The Starshine Kid: Arroyo Grande - Part 6 of 20
A Young Lad's Tale
U.S. Marshal Adam Henry King listened to the over excited youth as he attempted to relate what he had observed at the Old Iron Creek Cemetery.
“Mister, I mean Marshal,” the boy hurriedly said, “I ain’t seen nothin’ like it, no, not never!”
“That’s ‘not ever’, son,” the Marshal corrected the lad.
“Not ever, never, ever. I was watchin’ it all through that hole in the rock wall over there” the boy pointed, “I saw the whole thing, mister, I mean Marshal. I’m sure those three dead fellas were gunslingers.”
“They were, son. I’ve tentatively identified them all.”
“Wow, three gunslingers killed right here in my town! What’s tentativ… mean, Marshal?”
“Well, son, it just means for the time bein’ I figure I know the identity of those fellas.”
“Ident--….” “You sure use big words, Marshal.”
The boy’s excitement was obvious, but could the Starshine Kid calm the lad down enough to get an eyewitness account for his official record.
“Please, son, calm down a bit and tell me a few details of what you’ve observed,” Starshine requested with a soft voice.
“Yeah, ok. It went like this,” the lad began, as he related how the three gunmen had come into town looking for Antonio from Antonio who was staying at the local hotel. He told him how that man, Antonio, whose real name was Anton, had given him a twenty dollar gold piece and told him he had to ‘spend at least half of it on books of learnin’.’
The marshal’s suspicions were confirmed when he heard the boy say, “I heard the lead man, the one with the fancy chaps, say to Antonio from Antonio, ‘I’ve been sent’, just before it all went down.” The boy further related that the three men had drawn first, but before their guns had leveled, Anton had readied them all for their final resting places.
“I ain’t never seen nobody so fast, ever!” the boy repeated several times. Marshal King could only hope that some of the books the lad would purchase with his gold piece would be English grammar guides.
“That man, Anton, he twirled his six-shooters like they was eagle feathers in the wind, then he holstered ‘em faster than a rattler biten’ a mouse. I’m tellin’ ya, Marshal….”
Both lawman and boy made their way out to the lonely cemetery to get a view of the scene of the deadly occurrence. Marshal King walked the entire grounds for approximately one hour checking every detail, including boot prints, grass texture, and the sun’s positional changes. But the boy’s testimony remained the most important fact he needed related to the mechanics of the shootout and subsequent deaths of the three outlaws.
An elderly gravedigger, obviously fatigued from his tedious and laborious digging of three lifeless graves, sat on a large pile of earth under the sun’s hot rays in the distance, spade in hand; the man’s horse methodically fed upon the grasses of the surrounding landscape nearby.
The boy, overwhelmed by a sudden youthful feeling of boredom, ran up to Marshal King and asked, “What makes a man like that one with those fancy chaps be like he is? Why are some folks like him and others normal God-fearin’ type a folks?”
Feeling it is always best to answer a question directly regardless of the inquirer’s age, sex, or cultural difference, the Starshine Kid replied, “These types have a different kind of thinkin’, son. Their emotions are as shallow as a dried up creek bed and they’re not able to get in touch with any real human feelings, including love. They be hard folk, boy, devoid of compassion.”
Devoid? The boy wondered what that meant.
The Starshine Kid took off his hat and used a kerchief to wipe his forehead before continuing, “They usually caused a lot of commotion when they were young like you. They are manipulative, untrustworthy and do things on impulse, and they have no feelings for anything bad or evil they do. It ain’t no different to one of them folks to kill you. or simply have a smoke. Nothin’ much matters to ‘em one way or the other.”
“Wow, Marshal!” the wide-eyed boy exclaimed. “You sure know a lot about folks and what makes ‘em tick on the inside.”
“Let’s make our way back to town so I can see and verify the identities of the outlaws’ bodies for the official records. What do you say, son?”
“I’m ready to get outta here. It ain’t scary or nothin’ like that, it just gets boring after a spell.”
“Yeah, boy, I guess this gunfight is the most exciting thing this place has ever seen.”
“Yep, Marshal, you be right on that.”
The walk back to town was a satisfying stroll for the Starshine Kid, and knowing that the Scorpion was dead and gone and would not be causing any more harm to anyone was a pleasing thought for him to ponder. Adam had the boy remain outside as he entered the town doctor’s place of employ to view the corpses.
Marshal King looked things over carefully, his stern features revealed nothing as to his thoughts.
“Well, Marshal,” the doctor questioned, “Everything in order?”
“Might as well bury ‘em, I’ve seen all that I need to see for today. Let me just make a few notes here in my book and I’ll be on my way.”
Outside of the doctor’s place, Adam’s new found little friend was waiting as patiently as a bird for an earthworm. “Marshal, we got some mighty fine grub at the hotel. Maybe you want to stay the night and all? My mom’s a real good cook too. She’s been cookin’ there since before I was born!”
Adam smiled an affirmation toward the lad and the two made their trek over to the Buckhorn for a night of lawman tales, fine food, and good wholesome down-to-earth friendly chat.
“Ask your question, boy.”
“Those symbols on that man’s chaps… horse, teepee and all them, what do they mean?”
“They’re Indian symbols that have different meanings for different Indian tribes. Around these parts, son, the horse means a journey,” Adam informed the very attentive young lad. “The arrowhead is for staying alert at all times, the snake reflects a defiant attitude, the lightning bolt is for extreme swiftness, and the teepee means a home that is on the move, a temporary place to reside. There were a few more, would you like me to continue, son?”
“How’s about you write me a list and I can study it over and over. I like to check things out, ya know,” the boy responded.
“I will do that for you, boy. Remember that studying and readin’ are the keys that open the door to your future.”
In the morning the Starshine Kid stuck around long enough to enjoy three burials at the Old Iron Creek Cemetery and receive word from the temporary local sheriff about a string of holdups just to the north. “The sheriff up in them parts could sure appreciate the help of a U.S. Marshal.”
The investigation at hand was of significant import, and even though Anton would be further down the trail of life and his tracks a might bit harder to follow, Marshal King told the sheriff that he’d be glad to help.
Mustang saddled and trail ready, the Starshine Kid was on his way out of Iron Creek before the noon sun’s rays could scorch his leathery neck.
* Stay Tuned *
Part 7: Topography of the Outlaw
The Starshine Kid: Arroyo Grande
By Royce A Ratterman © 2012
All Rights Reserved
Cover Art & Illustrations by Erlend Evensen
The characters, locales, enterprises, entities, and events herein are entirely fictional and intended for educational and entertainment purposes. Content portrayals do not reflect any actual events, locales, entities, or any individuals living or deceased.
Dedicated to all of those who lost their lives establishing peace, safety, and harmony in the days of the Old West