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A Tale In Five Bitz

By: Roy Hare

First Bit

A hot sun bounced off the desert sand, heat shimmered its way back to the clear blue sky. Through the hate haze came the figure of a horse and rider, both rolling slightly from side to side, almost at exhaustion point. The rider spoke, and the words came quietly and quickly from his dry mouth.

"There ya-are Snowy, told ya we could make it, soon have you in a cool stable…drinking buckets of water."

The big white stallion snorted as if he understood every word.

A large sign invited them to stay awhile in Two Bitz.

Little puffs of dust rose from the horses' hoofs as they made their way to a ramshackle wooden construction, first of the buildings that lined the well trodden part of the trail, where the first settlers decided they had grown tired of travelling.

The cowboy guided his horse toward a small weedy looking man wielding a hammer, as he fashioned a horseshoe on an anvil.

"Howdy, you the blacksmith?"


"Could you have a look at my horse and stable him for the night?"


"Talkative fellow ain't you."

"Nope, hotel's down the street…sniff"

The cowboy sniffed.

"Smells like rotting cabbage."

"Follow that mister; find the hotel on the end of it."

Carrying his saddlebags and rifle, sniffing every ten paces, the smell got stronger as the cowboy approached a tumble down weather worn two storey building, with a crudely pained sign 'Hotel'.

Stepping into the dark interior, he waited while his eyes adjusted to the dim light, coolness crept over him; he shivered, and approached a jolly looking overweight man behind the reception desk.

"Good afternoon, Sir, can I be of any assistance?"

Taken aback by the jolly man's educated voice, the cowboy stuttered.

"Yes….yes, I'd…I'd like a room."

"How long for sir?"

"Well I have some things to do in town, maybe a couple o' days."

"The charge is two bits a night sir, payable in advance. Would you sign the register please sir, sheriff likes to know who is going to keep him busy on a Saturday night."

The cowboy signed with four large X's.

The receptionist studied the signature for a moment, smiled as if to an idiot.

"I am sorry sir, this will not do, I must have a name."

"Oh, I beg your pardon; it's the military training, during the war I was in charge of a de-coding outfit. Real name is Thursday Lager. Born on a Thursday, parents couldn't think of any other name." He smiled. "Wasn't long before everyone from the General down was calling me Thirsty and it stuck, suppose you could call me that."

"I don't think so, Mister Lager. Now where is that bellboy?"

"Can I get a bath and a shave?"

"Certainly sir, we have a bathroom at the end of the landing. Jerry will show you…JERRY…front and centre, take this gentleman to his room, number ten." Jerry turned out to be a giant of a man, six feet six at least with a body crammed full of muscles.

"This way mate, got any bags?"

"No, I am travelling light. That accent tells me you are not American stock."

"No guv, London's me 'ome town, been out west about two years. Bit warm ain't it.

Don't fink I'll stop, too much shooting an' hanging for me."

"What, here in this one horse town?"

"It's quiet now; you wait till Friday night, all the crooks an' bandits come from miles around, spending their takings from banks and stage coaches."

"The guy down stairs said you have a sheriff, doesn't he have any control?"

"Wild Bill Hiccup. You must be joking, he's only the sheriff while they tolerate him.

Why he even opened a bank so the outlaws can deposit some cash if they want."

"Well, I'll be hornswaggled."

"You'll be more than that mate, if you don't watch your back."

Thursday Lager bathed, shaved, shined himself up and enquired from the jolly receptionist where he could find a place to eat.

"Well depends on what you fancy sir, we have Chinese or Indian restaurants in town."

"Which would you recommend for the hungry traveller?"

"Chinese sir, definitely Chinese, a few white people have gone into the Indian establishment, never to be seen again sir. They seem to have quite a few barbecues and scallops, what they call scalpulls, and also a hurry-curry."

"What's that?"

"If you eat the curry sir, you get a sharp pain, like a knife cutting into your stomach, if you don't hurry, it means a change of trousers."

"Perhaps I should try Chinese then."

Thursday entered the Red Dragon. Smoking oil lamps pained red and yellow provided some light. Hearing a rustle of silk, he looked down, at his side stood a young Chinese girl.

"You want grub, meester?"

Thursday opened his mouth to speak, as he sucked in some air, the thick fumes caught in his throat making him cough.

"You got bad cold meester, we soon fix that."

She led him to a corner table.

