Gunslinger-1

 

*This was the first story I ever wrote for public consumption. I originally put it out on my old site chapter by chapter with the idea of matching the style of an old radio serial. It almost immediately went from pulp western to absurdist humor. The craft is pretty shaky, but there is an energy and randomness that I still dig a decade later. It is uncompromisingly my internal sense of humor, so it’s pretty polarizing, but it is still the most fun I’ve ever had writing something.*

Chapter 1: Enter Bowlegweemiss

 

The sun come up on the streets of Old Laredo to find two snake-bit, third rate, side-winding desperados discussing some fearsome feuding to come.

“I never met the horse I couldn’t wrestle to the ground and teach to whistle,” said Tex, spitting a contemptuous blob of tobacco.

Old Seamus looked up half-ways from his groveled crouch.

“I don’t know Tex, this horse ain’t like the others. I seen him reading a magazine the other day. I think he’s got you scouted.”

Tex reeled off an edifying backhand and then smiled with broken toothed nonchalance.

“Shit Seamus, I done fought smarter critters than that. There was this one badger what had done his Doctoral Thesis. I mean he hadn’t defended it yet, but I suspect he would have passed… If’n I hadn’t staved in his skull with ma’h boot heel. Heeeyaheeeyaheeeaya.”

Seamus cracked a freshly broken toothed smile of his own at the memory, he’d hated that uppity badger. Still, his gut wouldn’t quite settle.

“What if he has a knife boss, you know how prone to stabbin you is?”

Tex drooled out an exceptionally long strand of tarry mucous and then sucked it back up, real meditative like.

“Let me tell you something about horses, Seamus. They hate knives.”

“I shoul’da know’d you had it covered Tex, I get so stupid I should just cram my belly full a rocks and drown myself in the river.”

“I reckon you might want to consider that sometime, Seamus,” offered Tex encouragingly, “but today we got’s business with a horse named Bowlegweemiss.”

And off they went to tend to that exact business.

—————————————————-

Now the walk over to the corral was more than a few miles so the boys got to talking.

“Tex, you reckon I’ll ever find me a women to settle down with?”

Tex considered a moment before answering, blunt as always.

“No, I reckon you’ll die alone, Seamus. Hell, you’re so ugly and honery and stupid and greasy it’s all I can do to keep my eyes open I look over your way. Women, they tend towards real particular so I imagine they’d smash your face flat with a shovel afore they took up with ya.”

Seamus hung his head and searched his feet for hope.

“What if I found a real ugly blind girl what didn’t know no better. You figure I could get into her good graces?”

There was such a desperate wheedling to Seamus’s voice Tex was inclined to be generous.

“Well, if she was blind enough, and couldn’t smell no stink, and maybe a little slow like she been kicked in the head… I reckon you’d stand as good a chance as anyone who’d bother with that kind’a mess.”

Buoyed by visions of his future half-wit insensate wife Seamus picked up the pace so they cleared the last hill before sundown. Looking over the rise they spied the horse in question hunched over a crude oven in the corner of his Corral. Striding down plain as day (they were sidewinders not bushwackers), Tex called out to his foe.

“You best be done your women’s work, horse! You about to catch a powerful beatin’.”

———————————

Seamus placed a sly hand on his boss.

“I say we let him finish up baking that pie so we’s can take it when were done with em’.”

Tex licked his dry cracked lips,

“I suppose I ain’t in no hurry.”

Bowlegweemiss pulled his pie from the oven, looked Tex square in the eye, and then turned his hooves upwards letting the pie fall to the ground.

“You provocating me, horse,” Tex growled.

Bowlegweemiss shook his head in an exaggerated negative and then deliberately stepped onto the pie and ground it into the sun hardened mud.

“Noooooooo, we was gonna eat that pie,” Seamus squealed dejectedly.

Tex patted Seamus shoulder and then laid a hard eye on Bowlegweemiss.

“That’s all right Seamus, I guess we will just have to have ourselves a big ol’ horse pie instead.”

Bowlegweemiss goggled at the grizzled gun slinger momentarily before letting out an amused whiny.

Tex flushed, then recovered.

“That ain’t what I meant and you know it, horse. We fightin’ for sure now.”

