Western Wednesdays—RIO LOCO + Giveaway
September 28, 2011 8 Comments
Well folks, Barjack is back and you know what that means. Trouble. Trouble of the most amusing kind, at least for you, the reader. I can’t help but smile when I read a Barjack novel. The character’s got his own swagger and charm, he’s surrounded by the best and worst intentioned, and he can talk straight faced to someone named Owl Shit. And all that’s just the first chapter of Robert J. Conley’s latest, Rio Loco.
Giveaway: What do you think makes a good lawman on the printed page? Who are some of the characters who’ve worn the badge that have been your favorite? Leave a comment and be entered to win a copy of Rio Loco.
I was just setting in my favorite chair in my own saloon, which was knowed as Harvey’s Hooch House on account of a previous owner, and I was drinking my favorite whiskey from a big tumbler, and mostly minding my own business, whenever Owl Shit come a-walking in and looking to me like as if he was a-looking for trouble. Course, there wasn’t nothing unusual about that. Owl Shit always looked thattaway. He was wearing his six-gun the way he always done. The holster on his loose-fitting belt was hanging right around in the dead center a’ the belt right smack in front, so it looked kinda like it was his damn pecker a-hanging down betwixt his legs. I reckoned he had done had him some whiskey somewhere on account a’ he seemed to be just a mite drunk already.
He kinda staggered up to the bar and knocked a couple a’ men sideways outta his way and banged his fist down on the bar. “Whiskey,” he hollered out. Aubrey was plumb down to the other end a’ the bar serving a drink to another feller. “Hey,” called Owl Shit. “Oberry. You hear me?”
“I’ll be right with you, Owl Shit,” said Aubrey.
“Now. I want whiskey now.”
Well, I kinda scooted my chair back so I’d be ready to get up if it turned out to be called for, and I checked my Merwin Hulbert self-extracting revolver to be damn certain it was where I could get at it if I was to have need of it. I picked up my tumbler and had another long swig a’ that wonderful stuff. Damn, it was good. I begun to get pissed off that Owl Shit was disturbing my relaxing pleasure.
“Excuse me, sir,” said the cowhand on Owl Shit’s left, “but that’s my drink in front of you.”
Whenever Owl Shit had knocked him outta the way, he had stepped up to the bar right there where the feller had been a-standing. Owl Shit looked at the man and picked up the drink. “This’n?” he said.
Owl Shit drank it down and put the glass on the bar in front a’ the man. “Thanks,” he said. Aubrey come up just then and set a glass in front of Owl Shit and brought out a bottle. He was about to pour a drink when Owl Shit grabbed the bottle outta his hand. “’Bout time,” he said.
“Owl Shit,” said Aubrey, “we don’t want no trouble in here today.”
“I ain’t going to start no goddamned trouble,” said Owl Shit. “Just leave the bottle here with me. That’s all.”
“You owe me a drink, mister,” said the cowhand to Owl Shit’s left.
“How’d you come up with that, dumb ass?” said Owl Shit.
“That first drink you had was mine.”
“I thanked you for it, di’n’t I?”
“Now, see here—“
But the cowhand never got nothing else out. Owl Shit whipped out his Colt and shot him point-blank in the chest. I think he hit him in the heart. Blood spurted out all over Owl Shit and all over the bar, and the poor cowboy leaned back on the bar with both his elbows and a real dumb look on his face. He was done dead. He slid down real slow till he was setting on the floor and leaning back against the bar.
I got up real damn fast and took about four long strides over to the bar. I come up behint Owl Shit as I was hauling out my Merwin Hulbert, and I whacked that damn bastard hard on top a’ his head. He stood there rocking for a minute, his head a-bobbing from side to side. Then he started in to turn his head and look at me, but just as he got his head around, he pitched forward, landing hard on the floor. I kicked his Colt across the floor on over to my table. My Bonnie come a-flopping down the stairs about then. “I heared a shot,” she said.
“It’s took care of,” I said. Then I turned to Aubrey. “Aubrey, go find my two worthless depitties and send them down here right away. Bonnie, sweet tits, you get behint the bar till Aubrey gets back.”
“Yes, sir, Barjack,” said Aubrey.
“And while you’re out, send the damn undertaker down.”
Aubrey pulled off his apron and headed for the door while Bonnie hustled her fat ass behind the bar. I walked back over to my chair and set back down, picking up my drink and having a long snort. I looked over at the corpus, still bleeding pretty bad, and at Owl Shit laying there flat out on the floor. I drained my glass and held it up high for Bonnie to see. She grabbed my bottle and hurried on over to the table, tits a-bouncing, to refill my tumbler.
