Silver Tailings: Rattlesnake Dick

She calmly propped the now-empty shotgun against the door frame and walked out to her waiting horse. Once in the saddle, she rode south-west, towards Gold Hill, Nevada, name-unknown and directly out of the historical archives of the state.

Rattlesnake Dick’s big claim to fame was that he was a two-bit hustler and a thief. In fact, John Richard Darling had even stolen the nickname “Rattlesnake Dick,” from another contemporary and more successful outlaw of the time.

His name appears constantly in the local newspapers all throughout 1863. On May 16, while riding the Austin Stage, Dick managed to ‘soak’ a lady out of her watch and money.

With the proceeds in hand he set out on a drunken bender. By the end of that evening he was not only charged with being ‘drunk and disorderly,’ but he was also charged in the bilking of the female stage passenger.

Once he sobered up,  they released him, the ‘D & D’ charges having been dismissed and the petty larceny tossed because there was lack of evidence in the case. But this didn’t stop Dick from finding trouble of his own doing once again.

Shortly afterwards, he got word that a well-known town drunk from the Carson River area had been temporarily left in charge of a saloon. Not one to miss an opportunity. Dick sneaked in the establishment and way-laid the intoxicated man.

This time law enforcement didn’t have to go very far to find their man. After nearly killing the man and robbing his till, Dick went upstairs to his room and passed out.

And even though they found the drunk man’s wallet in Dick’s room, there wasn’t enough evidence to levy charges against the criminal. So, once again, they dismissed Dick’s case.

In August, Dick found himself ‘shanghaied’ into the First Battalion, Nevada Territorial Volunteers stationed at Fort Churchill, as the War Department was actively recruiting men for battle in the eastern U.S. When he told his wife, she grew enraged and a fight broke out between the pair and she ended up badly beaten.

Once recovered from her beating, she moved to a ranch along the Carson River near the fort. Having heard of her arrival, Dick rode out to see her.

As he walked up the steps, she lowered a double-barrel shotgun at his chest and pulled both triggers. And though gravely wounded, Dick managed to stagger back to the roadway, where he found a ride waiting, who took him back to the fort for treatment.

While Dick survived that day, he wouldn’t survive threatening the life of ex-convict James Warren, better known as Jimmy Fresh, who in August 1883, shot Dick in the face and twice more as he lay on the ground dead. Thus began the job of chroniclers as many would spend a life-time trying to unwind the real crimes committed by John Richard Darling and those he purposely confused with his so-called namesake, the other “Rattlesnake Dick.”

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A Day in the Life of Death

Sam Smith. That’s the name he’d been going by for the last 150-plus years and it suited him fine, like the 21st Century and it’s clothing styles, which he thought of as he adjusted his tie, making certain that the double-Windsor knot was as small and tight as possible.

He enjoyed looking impeccable for the job, which no matter how much he worked at it never received decent PR. That had always been a problem with his line of work – death.

Time after time, he’d hear how death came for someone who’d had an accident, or murdered or who committed suicide. It wasn’t up to Sam Smith to take someone as much as it was his duty to escort the person towards the afterlife.

In fact, in last the 997 years, he’d only used force once and that was on a Viking Heathen Wolf. There was no reasoning with the man and by the time the confrontation was over, Sam Smith had lost his right arm to mad-man’s sword.

It was embarrassing to have to go to the office the following day to file an on-the-job injury report and then over to the clinic to have the arm reattached. That was also the last time he’d transfigured himself from human form to what people called the ‘Grim Reaper.’

“Do it one time and they think you do it every time,” he’d complain to co-workers.

Finesse, it was the best way to hand anyone whose time it was to go. “Look, it’s going to happen one way or another,” he’d tell the targets putting up a fuss, “Make it easy on yourself.”

His day was nearly complete and he had only one target remaining on his list. But the 86-year old man was proving difficult to find as the man’s inner spirit had gone extremely quiet, something Sam had never encountered before.

For his part, Yoshio Watanabe knew his time was at hand and he had made all the preparations for his passing. The old World War II vet had also promised that when death came to take him, he’d put up one last fight.

Yoshio Watanabe sat quietly in the clearing amid the trees on the outskirts of Tokyo. He had dressed traditionally, a silken kimono, wooden geta’s on his feet, and both a Katana and Wakizashi tucked into the sash tied about his waist.

Sam Smith finally found Yoshio Watanabe. He instantly knew he was going to have a problem with the old man.

“Come on, Mr. Watanabe,” he spoke in perfect Japanese. “Let’s not make this any worse than it already is.”

