Tuesday, January 31, 2012


     For the first few years we grew up in a dogless home, not for lack of begging.  When they first married, Mom and Dad had a little Jack Russell named “Sugar” before taking on a two-year teaching gig in Melbourne, Australia. The thought of ever having to give another pup away sort of put them off of the whole idea.  Not us.  Mary and I brought home every stray we found running down Peabody Street and across the high school grounds.  I seem to remember a couple basset hounds, a black lab, a golden retriever, and probably one or two others here and there.  We brought them home with big weepy eyes and promises to bathe, feed, and scoop up after their every golden drop.  A few groans, grunts, and one phone call later, our highest hopes went home with their distraught owners.
My sister wised up before I ever did, and her focus changed from fruitless promises to financial strategy.  Pretty soon, Dad couldn’t watch the news without putting a few pennies in the jar marked “dog fund” that sat atop our old brown TV.  Jars started popping up all over the place: on the dryer, over the refrigerator, and even on the back of the toilet.  After a while it seemed very reasonable to pay only five cents for a bath or twenty-five cents to use the car.  We wore Dad down enough to say he would consider buying a dog, if we could come up with half the cost.   Penny by penny, month by month, we saved.  We said “no thank you” to trips to the movies, the Clallam County Fair, and ice cream.  We asked for nothing at Christmas (though Santa still came) and tried our best not to waste any food or electricity.  And eventually, after many extra chores, several baths, and every allowance we could afford, we had saved fifty dollars.  Never in our lives had we seen so much money all at once.  A small voice in the back of my head (I can only assume it was the devil, himself) said, “Fifty dollars will buy a lot of ‘Archie’ comics.  Fifty dollars will buy an Upper Deck complete set of baseball cards.”  It was true. I didn’t know when I would see this much money ever again, but it was half my sister’s and she was better at quieting the evil thoughts in her head.
We still had several months until school would be out for the summer and we would head off to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  Dogs cost a lot less in Montana, so we gave all our money to dad for safe-keeping and made plans for the new puppy.  With highlighters in hand (Mary with pink and I, blue), we scribbled through our tattered “Big Book of Baby Names,” page by page.  I liked things like “Jasper” or “Max.”  Mary said we would get a girl dog because dad had to make back his fifty dollars by selling her pups. I couldn’t think of a single girl name I liked—including my own—so I gave up the reigns and went out to play.  Mary had been on a General Custer history-kick that year—she always seemed to get caught up in one era or another, and her life focused on little else until the obsession passed.  We heard again and again the stories of the Little Bighorn, and how we “white folk” completely lost that battle due to our own dumb pride.  Therefore, Mary coined the dog “Libby,” to be named after General Custer’s wife.  I didn’t hate the name, but I had never heard it before. 
Summer came, and along with it, our expectations.  Dad and Mom planned a big family trip to—where else—the Little Bighorn Battlefield.  Grandma and Grandpa, aunts and uncles, and plenty of cousins piled in and spent the week in Miles City looking at Great-Grandpa Baba’s childhood ranch (made famous by a visit from painter Charlie Russell), a museum of human hair, and the Little Bighorn National Monument.  Mary click-clicked her little red camera wherever she went, her eyes gleaming with the glory of it all.  To stand on the place where your hero (albeit a total dunce) met his maker was nearly more than she could handle.  But at last, after several 100-degree plus days in tiny motel rooms, we packed up and headed north on highway eighty-seven. 
We found our next destination off the beaten path, in a little place called Lewistown.  We’d been driving all day, but wouldn’t let dad stop for anything short of emergencies.  And now, here we were— months of anticipation all just a memory.  The old wooden sign out front said it all: “Pete’s Beagle Farm.”  Mary and I raced to meet old Pete, in his red ball cap and worn-out overalls, sitting peacefully on his porch.  He hadn’t a tooth in his head and his thick glasses made it very hard to see his expression; but he seemed happy to see us.  From the look of things, no one had stopped by in a very long time.  Pete opened the gate and led us back to his dogs.  There appeared to be about a hundred beagles all over the place.  The males had their own yard filled with stumps and barrels to climb on, while the females slept peacefully with their pups.  We peered in, kennel by kennel, wondering just who would come home with us.  Mary asked for a little girl and Pete said there were only two: one with a hernia (but he “would sell ‘er for fifty”) and another he was keeping to breed.  We held the little girl, but she was awfully sick and dad said that we needed to take home a healthy dog. 
Circling the yard, we came to a kennel at the very end.  The puppies all slept in a tiny black and tan mound, hidden under their mother’s protective paw.  “Will they always be black?” I asked.  Pete said he supposed they would develop their colors in time, but “a black beagle is a dead beagle.”  People in those parts didn’t buy dogs for pets, but for hunting or for show.  No one wanted an “imperfect” show hound.  I frantically scanned the puppies, looking for one doomed to be dark, but no one could tell at this age.  Who knew what they would become. 

