Ed Visits His Pa: A Carbons Creek Story
Some darn fool dime novel writer gave Ed a reputation as a gunfighter. It ain't a thing he wants.
Truth is Ed don't look for fights. If they's trouble though, he'll meet it head on.
For so many of us, the war had a way of changing us. Ed don't talk 'bout it but he don't hide it either. He was still wearing parts of a Union uniform when he came here. I was in the war too, so I reckon I got an idea of what he saw. No, a body doesn’t care to 'member a lot of it, not talk of 'bout it either. I also reckon Ed is just a bit on the quiet side naturally.
Anyway, Ed asked me to fill in for him at the saloon, which he is half owner of. Told me he had to take a trip. Ed has always been willing to lend a hand when needed, so I couldn't really turn him down. It appeared pretty quiet in town anyway.
I found out later on that Ed got a message to return home 'cause his pa needed him. Now his pa when he came from the old country he found work for the railroad. He got hurt in a rockslide when they dynamited some rocks to clear way for the tracks. One leg was badly damaged and he had to walk with a cane after that. So his pa moved to the city hopin' ta find work he can do. He didn’t have no schoolin' and he couldn’t do any real labor work no more. It can be hard on a prideful man, not being able to do what he’s used ta doin’. He did have a bit of blarney, as his people say. He hooked up with a whiskey vendor as a travelin’ man and went from town to town calling on bartenders and general stores sometimes.
I s’pose that was what led Ed into the saloon business, cause he was knowin’ something ‘bout it from his pa. But first he went into Mr. Lincoln’s war. Ed felt responsible for his ma and the kids with his pa gone travelin’ so much. He went in as a substitute, which means them that had money could pay somebody else to go in the army for ‘em. Ed took the money and gave it to his ma and the kids to help out.
Ed showed up in Carbon’s Creek here after the war and started bartending at the saloon. He saved his money and bought into it his self. It was an incident where he helped quiet some rowdy cowboys that the dime novel was wrote that gave Ed a reputation as a powerful fighter with a shotgun and what ever else the writers dreamed up. And that is why Ed had to go back and help his family.
I tole him he was probably walking into a trap. He got a message his pa was bein’ held in jail in one of the towns where he sold whiskey. His pa was accused of breaking up a saloon and causin’ considerable damage to an establishment he sold to. To me it didn’t make no sense at all, but Ed figured he had to go see for his self. I figured some kid wanting a reputation for his self was trying to lure Ed there. Probably would ambush him and then claim to have taken him in a gunfight. That’s one way to get a reputation as a gunfighter. “Course the same thing will probably happen to the new big gun in town.
Ed’s loyalty to his family was fierce and he insisted he had to go. Well, as I found out later, my reckoning wasn’t too far off. Ed got to the town where his pa was and went straight to the town marshal’s office. It turn out his pa was just being held pending a hearing over a bit of a fight with some young punk who called his self the Chicago Kid.. Appears that dime novel about Ed showed up and the Kid started making remarks about Ed. So Mr. Stock, Ed’s pa, naturally felt he had to stick up for the family reputation. They got in a scuffle and some things in the saloon got broken.. They was both being held for a hearing to decide who had to pay the damages. That’s how bad things get mixed up when they go from one person to the next.
Well, Ed, he got a room at the hotel till after the hearing. When the hearing come the judge said they should split the cost of the damages and each pay a fine for being a public nuisance. Ed thought that at least was a bit of common sense. But the Kid thought otherwise. He braced Ed when they got away from the courthouse.
“T’was the darnest thing.” Ed told me. “Here’s this kid, probably not twenty years old, skinny and awkward wants to take me on in a gunfight. He had these two silver Colts with holsters strapped to his legs. I was carrying a shotgun. I tell him to relax. There ain’t nothin’ for us to fight about. Well he had read that dumb book that made me out to be some sort of gunfighter and I guess he figgered that if he shot me he would be a big man. He weren’t goin’ to be satisfied till he got some action, so I lifted the shotgun a bit. He drew both guns out, a show-off thing to do. I had a feeling this kid had never been in a gun fight in his life or shot at a living target.”
Ed din't want to kill the kid but he was being forced to it. Neither Ed or the Kid counted on Ed's pa. He had sidled up dangerously close to both of them He lifted that hickory cane of his and brought it down on the barrels of both of the Kid's Colt revolvers whose bullets blasted into the ground. One nicked the Kid's boot. Between the cane and the kickback from the revolvers, I expect the Kid's wrists and fingers were numb. He dropped the guns.
"Well, Pa. You two goin' to get arrested again?" Ed asked.
- Ed and Doc: a short-short Western story
A short story set in the West shortly after the civil war. Reckless cowboys endanger the local doctor and his young son. Read on to see how it works out.
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- Smashwords - Guest Ranch - A book by Don Hoglund
Guest Ranch is a short story about a couple visiting a Guest Ranch. They meet a trail guide who is also a storyteller who tells them a tale of the Old West. The husband is in a bad mood over a traffic fine and he is slow to become receptive.
© 2011 Don A. Hoglund
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