Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Escape To High Country

"Chandler, you know I don't like liars." Mutt succinctly told his best friend and confident "and I don't want ot go out west e'er agin". Chandler T. Harris was not in the mood to discuss the possibility of moving out west ever again. To cross five state lines, fighting tooth and nail, each day facing life and death in outlaw country. "Look Mutt, maybe it is time to say, you go your way, I'll go mine. I don't like liars, them thar snakeoil salesmen brought me to ruin! Them thar are snakes y'all". Mutt looked at his dusty old cowboy boots. "Dang it Chanddy, yer right as rain agin. No use to go through that agin. We could just lay low here in Georgia for awhile. Thars no way Sheriff Brewster is gonna find us tonight, it's at least a day's journey over the Colorados. What d'ya thank? I got no notion to git back thar meself. And thars no way I wanna git back to that dang varmit snakepit either. Truth be known, I'd rather die now with my boots on, knowing I didn't give in to them thar slitherin' lyin' beasts. But what hell of a choice do I have, Chandy? Sooner or later thay'll be on our tail like a rooster on a hen. It won't be long before the posey catches up with us, maybe a day as the crow flies. I'm tired of runnin' Chandy".

Chandler looked woefully at his longtime saloon buddy "Look Mutts, there's ne'er bin a time when I's a couldnt git outta any sticky sitiation, you know that! And you know that this is not near as tacky as it has bin in the past old friend, dont give up on me jist yet. City folk folk don't know nothin' bout how to cattle rustle. So bet ya, they don't know nothin' bout shootin' neither. Hey, Mutz, old pal, we've jist gitta get outta here tonight, gitta put on the saddle bags on old Nellie and Meanie and get the heck out of Savanah. If ya see it my way, or else sure as high to that thar grasshoppers eye, we'll be hangin' from that sycamore tree by sundown."Chandler pointed to the insect on the dirt floor of the saloon where they were weighing their options.

Mutt Langfield with his sad hounddog 60 year old haggard yet wisened face. Mutt's look could be best described as quintessential cowboy circa 1880. The year was 1886. Mutt had, from years of endless dusty range roads and piercing desert sun begun to slowly mummify. Mutt's tough skin, a burnished brown, leathered like the cowhide left in the desert for too many years, consumed like the cowboy steaks he'd enjoy over the cowboy campfires each night. He was a part of the landscape as much as the canyons and red granite rocks, and he was, beneath it all, just as tough. Mutt was a sensitive man for a cowboy, he enjoyed reading the classics when he got a chance and would recite poetry on the long lonely journeys on horseback. Mutt was never bored in the hot Texan sun seeing images in the rocks, he thought were his guardian angels who protected him from the many hazards there. His strong hands looked made by the red rocks of Arizona, they looked like a Najavo hands; wise and earthy. Indeed, Mutt was part native, having a native grandfather he use to visit on the reservation twice a year. With his strong hands, he had saved many a cowboy who had fallen off their horse or were rivetted by a stray bullet or whipped by a cruel boss. Always Mutt showed strength when the worst was upon him, but tonight was different; he felt trapped with no way out. He felt like the raccoon when he felt the snare around his leg holding him from escape. Even Mutt's hand now did not hold the power they use to and tonignt they just looked like tobacco stained fingers from a has-been cowboy cowpolk.

Saddle-worn and as rough as the hemp rope used to lasso longhorn cattle in the many western states where they laid their black and white cowboy hats. Chandler's was the rebellious cowboy who donned a black stetson to show he could ride and hang with the worst gang of outlaws. Most was just for effect, as Chandler was not as mean as he let others believe, but as long as they believed it, Chandler kept providing the toughest of tough cowboy imagery. Mutt's adornment was the well-worn white straw cowboy/farmer hat, often tilted slightly to the left so his head was shaded by the midday sun. Today the tilt on his hat was to disguise his appearance from the eyes of persons of interest who maybe just too quick to recognize him. Ever prepared for a gunfight, Mutt's finger never far from his trigger hidden under his oilcoat.

Chandler and Mutt had been cowboys all their lives, both growing up as first generation Gold Rush fever pioneers. Texas-bred, Chandler and Mutt were always finding themselves at the end of a shotgun, barely running away from being made, or laid waste, to return to the hot desert dust to find hidden caves in rocks to hole up for a time. Always the two were in the wrong place at the wrong time, always victims of circumstance they were too dumb to be real criminals. To survive, Mutt and Chandler had to learn the way of the enemy, learning every trick in the book to escape capture. As cowboys, each had the unique opportunity of living life to the fullest, raw and hardy, they were no strangers when it came to escaping death's talons.

