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.”

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