I was thinking what a bunch a’ shit it was for us in our little town ofAsininityto have to put up with the likes a’ Owl Shit. He was the younger and worthless brother of ole Chugwater Johnson. Chugwater was all right. He was one of our most prominent citizens. Well, he didn’t live right there in Asininity. He had the biggest ranch around, and he lived out there. Owl Shit was always getting in some kinda trouble, and Chugwater would bail him out, most usually by pulling out a wad a’ bills and paying someone off. There weren’t going to be no one to pay off this time. The dead cowhand was a stranger in town, and there was a-plenty a’ witnesses in the Hooch House who seen what Owl Shit had did. It was almost for damn sure he would hang this time.
Happy Bonapart and Butcher Doyle, my two depitties, come in just then. I waved them over and pointed to the seeming corpse a’ Owl Shit on the floor. “Lug him over to the jail and lock his ass up,” I said.
“What’s the charge, Barjack?” Happy ast me.
“See that dead corpus over there by him?” I said. “Owl Shit kilt him. What do you think the goddamn charge is?”
“Murder?” said Happy.
“You got it on the first guess,” I said. “Now get him over there before he wakes up.”
They went to hustling as ole Bones, the undertaker, come in, and I pointed him to his job. “Who’s paying for this?” he ast me.
“Marshal’s office,” I said. Actual it would be the mayor, that damned Peester, but I didn’t see no need to go into details with that grave-digging man. Bonnie was busy at the bar with folks who was wanting fresh drinks. My own was about half-gone. I would need a refill in a short while. Dingle, the writing feller, come a-walking in, and he come over to my table and set across from me. I waved at Bonnie and she brung him a drink. He tuck a look at ole Bones a-messing with the dead corpse. “What’s happened?” he said, hauling out his notebook and his pencil.
“Not much,” I said. “Owl Shit come in here and kilt that man without no provocation. That’s all.”
“Well, where is he?”
“Happy and Butcher hauled his ass to jail,” I said.
“They were in here when it happened?”
“No. I had to send for them.” I looked up to see that Aubrey had come back. He was tying his apron back on, and Bonnie was headed for my table. She come right to the chair right next to mine and set her wide ass down in it and reached over to grab me and hug me to her in a tight-ass bear hug, most nearly squashing me to death. “That’s enough, sweet ass,” I said. “Let me a-loose.”
“Barjack knocked Owl Shit out cold first,” she said to Dingle.
“How you know that?” I said. “You wasn’t down here yet.”
“Feller at the bar told me,” she said. She looked back at Dingle. “Barjack always takes care of trouble whenever it dares to come around where he’s at.”
Dingle went to scribbling. He had done wrote three or four books about me, and we was both a-making money off of them. Happy and Butcher come back in then, and they both come over to my table. “Set your sorry asses down,” I said. I waved at Aubrey. “Have a drink. This here is likely to be the last drink we’ll all of us have together here at the Hooch House for a spell.”
“How come you to say that, Barjack?” said Bonnie.
“Soon as ole Chugwater hears about his baby brother setting in my jail,” I told them, “he’ll be a-trying everything he can think about to get him out. We’ll have to keep at least one of us down there all the damn time. Maybe two of us.”
“He’ll hear pretty soon,” said Happy. “News travels fast around here.”
“We got a couple hours at least,” I said.
Aubrey fetched the drinks over to the two depitties and I helt my tumbler out to him. He tuck it back to the bar and come back in a hurry with it full again. Dingle was still a-scribbling. We had got to where most a’ the time we just ignored him, and he liked it like that.
“Barjack,” said Happy, “are we going to have to take Owl Shit over to the county seat to be tried?”
“Nope,” I said. “We got us a new percedure here now. We got a judge a-coming to us every two weeks. We’ll have the trial right here. And the hanging.”
“A real hanging?” said Butcher, who was fromNew York City.
“Real enough to kill him,” I said.
Bonnie give a real big shudder. “What’s wrong, pretty ass?” I said.
“The thought of a hanging always gives me the creeps,” she said. “What an awful way to die.”
“Owl Shit’s kinda skinny,” I said. “It won’t be so bad for him. Just snap his neck if we get a good hangman. Now, for someone built like you, it would be bad. You got too much weight on your butt. It might even jerk your lovely head right off.”
She shuddered again. I tuck a long drink. The place was starting in to get lively. Mostly cowhands and local businessmen. I liked that. It meant I was making money. Well, me and Bonnie was making money.
“Marshal?” said Happy, real cautiouslike.
“How come Owl Shit to shoot that man in the first place?”
“Meanness,” I said.
“Well, what’ll you do whenever Chugwater comes in for him?”
“Nothing. Ain’t a damn thing I can do. Whenever a man’s done locked up and charged with a murder, ain’t nothing to be done ’cept to wait for the trial.”
“Chugwater ain’t a-going to like it,” Happy said.
“No,” I said. “He ain’t. So why don’t you finish up your drink and get your ass on down to the jail to keep an eye on things?”
