Sunday, June 27, 2010

Ragtown Part One

Part One

I was just about ready to dismount when all of a sudden a voice from out of thin air shouted out,

“Mr. you better be wearing and you better be quicker than grease lightning.”

The harsh voiced startled my horse, he reared up on his hind legs causing the shot to miss me and he took the slug right between his eyes.

I couldn’t see the shooter but I drew and fired at his voice and heard him fall crying out in pain; “You lucky bastard…Ya got me and it’s bad, real bad.”

“You asked for it stranger, who the hell are you and why the cowardly attempt to kill me?”

Weak almost inaudible; “I’m going to die, anyway, so I might as well tell you. It was…”

A gasp for air and he was gone.

My horse was dead, the stranger was dead and I was dead tired…Who wanted me dead and why?

I searched the stranger’s body and went through all of his belongings. In his saddle bag I found a note and $1000 in gold coins. I could barely read the note because it was wrinkled and dirty, however, I did make this much out; “I’m willing to pay you $1000 now and when the jobs done another $1000, I want Big Daddy Cash dead…”

The signature was so smudged, I couldn’t make it out.

Ten miles to the next town. Lugging my saddle is out of the question, so I buried my horse saddle and all, and started walking. I staggered into Ragtown, around mid night. Lights were coming from a small tavern so that’s where I headed.

Two cowhands were playing poker near the back of the bar another was staggering back and forth in front of the bar and the bartender was unconscious in the corner. It didn’t take much of an imagination to see what had been going on. Behind me came a thundering holler;

“Well I’ll be damned if it isn’t Big Daddy Cash. You sure are a sight for sore eyes!”

It was a friend of mine who had a ranch beside the Colorado River near the mouth of Black Canyon.

I replied;

“Hi Doug, this is one hell of a place for old friends to meet, how the hell have you been.”

“Well, since you asked, I’m slightly disfigured but I’m still in the race.”

“Slightly disfigured, what the hell do you mean?”

“What’s the matter Cash? Are you blind, can’t you see my right leg is missing.” There was a wooden stump where his leg had once been.

“I do now, what happened?”

“I had a shoot out a few months back, he got my leg and I shot his heart into the next county.”

The tavern was a total disaster, broken bar stools, chairs and tables, plus broken glasses and pitchers. Yet we managed to set up a table and two unbroken chairs where we could sit down and talk. By now the bar tender was conscious so we ordered a drink.

Doug speaks;

“Big Daddy you look like Hell warmed over. What’s been happening?”

“Same old thing Doug, somebody tried to kill me.”

“Ha Ha, They should know by now that your indestructible.”

“I don’t make that claim but I have been lucky.”

Doug and I talked for several hours. He had heard that somebody was trying to kill me but he didn’t know who. Anyway, he offered to help me catch the bastard, he had a few clues to give us a place to start. However the first thing I had to do was find me a mount.

Black canyon has the best of the best as far as wild horses go. Doug loaned me a rugged quarter horse and we decided that first thing in the morning we go hunt for a wild stallion.

As we rode through Black Canyon we could see the desert Bighorn and all kinds of native wildlife. Archaeological and mining camps are scattered all over the place but best of all there are herds and herds of wild horses.

As Doug and I rode down a trail and rounded a huge bolder blocking the trail we spotted the most beautiful four legged creature that I've ever laid eyes on, a white stallion with a black star on its forehead. With out a doubt the most magnificent horse on this planet. I had to have him.

My desire to have this horse was so great that I made him my goal. I even named him “Thunder” and called him by name as I tried to rope him. Before I’d catch him he’d know his name well. I’ve thrown a lasso around many a horse but “Thunder” was the most spirited horse I have ever tried to collar.

Finally after three hard days we had Thunder corralled and I had my new constant companion. He was so smart that he learned in a heart beat. Within days we were riding like we were life long buddies.

Doug and I planned on spending one more night in the desert. While tracking Thunder we saw huge racked Bighorns in large numbers. Doug needed to replenish his meat cellar so we decided to go hunting. There were plenty of Bighorns so the timing was right.

At five o'clock in the morning I had eggs in the skillet, a small side of beef jerky and a pot of hot coffee simmering on the fire. Doug said;

"Man am I hungry, I could eat a whole desert goat all by myself"

"Well Doug you'll just have to settle for jerky and eggs and the strongest coffee you've ever tasted."

"Ha-Ha, Ha-Ha…”

"Okay buddy let's get going."

We hunted all day and by evening we had enough meat to supply Doug all winter long. Although we were both tired we decided to make a night ride back to Ragtown. It had been a beautiful day but my bones told me a storm was on its way and we sure didn’t want to get caught in these hills in bad weather so we ate an early supper then packed up and headed out.

It was about six in the morning when we rode into Ragtown. Much to our surprise the town was a shambles and bullets were flying in all directions. The town was being attacked by a gang of Poncho’s bandit’s the most feared outlaw group in the territory.

It looked like most the damage had been done, bodies all over the streets and buildings a blaze so we decided to find a safer place but just then Doug was hit in the shoulder and knock clean off his mount.

The bullet came from the roof top of one of the buildings in flame, I caught a glimpse of four or five banditos gathered on the corner of the roof, all drunk and unaware that anyone was left to be fighting back. They were prime targets; I shot them all and watched them tumble off the roof to certain death.

I grabbed Doug by his armpits and quickly drug him off the street to the only safety I could find, behind a bunch of water barrels. I had to get Doug patched up before he bled to death, we had to make a run through the showering bullets, we had no other choice.

“Doug, if I can get you up on your saddle, do you think you can ride?”

“Damn tooting, let’s get outta here.”

“Okay, my friend, let’s make a run for it.”

Well as luck would have it we made it out of the range of the shooters. Doug’s wound was not life threatening so I got him patched up the best that I could.

“Doug, we have to go back and kill the rest of those bandits and see if we can help cleanup or restore the town.”

“My thoughts exactly!”

“It’s gonna be a bitch Doug but we’re the only ones that can do it.”

“Let’s get it done.”

Between the two of us, within the hour we had accomplished our mission, all the bandits were dead or driven away.

“Hey Doug, it’s almost noon, I’m ready for some chow, how about you?”


Finally after a long day of stress and after taking care of everybodies problems but my own, I found the time to look into my past. I needed this time to be alone with my thoughts so I mounted Thunder and rode up to my favorite lake just above Hell, the town where I was born. The lake is called Devils Hole. I guess it was named to go with Hell but it's far from the Devil and Hell. It's the most beautiful and peaceful place in the world.

I like to sit beneath the branches of my favorite oak tree, enchanted by the river that flows into the lake. Some times I’ll sit for hours just letting the thoughts of the past flow through my mind.

I left Hell when I was sixteen, twenty six years ago and I haven’t been back since but I return to Devils Hole every year just to be with myself. This is the only place that I have ever felt peace and I’d travel thousands of miles just to have that feeling.

Thunder is grazing down by the shore and to look at him I know he feels the same peace that I feel. I’m not sure there’s a God but if there is this is the place he would make his home.

The day light has faded away and the stars are starting to fill the sky so it’s time for me and Thunder to head for Ragtown, we should get back there about mid-night.

I needed these hours today spent in my special way, now I can go back and face the hard life I have chosen.

Tonight I feel peaceful so I should get a good night sleep.

“Wake up Cash, wake up.”

“Hmm, go away.”

“Damn it Big Daddy get your ass up, this is Doug?”

“Get out of here Doug and leave me be, I just hit the hay a short bit ago.”

“Wake up now, you dumb ass, If you don’t you may never get the chance to wake up again.”

“What the hell are you talking about, are you drunk?”

“Shit, if you don’t listen to me now, you’re gonna be a dead man.”

“! #$%^ Spit it out, ya damn fool, you’re not making sense.”

“Poncho Gonzales the Mexican bandit has men down in the lobby with orders to kill you.”

“Okay, you got my attention, I’m wide awake.”

“Cash, I came in through the side door that leads to the lobby and I heard these Mexicans talking ambush. Ya Cash they plan on ambushing you. You know, catching you when you’re not looking.”

“That will be hard to do Doug; you see I’ve got eyes in the back of my head besides you wouldn’t let that happen.”

Doug and I poured a drink, sat down and had a long discussion concerning this whole affair. We wondered if Poncho was the person being paid to kill me or was he just retaliating because we killed so many of his men. Would someone as powerful as Poncho Gonzales accept $2000 in gold for a contract on my life?

I’m sure glad I have a friend like Doug. I think he’d cut off his other leg if it would save my life. Living on the trails, on the ranges and in the desert I don’t have many real good friends. Not friends like Doug who is a giver not a taker. Doug is one tough cowboy and with him on my side I’ll tackle anything.

There’s a big rodeo and circus on the outskirts of Ragtown and people are arriving in droves to attend the special events. The hotel where we stay is filled with strangers and the possibility of an innocent person getting shot in a senseless gun battle is a risk that Doug and I want to avoid. So before sunrise we left through a window next to the fire escape and descended to the street. Poncho’s bandits would soon find out we were gone when they attempted their ambush, so they’d leave and no one in the hotel would be hurt.

We had to capture one of the bandits to find out where Poncho Gonzales’s hiding place was. So we waited in a place where we could see anyone leaving the hotel. Doug saw a half dozen bandits when he overheard their plans. In order to get one we may have to follow them and confront all of them. Doug is almost as fast with his gun as I am so if we have an all and out gun fight I think our chances are good and better if we take them by surprise. Anyway our plans were set and one way or another we intended to make them work.

Just before sunrise the bandits gathered together in the street in front of the hotel. We could tell they had been drinking heavy by the way they staggered and laughed. I looked at Doug and winked and without saying a word he knew what I meant. Nobody in the street but the bandits now was the time to strike. We approached them head on, ten feet apart with our guns hung low for the fastest draw. They didn’t see us at first which was to our advantage. I whispered to Doug; you take the three on the left and I’ll take the three on the right but make sure we don’t kill them all we need one of them alive.

The battle was over in less then a minute and six bodies lay sprawled out in the middle of the street two still alive but screaming in pain. Doug looked at me and smiled and I said; “I knew we could do it if we put our minds to it.” A cripple with a wooden leg and a broken down saddle tramp just blew Poncho Gonzales the Mexican bandit’s army to pieces. “Smiles”

We took the two wounded bandits to our room in the hotel and patched them up. They were lucky our bullets went right through the bodies with out hitting any vital organs. We tried to question them but they were still pretty drunk and we only got stupid answers. Since we weren’t getting anywhere we stripped them down, put them both on the bed and bound them securely. We made sure there was no way that they could get loose and then we decided to go get some breakfast.

