a note*

Everything I post here I have previously published on the many other blogs I have had. This is a place for my favourites to rest. These are the wings that taught me i could fly and that there is life waiting, far beyond the ridge.

If you care to comment, just drop me an email at grayhawk77@yahoo.com


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Red Headed Lil and The Rum River Saloon Pt 1

There was always trouble of some sort at the rum river saloon.
Hell, there couldn't help but be.
Men would drive the cattle for weeks up the Rum where they'd be sold to the West Branch Cattle Company, and from there a fresh set of cowboys would run em up the Whiskey Jack.
So the town, which meant mostly the saloon, would nearly always have a saddle worn freshly paid bunch of low downs who'd been itchin to be scratched, run smack dab into a bunch of fresh hands lookin for one last night on the town before headin out to hack up campfire smoke and trail dust.
And then, there was also Lil.

And who the hell knows where Lil came from or where she aimed to go. It all depended on how much gin she'd pumped as to what story she might tell you.
One time she's a socialite from New York who just grew tired of caviar and Momma's meddling.
Another time she's from Paris goin to visit her wealthy aunt in Salt Lake City, and it didn't seem to matter that she talked like everyone else from St. Louis. The hearer leanin on the bar was always drunker than her, and besides, the stories were good.
If pity was her mood, she became an orphan from Philadelphia on her way to the gold fields in California.
And it didn't matter none if she told three different stories to the same cowpoke in one night.
She was a tall, well formed red head with the prettiest eyes West of the Mississippi, and the cowboy would just lower his head, shake it, and say, "Well, I'll be God damned!" as if there was ever really a choice
Then, and clean as a whistle, as soon as the bewitched fool would take a drink  or look to the piano player smiling back broadly, his watch was gone.
What the hell she ever did with all those watches was anybody's guess, but the guy would wake up in a stooper, stuff his hand in his filthy pocket and mutter, "well I'll be God damned!"

Besides bein a fair pick pocket, Lil was also a skilled horse thief, a decent swindler, and a dang good card cheat. All in all she got by and everyone just sort of let her, cuz life without a watch was a dang sight better than the Rum River without Lil.
But one thing Lil wasn't, was a whore.
Somewhere deep in her thieving heart slept a seed of romance she wouldn't squander on a quick roll
with some two-bit rambler with a whiskeyed tongue and ample purse.
See, Lil didn't really give a mule's fat ass about money, the thieving was done mostly just for fun, somethin to pass the time. And hell, if a cowboy was really attached to a watch or missing trinket, Lil
would even sell it back to him if he took off his hat and asked politely. and usually for not all that much more than he paid for it the first time.
Like I said, Lil wasn't all horseshoes and greased  leather, Lil had a genuine soft spot.
She called it love when it came around and it came around pretty regular.
And it was real, this love, she'd swear to it, and for a spell, so would he.
Seems like it never did last long though and probably just as well.
There was a sayin round town, "Shackin up with Lil?" that sounded just like "Looks like rain."
A nervous grin would cause a head to shake and boots to scrape gravel. "Best sleep with one eye open pardner, and a loaded pistol under the pillow!"
And it wasn't a joke, just part of loving Lil.
Her present love happened to be Grandy, who had been a trail boss out in the Colorado territories and a good one at that. But the trail is long and there ain't much time off between runs.
One time he got the herd up from Texas two days early and somehow his sweet velvet school teacher of a wife didn't smell him coming.
Now Grandy didn't much care for finding the stable kid ass up on Grandy's wife on Grandy's bed, so Grandy up and shot him square in the ass as he was scurrying out the window.
It was a fair shoot and weren't gonna be no trouble over it, but Grandy figured it was time for movin on just the same.
Hard to live in a town when everyone knows the town mucker fucked your wife, so he drifted east and took a buying position with the West Branch Cattle Company.
Hell, he didn'ttt know bout Lil cuz he was so ornery these days that other men steared clear of his trail and besides, he was vulnerable. Some would say, easy pickens.
As for Lil, all she saw was his brown eyes and high dollar horse and it was love at first sight, deja vu style, and things went alright for a spell just as they always do.
Lil was ever present by his side as they strolled through town, smiling and holding hands, and in those days, only a couple watches went missing. (hey! A girls gotta have a hobby)
The Tuesday night poker game grew a little bit fairer without Lil but not nearly as fun and lucky for the saloon, it didn't take long for things to change.
The honeymoon had lost its luster and that top button on lil's dress went MIA as a few more watches got lost.
Grandy woke on a Tuesday night to find Lil sneakin out the window and onto the roof. At first in his half-slumber he had the urge to shoot her in the ass, but then as his head cleared and his sight adjusted, he realized this wasn't Denver and Lil wasn't the sneaky stable boy.
She swore she was just goin out for a smoke and to have a pee off the roof like she did now and again, but she seemed awful done up for such a small venture.
And it didn't help that when she climbed back in, two aces fell out of her dress.
Grandy was a powerful man built like a barrel too full of apples, and his thick expressionless face was the lid that held it all in. If he was suspicious, there was no way to tell. Lil just shrugged, slid out of her dress and climbed back into bed.
Grandy should've noticed the men in town lookin at his left eye to see if it looked more tired than the right one. (everyone knew lil slept on the left side of the bed near the window) And it's hard to say what made Lil such a rascal when it came to men, maybe she just loved loving them too much.