“I knew you’d come for me one day,” the old man said as got to his feet. “But I will not go quietly.”

Sam Smith stood quietly, waiting for the target to move on him. But the old man stood stock-still as if he were assessing his future opponent’s skill level.

“The old man’s cheese has slipped off his cracker,” Sam Smith decided. “Might as well get it done and over.”

Sam Smith stepped to his left. This caused Yoshio Watanabe to respond by moving to his right and withdrawing only six-inches of his Katana from it’s scabbard.

It was easy to recognize a person who possessed fighting skills and even easier to recognize someone who understood how to handle a sword. Within a second, Sam Smith found himself defending against an 86-year old man flashing two swords around as if he were in his twenties.

Yoshio Watanabe wasn’t the least bit surprised when the man who stood before him changed into a Chokuto-wielding Shinigami, the eastern counterpart to the Grim Reaper. Sam Smith knew that he had to conform to the man’s belief system as he battled with the old man.

The two fought back and forth for nearly a half hour, with neither giving way to the other. It was clear to Sam Smith that he was going have to take Yoshio Watanabe’s head before the old man would be completely satisfied.

Sam Smith stepped to the right and to the inside of Yoshio Watanabe. That’s when he dislodged the Katana from the old man’s hand then wheel about to remove his head in a single stroke.

As Sam Smith’s blade drew through the old man’s neck, Yoshio Watanabe, never one to surrender, drove his Wakizashi through the Shinigami’s sternum with enough force that the tip of the sword became lodged in Sam Smith’s sixth thoracic vertebrae.

With the battle concluded, Sam Smith looked at the old man’s lifeless form on the ground. He knew it wasn’t real, but the sight left him feeling empty.

In the distance he could see Yoshio Watanabe still peacefully seated as he had been when he’d first found him. He could tell that the man had passed and that now his real work was to begin.

Sam Smith walked over to the severed head and picked it up. Next he pulled the headless body of Yoshio Watanabe into a seated position, then handed him his head before helping him to his feet.

Together they walked to the nearby ‘Sorting Ground.’ Once there, he left Yoshio Watanabe in the Sorters hands.

On his way home, he tried to pull the blade from his body, but it was good and stuck. All he wanted to do now was kick his feet up with a beer and watch the nightly news to see if any of his handy work had made it across the editorial desk.

“What happened to you?” Mrs. Smith asked.

“Long story,” Sam Smith said. “I had to duke it out with a guy who believed he was Samurai or something.”

“What do you think the Boss will have to say?”

“No idea, hopefully I won’t have to explain. Just go to the doctor, get it removed and return to work. But I still gotta fill out a work injury report.”

“So, how’d it happen?”

“Honestly, I have no idea. I went in to remove his head and next thing I know as I’m doing that, he ramming this stupid thing through me.”

Sam Smith flipped on the TV and headed into the kitchen to grab a brew from the refrigerator. He returned to the living room, kicked off his shoes, sitting down in his new recliner chair, the couple had purchased two days ago.

As he began to watch the news, Mrs. Smith walked into the room, “What have you done?”

Sam Smith looked up at her, a case of puzzlement showing on his face. He clearly had no idea what he’d done – but he was certain Mrs. Smith would tell him.

“That’s a brand new recliner and now you’ve ruined it by poking a hole in it!”

“I forgot…” he began to say, but she didn’t let him finish.

“You can be so thoughtless sometimes!”

She turn and stomped down the hallway to their bedroom, where she slammed the door behind her and when she did that, Sam Smith knew instantly where he was sleeping tonight. He’d have to let her calm down before they could talk about it, so there was nothing more he could do other than leaned back in the chair and enjoys what measure of comfort it brought him at the moment.

“What a perfect way to end the day,” he sighed as he lifted the beer bottle to his lips.

To Possess His Heart

A simple fling; a one night stand, that’s all it was to be, but it turned into much more than that. He wasn’t very happy with himself for screwing around on his wife, but it was too late to worry about that now.

She was dangerous, crazy dangerous, and he knew it, but still he couldn’t find it in his better interest to walk away until it was nearly too late. Shortly after he did end their affair, he realized she was stalking him at work, the store, his gym, and at home.

He felt certain that if push came to shove, he could handle her. And he also promised himself that if the woman even once threatened his wife or their son, he’d kill her, making it look like self-defense and if he couldn’t do that, he’d get rid of the body deep in the nearby forest.

