Saturday, November 20, 2010

Evil Will Always Hate Good Pt. 1 by Tom Sheehan

At the Last Good Find Saloon, in Tremont, Texas, where two old pards have come in off the trail.

Josh: (tall cowpoke, neat as a pin) Hey, Max, who’s the gent in the girlie boots?

A third man, tall, rugged in the face and across the shoulders, early forties, enters the saloon and walks to the bar. He is wearing a wide sombrero, blue vest over a lighter blue shirt, dark pants and no boots or gun belt. On his feet are strange looking “slippers,” to use another term.

Max: Reminds me of the lady works the post office in Laramie, Suzie something. ‘Member how she hid her feet all the time, the silly looking shoes she wore, like they’d fit a whole horse.

Josh (to the stranger): Hey, mister, how‘d you come by those things you got on your feet? Don’t you wear a real man’s boots like all us others do? Good cowboy boots for wearing working spurs, riding horse, herding cattle?

Stranger (nodding, breaking into a wide grin, looks down at his feet for the longest spell, which seems to unnerve Josh): These things on my feet are my squeakers, as I call them. They make funny sounds when I walk while my real boots are getting fixed by the harness maker down the street. Other than that, my feet are all my own concern, son. And so is what I wear on my feet, on or off a horse.

Josh: You poking fun at me, Mister? I don’t think I like that. What if I was to whip those silly looking things off your feet, them squeakers?

Stranger: Well, son, I expect you’d find one hand broken or one wrist, your tongue hanging out of your mouth more tired than it is right now, and me climbing all over you just for the hell of it.

Josh: Hell, mister, I don’t like your tone none and you ain’t even wearing a gun.

Stranger: That’s the whole point of it, son. I ain’t wearing a gun, so you can’t use yours on me if you had that faulty thought come to your mind, which I observe is busier than it ought to be instead of enjoying your whiskey like you ought, never knowing when you might get the taste of the next one. You’d find yourself in the jail for at least one night and maybe more if you were to pull the trigger on an unarmed man.

Max (suddenly seeing what might be coming): Josh, better let it go now. Now ain’t the time to get this man all riled up. He ain’t done nothin' to you.

Josh: I just don’t like his looks, how he talks, how he dresses. He don’t look like no cowboy to me.

Barkeep (tapping the bar top): Son, pay attention to your pard here, and to the gent you’re antagonizin’. It just ain’t in your best interest to rile him up and get my place messed up over a pair of funny looking feet critters. And he’s a whole lot of right by saying he’ll be all over you in good fashion before you can blow your nose or draw on that gun of yours.

Josh (now looking real agitated): You think I ain’t fast enough to draw and get a bead on him?

Before Josh can move, the stranger slams a fist in his face, pulls Josh’s gun from his holster and trains it on Max.

Stranger: Pick him up real easy, son, and take him outside and dump him in the water trough. Tell him, when he’s fully awake, sober as he’ll ever be, he can get his gun down at the jail. I’m finishing off my drink now and going back to work. Before I get there, you better get your friend put in one of those cells and make sure the door is locked and the keys hung proper. He’s going to be madder than hell later tonight.

The stranger walks out of the saloon, the squeakers on his feet making a distinctive noise as he leaves the room.

Max (as he’s trying to pick up his pal): Barkeep, who the hell is that guy? What’s his name? What’s he do?

Barkeep: That’s Jed Hollander; he’s the head of the Texas Rangers. He’s one of the real good lawmen in the whole territory. Probably the damnedest best one of all. Tell your pard he don’t want him on the other side of anything. And if I was you I’d make sure I get that hothead in jail pronto lest he starts to agitatin’ the law. Won’t pay him to do so.

Max: That man that good? As good as you say?

Barkeep: For ten, twelve years he’s been between whatever’s bad and whatever’s good in all this territory, all the way up as far as Plimpton, and you gotta cross the ferry there to get away from him.

Max (hustling his friend erect, who’s shaking his head, wobbly, like he’s been hit by a mule’s kick): Is he a married man, this Hollander gent, this Ranger?

Barkeep (waving his hands like a flagman on the railroad): Whoa, there, son. Why do you ask such a question? You sure don’t want to go in that direction. Not if you’re life was to depend on it. That ain’t likely safe from any angle no matter how the hellos go ‘twixt who and whoever.