Bowlegweemiss delivered a sly wink to the ladies in attendance and began stretching in a most casual fashion.

Tex brought up his hands and began to stalk his equine foe.

“Quit stalling horse, and don’t be winking at no human ladies neither.”

Shooting the gunslinger a flat hateful glare Bowlegweemiss raised up on his hind legs and curled back his forelegs like a hoofed John L. Sullivan. Prancing from left to right, Bow, as his friends called him, gracefully circled the badly outsized Tex.

“Oh you can dance, you can surely dance, but dancing won’t fight me down.”

 

***Chapter 2: We’s a Fight’n

 

(When we last left our tale of dirty side-winding Tex and Bowlegweemis were getting ready to tangle.)

“Oh you can dance, you can surely dance, but dancing won’t fight me down.”

And surely that horse could dance, all hip swiveling lightness and stutter step staccato; he shimmed a pace and then snapped out a couple viperous jabs. Tex slipped the first but the second caught him square in the mouth. Spitting blood and curses the lanky outlaw skipped back a respectful yard. Seeing no opening he tried a little Man Talk to throw Bow off his game.

“Oh you pretty quick fur a horse… at least that what them fillies tell me.”

Bowlegweemis whirled accusingly to face the nearby betraying she-horses. A Palomino named Gertie looked shamefacedly away. Tex got off three heavy punches afore Bow spun back to the business at hand.

“How that feel horse? Mmmm umm. It feeled like a month of Sunday brunches from where I’m standing. Heeeeyuhheeyuh heeehaha.”

Now anyone what was there could a’ telled ya it didn’t felt too good, but from looking at Bow’s face you could scarce imagine a butterfly had landed on him. The pugilistic duo circled again, careful to keep their distance and only commit when they had to. Tex tried every eye gouging, fish hooking, hoof-stomping, face biting dirty trick he knew, but ol’ Bow were too savvy for it. Of a like situation, all of Bow’s tramplin’, fancy dancin’, mind trancin’ slickitude was wasted on the cagey Tex.

By this point the maddened crowd was wildly exhorting their respective favorites.

“Smash his gol’ durned bucktoothed face in” cried a man with generous teeth of his own.

“Pry his spine out!” demanded the blacksmith, waving a crowbar well suited to the task.

“Choke him top-wise and hide the body,” muttered Pawtucket, tiny hands clenching rhythmically.

“Shut your gullets,” bellowed Tex, stomping a heavy boot into the round middle of the blacksmith for emphasis. “It’s pretty goddamn rude to talk when a man’s fighting.”

Seizing on Tex’s distraction Bowlegweemis tackled him to the ground, locked eyes, and begin crushing his throat betwixt his vice like hooves.

“Don’t look in his eyes, Tex, he got witch magic. I knows it,” shrieked a panicked Seamus.

Bowlegweemis flicked a jaundiced eye towards Seamus; undulating rays of yeller witch magic buckled the dumpy desperado to his knees.

Clutching his head Seamus cried out woefully

“Noooooo… Tex, he burn’n up my brain!”

Jaw clenched impatiently Tex countered Seamus’ claims in a deeply constricted voice. “He ain’t got no witch magic, and you ain’t got no brain, so quit distracting me for I stomp your head open to prove both.”

Seamus jammed two fingers up his nose to stem the gush of blood, cowered contritely to his feet, and began cheering on Tex in a mushy nasal tone. “You got him, Tex, that horse can’t choke for nothing.”

Enraged by the comment Bow looked up at Seamus, smiled cruelly, and began gradually increasing his choking pressure. Praying the horse would keep looking away Tex reached down deep into his boot and pulled out a clutch of fire ants, what he kept there for just such an occasion. Whispering real slow and slanderous like he riled them a mite. “I never see’d such a sorry blob a’ malformed aphids,” and then shoved the enraged handful down the business end of Bowlegweemis’ sniffer.

Well you’d never see a horse jump so high, scream so loud, and shoot so many fire ants out it’s nose if you lived to be a hundred. Tex was fearsome winded but he weren’t no fool, he knew he had to lay down a thunderous beating while Bowlegweemis weren’t thinkin clear. It pains me too much to give the particulars, he was fine horse and Tex were crazy mad, so I’ll just say he gave a whuppin’ like no feller of equine disposition ever took before. By the time Tex finished up the ladies was weeping, the gents was blanched white, and old Bow, he was crying uncle just like ringing a bell.