“I’ll have a juicy rare steak, three eggs over easy with a side of pancakes, please. How about you Doug? I’m buying so have anything you please.”

“Thanks, I’ll have the same, mam.” The waitress was a cute little red head that liked to flirt; she always left us a smile to make our day. We both like her a lot.

“Cash, have you ever wanted to settle down in one place, maybe get married and raise a family.”

“That I have Doug, but I don’t think there is a woman alive that could put up with me.”

“Ha, Ha, Don’t be to sure, I’ll bet there’s a gal out there that could hog tie you and chain you to the bed post, ha, ha, ha.”

HA, ha, ha, you’re a damn pervert.”

As we left the restaurant we heard a half dozen shots coming from the hotel. We hurried back and eased ourselves into the lobby incase the shooter was there looking for us. The desk clerk was standing in the middle of the foyer, mouth wide open, pointing at the stairs.

When we got to our room the door was open, inside the two Mexican bandits were laying in a puddle of blood deader then a doornail.

Poncho Gonzales happens to be the leader of huge armies of Mexican bandits. His tentacles spread out all over the country spreading fear like it was the Bubonic plague. His hideout is a town called Poncho Villa hidden somewhere in the Rockies. Search parties have desperately tried but nobody has ever been able to uncover the Villas location. The two Mexican bandits we held as prisoners may or may not have given us the answer but at least they were a place to start.

It is hard to believe that Poncho is the one that wants me dead. If his focus was on me I’d be dead already. It’s only by accident that I have avoided his plight.

Regardless of what I think the fact is Poncho Gonzales is my number one enemy. From this point in time until one of us is dead life is going to be a living Hell. Of course I’m from a town called Hell so this is nothing new to me.

“Doug, let’s pack up some pan fried chicken, corn on the cob, home made biscuits an apple pie and go exercise our horses. Thunder needs to get out in the country to release his spirit and I need your company.”

“Sounds good buddy, you didn’t have to ask, since I’m in the same fix you are I’m going to stick with you like a fly on shit.”

“Great, you keep an eye on my back and I’ll keep an eye on yours.”

Ragtown Part Two

The hotel restaurant has the best pan fried chicken I’ve ever tasted and their apple pie is the second best. Anyway, I ordered our special lunch and this time I made sure I got the name of the cute little waitress with the fiery red hair. Tamara, a fitting name for a charmer.

I gave Tamara a nice size tip and said with a smile; “Well my dear Tamara I’m so happy to meet you, your beautiful smile is going to make my day. I’ll pick the lunch up on my way out of town. Thank you sweet lady I’ll see ya soon.”

Doug was in the barn grooming the horses, he had a new mount he called Seabiscuit, a funny little quarter horse. He shouted out to me; “I want you to meet Seabiscuit, he’s a funny looking little guy but he’s loaded with spirit.” I didn’t answer instead I stood frozen in my tracks. Behind Doug was a mean looking Mexican with a sawed off shotgun pointed right at his back. Suddenly I shouted; “Hit the floor Doug.” My bullet hit the man in the middle of his forehead.

“Are you about ready to go Doug? I ordered the lunch and we can pick it up on the way out of town.”

Finally on our way to Devils Hole, it surprised me when Doug started singing. “I’m sad but I’m happy, rich but I’m broke, I’m a carefree range riding drifting cowpoke.” It further surprised me that this crippled cowboy had a beautiful voice. I liked what I heard so I said; “Sing the whole song Doug; it’s one of my favorites.” He laughed and said; “You’re a lying old fart, I’m making it up as I go.” We both had a good laugh, then he sang some more.

Doug and I had become as close as two peas in a pod. Not only was he my best friend he was my only friend. He understood me when I didn’t understand myself. I always felt comfortable when he was with me. That’s the main reason I wanted him with me on this trip. I was taking him to my favorite spot, the place where I do my best thinking.

Somehow I knew that when we reached the Devils Hole that the two of us could put our thoughts together and come up with the solutions to all the problems we were facing. Devils Hole has always been a place where I could get to know myself, by myself. Now for the first time I was going to share it with a friend.

God, it was a beautiful day, a gentle breeze blowing through the trees, the rhapsody of singing birds and an occasional dear poking his head out between the quackies. It was like riding through paradise valley without a care in the world. It was so nice to get away from the situation in Ragtown. We need moments like this to make us realize that everything is worthwhile.

“Doug, it’s just about lunchtime and we’re just about there.”

“Good, I’m as hungry as a bear.”

This whole fiasco is of my creation and in no way did I intend to get Doug or for that matter anyone else involved in any misgivings of such enormity. Touching me is like touching the fangs of a wild wolf. I’ve always wanted to help my friends not endanger their very existence. My lifestyle really doesn’t have room for friends because I’m always in the wake of danger. This is really not my want but it is the pattern of my destiny. I have to accept it and live with what I have to do to exist.

We headed down to where the river empties into the lake and is shadowed by my old oak tree. Doug was in awe at the sight of such beauty and the feeling of comfort he felt in its presence. Somehow I knew he would be.

“You know Cash, I’m not a very religious man but in this place I can feel the presence of God.”

“I was hoping you would and that the feeling wasn’t just my imagination.”

“I’m glad you brought me here Cash, now I understand why you find this place special.”

“This is the only place in the world where I feel real comfort and my visits here always regenerate my energy to deal with life’s circumstances. Doug, you know me well enough to realize that there is a reason behind everything I do and I don’t pull any punches. You have been bonded with me in a dangerous situation and I don’t intend to see you harmed if there’s anyway I can prevent it. I’d drive you out of my life right this very moment if I felt that would insure your safety. We both know damn well that wouldn’t work, so I have brought you here, away from the turmoil of Ragtown, to find solutions. I want us to put our minds together and find a plan that will work. Now I know you are hungry so let‘s have lunch.”

Spreading our lunch out underneath my old oak tree is like eating in Gods finest restaurant.

“Doug I have never done anything like this before and I’ll probably never do it again but do you mind if I give thanks for this wonderful meal.”

“I’m feeling the same, so let's do it…”

We both said a silent prayer.

“Bye the way Doug, do you know it’s Christmas Eve? Merry Christmas!”

“Merry Christmas”

We talked for several hours enjoying some humor but mostly our conversation was very intense. We looked at our problem from every imaginable angle and made several dedicated decisions. I don’t think we could have made these decisions in any other place but this special place.

As we rode into Ragtown we could see the circus lights at the edge of town and hear the music coming from the merry go round. Christmas Eve at the circus a real treat for the Ragatonians; it’s the most peaceful night of the whole year. We could hear the children laughing and singing carols. Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright. For the second time today we could feel the Christmas spirit. Doug even started singing;

Silent night, holy night, all is calm; all is bright round yon virgin mother and child. Holy infant, so tender and mild, sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace. Silent night, holy night, shepherds quake at the sight; glories stream from heaven afar, heavenly hosts sing Alleluia! Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born!

His voice reverberated throughout the whole valley and people gathered round to hear him singing. To be honest I was really impressed and delighted. I was seeing a side of Doug that I had never seen or could even imagine.

Doug’s room was right across the hall and I could hear him humming and singing Christmas songs all night long. No doubt about it, he was a real happy man and his joy was contagious. I went to sleep at ease and slept a long comfortable sleep. I dreamt I spent the whole night with Tamara the cute red headed waitress.

A whole day and night with out even a hint of trouble it’s really unbelievable. Well unfortunately all good things come to an end. A loud knock at my door and a cry for help, it was a young boy from the circus crowd. He was crying, moaning and screaming all at the same time.

“Calm down son, let me know what’s wrong.” Teary eyed he started all over;

“The drunken bad men stormed into our camp this morning shooting everyone in sight. They stole all our money and let all the animals loose. I need your help mister, please!”

“What do you expect me to do, you don’t need me you need the sheriff.” Crying again, he started mumbling; “There ain’t no sheriff they killed him, they killed the doctor too.” The poor boy was going into shock; he managed to mumble out one more thing. “My dad was shot, he was bleeding a lot, and he might be dead.” Then he passed out in my arms. I carried him over and put him on the bed then I rushed across the hall to wake up Doug.

“Doug, the boy is in shock, I need you to watch him while I go check out his story.”

“Okay, be careful.”

Thunder was fidgeting at the gate post; “Calm down Thunder we got work to do.” I jumped on him bareback and headed for the circus. I could see in an instance that it was bad. A fat lady was pacing back and forth at the entrance. I had to shake her to calm her down, and then I described the boy and asked where I could find his dad. She pointed to a trailer that was on fire. I got to the man just before the trailer collapsed. He was still alive but badly beaten, his shirt was torn to his waist and a knife was still stuck in his chest.

“Your son sent me to help you.”

“Oh God, Is Jimmy alright?”

“He’s all shook up but he’ll be fine. I’ve got to get you to a place where I can help you if I can get you on my horse I’ll lead you out of here.” He reached up to pull the knife from his chest. “Leave it there; it’s keeping you from losing anymore blood.” On the way off the grounds I spotted the sheriff so full of holes he looked like a gravel sifter, the maggots were already chowing down on his body.


Damn it, it's unbelievable but it's true, over the span of the last ten days the Ragtown residents have adopted Doug and I as a two man vigilante, a doctor, nurse and the protectors of the innocent. Poncho Gonzales the ruthless and most feared outlaw of all time has us on his most wanted list and all we did was appear on the scene.

We are housing two strangers associated with a national group called the Alliance for Carnival and Circus People (ACCP) and our hotel rooms have become ICU and guest rooms. It's unbelievable, unconceivable and ridiculous.

It turns out that the father and son that we rescued and mended belong to a group that protects circus and carnival entertainers, a national secret society better known as Hey Rube.

When Hey Rube telegraphs a letter over the wires it's an SOS for help and carnival people start crawling out of the woodwork.

Shit, that's all we need, mass hysteria. All of this is breathing down the necks of two lonesome cowpokes.

“Damn it Doug our situation is getting more complicated with each passing day.”

“That's life, Big Daddy Cash; we just have to play the cards as there dealt.”

“Ha, ha, Ha, I didn't know you were optimistic, you have a new surprise for me every day.”

“Cash, are we going to continue as we plan?”

“Damn it Doug, I really don’t know, the scene has dramatically changed.”

“How does that affect us?”

“Well, I been thinking we just might be able to enlist the help of this Hey Rube gang.”

“Can we trust the carnival clowns, pardon the pun.”

“They’re not all clowns Doug; I think Franco and Jim are straight shooters.”

Franco and Jimmy are the names of our two house guests. Our rooms are doubles so even though it’s inconvenient it doesn’t interfere with our comfort. Jim rooms with Doug and Franco rooms with me. The living arrangements are only temporary because the Hey Rube people are rebuilding them a trailer. I like Franco he’s tough and honest.

