Western Short Story
Ringer for Hire
Tom Sheehan


Western Short Story

The faintest odor, one that was strange to him, came on a breeze as if it was riding on the very edge of that breeze. Job Tribune, new wanderer, most recently the sheriff in the lower territory, deposed of his badge by a nervous Town Council tired of his name constantly in newspaper headlines, saw little of anything in front of him as he topped a slow rise in the trail. He caught the scent again and took it into his lungs; and for the merest second he recalled an unlit lamp shade once stuck under his nose, the old and cold soot riding the interior glass with heavy spots in places, as though burnt right into the glass shade from the beginning.

Not a clue came up in his view where he saw prairie dogs scoot quicker than tumbleweed in a geyser of wind when a hawk or a turkey vulture first came into view, soaring over them. It took him a while to recognize the bird overhead. He knew the prairie dogs could tell the difference between a hawk and a vulture instantly; it was easy to discern the impact on them, the hawk, or an eagle, setting them off on a scamper into holes, while the vulture allowed them to mosey about, not fearing the carrion eater. Wondering, he thought it might be the width of wings, or wing tip spread, or manner of flight on warmer air, or even the smell of death caught up in a down-to-Earth draft that set off their alarm. Why couldn’t they smell like a regular dog that spent a life sniffing at everything, like touching, knowing for good? A dog that could smell his master a mile away, or the man who might have beaten him a year earlier. “Scent brings sense,” one old Indian had said, which Tribune’s father had offered up incessant times in his kitchen schooling when he was a boy, the prairie promising to be all around him for his whole life.

On the spot he wished he could make such determinations about people around him --- like the council back at Bushing Hills, or Temper Trodd the first day he came into town, his gun hanging loose at his side. But lots of cowpokes wore their guns that way, which he knew to be envy or necessity on their part. Often, he swore, he had known that difference. But “Often” was not like it was for the prairie dogs. For them, such quick notice had to be “Always” and without question. Life for them sat square in the saddle of quick decisions, to which he heard the echo of “instinct from generations long gone.”

On another slow rise, now inhaling fresh water almost spilling into the air, he spied the rooftops of Calendar Hills, Kansas, on the banks of Medicine Lodge River. His old sidekick, Austin Pearly, was deeply invested in Calendar Hills – money, time and dreams making the investment for him. They had been near to kin on a dozen posse runs in Oklahoma, thinking things out the same way, acting with similar impulses, noting clues that other posse members, even long-time deputies, never saw, or even dreamed of. One old rancher from Oklahoma said, “Them two’s is better brothers than some real brothers I know.”

Pearly’s telegraph message had been simple: “Need a good man here. Scamps and scoundrels afoot.” Nine words full of a possible novel, at least one of the dime magazine stories he’d pored through every chance he got. “Good man” meant a reliable man with a reliable gun. He was that. “Scamps and scoundrels” meant robbers or thieves or burners or arsonists or land grabbers and claim jumpers or kidnappers or killers of young people, old men, woman of any age. “Afoot” meant here now, maybe not on horseback, maybe townsmen like the council that found disfavor in him, or an idle sheriff not comfortable in the saddle. He read the message from every angle that came leaping to his mind.

So he was nearing Calendar Hills where the mystery would unfold, the details come under scrutiny, and his friend, Austin Pearly, point him where he was needed … if that was necessary. His horse, Tribune believed, felt the urgency at the reins, in the spurs. This animal under him knew so much more than he might be given credit for, like all other animals who could broadcast coming weather cycles, storms still trembling and building up in faraway seas before they thundered up river valleys to move inland, and what small danger should be pointed out at the side of the trail … or ahead, for that matter.

“Clear eyes, Briggsy,” he said to the horse, as clearly as a teacher gives instructions. If Pearly was in real trouble in Calendar Hills, Tribune should forewarn his mount, give the horse any advantage a man would be given. It was only fair to do so, and clearly it would be for his own protection.

“Clear eyes, Briggsy,” he said again, wondering who would first report the arrival of a stranger in town, or the approach of a stranger; such an action was always undertaken in towns or settlements that had growing pains ... or dying pains. That much he had learned long in his past; any person stretching for power needed information, and would pay for it.

He set his eyes on the trail ahead as it crossed high grass, scattered copses of cottonwood trees, a wadi every once in a while, a rare outcropping, and another but deeper wadi providing momentary cover.

