Don Yarber Don Yarber
Recommendations: 42

lost "his" ma in Silver City,

Bill O. farmer Bill O. farmer
Recommendations: 14

I like it right there. the kisser!

Bill O. farmer Bill O. farmer
Recommendations: 14

"to relieve his nerves that Cahill stirred up in his blood" - I find it rather confusing.

Bill O. farmer Bill O. farmer
Recommendations: 14

some great way to describe a game of cards. Almost like fencing.

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Daniel Bird Daniel Bird
Recommendations: 47

The Kid

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She had a friend.

A Re-Post. Based on a true story.

Fort Grant, AZ, 1877

     Approaching the bar, worn top-hat, clean clothes, blue bandana around his neck, The Kid had money to spare. “Good evening George, fine-sir,” he said, happily, bringing with him a certain delightful charm. “Looking to…maybe double my sack,” he said, looking back to a shabby trio – smoking, drinking and talking bad, pulling out  all the tricks tonight, feeling out all the weaknesses, reading the night like a pack of wolves. His cards felt fresh tonight somehow. The air itself spelled of something winning.

     Fuzzy-upper-lip complete with dirty fingernails and a laugh caught between a man and a boy, The Kid took himself a stool at the bar, “Scotch on the rocks please, George.”

     The man poured a shot, leaned in and said, “I know you’re good Kid. I know you can beat em fair and square, but them’s guys been playing all round day and night and I reckon they ain’t too quick to welcome a fresh face, if you take my meaning.

     “No…George,” The Kid was looking at him, a curious look in his blue eyes, “I don’t think I take your meaning. “ He turned around, keeping his eyes on the table, the cards, watching the way the men played them.

     George explained, “I guess what I’m saying is they might take it that you’re trying to take advantage.”

     “Like…their stupidity?” The Kid looked back, spotting the weaknesses right off; Hank, too much to drink, Wade, up too long, his luck falling straight down, and Frank Cahill…just no damned good to begin with.

     He took a shot, slammed the shot glass down and waved for another, catching his breath, “Don’t try talk me out of it George. I gotta at least empty the pockets of old Frank Cahill. Send him home packing. That one’s been the bane of me since I ever met him. He done give me a scar right across my cheek only three-months ago. Pounded me something bad. He’s nothing but a big old bully, but I can’t say I hate him, just cause it goes against my beliefs. Mamma taught me that one.”

     And the more The Kid stared at the hulking goon, he felt a seething heat take him up like flaming coals. “Now, I won’t say I hate him…but…I really ‘dislike’ him.” He downed the shot, the warmth giving him boost, giving him the touch of a hurricane up in his blood. And the beating he received at the hands of Cahill - which seemed very recent still - was enough to make him want revenge. At least to make him close that stinking shit-trap he called a mouth. And still, even now, the humiliation ate at The Kid’s heart, reducing him to a wilting flower the longer he did nothing about it.

     A sour face washed over him, as though to disgust him outright, “Look at him. He’s so ugly. And just plain old dumb. Probably can’t even read. Pathetic!” It wasn’t the voice of a killer that many – those who had never met the young man - had come to know as truth. No. Instead his timbre was soft, sweet - harmless. Angelic some might say. Just a kid with no one but guts, a sack of bullets and a six-shooter to teach him the ways of the world. And he had been beaten down enough times by men who weren’t his father.

     George shrugged, “Look, Kid, maybe you should just-”

     “Cool it, George. I’m doing it! That’s it.”

     “Don’t come crying to me if you get another licking then, Kid.”

     The Kid winked, “I’m going to take him for all he’s worth. I’m gonna send him packing, you’ll see. Every Ace in the deck is my friend tonight!” And he laughed a silly laugh, “Watch me do my magic, George. You know George…you’re a good man. A good friend to me, but I want him to know once and for all that I’m done being his ‘beat-up-toy.’ He’ll be the death of me if I don’t…teach him.”

     From among three full tables of partygoers, a mill of cowboy hats and sequin dresses, boots and stiletto heels, drinking and laughter - a corner table - three drunken beauties whistled and hollered in his direction, calling out, “Hurry back Gus! We ain’t done with you yet, cowboy!”

     A friendly figure strode up beside him, “You ain’t thinking of playing Pharaoh with those drunken fools are you Kid?”

