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Thumper (Short Story No. 16)
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.
Anne Hope, the bearded lady, made funeral arrangements for her former fiancé, Seth Morris, who had been burned alive in the jailhouse fire. A traveling preacher happened to be registered at the same hotel where she had been staying. She struck up a conversation with him, and he agreed to perform the services for Morris.
At the gravesite, the minister preached on Ecclesiastes 7:2 from his King James: “It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to the house of feasting; for that is the end of all men: and the living will lay it to his heart.” The minister glanced sympathetically at Anne and said that the deceased was now with the Lord.
Suddenly Shorty blurted, “Lands sakes! The deceased was a murderer and bank robber. What about the 6th and 8th commandments like ‘Thou shalt not kill’ and ‘Thou shalt not steal’ you dunderhead? That good old boy was mean enough to steal a coin off a dead man’s eyes, and he had a ten dollar Stetson on a five-cent head.”
The minister stared at Shorty with recognition and said, “Hello, Mr. Baxter. How have you been, Leslie?
“At least I’m above snakes, unlike the late Seth Morris who is dead as a door nail,” Shorty snapped. “Hey Helen,” he whispered to the Pinkerton agent, “I know him. That preacher was on the expedition.”
Helen whispered back to invite the preacher to lunch, on her. She remembered all the information she got from Shorty by feeding him profusely, and she hoped to do the same with the Bible thumper.
After the body was lowered into ground and the service ended, Anne asked the minister if she would see Seth again in heaven and have sex with him again. “There is no sex in heaven,” the minister replied and quoted Matthew 22:30: “At the resurrection, people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.”
“I’m going to miss that prodigious pecker of his,” Anne sighed and began to cry.
“Don’t cry, honey,” Shorty said in an attempt to console her. “The preacher should hobble his lip and go boil his shirt. That verse he quoted don’t say nothin’ about sex if you ain’t married. That’s my favorite kind of pirooting. Here’s the only kind of Bible I pay much attention to.” He pulled out a small packet of papers used to roll cigarettes.
# # #
The war club
Captain Taz gave his new gang member Angus the giant a motivational talk. He also gave him a large war club he had received from the Cheyenne Dog Soldier, White Bear. Taz had traded a pretty young woman he kidnapped for the club. They went over the printed hit list of individuals that Taz wanted murdered. Number one on the list, Seth Morris, had already been taken care of. “Yup, we fried his ass,” Buster noted with pride. “He won’t be doin’ no testifying against us.”
“Yup,” Taz agreed. “But we can’t cook them all. And the screaming is rather loud. Angus here can use that club. I bet he hits real hard.”
“Let’s make us some nitro, Boss,” Buster suggested. “Just in case we want to cook some more.”
“Sounds like a good idea,” Taz concurred. He looked at the hit list and said, “T. H. Kleinschmidt is next on the list. Remember him?” Buster looked confused and Taz explained, “He’s the head cashier at the First National Bank of Helena who helped us rob the bank by leaving the vault door open, among other things.”
“I remember him now,” Buster said.
Taz described him for the benefit of Angus and instructed, “You can find him at the bank or the Red Horse restaurant at lunch or dinner or ask somebody regarding his whereabouts.” Angus nodded affirmation. “Just smack him on the head with that club. Once is all it should take.” Angus nodded again in affirmation and began to swing the club in anticipation.
“Thump him good!” Buster encouraged. “Hey Boss, we should call the big guy Thumper.”
“I like that!” Taz agreed. “Thumper. Has a certain ring to it.” He looked at Angus and ordered, “And Thumper, if you get the chance, thump that lady Pinkerton agent on the head too, although that bank guy is the top priority. I’m worried he might start talking to the Pinkerton agent and that Marshal Howie who had his posse after us.”
“That’s no lady, Boss,” Buster noted with a lopsided grin. “But she has such a pretty mouth,” he added.
“Her pecker is bigger than yours,” Taz gibed.
# # #
Shorty and Helen sat in the Red Horse restaurant drinking coffee and waiting for the preacher. Shorty filled in Helen on what he knew about the man while they waited. He related that the Reverend Issac Nelson was originally from central New York and had been a chaplain for the Union during the war. He came west after the war and preached on a circuit from Fort Benton to Virginia City. Short embellished, “He’s so skinny if he closed one eye, he’d look like a needle. He’s a pretty good shot with a rifle, though. Better than me, although he said he’d rather save the Injuns than shoot ‘em.”
Helen had taken the liberty of ordering lunch for everyone, the special, camel stew. Reverend Nelson finally walked in and joined them as lunch was being served. Shorty dug in and the preacher screamed, “Aren’t you going to say grace, you heathen midget?”
Shorty, embarrassed, spit out his food and quickly prayed, “Dear Lord, please bless his food to our bodies and may it sustain us physically as the Holy Spirit sustains us spiritually. And we pray the Injuns cut out this here preacher man’s tongue. Amen.”
“That was rude, Shorty,” Helen chastised. But then she also chastised Reverend Nelson. “He’s not a midget, you know. He’s not a dwarf. He’s just a very short clown. Incidentally, we lost one of our circus dwarves recently, Sam Short. That’s why Shorty was filling in as a clown.”
“Yup,” Shorty agreed, “Poor little Sammy Short was swallowed whole by a giant snake.”
“No way,” the preacher said in disbelief.
“Who told you that, Shorty?” Helen questioned.
“The other dwarf, Wee Willie Wilson, told me that,” Shorty replied. “He witnessed it. That Taz outlaw fella fed Sammy to his pet python, Roscoe.”
“Oh my God!” the reverend blurted. “We should have a moment of silence.” And they did.
“We need more moments of silence,” Shorty suggested. “Sure beats yer preaching,” he said sarcastically.
Just then T. H. Kleinschmidt, head cashier of the bank entered the restaurant. The reverend, having met the man when he transacted some business at the bank, invited him to join them.
Right behind Kleinschmidt was Angus the giantin costume as the Scottish Sasquatch waving the war club and chanting something apparently in Cheyenne. He smacked Kleinschmidt on the top of the head as soon as he sat down. Blood spurted from the wound and Kleinschmidt crumpled to the floor. Then Angus swung the club at Helen, missing. She pulled the derringer from her garter and shot him in the chest.
“I reckon you’ll be busy working on another funeral sermon,” Shorty offered. “I’ll leave you to yer Bible thumping while I go wet my whistle with some tarantula juice.” He wiped his sweaty brow with his sleeve. “It’s hot as a whorehouse on nickel night in here,” he complained.
“You will be burning in the lake of fire soon!” the preacher screamed as he searched his King James for an appropriate verse.
Click on link for source to go to The Lady Who Loved Bones at Amazon.com.