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Stu's Stories
Tales of the Diamond W
In Patti’s mind:

  ‘Eighteen months of leading this old guy on, being nice to him, laughing at his lame jokes and acting like he was ooh so fascinating. I ought to get an Oscar for my performance here. I ought to get a medal. I ought to GET PAID! These ignorant cowboys show up out of nowhere and louse up the whole deal. Well, they’re gonna be sorry. Toby and I’ll fix them good. He’ll set it up. Toby’s great at setting things up. He even set up that monster, Lilly. She never knew who was really in charge. She’ll find out, though. They’ll all find out.’

  In Toby’s mind:
  ‘My wound will heal in a couple of days. Lilly and her idiot crew are out of the way. I can meet Patti at our ‘place’ and give her another assignment…..I’ll sic her on that ranger. The fool will never know what hit him. Meanwhile, people are distracting themselves with television, movies, video games, drugs and politics. No one sees what’s really going on. The plan is working!’

  In my mind:
  ‘Holy crap that woman is scary. She just stared at me like some giant rabid possum the whole way back to the ghost town. Even with a gag in her mouth she kept muttering things I’m glad I couldn’t understand. I had the feeling if I’d gagged her with barbed wire she would’ve chewed it up and spit nails at me. It took six hours for the van to get here after Montana Slim called for it, but now she’s gone. I’m not sure why I told the boys to go without me. I guess I felt like I ought to say goodbye to someone. I never believed in ghosts and haints and such, but I sure enough saw what I saw, and if I was hallucinatin, then I would just say goodbye to my hallucination. Hey, stranger things have happened.

  As I stood in the middle of the old ghost town, I felt a little foolish. Was I waitin for a ghost or what? It all seemed like it happened a long time ago, and I was less and less sure that it had happened at all. I found myself thinking about the guy I’d shot. I wondered who he was and how he figured into all this. He had a single passenger plane to get away in. That meant he wasn’t concerned with anyone else gettin away. A little light started to glow in my head. I realized I didn’t remember any blood. I had shot that feller high in the shoulder, but I didn’t see any blood. I was about to convince myself that I was crazy when the light breeze stopped and everything became still as a stone. The town seemed like it was about to draw a breath, and for a second I swear I saw a vague image of people and wagons and horses. A voice behind me said “Yer gittin close, cowboy, jest keep thinkin about it.?

  I spun around, but there was no one there. My movement seemed to break the spell, and everything was back to normal. I mounted up and rode south, but I had a feelin I hadn’t seen the last of the ghost town….or that guy I shot.