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-- As of January 20, 2017
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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Fictional Short Story: Recollections of a Western Deputy (1871 -1897): Ex-Carpetbaggers Handled, and Rememberin' How I First Met Marshal Jackson.

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

Ex-Carpetbaggers Handled

Entry of  October 10, 1876

       For 3 weeks now the Marshal and I have been inundated with more than 400 writs and subpoenas and other paperwork because of two ex-carpetbag lawyers, comin' in at the behest of the bank run by Ward Redmond and his business partner Stephen McFahy.   A New Judge has come to run the Court for a while, and I suspect that he may be McFahy's wife's cousin from what little I have been able to learn. Marshal Jackson has made inquiries into Judge Cork's credentials, but even if the mail gets where it needs to right fast enough, it don't mean some wick will burn bright between the ears, and answer it right quick.  We should have received an answer 10 days ago by the mail that comes by the Wells and Fargo stage, and Marshal Jackson was considerin' spendin' another $7 with a follow up letter to emphasize a need for speed.  Instead, as of this mornin', he dispatched Deputy Marshal Burns to hand deliver the records request, and to act accordingly.    

Meanwhile, leans and tax notices and delinquent loan notes have now been delivered by me to more than 80 folk round hereabouts, and on the sly, I have paid for about half a dozen family and close friends $106.53 for what they owed.   These carpetbaggers are so tight-fisted, that the very first notice of delinquency and sale of property, was served by me with the two side-windin' attorneys in tow only one day after the new Judge came,   on a 62 year old widow woman leanin' on a dark laquered Scottish walkin' stick, all alone and without any kin, who was bein' made homeless by some no-goods just for 74 cents owed to somebody else.   Her property consisted of 40 acres with a 3 room house, a 6 stall barn, two wells of water, and an empty carriage and 6 saddles which these sidewinders was a tryin' to steal, all for a measly 74 cents.   I made them side-winders stay outside while I helped Widow Rose search on and around furniture in the house.  And behold, while she was in the bedroom, under a throw rug I found $10.84.  Not only did she have a $10 gold eagle for groceries and expenses, she had another 10 cents besides the 74 cents in taxes.  

I stood behind the widow Rose all quiet like, with both hands on my revolvers (which I  sneakily unlashed) as she offered her hand with the money out to the carpetbaggers, and they both refused to accept payment, which was her right to give and demand receipt for.  One of them advanced, and I cocked the hammers in both holsters intendin' to quick draw and shoot, as the first looked like he had both hands out with the intent to choke her when he reached her, but as he took his first step, suddenly she jumped into my line of fire.  

 I've never seen an old woman as pepped up from weak with almost no energy smilin' with hope and joy at bein' saved by some lost found money into a a roarin' mean soundin' peep of a voice spring chicken, and her movin' as fast as she did for as old as she was.  Had I not known better, she moved like a 14 year old for a bit thar'.   She dropped the money, and afore it hit the ground, she took up a Scottish walking stick near 3 inches thick, and knocked one of the carpet-baggers out with an axe stroke to the top of the head just as the coins hit dirt.  She then quick galloped sideways a bit and then leaped and swung her club of a walkin' stick at the other carpet-bagger like she was trying to knock his head off across the yard.   He ducked, and he made a fist so as to hit this old woman, but she swung so hard she came about full circle in a downward arc and broke his shin afore he could complete his swinging his fist at the old gal, rather than just gettin' out of her way. 

I arrested both carpet-baggers for assault, and hog-tied them both onto a couple large roofin' shingles, and dragged them behind their two horses I led back to town.  The widow Rose was never arrested, but i did tell her she would have to appear in court if these snakes pressed charges...which they did, and I would testify as to what I saw .  I later testified in her behalf that she gave them the money, and they refused to pick it up and accept legal payment, and then when they charged this little old defenseless woman, she merely defended herself against men two and three times her size, whose mere battery by tacklin' would have potentially been enough to kill this frail little woman of 95 lbs now before the Court.   By that time, we also learned that both these skunks lost their licenses to practice law, and all 400 writs and subpoenas and other paperwork because of two ex-carpetbag lawyers, comin' in at the behest of the bank run by Ward Redmond and his business partner Stephen McFahy, would have to be rescinded and cancelled.  This infuriated Judge Cork, who immediately threw up in one of the spittoons to the right of his Saloon chair, from where he held Court.  