"Sit here meester, Wun Lung fetch grub and whisky."

Tears rolled down Thursday's face, his eyes stinging, with a hoarse voice he asked…

"Have you got a menu?"

"No menu, meester, we only do Chop Suey an' chips with whisky on the side. Better than 'urry curry from stinking Injun caff."

After too much food and whiskey, Thursday staggered from the Chinese catering establishment.

"Better take me a walk," He muttered away to himself. "Never felt so blown out in my life."

Rolling like a sailor just home from the sea, he managed to get to the blacksmiths. The blacksmith was leaning against his door, puffing on a cigar.

"Howdy blacksmith, how's my horse?"

"Chomping 'n drinking."

"Can I have a look at him?"


Finding his way into the stable, he saw Snowy head down in a trough, making horsey noises as he filled up with energy.

"How's my favourite horse?"

Snowy snorted, Thursday slapped Snowy on the neck, pulled on his mane, and slobbered.

"Who's a lovely old horse then?"

Snowy snorted, shook his head and looked at Thursday with one eye as if to say 'Clear Off, yah drunken' bum, let me get on with eating.'

Thursday got the message, staggered back to the hotel, managed to negotiate the stairs, found his room and flopped on the bed.

He was not sure what woke him, stealthy rustlings or his natural instinct for wanting a pee. Years of training had taught him not to wake with a jerk; slowly opening one eye, he surveyed the part of the room in his vision. In the dim light a shadowy figure was inspecting his saddlebags. Ignoring his thumping head and foul tasting mouth he sprang into action.

Landing with all the weight of his body on the early morning caller, grabbed him buy the shirt, lifted him upright, turned the head so that he could target the fellow's jaw and landed a fistful of unconsciousness.

The intruder landed on the bed.

"Should be quiet while I freshen myself up."

Returning from his ablutions, Thursday heard the fellow groaning, so he slapped the face until the man moaned.

"OK…ok, I an't gonna be no trouble."

"Too damn right you ain't, now what are you creeping around in my room for?"

In the early morning light, Thursday could see the man's be whiskered features, one hand rubbing his jaw.

"Didn't have to hit me that hard mister, I was only doing what I was paid to do."

"What was that?" snapped Thursday.

"Find out just who you was. The boss don't like strangers coming in his town."

"Well, now ain't that just to bad, because I'm thinking of stopping awhile, what's your name?"

"Henry…Henry Eighth, on account I was eighth born to my ma"

"Well Henry, you get on back to that boss of yours and tell him if he wants to know about me, come and ask. I'll call in the saloon about ten this morning. Now skedaddle."

Second Bit

Thursday pushed open the swing doors to the saloon, the stench of unwashed bodies, beer and cigar smoke ticked his nostrils. Typical of the western towns, the bar was filled with drifters, end of trail cowboys, professional gamblers and a few man of dubious character. A pianist, plunking away on a slightly out of tune piano, ladies waiting on tables, resting from their nightly adventures.

Pushing through the mixture of humanity and reaching the bar, Thursday called for a large whisky, the bartender slid the drink across the wet counter.

"One dollar."

"Price is a bit steep."

"Yep, first drink's always a dollar, covers any damage you might cause, price for the rest of your drinks are up on the list."

"I'll get that Eli."

Thursday turned toward the squeaky voice, and eyes the short, fat person at his elbow.

A large sombrero almost hid his chubby face, dark brown, well cut suit, white frilly shirt and flamboyant red bow tie almost hidden by a double chin. The whole package standing in large black boots.

"Well that's might kind of ya stranger, the name's Thursday…Thursday Lager, peculiar sort o' name ain't it?"

"Sure is; how you come by that then?"

"Born on Thursday, parents couldn't think o' nothing else. What's your handle than?"

"Albert Cowpony, saloon keeper, gambler, made my fortune on the Mississippi river boats, sort of settled here for a rest. Peaceful during the week, come Friday an' all hell's let loose."

"So I've been told."

"Yeah, they sure do turn this town upside down."

"Doesn't look too bad now, mind you I did notice a lot of new timber on some of the stores and this saloon."

"Yeah, the drunks who do the damage, fixes it and pays for it."

"You must have a tough sheriff."

"Ha-ha-ha, you ain't seem him yet, he's just coming through the door, take a good look."