“Doug let’s take Franco and Jim to the hotel café and introduce them to our friend, Tamara the cute little redhead, I’m starved.”

“Ya, I know what you’re starved for, you can’t fool an old fool. Ha- ha-”

“You got it all wrong, she’s just a good friend and I’m always happy to see her.?

“Ha, ha, I don’t think so.”

“You know damn well she’s too young for me, so knock it off.”

Franco and Jim were in the lobby so I invited them to dine with us and I told them I wanted them to meet a good friend of mine.

“It’s six now can you guys be ready at seven?”

“Sure thing Cash, we’ll meet you right here in the lobby.”

Big Daddy Cash singing in the shower; “Breaking the rules every time I hug and kiss you. I’m playing reckless and taking chances with your heart, Hummm.”

Tamara greeted us as we entered the café;

“Good evening Big Daddy Cash, It pleases me to see you again so soon. I see you have friends with you this evening I wish to welcome them too. Your table is ready and you’ll find a tray of special snacks, compliments of the management, on the center of your table. Our special today is prime rib and lobster tail done to perfection. I hope you enjoy your meal.”

She made sure we were seated then left us with a beautiful smile saying;

“I’ll give you a moment to study the menu and then I’ll take your order.”

Franco was the first to comment; “She must be the friend you wanted us to meet, what a delightful young lady.” Jim added; “Wow, she’s a love Goddess, a total knock out, what beautiful flowing red hair.” Then Doug; “Yup, she’s a sweetheart.” I smiled and said nothing.

We sat in awe for a few minutes and then I broke the silence, directing my attention to Franco and Jim. “You two are in for a treat the food here is really fantastic, the meals on me so order anything you want but I would suggest the special if you want a gourmet delight.”

We all agreed on the special and then entered into some idle conversation. I wanted to avoid anything serious until after we’d eaten. At which time I intended to lay everything out on the table.

The special was a five course dinner starting with a seafood cocktail then soup, salad, the main course and topped off with hot homemade pie. We took our time and savored the flavors.

When we finished we retired to the hotel lobby for a more serious conversation. I employed my thoughts with care because I wanted them given due consideration. I was trying to explore all possible avenues. I can get dead serious when dead serious is essential.

I asked Franco if Hey Rube would help us find Poncho Gonzales and he assured me that they would. He said Hey Rube would avenge and retaliate for the harm caused the carnival people. He further exclaimed that they wouldn’t leave until their mission was accomplished. He was quite firm on this.

I explained to him that the US Government had been looking for Poncho Villa for years always meeting failure. He was adamant that Hey Rube would not fail.

Franco incurred that he would make arrangements for all of us to meet with the head honcho of Hey Rube and discuss this matter further. I thanked him and prepared to retire. Honest to God I could use a good night’s sleep.

“Doug, are you still optimistic?”

“I think you accomplished what we set out to accomplish.”

“Doug, I didn’t do it alone, I just asked the questions.”

“I assume you feel you got the right answers.”

“Maybe, however nothing ever is as it appears to be.”

I left Doug at his room door and returned to my room and went to bed.

Early the next morning Franco got his things together and moved back to his trailer.

“Good morning Doug, You wouldn't happen to have any coffee brewed, would you?”

“There’s a pot over on the radiator go ahead and help yourself. There‘s a shot of whiskey on the dresser if you want to take the bite out of it. ”

“I guess you know that Franco moved out this morning.”

“Yup, he said goodbye when he come over to get Jim.”

“We’ve got a meeting this afternoon with the leader of the Hey Rube gang.”

“I know, Franco told me, I was just about to come over and tell you, when you knocked on my door.”

“I’m anxious to find Poncho and get this nightmare over. I sure hope this guy can help.”

“I know it’s about time we got a lucky break.”

“I’m going to ride over to Postal Junction and pick up our mail, since it’s close to your ranch I figured you’d like to tag along, it will give you a chance to check your place and button things down for the rest of the winter.”

“You’re a mind reader I was planning to ride out there later on today.”

“We’ll have plenty of time to check your ranch and get back for our meeting, its set up for four o’clock this afternoon.”

“Okay, I’m ready to go whenever you are.”

Postal Junction is a twenty minute ride from Ragtown and Doug’s range is fifteen minutes from Postal Junction. Our horses need to be exercised and this trip will do it. So are plans for the day is pretty well mapped out. If all things go the way they should we can start our search for Poncho Villa tomorrow.

As we arrived in Postal we noticed a small crowd gathering in front of the church. We posted our mounts in front of the post office and meandered over to the church to see what the excitement was all about. Doug turned around with shock written all over his face and said;

“Jesus Christ Cash, I can’t believe my eyes, I’ve never seen anything so gruesome; that’s our pastor.”

A large wooden cross was placed over the church entrance and a man was stripped of all his clothes and nailed to the cross and then apparently whipped until he lost consciousness. He was barely alive, gasping for breath, and tears of pain were streaming from his bloody looking eyes. I brushed the crowd aside and ran up to the man, turned to the crowed and hollered;

“Good God, would somebody get me a God damn hammer.”

There were at least a half dozen nails in each hand and foot that had to be removed to get him off the cross. The man was in excruciating pain, blood was dripping from his chin running from his lips that he’d bitten to keep from screaming.

Doug and I finally got him down and carried him to a place where we could stretch him out and cover his naked body. The closest doctor was a drunken veterinarian back in Ragtown.

Ragtown Part Three


Part Three

I left Doug in Postal Junction to mend his pastor the best that he could. Neither one of us knew much about medicine but as far as fixing people up, well, let’s just say, we had more then our share of body mending. I know for sure that Doug can do a better job then a drunken old veterinarian. Anyway, I had to leave; we had important business in town that wouldn't wait.

Franco was waiting for me in front of the hotel with a tall stranger. I assumed he was the man I was supposed to meet, so I put on a smile, stuck out my hand and said;
“Hello there, my name is Big Daddy Cash.”
He shook my hand but he didn’t introduce himself, nor did he change his sour expression. He scowled and said;
“Your late Mr. Cash, we were about to leave.”
“It couldn’t be helped…”
Franco jumped right in and said;
“This is Johnny Diamond the man I was telling you about, he’s from the Hey Rube organization.”
“Just so you know Mr. Diamond, I’m not the sort of man that apologizes and I don’t make excuses, I’m late and that’s all there is to it, now can we step inside and get this damn meeting started.”
He looked at me with a startled expression, took a step back and broke out laughing, a deep bellow of a laugh that you could hear all the way across town.
“You amuse me Big Daddy Cash, I like a man that won’t take crap and says it like it is. Let’s do this thing over.” This time with a big smile he stuck out his hand and said; “Good afternoon, my name is Johnny Diamond and don’t call me mister.”
This time we all laughed and stepped inside.
Johnny was a big man, six foot nine and had a face that looked a little bit like Frankenstein, no tellen how many times his nose had been broken. He had a scowl that would stop a clock and a smile that would start a steam engine. No doubt about it, he was the kind of man that left lasting impressions. There was something about him I liked so maybe we could be friends.
Our meeting lasted from four fifteen until way past midnight. We discussed everything there was to know about Poncho Gonzales. Johnny assured me that no matter what happened Hey Rube would never give up until they had Poncho and destroyed his Villa. His exact words were;
“I’ll tell you right now Cash, and you can mark my words that son of a bitchen Poncho killed 20 of our carnival people and I swear to God he’s gonna pay and pay dearly. I’m personally gonna cut his balls off.”
Thunder was still tied up to the hitching post in front of the hotel. Things got so heated up in the meeting that I forgot to feed him. “Come on big boy, let’s get you some food and water, I’m sorry I forgot all about you, I promise it won’t happen again.” After taking care of my four legged friend, I saddled him up again and we headed back to Postal Junction.
I had a bad feeling about leaving Doug all alone to take care of a bad situation. After all I didn’t know who nailed the pastor to the cross. Maybe they were still around and might try to finish what they started. I couldn’t help but think that Doug was in a lot of trouble. Maybe it’s just my imagination but I gotta know.
It took Thunder and I exactly twenty minutes to make the trip to Postal Junction. The candles were still burning in the church windows so I suppose that means the pastor is still alive. Somewhere I read that if the candles are burning life lingers on, or maybe I heard it in a song, anyway I think it’s a good sign. Doug heard us riding in so he met us at the hitching post;
“I didn’t expect you back until tomorrow Cash, is anything wrong?”
“Nope, I just felt guilty about leaving you in such turmoil and couldn’t sleep until I knew you were ok.”
“The pastor is going to survive but it will be a long time before he’ll be able to walk or use his hands. He’s young though, and has a strong will, so he’ll do fine."
“Any idea on who or why?”
“Yup, the people say it was Poncho’s men. Evidently they wanted the town’s women and the pastor stood up against them. He drove the first ones off with a shot gun but they came back with an army.”
“What happened to the women?”
“They took all the young ones.”
“Christ Doug, That bastard got to be stopped.”
“You haven’t said anything about the meeting, are we gonna have the help of Hey Rube.”
“The meeting went well; it looks like we’ll have plenty help.”
I suggested that we get a few hours shut eye before giving it another thought. Neither one of us has had enough sleep to function with a full deck. Doug agreed, so we got our bedrolls and found an out of the way place on the floor.
Damn, I just remembered why I came to Postal Junction; it was to pick up a couple letters from general delivery. So much has been happening that I completely forgot about the strange message that was delivered to my room. A young boy came to my room and said that a man paid him $50 to deliver a message to me personally. He said he was supposed to make sure I knew that it was vitally important. What surprises me is that nobody pays $50 to have somebody informed that they have mail waiting in general delivery, it just isn’t done. All though I’ll have to admit it’s a good way to get someone’s attention, yet I was more then curious at the time and circumstances cut it completely from my mind. Oh well a couple of days isn’t going to change anything, I’m sure the letters will still be there when I get there in the morning.
So many things are running through my mind, I’m probably not going to get much sleep. I heard a rumor that Doug’s ranch had been ran sacked by Poncho’s men, the thoughts of the tragedies that happen to the carnival people and the pastor, the shoot out in Ragtown, the realization that more then one person was trying to kill me, these things have got my emotions so screwed up that sleep doesn’t come easy. I just hope that my weariness doesn’t effect my draw nor my aim cause I know for sure that I’ll have to be better then ever. Shit, why do all these things happen to me?
It seems like I just barely closed my eyes and was having a dream, no it’s true, bells are ringing. I looked over at Doug but his bedroll was empty. Startled by the sound of bells tolling I sat up and rubbed my eyes in wonder. I hurried and put my boots on and rushed in to see how the pastor was doing, he also was missing.
My first thought was not good; had the bandits come back and taken the pastor and Doug, and why were the bells ringing?
Stepping out into the corridor I could hear music coming from the chapel, a quire was singing Amazing Grace. I was missing something and had to find what was going on.
Walking through the chapel doors I saw the lost duo standing at the pulpit. I couldn’t believe my eyes, the pastor was about to lead his congregation in prayer. The last time I saw him he was half dead and that was only a few hours ago. I shook my head, I was totally amazed. Was I witnessing some sort of a miracle?
The man I keep referring to as the pastor has a name and out of due respect I should use it, his name is Reverent Hill.
Here’s what happened, as Doug tells it; Reverent Hill crawled out of his chambers very early this morning, he was in terrible pain but he said that didn’t matter. He continued; “Doug, I’ve got an obligation to take care of my congregation, I need to give them hope and restore their faith and I need your help. The bells need to be tolled to bring my people to the chapel and I need help to stand before them and lead them in prayer. I solemnly plead with you to help me in this endeavor, God will surely bless you.”
Reverent Hill was in so much pain that each movement he made was pure agony but he kept saying God will help me through you. I rung the bells to summon the people and then I carried the Reverent up to the pulpit. He insisted on standing, he said it was a courtesy to God and the way to show his strength to his people. He led the people in prayer for almost an hour and then he collapsed into unconsciousness. I have done all I can for him, now the people he calls his people will take care of him until he heals.
“Doug, if you are ready to leave let’s get going, I’ve got to stop at the post office on the way out of town then we will head for your ranch.”
“Yah, I’ll go say goodbye to the Reverent and meet you out in the barn.”
“Take your time Doug, I’ll go pick up the mail and come back and get you,”
I hadn’t said anything to Doug concerning what I heard about his ranch being ran sacked, I figured he had enough to be worried about with out adding more.
I picked up my letters and decided not to read them until later; at the moment I wasn’t ready for anymore bad news.


