Western Short Story
Buck Henry, Sheriff of Godsend, Utah
Tom Sheehan

Western Short Story

Warren “Buck” Henry was the son of a minister at a little church in Godsend, Utah, smack against a solid chunk of mountain. He was appointed as sheriff after two-years of service as a deputy. He succeeded the recently-passed sheriff who was killed by gunshot on an off-trail area by an unknown person a dozen miles outside the town limits. The killer had not yet been found, not a single clue unearthed by the new sheriff.

Buck Henry knew it was a big test for him, whether he could make the grade or not on his new job; much more responsibility than a deputy had, but results might prove otherwise, leads leading to more leads. His father had told him, at the hour of his appointment, “You’re in a special place, now, son, and on a special cause. The Good Lord above will grant you assistance, a clear mind, and point you the right way to get the good things down, the law being tested and learned in all circumstances. It will be okay to lean on Him; He’ll always listen, and send you the good word. Keep your ears open and your mind sharp; He will help you in all things, It is the way things will happen, when you least expect it, when you think the Good Lord has forgotten you, leaves you hanging by your own threads.”

Buck had heard those words most of his life, making him think quickly of his dead brother, Winslow, also killed by an unknown person several years past, a haunting for a deputy and sheriff if there ever was a haunting; “My hand smites where you find cause,” echoed in his head, paved the way for earth-bound imagination, a far cry from the thoughts of Heaven, the touch of miracles, the abominations of crime pushed with speed and dexterity greater and quicker than a mortal man could bring about by his lone self.

“Remember what I say, son, as these words have come from Him Himself for out use and sustenance.” He remembered how his father’s eyes would seek support from the heavens even as he bowed his head.

Buck Henry could not remember when the magical moments began to happen to him, for him, but thought of the moment, on a mountain trail, when he nearly had his neck twisted to look above him, and saw the flash of the sun on a sure-as-shooting rifle barrel. Even at that moment, something serene was happening about him and he ducked as that weapon boomed its discharge and a slug neatly passed beside his head and he slipped out of his saddle and fell to earth,

His stillness, his inert body widely exposed on the mountain trail, put at ease the hidden shooter, who approached his body to scavenge or take what measures that caused him to try to kill somebody, meaning this here now dead sheriff.

The deadly sniper, rifle tucked under his arm, was mere feet from his so-called victim, when that victim. Buck Henry, leaped from the trail, both guns drawn, and said, “You’re going to hang, mister, for what you just tried, to kill a sheriff in the line of duty. No more games for you, my boy, whatever your name is. No more games. I am Sheriff Buck Henry of Godsend now placing you under arrest.”

“Oh, my God said the surprised sniper, “I’m the one who killed your brother. I’m JoJo Fallow, paid to kill him and you by a neighbor of yours, Welcome Dodder. $100 for each one of you.”

“Well, now,” replied Henry, “I’ll make sure the pair of you hang on the same gallows at the same time. Heavenly justice it is, the Good Lord shining the sun on your rifle barrel and giving away your hiding spot. Made it easy for me, made it sure for me.”

Buck Henry shook his head a few times and said, “Wait until my father hears about this, happening just the way he said it would. He tied up JoJo Fallow’s arms to the pommel on his horse and the pair marched off the hillside.

Buck’s father was ecstatic, that his son’s killer was finally captured and his brother honored as the arresting officer of the law. The next day, he delivered a sermon that included all the details, including the Good Lord’s hand in the matter for all of Godsend, Utah.

One parishioner pointed out that the bank robbers of the Godsend Bank over a year past, had never been caught. “I’d like to see Him step in on this and show the sheriff the way to full justice. Lots of us have been waiting for out payback It’d be the best of all righteousness.”

Apparently, that’s all it took for the Good Lord to filter into Buck Henry’s mind the idea to go searching again the old trail the robbers took to get out of town. No clues had been turned over from prior searches of the area.

That is until Buck Henry the following week, looking again over the trail, found a small piece of red cloth caught up by a tossed-off wooden stick, a barbed wire having caught on the red cloth, most likely from a man’s shirt sleeve.

That evening, when he strolled to the bar of the Hillhigh Saloon, where Buck usually had his one-drink-a-day, a small glass of beer, he laid the piece of cloth caught by a barbed wire on a piece of a pole on the bar, telling all the customers in the place what it was , where it came from, what it pointed to, to a man at the table next to him, in a red shirt, trying to cover up his arm, finally realizing something else was going on in Godsend. He rose from the chair and raised his arms, making sure Sheriff Buck Henry saw him surrender himself as a bank robber, his mouth sure to be full of comrades’ names.

The undersized church had a repeat of its sermon the next day, so all the folks in town could crowd in and hear the Lord’s stories as they passed through the minister’s son, Buck Henry.

When the two crowds yelled for the next miracles of miracle bound for Godsend, the minister admitted he had no idea, but would keep his eye on his son to hear what the Good Lord would have to say to one of Godsend’s true sons.

Godsend, it has been declared, is gone these days, has been gone since Sheriff Buck Henry said, “The mountain is going to tumble down on top of us.”