My life has always been a struggle right from the start. My parents were farmers, they settled in Oklahoma. It wasn’t a large farm, and life was hard. My mother was kind and gentle, my father was always promising that things would get better, but if anything, they only ever got worse.
We lived in a log cabin miles and miles from anywhere, the nearest town was Bixby. The ranch was made up of a barn, a corral. We had two horses, chickens, two hunting dogs Duke and Frisky. Occasionally a stranger would pass by, or Pa and I would hitch up the buckboard and Ma and Pa would make the long journey into town leaving me to look after the homestead, or on occasion they would take me with them.
One day when the air was still and silent, Pa ordered us into the house where Ma was busy closing the shutters over the windows. Pa took his gun from over the fire place and loaded it with cartridges from a box on the shelf. He said he was going outside to take a looksee……….he never came back. Ma and me could hear the howl of coyotes, and then the door burst in, and a man stood there. He was tall, he had painted skin, wore nothing but a loin cloth and a feather in his hair. I remember Ma screamed and kept on screaming as two more Indians came running into the room. The three of them dragged my Ma into the bedroom and slammed the door, I covered my ears against her cries and screams. Such was the trauma, after that I never spoke again!
The next day I buried both my Ma and Pa, and I swore over their graves that I would have my revenge. Anger burned inside me as I set fire to the farm, raising it to the ground, leaving nothing but ashes. I saddled up one of the horses and rode off.
I made my way west travelling for days on end until I reached a Way Station. Jake, who ran the Way Station for Wells Fargo, took me in. He asked me who I was, where I’d come from, about my Ma and Pa, but I never said. I opened my mouth but words failed me. So I worked at the Way Station helping Jake when the stagecoaches came in. And in return Jake fed me, looked after me, and taught me to shoot.
I killed my first man when I was sixteen. Three men came to the Way Station asking for water, and if they could buy some fresh horses. Jake said sure, help yourselves, but that the horses weren’t for sale. Jake turned to go into the log cabin, one man drew his gun and shot him in the back. I saw this through the window. I reached for my holster, spun the cylinder of my Remington, slid it back into the holster and stepped into the doorway. One man was tethering the horses while the other two were going through Jake’s pockets. They saw me. The man bending over Jake’s body looked at me and his two friends, faced me, and laughed. They drew their guns, I drew mine and two men lay dead in the dirt. The third man stood up, drew his gun, and I shot him dead!
Over the next couple of years I drifted from town to town, territory to territory. And in all that time I never spoke one single word, I don’t think I could. Men would make fun of me. Women in the local hen house would make fun of me. One time I was kicked out of a saloon and into the street and held down by three men who were set to see if I had a tongue to speak with. I was held down by two men, while the third forced my jaw open. My hand felt the butt of my gun. I slowly eased it out of the holster, pointed it upwards and pulled the trigger. The man instantly released his grip on my jaw and fell to the ground. The other two men backed away, drawing their guns. I fired twice and three dead mean lay in the mud of the street
The clothes I wear were scavenged from the men I have killed. Well there has been a number of them. In fact I gained quite a reputation as a gun fighter.
Then one day I found myself in Harmony. The Judge was running the town, said he was hiring men who were fast on the draw, and I was the fastest he’d seen.
The Silver Dollar saloon and a saloon girl, Cathy was her name, I was sweet on her, she was my girl, I loved her. Then this stranger came to town, came walking right into the Saloon carrying a saddle. I knew he was trouble the moment he punched me in the face! He set Cathy against me. The Judge put me in charge of the Jail when the stranger was arrested, I should have shot him there and then when I had the chance. I could have shot him dead in the saloon, but the Judge restrained me, saying they’ll be another time Kid. He always called me Kid.
I didn’t like the way other men were with Cathy, always getting close to her, buying her drinks. I had to teach that Sam a lesson, that’s why I stubbed my cheroot out on his neck, which I knew would end in a gun fight. Sure Sam drew first, but didn’t have the gumption to pull the trigger, he should have stayed on his ranch with his wife. I just had to kill him.
That night I caught Cathy about to run out on me! I couldn’t let her go you see, I wasn’t about to let her leave me, so if I couldn’t have her….no-one would! Yes, I strangled her with my bare hands! I knew there would come a show-down between me and the Sheriff, I was wiating for him out in the street. Then the Sheriff turned up wearing a gun, we faced each other in the street waiting for the moment…….then as the moment came I drew my gun from it’s holster. I felt a burning pain in my chest, I felt nothing after that.
© David A. Stimpson