Doug’s ranch is small it covers about twenty five acres he has fifteen Herford’s and about forty shorthorns and longhorns mixed. He likes race horses and owns two champions and has about ten good quarter horses. He has some chickens a couple dogs and a goat and a young couple that manage it and make it their home, their names are Paul and Cindy Smith.
Doug usually spends the winters on his ranch, during the summers he has numerous odd jobs and hardly ever visit’s the place but Paul and Cindy do a real good job and don’t need much supervising. Doug looks upon the place as a future investment right now it just barely pays for itself.
As we approached the ranch we could see we were approaching trouble. Ponchos bandits were there raising hell as usual. The barn was on fire and the horses were running wild.
“I count five there may be more in the house, what do you want to do Doug?”
“They haven’t seen us yet, I think if we gallop straight in we can surprise them.”
“It’s your call, let’s do it!”
“Okay, let’s do this as fast as we can, when we hit the yard you veer to the left and I’ll veer to the right and we’ll have them caught in the middle, make every shot count, we won’t have a second chance.”
The bandits had already hit the ranch and felt the surge of victory so they were drinking and having a party. You could read the dumb bastards like a book. Before they knew what hit them they were all dead, all accept for two,
There were seven horses tied to the hitching post and we’d just killed five bandits.
Doug beat me into the house but I was right on his heals, he swung open the bedroom door and there were the other two raping Cindy, Paul lay dead on the floor decapitated. Doug grabbed the one on Cindy pulled him over and shot his balls off. I wasn’t that creative I just shot the other one between the eyes.
Evidently Cindy had been raped by all seven of the bastards, brutally raped and beaten. We tried to calm her down but when she saw Paul headless on the floor she grabbed a gun stuck it in her mouth and pulled the trigger. It happened so fast that there was nothing either one of us good do.
We buried Paul and Cindy, teamed the Mexicans horses up to a wagon filled with their bodies and run them off into the desert. It was Doug’s idea he said they’d make a good meal for the vultures.
It took us the rest of the day to rebuild the corrals and gather up all the horses.
“Doug, I’m going back to Ragtown and see if I can get Jim to come out here and watch the place until you can get somebody permanent.”
“Thanks Cash, while you’re gone I’ll see if I can clean up this mess.”
“Doug I want you to know, even though I don’t pretend to know how you feel, that I’m sorry.”
“There’s no need to say anything, I know!
The Ragtown barber shop has a backroom where you can shave and shower since I haven't had a bath in over a week and have the stench of warmed over death, I figured it's time to get a fresh smell. I thought I may as well do it up right so I visited the local store and bought a whole new outfit including a new Stetson, the icon of the western cowboy, and then I visited the barber shop for a whole new make over.
A hot beef sandwich sounded like it would hit the spot so I stopped at the hotel café. Tamara winked at me and said; “Hi handsome.” Now I was ready to take on any problem no matter what.
I picked up Jim and we headed back to Doug’s ranch.
Doug was sitting on the front porch with his face cupped in his hands; he looked like a lost soul. I said; “Come on man, I know you’re hurting but you can handle anything that’s thrown in your path. Look Doug, I brought you a new Stetson.”
“Hell Cash, do you think a new hat will solve my dilemma.”
“No, but it won’t hurt.”
He smiled and said; “Thanks”
“Jim said he’d take care of your ranch as long as he’s needed so we can get on with our search, a busy mind is what you need.”
“All right, I’ve done all I can do here anyway and I need to change my way of thinking. I’m ready to get started anytime you are.”
“I reckoned we might get started up above Hells Canyon. The terrain is mighty rugged and there are a lot of hidden canyons, a good place for a hideout.”
“Wouldn’t it be something if we found Poncho Villa that close, but it makes sense?”
“My dad use to take me hunting up in those there hills and I can remember we got lost more the once.”
“Hells Canyon it is; let’s get hoofen.”
“I picked up some roast beef, some biscuits and a jar of brown gravy we can stop and have lunch in Devils Hole. As you know, that’s where I do my best thinking.”
“We’ll see ya Jim; we should be back before the end of the month. If you need anything charge it to my bill at the hotel.”
“Don’t worry about anything and you guys take care?”
“Doug it seems like we are always headed nowhere looking for something. Sing us a sad song to get us in the proper frame of mind.”
“Okay, here’s one you know; “I’ve heard some sad, sad love songs and they always make me cry but the saddest words I ever heard were when you said goodbye.”
“Great, I love listening to you sing. It keeps my mind clear of the trivial bull shit.”
We arrived at Devils Hole early that afternoon and as usual it was a beautiful sight to behold. Not that I’m surprised, but I even got Doug hooked on this place.
A little planning now is gonna save us a lot of work down the road. Probing the canyons of Hell with a well orchestrated plan of attack could save us days of endless searching. What we needed to find was a canyon with easy access and yet hidden from the naked eye. There were literally thousands of canyons in Hell but we could eliminate ninety percent just by using a little common sense. In other words we are looking for something we can’t see that’s easy to get too, hell that seems simple enough.
From Devils Hole to the entrance of Hells Canyon is a thirty minute ride if we go through Hell. However, I want to avoid Hell so we’re gonna take the long way around. I haven’t been in Hell for twenty six years and as far as I’m concerned I can wait twenty six more. Hell is my Achilles Heal.
“Doug, as far as I know there are sixteen canyons in a twenty mile radius from where we’re standing, most of them are obvious, we’re looking for one that isn’t. I suggest that you pass up the obvious and look behind trees, large boulders and knolls. Look down in the washes and check out crevices and mesas and plateaus. I know it doesn’t make sense but I believe that’s why the US government hasn’t found the villa, so look for what you can’t see and pass up what you can. Ride in as far as you can before dark, check the north side and I’ll do the same on the south. We’ll camp here after dark.
We didn’t bring any supplies, there’s plenty of food in these hills so I figured we could live off the land. We can feed on wild turkey, sage hens, rabbits, quail and even snakes. Rattle snake meat is a delicacy. Doug and I both are right at home in the mountains. We know what to look for, we know how to catch it and we won’t shoot it if we can’t eat it.
Five days into the hunt and we still haven’t found anything, Each day we go back in as far as we can and we camp where we started the search. This could go on forever there has to be a better way.
On the morning of the sixth day after breakfasting on quail eggs and pan fried lizard inners. I suggested to Doug that we try a new approach;
“Doug, we seem to be headed down the road of no return. We could keep on what we are doing and never find anything. I think it’s time to try something new.”
“What have you got in mind Cash?”
“Well umm, I was thinking.”
“Don’t rattle your cage Cash, when you think it can be dangerous.”
“Hog wash! Here’s what I think we aught to try, at least for a few days. Listen and tell me what you think. You know Poncho raids the villages and towns at night and the bulk of his men return to the Villa before sunlight. Why don’t we work at night and rest during day. I was thinking if we walk our horses through the canyons at night looking for signs of Ponchos men, instead of looking for an entrance to their hide out during daylight hours, we might have more success. If we spotted one or more of the bandits we could follow them right to the Villa. Once we find the Villa we can return to Ragtown and form a vigilante with Johnny Diamond and the Hey Rube gang and raid the Villa with a small army. You know Johnny has got his men out looking but their not mountain men so I’m sure their success hasn’t been any better then ours. Anyway, what if we rest today and start this new plan of action tonight?
“I’m all for it Cash, it sounds a lot better then what we have been doing.”