At first he did not see the horse tied to a young tree, but Briggsy’s head had come up in a quick start, aware of a scent, a sound, a different twist in the air. Tribune read the change just as he spotted high overhead a buzzard or a vulture come into view, appearing as a near-stationary black line in the sky. The big bird seemed to pause, as though staring straight down at a body with no movement, a dead meal for the taking.

So it was that Tribune knew someone was hiding from him, perhaps tucked away in the branches and leaves of a small copse, or behind a small outcropping near the copse. Briggsy twitched both ears, flared his nostrils as he had done on many previous occasions, telling Tribune that the smell of gun oil rode in the air. He drew the horse to a stop, dismounted quickly but silently, and slipped into high grass. Briggsy began his customary munching. The buzzard meanwhile hung as if suspended, most likely alarmed at Tribune’s movements, and Briggsy’s munching on grass. Tribune wondered how high the buzzard could count, if like a crow perhaps up to three, as his father had told him countless times in the kitchen, when approaching a forest line, where the crows always gave off their guardian signals.

It was easy work for the old posse man to come up behind the figure of a man behind a small clump of brush, grass intentionally covering part of his person, but his horse, a pinto, standing behind a thin shade of leaves was fully visible from the other side, from the side that Tribune came from.

“Don’t move, mister,” Tribune said. “My gun’s right on your backside. Only move when I tell you.” He let the words and the tone in his voice sink into the hearing of the man lying in the grass, his gun steady on him, shooting him a possibility.

Tribune noticed the man’s clothing right away, how disheveled he appeared, his clothes looking worn and rank, as if there were no preparations taken at all, no pride. Not an ounce of it.

“Why are you watching me, spying on me?” Tribune said.

“I get paid for it. I don’t have a gun,” the man answered. “I can’t shoot. All I do is watch for newcomers and tell him.”

“Tell who?”

“Marshall.”

“Who is Marshall?”

“That’s not his name. That’s who he is. The marshal at Calendar Hills. His name’s Colby. He pays me a dollar a day sometimes, ‘cording to who and what I see.”

“Who are you? What’s your name?”

“My name is Jonathan Filch. Sometimes I work at the livery or the stable. I don’t carry a gun. Like I said. I don’t mean no harm. I get to eat good when I get paid and after a few pints of the good stuff. He’ll pay me for you if I tell him how you wear your guns, how many.”

“Why does he do all this stuff, this spying on people?”

“I heard him talking to some gents one night. Something good is coming here. He wants a big chunk of it.”

“What’s coming to Calendar Hills?”

“I don’t know,” Filch said. “He’d tie me up in the livery and beat the hell out of me if I knew and told anyone, but I don’t know.”

Tribune looked Filch over again and said, “I’ll give you two dollars every day to tell me what you hear or know. Does that sound like a good deal for you? You can eat all you want. Every day I’m here. Okay?”

“I ‘preciate that.”

“Starting today,” Tribune said, “starting now.” He took the coin from his pocket and handed it to Filch. “And you say nothing about today. He’ll know soon enough anyway that I’m a visitor in Calendar Hills. Is that good with you?”

“You’re my new boss,” Filch said, rolling his eyes, grasping the coins, wrapping his fingers around them, a raise in pay, a new day. “I don’t care what Colby says now.”

Tribune’s curiosity, though not rampant at the moment, dug at him. Because he could not or should not mention Pearly’s name, he yet wanted to know what kept the town ticking, moving, how Pearly fit into the scheme of things of a town’s being, its personality, its potential.

He’d get what he could from Filch while he had him on the hook, the coin still clicking in Filch’s fingers. “What’s doing in town? What keeps the place humming beside saloons and liquor and good looking women?”

Filch grabbed his chance to earn the new money and the promise of more. “Well, today’s Thursday, from what I remember of the week. Thursday is kinda quiet. Friday, tomorrow, gets real noisy late in the day, but Saturdays, all of them in good weather, come special. Saturday means the gents at the saloon will be throwing shoes out back of the saloon. Old shoes the blacksmith saves for them. His name’s Wilbur Rushwood. He’s one of the good ones in town, along with Clete the bartender and Austin Pearly who always says ‘Hi’ to me when some don’t even see me. He’s one of the shoe throwers. Pretty good too. But none of them let me play, though Pearly had me up for a free one one time.”

