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Western Short Story
The Banker Cowboy
Tom Sheehan

Western Short Story

They told him right from the outset, the first day on the job. “Kyle, you’re lucky to get a job at 18 years of age, so stay there in the background and do the things you’re told and, lo, one day you can become a banker. You’re a lucky young man whose grandfather owns such a huge ranch and, as we admit, such a healthy piece of this bank. This job is a gift from him, whether or not you know it, and we’re sure you do, not that he throws favors around like promises of a politician at voting time.

Kyle Silversmith did as bid, learning all the moves around the bank, and faster than the bank president realized, who was apt to say so the wealthy grandfather would hear of it, “Someday that boy will be a select banker. He has a head on his shoulders, a keen eye, and knows his co-workers to a fault. He must understand that he has to go through the ringer first, learn as he earns.” He liked to spout off the terms of the position, as though every word counts in the lingo of the bank.

Kyle, on his end of things, noticed other matters while on the job, like customer make-up, dress, appearance, how they presented themselves, the wealthy customers, the poor plotting by bits to become rich by sinking their single dollars and myriad coins into their tiny accounts. As such, he knew the insides of the bank, and the outsides, like as though they were pigs in a poke, the lot in the mix, or the mix in the lot.

He knew, it must be said, to show him for what he really was, whereby some customers were marked by their finger nails, shirt cuffs, hands like split logs, the spurs they wore, the horses they rode, that extra cough in the expressed lies about their income, where some spent their last of daylight hours by the light or lack of it in their eyes, as saloon fixtures, dominoes on the board, only moved by some other push, he could mark it all, and had.

He knew them to bedrock.

On the fifth day of July, 1874, the sun bright as ever in the sky, the main street recovering from the excitement of the day before when the whole town was lit up dawn-until-midnight, three men entered the bank wearing masks on their faces, and brandishing pistols in their hands. All three were nervous, screaming out demands and threats, which also masked their anxiety in one order: “All the regular bank employees go to the back of the room, including the secretary. We are going to use that newcomer back there in is neat as pie blue suit, to do our biding.”

Then his voice changed, reaching for depths, saying, “Front and center, young man, as of now you’re working for us! Scrape up all the paper money from all the files, counters, desks, including that big lump of dough in the open vault! Don’t try to slam the door ‘cause we’ll put a round in your backside if you make the slightest and sneakiest move. There’s nothing you can do to save their money! Not your money! None of it belongs to you, so, don’t worry none about it,”

There was a muffled cough in his throat as is voice deepened its pitch, hid its regular tone, but the change quickly noticeable to Kyle playing out his role as a muffin in the robbery, a part only he knew to the last syllable.

Kyle Silverwood was ahead of them already, knowing one of the robbers as Fred Miller, of the Circle-B-Q, by the ugliest of warts on the side of his left palm; a second man by the re-sewn strip in his shirt that lots of men wore for their workdays, but this one stitched with obvious clumsiness and difficulty by a cowman’s hands. The shirt man was a ranch hand, Carl Bront, from the Hand and Cross outfit, who did many favors for his chief herdsman, a steady bank customer of a fund’s depositor and was often seen in town, especially by Kyle Silverwood, our erstwhile eagle in the bank

Kyle didn’t worry about the identity of the third man, for the first two would reveal him one way or another.

With Kyle’s apparent fright at being shot, shivering and moaning all the while, the robbery was completed, and the robbers skipped town, heading toward the mountains in a northerly direction.

Kyle’s immediate and subsequent request to the bank manager that he be allowed to take off for a day or two ‘because of an upset stomach’ was quickly granted by his reply; “Go ahead, Kyle, take a week if you need it. You held up well in a tough time. You’re going to be a good asset around here. You can take my word on that!”

He patted Kyle on the back as he left the bank, a gracious and benevolent smile on his face.

That new bank employee was soon dressed in his trail gear, his real working gear: sombrero, checkered shirt, belt and twin pistols of which he was a master handler from constant but unknow practice he partook of on his father’s huge reign of open plains; dead shot he had become with both guns in both hands, as though he was born ambidextrous from Day One. He wore dark denims, dark boots, and spurs as if brand new, waiting for use and application.

The next day, the first day of his “leave” from the bank, he rode out and nabbed Fred Miller, of the Circle-B-Q, as his first capture, as simple as tying ribbons or knotting knots. He rode him back to the sheriff’s office as the first capture of his pursuit. The surprise to Miller was the man who captured him also wore a mask, thus a man whom he could not identify.

The sheriff was surprised, for he had no knowledge of Kyle wearing another suit, being another man, and a lawman at that! He joyfully locked up Fred Miller behind bars and asked the other but masked lawman, “What should I expect next?”

Silversmith said, “I am now going to collect Carl Bront, from the Hand and Cross outfit, as the second man in the bank robbery.”

“And what after that?” asked the sheriff.

The masked lawman, still unknown to the sheriff, replied. “It all depends on Bront, his comrades, his boss, what kind of resistance they try to shove in my face. If it comes to guns, they’ll be sorry, for I can take the pack of them without a worry.”

He showed the sheriff a few dipsy-doodle moves that made his head spin, and added, “Not many of them can match that.”

“How long should I wait?” the sheriff said, as he looked hard at the mask.

“No late night, Sheriff,” said masked Silversmith. “I should be back before midnight, so you can figure to lock the office then.”

The sheriff, shaking his head in disbelief, yet knowing the truth of the statement, replied, “I wish I had deputies that could work your way, son. I’d be able to walk into the bank one day and make a big I could go to Frisco on my retirement.”

Kyle Silversmith said, “I’d do my best to help you make that move, Sheriff.”


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