Western Short Story
From his birth just about on the Texas-Mexico line he was called Chalko and Chalko he stayed through his first prison sentence for shooting the man who sliced his mother’s throat, Bagger Rogers, and was pardoned after a whole year in jail.
Standing before a judge who said, “What is your real name, son? It can’t be just Chalko, which sounds like a candy bar and I can see that you’re no candy bar.” He managed a weak smile at his own humor, but knew he was rectifying a terrible wrong
Chalko replied, “My mother called me Chalko until she got killed and I never met my father, but she said his name was Shep Wallace and was a cattle drover from eastern Texas.”
“Then, by God, my young sir, for you and the world at large, I hereby pardon Chalko Wallace of all and any crimes against the laws of Texas, and doing so, I sincerely hope that you make that odd name of yours count for something in this life. Be a good man who early in life avenged his mother of her horrible death.”
The judge paused, seemingly weighing issues in his mind, and made a request that the young man explain a few things. “In all truth, please inform the court how you went about this activity, in all its details so that we know henceforth your spoken abilities.”
Chalko Wallace, from that day forward, stood in front of the judge and reported thusly: “ I knew who I was after, had been after, searching for him for a few years, when I heard he was in the Cow Palace Saloon in San Salvador, only an hour’s ride ahead of me then. My turn had come, and so had his though I had never been in the Cow Palace Saloon before. But I marched in, called out his name, saying, “Is Bagger Rogers, the rotten soul of a man, who sliced my mother’s throat with an elaborate knife from his boot, in this saloon right now, ready to meet his Maker from the son of that poor dead woman?”
“The whole saloon was deathly quiet, and half of the men in the place, and all of them at the bar, suddenly looked at one man leaning at the end of the bar. I knew they had pointed him out. He went for his gun and I shot him right between his two dark eyes, Hell practically staring back at me. He only got his gun half-drawn from his holster when I killed him. A whole lot of silence followed, like the lot of them knew his time had come and he had earned it, being what he was.”
The judge turned to a marshal in the court and said, “Marshal, get that young man some decent clothing, a decent sombrero to protect his head, a sturdy horse with saddle, and a pistol and gun belt, all which he shall own from this moment on, as so stated by this jurisdiction of Texas..
Chalko Wallace spent his first day treating his horse with a new name, Jose’ Lupe, new horseshoes, braided his tail, and spent hours talking to the animal in a soft voice. He remembered one old inmate saying, “Make your horse your best friend, and treat him so right from your first ride, from the first time you sit his saddle.” He added a quick point, “then he will never fail you. Never.”
Chalko Wallace rode away from prison life into the heart of Texas, where, one week later, he got his first job after helping an older lady fix her wagon that had lost a wheel. When the lady asked him where he was from and what he had done with his life, now in his 20th year, he told her everything that came to mind, about his mother, her killer, how he avenged her and did jail time, and finally, about his full pardon.
She was totally inspired by his tale. “My name is Alice Turnbolt, a widow, and owner of my own ranch, which I admit is a damned good chunk of Texas, if I do say so. If you wish, you are now in my employ, Chalko, and I love to say your name. I wish I had known your mother.” And she once told a friend, “I never had to explain anything to Chalko. He always knew straight off what I wanted.”
Alice Turnbolt had no idea, at the start, how good he was with his guns.
It didn’t take very long for that talent to uncover itself, showing Chalko in action when raiders tried to invade her home. “and the new hire, Chalko, showed everybody, on both sides of a small war, just how good he was, and indebted to his boss, dropping three of the Gigger Kelly raiders in the mere light of an open fireplace, and then killing two mounted lookouts at the hitch rail in front of the palatial home.
Alice Turnbolt held a party, inviting all hands and some folks from town, where she announced, “I am adopting Chalko Wallace as my son and legal heir, and when I die, he will inherit this ranch, lock, stock and barrel.”
Chalko got his own room in the house, and free reign all over the place, which included Alice Turnbolt showing him all her business notes and how to handle new entries, like she was ensuring his full education, after all, he was her son.
There was little grumbling, but lots of surprise; Chalko had become a well-known citizen of Fort Turnbolt, the nearest town, and some ranch hands actually rejoiced, because he was a very likable fellow and had shown good skills to all of them.
On their first drive to market, he organized quick defense when rustlers tried to run off with some of their cows, as he wreaked strife among them and wounded several rustlers who fled without a single rustled cow.
The whole story went clean through Fort Turnbull on their return, and Alice Turnbull was already proud of her son.
She could have said, without blushing, “It’s in the bloodline,” and meant it all the way.