A BLOODY MESS
One second Bunny was trying to steady her gun for a second shot at me and the next she was gone. The back of her head blew out and her brains splattered on the wall behind her. Bunny dropped where she was standing with Judy’s gun still grasped in her hand. What had just happened? Did I really see Bunny have her brains blown out? This was someone I knew and they just died in front of my eyes. I was watching Bunny laying on the floor with blood spreading out from her body expecting her to get up and be her nasty self. But she wasn’t moving, not ever again. Bunny was gone.
I realized I wasn’t going to die. Nobody was pointing a gun at me. I was going to live. The nightmare was over. Judy and I were saved. But who saved us? I looked at Judy. That didn’t help. She was still sitting on the floor next to me holding her hands over the wound in my leg. She was staring at Bunny like me. Her mouth was open but no sound was coming out except small gasps.
My brain finally kicked in and I looked around to see who my savior was. Sheriff Timmy was the only one standing there. Smoke was lazily drifting out of his pistol barrel. He turned and saw me watching him. “Damn that felt good. She was a real pain in the ass, you know what I mean. She never could do anything right. All she had to do was pull the trigger a couple of times and waste you two. She couldn’t even do that right. It all goes back to if you want something done right, do it yourself. “
Judy snapped out, “What the hell did you do that for? I thought she was with you.”
Tim smiled and said, “Well, you know. I’m just tying up a few lose ends, Judy. Now to take care of you two more permanently.” Tim walked over and took Judy’s gun out of Bunny’s hand. He actually had to pry it lose as if Bunny didn’t want to let go even in death. Tim lined up a shot at me from behind Bunny’s dead body, shook his head and stepped over closer to where Bunny had been standing before slumping sideways when she fell. “What do you think, Mitch? About right here. Do you think this is where Bunny was standing as she shot you? Now all I have to do is finish the job she started. It was good of Bunny to fire once so she got some powder residue on her hands. That will save me some serious explanation to the crime scene investigator.”
Judy wailed, “Why are you doing this? We were after Bunny, not you.”
Tim shook his head. “You mean after all this you don’t know what is going on? It is called covering your tracks. Your boy, Mitch, had things put together too well. He knew Bunny was behind the drug deals. So Bunny would have ended up in the slammer. But, I know Bunny, and if she could get a reduced sentence by giving me up, she would do it in a heartbeat.”
“What do you mean, give you up?”
I was trying to listen through the pain screaming from my leg. Tim said, “Judy, Judy, Judy. Who do you think set up the drug distribution system? Now I’ll have to find a new distribution ploy. Too bad. The drugs in the hay bales was working so well.” He pointed the barrel of the gun briefly at Bunny. “Can you believe the cow? She thought I was actually going to run away with her. Why would I do that? I have such a sweet set up here. I mean, come on. How does it get any better than being the sheriff investigating yourself?”
I had to ask, “So what happened with Sammy? Why did he have to die?”
Tim shook his head acting a little sad. “He had too many needs. All those girls. All that alimony. He kept pushing for a bigger cut. When I said no, he said he was going to start his own network. I can’t have competition. He should have known that.”
I grimaced as I shifted on the floor. “So Sammy was dealing for you and because he wanted more share, you had him killed.”
“That’s about it, Mitch. Business is business.”
My main thought was to keep him talking. Maybe somebody would show up. “Don’t you think all these recent deaths are going to look suspicious? Why don’t you cut and run while you can?”
“Cut and run. Why?” Tim shook his head at my stupidity. “You have helped me out a lot with that problem. Look I get to off that loose mouth Grundy in a drug bust. And Bunny conveniently shoots you two and I have to shoot her. I kind of like it. I can start with a clean slate. Thanks, Mitch.” He turned to Judy and added, “I’m sorry about you, Judy. But there are casualties. Too bad.”
I turned to look at Judy. She was going to be shot because she was with me. I was concentrating on her face and almost missed a movement out of the corner of my vision. I was sure I saw someone at the window. I was desperate now. If I could just stall Tim a little longer, maybe some help was at hand. “Who is your supplier? Where do you get your – er – inventory?”