Then one evening, he rushed home after his wife called to tell him that a strange woman had accosted her in their driveway, threatening to cut her throat and stab to death the boy. It took him the entire night to calm his wife, assuring her with the promise that he’d file a police report as soon as he got to work the next morning.

Three days later he called the woman to arranging a rendezvous at their usual place, her condo, telling her, “I really need to see you tonight — I gotta surprise I wanna give you.”  With great anticipation, she readily agree.

Unfortunately for her, his real plan was to choking the life out of her.  He allowed his anger to swell, depending on it to maintain the mindset he needed to complete the violent act he envisioned.

That night, he calmly knocked at her door and she let him in. Without wasting time, he wrapped his hands around her neck, crushing at her windpipe with his thumbs.

She struggled to break loose, but couldn’t. Instead, she drew the lengthy kitchen knife from behind her that she had secreted in the belt of her dress and drove it deep into his stomach and then up into his chest cavity.

His eye’s widened in surprise and his fingers grew weak, slipping as she shoved him backwards against the door he’d entered less than a minute before. As his hands dropped to his sides, he felt his body shudder as he gasped his last breath.

She felt it too and relished the sensation as it came through the knife’s blade and then it’s handle. She smiled, looking steadily into the eyes of her dying lover as slid to the floor, a massive puddle of blood forming around his frame.

She stood over him, looking at his body as it lay limp on the floor, daring it to move, but it didn’t, couldn’t and wouldn’t. Finally, and with surprising ease, she filleted his now still chest open.

Having watched enough crime TV, she knew what came next. She retrieved the bolt cutters she has stolen from her now-dead lover’s home and began to ‘crack the sternum,’ exposing his heart and lungs.

“I told you that your heart would be mine, one day,” she said as she sliced the lifeless, but still warm organ from his body, holding it close to her face and looking it over. Her mental task list complete, she turned to her kitchen sink, washing the sticky, metallic smelling blood from her hands. “

“Oh, damn it,” she frowned, realizing she had ruined her favorite dress. But the disappointment was quickly replaces by a smile as she said, “And to think, the dumb-ass never once believed me.”

Trophy

“No! Please don’t!”

The brightness of the moon, as it beams through my bare window, is counter to my nocturnal desire to hunt and that is why we are here. The clock on my bedside, screams 1:23 in frighteningly red digital figures.

“Right on time, dear,” I whisper with pleasure. I suck in a long, deep breath from her panties, which I hold in my hand and that are so much more fantasy-provoking than a driver’s license or an earring as they still smell of her sweet pussy juices and ammonia-ridden pee.

Trapped in the corner, against the wall; she has nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. She is my winning prize as I cut her gown from her body, throw her to the shag-carpeted floor and wrestle her panties from her waist and legs.

Her pleading does not fail to thicken my cock as I quickly I kick away my blankets, driving them to the floor with my feet. I’ve held off as long as I can, finally I allow my hand to begin the easy, long strokes I enjoy.

The urgency in her screams send a shiver across my skin, raising the tiny hairs all along my naked body. I lock my eyes on her youthful face, her struggle for freedom, making her ample breasts jiggle under me as I press my swollen shaft into her warm, moist and tight, little cunt.

Such squirming is intoxicating and my hard-on nearly explodes as I softly kneed it’s mushroomed head between my fingers. I know I must hold back, or I’ll finish too quickly and will have to begin again.

Meanwhile, she starts digging her french-manicured nails into the fingers wrapped around her compressed airway – and we both know death is close-by. My experience reminds me that there are only a seconds left for me to finish before her struggle ends – the thought excites me even further.

Suddenly, my muscles clench, my body pulses, a scream rises from my throat and then I am lying in my damp, cum smeared sheets. We’ve gone limp simultaneously, me attempting to slow my uneven breathing, her on the floor at her murderer’s feet.

I roll over and gaze longingly at the newspaper clipping with her picture in black and white, and smile knowingly before falling into a peaceful sleep.

She’ll save the world twice more this month from the violence that continually builds in me and yet I know she’ll never be enough. None of them are ever enough and I can hardly wait for the coming new moon.

Miss Travers’ Magic Carpet Bag

As little old men went, Johnny had seen nearly everything – except for what he’d beheld only moments before. He had to shake his head and blink twice after seeing Miss Travers, the newest Governess, draw a lengthy coat rack from her carpet-bag. 

“Odd,” he muttered as he leaned over to have a peek inside the thing. Nothing but ordinary to the eye, so he took his investigation a step further reaching into it with both hands.