Happy downed his drink and stood up. I likely shouldn’ta made him drink it all down fast like that. He seemed to me to be on kinda wobbly legs. But he got on over to the front door all right and disappeared outta the Hooch House.
“What about me?” said Butcher.
“You’re okay for now,” I said.
Butcher called for another drink. Bonnie said she had forgot something upstairs and excused herself. She waddled over to the stairs and flung her right foot up on the first stair, and I noticed the way that caused her whole ass end to shift around. Then she swung the other leg and made it shift again. It was kinda like watching a big ship on the ocean getting tossed around by high waves. And I know. I had saw them. I was borned on one a’ them oceangoing vessels when my folks was coming over from the Old Country. I hadn’t lived out West all a’ my damn life. I started out inNew York City, just like ole Butcher Doyle, but I had left it long before he did.
Well, I never let on to no one, but I was beginning to get some worried about ole Owl Shit’s brother a-coming in to town. I knowed that Chugwater weren’t about to let his brother get hanged up without putting up a fight a’ some kind. Now and then my marshaling job did weigh on me some. And this was one a’ them times. I’ll tell you that for sure. Chugwater had him a bunch a’ cowhands out at the ranch who would do any damn thing he told them to do. They was a loyal bunch for damn sure. I had done saw him win one big, rough range war, and them hands a’ his fought like hell for him. I weren’t for sure just what he might do or how far he might go. I was sure about one thing, though. Whatever he done, it weren’t going to be pretty. And it damn sure weren’t going to be easy for me.
I tuck me another drink, and I seen Bonnie a-coming back down the stairs. Coming down she looked a whole lot different from what she looked a-going up. What caught your eyeballs when she was coming down was the way her big tits just bounced up and down. It sure did take my mind off a’ ole Chugwater watching them flop around like that. She come back over to the table and flopped her wide ass back down in the chair next to me and squashed me again with another bear hug. I struggled loose and had me another drink a’ whiskey. My glass was getting low again.
I didn’t even have to wave it. Aubrey tuck notice all by his lonesome, and I seen him get my bottle and head over to the table. He poured my tumbler full a’ whiskey, and then he leaned over to talk into my left ear.
“Barjack,” he whispered, “them two cowboys that just left, they work for Chugwater. I betcha they’ll ride back to the ranch and tell him what’s happened in here. He’ll know pretty damn soon.”
“Okay,” I said. He went back to the bar, and I dranked my drink down as fast as I could. Then I looked across the table at Butcher, and I seen that his drink was about gone too.
“Butcher,” I said, “drink up. Let’s you and me get our ass down to my office.”
My office and the jail was the same. The office had two jail cells in it. When we got there, Happy jumped up from the chair behind my desk he was a-setting at and hurried over to another chair. Butcher found hisself a chair, and I walked over to the gun rack and went to pulling out shotguns. I tossed one to Happy and another to Butcher. Then I helt on to one for my own self. “Check these,” I said, “and load them. Hang on to them. You might need them before too much longer. I have a feeling that ole Chugwater will come a-riding in here soon.”
Well, we done that, and then I told Butcher to move his chair over against the back wall a’ the office and set where he had a clear shot at ole Owl Shit in the jail cell. “If I give you the word,” I said, “or if anyone shoots me, kill the bastard.”
“Yes, sir,” said Butcher.
“What about me, Barjack?” Happy said.
“You just stay where you’re at,” I said, “and keep your eyes open.”
I went back behind my desk and laid my shotgun across it. Then I sat down. I pulled out a desk drawer and got me a tumbler and a bottle and poured me a drink. I don’t particularly like to be without one at no time. I tuck a good long drink of it and set it down on the desk.
“When do you reckon he’ll get here, Barjack?” said Happy.
“Most any minute now,” I said, and just then I heard the sound of several horses riding down the street. I got up, picked up my shotgun, and walked to the window to look out. Sure enough. It were Chugwater and he had five more men with him. They rode right up to the front of the jailhouse and stopped. I stepped out on the boardwalk a-holding that shotgun.
“Howdy, Chugwater,” I said.
“Barjack. I hear you got my brother locked up in there.”
“I’ve come to get him out.”
“You can’t do that.”
“He done a killing. Unprovoked.”
“Well, can I see him?”
Chugwater swung down out of the saddle, and his boys started to do the same.
“I said you,” I told him, kinda lifting the barrel a’ my shotgun. “I never said nothing about them.”
The cowhands settled back down in their saddles and looked at Chugwater.
“Boys,” he said, “go on over to the Hooch House and wait for me there. Have a drink while you’re waiting.”
They turned their horses and headed for the Hooch House. Chugwater give me a hard look.
“If there was another saloon in town,” he said, “I’d have sent them there.”
“That’s why we ain’t got another one,” I said. Then I helt the door for him to walk into my marshaling office ahead of me, and he did.