suddenly as he was off my hand and afore I could even shake the pain out, after I slapped Reindeer in the back of the leg, he then lurched forward and began to trot through the mud in a loop back the way we had come, draggin' me hands and arms and face first in the soft mud like we was in a slow race because of rain and he was a mudder.   About 60 or more rods into the soft wet field, my hung up left boot came off as Reindeer keep chargin' across the field, and headed for the Office.   I had gotten out by movin' from face down over to bein' drug on my back, and reachin' up a second time after gettin' horseshoe bruise clipped in the back of the right arm,  I tucked a bit more away from Reindeer and reached and got hold of the stirrup with both hands,  and somehow pulled myself free,  foot first, so that I again did a belly flop as my fingers were caught up a bit in the stirrup and I had to work myself free.  I was dragged along on my waist may 9 or 10 rods, and at first, it felt as if I had taken up 40 or more pounds of mud in the front of my britches, and was aware of that before lettin' go and then doin' a face first body splash in what was probably near a two foot deep puddle.  I hit it very hard, and landed on some big rocks that bruised me serious in 9 places.  I then crawled out and watched as my horse Reindeer continued trottin' across the field for a half mile or more before I stopped lookin'.  I felt like the puddle washed and knocked away the load of mud from the front, and was worried that I might have cracked some bones on them rocks, but it would only be a day later that I realized I did not.     

After that, I spent several more minutes composin' myself and checkin' my left hand, and washin' my hands and face off in the clear water part of the puddle, I limped back to where the 16 year old girl was, feelin' like I sprained my left ankle, and tried to git her attention with a couple of hellos and let her know that I was sent from the Marshal's Office.  

    The future Mrs. put down hat she was a doin', and took up a single barrel 10 gauge shotgun, and with 3 more rounds in her left hand as she held it pointed at me, with her right finger on the trigger, hammer cocked back, she yelled at me:  first in Dutch, and then, after I didn't respond, she shouted behind her in Danish while also keepin' one eye on me, as she called out for her mother.    Within seconds someone was ringin' a bell and someone else hittin' a hammer on somethin' iron.  In less than two minutes, the whole clan was out, armed and runnin' or walkin' up ready to shoot.  Her father, recognizin' me, told everyone in Dutch and Danish that it was alright.  And as she told him what happened in Dutch, her mother translated for some of the others in Danish, and as they each was told in their native languages,  they all started  a laughin'.  Then at the end, he asked me to lift my left foot, and seein' it was just a muddy barefoot with my ankle swellin' up like water was waterfallin' under the skin down into it to make it almost twice its normal size,  they all (exceptin' the mother and father and the young woman)  went back to the house, a couple of the kin laughin' so hard they had to have two others of their kin put weight under their arms lest they slipped and fell in the mud, as they was so weak from laughin' so hard.  I couldn't see what was so funny.  

Her father then told me to lift my right foot, and I did.  It too, was barefoot. I saw that I lost my other boot.  I must have looked at him in an odd way, as I was thinkin', "I lost my other boot.  So what?  How's that so funny?' 

 Then he asked me if I noticed anything else.  I said, "No."  Then as I was checkin' more closely, I realized from the waist down, I was wearing only my long-john, entirely covered in mud, and as I looked up higher, I saw that even my guns and holster was gone.  I whirled around and looked at where my horse Reindeer had run, and thought to myself something to the effect of 
"That dang horse stripped me of my britches, my guns, my socks, and my boots!"

 and at that point, the back flap on my long-johns fell down and I heard a pair of harmonious shrieks as I turned back and saw mother and daughter runnin' back to the house in haste.   Suddenly, the father's gun was leveled back at me for sure.  I told him I would be goin' over and gettin' my belongings out of the field, if I could.  He move over to a tree stump and sat on it, lit up a long pipe, smoked, and watched me go back into the field where I lost my belongings.  

It took me near an hour to find my guns and holster, and my other boots.  I permanently lost my socks and my pants, and if they ever found them again, no one ever told me about it.   As I was still searchin' for my pants, Marshall Jackson rode up with Reindeer an hour after he had run off, and told me to saddle up and ride back.  He then rode over the house and spoke to the family patriarch, and they had a good laugh.  I rode back and cleaned up, changed into my only other clothes, and had some supper. 

 The Marshal returned before I was finished eating, and at first came in ranting that I must have been born in a corral where horse and donkeys would gather, or words to that effect.  He then insisted that I would return the next day and track down those that rustled the 4 horses, or he was hisself goin' to lose a boot by kickin' it up my backside, and tellin' me that HE was the Marshal, and that means as bein' only a Deputy Marshal myself, that means he can get away with what would only be a disciplinary action...that no one would dare call it "child abuse".     I hadn't had words like that used on me since I was 12 years of age, so that made me feel mighty low, all the way into the next mornin', especially when I saw the face of the future Mrs. again, this time givin' me a look of "here comes the village idiot" kind of look, before rushin' off out of sight, and stayin' hid while I was there talkin' to her father, and only comin' back out as I was a mile or so off I noticed.   Yes sirree...I was feelin' mighty low.  