Without warning the children’s new puppy-dog dashed into the room, slamming into Johnny. The force caused the old man to lose his balance and he tottered over head-first into the satchel.

Before he knew it, Johnny was dropping through a dark void. He yelled, “Help me,” but the emptiness swallowed up his sound.

Forever and ever Johnny dropped through the blackness of nothing. To him, it was as if all time and space had coagulated in one spot and had sucked him into a certain death.

However, bit by bit, heartbeat by heartbeat, the dark abated, becoming gray and then colored like the rainbow. Johnny was certain he was no longer in London, England, 1910 as everything seemed familiar and yet alien.

No longer falling, if he ever had been, Johnny was certain he was floating – but to where, towards what, he did not know. Suddenly, he heard a distant sound, a beautiful sound, that came from nowhere and yet was everywhere at once.

Voices, singing, music – nothing like he’d ever heard before came to his ears — and the magnificent sound intensified. His fear left him and his curiosity had taken hold and Johnny found he couldn’t get enough of the mosaic of colors and the otherworldly music.

In each splinter and jag of light, Johnny saw images, moving pictures, seamlessly fashioned together as if it were his own memory, flashing before his eyes. At first he tried not to watch, but he couldn’t help himself – Johnny, like a moth pulled to the street lamp, found himself drawn to the flashing images.

“Is this knowledge, a dream or am I dead?” he asked himself as the images came to him at a pace faster than he could think.

He saw two great wars, where millions upon millions died, with one being cleansed by a great fire.  Following this came yet two more wars, but not before seeing a tree, its branches overshadowing  the earth, with powder blue apples, growing it’s roots like tentacle’s into humanity.

His curiosity intensified as he reached out, touching the light. It was clear and bright, like rarefied water, his finger sending concentric ripples emanating throughout the glittering material.

Johnny watched in fascination and horror as nation’s rose and still other’s faded, some in their own violence. He saw bad and good men come, and these same men go and finally a great bloody battle in which a white falcon slew a great brown and red dragon.

In what may have been a lifetime, or mere seconds, Johnny found himself bathed in the warm glow of a multifaceted and color-filled light, one that beamed from a single crystalline being in the midst of a swarm of what he believed to be butterflies. But before he could investigate further, a dog-paddling dog bumped him away.

“What is it about dogs?” he asked in frustration, though there was no one to hear him.

The impact sent the old man careening away from the lighted and sparkling being and the scores of butterflies. Instead, he tumbled head-over-heel into a chasm made of shiny rock, much like a mirror, only clearer.

As he stabilized himself and looked up, he saw himself – a younger man than when he first fell in the carpet-bag. The change made him cry out in surprise.

As he continued through the cleft, he saw himself change to an ever-younger self, until he was a mere lad of three or four. That’s when he noticed the youngster next to himself.

“Where’d you come from – did you fall in Mary’s bag, too?” Johnny asked.

“No,” said the child, “I’ve been here all along.”

“You don’t say!”

“I’ve been waiting on you.”

“You don’t say!”

“Yes, Michael.”

“That’s not my name.”

“It soon will be.”

“Then who are you?”

“I’m your twin, Michael. I’m Mitchell.”

“I don’t have a twin — and my name is Johnny!”

“Look,” Mitchell said as he pointed towards the chasm wall.

There in the reflection of the opening were Johnny and Mitchell, side-by-side, looking identical in every way. Furthermore, they were growing younger by the twinkling and the sight left Johnny gobsmacked and unable to utter a word.

Mitchell smiled, “Soon we’ll be nothing more than a life-spark.” He continued, “And then my job will be done and I’ll return from where I started and you’ll be on your own to begin again.”

“But what about my life up…” Johnny started as Mitchell interrupted him.

“There? Shortly, you’ll remember nothing – not even this.”

“There’s no way I could ever forget this.”

Suddenly, Johnny realized his cockney brogue had vanished and he was no longer physically speaking – he was talking and hearing, but it all came to his mind with out a single vocalization. None of it was making sense, if any of it ever had.

“You’ll forget most of it,” Mitchell smiled at Johnny, “I’ve been through this many times. Believe me. Heads up!”

Without much warning,  the pair slipped quickly into a bubble of very warm, gelatinous soup. “Dear, God!” Johnny choked, “We’re being boiled to death.”

“It’s okay, Michael.”

“No it’s not – and for the last time – my name’s Johnny!”

