Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Billy - 2

OK. Here's another piece of "Billy."

Billy McCall had grown up in Central Missouri in the aftermath of the War Between the States. He never knew his father. His mother told him his pa had died at Shiloh. Jess Oliver, one of the neighbor boys, told him that was a lie. He said old man McCall had rode off with Quantrill but didn’t last long. He heard Quantrill shot him for being drunk when he was supposed to be standing watch. Billy didn’t want to believe Jess but, deep in his heart he knew it was true. Jess wore two black eyes for a week over the remark anyway. If old man Stewart hadn’t broke up the fight Billy might have killed Jess. He didn’t take kindly to somebody running his old man down like that. It just wasn’t right.

It wasn’t long after that before Billy’s mom took up with a slick fellow named Carson that drifted into town one day. He spent more money on her in a week than his pa had in a year. Women take kindly to that kind of treatment. No wonder she was struck by him.

Things went all right for a while. Carson spent most of his time in town gambling with some of the locals. But, it wasn’t long until they got tired of losing what little money they had to him. The pickings in Missouri were mighty slim after the war. Even in a big place like Jeff City where they had moved so his mother could find work.

One night Carson came home drunk and beat Billy’s mom. She was hurt bad and Billy didn’t know what to do. He tried to get the sheriff to do something but was told that since they had been shackin’ up together there wasn’t anything he could do.

Billy decided that if the law wouldn’t take care of it, he would.

Two nights later, Billy stole a pistol from old man Scheller and caught Carson coming out the back of Tom’s saloon. He was so scared he emptied the gun into the gambler before he knew what he was doing. He dropped the gun and ran.

He knew the hills better than the law. He also had kinfolk scattered all over the hills in that part of the state. It wasn’t much trouble to hide out for a couple of weeks until things cooled down. But, he knew he would never be able to go back.

Late one evening old Aunt Clara brought word that his mother had died. It seems the beating that she had got caused some sort of hemorrhage and she just seemed to fade away. The law was looking for Billy and she thought he ought to leave the state. He’d already had one uncle hung and she didn’t want to see him end up the same way.

So, Billy left Missouri on the run.

It was pretty scary at first, but, at fifteen he was considered grown and it wasn’t hard to make his way. There were always odd jobs to be had.

Tad couldn’t stand the silence. “Hey, Billy, what’s Tascosa like? I ain’t never been there.”

“It’s a nice place, Tad. Why, I hear it’s even gonna be the county seat,” replied Billy. “It’s the shipping point for all these big ranches around here. There’s always something to do. Have you heard about the Lincoln County War?”

“Yeah, isn’t that down south of here? I heard somebody named Tunstall got killed.”

“Yep,” said Billy. “Have you heard of Billy the Kid?”

“Who hasn’t! I heard he killed 40 men!” said Tad.

“Well, he was in Tascosa just last year. He had a mare that could run like the wind. He put her up against the best from all the strings around here. He cleaned up on the bets until nobody would run against him.”

“Do you know Billy the Kid?” asked Tad.

“Nope, but I seen him. He even gave me a dollar just for holdin’ his hat while he raced,” said Billy with a grin. “Old Juan didn’t like it much. He said I’d better quit hangin around that crowd or I’d end up hangin’! I don’t know why but I listened to the old man.”


Danny said...

I haven't the energy tonight to read the entire post but a thought struck me. It would be sorta neat to see you post some of the music you wrote years ago. Seems like alot of it was played in a couple of Aggie venues but probably not widely shared. Kinda neat family history I suppose. Give it some thought. I'll be back to read about Billy on an earlier evening. Thanks for the blog!

i beati said...

this is a fun read - good flow of content - I'd buy it

Panhandle Poet said...

Thank you i beati. I appreciate the feedback. It's a long way from being a book though.

Danny: I'll have to think about the music posting. Thanks for stopping by.