Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Gossip/Rumors (either or both) (10/28/10)
TITLE: A Bit o Silver or a Plug From a Six-Shooter
By Anita van der Elst
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I wish to high heaven Iâd fastened the shutters snug aginâ my own meddlesomeness. If Iâdâa done that, I mightnât be in this here pickle, havinâ to make a life alterinâ decision.
I been owner oâ The Dry Gulp Saloon here nigh onto twenty years, offerinâ the best whiskey in town. And sasspariller fer the ladies. I ainât opposed to females frequentinâ my establishment aâtall. But if it werenât fer womenfolk I mightâa never heard what Iâm about to tell ya. So Iâm a tad conflicted about allowinâ âem in.
Boy howdy, thereâs this big outfit outside oâ town, The Cornerstone Ranch. Itâs been there since before I come out west. Owner lives back east. I been out there, providinâ liquid sustenance at a barn dance, so I know the foreman. Clay seems like a good olâ cowpoke, never done me no harm anywise. Heâs shore made somethinâ outâa that spread. Everâ fall his cowhands drive hundreds oâ head oâ cattle to the railroad, herds so big there donât seem to be no end to âem. Must take in some purdy good money too âcause Clay and the boys drop moreân a bit oâ silver on this here countertop oâ mine.
I asked Clay once about his boss. He said he ainât heard from the feller in years, figgers he done lost interest in the place. That donât bother Clay none. Clay says, âMe and the boysâre doinâ mighty fine. Donât need him messinâ things up. We been doinâ all the work all these yearsâI figger itâs MY place now. He ever shows up? Might jest be a show down in the streets, thatâs all!â
I mustâa looked a tetch pale faced âcause Clay grinned and clapped me on the back. âDonâtcha worry none, olâ feller,â he said. âMr. High Falutinâ Eastern Fancy Pants ainât aâcominâ! Iâm shore he got better things to do than ride all this way on dusty trains and stagecoaches anâ all. You jest tend yer bar and no troubleâll come to ya.â
Well, I wadded my botherment like a hankeychief in my back pocket and got on with my saloon keepinâ, like the man said.
I got me a little gal, Daisy Rose, borned to me and my wife seven years ago. My wifeâs one oâ those ladies who come in fer my sasspariller. She ended up stayinâ. I ainât sorry Daisy Rose come along but like I said, Iâm a mite conflicted.
I let Daisy Rose have the run oâ the place. She keeps me up on the doinâs âround here. They say womenfolk love bearinâ tales but I gotta âfess up, to my shame, my earsâre always flappinâ fer the tale to be told. So I ainât never told Daisy not to eavesdrop.
One day Daisy tells me what she heard while she was doinâ her little chores, sweepinâ the storage room. She donât know what itâs all about but it durn near made my blood freeze.
Seems a couple of Cornerstone cowboys was enjoyinâ a smoke out back. Theyâs laughinâ anâ talkinâ about how messengers from Mr. Fancy Pants been cominâ regular-like to the ranch. How the cowhands got orders from Clay to give âem a message to take back to him. As Daisy Rose prattled, a remembrance come to my mind of a coupla well-dressed strangers thatâd partook of a glass of my finest. Later I seen âem boardinâ the stage, a little worse fer wear. Nowâs I think on it, âtwas evidence of a cowpuncherâs blows.
Daisyâs aâpullinâ on my vest, âPapa, does Mr. Fancy Pants have a son? Willy and Little George said when Mr. Fancy Pantsâ boy gets here, theyâre gonna throw him a party in the gully where that olâ weepinâ willow grows. What kinda party is a lynchinâ party, Papa? Maybe Willy and Little Georgeâll invite me.â
Now I gotta decide ifân I bear this tale to the sheriff anâ run the risk oâ Clayâs six-shooter finding a place to put a plug in me. Or am I gonna let Mr. Fancy Pantsâ boy get hung soâs I can go on benefitinâ from the Cornerstoneâs silver?
I wish to heaven Iâdâa made Daisy Rose stay home with her mama.
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