     “Hey Gus!” The Kid removed his hat and scratched his head. “I was thinking about it, why?”

     Gus Gildea, late twenties, popular, tried his luck, “I’m just saying that big softies gonna pile in here in the morning with all kinds of money, ain’t that right, George?”

     George nodded, sweetening the pot, “Gold rush money they say. Right about the day’s early dawn. And them’s northern folks don’t play the cards as well us southern folks I hear.”

     And he said plainly, seeming for the moment, ages beyond his sixteen years, “Knock it off, the both of ya! I’m not a twit!” He looked at them squarely, “If one thing’s true tonight it’s that I’m gonna wipe that stupid grin off that big buffoons fat face!” He stood up. “Better give me a tall draught George, I won’t be drinking at all quick, you can count on it.”

     He shot a finger to George, “I gotta keep my wits about me, you know?” He gave a little laugh, “Those cards ain’t gonna play themselves.” He took up his drink and strolled over, exaggerating his five-foot-eight, puffing up his lanky one-hundred-forty pounds, each step coming down heavy, his six-shooter snug in his waist belt.

     The first to respond – not surprisingly – was Frank “Windy” Cahill, starting up with an ugly sneer, bad teeth and bad smell. He was grubby and dirty – unkempt as a matted dog, “Come back for another beating did ya, you miserable punk? Go home to mommy’s tit before I spank you again!”

     Ignoring Cahill outright, The Kid nodded to Hank and Wade - regulars of George Atkins’ Cantina or simply, ‘George’s Saloon.’ “Thought I might come and show you old boys how to play. Get ready for a beat-down boys. Get out your little notepads and take notes,” he said cheekily. "Or better yet…better just give me the money and save yourself the embarrassment.” Hank and Wade took to him nicely.

     Hank and Wade liked The Kid; knew him since before he lost his ma in Silver City, inviting him to sit, keeping him opposite Cahill, who broke out viciously yet again, “Shouldn’t you be out stealing horses and cattle right about now?” 1 comment

     It came to him immediately: Well, I didn’t quite have to steal your mamma, “Windy.” The heathen whore just gave it up. Told me to tell you I’m your new daddy! He didn’t say it. Merely chuckled to himself, “Did you hear that Hank? I thought I heard a mouse. Smells like shit blowing in the air. Must be a shitty mouse!” He took a long deep swallow of the draught, hating the flavor at once, looking Cahill in the eyes, edging him on.

     Cahill slammed his fists down on the table, startling the mood, rustling the nearly eighty dollars in bill and coin spread out on the table “You’re pushing it Kid, I’ll bop you one right in the kisser, you keep going off like a woman!” 1 comment

     George chimed in with force and authority, “You’ll do no such thing “Windy” Cahill, you hear!” George’s eyes grew quick with a subtle fury often mistaken for weakness. “The Kid’s my personal guest! He has every right to be here the same as you! You just keep your threats to yourself or I’ll see to it you never step foot in here ever again!”

     Cahill became quiet, threatening The Kid under his breath, “you best be watching yourself here tonight Kid. Cause I don’t give a shit who owns this place, I’ll strip your hide you keep going off in my direction.” In his eyes was a beast on the verge of snapping.

     The Kid - acting as if Cahill was no more than a mouse, completely ignored him, hating him right then and there – despite what mamma taught him about such things; remembering her words when he had bad thoughts of the kids who teased and bullied him, ‘Now Henry, you don’t go spitting hatred at people. Hatred is the Devil’s plaything and I’ll not stand for it in my house!’

     ‘Yes, mamma.’ And he made a smile, keeping his thoughts to himself, who would pay attention to a shitty mouse anyways? “So, what’s the buy-in?”

     Hank said, “We playing Kings and Aces High, Pharaoh, twenty-five-dollars gets you in. Big bets, two dollars.”