Optimizing our efforts and riding together rather then splitting up seemed like the most sensible approach to this new plan. Fortitude alone was not enough we had to use our intellect but more importantly our common sense. Doug was optimistic but He was always optimistic I was the one with uncertainty. I was usually positive but Poncho was to smart to allow or even tolerate his men to make such an irresponsible mistake of being followed to Poncho Villa. Even though all else had failed I was the cynic even if this plan was of my doing.
It’s a wonder I'm not obese as much as I enjoyed food. I love to cook and I can make almost anything succulent, I was always surprising Doug with this ability. I have an amazing assortment of condiments always available in my saddle bag, the cooking kind not the table top kind; of course I always carried salt and pepper. Since we were going to work at night and relax during the day this was a perfect chance for me to prepare epicurean delights. Nothing satisfied me more then to watch people enjoy what I cooked. I have a terrific meal planed for today’s lunch all prepared with the wonders of nature.
After lunch I decided to lay back and reminisce about the good times. I just got comfortable when I heard the hoof beat of horses in the distance. Doug and I hid behind a clump of bushes but it wasn’t necessary it was Johnny Diamond and his Hey Rube followers.
“Hi Johnny what brings you up into the mountains?
“We got word that Poncho Villa was up in these mountains.”
“Doug and I have been searching for the past six days but so far nothing.”
“Well now we can expand the search I got fifteen men with me.”
I explained how we’d been searching and what our new strategies were. Johnny was impressed and thought the new plan was an exceptional idea. In the meantime he’d send his men up ahead to explore the terrain. He said they knew what to look for; he liked my idea of not wasting time with the obvious and explained it in detail to his men. When they were gone he sat down by the fire and whispered;
“What’s that wonderful aroma I smell?”
“We just finished lunch, but I always cook plenty, so we have leftovers to snack on. If you are hungry, I’ll fix you a plate.”
“I’m hungry and I gladly accept your offer.”
He downed his plate like he hadn’t eaten in a week and then he exclaimed;
“That was damn good, what was it?”
“Nothing special, just roast skunk.”
When Johnny’s men returned they reported finding hoof prints that led to a plateau.
Johnny conferred with his men for several minutes, what he learned seem to please him immensely. He came over to me and said;
“What I have found out from my men is pretty significant and it could be our first real break. At first my men found no indication that this particular trail had recently been used accept it looked suspiciously like it had been swept by a tree or bushes and the wind hadn’t had a chance to remove the evidence, so my men followed the trail for a few hundred yards and came upon the prints of multiple horses. Instead of proceeding they returned to relay to us what they had found.”
“Johnny, this is the best information that I’ve heard yet, especially since the wind blows down through the mouth of these canyons fiercely and would have removed any indication of travel within a few hours. It looks like we have found the trail to Poncho Villa now it’s extremely crucial that we proceed with caution. There are eighteen of us against an army of hundreds so our strategy has to carried out to perfection. I suggest that you, Doug and I put our heads together and come up with a plan that won’t fail.”
“Johnny, get your men over here where they can hear our plan. This is an impossible mission but it will work if every single one of us perfectly complies with instructions. First of all Johnny, Doug and I have worked this out right down to the last detail, in order for the plan to work each step must be carried out to perfection. If one step fails more then likely the whole plan will fail. We are up against ten to twenty times our number so we can’t afford to lose even one man; we won’t if you all do your job. First I want the fastest draws and most accurate shooters on my team, we’ll be the invaders, that leaves twelve that will be the snipers and ambushers, you twelve will be placed at strategic positions along the side of the trail. The inner most position will fell a tree across the trail trapping a large number of Ponchos men. This all will be explained to you in detail as we set this up. The rest of you will be positioned a hundred yards apart on each side of the trail. Your objective is to kill all the bandits in the first group. I don’t want anybody wounded, I want everybody dead and God help the first one of you that gets killed, the death of all the others will be on your hands. All three of us will work with you until this is all set up and then you’ll all wait. Wait for the invaders to make the timing right. The longer we have to perfect this plan the more effective it will be. Let’s function as a team and get rid of Poncho Gonzales forever.
Johnny; “Cash, What if we are wrong and don’t find Poncho Villa on the other side of that trail?”
Cash; “I’ve got a gut instinct that we’re right but if we are not we’ll still be better off then we are now. We can look back on these actions as a matter of training and be better prepared the next time.”
Doug; “It’s like the old cliché, nothing ventured nothing gained, I think we should start getting organized right now.”
The six invaders were selected and our plan was in motion. Johnny would set up and lead the snipers and ambushers, he’d also be the one to fell the tree, and Doug and I would be the instructors of the invaders.
I wanted to get my group as close to the Villa as possible and in the process kill anyone on watch. We had to sneak in like a panther stalking its prey. Doug and I would take care of the guards around the hacienda while the other four got in place to rage the bandits and lead them on a wild goose chase. The whole plan was so simple it was scary. One of my men would scare their horses causing unfamiliar noises another one would cause a ruckus in front of the bunk house while the other two would cover their backs. Then all four of them would create havoc in the courtyard until the bandits were dressed and ready to avenge. If everything worked out as planned the bandits would chase them down the canyon and end up getting slaughtered, in the meantime the hacienda would virtually be unprotected.
Our plan was coming together like the pieces of a cross word puzzle. Working over the top of the canyon we were able to find the guards posted on watch and silently eliminate them. We reached the courtyards surrounding the hacienda without detection. From that point on everything went exactly like planned.
I looked at Doug, winked and said; “Ah ha, nothing ventured nothing gained.” Now it was our turn to put an end to this fiasco once and for all. I personally intended to kill Poncho in a man to man shootout.
The young women who had been taken from Postal Junction had all been stripped of their clothes and nailed to stakes along side the hacienda. There were fourteen in all, six managed to survive the horrendous torture and brutal rapes. We cut them down and put the dead bodies in a wagon to be sent home for a proper burial. The living women were made as comfortable as possible and put in a covered wagon and sent back to Ragtown to be treated.
We searched the whole Villa for Poncho but he was nowhere to be found. It’s possible that he was with his men when they chased my invaders down the trail leading to oblivion and final death. All I know is that I was sent word that the whole gang had been killed.
Doug and I set fire to all the buildings in the Villa including the hacienda and watch them burn to the ground.
Poncho no longer has a hideout, his army is dead and retribution has been had. If he‘s still alive it won't be long before he’s found and shot down. He has too many enemies to survive.
“Doug, I’m weary, it’s been a long hard day, what do you say we head for Ragtown, have a fine meal and relax for awhile."
“Ha, Ha, Cash you’re something else, that’s one invitation I won’t turn down.”
“Doug, I’m going over to the barber shop where I can take a nice hot bath, put my new duds on and trot over to the hotel café where I can enjoy somebody else’s cooking for a change. How about joining me?”
“I’ll skip the bath but the rest sounds good”
“Skip the bath!! Hell you smell like a dead fish. This is one invite I don’t want you to skip. Ha-ha.”
Tamara greeted us with that lovely smile; “You guys are a sight for sore eyes, come right in, set yourselves down and let me tell you about our special.” I said in a voice just above a whisper; “To enjoy your beauty and listen to the magic sound of your harmonic voice is special enough for me.” She laughed and said; “You’re such a big flirt.” Doug said; “He’s not flirting, he’s consumed by your very existence.”
“Okay, that’s enough, what’s on the menu Tam?”
“Roast pork, mash potatoes and brown gravy and fresh corn on the cob.”
Johnny and Franco walked in and sat down at the table next to ours. Johnny said;
"Howdy strangers, good to see ya. I've got something I want to show you Cash but it can wait until after supper. I'll meet you in the hotel lobby after we've had our meal."
The pork roast was so tender it melted in my mouth. When we finished we retired to the hotel lobby and Doug handed me a big cigar. He said; Here Cash; have a smoke on Poncho, it's imported, I picked up a whole box in Poncho’s hacienda."
Johnny walked through the door carrying a small hardwood box. I said; "What is this, cigar day?" He handed me the box and said; "Take a look."
Engraved in gold on the lid was Poncho's Epitaph "Look inside", inside the cover these words were inscribed. Here lay the remains of Poncho Gonzales the Mexican Bandit. "You did it."
"Damn rights"


The real fun begins when you read about my adventures in Montana, found near the bottom of the menu.

