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There's a New Sheriff in Town (Short Story No. 24)
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.
Wanted DEAD OR ALIVE
Newly appointed sheriff of Helena Leslie Baxter, known affectionately as Shorty by the prostitutes of the town, didn’t take long to make his first arrest. He put the beautiful Chinese prostitute May Ling in handcuffs. Her foot matched the footprint at the scene of the Slim Porter killing. A photograph cinched it.
“But that Slim fella was a wanted outlaw,” May Ling protested. “Sheriff, there is a wanted poster on him in your office. The poster says “DEAD OR ALIVE.” She looked at Pinkerton agent Helen James, imploring her to help.
“It also says there is a reward of $1,000,” Helen noted. “You owe May Ling some money.” May Ling jumped for joy and Shorty removed the handcuffs.
“What about the other killings?” Sheriff of Virginia City Hiram Brown questioned. “I’m talking about my deputies, Russ Lane and Ned Helm. They got their throats cut, just like Slim Porter.”
“They raped me!” May Ling screamed.
“They raped a prostitute?” Shorty responded. “Didn’t they pay you?”
Helen said solemnly, “The question is whether or not there is any evidence that May Ling murdered the two deputies, any evidence at all. If there is, she should be charged and subjected to a trial. The territorial judge is here in town at the moment. He came for the circus, I guess.”
“I sent for Judge Munson,” Marshal Howie admitted. “I figured we would be needing him. I don’t want to see any more people getting strung up on Hangman’s Tree without a trial. It gives Helena a bad reputation, not to mention lawmen like me.”
“And me,” Shorty added. “Speaking of the circus, I still have my other job to worry about.” Shorty hurried off to put on his clown costume.
# # #
Captain Taz sat by the fire at his camp just outside Helena. The members of Slim Porter’s gang joined him, although without Slim of course, who had gotten his throat cut by the Chinese prostitute May Ling. Taz and the outlaws plotted revenge.
Blackie Porter, Slim’s younger brother, suggested that they ride into Helena, shoot up the place, and kill the whore who killed his brother Slim.”
“There’s a new sheriff in town I heared,” Red Porter, Slim’s oldest brother, noted.
“So what?” Blackie blurted. “I heared that guy’s a real clown.”
Red spat, “Maybe we can get that clown the sheriff to hang that yellow whore. We can threaten to hang him by his balls.”
Blackie suggested, “We should hang her ourselves, if the law won’t do it.”
“I have an idea,” Taz said. “When we robbed the bank in Helena, I had White Bear and his Dog Soldiers ride on in ahead of us and cause havoc.” Taz expounded that the Injuns galloped through the streets howling their war cries and shooting their fire arrows everywhere. The smoke from burning buildings concealed the arrival of his gang on camels who robbed the bank easy-peasy. Except for Judah Johnson who got shot and killed and Seth Morris who got shot and captured.
“Morris is the one who got burned alive in jail?” Blackie asked.
“Yup,” Taz said. “Burned to a crisp.”
“What do you suppose the Injuns would want in return for raisin’ hell in Helena?” Red inquired.
“Whiskey,” Taz replied. “And women.”
“Where do we get the women?” Blackie questioned. “I don’t see any women. I wish I did.” He grabbed his crotch to emphasize his desire for women.
“I still have two young ladies stashed at my hideout north of Fort Smith,” Taz stated. “I suppose I could go get them to barter with.”
“Are they good lookin’ at all?” Red wondered out loud.
“That doesn’t really matter, the mood I’m in,” Blackie said. “I’d screw a sheep right about now.” He grabbed his crotch again to emphasize his rather urgent desire for women.
“You men will be impressed with these two young ladies,” Taz said. “One is that blonde bone hunter. The other is an Arapaho princess.”
“Can I go and get those two sluts for you, Boss?” Blackie requested.
“Sure, why not,” Taz agreed. “Do you think you can keep your paws off them on the way back? They are worth more if they haven’t been raped.” Blackie nodded. “Red, you better go with him and make sure the goods are not damaged.” The older brother nodded. “While you’re gone, I’ll go find White Bear and his Dog Soldiers,” Taz said.
# # #
Shorty to the rescue
After Shorty left the Last Chance Saloon, he decided to stop at the Red Horse, his favorite restaurant, for a bite to eat. He was approached by several patrons who asked for his autograph. Shorty had asked Jimbo Foster to take a bunch of photographs with Shorty posing as a fearsome lawman. Shorty offered the autograph seekers a signed photo for $5, which they readily agreed to.
Robert Barnes, editor of the Helena Herald, observed this scene and said, “I’m thinking of writing a dime novel. Maybe I’ll make it about you, Sheriff Baxter. The title could be Shorty, the Fastest Sheriff in the West.”
Anne Hope, the circus bearded lady, happened to be eating lunch and she commented, “May Ling says you are the fastest lawman in these here parts. She says you shoot faster’n somebody can spit and shout howdy, if you get my drift. Why, she said one time you couldn’t even get your pecker out of your pants before it went off.”
Shorty, highly agitated at this, blurted, “I shoulda put that May Ling in jail. Maybe somebody woulda set the place on fire and fried her ass like they did to your former fiancé that Morris fella.”
Princess Takuhatahime, the albino snake charmer, interrupted the conversation. “Sheriff, I have a crime to report,” she sobbed. “Someone has stolen my snake Beezelbub. I can’t do my snake charming act, obviously, with no snake. George Bartholomew, owner of the Great Western Circus, threatened to fire me if I don’t find the snake, like real soon.”
Shorty asked, “When did you notice the snake missing? Perhaps it escaped from that box you keep it in and it’s hiding somewhere nearby.”
“No,” the princess insisted. “It could not have gotten out of the box, without help, and I looked everywhere I could think of for it. I went to visit that Pinkerton agent Bob Wells in his hotel room. We were hiding his snake for a couple hours. When I got back to my place, my snake was gone.”
The other Pinkerton agent Helen James joked, “I wish I could get rid of my snake that easy.” Shorty snickered. “Who do we know that loves giant reticulated pythons like Beezelbub? And he wears a snakeskin hat, vest, and boots.”
Shorty added, “And his snake et my pal and fellow circus clown, that dwarf Sammy Short.”
Helen glared at Shorty. “Go find that Captain Taz and you will find Beezelbub.”
What’s in it for me?” Shorty asked sarcastically, leering at the princess.
Princess Takuhatahime poked the inside of her cheek with her tongue, simulating a certain sex act.
The Wild West just got wilder
Read all about it.