Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: SKULDUGGERY (09/01/16)
- TITLE: The Foolproof Plan
By Pat Small
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He pivoted on the heel of his scuffed boot, slamming the screened door behind him. Quickly mounting his chestnut stallion, he galloped off to town and the Raging Bull. “How fitting,” he snorted as he cracked the whip and dug his spurs into the horse’s flanks. Only a couple of hombres drank this afternoon. More industrious gentlemen were tending to the affairs of the day. Only neer-do-wells like himself sidled up to the bar. Well, if I have the name I may as well have the game, he reasoned. “Give me a whiskey, straight up, James.” Honky tonk tunes blared in spite of the meager crowd.
As the whiskey slid down his throat, he felt warm and hopeful. There has to be a way I can prove ’em all wrong. His mind spun new fantasies with each drink. Yes, I think that might work. A stroke of genius, old boy. He slapped his forehead in delight. I’ll have to get Ben and Will on board. This has to be one of the most brilliant schemes I’ve come up with yet. He smiled as he played it out in his imagination.
Later, he drew his friends to a back table. “Here’s what I got in mind, boys. We’ll stuff several mailbags and pass them off as $25,000 in cash, my life’s savings. I’ll deliver the bags to the Wells Fargo office in Kansas City, and have them shipped to me at Canadian, Texas. You fellas will meet the Santa Fe and steal the packages. Then I’ll sue the company for the lost money. What do you think? Are you in?”
“You bet.” Ben and Will admired their slick friend. “It can’t lose.” The trio gloated over their brilliance. The bartender kept their glasses filled as they firmed up their plans. Smoke swirled around their heads.
One thing they didn’t count on. The Sheriff was at the depot in Texas when the train arrived. The bandits drew their six guns and left him bleeding – his life ebbing away. The plan still might have worked, but the killers got scared and swung onto their horses, hightailing it out of town. Down the road apiece, Will remembered. “Ben, we’re in trouble. We rode off without the dadblamed packets.”
“By jove, you’re right. We’re going to pay through the nose for that.”
Too soon they were back at the Raging Bull. George slammed his fist down on the same table where they had been drinking so excitedly just days ago. His brilliant idea ruined - by his clumsy outlaw pals. “You no good, worthless, lily-livered….! I oughta shoot you just like…”
“Shut up, George. You’re in this just as deep as we are.” They spoke as one.
“Yeah.” They stared morosely into their drinks. “We need to get our stories straight…you know…just in case.” Ben rolled a smoke.
Sure enough, a stranger rode into town a few days later - a private investigator hired by Wells Fargo. He stood out in his black suit, and well-shined boots, a gun on his hip. Will knew what to do. “I’ll handle it. He can eat the same lunch the Sheriff ate down in Texas.” The three crooks guffawed as they made their plans to finish off the undercover agent. Soon, another good man died in the street, and still they had no money.
The wheels of frontier justice ground slowly, but persistently. The murders could not be ignored. History tells us that a total of eight juries convened in an attempt to find the guilty party(ies) and execute proper punishment. Even so, George Isaacs was the only one convicted. Nevertheless, he managed to cheat the grim reaper. He received some jail time, but escaped the well-earned hanging.
Only George, Ben and Will know the truth. Was George really the mastermind? Or was it one of the others? How much of the tale is true? How much is fiction - fable passed down over the years? We may never know, but one thing IS certain. Perfect justice will be meted out when God’s gavel reverberates throughout the universe.
Fictionalized true story
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