“I reckon you had enough, Horse. Whistle for me an I’ll lay off.”

Proud as he was Bowlegweemis knew he’d met his match, so he twirlzed out a tune as best he could and limped back to the stable less a horse than he’d begn.

Tex brushed at the blood and smashed pie remnants staining his vest, sucked at a loose tooth, and smugly surveyed the traumatized crowd.

“Let that be a lesson to you folks. If someone says they can beat down any horse, they probably can. Cause it’s not really something you’d claim for no reason… most folks anyways.”

Seamus cavorted gleefully at Tex’s side.

“Why I bet you could take a hundred horses at once, even if they was all standing on each others shoulders a half mile high!”

A contempt bordering on concern froze Tex’s features. “I swear to God Seamus, you almost scare me a little.”

A curious pride lit Seamus face, but before he could respond the crowd parted to admit a whole mess of well armed, no nonsense, big city lawmen. Tex’s hand strayed to his smoke wagon; the sound of a dozen or more rifles rising returned it to an upright position.

A rangy marshal rode forward a little. “M. Barstow, you wanted in Carson City for more crimes than I care to mention.”

“My name’s Tex,” said M. Barstow indignantly.

“Your name’s ”bullet-riddled corpse if’n you don’t shut your mouth and keep your hands up,” replied the marshal.

Chapter 3: – The Hanging Judge

(Well, last we left ‘em, Tex and ‘ol Seamus were celebrating Tex’s prevalence over the most Provacating of Equines , Bowlegweemiss, when a whole mess of big city lawmen done rode up on them..)

The rangy marshal rode forward a little.

“M. Barstow, you wanted in Carson City for more crimes than I care to mention.”

“My name’s Tex,” said M. Barstow indignantly.

“Your name’s ‘bullet-riddled corpse’ if’n you don’t shut your mouth and keep your hands up,” replied the marshal, emphasizing his point with his well used rifle.

Now Tex weren’t the sort to let any man speak at him such, but he weren’t no fool neither, so kept up his hands and said real casual like

“Sorry fellers, if’n you’re here for the horse fight you plum outta luck.”

Marshall Quinn nodded at Merl, his ham-fisted slab of a deputy; Merl slammed the butt of his shotgun into Tex’s kidneys. Tex crashed to his knees spitting blood and dust

“I suppose I could fight one them fancy horses you riding, just ta’ accommodate ya,” Tex wheezed, taking a weak swing at the Marshals mount. The deputy drove a boot heel into Tex’s spine.

Tex fought through the heaving ache and gagged out

“Maybe Seamus here could wrestle a goat. He ain’t tough but it’d be hell of show.”

The humorless deputies stock sent Tex tumbling into darkness. Seamus’ squeal of protest followed him down.

“Dang it Tex, you know I’s allergic to gooaaattttsssss.”

—————————————————————

“He always so stubborn?” said the Marshall, swaying easy in his saddle.

Seamus, who was riding a mangy pony what was towed behind the hulking deputy, nodded with dimwitted enthusiasm.

“Oh that weren’t nothing. He once wore his spurs on the inside of his boots for a month, cause some feller said he wouldn’t.”

Seamus paused a moment, straining to recollect.

“Actually, I don’t even recall anyone saying he wouldn’t; he just sorta took a mind to it.”

The stoic Marshall half-raised an eyebrow

“Hell of a thing to a do.”

A low moan issued from the slumped and thoroughly tied Tex.

“Most comfortable pair a’ boots I ever owned. I only stopped wear’n em cause the blood dyed em’ fancy boy colors.”

The ox-shouldered deputy drew up his horse beside Tex.

“I reckon you’re awake then, Barstow?” he growled.

Tex glared at him through mostly swelled-shut eyes.

“Maybe. Or maybe you just dreaming ’bout bound up desperadoes again. Ya’ double queered, rough riding, sissy.”

The deputy respond with predictable vigor. Marshall Quinn gave Tex a moment to clear his head before getting on with official business.

“You know why we come for ya’ Barstow?”

Tex drew himself in, all humble and somber like.

