Despite having lived his whole life in Halesowen, Jethro has always been fascinated by tales of the old wild west, a founder member of the Halesowen Sure Shooters, a western re-enactment group and keen local historian. Jethro divides his time between documenting the lives of famous gun smiths and bus spotting. Unsurprisingly, he still lives with his mother. this is his first foray into fiction.
THE LEGEND OF JUDGE DEAD COLLINS
Catch–me –if- you-can McCormick was the meanest, ornery
critter this side of the Pecos and as he walked down Main Street in
El Paso his spurs jingled and the dust danced around his boots to
their tune. Shopkeepers quickly shut their stores, mothers shooed
their children indoors.
Coming the other way was Judge Dead Collins. He was called
Dead because he’d been shot that many times he should have
been. It was sheer bloody-mindedness that kept him standing up
and he was as mean as a rattler’s mother-in-law. There was whole
lot of meanness on Main Street that morning. The only other person
on the street was Françoise Del Vallon the town undertaker, and he
hovered around like a vulture looking for rich pickings, a tape
measure around his neck like a badge of office, fluttered in the dry
El Paso breeze.
The two men stopped with just ten feet between them. Judge
Dead Collins never spoke, but he was big on staring and gunplay.
Catch-me-if-you-can McCormick was the first to speak and he
addressed the undertaker, never taking his eyes of Dead Collins.
“Got a fancy handkerchief on you Vallon?”
“Of course Mr Catch=me-if-you-can, direct from Paris France.”
“Well step right here between me and the Judge and wave that
thing and then count to three, drop it then run like hell – when it
hits the ground we start killing. Ready to die Judge?”
“That’ll be the day,” drawled Dead Collins.
The undertaker did as he was told and retreated behind a water-
butt, rubbing his hands in anticipation.
The handkerchief fluttered towards the ground and just as it was
about to land a gust of wind lifted it up again and again. In fact that
darned handkerchief danced between the two killers for hours. As
night fell the fascinated townsfolk rigged up kerosene lamps across
the street – all eyes focused on the fancy material as it danced it’s
dance of death in the breeze. The two killers never moved a
muscle, their eyeballs following the cloth’s every move. Finally as
the cock crowed the handkerchief gently hit the ground like a
virgin’s kiss and guns blazed.
Catch-me-if-you-can McCormick’s bullet passed through Judge
Dead’s cheek, taking off his right ear and ending up in the
hindquarters of a startled burro which slowly hit the ground, braying
loudly. His second bullet embedded itself in Dead Collin’s spleen.
Judge Dead’s first bullet took McCormick’s eye out the second
grazed his temple and ended up in a barn door – you can still see
the hole it made today. The two men slowly folded up like a couple
of tents with their guy ropes cut, both dead before they hit the
The next morning the two men lay in their coffins propped up
outside the undertaker’s place of business. Small children would tip-
toe up and poke them with a stick, then run away squealing wildly.
Silver dollars from the dead men’s pockets covered their eyes.
After all you could not spend it where they were going.
But at about four o’clock that afternoon, while the townsfolk
enjoyed their siesta, Judge Dead Collins, stepped out of his coffin,
tipped the silver dollars back into his pocket, walked fifty paces to
his horse and slowly rode out of town. Judge Dead Collins, just too
damned awkward to die, and that’s the last he was heard of ever
again – now that’s what I call a legend.