Thursday turned and studies the brightly dressed figure entering the saloon. Tan sombrero, shadowing a smooth-skinned, thin face, pale mauve neckerchief, matching a mauve silk shirt tucked into white buckskin trousers that almost hid decorated tan boots. Strapped round his slim waist, two gun belts holding two pearl handled six shooters, which looked as if they had just come out their box.

"Howdy, Sheriff, like a drink?" Albert asked.

"Sarsaparilla please, I'm feeling fragile this morning."

The barman slid the drink down the bar with practised ease; the sheriff caught it and poured it down his neck in two swallows. After burping loudly he gasped.

"By Jove, I needed that."

"Another?" Enquired Thursday.

The sheriff turned toward Thursday, looked him up and down, put a hand on Thursday's thigh and squeezed.

"My, you feel a nice strong boy, would you like to be my deputy?"

Thursday blushed under his tanned face, as he dragged the Sheriff's hand from his thigh.

"No thanks sheriff, I like my woman soft and complete."

"Silly boy."

Cowpony blurted into the conversation.

"Aw come on sheriff, stop playing around or I'll tell Freddie you're double crossing him."


The barman slid three more drinks across the bar.

"Thursday…this is how he gets them drunken bums to repair the damage they cause.

Threatens them with a night in jail…alone with him, then varmints sober up mighty quick."

The sheriff giggled and offered Thursday a limp damp hand, which Thursday took and winced.

"Pleased to meet you, Wild Bill Hiccup at your service."

"Thursday Lager ex captain cavalry, finished with serving anybody."

The two men laughed, Wild Bill giggled.

Third Bit

Friday night, Thursday drifted into the Red Dragon, it was almost full with cowboys of every shape and size, all trying to out shout each other. Wun Lung grabbed his arm and guided him through the smoky atmosphere to a door.

"Turn left and up the stairs, you find Wun Lung's room, I bring you food, you don't wanna mix with all then rubbish."

Thursday did as she requested, finding her room, which smelt sweetly of burning joss sticks. While he awaited her appearance he had a good luck round, a table and two chairs against one wall, chaise longue draped with a cloth on which had been embroidered Chinese characters along another wall. He opened a second door which was the bedroom, as he turned to close the door, Wun Lung came with his dinner. She smiled and said, "You want to sleep in my bed meester, Wun Lung good bed fellow, not snore."

"You ain't exactly shy are you, tell you what, I'll chew it over while I'm eating."

Thursday chewed his food, and then chewed over the offer in his mind and thought, 'what the hell, she's a nice looking girl, ain't no shame straying off the straight and narrow, now and again.'

He had just decided what he was going to do when he heard a scream, bounding to the door; he threw it open and saw Wun Lung spread eagled on the stairs being held by an unsavoury character.

"Let her go mister." Thursday shouted.

"Who in the hell are you?" came the slurred drunken reply.

"Let the girl go and I'll show you."

Letting go of Wun Lung , the ruffian's right hand moved quickly down to his six-gun, a surprised look came into his eyes, his left hand clutched feebly at his chest, where the bullet from Thursday's gun had struck him. For a brief moment he stiffened, then crumbled and tumbled down the stairs, as if in slow motion.

Descending the stairs to where Wun Lung lay, Thursday lifted her up and cuddled her close, until she stopped shaking.

"It's OK now, you're with me. I'll look out for you."

Wun Lung allowed him to assist her back to her room.

"Now you stay here and rest, I'm going down to see if I can't get some law and order into this place."

"Don't leave Meester Thursday, I am frightened. Please, please stay."

Thursday did not have to think very hard to come to a decision.

"Well maybe you're right, might be better in the morning, while they drink off their drunken stupor."

Wun Lung and Thursday spent the night locked in each other's arms, discovering each other and realizing that as fate had brought them together, they would remain together.

Fourth Bit

Taking a path through the bodies strewn across the street, some dead, others dead drunk, Thursday made his way to the Sheriff's office. The Sheriff's 'hurt your eyes' dazzling red shirt made Thursday blink.

"You're looking bright this morning, Sheriff."

"Yes, lovely colour isn't it. Freddie simply loves it, don't you Fred?"

He addressed a similar looking brightly dressed, mountain of a man, well over six feet, with a body that stretched the clothes he was wearing, to their stretching limits. Pausing from cleaning his fingernails with a Bowie knife, he growled. "Yeah."

"Not one for talking my Freddie, he prefers action."