“Well, Marshall sir, I figured your wife done grown tired of your fumbling and sent you out to fetch a real man what could please her.”

Seamus bounced gleefully on his scabby pony, crudely miming exactly how Tex would go about pleasing the Marshall’s wife. Quinn waited until Seamus was through the more animated portion of his phantom encounter before responding.

“A bit more dire than that, I’m ‘fraid to say. We taking you to be tried and hung, boy. Probably hang the little one too, just on general principle.”

Seamus pulled his fingers from his mouth and let out a mournful whimper.

“Oooooooh, I hates being hanged, makes your eyes bug out and your boots fall off. How’m I spose’ta get new boots?”

Tex blasted a bloody rocket of snot from one nostril in a dismissive fashion.

“Shit Seamus, you’re too greasy to hang. Sides which they’re ain’t nobody in Carson City smart enough to work a rope.”

The Marshall sighed “We’ll see then, won’t we?”

————————————————————-

While I can’t speak to their intelligence, the people of Carson City damn sure had a blood thirst to them, as every able-bodied folk what could was lining the street to take a look at the dead men walking.

“You gonna die, Tex, they gonna hang you so hard people two towns over will hear your neck crack!” said the near frothing barber.

Tex rolled his eyes tiresome like.

“Shoot, my daddy used hang me harder than that if I was late for supper… and I was always late for supper.”

Seamus shuddered and nodded half heartedly

“I ‘member that, sounded like someone was chopping wood with lightnin’.”

“You will be chopping lighting in heaven you godless son of a malformed prairie dog,” a half-crazed school teacher screamed in Seamus face.

A beatific smile lit Seamus’ grimy features “I’m going to Heaven?”

“Yeah… but… not the good one. The one where the Angels hurt you all the time.” replied the teacher.

Seamus hung his head sadly

“I suspected as much.”

A preacher stepped forward and urged the crowd to quiet, and then spoke solemnly.

“How can you be so barbaric? To clamor and cavort like it’s some grand occasion, that a man is passing into gods kingdom. Destroying his life won’t undo the harm he has done.”

Tex risked a lead ventilating by stopping dead in his tracks.

“Why don’t you shut your mouth preacher boy. It’s every good citizens right and duty to enjoy themselves a hanging, and I’ll be goddamned if’n I’ll have mine turned into some weak sister sermon.”

The crowd reeled a moments then yelled out, “You tell em Tex!”

“He’s a man’s man,” claimed a man who was a boy’s boy at best.

“Shut your craw preacher,” bellowed a few tavern roughnecks, a call soon echoed by the rest of the crowd.

“Hang the preacher too!” cried the preacher’s wife, caught up in the rush of things.

And sure as said the lawmen roped the preacher up and brought him along. It was a long march to the courthouse, but Tex was grinnin’ the whole way.

Chapter 4: The aforementioned Hangin’ Judge

Well, when last we left Tex, Seamus (and for reasons I don’t entirely recall some preacher) were trussed up and dragged down to the courthouse to stand before the one and only Hiram T. Pinchbach, “The Hanging Judge”.

The judge called the court to order with a stern glare and then set his awful eye on Tex and Seamus.

“Am I to understand, Mr. Barstow, that you will be providing your own legal representation?”

Tex glowered back at the judge

“You understand correct.Seamus as well. And ‘Tex’ will do me just fine.”

The judge cleared his throat and looked down at the cringing Seamus.

“How bout you boy? You good with being tried with, and defended by, this filthy sidewinder?”

“Well,” Seamus began, only to be interrupted by Tex.

“Ain’t no cause to talk to him, he’s just fine with it. Look at ‘im.”

Seamus nodded in helpless approval.

The judge shrugged indifferently ” Fine. Hang together for all I care.”

——————————————————————

Hunching up buzzard like in his robes the judge scanned the courtroom.

“Now where’s that big city, sissy boy, Yankee prosecutor at?”

John E. Smythe, of the New York City Smythe’s, sat impatiently as the prosecutors table until the judge finally acknowledged his presence.

“Your honor, I intend to prove that these men are guilty of a vast array of crimes, profane acts, and general affronts to human decency. Mr. Barstow alone is being charged with 17 counts of murder, 43 counts of theft, and 114 sundry offenses; all of which he has consented to being tried on simultaneously.”

