A cowboy story
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There Were Very Good Gunmen And There Was Hank
Hank stumbled to the door of the saloon still in a drunken fog and not too positive where he was. He had drank until he ran out of money or had passed out and had his money stolen. He woke up in a corner, half under a table and lying in his own puke. He hoped it was his own puke. He needed to get outside so he could wash it off in the horse trough. If that water didn’t kill horses then it wouldn’t kill him.
As he got outside he threw his hands over his face to get the sun out of his eyes. It must be later in the morning than he thought for that to happen. There was the usual hustle and bustle of town folks doing whatever it was they did. Hank didn’t really know because he was a cowboy.
Being a cowboy made him remember he lived on a ranch and he needed to find his horse. He knew he rode one to town so it had to be around some place. The where escaped him for the moment. He looked around after his eyes got adjusted to the light. He didn’t see his horse or anyone he knew. Did someone steal his horse after robbing him? The horse was just an old nag not worth much but it was something to ride.
He heard the gunshots followed by shouting and screaming. He felt like his head was going to explode. He noticed a bunch of men riding away from the bank, shooting into the air and yelling. Hank couldn’t take anymore noise. He drew his gun and fired at the nearest rider.
Hank wasn’t a very good shot as most cowboys weren’t. He only carried a gun because it was a manly thing to do. He had occasionally shot a rattler or at least at one. It usually got his horse riled up and the horse would run a couple of miles with Hank trying not to fall off.
Hank’s shot hit the rider and knocked him off his horse. The rest of the riders kept on going. They were being fired at now by several townsmen and didn’t stop to help their compañero. Turned out he had the money from the bank robbery that had just occurred. The town marshal arrested the man and a crowd soon formed wanting to hang him.
“Hangin’ seems a mite strong for a bank robbery”, the marshal said.
“Well, we ain’t hardly hung no one this year. Jus’ that drifter feller what was bangin’ on Miss Davis’ door that time”, one of the townsmen said.
“Yea, an it where her brother. She ain’t hardly got over that yet”, the marshal said. “Well, we best be careful and have a trial afore we hang this here yahoo. One day ain’t goin’ ta make no difference no how.”
“Say, we ain’t thanked this here cowboy fer shootin’ the idjut right off his horse. That was some mighty good shootin’. Come on in to the saloon and I’ll buy ya a drink.”
Everyone went into the saloon except banker Maris. He took the satchel of money and went back to the bank. The marshal went to the saloon as well. He half-dragged the robber with him. “What with him all shot up I don’ think he’s going anywhere. Well, he going to the hangin’ tree tomorrow but not going anywhere right now. Hell, let’s get him a drink too. Took a lot of balls to rob that bank with a marshal in town and this here shooter too. I reckon he didn’t know about the shooter though. Still, let’s give him a drink seein’ as how we’re goin’ ta hang ‘im tommorry.”
After a short while Hank was feeling pretty good. The headache was gone. His money was gone but no one was asking him to pay for his drinks. He still didn’t know where his horse was but a few of the men promised to help him find the nag. Hank had his doubts about them being any help.
“Say”, one man said, “did old man Maris, he’s the banker, did he give you a reward for stoppin’ the robbery?”
“Well, no he didn’t”, Hank told him.
“Well, ain’t that a load of crap. Here you go and save his money, which saved his bank and his sorry ass and he don’t give you nothin’? Maybe we need to have a double hangin to set things right.”
The marshal spoke up at that. The bank paid half the taxes in town and that meant they paid half his salary. This was getting out of hand with his salary at stake. “Now,jus’ you be holdin’ on there. We ain’t hanging no banker jus’ cause he’s a skinflint. That’s it. Tomorrow we hang this robber and that all.”
“Well, I guess that be right. Say mister, we didn’t get yer name”, one of the townsmen said,
“It’s Hank. Hank Green.”
Well, Hank Green, I can’t say as I ever heard of you but that’s no never mind. Stay over the night and we’ll give you the honor of kickin’ the box from underneath this here robber.”
Honor of kicking the box out from under the man? They want me to hang him?
“Well, I’m sure as shootin’ sure it be an honor but, look, I ain’t no gunslinger. I’m a ranch hand. I need to find mu horse and get back to the Square Circle Ranch and get back to work.”
“Ya mean ya don’t want to see this here bandit hung? You the one what shot him clean off that horse. Seems like ya’d like to watch that. Well, if ya don’, ya don’. Marshal, This here bandit ain’t going to need his horse no more so how’s about we give it this guy as a reward.”
“I think that’s a good idea. Ye sir, that-”
The marshal looked down at the robber and thought he had stopped breathing. He watched for a minute and was sure he wasn’t breathing. He listened to his heart and it wasn’t beating.
“Well, guess the hangin’s off. He done died on us. Damn it!”
“Maybe we should ought to hang him anyway. Hell, it ain’t goin’ to matter to him”, a townsman said.
“No, that’s stupid. We ain’t hangin’ a dead man”, the marshal said.
“Well, who’s goin’ ta pay ta bury him? He’s just a dead man as is. If we’d have hung him the county would have paid for his burial”, the local undertaker asked.
The saloon became real quiet. The men looked around at each other but no one spoke. This was something new. Who is going to pay the undertaker? Everyone looked to the marshal for guidance as if he had any. He cleared his throat and said, “Let’s hang ‘im right now afore he starts to stink.”
Hank went out and got the late bandit’s horse and rode out of town. He wanted to get back to ranching. He never intended coming to this town again. No sir, he wasn’t coming to a town that hung dead men.