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Western Short Story
Lucien Dalpe, Soldier of Western Fortune, Dealer of Death
Tom Sheehan

Western Short Story

Lucien Lou Dalpe rode his horse like he was king in a saddle, and much of it coming from his youth where he had to face his start with sissy name-calling, Lu Lu the paramount curse for kids around any part of horse country, being west of Boston and New the altogether.

For years, later on, that is, older, trained as an officer of the law, he was known to carry two rifles, one in the scabbard at his knee practically, and the other in one hand ready to shoot, he was so successful in knocking down the lot of criminals on the loose, but hardly ever for long in his territory, what made it his territory by a series of promotions, upgrades, catching rate, death riding ever in his saddle on the chase.

In hundreds of saloons, from The Crazy Horse in Kentucky to The Sea Horse in California, they laughed about Lu Lu the Killer King and the current lawman on the prod at that time, the division usually 50-50 if an observer were to count the conversations, or sat in on the discussions, using Lu Lu’s name in vain, as it were, as long as he wasn’t present. That’s a big AS for any man at the drink of the day, and at a favored topic of drinkers, drunks, social tippers afraid to be known as a non-drinker at the end of a day or a long ride, saloons and their company like heaven come down to them.

“Hell, man,” one gent might have said 50 times if once, and considering himself a part-time historian of law and order, “I saw Lu Lu kill three riders with one shot, the first one killed by the rifle slug, the second get crushed by his own horse dealt a blow, and the third when Lu Lu used his second rifle when he pulled it from the scabbard as he was going down, his horse dead before it hit the prairie turf and Lu Lu down to his last chance. That’s what makes a man with a kind of girl’s name his main tag, kind of like fighting the odds all the way through a lifetime, especially when it’s a damned long one like Lu Lu’s.”

Another leaner over a saloon bar had seconded the first story of the day about Lu Lu, when he said, “My Pa said he saw Lu Lu early at his business of nabbing the guilty among us, there being a whole herd of them in any town the way things are said in every which way you can imagine, when he took on the Halsey gang all by hisself, telling them up front when he was behind a rock and they were scattered to hell and gone, “If I kill one of you, I am going to kill every one of you, one at a time if necessary, or in order of sight where and whenever because you’re all guilty of killing that poor old lady Jenkins who wouldn’t pour a drink of water for you or your horses and one of you shot her dead on the spot and that means all of you are guilty of the deadliest sin I can think about.”

He kept on goading them all; “Killing someone’s mother when she’s all alone in the world, means you all got it coming from me, like I said, in a row or one at a time, so you might as well toss in the towel right now and save yourself some time in your life to watch the birds, see the burrows digging, see a baby cow looking for his or her momma out there in a hundred miles of grass and sand.”

That’s when the whole gang of them tossed the old towel in, plain quit the rackets before they were all dead, Lu Lu, sounding like a damned fortune teller at the time, words with bullets, true as flight can be, behind his words. He let a whole gang make up its mine all at once, Glory be the day, law and order being like Heaven shared the job, Lu Lu like a God with a rifle or a pair of pistols in his hands and on the deadly prowl.”

“Your Pa learned quite a bit about Lu Lu, didn’t he? Seeing him up so close?”

“Yup, made him quit too. I think he’s still alive, though I ain’t seen him in 30 years, but once learned is twice shy, as some lawyers say, and some judges.”

“That’s all and good about Lu Lu and your Pa, but I ain’t seen or heard about any new tricks on Lu Lu’s side of things. Not a word in a year or more and that makes me wonder what he’s up to.”

“Hell,” said the son of the storied Pa, “we know none of them die, not in the saddle, not in a gunfight, not in a saloon brawl heavy as they get on the tip of a jug spilled on accident. They just keep going on their way to where trouble comes aboiling up and they jump into the fray like they was still kids at the game and fire away with then rifles of theirs and those snappy revolvers and six-guns they wear like flags in an east wind on a hot day, made for the time being, not a single note about any of them dying when their needed so much by so many. That’s how they manage to hang onto life, squeezing Time right into a bundle of their own making and packing tight on the saddle and bringing unrest and murder and crime galore to the slowest halt we can guess at, them maybe not even showing up, but there in a dare and a quick show like their promises are coming along too, right behind them, perhaps invisible if you was to think about it anytime you need help.”

He paused, waited until the word settled in place, and added, “Just like I said, maybe invisible, but not them rifles or them hand guns ready and at the aim. They ain’t ever going away, not them sharpshooters, not none of them like Lu Lu in his prime.


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