“What time do they start throwing them shoes?” Tribune said, his voice lighting up with a touch of humor, his smile making it readable, as he might truly have said, “Horseshoe pitching is one of my best games.” He could hear the loud twilight clang of horseshoes against the metal stakes as evening came across the prairie and an outside fire glowed its comfort. Cattle herds, fenced in or not, had settled in for a night’s rest and cowpoke pards not at work tossed the shoes beside a barn or bunkhouse in a late day ritual. Those were memorable times for him; the clink of metal musical notes, the sight of a worn horseshoe arching as a hammer between strikes, perhaps a worn old shoe, off a cow pony long gone down the trail, arched at its silent apex but bent on becoming a noisy ringer. Memorable indeed.

Filch, meanwhile, seemed to be totally enjoying his new employment. He rubbed his hands together, smiled as wide as the day, shook his head as though he didn’t believe his own good luck, and said, “Oh, supper’s about the usual time, right after they eat, the drink not yet found proper home, if you know what I mean?”

“Been there more’n once,” Tribune added, and counted the friendship sitting on Filch’s face as if Filch had found a long lost cousin. “More’n once,” he said again, and looked off the way a long, thought-carrying sentence at the end of a paragraph of good reading had done all the talking.

Filch grabbed it all, pulled it in the whole way. “I got a new boss,” he said, with a load of wonder in his tone. “You throw shoes?” He understood he really was on familiar ground with his new boss, sharing with each other.

“We keep all this to ourselves, Jonathan, don’t we?”

“Sure do, Boss.” Filch smiled the comfortable smile again, “Boss” feeling good coming from his lips.

“Well, Jonathon, you wait out here to do your regular hours and I’ll trot into town and get my comforts.” They both laughed again as Tribune said, “You get what I mean, right?” Filch’s eyebrows rose in sure understanding; he really fit with this new gent and he hadn’t even asked him his name or why he had come to Calendar Hills.

In Calendar Hills, Tribune entered the Stake House Saloon, ignored Pearly at a table near the far wall and stepped to the bar, ordered a beer, sipped, felt many eyes on the back of his head. They were waiting for him to turn around, to post or seek recognition, set off an unknown alliance or friendship. He stared into the wide mirror behind the bar, his eyes almost with tasteful disdain checking out all the customers in the room, passing over Pearly in apparent idleness, but eye contact coming as quickly as ever between them.

Tribune was not alone here in the Stake House Saloon.

Nor was Austin Pearly.

In a corner away from Pearly’s table, the way distance might have been created, sat three men and each of them was staring at Tribune still casually studying the customers in the room. Something at this table, the sly manner of one of them, his mouth covered by his hand or his glass when he talked, or their obvious separation from others with empty tables around them, drew Tribune’s attention from the first sight. They were stick-outs in a routine saloon gathering. The one-time sheriff perceived their caste as quickly as they had noticed him, a stranger in Calendar Hills.

“Y’ever see him before, Stack?” one man said to the man who hid his words when he spoke. “I never saw none of him ever, no place.”

“Nope,” muttered the man called Stack, who was Bernie Stackpole, rancher, banker, owner of three buildings in the town, eyes for all he could get his hands on. Under the cover of his hand, Stack said, “Watch him every minute he’s in town, Stokes, until you see who he talks to. He looks like he didn’t come here ‘cause he was just passing through. Looks like a lawman if you ask me.”

He looked at the man sitting on his right, the one called Stokes, a slight, round-shouldered gent sitting under a hat as wide as his shoulders, a pair of lips that barely moved when he talked, and two guns sitting tightly at his waist, unlike a fast gun hand. “Make sure you don’t make no mistakes.”

A youngster, not more than 12 or 13 walked into the saloon and went directly to Stackpole’s table and whispered to him; “He came in on a big gray, no marking on his saddle, small bedroll, no rifle. Horse is at the end of the rail, and well took care of.” He turned and left just as quickly as he had arrived.

Later, Thursday’s sun tromping on the far hills, Tribune took a room at Lady Finn’s Hotel, on the second floor above a storefront where Pearly had halted his horse for a short hello to Molly Finn on the boardwalk, nodding at her place a few times so that Tribune got the word.

When Pearly left, Tribune brought his meager gear into the place, Molly said, “Austin’s special, so I guess you are. He said you’d be coming here and for me not to shout it from the rooftop. You have a room here as long as you want. Keep your horse with Max at the livery just out back of me. He’s special too.”

