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How Legends Are Born

Part 2 of 9

A Compilation

“You remember old Henry Plummer?” Tombs asked, tipping his head back to drain the last of his shot.

“The Sheriff of Bannack City back in the early sixties?” Poe replied with some surprise. “Was he not strung up with a couple of his deputies around January of sixty-four?”

“That they were. Along with several other men, whose collective guilt is still being debated” Tombs sat forward to rest his elbows on the desk. “There was also a Mexican greaser by the name of Pizanthia who was killed three ways to Sunday by the same mob.”

Tombs paused to pour another shot and sucked it down. Given the nature of the work going on in the street of his town, Poe could not blame the man for finding comfort in the whiskey.

“Trapped the son of a bitch in his cabin and used a g’ddamned howitzer to bring it down around him when he would not come out peacefully. Damned fools emptied their guns into him before they strung him up half dead. Shot him full of even more lead once his feet left the ground simply because he was stubborn enough not to be dead in the first place.”

Tombs sat back in his chair causing a loud creak of protest as it shifted beneath his bulk. “Burned him up and what was left of his place after that ... the damned cowards. The day I shoot a man that I had just strung up with a hundred rounds of lead...” Tombs downed another shot and pushed the empty glass away in disgust.

“I take it that greaser had something to do with your problem today? Kind of hard to do when he is dead and all like that.” Poe said with a smile, while Tombs just looked at him with a straight face and a frown.

“A man in town used to work out that way and knew of Pizanthia and a whore he kept. White woman, about twenty-five to thirty; had long auburn red hair and skin that bordered on pale.  Introduced her as Medusa to whoever asked. Damn greaser whored her out and made good money between them.”

Poe patiently waited for Tombs to continue, refusing another shot. Tombs simply capped the bottle and pushed it aside.

“Now it seems this whore was always around the greaser’s cabin working her business, day and night. When that mob finally came for him, someone on the lookout with an eye on the greaser saw her go into the cabin all cozy like just before the mob got there. Neither hide nor hair of her was found after he was dragged out of the place, or after it was burned to the ground.”

“Have you run across this whore Medusa again?”

Tombs nodded, glancing out the window at the failing light. “Night before last, Graven pulled in with a new stable full and set them right to work. One of them was a white woman who had long auburn red hair and skin that bordered on pale. Apparently her name was Medusa, whenever someone asked.”

Tombs paused a moment. “To fully understand just how strange this is going to sound, you will have to listen with an open mind for a bit.”

“Sure,” Poe replied, sensing the seriousness of his friend’s mood.

“Two slick looking, middle-aged gambler types with wire rimmed spectacles came in on yesterday’s stage. Pin-striped suits, fancy vests, waxed moustaches and bowlers like those you see in the big cities. They set about trying to sliver off a few shares of the local’s pocket change with a few card tricks. It went well until they got called on it and a fight broke out.”

Tombs rose to his feet and began to move around behind his desk as he spoke. It reminded Poe of when the big man had paced by the campfire talking strategy when they were on the trail of a felon.

“Now, even though guns are not allowed at the tables, regulars still carry backup. Hayden Cork and Miller Thompson each pulled theirs, as did the gamblers, with shots exchanged all around. Dorsey Levin managed to duck down and watched the cheats take bullets from both men. Apparently they returned the favor by killing Thompson outright and wounding Cork without slowing down.”

Tombs stood behind his chair with both hands on the back of it. “All hell broke loose after that and it became a free for all. Everyone who had a gun pulled it out and started blasting. Those who survived recalled both gamblers being hit more than once without a flinch or pause. Claim their eyes just started to glow dark red after they were hit.”

The sound of horses pulling a heavy wagon echoed in through the doorway as it passed the office to remind them of the terrible results of the action.

“The whore Medusa was upstairs with a client and apparently came out when the fireworks started. Her sudden appearance at the rail startled someone just enough that she was shot square in the chest. Damn whore fell over the rail and collapsed an otherwise perfectly good card table flat down to the ground when she landed on it spilling chips, cards and liquor over everything.”

Poe waited out his friend’s pause as he pictured the scene.

“Funny thing is that she was not down long. Got up and started slashing people with a straight razor. Craziest thing I heard was when Wild Bill Davenport got a straight bead on her with his pistol, but stopped short of shooting her again. The damned whore walked right up to him, batted away his gun and slit his throat without Wild Bill making much of a struggle to stop her. He just stood there and let her do it. She finished him with one swipe. Ear to ear, caused quite the gusher.”

Poe almost pointed out that it was not all that uncommon for whores to carry razors in case of trouble. They were easy to hide and quick to use. But his friend would have known that.

“’Bout that time, the gamblers and the whore Medusa decided to skedaddle their way out and grabbed a couple more whores for insurance. Saddled up and were on their way out by the time I showed up with my carbine.”

Tombs smiled and looked strangely amused. “Managed to get a shot off at the last of them but seems I missed and hit the whore that was in front of the gambler that held her tight. He left her in the road after she fell from the horse stone dead. It would seem I have not lost my touch with long guns any.”

Poe was confused. “You got her but missed him?”

“Somehow I managed to get a bullet around him and through her, back to front while he held her tight against him.”

“That is not possible and you know it, Franklin.”

Tombs pointed an index finger at Poe. “I knew you would say that. So, I checked her clothing and her body. Found blood on the back of her dress near her wound that did not appear soaked through from the inside to get where it was.”

“Meaning the rider was hit too.”

“Yep, never flinched or slowed down one bit. Just let her fall to the ground as he rode off and did not miss a beat. A whore is a whore, but g’ddamn if they are still not women folk underneath.”

“All right, what else is there that I should know about?” Poe asked reluctantly.

“Afraid that I am gonna have to show you the rest. Take a walk with me and see if you can figure this whole thing out.”

* * *


Copyright © 2011 by Robert L. Sellers Jr. All rights reserved.
Please do not use without permission of the author.

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