Random Scribbles · writing

Victor and Hugo vii

Fin’



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!

Random Scribbles · writing

West Side Boys

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TBP

 



Freddy drew hard on the joint and continued to shake the paint can he held in his right hand. Ruben and Manny were watching. They had his back. He trusted them to sound the alarm if necessary.

For the hundredth time he wondered what the hell he was doing. What was he trying to prove? He took another hit and stood back. In his mind’s eye he could see what he was going to paint. He knew what it would look like and he knew it would take about two cans and a little less than half an hour to complete. But, the question remained; what the hell was he doing? He didn’t owe these west side boys anything so, that being the case he better be doing this for himself.

Another hit, hold the smoke deep, hold the smoke long. He was preparing to write a long winded diatribe about gang life on the west side. At least that was what he hoped people would see, in reality what he planned to paint was an abstract design; an abstract design that resembled the sharp-angled text that other graffiti artists were using these days to deface private property. What he intended to paint would say nothing but he thought it would be pleasing to the eye.

Alfredo knew that he was an artist – not a vandal. He looked down at Manny.

“Ese, Manny,” he called in a stage whisper

Manny looked up and Fredo tossed him the joint. He watched Manny smile when he caught it and then turned to the whitewashed brick wall while removing the top from the paint can.

Smooth, fluid strokes were all that he thought about for 25 minutes and just over two cans of paint. There had been no alarm from either Manny or Ruben while he worked. He jumped off the ladder and Manny moved in to fold it and stash it back in the truck. Fredo and Ruby backed away from the wall and admired the result. Ruby pulled his phone and snapped half a dozen shots and they climbed into the truck where Manny sat waiting. The group moved slowly and silently away from the monochromatic painting into the midnight fog.

The piece lasted exactly ten days before the city eradication team covered it. Alfredo felt pretty good that it had lasted that long. The city usually painted over large works quicker than that. The west side boys were happy because Fredo was one of them, they thought.

Over the course of the next couple of months Freddy kept walking past that wall every couple of weeks. He lusted for that wall. It was a perfect canvas and he longed to put some “real art” there. He wanted to work with more than a single color on that wall. He knew he could do it justice.

One day, about four months after his work first appeared there, he walked by. He wanted to sit and indulge his craving, at least with his imagination but the walkway was blocked off and a crew was digging, setting forms and looking like they were planning to take his perfect spot away from him.

“What are you guys doing?” he asked an uptight white guy with a clipboard.

“Prepping the site for some kind of public art project,” the guy said then he walked away. He either didn’t want to share any more information or he didn’t know anything more. Fredo suspected the latter. He spit on the ground to show his disdain for the pendejo and moved on. It was a couple of weeks later before he got back and found the sculpture.

Fredo knew what it was. He puffed his chest out a bit before he sat to study it. He watched it and the reactions of the passersby all afternoon. It was beautiful. The tapering line weights looked exactly as he had originally done it. As evening slid over the area like a glove he made note of the LED lighting that was positioned to feature the sculpture. Now there were two; the sculpture itself and the shadow of the same on the wall that he had lusted after for so long. Freddy sat there until it was good and dark before he called Ruby.

“Do you still have those photos of the work we did here a few months back?” he asked.

“Of course,” Ruben told him.

“Bring your phone and get your skinny ass down here,” Alfredo said and he terminated the connection.

Ruby got there about half an hour later with Tomás and Guillermo. They flanked Freddy and they all stared at the sculpture.

“Wow,” Ruby said softly and he pulled up the photos he had taken all those months ago with Freddy and Manny. The sculpture was an exact copy of what Freddy had originally painted on the wall. He showed it around, but now it was sanctioned by the authorities. Nobody was going to paint this bad boy out.

The next morning Freddy went looking for Ramon Ramirez, who according to the brass plaque at the base of his design was the sculptor. Fredo knew he had a lot to learn and he wanted to start today.


fredo's graffiti