After 3 days, I returned without success, comin' in from the north.  The creek was only belly deep to my horse at this time of year, and after crossin' I noticed some kind of ruckus.  It was that girl again.  At about 90 rods, I saw she was usin' a pitchfork to defend herself from 5 men on horseback, so I set my horse Reindeer at a trot, preparin' him for the Charge.  I pulled my Winchester .44-.40 from its saddle sleeve, and cocked the hammer.  I was now about 70 rods away.  Then things got out of hand.   3 of the 5 men got off their horses, and she poked one of those 3 comin' at her with a Jim Bowie Arkansas Knife  through the left arm holdin' with the knife with her pitchfork,  as she reached over in 2 or 3 more steps, and fell to the side of her against the fence leanin'  10 gauge shotgun, which she fired off a shot to another's face, as the 3rd man ran 4 or 5 more steps on her and the men on horses was almost arm's reach as close. 

  I was already givin' Reindeer the Charge.  I fired and missed, and then fired again and shot one of the unmanned horses down.  The one of those 3 unwounded men quickly  pistol whipped her with one blow into unconsciousness , and with one hand scooped up her 110 pound frame and gave her to one of 2 others who immediately rode off with her.  He pulled his Henry Rifle, and fired off two quick shots, as I rode closer, not firin' as yet.  The one who had been pierced through the arm pulled a revolver, and began firin' at me as well.  As the two riders rode West across the field, the girl's father shot the one  with the pistol dead with a shot through the heart from the back.  One of the girl's cousins and her father put 8 slugs from their two revolvers into the man with the Henry repeatin' rifle.    Reindeer then tripped on a dirt berm or somethin' and we went down.   I immediately jumped up, in a second or two made sure I had my revolvers, got Reindeer up in another 5 seconds or more, mounted and then sunk spur.   I made a bee-line after the two riders who stole the girl, as one of the family members picked up her hat as I rode by.  I will never forget that look of shock and horror I had likewise seen so many times durin' the Great War.

Those two skunks had a lead of near a quarter of a mile, and they were hard pressed to give that lead  up.  They made their way to Main Street, which was just 20 or 21 buildings with a graded dirt road back then, and there one of them threw the girl in a moving two horse team carriage goin' west, jumped off his horse to where the seat is,  threw out the 13 year old boy drivin' it, and stole the carriage.   By the time I made it into town, the lead still had not shrunk too considerably, but as we went West, slowly I was gainin' ground.  Even while she was layin' unconscious in the carriage, the skunk drivin' it was tearin' at the girl's clothes.  By 5 miles West of town, I was within 20 rods again, and took aim, and plugged the one on horse-back through the back of the head and out the bottom of his nostrils.  The girl was just beginnin' to awaken, usin' her hands to push back from bein' grabbed at; but by this time, she was completely naked.   I was able to get up alongside the carriage and jump on just as he pulled his revolver, cocked the hammer and pointed at the girl.  I brought my hand down and the hammer snapped down onto my right hand's smallest finger, and as I instinctively yelled "Ow!", my hand pulled back and the gun along with it. 

 Then I saw the blood.  I had indeed hit him in the right shoulder blade area earlier, but like an animal that is shot, he was still a goin'.  I told the girl "Look down! Look down!"  She did.  I then pulled my right revolver as he drew his left and tried to shoot behind him, and as he shot wildly once up into the air, I pressed my revolver to the back of his head and pulled the trigger.  Then I reached over, not wantin' a through shot to shoot the horses, and pulled his head back by the hair, and shot him 5 more times through the back of the head in an upward trajectory and then cast his body to the left out of the carriage.  I grabbed up the reins, whoaed the horses to a stop, applied the brake, and then called Reindeer up, and covered her naked body with my saddle blanket.  She seemed to be shiverin', so I took off my leather vest, and she then opened the blanket and threw her naked bosom against my shirt, rested her head upon my chest, and wrapped her hands and the blanket around us both.  We stood there for perhaps all of 5 minutes or more.  I was in shock.  her shiverin' body felt amazingly hot, and I was beginnin' to pour out sweat.  And all I could think was, "I hope nobody else is around."  


I got her to take my vest and put it on, and then (havin' learned from a few days before to now bring an extra pair, which I bought before leavin' to try and find her family's horses), I helped her into my new britches and tied it off at the waist in such a way that it would hold up as long as she was sittin' down or held it with one hand while walkin'.  I put the blanket back around her, and sat her up in the seat.  I tied my horse Reindeer to the back, and then took the long way around back to her home.  The Marshal came up on the trail about 15 minutes after we had left, then trailed and spotted us, and kept a half mile distance all the way back.  Townsfolk were never told the details after the young woman was thrown in the carriage and skirted away.  She was unmolested, and absolutely retained her virginity.  I was the only man outside her family who ever looked upon any of her nakedness, and with an unease, they accepted me as a friend of the family.  I dared not take any romantic interest in her, yet I couldn't help bein' on good terms with her and her father.  Her father also spoke German, which I could once again practice as my family used both German and English Bibles when I was a child, and for about 5 or 6 years, it was the only language me and my cousin Beth (who lived with us) spoke when we talked to one another.  Her father would always revert to English in the presence of most of his family, though, as most had not yet picked up the language enough to hold a conversation with.  