Max (smiling sheepishly): Not me, mister. I’m no lover boy, but Josh here thinks he’s the whole shebang to any woman he fancies, and don’t miss much that way either. It’s like his getting-even weapon, if you know what I mean. Seems as though he’s been raisin’ that kind of hell since he was halfway to the saddle, maybe even ‘afore he saw all the sights the barn was holdin’ on to. And in the time I been around, that’s all the way to Houston and half the ranches in between. Second thought, probably three quarters of ‘em. He’s like fire and ice, that boy, the miracle worker’s what he is. Heats ‘em up and leaves ‘em cold and him on the trail again. I wouldn’t want to count how many times he’s been chased down the trail and the guns goin’ off behind him and him laughing like a damned fool, but smilin’ like the ears on his head was really red and black and pointin’ the way to hell itself.

Barkeep: He leave any kids on the way?

Max (still holding Josh erect) : I’d guess half the kids in this part of Texas have that same long clean nose and those deep blue eyes like the whole ocean was here sayin’ hello to one girl at a time. He just gets meaner’n hell if I tell him about them husbands lookin’ half the world over for him. (He laughs loudly) And their women, too.

Barkeep: Why’s he like that? He’s a decent lookin’ boy.

Max: My guess he hates what he can’t be. He knows he ain’t ever goin’ to be a good husband or father or plain law- abidin’ son of the west. It just ain’t in him for such goodness.

Barkeep: And you? Why are you like this?

Max: I can’t be what I want to be either. Simple as that. And that Ranger scares me to Kingdom Come as I should know better.

Barkeep: I’m bettin’ he ain’t done his bit yet, son. He don’t like bad guys, and ‘specially those that play women for trinkets and husbands for fools. The law and most men say women this side of the saloon ain’t fair game for any drover comes off the trail like he’s the angel itself but ain’t.

Josh is taken by Max from the saloon.

The scene shifts to the jail where Josh is in a cell. A woman, young, attractive, the Ranger’s wife, Alma Hollander, enters at noontime carrying a tray of food.

Alma: I have your lunch here. Please step back and I will place it on the floor. I’m Mrs. Hollander.

Josh: I know who you are, sweet one. You’re the girl who escaped from that bright moon I was studying all last night after I got locked up in here, the one the moon didn’t want to let go of, afraid you’d get scooped up by some lovesick cowboy like me who thinks Texas women are the most beautiful women in the whole world, especially the married ones. Your husband is a real nice fellow, if he is what he seems to be with someone like you at hand. He does have a great eye for beautiful ladies. How I wish I was not in here, lost to the world, lost to the fairest ladies in the world.

Alma (turning to exit after placing the tray on the floor): Just eat your meal, Josh. That’s all you have to do. You’ll have your chance someday at true love.

Josh: I just wish it could be you, Ma’am. No moss growing all over me. When I move on there’ll be some live wishing going on here. You’ll just be in the mix then, like a dream that never happened, a beautiful woman locked into a lonely town where the moon can die every night, like death comes on every breath of time if you let it.

Alma: You are a smooth one, Josh.

Josh: Knowing my name for starters is all it takes. Now let me dream how it might be. I’ll let you know how it goes some other time when I’m shuck of here.

Alma is about to leave and Josh snakes his hand through the bars and grabs her by the hair. Immediately he covers her mouth with his other hand and pulls her against the bars of the cell.

Josh: That prairie rat of a husband of yours shouldn’t let high and mighty you work like a slave. You got some comeuppance coming to you, you and that man of yours thinks he’s the world to you. Well, soft lady, you got some news coming your way.

Josh shifts his position to get a better grab on her, and Hollander steps into the cell room.

Hollander: You keep your hands on her and you’re dead before you hit the floor.

Josh: I got the knife here, high and mighty one, and I’ll cut her pretty face so you won’t want to look at it come morning any more. I’ll mark her fearsome, Ranger boy, real fearsome.

Hollander: She’ll probably do what Chico does when she yells at him.

Alma, a quizzical look on her face, thinks, sees her pet dog being corrected, smiles, and then ducks, as Hollander fires one round high onto Josh’s shoulder. It knocks him across the cell. Alma falls free of his grip, the dull knife from the food tray falls to the floor harmlessly.

Hollander: You’re going down into the third level at the penitentiary. You won’t see the sun for a few years if you can stand it. I’m willing to wager you’ll be nearer to Hell than you are right now.


Tom Sheehan has hair like fire and fists like pistons. So it's difficult for him to grip a pen, but when he does those letters are getting pummeled out, not swirled or sketched.

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