Gold Mine Part One

Helena, Montana; Part One

PREFACE : What you are about to read is the second story in a series of short stories told by a story teller around a campfire. It’s important that you visualize this wise old man dressed in a western outfit reminiscing about his past experiences. Appreciate that fact that he’s not a writer he’s a teller of stories created by a vivid imagination. The first story in this series was about his adventures in Ragtown, Nevada and each new story is a continuation from the previous story. Ragtown was threatened by a gang of notorious bandits who raped the women, stole anything of value and killed anyone who tried to stop them. The story ended when the main character Big Daddy Cash, with the help of his friends, cleaned up the town and made it a safe place to live. Now I know what you are thinking, if this wise old man that loves to tell stories around the camp fire is not a writer, why are his stories written down for the listener to read? It’s simply his way of recording his stories so he won’t have to tell the same story over and over again. He assumes that you’ve heard the previous stories but if you haven’t it’s all recorded in his written word. The names and places never change so new introductions are not necessary a quick review of his written word is all that’s required. Give the wise old man a break and listen to his stories with this in mind. Now it’s time for some horse shit and gun smoke.
Headed for Dry Gulch
After seeing what Johnny had to show me I was satisfied that Poncho was dead. Carnival people have a code of justice that differs from anyone else, I remember Johnny once saying; “On the plains of hesitation lie bleached bones within the grasp of victory just sitting waiting and waiting they died." He further said; "I urge you to take a moment to reflect on whether you hesitate when you should charge forward?” I was always confused when Johnny came up with these strange innuendoes, always out of thin air. I told myself it was only his nature and the way carnival people thought. Now that it’s over I can see what he meant.
Forgive me as I continue with this thought; if you are not where you want to be in life, then you have to ask yourself...why not? The answer does not lie in blaming others, blaming circumstances or just plain whining. No matter how bad things get, or what’s done to you, face the worse circumstances and overcome them and move on. Do not shy away from any problem, instead, grab life by the horns and go for the ride of your life. I think this explains Johnny’s way of thinking.
I’ll be moving on in the morning, the people of Ragtown have been ridden of the threat of death, Doug will have a chance to rebuild his ranch and the people from Hey Rube can peacefully go back where they came from. My only regret is that I never had the chance to get to know Tamara which is probably a good thing because you can’t change a range riding drifter like me. I’ve always done things my way. If Tamara was part of my life I’d have to do things her way. Doug was right it wouldn’t take much for her to hog tie me.
I forgot all about my letters, I think I’ll get them and read them now. One is a personal letter from Great Falls, Montana; the other is from the State of Nevada. The State of Nevada couldn’t be good news so I’ll read the one from Great Falls first.
Hello Cash,
I’m writing you from a mental institution, I have hallucinations and they say I’m crazy. I don’t think I am but I’m told that I’m locked up for my own good. I see things that others don’t see and parts of your life have vividly been revealed to me. There’s a man who hates you and wants to kill you and I see him as clearly as if he were sitting right next to me. We have never met so I don’t expect you to believe what I say but for the sake of my sanity I have to warn you. Your name and your where a bouts came to me in a dream that’s how I knew where to send this message. I also know that you’ll pick up my letter at the same time you pick up your fathers will and for some reason you won’t open them immediately and when you do you'll read my letter first. How would I know this if what I say isn’t true? The man who want’s you dead will claim to be your friend, he’s six foot tall, has piercing blue eyes, wears horn rim glasses is blond and going bald. He must be rich because he wears very expensive clothes and wears real shiny boots. This is no delusion or fantasy hallucination as my doctors would say, it’s real, now I have freed my obligation by sending you this warning. Wendy B
I’m expected to believe this hogwash, I’m not to smart but I’m no dummy.
Let’s see what Nevada has to say;
Well, I'll be damned! It really is my dads Last Will and Testament.
It seems my dad passed away six months ago and left me,
A Gold Mine!!
I’ve had dreams about a strange lady trying to read my mind. I’ve shrugged them off as nonsense but the things she brings up in my dreams actually happen. Up until now I’ve thought it was all a coincident but now I’m starting to wonder. Is there really a dimension beyond human comprehension?
As it turns out dads gold mine is in Dry Gulch, Montana just on the out skirts of Helena, Montana, so that’s where I’ll be headed in the morning. Great Falls is only a two day ride from my destination so you can bet your life I'll pay a visit to this Wendy B.
Attempt to Avoid Goodbyes
I got up way before sun up got Thunder out of the barn, fed him some oats and gave him a good brush down. I think he knew we were getting ready to travel. Doug thinks I’m loony because I talk to my horse but to be honest thunder understands me on my own intellectual level, Ha, Ha, at least that‘s what I tell Doug;
“Thunder you’re my best friend so let‘s have a little chit chat. You and I are going to be on the road for a long trip so please be prepared my friend to listen to me a lot. Some days I just may talk your ears off cause it’s easier to talk to you then most the people I know, let’s get you saddled and will soon be on our way.”
I left notes for every one of my friends with the deskman at the hotel and told him to make sure that they were all delivered and tipped him a five dollar gold piece. I hate saying goodbye so I figured if I left early enough in the morning I’d be well on my way before anyone was out of bed. However when I stepped outside, much to my surprise, I found Tamara standing at the hitching post along side Thunder.
“Hi, Tamara my dear, what gets you up so early in the morning?”
“I heard you were leaving Cash, and I came to say goodbye.”
“Now just what makes you think I’m going anywhere?”
Tamara’s eyes were filled with tears.
“Last night I went to the carnival especially to see the gypsy fortune teller. I was told that she could see into my future just by looking at the palm of my hand. I told her there was a man I cared for and asked her if she could see him in my future. She looked at my palm and said you might be disappointed if I tell you the truth. I told her that I came to see her for the truth. She placed her crystal ball on the table in front of both of us and gazed into it for what seemed like hours, then she looked at me and said your friend will be leaving town early in the morning. I didn’t know whether to believe her or not but I didn’t want to take that chance, so here I am.”
The tears were pouring down her cheeks, I told her please not to cry and handed her my hankie and told her to wipe the tears from her eyes. Before I could stop her she threw her arms around me and started to hug and kiss me. I hungered for her touch so I responded but then I realized that this wasn’t right and gently pushed her away.
“Tamara you are the most beautiful and exciting woman that I know and it makes me happy and lustful when ever I’m near you but there is no way that we can be anything more then friends, first of all I’m old enough to be your father, second I’m a born and bred drifting cowboy and a loner.”
“I don’t care how old you are, you are everything in a man I’ve ever wanted and I‘d go with you to the ends of the earth.”
“You say that now but the time will come when a young man will come into your life and make me look like a worn out old cowboy boot.”
“I can’t help the way I feel, I‘m in love with you.”
“Tam your not in love with me, you’re just smitten, longing to love and be loved.
Yes you can help the way you feel! I’m leaving now and I’m not going to look back. I’ll always remember you as that beautiful red headed lady, flashing the biggest brightest smile in the State of Nevada. God bless you Tamara,” and I got on Thunder and rode out of town.
Damn it my heart told me I loved her and everything in me wanted to stay but common sense told me I’d end up making her hate me. I’d rather have her remember me as a friend then hate me as a partner or loving companion.
“Come on Thunder let’s put some distance between us and the improbable dream. “
This time of year travel through Idaho and Montana is miserable, heavy snow and below freezing temperatures can lead to all kinds of trouble so I have been thinking about taking the coal train out of Price, Utah, if we can hitch a ride on a box car we can ride all the way to Butte, Montana then it’s only a day or two ride to Helena.
Coal trains usually have fifty or sixty coal cars and six to ten box cars. It’s pretty easy to hitch a ride because the conductor is happy to have an extra gun aboard.
Price is a little out of our way but the train will save us the discomfort of riding trail in stormy weather. Not counting Utah I estimate its two hundred miles across Idaho and about three hundred miles into Montana. The trip would be six days by train and save us two months or more on the trail.
From Hell to Helena
For the next three days we rode long and hard out of Nevada into the southern mountains of Utah we arrived in Price early on a Sunday afternoon and found out the railroad yards were in Helper a railroad town seven miles north of Price.
While lunching in Price I met this fellow who gave me directions and told me if I wanted to hitch ride in one of the box cars I’d have to get an okay from Bill Harper the president of the coal miners union. It seems like the rail workers and the coalminers all belong to the same union. He also told me to watch my step in Helper it was the wildest town in Utah he said; “When the workers are off duty their favorite pass time is a visit to the whore houses then drinken and fighten was their game.” I thanked him for the information, finished my lunch and headed for helper.
The first thing I noticed as I rode into Helper was the cobblestone streets and boardwalk sidewalks. Which is something seldom seen, usually the streets are dirt and there are no sidewalks. Every other building was a bar and there was a whore house on every corner. I grinned and thought to myself, oh well never mind what I thought. I had to find Bill Harper. I spotted the union hall adjacent to the rail yard went in and was approached by a man who said;
“Can I help you stranger?”
“Yes, I’m looking for Bill Harper.”
“I’m Bill Harper, What can I do for you.”
“I’m headed for Butte, Montana and my horse and I need a ride on your train.”
“It’s not my train but for fifty bucks I can fix you up with a box car.”
“Great, what time does the train leave?”
“They're warming the engines as we talk it should pull out of the yard in just a few minutes. Grab your horse and I’ll take you down and get you all loaded up.”
The next seven days was like riding in an icebox. Thunder and I had to wrap ourselves in blankets and cuddle up together relying on the warmth of our bodies to keep from freezing to death. The coal yards were twenty miles north of Butte which was better then I figured because it put us that much closer to our destination.
As we rode the long crooked trail along the Last Chance Stream we reached Last Chance Gulch the main street through Montana’s gold capital, Helena. I couldn’t help but notice how all the streets of Helena wound and twisted so that you couldn’t stand in one place an see more then fifteen or twenty yards in any one direction. I heard the reason for this was to prevent innocent people from getting hit by stray bullets, the result of gun fights over silver and gold.
The largest vein of placer gold in the Western United States ran all along the Last Chance Stream. Gold mines and claims were scattered along the stream as far as the eye could see, hundreds of miners were scurrying back and forth like armies of ants searching for their quarry, an unbelievable sight to behold.
In the envelope that contained Dads will was a letter from Dad with instructions not to open until we were on Last Chance Gulch. He said the content would only confuse me if I couldn’t see with my own eyes what he was talking about. Well, I guess it’s time to see what’s in the letter.
Dear Son,
I kicked you out of my house twenty six years ago and I have always regretted my actions. There hasn’t been a day gone by that I haven’t wanted to hug you, tell you how much I love you and welcome you back with open arms. I’m sorry but it’s too late now my heart has quit working and I’ll be dead when you receive this letter. I’m leaving you all my worldly possessions which monetarily number in the millions. You’re a rich man son I hope you use your inheritance wisely.
Your mine is registered as Gold Horseshoe Mining, the manager of the mine is an Irishman named James McShane, he’s hardworking and honest so it would be to your advantage to keep him on, of course that’s up to you. If you have followed my instructions you should be looking up and down Last Chance Stream at this very moment. Look as far north as your eyes can see and you’ll see the burn off fire of an oil well, that’s yours and the entrance to your mine.
James and his family live in a large log house on the property. He knows all the details you'll need to know and he'll introduce you to Chris Smith my lawyer, he's the best there is in Helena, so get everything filed nice and legal.
One more thing you should know, your mother and brother were killed five years ago by Poncho Gonzales the Mexican bandit and his cut throat gang. They killed everybody in Hell that they could find and burned the whole town down.
Good luck son, I’ll be watching you from where ever my maker sends me.
“Hang in there Thunder; we’re almost at our destination. A few hundred yards and we can chow down and get a good nights rest.” I took Thunders reins and started to walk the short distance to the mine.
All of a sudden several bullets whistled all around me one hit its mark right through the middle of my Stetson giving my hair a brand new part and knocking me totally unconscious.
When I came too I was behind bars in Helena’s Grey Bar Hotel. My head felt like someone had taken an ax to it and my face and shirt were covered with dry blood. I couldn’t remember what the hell had happened; my thoughts were a mixture of mass confusion. Flashes of my past would come and go like a foggy dream. Why was I in jail? What was my name?
“Hey you, get your ass up off that bunk, the sheriff wants you right now.” It was the jailer, a tough guy who liked to show his authority. He grabbed me and threw me ass over sputnik out in the corridor. Then kicked me in the groin, then my ribs, repeatedly over and over again until I passed out.
When I came too, this time I was in the sheriff’s office with my hands cuffed behind a chair. The sheriff was sitting behind his desk with his feet propped up on his desk and the jailer was leaning against the doorway with shit eaten grin on his ugly face.
“My name is John Bailey, I’m the law in Helena and all of the Last Chance territory and you’ve met Tom my deputy and right hand man.”
“I don’t understand, Sheriff Bailey, why in the hell I’m I here.”
“You and your horse fit the description of a thief and a killer who has been terrorizing the miners all up and down Last Chance Stream.”
“My mind has been foggy from the wound on my head but my memory is slowly returning. Before I was shot I remember reading a letter from my deceased father. Do you have that letter Mr. Bailey?”
“I have the letter and other personal belongings of a cowboy named William Cash Neve. I firmly believe you stole his identity.”
“Don’t be ridiculous sheriff.”
“The man that I’m after has seven aliases that I’m aware of, one is Cash and another is Big Daddy.”
“Dam it Bailey, my friends call me Big Daddy Cash, all this horse shit is a crazy coincident.”
“What I see here is a con man trying to con his way into a rich gold mine.
When you tried to escape and Tom had to use extreme force to stop you, you created a brand new problem… Prisoners don’t escape from my jail and if they try it’s an automatic six months sentence. Your attempt just proves to me that you’re guilty so be prepared to be my guest for a very long time.”
“First of all Mr. John Bailey, I didn’t have the opportunity to try an escape, your right hand man Tom grabbed me when I just regained consciousness and gave me a senseless beating then drug me into your office and told you I tried to escape. Your deputy is a God Damn liar.”
“Okay, that does it, Tom, take this asshole back to his cell, shackle him and handcuff him to the bed.”
The sheriff decided to check out the Gold Horseshoe Mine and left me alone with Tom in the jailhouse. I knew damn well I was in for another beating maybe this time he’d kill me and I sure as hell wasn’t going to let that happen.
I was still handcuffed with my hands behind the chair when Tom grabbed my arm and tried to lift me to my feet.
“Damn it Tom, unless you want to carry me chair and all you’re gonna have the un-cuff me to get me out of this chair.”
“Shut up ass hole, I know what I gotta do.”
He poked his gun in the back of my head and removed the cuffs.
“Don’t move a muscle or I’ll kill you right where you sit.”
He reached in the cabinet behind the sheriffs desk and grabbed the heavy chain shackles and swung them at me just missing my head, he swung them again only this time I grabbed them and pulled him off balance. He staggered back against the wall and I jerked the chains from his hand and swung them at his head striking him across the forehead. That’s all it took he was out cold. I put the shackles on him and chained him to the bars on the window using the handcuffs to lock the chain links together.
I found my guns and my belongings slipped out the backdoor and went looking for Thunder. I was surprised to find him still saddled and tied to the hitching post in front of the jailhouse.
“Come on Thunder, you and I have to go in hiding for awhile. I just broke out of jail so we’ll be posted on the sheriffs most wanted list, probably with a with a big reward. We’re going to ride back up the trail towards Great Falls. As soon as we are far enough out of town I’ll get your saddle off and give you a rub down and feed you a nice bag of oats. Come on fellow let‘s giddy up go.”
My Hideout Becomes My Home
About fifteen miles down the trail from Great Falls I found a perfect place to hide out for a few days. Just about two hundred yards off the beaten trail completely hidden behind large oak trees and ground hugging bushes. There was even the remains of a small cabin which wouldn’t be hard to fix up for comfortable shelter. So this is where I set up camp, God knows I need a few days to tune up this battered old body. What I heard about Montana was right this is really a beautiful country.
It has been a little over a month since my escape from the Grey Bar Hotel in Helena. In this period of time I have become the number one wanted outlaw in the state of Montana. It so happens that after I left the jailhouse in Helena somebody went in and shot Tom and he was found dead chained to the window. Witnesses seen the killer flee north up Dry Gulch on a white horse, so I was mistakenly identified as the killer. John Bailey formed a posse and they trailed this guy all the way to Canada before they lost him. In the meantime I was headed south to Great Falls Montana.
Within a week posters with an artist sketch of me could be found all up and down the Last Chance Territory, I was wanted dead or alive and the reward was ten thousand dollars. Thank God the artist’s sketch of me was only a vague likeness so I could change my appearance so there was no likeness at all. There is only one person in Montana that can truly identify me, so I’d just have to avoid him.
I changed my name, my looks, bought another horse and passed myself off as real estate investor; the first property I bought was my secret hide-a-way. Of course this is all temporary until I can find the outlaw that’s supposed to be me. In the interim I want to rebuild the cabin on my property and build Thunder a nice large corral to share with the new member of our family, Blackie. At least now I got a place I can call home.
Because of the circumstances my progress has been limited until I can assure that my new identity is solid I have to approach everything with care. The first thing I want to do is visit the state mental hospital and meet with Wendy B. the lady who keeps visiting me in my dreams. I know it’s illogical and inconceivable but I no longer can rule out her visions most of them have all come to past.
The Montana State Mental Institution
“Good morning, I’m here to visit with Wendy.”
The front desk receptionist answered;
“Sir, we have two patients named Wendy, Mrs. Monroe and Miss Brady.”
“Forgive me I meant to say Miss Brady.”
“I’m sorry Sir, Miss Brady is in isolation she is not allowed any visitors.”
“Could I speak to her doctor?”
“Doctor Jason Starr is attending a medical convention and won’t be back until day after tomorrow.”
“How about her nurse?”
“Wait just a moment; I’ll see if I can find her.”
She left Wendy Brady’s file sitting on the countertop and went to find the nurse. This was just the break I was looking for; it only took a few seconds to find out what I needed to know. She was on the isolation ward locked up in room #213.
The receptionist returned and told me the nurse was busy with a patient and couldn’t be disturbed.
“Thank you, I just wanted to be sure Miss Brady was safe.”
“She’s safe alright, we have guards here from eight in the morning until midnight and there is always somebody here at the desk.”
“Miss, I was sent here by her family to find out what I could about this facility, that’s why so many questions. I hope you’ll forgive me but it’s my job and I’m just doing what I’ve been told. I have one more request if you don’t mind?”
“I don’t mind mister, (smiles) I’m just doing my job too.”
I winked at her and said; “Then you won’t mind giving me a tour of your facility.”
She winked back and said; “Believe me, it will be my pleasure.”
Blackie and I returned to our new home to finish my refurbishing job and make plans to meet Wendy Brady. I gave Blackie a good rub down and turned him loose to romp with thunder then I put the finishing touches on my new rock fireplace. All the time I was thinking about the Brady situation.
If I was going to meet Wendy I’d have to break in the nut house and somehow get in her room. I figured after midnight tonight would be the best time, the doctor was away and the layout of the place was fresh in my mind. While touring the place I noticed two windows slightly open for air circulation and a broken lock on one of the entry doors, so getting in shouldn’t be much of a problem. Once in I simply had to pick the locks on room 213.
Wendy Brady
I’ve tried to visualize this strange lady that keeps trespassing in my dreams. All I get is a vague picture of a crazy little old lady with an extraordinary gift. Well, if all goes well tonight I’ll finally know.
I picked the locks on her door and knocked quietly, whispering;
Wendy are you decent, it’s Big Daddy Cash.
“I’ve been expecting you Bill Jenson, come on in.”
I couldn’t believe my eyes, she was a vision of loveliness. I know it was my imagination but she actually glowed inside a gleaming aura. I had to shake my head to return to my senses.
“You called me Bill Jenson, how did you know?”
“Ha, ha, I seen it in a dream, I also dreamed that you are going to get me out of this place and I’m all ready to go.”
“I didn’t come here to take you away; I came here to talk to you.”
“I know, but you’ve got to take me, they’ve scheduled me for electric shock treatments and if that happens I know I will die.”
“God Wendy, I’m not a doctor, as far as I know you might be as crazy as a coo-coo bird.”
“I’m not and I think you know I’m not.”
“How would I know?”
“Trust me, you know because I say it’s so.”
“Oh shit, so much has happened to me, what the hell’s another problem. Get your things and let’s get the hell out of here.”
Wendy Escapes
Before we left the nut house I had Wendy write a note saying she had carefully planned her escape because she was afraid to undergo shock treatment;
“Tell them you are on your way back to Chicago where you can get help to prove your sanity. Tell them you’ll make sure that they’ll get paid if they don’t try to find you then sign it with your full name. As we leave will make it look like you escaped on your own. It’s important that nobody knows that I helped you so here’s what I want you to do. I’ll slip out through the back door and you lock it behind me. I’ve left all the doors leading to the front desk ajar so that I could get out the same way I got in this will be your escape route. I lightly drugged the receptionist so make sure she’s awake so she sees you run out the front door. The receptionist won’t be able to catch you because she’ll be euphoric from the drug I gave her so I’ll pick you up when you’re far enough away so she can’t see me. After you’re free I'll figure out what I’m going to do with you. Come on Wendy, let’s get this show on the road.”
“Okay Mister Jensen, I’ll do as you say. It sounds like more fun then a barrel full of monkeys.”
“Don’t call me Jenson, I’m Big Daddy Cash to you.”
Fifteen Miles North of Great Falls
We rode the fifteen miles to my home neither one of us speaking a single word. Wendy had her arms wrapped around me so tightly that I could feel every luscious curve of her body. I could feel the rise and fall of her breasts with each breath she took, I could feel her hot breath on the back of my neck. I couldn’t believe this was the same woman that had been invading my dreams. She was at least twenty years younger and a hundred times more beautiful then the woman I visualized in my dreams. Damn it, I gotta quit thinking this way there’s no room in my life for romance.
“Wendy, this is my home, it will be yours until I can figure out what to do. The cabin has only one room that will be yours, tomorrow I’m going to start to enlarge the horses stall and make room for two horses and a horses ass. Yes, I’m the horses ass and I’ll be right at home with my horses.
Wendy I have an appointment in town so I’m going to leave you to settle in by yourself. There’s plenty food in the cabinets and fresh water in the fifty gallon drum. I’ll be late so I’ll stay at the Great Falls hotel tonight. Don’t worry you’ll be safe here.”
“Cash please don't leave yet, I haven’t had a chance to thank you.”
“No thanks needed Wendy, I’ll see you tomorrow, I’ve got to go I’m going to be late.”