 Judge Cork was a nasty smellin' good fer nuthin', who reeked like he bathed in his own vomit and whiskey, and who always held Court while pullin' the cork all day long in Maywood's Saloon, sometimes usin' the spittoon to the left of his chair to spit in; and sometimes usin' any one of 5 spittoons  to the right of his chair to throw up in.  Personally, I think the only time he was ever sober while here, was the first 4 hours after he arrived.  I looked forward to the day we got a  "Wanted: Dead or Alive" on him, so I could just shoot him, all legal and proper.  When the judgment was in favor of the widow Rose, banker Redmond moved toward her and lifted up his fancy ridin' crop as if to strike her down.  Folks say I bowled over 8 men chargin' him -- I don't recall that part -- but I do recall givin' him a swift runnin' upper cut right under the chin that knocked his 6 foot and 180 lb frame back 8 or 9 feet, and that his boot heels was at or about shoulder height afore he went down on the back of his head, and that he bounced, because I snatched him up by shirt and belt on his one foot bounce off the floor, and sent him on a 270 degree spinnin' toss headlong through Maywood's front window into the post by the hitchin' rail outside, breakin' his collarbone and dislocatin' his shoulder.  I then put a loop of hemp rope around his left foot and tied that rope to the horm of my saddle, and dragged him down Main Street in the wrong direction about a stone's throw, before sayin" "Ooops.  Wrong way." and then as I began to drag his sorry state back the other way near 40 rods (400 feet) to the Sheriff and Marshal's Jail, I called out to McFahy that I was comin' back for him in just a couple moments next.    McFahy hopped a horse, and rode fast out of town the other way toward Rustler's pass, and no one has yet seen hide nor hair of him since.   His horse and saddle returned to the bank that next mornin' with blood all over the saddle, and because I was on watch with two others in the jail from the time I took Redmond there to the time the horse and saddle showed up, folks joked that someone beat me to gettin' that skunk.  We had 400 suspects, all with motives, and perhaps more than 1,000 than that who'd have done it for a family member or friend.  I rode out to look for traces, but I guess I was too captivated with how lovely the trees and the clouds of the sky looked together, so I returned and reported truthfully that I didn't find anything.  Then it started to rain such a downpour, that even had there been anything, there wouldn't be again by the time it lets up.  Oh well, another soul died and gone to hell.  Good riddance.       

After I dragged banker Redmond off to jail, some of the town's women got together and gave Widow Rose some barterin' bargains in exchange for her 3 of her saddles, so that she was able to have half a dozen hens, a rooster, and feed, as well as 8 cords of firewood and a new blanket for the comin' winter.  A few men of the town also spent the rest of the day  fixin' up any drafts and cleanin' out her chimney, and preparin' the place...and one was able to even give her a 9 year old Pinto in fine condition, who would be just right for her to hook up to her small carriage and save her a young woman's 15 minute walk into town.  All this happened even before the sun was beginnin' to set.  I was certainly glad to hear it on the by and by down at the jail.  

 The women of the town, I hear from the wife, are also organizin' to meet once or twice a week for afternoon socials, and in less than two hours it has grown from just a few to more than 30 women almost up in arms already, so if they grows any bigger, they'll probably have their men at gunpoint to build them somethin' or air themselves out in a barn.  Come to think of it...I'm one of those sorry husbands, and the wife is about to go into another moon ragin' cycle on the warpath like some Indian!   Good gracious!  Yikes!  

 Rememberin' How I First Met Marshal Jackson

Warpath... Indians.  Which reminds me of when I met Marshal Jackson back in '71.  I had just finished a 60 mile all day runnin' battle with a tribe of Crow Indians, tryin' to escape a wagon train massacre that left me and 4 fellow ex-soldiers and 6 Wagon Train survivors, all of them women (4 widows:  3 in their early 20s, 1 old one near 32; and two young girls ages 11 and 12).  Me and the boys merely meant to tag along a wagon train of 10 wagons and 30 folk, and mosey on up to somewhere north to find work, if we could get it.  But that didn't happen.  Hundreds of miles into nowhere, we got attacked without signal fire warnin's or any notable sign, the Crows poppin' up out of tall grass under sod they had cut with the knife and covered their bodies with as a blanket, with only their noses out from under the landscape to breathe.  More than 150 of them poppin' up all of a sudden like overheated corn kernels poppin' out of hot oil in a pan on an open fire.  Me and the boys did what we could, and saved who we could, but they was too fast and too many.  We left on horses with 14 from the Wagon Train, but 4 never made it past the first half mile, a 5th died of his wounds 2 miles later, and then we lost the other 3 after the next 30 to 50 miles evadin' the 3 scouts and then a smaller war party of 10 braves that the Crow sent on ahead  with whom we were in quick skirmishes  of a minute or less until they was all dead.  And after runnin' on horseback all day,  stoppin' only long enough for gettin' some water for us and the horses, and rubbin' the horses down to help them get that extra mile or two more, 
there we was, finally on elevated ground in a wood on a moonlit night, with near 40 Indians (as far as we last could see)  still on our trail.