"Is the blacksmith his brother?"

"Oh no-no-no, neither likes wasting breath on idle talk. Now what can I do for you?" Thursday told him of the incident that had happened the previous night and he would like to help clearing up the town.

"That is nice of you. Hold up your right hand, I'll make you my deputy." Freddie growled again.

"Down Freddie; you are my favourite deputy, there is no need to be jealous." Thursday was duly sworn in as the deputy sheriff and told to do just as he liked to clean up the garbage.

His first job was recruiting Jerry the bellboy to help with collecting of all the drunks. Then he borrowed a horse and cart from the blacksmith.

"Now Jerry, let us collect all the live ones and leave the rest of the undertaker." It took about an hour to fill the cart with half senseless bodies and transport them to the jail.

"'ere you are sheriff, cop this lot." Shouted Jerry, assisting the drunks by throwing their semi-conscious bodies to the ground.

"Don't damage them too much; we don't want to build a hospital to keep them in."

Freddie dragged them onto the jail, one in each giant fist.

"Wouldn't wanna get on the wrong side of 'im, would you?"

"Not likely," replied Thursday.

By noon they had cleared the streets, bars and houses of semi-conscious bodies.

"Hot work, time to get something to eat and drink."

Jerry, Freddie and Wild Bill agreed with Thursday, and made their way to the Red Dragon, where Wun Lung greeted Thursday with a big kiss.

"Steady on girl, I've only been away for a couple of hours. What do I get if I'm away for a week?"

"You never find out, 'cos I not let you stay away that long."

Mocking laughter came from his three companions, as they entered the restaurant.

Finishing their meal with a pot of coffee and a long cigar, all four were relaxing and pleased with the morning's efforts, when they were interrupted by Al Cowpony, bursting into their half dreamy state.

"Hey Sheriff, you better come quick, all them saddle bums has escaped from the jail."

"Oh Dear, must have forgotten to lock the door."

"Yeah, and if you don't round them up again, we won't be collecting any fines or getting the damages repaired."

The table tipped over, chairs scattered, as the four man dashed into the street, to be met by a hail of bullets.

"Looks as if they got their hands on all the guns in my office." Cried the sheriff as he dived for cover and pulled his Colt 45 Peacemaker from its holster.

Thursday fired at a shadowy figure, before it disappeared round the corner of a building, he knew the bullet had struck it's target from the cry of pain and curses that came across the street.

"One down, now where's the rest?"

The answer came from the roof of the jail; a bullet shattered the window behind him. Looking up he saw the white blob of a face, taking careful aim he fired. The face appeared from behind its cover followed by the its attached body, pitched forward and rolled down the roof, landing with a thump in the dusty road.

"Two, now where's the rest of you varmints?"

Answering his question, the sheriff said, "Just seem some of 'em dive into the saloon; think I hit one of 'em."

"Right, we'll let them get a few drinks down their gullets; then Jerry and me will go round the back of the saloon, you and Freddie can go in the front."

"I'll see if I can't get some more men to help us, while we're waiting."

The sheriff went off for help while Freddie, Jerry and Thursday fired a few shots into the saloon; keeping the jail breakers busy dodging bullets as they drained as many bottles of drink as they could.

The sheriff returned with ten upright citizens of Two Blitz, all armed to the teeth, not exactly cowards but a little apprehensive.

"Right, four of you and Jerry, come with me and we shall attack from the back. Sheriff, you and the others give us five minutes to get into position, and then charge through the front door. They shouldn't give us much trouble, they will be too drunk to do anything else but sleep."

Thursday was right is his assumption. Only two shots were fired and the bullets are still lodged in the ceiling of the saloon to this day.

Fifth Bit

By nightfall, peace retuned to Two Bitz, and someone asked the question. "Where's that fellah, Cowpony?"

Thursday had been too busy arranging his future life with Wun Lung.

Jerry decided that as the town now had a bit of law and order, he would learn a bit more about the hotel trade and hope to open his own establishment in the near future.

The blacksmith was saying nothing.

Snowy was too busy munching and flirting with a beautiful chestnut mare to worry about human things.

Only Wild Bill Hiccup and Freddie knew about Albert Cowpony, to whom they had issued a friendly warning.

"We know it was you who let them bums out… so pack up and poodle off, you ain't wanted around here."

Albert Cowpony took the hint and poodled off the Chicago.

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