Putting the Bits and Pieces Together

It seems like everyday circumstances are always challenging my decisions. Yesterday all I wanted to do was talk to the lady that was having visions that affected my life. As it turns out I went a step further and she became an unexpected part of my family. Not long ago I was on my way to claim ownership to the Golden Horseshoe Mine and ended up the most wanted outlaw in the state of Montana. Then I changed my identity and became a successful real estate investor by the name of Bill Jenson. All of these dramatic changes took place in just over a month and I haven’t even begun what I started out to do. Nothing that happens surprises me because my life has always been a confusion delusion. Hardly a day goes bye that my existence isn’t challenged.
I remember all the women that I’ve had deep feelings for and the times when I was so lonely I felt like crying. Back in Ragtown there was Tamara, the cute little red head with the radiant smile, she took a big piece of my heart. I remember the beautiful Cindy Hampton the first lovely lady I went to bed with, I was only seventeen but sometimes she appears in my mind like it was only yesterday, she also took a big piece of my heart. There have been others that have planted an adrenalin roll that has left me with a physical as well as an emotional explosion. Whether I’ve felt lust and or a strong viral attraction the desire for the comfort and love of a beautiful woman companion has always been there. I’d like to feel emotional wholeness by opening my heart but I know my lifestyle would only bring heartbreak to any woman willing to unleash her heart.

When I entered room 213 at the nut farm and laid eyes upon Wendy there was an immediate physical and emotional attraction. Whether it was lust or love I had to show a strong self restraint, however, my resistance was low and I let the feelings linger on for a few precious moments. After I knew that Wendy was safe I had to make excuses and leave before my emotions were completely out of control. So I spent the night riding up and down the trail deep in thought and horny as hell.

