Western Short Story
Chas McBride was born on a wagon train in East Texas, at the end of the Civil War, as Charles McGovern McBride, son of Hartley and MaryGrace (McGovern) McBride, from all kinds of places behind them, like Manistir na Feale Thoir in County Limerick, Ireland, from the port of Boston in America, where two passengers met for the first time alone with each other and a broad new land up for grabs out in front of them.
“Let us marry,” said Charles, “and go as far as we can even if it takes a lifetime to get some place we love anew. I need a woman in my life, you need a man, and we need a new home, which I have heard is a place called Texas, land of open spaces and hard-working folks, all being likeable people.” There was no hitch in his voice, not a sound of doubt or mystery afoot, a man of spirit and open wide for a new adventure.
In Pennsylvania they found a wagon train getting ready to head west. They formed a partnership with a wagon owner, one Curly Igoe from Roscommon, and started their new-life=on-the-move. The excitement was overwhelming for each of the three.
By 1885, Chas, as he was dubbed, was 20 years old, an extremely handy young man with his pistols, a hero among all folks in East Texas where he proudly wore a silver star as a deputy of and for the people of West Eire, Texas, and was widely touted as a man with a quick aim and a deadly outcome, working for the people with every move he made, bar none.
East Texas, and especially the small community of West Eire, became one of the cleanest little towns in the whole territory, much of it due to the efforts of Chas McBride, wearing a silver star for only little more than one year, but tried on many occasions. Too many to name, but education and experience at a continual game., he smart, the busy, never at a standstill, thus always at beckoning, no matter the distance or the reason for need.
His first encounter was with Dirty Ned, no other name used or needed by a most vicious killer, noted for leaving no one behind his robberies but dead people, all those in the vicinity of his first dead man hitting the deck, followed by any who saw death in its horrid results.
The sheriff of a town many miles away, sent a message to Chas that Dirty Ned was at a rampage in his general area more law protection was needed, as soon as possible.
Chas was off and riding hard and fast, echoes of the plea, its hidden message coming to him as he rode, picturing Dirty Ned and his wild gun spreading fear and brother death around that area, the dinky little town of Wickapick, Texas, smaller than a dot on any map, smaller by degrees than West Eire, smaller than a usual worry on the hoof, as Dirty Ned moved like a shadow only seen when his guns flashed their sickly light, the way the Devil himself would make such moves, never seen in broad day-light, more felt and feared as darkness descended with its veil of invisibility.
Dirty Ned squeezed the message out of the telegrapher and filled him with a gun-load of bullets, each one capable of doing the final job, blood smearing the tiny office into a foul redness from wall to wall, covering the floor like many scatter rugs with the blood of one man, a note to any viewer, a note of warning, to the nth degree.
Another championship bout took place with Chuck Roebecker, a self-styled imitation of Dirty Ned, who gave Chuck a ton of serious envy, as though he stood alone on the plateaus of killers in any and all fashions, singular, multiple, sometimes half a village left for the animals, hardly anybody left to arrange burials, a strictly internal order of things that have to be considered in all cases.
Roebecker walked into Chadsey Village in East Texas, barely across the border from Oklahoma, with intentions to array himself at the top of gun swingers, his true mission in his life, in the minds of Texans, the only ones who really mattered in such esteem or merit or misconnection, however it can be measured, or even contemplated.
Chas was on his trail because Roebecker thought no soul on earth would ever dare to follow him, any thoughts to do so being as far from a steady mind as possible, death the lone outcome for the searcher, the trailer, the certainty of certainties, the end of ends. Roebecker nearly hummed a tune out of his own words, an old gift coming back to him in the continuous surprises life has in the mix for all of us; hum a song if you’re bothered by small details, or feel out of place among friends, like Roebecker thought it should be a “hit” song, his attempt at a joke.
He caught up to Roebecker in the middle of a card game in a saloon in Wallsbrick, Texas, The Lone Stone, saw him cheating two old players at poker, called him outside to make things even for all involved. In the dusty road that cuts right down through Wallsbrick, they faced each other, Chas suggesting that Roebecker could draw first and that he’d follow immediately and keener with his single shot, knowing Roebecker never paid attention to any rules, any advice, going at things in his own way, which was stupid to begin with.
But he did go for his pistol first, thusly followed by Chas, Roebecker’s single shot going high, wide and out of the general area, and Chas’s single round knocking Roebecker head over heels in the dust; Chas helped to bury him in Wallsbrick out of town a short distance, among other losers in the same kind of loss, life among the living, no marker but a wooden hand-formed cross that would wither and completely rot in time, its purpose over and done with.
Of course, Texas brought several such men into his company, into his reputation, to help the legend grow, put him at the top of lawmen of the territory.
That situation, of a certainty, was bound to be interrupted by an old diversion from the beginning of Time, a woman, knockout beautiful, knockout smile and figure, and a breakdown in Chas’s constitution, her story alerting Chas who hard about in the very day her father was killed after telling her to “hide in the barb until I tell you to come out.”
She heard the gunshot first through a crack in the wall, saw her father fall down dead and a man in black enter the small house, came out looking at the barn, must have known a young daughter was around, most likely in the barn. In his totally black outfit, he stepped toward the barn. The daughter, Julia Howard, almost stopped breathing, then she saw through that same crack in the barn wall, Chas McBride ride into the yard after hearing the gunshot. He challenged the killer to drop his weapon, whereupon such word he drew both his sidearms and immediately fell dead on the spot as Chas unloaded on him.
Chas McBride was in love as quick as his guns operated, her beauty beating him to the punch, in love also with the young deputy who killed her father’s killer and who most likely would have manhandled her in a vicious manner.
They were married in a week, and started off on a lifetime, now but the legend being talked about across the territory and straight into Oklahoma where descendants tell the same stories over and over again unto themselves, whenever they gather for a celebration, the top of the hill, the best gunman there ever was, the truest Texan of all time.