Authors: R.J McCabe
Bill looked at Ken for a moment and tried to figure out if he was pretty dumb or pretty smart. He guessed he would find out in time. ‘I guess I can see the sense in that.’
‘What bout you Bill, what made you become a law man?’
‘I guess where I grew up there wasn’t much else to do either,’
Ken let out a small chuckle.
‘So why don't you tell me what happened to my predecessor,’ asked Bill.
‘Your peeder what?' replied a puzzled Ken.
‘Predecessor, the man who was in the job before me. Sheriff Watts wasn’t it?’
‘Oh, I got ya' replied Ken. ‘Let me fix us another drink and I'll tell you what I know.’ Ken got up off his seat and went to pour two more drinks. Bill had a look around the room. There were two jail cells, two desks and a gun cupboard. There was a back which Bill guessed led out to the toilet. Ken returned to the desk with two drinks, placed one in front of Bill and sat down holding the other.
‘Sheriff Watts was a good man,’ Ken began. ‘One of the best, He looked at things a little differently than other people here, always willin' to help someone out if he felt somethin' was unjust, whilst everyone else was screamin' for a hangin'. He saved the lives of more than one innocent man let me tell ya. He was sheriff of this town for twenty-five years, and served as a deputy many years before that. He understood how the people here worked, how they thought and he knew how to handle folks but let me tell you somethin'. If you crossed him, if he knew you was a bad sort, then you were in a whole heap of shit. He was like a rabid dog that wouldn't let go once he got his teeth into somethin' or someone who deserved it. He wouldn't stop until justice had been served and I guess in the end, that was what got him killed, him bein' unable to stop and give up. See he had been followin' a string of cattle robberies in the Town and the surroundin' areas. No-one had a clue who was doin' it and everyone figured it was somethin' to do with Jack or Joel Blackwater.’
‘Blackwater? Is he some local big shot?’ asked Bill.
‘Oh he’s more than just that, he's Mr Money in this county and every county nearby. Anyway we will talk about him in a bit. As I was sayin, everyone thought it was somethin' to do with those boys, but Blackwater himself rode on into town to set things straight.’
‘Afraid the sheriff might go after him?’ Bill asked before taking a sip of his drink.
‘Oh I don't think it was that. Jack Blackwater ain’t afraid of any man alive so far as I know. That son of his though is a different kind of crazy, a real dangerous sort. Then theres the fact he’s got hundreds of hired guns willin' to come serve him whenever he hollers. Nah he weren't afraid, but he grew up here and knew Sheriff Watts for many years, was quite fond of him I think. Some say growin’ up they were like brothers but you hear all kinds of stuff in little towns and most is horse shit. I remember seein' them both around here any moons back but I'll be damned if I can recall them hangin’ around together. Anyway, Blackwater came to town to put things straight with the sheriff and I think the sheriff believed him. Blackwater said he’d heard things and while he didn’t want to drop anybody in the shit, he gave the sheriff a clue or two as to who might or might not be rustlin' on all the local farms. Anyhow, Blackwater leaves town and the sheriff suddenly gets a bee in his bonnet about the Hamilton boys from two towns north and from then on when he wasn't seeing to local town business he was ridin' out and asking questions as to the location of those boys. So it turns out they get to hear about him askin' all those questions about them and one evenin' the three of em ride into town to have a talk with the sheriff. I was sitting at my desk, when they strode in here, real nasty lookin’ mother fuckers they were.’
‘Mother what?’ Bills face a mixture of amusement and confusion.
‘Mother fuckers! It’s a cussing term I made up is all,' replied Ken
‘I’m not familiar with it. What does it mean?’
‘Well, how can I explain it. Okay, what kind of man would fuck his own mother?’
‘The lowest kind I suppose,’ replied Bill
‘Well, there you go, like the Hamilton boys. No morals, no regard for anyone, no respect and no mercy. Mother fuckers!’
‘Got it. I like the term, it’s..harsh. Not sure it will catch on though,’ said Bill, smiling.
‘It’s fittin' as those boys were harsh let me tell ya! They came in here lookin' like maniacs. I tried to send em on their way, tellin' em the sheriff was out of town for a day or two and I think they were buyin' it, that was until the god damn sheriff comes walkin' in here.’
‘Oh, I bet that was awkward,’ said Bill.
‘Yeah it was kind of awkward, but it was more awkward when one of those Mother fuckers was kneelin' on my face with a gun pressed against my head for trying to feed em horse-shit.’
‘And the sheriff?’ asked Bill listening intently.
‘Well, they whooped him good, I mean real good, knocked out a couple of his teeth, broke a rib and three of his fingers. They stamped on his balls so many times I was scared they were gonna come out of his ass. They told him it was a warnin' and next time they weren't gonna play so nice. Although no-one has ever proved it, I guessed they were tellin' the truth.’
‘They killed him? The Hamilton boys?’ Bill asked.
‘Like I said no one has ever proven it but Sheriff Watts bein' who he was, never gave up tryin’ to prove those boys guilty. After they whooped his ass he went after them with a vengeance. He wrote to Austin, Texas, tellin' em what he thought and asked them to send down some backup so he could go after those boys. There was only me and him here and we weren't gonna be any match for em. The promise of help came but the backup never arrived. Word must have gotten to those sons of bitches bout what the sheriff was plannin' on doin' cause one evenin' when the old sheriff was relaxin' up their in his house, someone went in his place and shot his sweet lady wife in the chest as she sat sewin' in her favourite chair. The sheriff was takin' a bath so they reckon. He was dragged outside, naked as the day he was born, and they strung him up on his porch. I guess they got bored watchin' him hang there dyin' so they decided to use him for target practice. The doctor reckons they found more than twenty bullets in his body, reckons they blew one of his eyes out and blew his nuts and pisser clean off.’