Tim shook his head. “Mitch, it really doesn’t matter to you. You won’t be around to tell anyone else.” He started to take serious aim at me. There was nowhere to run, Judy and I were sitting ducks. Whoever was at that window needed to hurry.
“Wait!” I held up my hand like that could stop him. “Your plan is wrong.”
“Wrong? How is it wrong?”
“You can’t shoot us with your gun. It was supposed to be Bunny shooting me. Like she did in my leg.”
Tim shook his head at my apparent stupidity. “Mitch, didn’t you see me pick up the pistol from Bunny’s hand. I’ll shoot you two with that pistol and put it back in her hand. The bullets will have come from the same gun, even if someone different is pulling the trigger. And the powder on my hand will look completely natural because I had to shoot Bunny after she shot you two. No problem.”
“But what about Bunny -- er you – shooting us with Judy’s gun. That won’t look right.”
Tim gave an exasperated sigh. “Well obviously Bunny grabbed the gun from Judy.” I was out of questions to stall him with. “Are we all done now, Mitch? I really need to finish this off before that first shot possibly draws a crowd.”
My mind was racing trying to think of another stall tactic. But it was hard to think after the shock of seeing Bunny so brutally gunned down. I am not used to seeing someone die, let alone die by violence. Add in the shock of getting shot, and my brain was scrambled. Was this really how I was going to end up? No one ever pictures themselves getting gunned down by a crooked sheriff. This is not the way I was supposed to die. I should get to see grandchildren and bounce them on my knee. There were days and weeks of riding that I should do with Dan. There were years of beautiful weather to enjoy, thousands of beers to be drunk, evenings to be shared with Judy in front of the fireplace. This isn’t right. And Sheriff Timmy was acting so differently than his usual self. Where was the polite somewhat bumbling fool? Where was the sheriff who sang at funerals? It dawned on me that Tim was the stinking two faced bastard who sang at Sammy’s funeral. Tim ordered the killing even if he didn’t handle the knife. And then he pretended to be Sammy’s friend to Sammy’s parents and the community at large. Tim singing a duet at the funeral was the complete bastardization of protocol. If you have someone killed, you don’t pretend to be their friend. What an absolute bastard.
Who was this monster in front of me now? The guy had to be a terrific actor to so completely fool everyone. Tim was right, no one was ever going to suspect him of anything. He was going to gun Judy and me and not a person in the world was going to question him. He was going to direct the investigation and you can bet it was going to show Bunny shooting us and Tim shooting down a murderer. It wasn’t right.
Was someone going to show up? Was the flash at the window really someone who might save him and Judy or just his imagination? The brief glimpse at the window was too brief to have a guess who it was. I hadn’t told anyone where I was going and even though Judy had told Laurie, Tim had taken care of that. By now Laurie was sitting at a booth in the Silver Dollar wondering what was keeping Judy and putting it down to traveling with me. Rawlins was busy with his drug bust and shooting. Frank was busy with his date. Anyone at the window was a local walking by with no interest in what boring Sheriff Timmy was up to. My hopes were disappearing as I watched Tim smile and line up his shot to take me out. At that point a strange overpowering odor assaulted my nostrils.
For any odor to make a dent on my consciousness and make it past the overriding pain in my leg, it had to be herculean strong. This odor qualified. It was a familiar odor that I didn’t want to place. My brain said to get away from the odor and worry about what it was later. But there were two things keeping me where I was at – my leg and Sheriff Timmy. Tim for his part had registered the smell also. I could tell from the way his nose was wrinkling. He reacted predictably by putting his sleeve over his nose to filter as much of the objectionable smell as possible. “What the hell is that?”
The answer jumped through the door landing in a crouch pointing a gun at the group of us. Frank searched through the targets but was apparently stumped as to which person represented the menace. Obviously Judy was not a threat. Sometimes in the past I may have been a threat, but not in a lethal way. That left Sheriff Timmy. The act was back in place. Timmy had magically lowered his gun and was back to the public Timmy. “Well, Frank. You just missed the unfortunate demise of Bunny.” With this he pointed to the body cooling at his feet.