“Good morning Wendy, how was your night?”
“It was nice to be out of that prison they call a hospital.”
“You’ll be safe here if you follow a few simple rules.”
“Cash, you don’t have to tell me, I know. Now come in and have some breakfast I’ve made some delicious gravy and home made biscuits.”
“Mmm, smells so go-oo-od I hope you got plenty my belly has been crying for biscuits and gravy.”
After breakfast Wendy and I had a real good talk. She told me about her visions and how things came to her in her dreams. I learned more about the man who was trying to kill me. Wendy even knew about the way I was framed for killing Tom in the Helena jail. We talked about my problems and how I planned to take care of them, she even gave me some pretty cool advice. After spending several hours talking about me and my problems I asked Wendy to tell me about her;
“That’s enough about me my dear lady, I want to know all about you?”
“Okay, my dear man (Smiles). It’s such a beautiful day lets take a walk down by the river we can talk as we walk.”
“Wendy, I want you to look as far west as you can see, gaze all the way to the right the back to the left, take in the magnificence of the raging river, the twin water falls, the giant oak trees, the wild flowers and the vast spread of dark green flowing meadows. This land is my land. I call it Paradise Valley. It’s kin to the place where I’ve always felt close to God, the Devils Hole near Ragtown, Nevada. I view both places the most beautiful places on earth. You’re are looking at a hundred and twenty five acres of the purest gold, the earths most fertile land and by God it‘s mine.”
“It does make you feel close to God Cash, It’s a serene, wonderful peaceful feeling.”
“Now Wendy it’s time I knew all about the lady that likes to slip into my dreams.”
“There’s really not too much to tell that you don’t already know.”
“Tell me about your likes and dislikes.”
“I love to write poetry, sometimes I can write non stop for days on end.”
“I don’t know much about poetry but I’d like to read some of your stuff.”
“You probably won’t believe this Cash but most of my poetry is written by divine communication with God. It’s a gift just like the gifts I have that you know about.”
“That’s something I’ll only believe when I see the proof.”
“I hope that the day will come when you believe everything I say, because honestly Cash I never lie.”
“Well, as far as I know you’ve never lied to me and I think I trust you more then anybody I know, is there more about you that you’d like to share with me.”
“I like animals, especially horses and dogs.”
“Good, I’ve been thinking about getting you a dog for protection as well as affection.”
“Would you Cash, that would really be wonderful.”
We walked and we talked most of the day. Although I had a lot to do the time we spent to get to know each other was time well spent. I’m learning to know just how special Wendy really is.
“Wendy, we’ve walked for miles and we’ve got a long trek back, let’s call it a day and head on back. I’ll fix you an epicurean delight that will knock your socks off.”
“Ha, ha, ha, that’s funny, I don’t where socks.”
ThingsTo Do List
One of the most important parts of my plans was my new identity. I had to be able to move around freely without putting people on guard. So making Bill Jenson well known and trusted was top priority on my things to do list. To pass myself off as a successful real estate investor was the best way I could think of to make myself known and respected by a lot of people in a short period of time. Passing out lots of business cards and posting posters works wonders especially in a town that is enjoying an economic boom. The gold rush is making Montana one of the richest states in America and buying and selling properties is as popular as mining for gold.
Anyway I’m satisfied that this part of my plan has worked because everywhere I go people wave and greet me as Bill. Now it’s time to execute the second priority on my things to do list. I only have one obstacle I need to avoid, Sheriff John Bailey.
I’m on my way to the Gold Horseshoe Mine I want to meet with James McShane and Chris Smith and see if I can trust them like my dad said I could.


Meeting of Minds at The Horseshoe Mine
You have to play your cards the way their dealt, know when to hold and know when to fold. You might say I play the game of life the way I play the game of poker. The cards haven’t always been dealt in my favor but I’m not a loser so I’ve learned to bluff if that’s what it takes to win. Let’s face it a cowboy has to gamble if he expects to survive.
I don’t know where I heard that but when I think about it, it pretty well sums things up.
Well, here I am, where I should have been two months ago, knocking on the door that can set or redirect my future.
“Hello, I’m looking for James?”
“Holy mother of God, if it isn’t Cash Neve, I’m James.”
“How in the hell did you know it was me?”
“Hold on a second, I’ll be right back.”
When he came back he handed me a picture and said;
“I can’t believe it but this looks more like you then your dad.”
“Ha, ha, looks like I disguised my self to look just like my dad, has anyone else seen this picture?”
“Only Chris Smith and my family.”
I was sixteen years old when I left home over twenty six years ago. I scarcely remember what my dad looked like. The last time I seen him he had a full head of hair and a handlebar mustache. This pictured showed him almost bald and clean shaven with glasses. When John Bailey picked me up I had long hair and a mustache. I disguised myself by cutting my hair real short, removed my mustache and started wearing reading glasses.
“Well, I gotta admit it, James; my dad sure was a handsome man.” (Smiles) “Let’s talk.”
James brought out a bottle of scotch and a liter of soda and invited me to sit with him at the kitchen table.
“James this is one hell of a mess I’ve stumbled into here in Montana, I know you’ve heard all kinds of crap about me but I want you to hear my side of the story. You‘re going to find what I have to tell you unbelievable but it‘s damn important that you believe me.”
I started from the time I opened the letter from Wendy and continued until I escaped from jail. All the time I was talking I watched James reactions; if his concern was real I’d know. James paid close attention to everything I had to say and waited until I was through before he responded;
“Cash, you’ve been blamed for every unsolved crime all along Last Chance Stream at least twenty mines have been hit and a half of dozen miners have been murdered, people are saying that you’ve gone completely off your rocker and they’ve nick named you Crazy Killer Cashman. Sheriff Bailey has a small army out looking for you right now; his orders are to shoot you on sight… The reward on you has been raised from ten thousand to fifty thousand and that’s dead or alive only mostly they want you dead. There is no conceivable way that you can come back now and lay claim to your mine. I’m not sure that there’s any possible way to prove that you are innocent.”
“I need to talk to dad’s lawyer, can I trust him?”
“Your dad was a very smart man he chose friends and employees that would be loyal to both him and his family he treated Chris and me like we were his sons so that makes you like a brother to us. At the moment we are probably the only ones around here that you can trust. Chris Smith is your lawyer now, I’ve got an appointment with him in the morning at eight o’clock, and you can talk to him then.”
James brought out another bottle of scotch and we talked and drank scotch all night. The more we talked the more impossible my situation appeared.
At seven o’clock in the morning I met the rest of the McShane family, his son Randy and his wife Elena. Their live in housekeeper and cook Sara, served us all breakfast on the veranda.
Chris Smith came through the front door at exactly eight o’clock and he also recognized me at first glance;
“Well if you aren’t a sight for sore eyes, I’ve been looking forward to our meeting it’s to bad the circumstances couldn’t be better. By the way James destroy all the pictures you have of Cashes dad we don’t want anyone else to see them. Hey Sara, do you mind fixing me a plate and please bring me a cup of hot coffee?”
“Morning Chris, James said you’d be here this morning so I have been anxiously waiting to meet you.”
“Finish your breakfast Cash and then will talk.”
Sara set a large breakfast in front of Chris and I ordered a couple more eggs and another pancake.
After we all had our fill James suggested we continue our conversation at the kitchen table. Chris was anxious to get a load off his chest so he took the lead;
“I want you to accept the fact that I’m your lawyer and I’m here to help you regardless of the situation. Your father was intellectually way ahead of the times; he often changed his mind so that his wishes had a good foundation to build on. Let’s take his Will and Last Testament for example, he made several amendments to make his wishes air tight. Just before he died he added an addendum stipulating certain conditions to protect his beneficiaries, namely you, James and I. That’s right; James and I are recipients as a part of the conditions found in the addendum. First of all James is to inherit this home and twenty five percent of the mine, the condition being that he remains manager for as long as he lives. Second I am to inherit my home (built by your father as an incentive) and twenty five percent of the mine, the condition being that I remain your lawyer for as long as I live. These two conditions render any and all services. Third you inherit fifty percent of the mine unconditionally. The Golden Horseshoe is the richest mine in America with an estimated value of over five hundred and fifty million dollars. Additional holdings are silver, oil and uranium an estimated value of approximately one hundred million dollars. This gives all three of us a power to be reckoned with. Your father has positioned us among the richest men in the world. I hope that explains the will and its contents.”
“God, I’m stunned, all I can say is what James said when he opened the front door to greet me, Holy Mother of God!! Believe me that is not intended to be funny.” We all had a good laugh anyway.
James added, with a half smile and a half frown;
“Now that we all know where we stand let’s put our minds together and see what we can do to resolve Cashes present situation.”
Chris; “I have a friend in Salt Lake City that can put the papers together to change your identity Cash. Which I think would be the wisest thing to do to keep you from being incarcerated.”
Cash; “ I’ve already started to establish a new identity Chris, However it would make it a whole lot easier if I had the papers to prove who I say I am.”
Chris; “Just let me know what you need and consider it done.”
James; “Chris, Cash is known as Bill Jenson in Great Falls and the surrounding areas. He set himself up as a real estate investor.”
Chris; “That’s a great cover. We can tie up all the loose ends and give him a history in Salt Lake.”

I spent the day a the Golden Horseshoe touring the property and all of the facilities. James was good he explained everything in detail. It didn’t take me long to realize what an immense operation my dad had left me. There was a completely staffed office building, financial departments, legal, book keeping and accounting departments, employment offices and even a human resource department. This was not just a mine it was a giant corporation. Chris was in control of the clerical operations and James was the boss over the mining operations.

This was not my kind of a world to own and operate such a vast conglomeration even with the help of two dedicated people like James and Chris just isn’t my style. I’m a rambling drifter with only one desire and that’s to be free. Now all of a sudden the whole damn world is closing in on me and I’m caught in trap that seems to be inescapable.

James encouraged me to spend a couple more days so that the three of us wealthy mine owners could put our minds together and find a solution to my present dilemma. Oh God, this is one hell of a mess. It looks like Bill Jenson is going to be around for awhile.

Well, the Will has been read and I have accepted my inheritance. I’m told that I am the big boss so just for the hell of it I’m going to test Chris and James and see if they’ll follow my orders without hesitation. This is not truly what I want but I want to observe their reactions, so I interrupted the conversation the three of us were having.

“I wish you guys would quit talking around me as if I weren’t part of this conversation. Okay, here’s what I want you to do for me, since I’m a rich man and you are my loyal employees (forgive me gents, I just had to throw that in.) I want you to start spending my money, Chris I want you to go to Salt Lake and get the papers I need to prove that my name is Bill Jenson. You’ll go with him James and I want both of you to start buying properties. Pay market value plus fifteen percent. I want you to set the pace for the staff of investors you’re going to hire to run the Jenson Investor Club. I don’t give a damn what it costs what I want is evidence that I am a successful seasoned real estate investor. When you get this all done I want you to return to Great Falls and do the same thing. You’ll have to spend what ever it takes to make it appear as though I’ve been in business for years. I want to buy a small office building in Great Falls and call it The Jenson Investor Club. Hire a staff that will be loyal, pay them a decent salary with a commission on every transaction they complete. With the gold rush here in Montana property values are going to sky rocket so who knows we might even make some money. I want all of this done as of yesterday.”

Observing their wide open mouths and stunned faces I got the reaction I expected. I laughed and said; “That’s better, now I’ve got your attention let’s explore a few possibilities?

continued; be sure to read on the excitement is just beginning.