The Rest of the Story (Short Story No. 11)
These short stories will be part of the sequel to my novel The Lady Who Loved Bones. Any suggestions for improvement or for future stories are welcome.
Shorty’s fiancée Penelope had entered the Red Horse restaurant just as he was embellishing the story of the sun dance. When he began to describe in detail the naked dancers, Hannah, Sweet Water, and Margaret, Penelope dragged him out of the place by the ears.
“I guess we’ll have to wait to hear the rest of the story,” Helen muttered, disappointed.
“Right,” Anne Hope, the bearded lady, agreed. “That’s some story. I can’t wait to hear more. Well, I’m going to my hotel room to wash up. I got soup in my beard.”
Robert Barnes, editor of the newspaper, and Pinkerton agent Helen James remained in the restaurant and resumed a discussion.
“What do you know of this Hannah Monroe and her expedition to find dinosaur fossils in the Hell Creek Formation?” Helen asked Barnes.
Barnes replied, “I wrote an article in the paper about her first expedition, the one that was massacred by the Cheyenne. I went to Fort Kearny for the funerals and got most of my information from the soldiers who recovered the bodies.”
Robert Barnes continued with the story. The members of the original expedition consisted mainly of scientists from the East. They were accompanied by soldiers. Most of them were brutally tortured before they died or mutilated afterwards. Hannah had been tied naked to a tree, no doubt with future cruel intentions when time permitted.
“She was rescued by Hex Hawkins,” Barnes added. “I didn’t print that part in the paper. It was told to me by an old mountain man I know named Nathaniel Johnson. Hex and Hannah paid his family a visit on their way to Fort Smith.”
Barnes expounded on, telling of how Hex scattered the savages from long range with his Whitfield and then rode down and carried Hannah to safety. They were followed and set up an ambush, killing most of the Cheyenne. Then they headed to Fort Smith, where Hex was persuaded by Hannah to finance a new expedition. Hex travelled to Virginia City for supplies and to recruit manpower. That was where Shorty and the others he mentioned entered the picture.
Several hours passed and Shorty came meandering back into the Red Horse.
“Penelope is taking a nap,” Shorty advised. He winked. “Nothing like a little afternoon delight to wear out a lady. Now, we had lunch earlier. It’s almost time for dinner. I got a lot more to tell. You buyin’ dinner?”
Helen nodded and said, “You left off with the naked sun dance. I think we got the picture on that. So what’s next?”
Get a haircut and get a real job
Shorty resumed, “We camped by the Musselshel River and a terrible joke was played on yours truly. I got drunk and they shaved my head. Then they dripped rabbit blood on my head and put a scalp from Bob Wells’ collection in my hand. When I woke up in the morning I thought I had been scalped. I cried a river and soiled my britches. It was terrible.”
Helen cried and couldn’t stop laughing. “That is one funny joke,” she said.
“Well, enough about that,” Shorty whined. “If you like blood so much, you’ll like the next part.” He told of the Negro father Woodrow and his son Josiah catching trout in the river. When Woodrow went off into the woods to answer the call of mother nature, he stepped in a bear trap. It was set by the outlaw Big Ben Davis and his gang. More traps were found and Woodrow’s foot had to be amputated. Sweet Water left the camp during Shorty’s watch. A few days later she returned wearing war paint and carrying Johnny Blackfoot’s head in a bag that she gave to Boyd who lost his tongue to Johnny Blackfoot. Sweet Water also killed three of his companions and cut the leader, Big Ben Davis, although unfortunately not fatally. While she was gone, Shorty discovered the skeleton of a giant over eight feet tall.
“I don’t believe you,” Helen said. “Over eight feet tall? What did you do with it?”
“We took it with us, of course,” Shorty answered. “Along with the rest of the bones we had found. It all ended up on the steamboat that sank and the bones are now in the Missouri River or blown to smithereens. No doubt you are curious about the leprechaun, the dwarf Tiny Tim from Dublin, and how he came to join the expedition, and then got on the steamboat in question with the intent of joining up with P. T. Barnum, and with Sweet Water. Tiny Tim wanted to marry Sweet Water, but then she found out that he was already married, twice.”
Shorty explained that Tiny Tim had been with Corwin Lee and his men. Lee, a gunsmith from Diamond City, had been hired by the Montana Hide and Fur Company to establish a trading post near where the Mushelshel met the Missouri, where the former post Kerchival City had been operating until recently. Tiny Tim decided to leave Corwin Lee and join up with the Lady Monroe expedition, and entertained same with his rich tenor voice and songs like “When Pigs Begin to Fly.” Upon joining up with them, Tiny Tim led them to a buffalo jump the Corwin Lee group had come across. They found two old Germans, Hans and Heinrich, collecting buffalo bones at the site.
Robert Barnes interrupted, “Those two Germans are rather famous, roaming the badlands collecting bones. I wrote an article for the paper about them.”
Shorty added, “Unfortunately, they got kilt by Big Ben Davis and the Mormons.”
“Say what?” Helen blurted.
“I’ll git to that,” Shorty promised, “but first more on the buffalo jump. Hannah, Sweet Water, and Tiny Tim went down in the hole, which collapsed leaving Hannah and Sweet Water submerged in the dirt. Tiny Tim pulled Sweet Water out and Hex jumped down in the hole. He finally got Hannah out, but she wasn’t breathing. He revived her. Now there’s another interesting story.”
“How so?” Helen questioned.
Shorty said, “Hex opened Hannah’s shirt and exposed her breasts. He said he had to open her shirt to make sure he pressed on the right place, right between her nipples. The tips of her nipples were really big and they stuck straight up. Hex twisted them vigorously, and she woke up.”
Just as Shorty elaborated on this, Penelope walked into the restaurant again. She grabbed Shorty by the ears again and dragged him out of the place again.
“See you at breakfast in the morning,” Helen called. “I’m buying.”