The judge, clearly bored, leaned towards Tex

“Does the defense have any objection to this?”

Tex picked at his teeth with a splinter he’d pulled from the desk.

“Seems a might low by my count, but I ain’t never been one to sweat the details. ”

The prosecutor was taken aback by the easy admission.

“So you admit to killing all the those men?”

Tex rolled a contemptuous gaze over the Prosecutor.

“I don’t know; which men? I mean I probably killed some of them, but my memory ain’t what it was.”

Smythe rubbed his soft city boy hands together gleefully.

“Eli Campbell? Do you remember killing him? Because someone matching your description beat him to death with a boat oar in front of the Black Boar Tavern.”

Tex scratched at his stubble and half grinned in fond recollection.

“Yeah, I ‘member that. Must gone through three boat oars before the honery bastard stayed down. In my defense though I wasn’t tryin’ to kill him, I was just trying to knock him out so I could get with his wife.”

Seamus jumped up excitedly.

“He even signed the boat oar and gave it to some kids what was watching.”

Tex seemed a little embarrassed about his softer side being on display.

“Well, one of them ran to fetch a third oar after I’d gone through the two that I’d brought. Figured I owed ‘em that much.”

The judge nodded his head appreciatively.

“Damn decent of you, Tex, but I have to say it ain’t helping your case.”

The slick Yankee prosecutor, feeling his momentum building, decided to go right for the kill.

“Your Honor, I would like to call one Seamus… uh, there’s only a first name on the court documents.”

Seamus made his way to the stands, stopping by the judge to offer in way of explanation

“Tex lost my last name in a poker game years back, sir. He said Seamus was more than I deserved anyways, so that’s what I got.”

Smythe decided against further pursuing the matter.

“How long have you know Mr. Barstow for?”

Seamus scrunched his face, “I ain’t so good with numbers but I figure….‘bout as long as you been having sex with your father.”

Tex snorted an unexpected laugh. “Shit Seamus, you quick today.”

Smythe puffed up affrontedly.

“Seamus, in all the time you have known Tex have you ever seen him commit a murder?”

Seamus seemed confused by the obvious question. “He’s Tex. I’m surprised he ain’t kill’n right now.”

Tex shrugged half apologetically, “Well, it’s a small town. You gotta pace yourself.”

The smug, preening, Yankee prosecutor seemed bout ready to clean the cream from his whiskers.

“The prosecution rest your Honor.”

Judge Pinchbach looked up from measuring out a length of rope behind the bench.

“You got any legal wranglin’ you want to engage in, Tex?”

Tex stepped out from behind the table and stretched out his stiff back.

“I suppose so Judge; I’m calling that gutless, big city, New York Prosecutor to the stand for questioning.”

Smythe leapt to his feet at the outrageous request.

“What? This makes no sense! I have nothing to do with the charges at hand.”

The Judge paused in his noose looping.

“I’ll allow it.”

——————————————————————————–

The bailiff escorted Smythe to the witness box. Tex circled a few times and then walked up so’s he was face to face with the prosecutor turned witness.

“How does that feel?” asked Tex.

Smythe stared at Tex warily.

“How does what fee…”

Tex blasted him in the gut.

“That,” said Tex triumphantly, followed by “HEeeyayhahahayayaa!”

Smythe emitted a low horfing noise, followed by gutless whimpering.

Judge Pinchbach shook his head in disgust.

“Answer the question, counsel.”

Smythe look at the judge, pained and incredulous, seeing no remittance he answered in a low wheeze.

“Pretty bad.”

Tex hooked his thumbs in behind his belt and then asked with deepest curiosity.

“Really, well how bout this?”.

The thump of fist against kidneys sent Seamus into peels of wild laughter.

Judge Pinchbach looked down skeptically at Tex.

“Mr. Barstow, where are going with this line of questioning? ”

Tex grinned up at the judge.

“Just trying to establish that city boys can’t take a punch, your Judgeship.”

The judge nodded in understanding.

“Point made.”

The judge motioned to prosecutor to take his seat. Turning back to Tex the Judge asked

“Do you have anything to say in pursuit of your defense Barstow?”

Tex shook his head.