That’s when we met George.

Mary reached into the soft, earthy-smelling pile and grabbed a tiny nugget with a birthmark on his bum.  He didn’t even wake as she held him to her chest, cooing and singing softly to his little head.  Mother Beagle looked up but showed no concern—she knew we would be gentle.  No, he certainly wasn’t a “Libby,” but that wee little lump walked away with a large moniker.  “Puppy” was now “General George Armstrong Custer.”  He would have to become a much bigger dog to live up to a name like that.  But I almost didn’t mind my sister’s eccentricities.  After all, who needed a “Rover” or a “Fido?”  The second we yelled his name, only one dog would come running. 
Almost immediately, “General George” became “Georgie” because he was just so dang cute.  We placed him, still sleeping, in a little cardboard box filled with blankets that smelled like his mom.  Under the old pillow was a clock shaped like a big pink jewel that steadily ticked, reminding Georgie of his mother’s very own heartbeat.  And with that, off we drove to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, with the newest Leinart sleeping softly in the back seat, unaware of all the little hands that would be holding him in just a few hours.
That first night at Grandma and Grandpa’s could have been a little easier, had the weather been kind.  But Montana in the summertime is prone to violent thunderstorms, and this was no exception.  Our poor pup whimpered and yelped from his box between the twin beds.  We dipped our hands down beside him but he didn’t know us.  We didn’t smell like Mom; we didn’t look like Mom.  Dad opened the curtain that separated the two rooms, and lifted George out of the box.  Downstairs, he took our scared little dog out into the stormy night.  Sheet-lightning lit the outdoors like midday, and George shook as dad stood over him saying, “Go, dammit!”
At summer’s end, George came home with us to Washington.  Excitedly, he bolted through the yard, heading straight for the garden to pull up the veggies.  Only then did we learn that his favorite food was carrots.  That dog would do anything for carrots.  With one or two in his mouth, he whipped back to the porch to meet his new nemesis.  Our old calico, Coko, had no need in her life for anything small, cute, or friendly.  Coko looked at us with disdain and jumped onto the roof to sulk in the shadow of the chimney.  George, caring little for Coko’s opinion, ran into the house to sniff every square inch of furniture and to “claim” it before being tossed back outside.  There he found his new favorite place underneath the old apple tree in our back yard.  He nibbled at the rotten ones and scratched his backside against the bark.
From that very first day, until the day I left for college, George slept under the covers at the foot of my bed.  He became my closest confidant and pal.  Mary, who quickly saw the drawback to owning a dog, decided that she preferred being a “cat-person” and did her best to coax Coko out of her perpetual mood.  But for me, I had a friend and tag-along for life who sat with me while I did my homework, pawed at my toes for a secret snack under the dinner table, and sang while I practiced my piano lessons.  Yes, George was the dog for me. 
Over the years, George grew quite popular with everyone in town.  While I went to school, Mom walked him down to the waterfront and around the neighborhoods.  In the early mornings, George sat with my school friends at the bus stop, eating pumice stones out of old Mr. Stevens’ perfectly manicured lawn.  No one could figure out why he loved the crunch of pumice so much, but he downed several pounds over the years and lived to tell the tale.  But he almost didn’t.  One day, while out on one of his adventures, George swallowed a rock that he couldn’t digest.  My cheerful, happy, excitable mutt held his head down and moaned.  I offered him a can of tuna—a treat for any dog—but he merely looked away.  I told dad that George looked sick and he mumbled something like “sure, always on the weekend…” but our vet came in to take a look.  Dr. Mowbry felt poor Georgie’s sore belly, took a few pictures of his insides, and gave the diagnosis.  A rock.  A $400 rock, to be exact.  Apparently, it was small enough to fit in one end, but just too big to come out the other.  Dad said there was no way he was spending four-hundred bucks to pull a rock out of a “stupid dog,” when the dog cost only a hundred bucks to begin with.  Mom, Mary, and I cried and pleaded.  He was such a good dog.  How could we let such a good dog die?  There would never be another good dog like him. Please dad! We convinced him—or he had second thoughts about going home with three females who would hate him ever after—and dad wrote the check.  But to this day, we have a little pill bottle on the mantle above the fireplace, and inside that little bottle is a small stone.  Dad keeps it there because he says it’s the most expensive thing in the house.