I took note of what our situation was.  Two of our horses rid by the women had  gone lame, and three horses were all wore out and maybe would recover enough to travel in another day or two of rest.   There was maybe 20 rounds per man and 6 rounds per woman or girl left between us.  I took the boys I had served with aside, away from the women, and informed the men what I was goin' to do, and what they was to do, and then I did it.  I double backed on my trail, and about half a mile out I began coverin' up the tracks with a large branch I cut of a giant dead shrub, and a giant live and leafy shrub.  The first, the dead many branched shrub piece I  carefully dragged that behind my horse.  At about a mile or more out, I saw that the Crow looked to be about 2 miles back based on the light of the eyes from their horses in the moon-light, and then I made a heavily beat and leafy shed false trail southwest and away from the boys and the other Wagon Train survivors, discarded my broken dead shrub in a gopher hole, ran the leafy shrub trail into a rock face that left no clear horse trail in the moonlight, and because my horse suddenly had extra out the back end to supply, he left enough behind me to make the Crows think we had at least 5 or more horses leavin' trace, and perhaps mostly because of that, I successfully led the Crow war party off for 5 hours and 40 more miles completely away in the moonlight, leaving intentional other bits and traces for them Crow Indians  to follow, but in such a way to make it look sloppy and accidental like. 

 At near 100 miles, my horse died.  I then jogged off and ran for near half a mile, and realized I no longer had the strength to run any further.  I was pooped. (That means I was tired.)  

 And in a creek gully out on a prairie, after runnin' once again to fresh runnin' water, I took stock and noticed that the day began to break across the night sky and recede the darkness back further and further west.  I resolved here I would likely die, and that I would run no more.  I could only buy those who I was tryin' to help an extra few more minutes or seconds, whatever it was to be, and hoped it would be enough for them to git to safety.   I looked out carefully made sure the Crows were back far enough, then I filled my canteen while on watch, drunk the canteen, filled it, checked my pistols, holstered them, watched and waited.  I thought I had seen them not near 3 miles back on their horses, but then nothin'.  

  It was about 2 hours later, as I was dozin' off and half-dreamin',  that they came.  I awoke fully alert and killed the first 6 in 6 shots, and after one of them I shot hittin' me in the side of the head with he threw, somethin' solid, I dizzily shot another 2 in 8 shots.   At this point, they changed tactics.  They was divin' every couple of steps into the high prairie grass for cover.  I then reloaded, and remembered I put some bullets in my vest pocket,  6 lake in the middle of the lead noses ( I carved out) bullets.  So with these, I now had 12 rounds left.  I loaded these, and wounded one Crow Indian in the left thigh that blew out his left buttock with a loud rip, and as that shot rang out, in the distance behind me heard a rumble, rumble, rumble.   First I felt it...then I heard it.    It was Buffalo...Buffalo over a mile wide and  as far as the eye could see comin' straight at us.  All the remainin' Indians took up their dead and wounded, hopped their horses and left headin' due north towards the way we had come.  

They took most all the horses, but not all of them.  I spotted me an Indian pony about 8 rods out that got stuck in a deadwood entanglement of some kind in the grass, and ran up, freed it, hopped that bareback  grabbin' a hunk of mane, and followed the Creek due east.  I was near able to ride at almost a full gallop about 50 to 60 rods west of the stampedin' Buffalo before they reached the creek's edge, and then I cautiously trotted that Indian pony at a leisurely pace for about 5 miles before havin' to rest and water him, and let him graze a bit after I hobbled his hind legs with a 4 foot leather strip I cut from the edge of my vest.  I then slept to what I reckon was about 3 or 4 in the afternoon, and rode the pony another 12 miles before comin' to a tradin' outpost where I sought to spend the night after I bought me another 200 cartridges and two meals of grub. 