With a casual look, she looked around, spun back to face him directly and said, “I am a messenger from Austin Pearly. I am deep in his trust. He told me to tell you keep your eyes out for Bernie Stackpole and anybody he spends any time with. They’re all his henchmen. Don’t turn your back on anyone of them, especially if you are seen talking to Pearly. Anyone of them would shoot you as quick as look at you.”

As if she had unfolded herself, Tribune saw the real woman that Molly Finn was; and if Pearly trusted her, she was a wonder woman. Her eyes were so clear he was positive she could not hide anything from him, and her skin was flawless. He knew few men would miss taking a second look at a woman in her early 30s, not burnt up at all by her time in the harsh west and, wonder of wonders, was still unmarried.

The words came quickly to him, from some inner place of judgment, saying, “She has to be particular when she picks a man, and she’ll do the picking.”

It was cut and dried, but he did not think of himself in that range because “Molly Finn was the far side of the mountain.” The last part he said with deliberate determination. Vaguely he remembered his father saying that about his mother. The words stood by themselves.

He regained his attention and looked around the room before he asked, “What’s Stackpole after? I’ve heard he has his hands on a good part of Calendar Hills.”

“Oil,” she said, and that one word came in a whisper. “There’s oil hidden here. He wants it all. It’s the future for him. It’s like he can taste it, Mr. Tribune.”

“To you,” he replied, “I’m Job once and for all and as often as you want to say it.” His eyes found her eyes finding his eyes; measurements going each way in mutual favor.

The faint blush on her face, lighting up her cheeks, was as honest as honest could be. He loved that in her right then.

She qualified all of it as quickly as she could. “Stackpole was in Titusville, Pennsylvania, about a dozen years ago when they drove the first well, maybe 1859. It was before the Civil War started. He knew the area beforehand hand and finds the same kind of thing here, the seepage, the ground wet with oil in places like muck, the smell of it hanging in the air. Sure, positive signs he calls them. Can’t miss signs. He gets excited when he talks about the changes that could come here and he wants it all when the time comes. All of it.”

Her pause was a prelude to a condemnation filled with hate and fear. “He’ll stop at nothing,” Molly Finn said. “He’ll kill, burn people out, burn up crops, trample cattle through them. He’ll shoot people on the run if they haven’t signed papers over to him giving him the rights to their land. He has already done a lot of it, or had it done by his hired killers. They killed three men in a settler’s family. The men were the breadwinners, the ones who could keep the land producing for the family because they knew how to work it. Stackpole’s men left the three men dead in a pig sty, while the women were hiding out on the grass. The women, three of them, are deathly afraid of talking and it looks like they’ve gone into hiding. Become lost witnesses. And the next day an old man who had a small cabin on his property near the tree line of Mount Mora was found shot in the back of the head. I heard one Indian saw the killing, but the sheriff can’t find him. He might even be dead now. Stackpole is vicious, his men are vicious. Please watch him, and all his men. Sometimes you don’t know who they are.”

Her face had gone pale and the plea was honest in her voice. It struck Tribune with a deep cut. He could have hugged her on the spot, but held back. He thought she understood it the same way he was seeing it.

Tribune could not hold it back. “Are you involved with Austin Pearly, my dear old friend?” He had to let it go. Find out before he’d waste any time, cut into any alliance. Molly Flynn’d be a great woman for any man.

“No,” she said, “don’t be concerned with that. He’s the most honest man I’ve met here, but we’re not involved.” Her voice came firm, and he found the opening in it, and the response in her eyes. The coast was clear; Pearly was not involved with her. But the other issues were alive, working against Pearly, against Molly, against him and all the good folks of Calendar Hills.

Could all it of be wrapped up? Neatly? Quickly? Life alive for him, with Molly? It was as sudden as a gunshot. But that gunshot could be a face to face draw or a bushwhacker’s shot.

“Does Austin have plans?”

Molly smiled and said, “He says he has to lay some kind of groundwork. I don’t know what he’s talking about, but he’s dead set against Stackpole and the way he operates. He might be gathering information on his tactics, getting eye witnesses lined up to testify against him and his gang, if he can find any. I’m sure you’re going to give him some great help because he trusts you more than anybody. He’s adamant about that.”

