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               > Wystan Curnow's Place > Regionalism > The Western
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The Western

Progress never came without a fight

      Progress never came without a fight … and the new cattle train could never go through until Durango grabbed iron against the new menace of “rustlin’ rails” !  

      A new note of progress is sounded in Cactus Flats:  … Wal, gents, thar she goes … thuh first trainload  o’ cattle fer market!   Reckon thuh railroad’s hyar tuh stay!   It sure beats herdin’ em over two hundred miles of desert, doesn’t it?  It’s not only easier, gentlemen—it’s safe!   With the railroadhandling your cattle to market, you need have no fear of  rustlin’ attacks.  You can go home and sleep soundly now!

      Those dumb suckers! They wouldn’t sleep so easy if they knew what was going to happen!  And best of all—nobody will ever suspect ME, the railroad Agent!

      Right! Our boys are all ready down the tracks, Marker, let’s go!  Sometime later, down the railroad tracks …

      Now don’t that beat all? Thet dumb construction crew left a hand-car right on thuh tracks! I’ll have tuh stop thuh train an’ git thet hand-car off, Dawgonnit!

As the train comes to a stop  … Jehosephat! It’s an AMBUSH!  

      Grab thet engineer, boys!  Okay, men, --open up them cattle-cars an’ let’s get that beef out fast! MOVE!   

      Groan: . .  Muh haid  … Hit’s a rustlin attack!  … They’ll kill me if I stay hyar … mebbe I kin jump thet hoss …  Mustering his last ounce of strength, the engineer jumps a horse and flees for his life … Made it!  Hake yore feet bronk an’ let’s git back tuh town with thuh news! 

      He got away!  Hurry up with the cattle, men—we gotta VANISH afore things start poppin’ ! 

      It takes an hour and a half for a fast horse to get to town  … Rustlers! Rustlers!  They bushed muh train an’ took off thuh beef!  Rustlers on thuh railroad! Grab yore irons!  Git on thuh prod! Rustlers! 

      Word spreads like a runaway prairie fire! 

      Let’s go get ‘em! 

      Wait a minute! Hold it men! There’s a better way—a more modern  way!  Those owlhoots have an hour-and-a-half start on us—we don’y know which way they went!  Why not use the railroad’s telegraph?  We can send out the alarm to all town in all directions …  Marker’s right, men! … and in a few minutes we’ll close an iron ring of sheriffs around the whole area—nobody can get through!  As an agent for the railroad, men—I’m always glad to co-operate!

      I sure hope it works!  All night long the ranchers stand vigil outside the railroad office. Golly, the whole night’s almost passed an’ we still ain’t heard nuthin’ ‘bout them rustlers!

      Men, word’s come in from all the towns alerted. There’s been no sign of cattle or rustlers—they must have slipped through!  I’m sorry, gentlemen. The rustlers are clever!

      Slipped through?  Impossible! I jest cain’t figger how a whole herd o’ cattle could slip through thet ring we set!  Just what I’m thinking, Muley! I believe it’s time for more old-fashioned ways of rounding up rustlers  … !  like riding as THE DURANGO KID! 

      At the hideout, Steve changes into his Durango costume and then rides out near the scene of the crime … If they didn’t get out of the ring, they must still be in it … and not far away … those birds over those cliffs—that’s usually a sign of cattle … there’s a pass through those cliffs, I sure can’t see it! 

      A hidden box canyon! And there’s the rustled beef! … They thought they’d just wait it out here until things cooled off—smart!  But not smart enough!  … GNNG!  This out to raise some hair on your head, hombre!   …Now—to stampede the herd—they’ll find the entrance! 

      HEY!  Whut’s happen’? RUN!

      Get along! WHOOP,whoop! … Now to pick up Raider and get back to town …

      A few hours later … Whut thuh! … Hey, look—Hyar’s Durango with our rustled beef!  YIPPEE!!  I shore love thet man!  Blazes!  We’re a-goin’ tuh ship them cattle out ag’in—but this time  WE’RE ridin’ along!  We’re gonna protect our beef …

      Good idea, man! The railroad is only too glad to co-operate! In fact, let the railroad provide the guns! You can use these brand-new rifles from the railroad’s own supplies! 

      Grab’em men!  Hooray fer Marker an’ thuh railroad! 

      But as the train is brought back and the cattle loaded:  … What they don’t know, Slim—is that those rifles are loaded with BLANKS!   Get the boys together—we’ll jump the train at Cedar Run and this time we’ll make mincemeat out of these dumb ranchers!  Right!  Won’t be nobody left to tell thuh tale!

      A few hours later as the train speeds through Cedar Run … Hyar come the rustlers!  Start shootin’, men!  MOW’EM DOWN!  … Okay, men!

      Let’s go right down this train—shootin’ !   Groan: these danged rifles is loaded with BLANKS!  It wuz MARKER all thuh time!  Only a miracle kin save us now! But! 

      So THAT’S their game!   Let’s ride, Raider!  Move over, hombre—I’m running this train from now on!  YIIIIII!    Whut thuh … ??  IT’S DURANGO AGAIN!  Durango!  He stopped thuh train an’ caught them owlhoots by surprise!  Close in on ‘em, men!  Use the other end of yore rifles!--- it’s our only chance

      I’ve got to get out of here. There’s a hand-car on that siding—I’ll use it for a fast getaway! Durango’s following me! …  If   I can only make the bridge before he does---no horse can go across those trestles!   Blazes! Made it!  YAHOOO!  He’ll never get a horse over that bridge and it’s a fast downhill run for me from now on!

      But!  Well, there’s more than one way to get downhill fast! And what Marker doesn’t recall is that the track hairpins right back under this bridge  …!  Hello, Marker—SURPRISE!  YEEOOWW! 

      You won’t get me without a fight, Durango!

      Suits me! Is THIS enough fight for you, Marker?

      Puff:  puff:  puff!   GNNG!  Gnng!

      Enough!  ENOUGH!

      All right, men---the cattle train can go through now!


                                                     The  End.

   First published  1983, And / 1.