It was late in the summer of 1879 and Fin’ Garrett had been working at the saloon for nigh on a year. His Ma, damn it was hard to think of her as that, worked him pretty hard and it seemed he was perpetually cleaning up puke, or beer, or whiskey, or blood. He had taken over Rudy’s cleaning job; and Rudy spent his time, these days, cookin’ mainly and sometimes working behind the bar; seemed to Fin’ that he always had a mop in his hand. But, he got to sleep upstairs in the attic and Rudy’s cookin’ wern’t half bad. From time to time he could pilfer a bit of Whiskey from behind the bar but he was careful never to let his Ma see him doin’ it. She had caught him filchin’ whiskey once, and once was one time to many. There was also the girls, the girls who worked behind the closed doors on the second floor. Every one of them was awful nice to him, ‘specially when Ma wasn’t around.
Ma usually gave him Sunday’s off. With all that free time he would walk around town or go hiking in the woods. Bea Roundtable, one of the girls who worked for his ma would sometimes go walking with him but usually she worked so he went alone or took Ma’s old dog, Pinkerton, along. She called him Pinkerton on account of his being a guard dog and all.
It was on one of these walks through the woods with Pinkerton that he decided to go up Parson’s Ridge. He got about halfway up the ridge when Pink lit off after a rabbit.
“Pink! Pinkerton!” he called, but the dog was intent and paid no attention. Fin’ knew that he could leave Pink here and he would eventually find his way home but Ma would be mad as a hornet if he left the dog in the woods so he went off in search of him. Found him pretty quick too.
Pinkerton was sitting on the edge of a ravine staring at a dead man, or more accurately, a skeleton.
Right away Fin’ figgered this was old Vic. Story was that this was his Pa. Fin’ squatted down next to the bones and introduced hisself.
“Hey, Pa. Nice to meet you finally, after all these years. I’m Fin’. Pardon my sayin’ but you don’t look too good.” Fin’ took note of the empty bottle and the rifle. The broken leg completed the picture and Fin’ knew exactly what had happened. Then he spotted the pistol and picked it up. It looked pretty good but needed cleaning for certain and those bullets weren’t to be trusted.
He rose up on one knee and tucked the six-shooter in his boot. He’d check it out more carefully when he got home.
He whistled up the dog, “c’mon Pink,” he said and they both headed back and slunk into town.
Fin’ went up the backstairs, but not before he snagged a scrap of cloth and some gun oil from the storage room. The gun cleaned up pretty good, there was some pitting from surface rust on the top of the barrel but he reckoned that it would still work.
He stuck the gun in the waistband of his trousers and fancied himself to be Jessie James or Billy the Kid. He’d heard stories of them and envied their freedom, their attitude. He slid the pistol under his bed pad and headed downstairs. His life was about to change and he knew it. His daddy’s gun was going to make a man out of him.
During the course of the next few days he scrounged a couple of bullets from the box his Ma kept ‘neath the bar.
It was a couple of nights later after the bar closed and he had cleaned up that he loaded the gun and tucked it back in his trousers. Ma and the girls was all sleeping and Rudy had gone home when Fin’ slipped into the night to play ‘outlaw’. He hadn’t gone far when he spotted one of those itinerate cowboys sleeping off a few too many whiskeys under the boardwalk in front of the Dry Goods Store. He recognized the cowboy from earlier in the evening. He’d been in the saloon having a fine time with Bea and Isabelle.
Fin’ nudged his boot, “Hey mister, hey,” there was no response so Fin’ slipped into his outlaw persona. “Listen up, Cowboy,” he said with a tough guy voice, “I reckon you need to stay away from my girl. What you and Isabelle do is between you and her but I reckon you better leave Bea alone from here on out.” He whipped his Pa’s six-shooter out from under his belt but snagged the sight and dropped it. When it hit the ground a shot rang out, shattering the silence of the early morning hours. The cowboy sat up, a surprised look on his face and dropped right back down, a blood font spewing from a hole in his neck.
Fin’ panicked picked up the piece and ran to the back door of the saloon. He scurried up the back stairs as he heard the others running down the front stairs toward the street. He stashed the pistol, got in bed and pulled the threadbare blanket up to his chin, feigning sleep. When the door burst open his Ma hollered at him, “Fin’, get downstairs now. There’s been a murder.” She turned to go back down and slammed the door behind her.
Fin’ waited a few minutes, made sure the gun was covered and went downstairs, his hands shaking so much he was certain that they would all know it had been him. The dead cowboy was laying on a couple of tables, blood still coursing slowly from his neck.
“Get your mop,” Ma said. “Doc oughta be here soon, but it’s pretty clear that this boy’s dead.”
Nobody got much sleep that night and Fin’ spent the rest of the week scared that somebody was going to find the pistol. Doc and the Sheriff figgered that the cowboy had gotten into an argument with an unknown man who got the better of him. They had no suspects and didn’t know who to look for. They didn’t even bother with a posse.
That next Sunday, Fin’ took the pistol back up Parson’s Ridge and slid it back beneath his Pa’s leg bone. He scattered the remaining bullets far apart on his walk back home. Bea wanted to go down to the meadow and talk but he begged off. “I’m not feeling very good, Bea,” he said, “I wouldn’t be agreeable company.” He went up to his attic room and shut the door.
For the prompt that began this game go here: Wed Stories: The Savage Outdoors .
Part i, by me: Victor and Hugo
Part ii, penned by LRose here
Part iii, again by me: here
Part iv, by LRose: here
Part v, LRose: here
Part vi, by me: aqui
This is part vii.
Note that this is merely the latest installment – if you want to play along, please jump in!