The one runnin' the tradin' post hated Indians and even the sight of an Indian pony pained him.  Even though there was a spare room inside, I was denied bein' able to pay a my last dollar (not countin' the last needs $3.03 I kept hidden in my left boot) to sleep on a skin bed inside.  So I slept with the Indian pony in an open barn, one with just a roof and a second story hayloft, but no walls upon it.  I used hay for my bed and my blanket, and had to roll up my vest around a pinch of hay for a pillow.  Just as I was about to bed down, 5 men came a walkin' over from around the other side of the post, 4 of them white men who was chained with shackles and a foot length of chains between those shackles at both hands and feet.  The hands were shackled to the front.

 There in the moonlight of an open barn, as the temperature began to cool a bit with just a light wind from the southwest, it was in that place out on the prairie that  I met Marshall Jackson who was single-handedly bringin' back 4 prisoners that traded whiskey and guns with the Crows, perhaps even some of the same Crows I was runnin' from.  We talked a spell, and then I slept.  At about midnight, I heard a wrong kind of noise, and sprung to my feet, and in the moonlight I shot 3 of the prisoners dead...one swingin' an axe toward the Marshall, one with a metal spike runnin' straight at me at 15 feet away, when I shot him,  and a third I shot in the shadows not knowin' if he was armed or not, but who I later found to be holdin' a scythe.   

  Marshall Jackson hisself pulled his 6 gun and finally shot the man who was stranglin' him by pressin' his thumbs into his Adam's apple without any speedy success.  And then and thar', I found myself bein' deputized, and enlisted into service, with the choice that if I didn't, I would be charged with the unlawful killin' of prisoners in Federal Custody, and so charged, with a minimum of 5 years hard labor per man I shot.   My only question was how much was this Deputy Marshal's pay, and how much extra could I negotiate for.   I admit the terms of my pay is often better than what most other deputy marshals probably ever make, but with me it had to do with time and place and opportunity and gratefulness on the part of the one offerin' me the job, and hisself bein' able to deliver on that promise because his word meant everything to him.  For Marshall Jackson, hate his guts or get along with him, everyone who came across him and had any kind of dealin's with him at least knew that his word was his bond.  In this country, that really says and means a whole lot more than any monument to a man ever could.  

Two days later, we came across the boys and the survivors of the massacre, in shifts walkin' and ridin' the horses they had left.  We all ended up followin' the Marshall to a new town that was bein' built near 7 days ridin' and walkin' away, and there with the first 200 to 300 folk that settled the town, with more a comin', we stayed and settled.   My first assignment as Deputy Marshal, thanks to the boys boastin' of my skills with timber, was to build the town a jail for both the Marshal and whatever Sheriff was to someday be appointed or elected to share.  Even so, that wasn't the first thing I built.  The first was two outhouses.  One for where we was to build the jail, and one for the woods.  I had the boys dig the holes, as they got me glued to this jail buildin'.   Even though at the age of 17 I entered the Great War, and  it was now just two lustrums later,   I was still a man who both likes his privacy, and does his do-dooin' in such a way that it keeps away all them flies (and mosquitoes) from bitin' where you sit afore you can finish passin' what you need to pass through.   Unfortunately, the outhouse I built at the jail was took over by Marshall Jackson as his...and he made me dig and build another if I was to have my own, which I did...bigger, taller, deeper, and better.  In fact, the first day after I built it, we lost two of the town midgets down the hole, and I didn't realize it until I let out the first squat...and then I really lost it.  For whatever reason, they decided to move on after that, and we never did hear from them again.  After that, I put in an adjustable ring seat that I rope hinged so smaller folks and children wouldn't fall again into the hole.  I guess I just got carried away and thought if the Marshall used my outhouse again, what happened to the midgets would have happened to him, as I made the hole 4 feet by 4 feet of open space for squattin' inside a 8 foot cube outhouse with a 5 foot wide door near 7 foot high, that was sign posted "Deputy B's";  the which had a 12' deep hole in it.  That 4' by 4' squattin' hole was so big, you could have backed either a cow or an elephant to pass through in it.  I guess that was buildin' the wrong kind of buildin' too big, though. But at least everyone in town knew that I gave a squat for that town.  Even the midgets would say at least that was somethin'!

-- Deputy B.   

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