It was during the wild west days when Chandler and Mutt were full of themselves, young guns waiting to go off that the first unfortunate incident occurred to them. Almost every day, after the doggies were rounded up, and the cowboy campfire was ragingly bright,the moon illuminating the desert cactus in odd ways. Always smoke would get into the eye of one bored cowboy waiting too long for his bi-monthly trip into town, often to visit the saloon ladies. During these nights of passion under pressure and during the height of summer heat, the cowboys could get restless after their long day of cattle rustling. Fights would often break out after the wieners and beans and usually for the craziest of reasons. Sometimes somebody spoke out too loud or out of turn, someone was disrespectful of the other, whatever reason or nonreason prevailed and caused the cowboys to get the fight into them. It was hard to say. If you put thirty men into a small bunker for months on end with endless work and not much pay and hardly any play, something would be bound to explode, and it usually did.

Chandler usually the first to be taking the first punch after some untowards comment about his black cowboy hat. Luckily it never did end up in bloody gunfights. The cattlemen owners were aware of how out of hand these dolldrum times of turmoil for the men could become, and usually, the owners would haul the men enmasse on a huge wagon and drag them into town for the evening. Hoping the diversion would quell the fight in them, and there they could do whatever they'd like, and the owners would not be responsible for any incidents. They'd be on their own then. The men could then enjoy the many sins of the city. Mutt could often play low key, as he hated more than anything to fight, being smaller and weaker than the others, secretly he was just as tough as any of them and could and did hold his own many times in the past. Tonight would test his mettle once more.

If Texas taught them anything, it taught them how to be survivors in a world full of cut-throat extortionists, liars, theives, and cold-blooded killers. Chandler and Mutt were a good team, both on the range and off. Both knew how to support the other to survive, and like a pack of wolves the two of them had had avoided or won many fistfights and shootouts. The men were seasoned Texans after all!

It was unlike Mutt tonight, his cold beer getting warm from his sweaty palms. And with a tear in his eyes he had a sad and moanful intonation to his voice tonight. He said to Chandler "It's ne'r bin this bad Chandy, yous and me, we've bin through a lot of cow pies, but we've ne'r bin through what we're goin' through tonite. I'm scared Chandy, we're cornered in this dolled-up town. If we don't git by sundown we're jist as good dead".Mutt pointed to a passed out sailor in the corner of the fetid smokey bar. Chandler slowly shook his head up and down as he leaned over his beer extinguishing his hand-rolled cornsilk stoogie with a sizzle from the beads of sweat that consumed every inch of Alanta Georgia downtown, thick with city slickers trying to find reprieve from the heat which hung like a weighted bird around their collective necks.

"Finally!" Chandler thought to himself. A cool autumn breeze could be felt every now and again skipping over the Colorado mountains and through the desert plains of the midwest. Nobody could believe that this night would make two grown men cry in their beer when everything was so peaceful and pretty in Georgia. The humidity and hung around like a wet fur rug around the populace, everyone was fanning themselves from the inordinate heat, but nothing could take away the massive closeness of the city during a heat wave. Tonight had ushered in a new breeze and a new way out for Chandler and Mutt. Tonight they would leave the pretty city and head off into the sunset once more. Finding gold definitely not the major priority, but finding an escape from the Sherriff who was closing in on their trail. Posters were slathered all over signposts, near waterholes of both two legged and four legged variety. No escape for the men on the lam. They would have to leave by nightfall to escape the Sherriff's posey. No amount of convincing would ever win this vigilante group to their innocence.

Belle McGuire had just decided to take an apres diner walkabout, but mostly she wanted to display her amazing figure in her brand new outfit. Papa had just returned from Paris with the latest fashion; bright crimson satin and lace. With her glorious mane of auburn hair atop her head in chignon gibson girl fashion, Belle was epitome of womanly wiles. Her coquettish step in tiny ivory-coloured silk lace up shoes was all the rage on the streets of Paris. Here in Georgia Belle turned many a suitors eye her way as she strutted her powerful presence through the antebellum city. No one could advert their gaze now Belle thought to herself.

Suddenly where Chandler and Mutt had been sitting at the down and out downtown bar, used mainly by displaced cowboys like themselves from the west and the odd sailor, a shot rang out in the stillness of the evening. It was exactly 7:31 pm.

"Oh my grawsh Chandler, their here already! I'll meet you at pier 21" Chandler and Mutt ran out of the sidedoor of the bar where they always would sit to ready ease of escape if ever anyone should be interested in finding them before they figured. Chandler went around the back of the bar and escaped down the long narrow alleyway of the city. He followed all the darkest routes he could to the ocean pier 21. Mutt

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