11 May 2011

Wanted! The Baker's Dozen Gang

The gang lit out at cockcrow, making a bold but wisely led escape.

"Slow and steady" said their leader. "Just roll along."

Come breakfast-fixing-time back in town, the whoops rang out. "Where're they headed?" asked a visitor.

"Anywhers but here," an expert said.

The posse mounted while coffee boiled, and each man chugged a mug while sitting on his horse and burnt his throat on account of having to catch the gang before High Noon under the pitiless sun, which had a habit of being hot enough to wake the posse's lice in a bad mood, itchy from their own mites, and along with the lice's mites, ready to wolf breakfast. So there was no time to waste in catching the gang, especially as the posse, like everyone in town, had been mightily looking forward to the spectacule when each member of the gang would be broken, as broken as a wild horse.

Bent Jim, the tracker, led the posse, mumbling. Not only was he the expert tracker. He didn't have a horse. At first, he circled the town like a dog with a cold, but finally found what he called a track, and set out. For an hour, he did his famous almost-crawl, verbally lambasticating the gang with increasing creativity.

Then he smiled grimly, pushed his hands against the back of his waist to help him straighten, cracked a couple spine bones or something else, and ran down a hill, hotly followed by 7 jolting, yelling, hat-swinging, sweaty men on 7 tolerant horses, disorderdedly followed by the rest of the posse.

At the base of the hill, the men still had steam to blow off, so they danced those horses till the hills echoed from hooves clipping hardpacked ground, and neighs, and the dust rose to coat the grease on the 15 mustaches, 11 beards with mustaches, and innumerable faces whose dirt and hair were too long married to be separately distinguished.

By the time the dust settled, the posse was left with one hopping mad tracker. What Bent Jim said wasn't polite but the men were used to him. He subsided quickly however, and set off again because he had to because of that pitiless sun, which never stops getting higher or lower for nobody except Daylight Savings Time for whom it either speeds up or slows down, if it remembers which.

So for a while Bent Jim raced around as well as he could, being about as bent as Bent with a capital B gets, cussing better than he could race. By the time he took off in a straight line, he had a frantic glint to his eye, and as was told later by one of the posse (many times): "The words, wild goose chase, excaped old Jim."

But Bent Jim, being the expert that he was, loped along with an easy stride soon enough.

"We've almost got them," he called out at 10:03 AM (by his wristwatch).

At that, the Kid in the posse twirled his lasso, to the laughter of the other men, who spurred their horses in anticipation, earning a lot of enmity (or emnity, which is just as well, for it wasn't spoken).

"Get ready to round 'em up!" Bent Jim yelled at 10:56.

"Were are they?" asked Burtrand who couldn't spell any better than his mother.

"Just over that hill," answered Jim, "I reckon (at 11:48, give or take some punctuation)."

The posse squinted against the sun's glare, out over the open country, but try as they did, they couldn't see over the hill.

11:4856. Bent Jim ran ahead, mumbling and hissing over the baking ground, the posse following behind him, men kicking the flanks of 15 increasingly slow mares, 4 stallions who were preoccupied with their own plans, and a number of other horses who were in no mood to have us remind them of sexes.

"Come on!" he yelled. "Ya lousabouts. Move along now with me, and we'll catch the gang afore High Noon."

11:59 AM (by Bent Jim's watch, but by the sun's time, HN had taken place an hour and twelve minutes ago). Bent Jim reached the top of a long hill going down, and expelled a long, low whistle. The base of the hill was as hidden as a dead man's thoughts. Forest: cool, closed country that would be thickly carpeted with pine needles.

"They've licked me," he said, to himself.

When finally, the posse caught up to him, the horses surrounded him on their own account. He was kneeling about two feet down the long slope. The horses snorted, relieved, as the men slid off.

Bent Jim was peering at the ground, all right, but this time anyone could see what his expert eyes did.

Burtrand clucked his tongue.

"It's too late for this bastard," said the Kid, trying to be tough.

At the same time, down in the valley where the gang had holed up an hour and eight minutes ago, XL, the leader said: "Let this be a lesson to you fresh ones. We're always wanted. That we know, like we know we'd make lousy gun slingers. But geniuses we ain't. You can practice all you want. You ain't never gonna learn to gallop."

Meanwhiles back up the slope, objectionably next to Bent Jim, Burtrand burped something long past et. "My stomach's crying out," he whined. "Can I?" He reached down with some embarrassment, but only some–and a lot of fear. Not that he touched anything, yet.

"No!" yelled the Kid, his eyes wide. Men turned their backs on the sight and walked away.

"I get his horse," said one.

Bent Jim straightened up. "I don't rightly know. But you'll probably live if it hain't been on the ground for more than ten minutes."

Live free or fry


These were caught whilst they debated free will vs. determinism.
There is some debate over whether they were caught 'because' they were debating.
'Sadly', they are not available to add their weights to the discussion, 'sadly' having been quarantined in quotes because it has been objected to as so unscientific a term that the use of the word adumbrates the issues.


JP said...

You are gnomic, Anna Tambour.

anna tambour said...

Dear JP,
My apologies for taking so long to respond. If only I had quickly just jotted down "Ta!" you might never have known that it's taken me days to look up 'gnomic'.