Each December, our family would pile into dad’s truck to go find a Christmas tree up in the mountains.  As a member of the family, George always came along.  He loved not having to be leashed and ran up and down the trails, marking every stump and twig as “his.”  My mother always fretted that he would be eaten by a bear or get lost in the snow.  Dad said he “hoped so,” but George found his way back every time.  If he did get stuck, we heard the pathetic baying ringing through the trees and dropped everything to rescue him.  On the way down the mountain, dad thought it was fun to let George run.  Mom, Mary, and I would, again, beg and cry, pleading with dad to let George back in the truck.  But Dad, laughing hysterically, would pile us in and take off, as if he was leaving George forever.  George would barrel down the mountain in a tiny little ball, legs above his head, frantic to catch up.  Never had that dog run so fast.  About a mile later, dad would pull the truck over and let our poor, shaking dog inside.  And every time, George would have a smile and would wag his tail in forgiveness, before collapsing into a well-deserved nap.
All throughout my life, I could rely on George to understand whatever I was thinking.  For some reason, he always knew my mood.  If I aced a test, he sat waiting for me, looking out the window, full of life and excitement.  He knew that something great had happened, and was prepared to go jumping around the house with me.  Still too, if a boy dumped me (and believe me, a few have), George knew it.  He would head straight to my bedroom and curl up next to my head, licking my tear-stained cheeks.  If it took all night long to stop crying, he would never move until I moved first.  I tried to return the favor.  Some of his worst days were spent cowering in the closet.  Generally this occurred only on the 4th of July (or if the red-neck neighbors got a little crazy), but I always tried to make him comfortable until he felt safe enough to come out.  Other times, when he got in big trouble for eating Grandma’s Parisian chocolates or peeing on the photo albums, he would hide behind the couch, fearful of my dad’s yelling and stomping around the house.  On those days, I climbed behind the couch, carrot in hand, and we held a little pow-wow until the moment had passed. 
Before I graduated from high school, the silver streaks lined George’s soft face.  He still got excited when the moment warranted, but a little more slowly each time.  For fun, I would bring him to history class with me, where he would spar with Mr. Rennie’s basset hound, Ralph.  Ralph was often dropped off by the local police after escaping from his back yard.  He always headed straight for the bread aisle at Albertsons, where a clerk would call an officer, who knew to bring him straight to school.  They never wrote a ticket because this was routine and almost happily anticipated. 
Our loved puppy dog grew older, slower, and quieter.  He still followed my every move, but preferred sitting.  When I would stand up, he looked at me as if to say “please, let’s stay a while.”  The sweet old beagle who grew up with me, who watched every baseball game with my dad, and who did his best to protect all of us, was fading away.
I dreaded going away to college.  I had always known that life with my pal would never be the same.  Dad brought him to school a few times, for overnights in the dorm.  He would smile sleepily and crawl under the covers to the foot of my bed, just like he always had.  Mom still took him for walks, but he limped a little now, and couldn’t go quite as far. 
One day, I got a call.  Old George, blind, deaf, and without the nose that defined his breed, had no quality of life.  He still responded happily to soft pats on the head or a scratch on his bum.  He still sat under his favorite apple tree, squinting at the sunset behind the mountains.  But he was saying good-bye to all of us. 
“It’s time,” my dad said.  I waited until after work to cry, but told him to hang on until I could get home.  I packed my clothes into the back of my clunky Subaru, and gave dad one more call before hitting the road.  “It’s done, Ellie,” he said softly.  Angrily I told him he should have waited for me.  George would want me there.  But dad said that it needed to be quick, for George’s sake.  Even our poor old vet cried the day George said good-bye.  She had given him his baby boosters, and he knew her and loved her. 
George died in 2003.  Dad buried him under the apple tree in his favorite spot.  It was there that he could see the whole world from atop his little hill.  I go and sit out there on warm days, leaning against the trunk where he would scratch his back on the bark.  I see the rotten apples he would nudge and nibble, and I shut my eyes and pretend that he is still here. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