“Naw, I reckon I’m guilty as all hell. Sides which I’m bout ready hang myself if’n I have to spend a minute more round this dump.”

Never one to hedge about Hiram T. Pinchbach gave his judgement.

“I find you, M. ‘Tex’ Barstow, guilty as charged. You and Seamus will hang at dawn.”

Chapter 5 : Dying ain’t easy

 

(Well, I’m sad to mention when we last we saw ‘em Tex and Seamus had been brought about as low as feller can get, brought. Seems all his skills at horse fightin’, wife stealin’, and trash talkin’ translated remarkable poor towards litigatin’. As such him, and Seamus by proxy, were found guilty and sentenced to hang in record time. I won’t bother to recount the sad night they spent in lock up, all Seamus’s blubbering was fit to turn your stomach, so we’ll just start right up at the morning of their hanging when the fellers were walking up to the gallows)

They had ol’ tex shackled down heavy enough he had to be pulled in a cart. Seamus was tied up with bailing twine and mornin’ dew and he still screamed fit to beat Jesus.

“Oh I knewed we shouldn’ta fought that horse. Magic horses’ is bad mojo somethin’ fierce.”

Tex spewed a well aimed loogie through two links and drawled as laconically as his well chained torso would allow.

“I imagine this hangings more due to us burning down the governors house up in Freemont.”

Tex pondered a moment.

“Or, speaking cursewise, could’a been them twenty gypsies we robbed and then forced to stage a song and dance play bout how we took all their stuff”.

Seamus grinned halfway’s.

“They sang so pretty…though the dancing were a little by the numbers for my tastes”.

“Yeah gypsies can’t dance for shit. All flash and no storytelling.”

Tex looked up at the steep hill ahead, shooting a contemptuous glare at the deputies pulling his chain laden wagon.

“Put your backs into it ladies; I’m due to hang at dawn and I ain’t never been late for no execution.”

Merl the ham fisted deputy and the Marshall walked Tex and Seamus up the steps. Judge Hiram looked on like the grim old buzzard he was. The crowd screamed and chattered like seagulls fighting over garbage.

“They gonna burn you down, Tex. Burn you down like a kerosene women caught cheatin’ on the sun”

Proclaimed a fat father of two, his chubby brats starring in awe at the disreputable duo. Tex hardly spared them a glance.

A bug eyed fellow in too short pants clamored

“Hey Seamus, I hope you like the Dutch…cause hell’s full of them and you’re on you way there”

Seamus brightened up a tad, he actually did sort of like Dutch folk, soulless monsters though they be, their wooden shoes brought to mind the tree wife he’d carved one summer.

““You were’t confightulatin’ now what fer scrappin’s dun… kill yer’s ya scums” guttered a toothless tavern drunk.

Tex shot the soak a look of purely disgusted incredulity.

“Son, even by the rather lax standards of the western patois that were damned near a criminal mangling of talk’n English like.”

The man hanged his head dejectedly.

“I ain’t weren’t never giv’d no educautorial speakulations”

The wagon rolled on. A dozen stout men hauled Tex and Seamus up the steps and looped a noose about their necks. Tex had lost the better part of his irons but were still fustigated rope-wise plenty.

A painter of some local renown steeped out in front of the gallows and called to Tex

“Lemme get a look at them coward eyes, corspie. I want to be sure and memorialize your comeuppance. I think I brung a might too much paint…a brown smear cross the canvas should sum you up pretty near.“

Tex gave him a look of deep remembrance.

“You got any last words, Barstow”

Asked the cold blooded Judge, standing just down from platform.

“Yeah, I reckon I do.”

The crowd hushed and shuffled close to catch the partially reviled gunslingers last words

“I done pretty much every awful thing what a feller can do, and a few awful things what a feller can’t. I killed mah daddy. Set fire to a church full of orphans. Stole a hat from a dandy. Hell I even broke a bottle in that painters face just now while I was talking”

The crowd whirled to see the painter who surely was more bottle than face all the sudden.

“Damndest thing I ever saw”

Mummered the judge, who’d tied Tex’s bonds personal like and never taken an eye off him.