“How did you two get together on this, get this close?” Tribune watched as she nodded slowly before answering, the way one thinks about what one is going to say before saying it, like knowing sides; “He heard me talking to the blacksmith who’s a real decent guy. He was getting a shoe for his horse and was sitting in the back of the shop. I didn’t see him and told Wilbur Rushwood straight out how I felt. So Wilbur introduced me to Austin. We ride the same horse, as the Indians say, the one you’re riding.”

Tribune couldn’t hold back. “Some evening, down the road a way, I’d like to ride out there with you, across the wide grass, look at the mountains the sun touches with its last look.”

“Oh,” Molly Finn said, no hesitation in her voice, her beautiful smile as wide as the prairie, “I’d really like that. I really would.” She was beaming in her acceptance.

Job Tribune knew he had something special to fight for.

The next day, Friday, was quiet and he walked about, talked to whoever wanted to spend the time of day talking to a stranger, hearing about what was happening back there where he had been.

On Saturday, in less than four hours of daylight, and knowing Filch most likely was out there on his part-time regular job as an alarm setter for Stackpole, Tribune realized he had a tail on him as he moved around town, the way a newcomer might look for the good spots in a new place. The tail, who was a clumsy one, acted like a man pushing himself instead of hiding his task. Tribune had noticed him at Stackpole’s table on his first day in town, the one called Stokes.

Tribune recognized right away the slight, rounded and sloping shoulders on Stokes, and his hat almost the same width. He made further assessments of the man. A gray shirt made his shoulders look even thinner than they actually were, and unlike the other men appearing on the main road, he had rolled his shirtsleeves up close to his elbows. That was a character give-away, a silent flaw that sounded as loud as a trumpet call. Tribune had seen the type before … a supposed gunman declaring who he was, making people move aside on the boardwalk, move out of his path when he crossed the street, moving to the head of a line but only after he had assessed who was ahead of him. He loosely toted a pair guns, fast-gun style, on his gun belt. He was the man who barely moved his lips when he talked but all other characteristics were that of the big mouth, the braggart, but a provable coward in Tribune’s estimation.

He hoped to see that flaw openly announced before the next few day were over. He’d find the chink in Stackpole’s armor before he was through with any of the shenanigans underway around Calendar Hills. He’d already eliminated or cut down half of what he estimated to be Stackpole’s outpost warning system, and he was willing to bet dollars to fried dough that the bravado-phony tailing him would be what he expected of him … which was not much.

Stokes, he’d bet, would speak when prodded, and speak loudly, and point his fingers straight at Stackpole. Completing a task like that, doing some good for Austin Pearly was a serious demand for Tribune … but Molly Finn would beat them all in any race for his attentions.

Late afternoon in the Stake House Saloon, the room full, Stackpole’s table holding him and four others, two of them Tribune had not seen before, Pearly still at the far wall table, Tribune idled at one end of the bar. His eyes did not miss a beat in the room; the new men with Stackpole were fast guns without a doubt, and even the swaggering braggart Stokes seemed cowed by their presence, head down, hardly looking up. It was a statement that Tribune had seen a few times earlier in his career.

Tribune, in a quick reading, thought Stokes was not to Stackpole a very dependable hired gun, and must have sought outside help. The character display of Stokes was clear and convincing evidence that Stokes was what Stackpole must have known all along --- the chink in his armor.

Now, to Tribune’s mind, Stokes had something else to worry about.

The bartender finally announced the “The pits are open. Have at it boys. Tonight’s last man pitching has a free run at the bar all night and all day tomorrow.

The throwers gathered out back of the saloon, at the pits, four of them exactly alike and set up side by side. The pits were framed with timbers showing heavy wear on three sides, with only the front end open. The pits were filled with a glistening golden sand the bartender Clete Hawkins said he had dug out of the river bank a half mile downstream.

Twenty-seven men lined up for the matches. Some were ranchers. Some were ranch hands. One was a clerk at the hotel, one a clerk at the general store, one owned the livery, one was a deputy, one was the only barber in Calendar Hills, one was the undertaker, Gardner Hollows, who ran the Entrance to Paradise Funeral Parlor, which was right beside the saloon and Hollows had asked a traveling painter to paint a sign for him: it became a landmark for the town … six gallant black stallions in a team drawing an elegant black hearse coach with shiny, highfalutin lines adorning the hearse that stayed in the memory as it raced off to eternity.

And one competitor was Job Tribune. Deposed sheriff. Stranger in town. And on Stackpole’s list of men to be watched.

