Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Billy - 8

The first leg of the Dodge City trail ran northeast to Little Blue Station at Silas Maley’s farm on Bluff Creek. It would take about three days for the mule-drawn wagons to reach there. The entire trip to Dodge City would take several weeks for the wagons. Billy didn’t plan on staying with the wagons.

After replenishing his pack at the general store, Billy headed over to where Tom was waiting for him and said, “Tom, you go on ahead and I’ll catch up shortly. I want to visit with Henry a minute.”

As the noise of the leaving wagons died down, Billy turned to Henry and said, “Do you have a horse you can spare? I need to buy a horse and rigging before I head out.”

There was no rush for Billy to hurry and catch the wagons. At their slow pace of travel he could easily wait around Tascosa for most of the day before heading after them. He didn’t plan on taking that long but he did want to visit with a few folks around town and find out what he could about the men who had been asking about the boy. The logical place to start was McCormick’s saloon.

McCormick’s was one of the oldest of the several saloons that lined Tascosa’s streets. It was typical for the time. It had been built quickly of lumber freighted in from Las Vegas. Billy didn’t expect to find any customers at the early hour but he hoped to visit with one of the bartenders. It was likely they would be cleaning the place getting ready for another night of harvesting the hard-earned dollars from the local cowboys and hangers-on.

Billy was fortunate that Tuff Hardeman was there. Tuff was polishing off some glasses as Billy walked through the door. He looked up and said, “we’re closed.”

Billy replied, “Tuff, is that any way to treat somebody you haven’t seen in nearly a year?”

“Billy McCall. You sure must have picked up some bad habits to be coming in here at this hour of the morning. Where’ve you been?”

“New Mexico. I’ve been riding some for Pete Maxwell over at Fort Sumner. How are you?”

“Never better. Business is booming, there’s talk we’re going to be the county seat, and I even heard we might get a railroad. Can I buy you a drink?”

“No thanks, Tuff. I’m just lookin’ for some information.”

“OK. What do you want to know?”

“Has there been anybody new in town -- maybe someone askin’ lots of questions?”

“As a matter of fact there was,” said Tuff. “I didn’t know ‘em, but one of Tom’s freighters said he thought they were from over around Fort Griffin. They were asking about some boy. It wasn’t you was it? Heh, heh – you still got that baby face of yours hiding under that mustache.”

“Nope it wasn’t me. But I think I might know who they were looking for. Did they say why they were looking?”

“They said the boy stole something from them and they just wanted to get it back. They wouldn’t say what it was though.”

Billy visited with Tuff a little longer and then headed back over to the general store. Bob Bassinger might have heard something. Everyone that came to town eventually stopped at Bob’s store for some kind of supplies.

After quizzing him thoroughly, Billy learned that Bob didn’t have anything new to add to what he had learned at McCormick’s. The results at a couple of the other saloons and the livery were the same. The men hadn’t stayed in town long and no one seemed to know them. They couldn’t have been part of the Dodge City gang of Hoodoo Brown because most of them were well known and frequent visitors to Tascosa. The one thing that Billy did learn was that the men were well organized and on a couple of occasions made reference to el corazon de Cristo – the Heart of Christ.


Janie said...

And the plot thickens.

Andale, senor, andale!!

i beati said...

Billy getting better and better.. Amen oin the trees comment. When I'm out of sorts I always go to Nature !! Duke Duke Duke

Incognito said...

Hope you're going to continue with Billy's story..

Just caught up today. Stayed with a relative an hour south of here to do some adjudicating highschool seniors for a drama scholarship.
Just now catching up.

Panhandle Poet said...

Incognito: Yes, I plan on continuing -- soon.