     He dug deep into his boot, removing some bills, “Twenty-five. Count it.” He sat and lit a colt, sucking deeply if only to relieve the nerves that "Windy" Cahill went and stirred up in his blood. 1 comment

     Just as he had said about every ace being his friend tonight, his first cards were double aces. Carefully luring them in, checking and raising, bluffing his way with the look of a kid who ought to be at home in bed rather than sitting in a loud rowdy Saloon at one a.m in the morning. But very simply, playing his part to a ‘T’ he caught them off guard, relieving them of two dollars apiece. In the first hand he was up six dollars. His second hand was an impossible feat: two more aces. Again, like a master puppeteer he lured them in, rousing their emotions, taking more money from them. 1 comment

     By three a.m he was rolling in the dough, and soon enough too, Cahill was coming around in a bad way, spouting off at the mouth, unable to hold his tongue, “George my dear friend…I have always said this place is a fine establishment, it’s too bad that it’s become infected with low life pimps these days.”

     Cahill’s eyes – beady monsters, their gaze penetrating, seething with hatred, burned holes deep into The Kid’s soul. The Kid, staring him down, looking right back into his eyes swept his vest aside, his six-shooter glinting in the light of the Saloon, seeming to tell Cahill how close he himself was to being spanked, and he said, “George, my good friend…” He could not restrain himself. Was done holding back. “The likes of pimps, I have to agree, is an unsavory act and plain-old bad manners and lack of responsibility, but…to let son’s of whores into the bar deserves the flames of hell to cure your evil soul, pardon my French George.”

      In a fit of rage Cahill flew over the table, driving his fist deep into The Kid’s cheek, sending him off his chair, his six-shooter sliding across the floor. And before he could think to react – reeling from such a heavy fist to the face – he was pinned under a terrific weight, the big man coming to land squarely on top of him, slapping him hard. Immediately the room came alive with cheering men and frantic women, screaming in his defense, “Get off of him you brute! Is that what you’ve been reduced to Windy Cahill? The beater of young boys?” And the young women beat and pulled at him to no avail. And the men knew better to pick a fight with Cahill.

     George Atkins went for his shotgun.

     The Kid, seeing this, yelled out, “No George! You don’t need the trouble!” George hoisted the gun high, aiming it at the back of Cahill’s head. Again, The Kid yelled out, “George! No!” A solid fist slammed home, quieting him for just a moment. Spitting blood up into Cahill’s face he began to laugh, “You’ll just have to clean up the shit afterwards. And the smell of the son of a whore will drive the value down! A mouse, pig-bastard, son of a whore!”

     Cahill - his full weight holding The Kid down, palms turning to fists - wound up again and again, bashing him to a pulp, splitting him wide at the lips, closing his left eye completely. As hard as he fought – a bloody mess - he could not free himself from the big blacksmith’s powerful grip, could not keep the punches from landing hard, from busting him up. In a violent thrashing, with his arms held down he squirmed like a dying worm, receiving mighty blows to the face and body. And with every suffering groan he grew wilder deep down in his heart.

     In the middle of the maelstrom, blinded by the agony of a bloody swelling face, The Kid’s hand gripped the cold steel of his six-shooter before a deafening shot rang out, shaking him to his knees. The giant’s fists stopped at once, while his hands began to wrap themselves about The Kid’s neck, threatening to choke the life from him one last time, warm blood pooling and leaking onto his new vest, shirt and jeans.

     A sudden weakness stole over Cahill’s limbs and the burning agony in his belly sucked the air from his lungs like a vicious kick from a horse. Smoke and gunpowder filled the nostrils of all who looked on right as a heavy silence stole into the Saloon. Slowly, like a rotten tree-trunk, Cahill settled on the floor next to him, breathing heavy, blood spilling from his belly. He seemed to have sobered up at once, saying, “Please…somebody send for my wife! Somebody, please…!” He begged.

     The crowd – seeming to pay Cahill and his wounds, little mind, instead looked to the Kid, the smoking gun in hand, the look of shock and wonder washed over his face. Immediately George appeared over him, dragging him to his feet, looking deep into his eyes, bringing a dripping wet rag, “You have to go now Kid.” He hugged the boy solidly, and before sending him off, George took a blanket, another six-shooter and scooped a handful of the winnings from the table top. “Go to New Mexico, keep off the busy roads.”

     George handed him a pack of Colts and a bottle of Brandy, “And don’t you come back neither, you hear? They’ll put you to death!”

     The Kid flew out the door, leaving a dying man and a shocked and stunned crowd in his wake. He unleashed his horse and bolted south, deep into the night, never looking back. A voice broke deep behind him. It was George Atkins, “You keep on moving William Bonney! You just keep on riding!”

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