“Point being”

said Tex, giving a sly wink to the astonished judge

“I always done what I wanted, how I wanted, to who I wanted… so I got ain’t got no regrets. I figure I ought to be hung on general principle just fer having such a good time of it. Fairly speaking that is. “

Well I declare, the crowd went awful quiet and there wasn’t a man present that didn’t flash a few times over some of his smaller moments. One unusually tall, particularly hunched up, bulky gentlemen in a trench coat and hat were so moved he snorted and dabbed at his eyes. Merl cinched up the rope tight around Seamus and Tex. A seminary student mumbled half a litany and then hustled down front for a good view.

Seamus hunched his scrawny shoulders up tight and rasped out a sorry whisper.

“What if it ain’t quick, Tex”

Tex gave Seamus a look that on another man could have been mistaken for sympathy

“I’ll try and kick your head in on the way down. I been meaning to do it for a while now anyways.”

Seamus took it for what it was.

The deputy reached for the lever and began to pull. The rush and flutter of a huge trench coat being thrown off stilled his hand. Standing there newly disrobed and big as life was ol’ Bowlegweemiss. Quick as a mustang viper the stealthy horse sprung up and leapt on the judge, his oddly dexterous hooves holding a fat bowie knife flat against the captive justices throat. The deputy reached for his pistol but stopped once he realized ol’ Bowlegweemiss weren’t fooling.

“I thought you said Horses hate knives, Tex?” muttered the pleased but puzzled Seamus.

“And he surely does” marveled Tex “Just look at they way he’s holding that thing; makes him sick to touch it…just to bust us out. Magnificent sumbitch.”

The quick tempered Equine motioned for the Marshall to unstring Tex and Seamus. Fearing for the judges life the lawman complied without back talk. One quick slash of Bow’s knife freed Tex’s bound hands. One quick flash of Tex’s knuckles sent the suddenly sonambulent deputy crashing head first off the gallows. Bow tossed the judge off the other side of the platform and then leapt down himself. Grabbing up Seamus like a sack of spoiled potatoes Tex jumped onto the back of the surprisingly accommodating Bowlegweemiss and raced clear out of town.


(an epilogue of some sort to follow, just to lay the last bits to rest)

Chapter 6 Epilogue

(I won’t lie to ya’ folks: I thought Ol’ Tex and Seamus luck had run out at the hands of hanging judge. I was pole axed as any man when Bowlegweemiss burst in an unstrangulated em’; and more confounded when they rode off on his back. I ain’t no Equeirian but seemed awful strange for a horse, ‘specily one so proud as Bow, would forget a grudge all a’ sudden like. Several hours into the rescue Seamus weren’t no more consensified than us.)

The unlikely trio had ridden through the better part of the badlands before Bow made it known the ride was over. Tex dropped smoothly to his feet and locked eyes with his dubious rescuer. Seamus slumped to the ground, hurling himself blubbering at Bow.

“Oh thanks you magic horse…you’se the nicest, purtiest mos…”

Bow grabbed up Seamus in his teeth, shook him like a sack of rattle snakes, and then flung him against a rock. Tex stepped across Seamus, interposing himself betwixt the little man and the horse.

“Shit Seamus, that wer’ nearly as stupid as the time you filled you mouth with bee so’s you could taste honey all day. That horse ain’t no more your friend then…well, I suppose then anyone else is your friend. ”

Seamus ran his tounge over the few stingers still lodged in the roof of his mouth “The queen laid eggs in behind my eyes”

Tex continued.

“That horse got a hate so hot for us…if sugar were shoeshine he’d burn your boots black.”

Seamus and Bow pondered a moment and then stood there awkwardly, not looking at anyone. Tex shrugged disappointedly and tried to play it off like he’d made a lick of sense

“Anyhow, he busted us out cause he couldn’t bear me dying having gotten one over on him.”

Bow stopped his hoof impatient like and then tapped at his wrist where he’d have worn a watch…if’n he hadn’t been a horse…which he was. Seamus scuttled backwards into the safety of a cactus patch. Tex squared up to the ornery equine.

“yeah I know, we’s got unfinished business and you’d like to get to it. Fair enough, let me just get my jacke..”

Tex threw his belt buckle in Bow’s face, following it with a hard right hand. Bow neighed joyously and planted a surprisingly high amplitude drop kick into the gunslingers chest.

And just like that the sun went down on the streets of Old Laredo.