The sand softened the hit of many horseshoes tossed in the late afternoon and early evening, the shushing sound on sand and the metallic hits against the stakes and other shoes made music for some of the men. Those throwers who were eliminated early did not leave the area but hung on like club members to see the whole competition, the winner marched in for his further entertainment … a night on the house, and the next day if he could survive the first evening. Stories were told of other winners and some dramatic results, all of them running through the gathering, a celebration of sorts, the night friendly, the last day of a hard week for many of them and came loaded with promise and hopes.

None of Stackpole’s men joined in the competition.

At the end of two hours of pit music, curses, excuses, orders brought back from the saloon bar, general noise abounding, gaiety loosed from a week of work and turmoil and one broken finger and a loud curse when the curser, fairly well intoxicated, reached for a horseshoe before the next one landed on his hand, there were three men standing.

Austin Pearly was one of them. The second man was the funeral director. The third man was Job Tribune.

The buzz started in the crowd of horseshoe throwers, much of it about the stranger who had come on at the end like a stampede had taken place; “Can you imagine,” one man said, “six ringers in a row when it looked like he was out of it? He clobbered the poor clerk from the store. Old Finley melted under the pressure.”

When the funeral director beat Austin Pearly soundly in their match, all eyes turned to look for the stranger who had rushed in at the end of his match to snare it, who would now face the funeral director.

Job Tribune was nowhere in sight.

He had slipped away into the shadows descending onto Calendar Hills. He was on his horse and headed out of town, positive that Stokes was on his tail, having made sure the braggart saw him look about nervously several times and slip away from the crowd, move past the Entrance to Paradise Funeral Parlor, and slip across the road to get his horse tied up at Lady Finn’s Motel.

When Tribune was a mile out of town, he knew Stokes was only a few hundred yards behind him, darkness closing in with its tight fist, no moon, a few stars showing up, Tribune’s silhouette on the skyline standing out faint but recognizable as he crossed grades and rises in the road.

Tribune waited to see a depth of darkness ahead of him, saw it coming, loosened his rope, fashioned a loop, whirled it for practice. He was ready and knew Stokes was not.

When he reached the place he had selected, he slipped off the horse, slapped him on the rump and let loose with a hardy, “Yah, Giddy up. Yah, Giddy up!” The cries carried in the air.

His horse was off and running into the pit of darkness, the rushing hoof beats coming clear in the night, and Tribune, whirling his lasso, was hidden beside a clump of brush. Stokes, rushing by at the “Giddy up” cries, was a simple target for the noose that pulled him right out of the saddle and dumped him, surprised and out of breath, with a loud thump on the ground.

Standing over him, pistol in hand, the lasso loose on the ground beside the prostrate Stokes, Tribune utterly demolished Stokes as a man when he said, “Son, down there don’t you know, right now, that you’re in over your head?”

Stokes fell apart as easy as he was roped out of the saddle. “The Indian and the three settler women are in a cave over at Lost Bow Canyon. Stackpole thought it would make some side fun to put them together. He said, ‘You never know what they’ll do. We can leave it up to them.’”

“What else you got for me?” Tribune said, and loaded up his question by adding, “You know you’re facing murder charges. When they lock you up in the penitentiary, it won’t be a lot of fun for you. If I was you, I’d dread that kind of assignment.”

“He’s brung in two hotshot gunners. Brung ‘em all the way from Oklahoma. Couldn’t see me doin’ his stuff anymore. I was ready to get away soon’s I could anyway. He don’t trust no one and nothing, and least of all me, it looks.”

“Before we go back there, you’re going to write all this stuff down on paper. Can you write?”

”Real good,” Stokes said. “I’ll get down every word I said. That good enough? You help me any way you can?”

“It’s a deal,” Tribune said. “Anything you forgot, just add it in. We get him corralled on one killing, we got him all the way.”

Without a shot fired and in a matter of a few days, deposed Sheriff Job Tribune cleaned up a bigger mess in the making, saw killers brought to trial, escorted newly hired guns out of town, advising them never to return to Calendar Hills, and proposed marriage to Molly Finn, Proprietor of Lady Finn’s Hotel.

Austin Pearly was their best man. Filch was hired to be a go-fer for the Stake House Saloon, Stokes was let out of jail one dark evening and told never to come back, Bernie Stackpole, after hearing eye witnesses speak their piece about five murders at his trial and that of three hired guns, was hung early on a Saturday morning, long before the horseshoe match for the week was initiated, out back of the Stake House Saloon.


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