Frank’s reaction was predictable. He had a known law officer telling him the danger was over. Frank dropped the barrel of his gun and relaxed his stance by standing to his full six and half feet. By unbending, Frank had released another rolling punch of odor.
I screamed at Frank, “No, Frank. It’s Tim. Keep your gun on him. He shot Bunny and now he is going to kill Judy and me.”
Frank gave me a bewildered look. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“Shoot Tim while you have the chance. Shoot him now!”
Judy added, “Frank, its Tim. Shoot him!”
Frank gave both of us a puzzled look and finally turned his attention back to Sheriff Tim. But it was too late. Frank had given up the element of surprise and dropped his guard. Tim now had his revolver trained dead center on Frank and his mask of the polite country sheriff had been replaced by the face of a nasty murderer. “They are right, Frank. You should have shot me when you had the chance. It is too bad, Mitch, that your friends persist in helping you. Now you will not only have Judy’s death on your conscience, but also Frank’s. It is going to hit the headlines when four bodies are the result of the shootout here today.”
Frank was still apparently confused. He made a weak slow effort to raise his gun and Tim barked out, “Drop it, Frank. Don’t even think about it, just do it. Now!” When faced with a gun pointed at your midsection, you normally do what you are told, and Frank did. Tim smiled and said, “Good. Now move over closer to your friends. It is a lot easier to cover your group if you are in one area.” Frank shuffled over, his eyes shooting questions to Judy and me. Tim continued, “Now where was I? Oh yes, I was about to put a bullet through our friend Mitch here. But I was a little puzzled where I should place it. Where would a poor shot like Bunny have hit Mitch that would kill him quickly but not be so obvious as an expert shot between the eyes? Any suggestions, Mitch?”
I remained silent staring down my killer. Because after Frank’s failed attempt of rescue, Tim would surely succeed in killing us. Tim’s nose wrinkled again. “Before you are all gone, I am curious, Frank. Where do you acquire an odor that is a combination of polecat and chicken shit magnified one hundred times?”
I thought Frank was way too relaxed as he responded. “Now that is a good question Sheriff Timmy. A question that is one for the ages. I acquired that wonderful aroma making an honest day’s pay working in one of the most prestigious homes in Spearfish.”
That took Tim off guard. “What? Tell me straight you dumb son of a bitch.”
“I was asked by the owner of the First National Bank to help him with a small domestic problem. One he could only come to me with. I was the only one able to help him in the whole town.” As Frank continued, I sensed he was doing what I had been doing just a short time before. He was stretching out his answer to gain time. Why? Tim gave him a hurry up sign by waiving the gun. “That fancy house belonging to Junior Dunbar has been accumulating a load of unwanted material for years. It seems there was an infestation of furry mammals that were depositing garden nutrients in the upper regions of a section of the house. Junior found the deposits objectionable and called on my unique experience to remove the deposits.”
Tim looked puzzled and angry at the same time. “Just say it in English now or I’ll shoot you first.” Frank pretended to have his feelings hurt and was preparing another long answer when Tim’s gun barked and took a small piece of Frank’s jacket and pounded it into the wall behind Frank. “Now, Frank.”
Frank swallowed and said, “Your request is my command. I was shoveling bat shit.” Tim’s face registered satisfaction with getting an answer but frowned as Frank went on. “And that bat shit doesn’t smell one millionth of a fraction as bad as you do. I’ve always thought most lawmen had an odor but you take the prize as the rankest of them all.”
Tim renewed his grip on the gun and took a two-handed stance lining up on Frank. “I think in your case, Frank, Bunny made an unfortunate shot hitting your private parts.”
Frank realized making Tim angry was going to cost him. He crossed his legs and his hands in front of his private parts in a futile effort to protect himself. Things happened quickly from there.
The window closest to me exploded.