Months, weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds may have passed by– he couldn’t tell as he felt a sudden constriction, a tightness that promised to squeeze the life from his now chubby body. He watched as Mitchell disappeared through a narrow gap into another bright light, all the while instructing him, “Come on, follow me.”

Without warning, Johnny came cascading out, coughing and sputtering, and into waiting hands. Also without warning, he heard himself screaming in panic as he found himself being passed from one person to the next.

“What the devil’s happening,” he shouted. But something was wrong, his words were like gibberish, garbled and non-nonsensical, which added further to his fright.

“We’re so sorry,” a voice thundered over head. “He’s still-borne and there’s nothing more that can be done.”

“What was his name again,” a female asked. Another answered, “Mitchell.”

“Poor, sweet baby boy, never had a chance,” yet another woman stated. “But the second baby boy is certainly lively – screaming and kicking like the dickens.”

“I’m so confused,” Johnny cried. “What’s happening and where am I?”

“Welcome to the world, little man,” cooed the first woman’s voice. “Michael is a strong name.”

“I’m Johnny!” the once old man cried as he found himself in the arms of yet another woman. She tucked him in next to her chest and introduced him to her breast.

“I’m Johnny,” he gurgled, “I’m John…hey…this is… good… I…I needed this…thank you.”

As he continued to suckle, Johnny grew more and more content until he no longer had any wish to remember the world he had left. And thanks to Miss Travers’ magic carpet-bag, Johnny, now named Michael, would soon enough learn of the world he had entered – New York City, USA, 1960.

From somewhere on the street below a dog started barking.

Dog-speed

“When you say ‘dog-speed,’ what do you mean?” I asked in response to her strange ‘good-bye.’

All I can think of are our dog’s.

The eldest is 11-year’s old. He’s not as spry as he once was, enjoying sleeping on the couch and not being outside running with the others.

Then there’s the middle dog, who at nine-years, enjoys sunning herself and wrestling with the youngest. As for the’s youngest, he’s still a puppy, racing all over the place.

She frowns at me, “I said ‘God-speed, not dog-speed’”

With a stupid smile on my face, I simply replied, “Oh. Sorry.”

Saying ‘Goodbye’ to Trixie

For the third time in eight years, I found myself sitting on the floor in the veterinarian’s office in tears, saying goodbye to one our dogs. I had to have our Yorkshire Terrier, Trixie, put down this morning.

It was time, she was very old as dogs go, 17-year, one month and 18 days old in human time – 71-year’s in dog-years when properly calculated. She had long ago lost her ability to hear, she had only three teeth remaining and blindness and incontinence had come on her without warning.

For all of her life, Trixie was a brave, independent and stubborn spirit. She traveled and explored places with me, chased rabbits and even backed-down two Rottweiler’s that she felt had gotten to close to her human, earning her the nickname, “Rotten-weiler,” for a bit of time.

Once, while hiking the slopes of the ghost town, Bodie, California, I heard her barking furiously. After barking like a crazed-dog, she’d charge forward then race back to me.

After watching her do this a couple of times, I finally saw it: a rattle snake. Trixie not only was trying to chase it off, she was also warning me, trying to keep me safe. She got an extra treat for her bravery that evening.

She was also my ‘four-legged supervisor’ when it came to projects around the home. She was endlessly curious about whatever I was doing, whether re-plastering a wall and painting it to fixing our fence to pruning the rose bushes.

Her curiosity was such that as a puppy, she’d growl at the bull-skull that hangs in our living room. I’d hear her, but never could get to the living room in time to see what had her on alert.

Finally, after a couple of months, I watched as she placed her front paws on the wall, making herself twice her height and studied the skull some ten feet above her head. After a few seconds, she emitted a low growl of suspicion, which was finally satisfied when I pulled the thing from the wall and let her investigate it to her hearts’ content.

My wife and I both saw the change in her behavior and we knew that one day soon, we’d have to make the hated decision. That day came last Thursday when the always the food-centric dog no longer had an appetite and what she did eat, often came back up on her.

And instead of retreating to favorite blanket to sleep, as was generally her habit, she began standing for long periods, head down, back-hunched, listlessly staring into the distance and acting seemingly confused. That’s no way for a dog to live, especially Trixie, who had been so full of life at one time.

So there I sat, red-eyed, face-swollen from tears filled with both sadness and joy, as I reminisced over the memory of “Trixie-licks,” as I called her (she loved licking our faces – especially our noses.) She has more than earned her well-deserved rest.

Finally, with one more gentle kiss on her tiny nose, I let her go, forever. Rest well, my sweet little baby girl.