The Snake Charmer (Short Story No. 21)
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.
Guess who is coming to circus
Bob Wells, the Pinkerton agent and gunfighter, expressed his condolences to Mrs. Velma Kleinschmidt on the passing of her husband. That took place in the bedroom of her home. She promised to let Captain Taz the outlaw know about the wild west type circus performance to take place in Helena. Wells wanted her to emphasize that there would be plenty of people with plenty of cash at the event. She rode out to Taz’s camp and delivered the message in person, which enabled herself and Taz to rekindle their romance.
Sheriff Hiram Brown and his group arrived in Helena, and they met with Marshal Neil Howie and the others to be involved in the defense of the town and the trap being planned to capture the outlaws. May Ling, the Chinese prostitute who had cut deputy Russ Lane’s throat was with the Brown group. Despite her crimes, Pinkerton agent Helen James was happy to see her. Helen also noticed the other deputy, Ned Helm. Helen hugged May Ling and whispered, “I’m surprised Helm is still breathing.” May Ling whispered, “Perhaps not for long. He raped me last night, and in a way that really hurt.”
George Bartholomew, owner of the Great Western Circus, had been training the performers for the wild west show as best he could. He was no expert on this sort of activity, other than with the horses. He was rather new to camels and tread lightly as far as Helen and her animal were concerned, telling her she could do whatever she wanted in her act. George did predict that the show would be very popular and a precursor of things to come. He mentioned that he had heard that Buffalo Bill Cody had some interest in such productions.
# # #
Slim Porter and his gang arrived at the outskirts of Helena at Captain Taz’ campsite.
Over some roasted antelope and several bottles of whiskey Tax suggested, “Slim, we should combine our gangs.”
“Why would I want to do that?” Slim questioned. “I have a lot more men than you do.
“Most of mine were shot during bank robberies,” Taz lamented. “You remember Seth Morris?” Slim nodded. “He was captured during the robbery of the bank in Helena and got burned alive in the jail there. Remember my number one man, Buster?” Slim nodded again. “He got killed in a gunfight with a female Pinkerton agent named Helen James. They call her Pinky and claim she is faster than the other Pinkerton agent, Bob Wells, who is a gunfighter of some note.”
“So what’s in it for me if I agree to combine gangs?” Slim asked.
“Then what’s mine is yours,” Taz answered.
“How about that lady over there?” he asked, pointing at Velma Kleinschmidt.
“Sure,” Taz agreed. “Oh, and she can suck an apple through a straw, if you get my drift.
Slim grabbed his crotch in anticipation.
# # #
Python of pleasure
“George hired a new snake charmer,” Anne Hope, the bearded lady, informed the group at breakfast at the Red Horse restaurant.
“She’s a looker,” Shorty said with a grin. “I’d like her to charm my snake. “What do you know about her?”
Anne responded, “That snake George charmed her away from the Rudy Brothers Circus. She brought her own snake. The snake charmer’s name is Princess Takuhatahime. She’s from London and formerly performed at Astley Amphitheater in that city in an act known as Mazeppa’s Ride.”
“That’s a naked lady act,” Shorty offered.
“How would you know?” Anne challenged.
“I’m an expert on naked lady acts,” Shorty boasted. “Let’s go see the snake,” Shorty suggested, “and the new snake lady.” Others nodded in agreement, and the group walked over to her quarters.
The snake was asleep in a cage about 3 feet by 6 feet by 3 feet. It had a bright orange and yellow pattern, diamond shaped botches, and a lavender ground pigment. Anne Hope introduced everyone, the people anyway, and the princess introduced the snake.
“His name is Beezlebub, and he’s an albino,” Princess Takuhatahime said, “and so am I.” That fact was obvious from her long white hair and pinkish eyes. Beezlebub opened his pinkish red eyes and seemed to go into a trance from Taku’s soft-toned voice. “You can call me Taku, if my name is too long for you,” the princess offered.
“You’re a witch!” Reverend Nelson screamed. He had joined the group at the restaurant and followed them to see the snake. “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. Exodus 22:18. That snake is a symbol of evil and the devil himself. But he can’t hurt me.” He quoted Luke 10:19: “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”
Doc Eberlin had also joined the group. He explained, “Albinism is caused by the absence of tyrosinase, an enzyme involved in the production of melanin. I read that in the New England Journal of Medicine and Surgery and the Collateral Branches of Medical Science, which has been published quarterly since 1812. This witch talk is nonsense.”
“Can I pick Beezelbub up?” Anne Hope asked.
“Yes, but be careful,” Taku replied. “Use both hands. If you pick up a giant snake with one hand, it could kill it. You could break its back and paralyze it and it can’t eat.”
Taku helped Anne pick up the snake and drape it around the latter’s shoulders.
“He likes me,” Anne purred. “My late fiancé Seth Morris had a big snake too, and they called him ‘Anaconda.’ His snake was between his legs.”
“How big is Beezelbub?” Helen asked. “And how big will he get?”
Taku replied, “He is 10 feet and 100 pounds now, at one year old. He could easily grow to twice that big if he gets plenty to eat.”
The headless horseman
“What does he et?” Shorty questioned.
“He likes rats, like you,” Taku joked.
“That’s not funny, you witch-bitch,” Shorty snapped. “Captain Taz’ big snake like that ate my friend Sammy Short the clown. I’m not that much bigger than Sammy.”
“Well Shorty,” Taku said, “You can be in my act. We’ll pretend Beezelbub is going to eat you.”
Shorty responded, “Reverend Nelson should be in the act too. He can scream that witch stuff.”
Helen said, “Captain Taz will come for sure once he finds out about the snake act featuring a snake like his.
“I saw his snake,” Shorty reported. “Two of them, actually. Sweet Water the Arapaho princess cut off one of the snake’s heads and put it in a bag.”
“You are making that up!” Anne Hope accused.
“The hell I am!” Shorty blurted. “Sweet Water also cut off the outlaw Johnny Blackfoot’s head and put it in a bag.”
“Yup,” Bob Wells confirmed. “She sure did.” Wells had been silent up to this point, mesmerized by Princess Takuhatahime.
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