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|The Yank In The Black Stetson Hat (standard:westerns, 3277 words)|
|Author: G.H. Hadden||Added: Nov 04 2007||Views/Reads: 2305/1496||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|A bold black headline reads "LOCAL HERO AVERTS BARROOM BLOODSHED". And he might have let bygones be bygones, if only the Little Crest Gazette hadn't insisted on calling him "The Yank In The Black Stetson Hat".|
The Yank in the Black Stetson Hat: Pink Elephants of Pain By G.H. Hadden They called him "The Yank"...huh! As if he were the one and only American to ever pay a visit to their ugly little one-horse town of hayseed Saskatchewan farmers; marooned in their endless rolling sea of wild windswept prairie grassland. To his face even, even after they knew his right and proper name. Sobering thought. He remembers little of that night when all this fuss and bother began, but what little he remembers he remembers well. He remembers a sniveling boy holding a gun on him. HIS gun! HIS! Took it from him like candy from a baby no less. And being hauled up to his feet off the floor of that stinking tavern with his arms cuffed behind his back after that funny-talking Scotsman lowered his odd Mauser '98 rifle and stood easy. He remembers how tight those cuffs were—-bracelets of iron. He felt shackled and humiliated like a condemned man being put on parade; stumbling along the empty street as if he were in leg irons too. Hauled off after nightfall by the Mounties as His-Highness-of-The-Tavern raved and ranted on and on how they should throw the book at him and send him off to a place called Stony Mountain, which can only be a prison or stockade with such a name as that. No gold to be found there he'll wager, but plenty of rocks to break. Even that late, with the lamps lit and the stores closed for the night, faces popped out from front doors and lights came on in the bedrooms above. Curious, befuddled faces, like simpletons in the crowd at a magic show. Pert near the whole town saw, looking down on him as those two Mounties had practically dragged him along like a wild stallion to be corralled and broken for auction. He put up a fair fight though. And oh yes, how nice it would be to be as slippery as Houdini, to escape those cuffs and beat those Mounties senseless before the very eyes of these simpleton farmer scarecrows! He very clearly remembers that thought. That would be a neat trick. But it was not to be. He instead found himself face down in a bucket of his own vomit in that dark steel cage. And then the coughing fits began—-these have been ever-present coughing spells ever since the fire. Seared his lungs in the fire Doc had said, made worst with time and trail-dust and mine-damp. The whisky burns on the way down, but it works wonders to break up the hard ashen phlegm. Still bitter, after all these years. But he's dry and sober now, throat dry too, and his feet are itchy for leaving after being held over in the drunk tank of the Little Crest Mounties' office for the better part of a week. It was a cell fit for animals. Eight feet by eight feet square, with a cot as hard and sheets as dirty and buggy as any jail cell he'd ever had the misfortune to visit. "It's a half day's ride to Estevan," that tough steely-eyed Mountie Valentine had told him upon escorted release at the town limits, just a lick and a spit away from the Canadian Pacific main line to North Dakota. He was served his legal papers with a stern tone of voice and a gaze of discordant villainy that did not at all agree with his uniform. "I've already wired ahead," he said. "You're to present yourself at the post there and turn in your gun for overnight detention. In the morning, you will be escorted by rail back across the border at North Portal, at which time your firearm will be returned to you. Do you understand this?" He'd nodded and said "Yesir." cordially enough, and took the papers into his saddlebag without care of creasing them. And yes, he understands plenty good. He understands the game that crafty tavern keeper and this crafty mustachioed Sam Steele Mountie are playing with him. Both hope he never makes it to the border. If they really wanted him deported they'd have done it the right way—-the proper way...send him back by train all the way. But no—-instead they'll use him as a pawn in their petty little chessboard game of little-town Tammany Hall politics. They're willing to stake their Click here to read the rest of this story (248 more lines)
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