‘Holy shit, that’s awful!’ Bill said, his mouth hanging open.
‘Sure was, sure is and I don't reckon theres too many folks out there that are capable of such things, but those Hamilton boys sure are.’
‘Have they ever been caught?’
‘Nah, no-one has seen hide nor hair of em since the murder. Some official boys came down sniffin' around, told me they were gonna find the men responsible but they gave up after a while. There weren't no witnesses and no sign of those Hamilton boys. They went up to talk with Blackwater, but he wouldn't have done somethin' like that. He's a mean son of a bitch but like I said, he had some sort of connection with Sheriff Watts, as well as Sundown. Watts was a good, solid man and he didn't deserve to die like that, naked and hangin' from his own porch.’
‘I can think of a few men I've met who could do with that kind treatment, but a good honest law man certainly isn't one of them. That lady who was in here earlier, she seemed a little agitated,
said Bill sensing a change of subject was in order.
‘Oh yeah, she's a feisty one, stands up for herself but jeez does she give me some earache, always asking me to sort out this guy or that.’
‘Well, I suppose if you're gonna have someone keep botherin' you then you want her to look like that hey Ken?’ said Bill, with a wink.
Ken rubbed his bushy beard for a moment before answering. ‘Well, if I'm honest she ain’t really my type.’
‘Oh I get it, on account of the red hair? Or is it you like the bigger ladies?’
‘I’d say more on account that she’s my daughter,’ said Ken with a smile.
Bill felt himself blushing. ‘Well, I bet you can’t guess who feels like a horses pecker?’
Ken laughs, ‘No need for that Bill. She sure is a good lookin' girl my Gina, gets all her looks from her mother god bless her soul.’
‘Oh you lost her? Im sorry to hear that Ken.’
‘Oh I lost her, but not to death, she ran off with a medicine salesman who passed through the town a few years back. I ain’t got no idea where she is now but I do know that salesman was an alcoholic and a gambler, so I reckon her soul needs all the blessin' she can get.’
Bill laughed for a moment before raising his hand
‘Im sorry, I shouldn't laugh, that just tickled me is all.’
‘Laugh all you want Sheriff. Life is full of shit and hardships and I reckon that the time we are laughin' is time not spent feelin' miserable as shit… and I'm all for that.’ Ken said slapping a hand down on the table.
Bill laughed again before sitting back in his seat and focusing on Ken. He liked him. He decided the man wasn't stupid and Bill also knew they would work well together.
‘So Deputy, what do we have first on today’s agenda?’
‘Don’t you want to drop you cases off first? Get yourself settled in?’ asked Ken.
‘Ken, I've been sat ridin' in a coach since yesterday afternoon and I've been bored to shit. I want to get to work, I can get settled later,’ replied Bill and drank the rest of the whiskey in his glass.
‘Whatever you say Sheriff,’ Ken said slapping the table again. ‘Well, it’s been kind of quiet around here for the last few days, but if you want we can go and visit Big John Duggan? He's the guy thats been givin' the girls at the whorehouse some shit of late with not payin' and pushin' em around.’
‘Whorehouse? I wish they would come up a different name for those places,’ said Bill.
‘Well, even if they were to change the name it’s still the same kind of place ain’t it? Oh, and before you ask me, Gina ain’t and never has been a whore. She runs the place for old Eleanor Boatreen who just got too old to cope with the day to day stuff. They are nice girls that work there, just fallen on hard times most of em for one reason or another and they are part of this town so we need to take care of em.’
‘I totally agree. So who is this man we are going to see?’
‘Big John Duggan lives just on the edge of town with his wife. He’s done a bit of work for Blackwater over the years, but he is unreliable and prone to drink and women.’
‘His wife, but he uses the whorehouse?’
‘Yup, and let me tell ya his wife is a lovely lady. Tiny little thing, shy as a field mouse but sweet as can be. Some say he pushes her around when he's drunk and some say they've seen her with bruises and that, but I've never seen it. I've been up there a couple of times after I've been told she’s been lookin' a little beat on, but she never answers the door to me. My guess is she is scared of what he might do if he finds out sh’s been talkin' about him. Or perhaps she just straight up loves the fella and don’t want to see him locked up. Either way there isn’t a lot I can do if she won’t talk. Im all for helpin' folks but they gotta do a little for themselves too if you know what I'm sayin'.
‘I know exactly what you mean Deputy. This guy sounds like a nice piece of work. Big John Duggan you say? I guess thats not an ironic nickname due to the fact he’s a little man?’ asked Bill.
‘Well, that would make things easier but no, he's a big bastard.’
‘Why is it, whenever you have to go see these bullyin' types, they are always called big this or killer that? It would be nice, just for once, if the guy turned out to be a little turd.’
Ken laughed. ‘I don't see how his size or name matters unless you plan on
gettin' physical with the guy?’
‘No, I'm not plannin' on that. I'm hopin' the bird-shit stain on my waistcoat is going to be enough to intimidate the man.’
‘Let’s go see him then’ Ken said. ‘We have to be careful though, he's a big boy and a real handful.’
‘Well, I got big hands,’ said Bill with a smile. ‘Lets go and see Big John.’
‘After you Sheriff,’ Ken said pointing to the door. Bill was about to stand up when he stopped.
‘Probably better put another drink in my glass if he’s as big as you say he is.’
Ken laughed. ‘Perhaps I best,’ and poured he and Bill another drink.