I felt sorry for the girl, and bought the family 2 teams of 2 Oxen to plow the fields with, and then went out and round up 11 wild horses 4 days west of town (after carryin' out a fugitive warrant), and brought them back by myself.  I gave them to her family on account of her as a gift for the horses I couldn't recover.  This really stunned the family.  Her father took me aside, and we talked.  I asked how the girl was dealin' with it emotionally and in the mind, and after we spoke awhile of how things was in Europe before he left his mother and father to carry on in Maastricht, he then approved that I could help his daughter that I had saved at planned times with some chores, when two or more others could chaperon or supervise the occasion.    The girl seemed content, not happy, just content to have me help her.  In my extra spare time the Marshal gave me, I split near 800 rails in the course of 2 weeks, and then over the next 2 weeks after that, I coal oiled and planted 400 rail fence posts.  Her family put the rails up.  Then I heard how the family needed milk, so I bought a few goats, and gave them as a gift (again, on her account, figurin' this would keep her family from lookin' down on her after her bein' through what she went through and all).

  Once I saw that she was fine, and her family was cold and no longer bein' receptive towards me after that, I explained the situation to her, and I told her I was glad she was alright now, and wished her the best on findin' a future husband, as she was so perfect, that I would never find as kind and lovely a gal if I had a lifetime of tryin'.  That was in late May of 1872, I think it was, and from then, all the way up until New Year's Eve, except for a private hand wave or two a month after that, I neither saw or heard from or about her again.  And when one of the boys from my old unit durin' the Great War settled within eye-shot of her place, I always kept a lookin' out that way, hopin' to see her, but never did.  Sometimes I even took extra trips to say hello for 3 or 5 minutes to the fellow ex-soldier, hopin' for just a glimpse of her in the distance...but I never did see her.  Even though I never kissed her, and never hugged her aside from the one time when I rescued her, I sure missed her company.  I missed her awful bad.  It was like there was a new hole in my heart that only she could fill.  GOD had His hole in my heart which He filled, and made me content and she was somehow the other that I now needed filled also.  I kept this to myself, and I refused to mention or share it with anyone.


  But in the meantime, in order to deal with pushin' the ache down deep or even away from myself, I began becomin' obsessed with reward posters and makin' money thataway.  But even so,even with this new obsession I was gettin' to make money in earnin' my keep like a Bounty Hunter at times, still I was reachin' out for help, for a way back home I could never git back to.   I sent word back to my Cousin Beth, who was just widowed and with children, and through a Wells and Fargo shipment I staked her $800 to help her, to keep if she wanted it, but with the hope she would also come out where I was and settle.  And when she got here, it surprised her that I had near $2000 more, and insisted on givin' it to her to stake a new life for her and the children here.  She knew somethin' was amiss, and told me to keep it until I told her that as far I was concerned, I just wanted to throw it to the wind.  So with that, she took it for safe keepin'.  

I told Beth that we could use a fair priced and honest General Store in this town, as the one runnin' his now, sells rotten and poor condition goods at higher than new prices.  I knew she had experience with her husband runnin' a general store for 7 or 8 years back in Virginia before her husband sold it (or rather lost it in a gamblin' debt, and then got shot dead anyway by party or parties unknown).  We both sat down and plotted what we had and what we needed, and what needed to be done over the next 3 days.   She not only now had the additional $2000 I was stakin' her with, but good woman she is, Beth still had the original $800 I sent her, plus another $232 of her own money on top of that.  Beth is a decent lookin' and no nonsense fine woman with a head for business better than most men, and she picked up French and Spanish fluently as that helped her in business dealings with pirate merchant ships in helpin' the South get much needed supplies at cheaper prices than they otherwise could have gotten durin' the war, which I never knew about until she told me.   So with that money I staked her with, plus the money she had,  we began to build her a General Store that we could expand upon, with her and her kids livin' over the store in a second story.  And of course, I spent months of my free time helpin' her get the store and home built, gettin' to know those young'uns I never knew afore, and put a rush on myself to complete the store with haste, so she could stop livin' in a tent and be sheltered all snug and warm before the winter frost came. 

Meanwhile, the last of the 4 men from the old troop with me in town was married, and I was always hearin' this and that of 
"Who are we goin' to find for Sergeant Major B.?"  
 To which the usual reply would be, 
"Who in the hell can put up with him?" or   
What kind of woman would even want to wake up to THAT face in the dark wee hours of the mornin', let alone have to look upon it durin' the daytime! "  

Come New Year's Eve and what happened after,  I come to find out.  Shotgun weddin' and all...and cleaned out of every cent I had left, I still got the very best part of the bargain.  And as I awoke, I woke up extremely overjoyed and feelin' so very blessed.  

---    Deputy B.