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Wall Street Gunfighter: A Serial Novel. #1

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Wall Street Gunfighter

A Serial Novel

Chapter One

The Rocky Mountain Ride is an annual opportunity for about a hundred of the wealthier men in America to spend more than a week on horseback enjoying the cool mountain air and campfire conversation.   Stetson, O'Farrell, and Resistol hats sit on the heads of Wall Street tycoons, oilmen, industrialists,  land developers, heirs to great fortunes, and the men whose feedlots, farms and ranches feed the nation.  On riding days, a pack string loaded with hard panniers containing cold beer leads the group.  The long line of horse and rider snakes up and down the high passes, through the scrub oak and aspen trees, to end each day in a different mountain meadow arranged with white canvas wall tents. 

While the men are enjoying the epic scenery from the saddle, the camp is taken down by workers, moved by truck, re-erected, and footlockers replaced in each tent with military precision long before the riders arrive at the end of the day's journey.  The old men tie up their own horses on the picket line, untack, feed, groom, and eventually water their horse before directing themselves to their tents to try to remove their custom Paul Bond, Lucchese, Justin, or Tony Lama boots which are invariably covered with horse sweat and trail dust.  After switching blue jeans for bath robe, the men then hobble over to a semi-trailer containing the steaming hot showers, then possibly a massage, and usually a stiff drink or two.

Beyond the trucks and kitchen generators, the young camp hands sit in the grass, or lean against a tree, drinking Coors beer and eating cold sandwiches.  Some of them, like Clyde Barrows, III, are sons or grandsons of riders, but most are not.  

"Bull shit," says Clyde.  "First, you probably don't even have a hundred bucks to bet, and second, he doesn't even have a gun here to shoot."

"You know I'll have a hundred after we get paid, and he can use any old gun Johnny can get off the truck, which, if anything, should give you better odds than this," says Bubba.  

"From 27 yards, not 16?"

"Yep."

"100 clays in a row…four rounds…no misses." 

"Yep."  

"3 to 1 odds?" confirms Clyde. 

"Your three hundred bucks to my one hundred.  It's a bet?" asks Bubba.

Clyde nods his head slowly, "OK, I'll take your money, 'cause not even John Yates can do that, and he is the best to ever shoot on this ride."

They shake hands and Bubba trots off to find and inform Grey Collins of what he has done.

"You're an idiot," says Grey.

"Maybe.  OK.  Sure.  I should have asked you first, but Clyde was just…I don't know…just such a smug jerkoff.  He said to me, "Everyone misses," and I said, "Not Grey!  I don't think I have ever seen Grey miss, especially with a shotgun."

"That isn't true, and you know it."  

Grey bends in the sides on the bill of his dirty baseball cap and stares at Bubba. 

"And why the hell 27 yards? They only ever shoot 16 up here on the ride."

Bubba looks up and bites his lip, then he says, "Well I got you good odds, so we should make a killing."

"I was going to make a killing, already, by busting my ass for these rich-prick-wannabe cowboys, but now we might end up as broke as when we started, thanks to you," says Grey.  "Fuck me…and fuck you."

Bubba asks, "So you will do it, right?  I mean…you can do it…right?"

The next day is a Friday, and after the riders head out on the trail, the boys move the camp to another big meadow in a wide glacial valley and set up for the big weekend of gymkhana and trap shooting competitions.  There is still small patches of snow up in the shadows of the surrounding mountains.  

"Let me see one," says Johnny, one of the ride's longtime wranglers, and now in charge of the camp hands.

Clyde presses the button on the remote control and an orange clay pigeon instantly flies out of the trap and drifts off into some willows in the distance.  

"Looks pretty damn low and definitely some wobble," says Johnny.

"Looks fine to me," says Clyde with a smile. "We can dial it in better, tomorrow, before the riders shoot."

"Here they come," says Johnny. 

Grey, Bubba, every other camp hand, cook, and even the masseurs make their way over to the makeshift shooting range.  The head cook is busy writing bets down in a notebook and handing over cash to be held by the big-black bartender.  Bubba, sixteen years old, short, skinny relative to the other boys and especially to the grown men, is at the head of the pack, yelling and cussing at the top of his lungs, as they all walk just behind Grey.  Upon arrival at the trap, the group quiets itself.

"You don't look so good to me, today," says Clyde to Grey.  

"We'll see.  Let me have the gun," says Grey.

Johnny had hunted through all of the gun cases in one of the big Ryder trucks looking for Mr. Clum's, because he knows that Clum is always too drunk to shoot, and so old that he probably will not notice it has been fired, especially if someone cleans it before putting it back.  He sets the black gun case on a Coleman camp table, then flips the two latches to open the case, and says, "Voila!"

The crowd is silenced by the word Perazzi that appears in gold inside the blue padded lid of the case. 

"Now, ladies, that there is what I call a shotgun," says Bubba.

Grey steps up and removes the single barrel, leaving the double in the case, checks to see that the full choke is installed, tight, and then assembles the gun.  It has a large lattice-work rib running along the top of the barrel, and a very thin-shiny coat of oil on the blued steel and polished walnut.  Grey mounts the padded butt of the Italian 12 gauge into his shoulder, while everyone stares at him, and he lifts the muzzle up to gracefully mate his right cheek to the raised comb of the stock.

"Whoa, there, Hoss!" yells Clyde.  "What do you think you're doing, Johnny, letting this little bastard shoot that fine piece?  Can't you find something more…ummm…I don't know…his size?" 

"Shut up!" yells Bubba, as he gives Johnny a smile and a wink.

"This beautiful bambina will do just fine," says Grey.  "Thanks, Johnny.  Someone find me a fresh case of shells."

The crowd parts and he walks through the soft dirt over to a place far, very far, behind the mechanical trap that throws the targets.  

"Why is he way back there?" asks the bartender.

"Because either Bubba is an idiot, or this kid can really shoot," says the head cook.

"Maybe both are true?" replies the bartender.

"Let me see one, Clyde," says Grey.

Clyde pushes the button and the small saucer-shaped target flies out straight ahead and so low that Grey barely catches a glimpse of it before it drifts down behind the trap from which it came.

Grey closes his eyes, exhales, shakes his head, and mutters under his breath, "Asshole."  

"Wanna booster chair little boy?" asks Clyde with a big shit-eating grin.

Grey pushes up the bridge of his gas station sunglasses with his left middle finger, then takes a green shot shell from the carboard box in his sweathshirt's front pocket and drops it in the breach.  He stares out just beyond the trap, lets his eyes focus on the distance and adjust to the background, closes the Pirazzi's smooth and heavy action, mounts the gun in his shoulder, swings the shotgun quickly, once to the left and again to the right, then places his right index finger on the trigger.  

"Pull!"

I hope you log in to ZH next week to see what happens next.  Yes. it's all fiction, or a coincidence.  

Merry Christmas!

h_h


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