Western Short Story
Just Plain Googie
Tom Sheehan

Western Short Story

He hated his name from the first time he was able to write it, or print it, and when it leaped at him, he promised himself he’d never write it out again, not ever, Gordon George Googglesschneiderat, in one fell swoop, became “Googie” He came to be, in his times, Googie the Deputy, Googie the Sheriff, and Googie the territorial Marshal, the one with the great aim and the funny name, the rhymes and the taunts as rich as the liquor that flowed with dough, spendable dough

His father called him Googie, his mother called him Googie, and all other folks better call him Googie, or else. He didn’t bother to argue about quirks and jerks, so comical abusers were cast in appropriate accommodations at the jail. Googie was happy to do so, regardless of time of day. The comedy of it lasted, but so grew a lasting enmity making his job more difficult than it ought to be. The ill will took various shapes, as one can imagine. Laughter, jokes behind his back, resentment, smeared names anew, titterings, more jokes than one person can yield in a day, and when folks merged into crowds, the noise was ludicrous and sent one way only, but sometimes in a kind of silence, for self-protection.

But the springs came off the wagon, so to speak, when someone was hurt, abused, or suffered intentional bad fortune, like a bullet in the back, arm or leg, the blood real, the danger of death as real as intention being unintentional, but often bloody as all Hell could be.

Irate, to use the word lightly, when he found the lone widow, Elma Tarbox, trussed in rope in her cabin, her foodstuffs and ammo scooped by someone, he scouted out the cabin and found a message scarred in one corner in her own blood with the word, “Gado,” carrying the identity of her killer to his doom by no one less than her regular visitor, Googie.

He arranged her burial services and interment in cabin grounds, and set off on his latest errand of mercy and murder, for he was bound himself to find Gado Chalko out on the ring of towns he started to circle, The Great Circle of Towns on a map he had once seen pinned on a wall in a sheriff’s office in Nevada.

Googie’s first stop was at the Bushwhacker Saloon in nearby Busset Hills, asking, “Gado Chalko been around?”

“Not recently,” said the barkeep.

“Well,” said Googie, “if he comes back tell him don’t come back no more ‘cause I’m lookin’ for him ‘cause of Elma Tarbox gone under at his hand. Tell him Googie’s on the big circle and he’ll know what that means ‘cause he’s been in that same jail, and knows how we’ll be meeting for a cause when he least expects a visit from me, mad as a soaked rooster out to make all these ends meet fair and square, if any of that’s worth your ‘memberin’.”

He rode off from Busset Hills knowing the word was on the way, and nobody this side of God’s creation was able to stand up and stop it in its tracks, the Lord sayeth so from the lowest pulpit to the highest of them all.”

Googie’s handlin’ of the good Lord’s Word on the Matter was as good as talkin’ gets, the words meant to be crisscrossed on the prairie would be done and good before one knows a whisper can be heard in the dark of sleep.

He went town to town, on that great circle of towns, at least his mind having them so arranged, that he was sure all hands heard them, no saloon escapin’ the good word regardless of who uttered them, drunk or sober, upright at the bar, or crouched in a corner pretendin’ misery and waitin’ to see a misty soul sneakin’ off the grounds of that particular saloon, built and owned by whoever, and whatever now, the way Time collides with Life on its own.

One bartender said he had missed Gado Chalko by a day, him loaded with a full ammo belt, guns all polished, the shine showy off his somewhat sudden good fortune that everybody around him saw as a change of luck and good fortune, no matter how it had come to him, by hook or by crook, and I give each of you your choice in the matter of reception, come what may.

Googie, in the experienced way he had of asking sneaky questions, said to one customer in one of the saloons, “What do you think made him feel so good at what he had come into, riches, needs, a bright star to guide his night ways? Is he, do you think, right comfortable the way he is?”

That kind of question would sure make some people declare themselves, even in answerin’ in their best manner, whether good or bad habit had run off with his soul and his manners, showing true colors of two men at one time, kind of brothers under the skin, if you can see the difference from where you’re readin’ this puzzle of puzzles.?.

“I’d guess he had messed up somebody else’s life to a fare-thee-well and you’re bound to collar him for that reason, come Hell or high water, and no gimmicks holdin’ you back from getting that done, like murder gets paid off with murder, and one party of the two parties never knowin’ the difference, like it didn’t matter at all,” and Googie shot him right there, in that saloon, and said, “That’s for sidin’ with the outlaws in the land, for which I am paid to tie their hands up tight and their travelin’ bootstraps no matter what they been up to or gettin’ done.”

“Now, when I get my hands on Gado Chalko, I’ll wreak such vengeance on him this old world ain’t seen much of late, from the very first sight of him in my sights, to the last and final rope in place, for murderin’ is too quick for treatin’ the old lady the way he did, and hangin’ around for half a century is the worst way of dyin’ I can think of, and that’s how I’ll get even for Elma Tarbox dyin’ on her own time in her own place and him runnin’ Scott-free with all her goodies she could have used to keep her alive even for a few more hours, that cabin of hers gone bone-dry afore I got there to free her bones for burial, like I said.”.

And in a corner of the Gray Horse Saloon in Grimsby, Nevada, he got Gado Chalko in his sights and explained to everybody in the saloon just what was happening and going to happen to the man who stood for an hour at the middle of the bar with his arms raised overhead, never knowing what the Hell else was coming his way before this day was over, this standing still when he’d rather be moving around the Great Circle of Towns, all ‘cause some old lady got in his way.