YOU CALL ME ‘TIN HEART’
Forgetttin’ Sadie Aarons was about as useless as settin’ a milk bucket under a bull. No way could I git on with my life without her. I put several counties distance ‘tween us. For what? When the mornin’ sun popped its head over Tall Pines Hill, it meant one more day seein’ Sadie’s purty face big as a driftin’cloud and missin’ her so much I could cry. The gal was ace-high, but I throwed her away. Turned up my cards ‘fore the hand was done.
On the day before me and Palomino rode off, I told her, “You call me ‘Tin Heart’ ‘cause I wear this badge, but it don’t mean I don’t love you, Sadie. I’m the sheriff here. Got to be gun-ready for them bean eaters stormin’ across the border, raisin’ Cain through this here town. Boozed to the gills, on the lookout for the next bodega saloon to empty one more bottle of bug juice, they either stoop over the bar and air the paunch with a gush of puke or squabash whoever looks
at’em sideways. Yellow-bellied varmints!”
“Will,” she said, with them blue eyes that can pull you in and make you wanna swim in ‘em forever, “I can’t live like that, praying night and day you’ll come home again, that I won’t get the news somebody faster with a six-shooter than you are put lead plumb through your heart––and mine! No, I won’t do it.”
“Aw, Sadie, a deadeye like me?” I let me go a laugh like I’m so damn sure I’m invincible and nobody can kill me. “I haint no tenderfoot, Darlin;. I bedded down more desperados in those streets out there than you can shake a hickory stick at! They’re eatin’ dirt and Sheriff Wilson Carter he’s still standin’. There just haint no need to bellyache, Sadie. haint no hombre I’m afeared of. I got it all together. I can make you happy, Gal.”
But I’m no fool. I can recognize Adios when I smell it. No convincin’ Sadie. Her pappy’s a rancher what earns a purty penny with his cattle drives and fancy deals.
“We could buy some cattle, Will,” she said. When I tried to give her some sugar on the lips, she pushed me away. “We can settle down, raise a family. Live like normal folks.”
Way I see it, this here haint no place for me no more. Go about the business pluggin’ holes in peace breakers? I could do that daisy fine anywhere! Me and my Colt we been through the big war and all them little wars wearin’ this silver star. I’m a lawman, damn it! I haint no Jackaroo bored crazy roundin’ up steers, sidesteppin’ prairie pancakes underfoot and ass-weary in the saddle like I know somethin’. Gun’s all I need.
So, come mornin’ I vamoose into the sunset without so much as a wave goodbye. A day’s burnin’ the breeze and Palomino snorts, then rears, a sure sign there’s trouble. Then we hear volleys of gunshots in the not so far away. One hand on the reins, the other grippin’ my gun, I aim us towards trouble to find who in tarnation’s on the prod lookin’ to die.
Make a long story short I stayed on as Sheriff of the troubled town of Tall Pines. Folks was mighty grateful for quiet nights and carefree days. I was happy to help, bein’ a peaceful man myself, until one lazy Monday I caught wind a wealthy rancher back on the plains where I’d been was kilt by outlaws what likewise rustled his steers. Joachim Aarons! Sadie’s pappy!
It was a year since Sadie gave me the heave-ho, but me and Palomino we knew the way back home by heart and we took the day’s ride like two demons out of hell. By the time I dismounted, the new moon was pumpin’ itself up with gold shine big as you please. I could see Sadie’s house dark as coal dust, no lamps burnin’. But a black horse, two old crow-baits and a pinto, their reins clove-hitched to the post, told me Sadie had company. One easy booted step at a time, I reached the door slow, my guns drawn, boards creakin’ under my leathered feet.
Then I heared a shooter on the other side cock his pistol and call out, “Lester, that you, Boy?” But I didn’t say yes or no. And I didn’t try turnin’ the knob and jarrin’ the door. Years of near dyin’ taught me the savy lesson: act first or be the first down dead. I fire through the splintering wood. The thud and the four horses outside tell me I got me three more to lay low.
“They’ll kill you, Will.”
“Stay clear,” I warned her. “Old Will’s comin’ in.” And with that I busted into the parlor shootin’ away for two dear lives, Sadie’s and my own. I don’t let up smokin’ the Colts till the floor’s littered with dead cowboys spurtin’ blood like stuck pigs on Election Day.
This tale have a happy ending? What in Sam Hill you think? I’m off the shoot. No more tin stars and wonderin’ if somebody faster will come with a big eye closer and leave Sadie a told-you-so widow. We run a store far enough away for my face to click with anybody. As for names, I left Wilson Carter and Sadie Aarons back in that old death house the night we hightailed it out of there. We’re David and Esther Mills now.
“Do you sell firearms?” a customer wants to know.
I give him that look of wonder and surprise like preachers do when you tell’em there just haint no fire and brimstone down in Hell. It’s all up here.
“Oh, none of that, Sir.”
I point to the sign on the wall that names our establishment: “JUST HATS & SADDLES.”
Salvatore Buttaci’s Flashing My Shorts and 200 Shorts, are available in book and Kindle editions at http://www.kindlegraph.com/authors/sambpoet
A great seller since 1998, his book A Family of Sicilians is available at
He lives the happiest of lives with his wife Sharon in West Virginia.