"Cannon Ball Lip"

       Most of the summers we spent at Grandma’s house, it was too hot to go outside.  I remember the burns all over my legs from sitting on the vinyl seats of her old yellow Mustang, on those long trips to Great Falls.  So until the local pool opened for the afternoon, we stayed inside, soaking up the air conditioning.  Grandpa sat downstairs at the dinner table, blowing smoke rings and doing the crossword puzzle, while Grandma made Kool-Aid in the kitchen. 
The Leinart kids spent summer holidays away from all our parents, who took time off to either work on the farm or travel around the state.  At Grandma’s house, the only rule was to stay away from the river.  Of course, we never followed that rule, but if Grandma found out, heads would fly.  She still thought about that one kid who had fallen in twenty years ago and always warned us to walk on the other side of the street.  But in one-hundred degree weather, it’s too hard to stay away from water.  So, we fished, stuck our toes in, and dared each other to jump off the levee into the muddy water. 
On the morning of my thirteenth birthday, we all helped to drag a mattress off one of the twin beds and placed it between the two couches on the loft.  There we blindfolded one another and played “Trust.”  One cousin held you by the wrists, and dropped you straight onto the mattress.  If you yelped, or used your hands to catch yourself, you lost.  As the third-youngest member of our large family, I never yelped, for fear of losing respect and ending up eating at the “kids table” in the back room off the kitchen.  My sister, an elder member of the cousins, yelped every time but had already earned the coveted respect by being born first.
We landed, got up, tried again, laughing and shrieking all the while. The many shelves of family relics swayed and creaked all around us.  The old bugle on the wall, the Civil War cannon ball, and the steamship music box jiggled and rolled with each collapse.  Downstairs, the chandelier bounced while Grandpa smoked one cigarette after another, eating his usual ham and Miracle Whip sandwich with plain iced tea.  He didn’t notice much, he never did.  Smoking and eating, he went on with his puzzle.  Grandma, on the other hand, roared up the bright green staircase and shooed us all out into the front yard.  In swimming suits and towels—standard summer-wear—we “ow-ow-ow-ed” across the boiling pavement and into the park.  Only at sundown or in violent thunderstorms would we return home, and survived on a steady diet of chlorine and sunshine.
Every kid in town stopped by that evening for cake and ice cream, pizza, and more Kool-Aid.  Grandma had gotten me the usual five-years-out-of-style school clothes, including spandex overalls with a bright pink stripe that appeared to be from the “plus size” section of the local pharmacy.  I tried to explain that they were meant to be stretchy but she said “you’ll grow into them.”  Grandpa smoked, ate his dinner, and handed over a twenty dollar bill in an unsigned card to spend down at the Coast-to-Coast.  Burning cash in hand, we all got on our bikes and headed straight to the Tasty-Freeze for pizza burgers and cherry-dip-cones.  Peddling barefoot all the way to the video store at the end of town, we found the most R-rated movie available—something with plenty of sex and violence.  At home, PG-13 movies were rarely allowed, so we soaked up enough immorality to last the whole school year. 
That night, before the pool opened back up for night swim, we were back to playing “Trust.”  Feeling the confidence of a thirteen year-old adult, I jumped up and flopped onto the bed.  But instead of a soft welcome, violent stars swam around the room.  Before the pain hit, the metal flavor of blood flowed rapidly out of my mouth and down my chin.  My sister screamed and little cousin BJ ran and hid in the bathroom.  Forgetting that we might play again, he had put the cannon ball into my pillowcase as a joke, thinking how funny a slight knock to the head might be when I lay down to sleep that night.  Instead, the relic split a hole through my lip, and loosened a few teeth.  BJ spent the rest of that birthday, punished with no dirty movies.  Grandma, who was good and kind, punished worse than anyone else.  I think it was because it always came so unexpectedly from her loving demeanor.  She never spanked, but her growl kept BJ hiding in the bedroom until the next day.  And until school began that year, the cousins coined me “Cannon Ball Lip.” 

The Hanging Judge -- A Fictional Account of Judge Roy Bean and His “Law West of the Pecos”

         In the days of gunslingers and working women, the “Law West of the Pecos” provided the only true justice, in the eyes of Judge Roy Bean.  No one knew if Roy had ever been certified to be what he claimed to be, but in a town with no rules, swift justice meant fewer thieves.  For Roy, nothing could be worse than stealing another man’s property.  Mainly, he cared about his own, but being the gambler he was, he didn’t like seeing money leave town. 
On that dusky evening in early September, Roy played poker as he always had, sipping lightly on his whiskey, so as to keep a keen eye on the game.  Roy couldn’t abide a drunk in a hand, as no one could ever hold a debt over on an unconscious player, no matter if he began alert or not.  Just after ten o’clock Charley O’Doherty added his chips to the pot, sipping frantically on an oversized mug of beer.  Charley, though always seen as a coward, had the type of no-good reputation that caused discomfort at any table.  He’d killed three men in his thirty-four years, but always in the back and without witnesses.  He hit his women, and was in repute to have had many children throughout the state of Texas.  He bragged that it was his Catholic roots that made him procreate, but it was his Irish good looks that “kept ‘em coming.”  No one could deny that Charley had been handsome in his day, but years of drinking and riding through the hot dust had weathered him like an old glove.  He didn’t appear to be a day under fifty and had fewer teeth than most all the newborns he fathered. 
Though Charley had a poor reputation, no one hated him more than Judge Roy Bean.  Roy had his suspicions that it had been Charley behind the string of missing horses that fall, as well as a gold pendant that had disappeared from the jeweler’s store window.  For all the drinking and gambling he did, Charley didn’t work much, yet he always seemed to have cash on hand for any occasion.
Roy stared at the back of Charley’s playing cards, mentally burning a hole through the paper.  As bad as Roy was at poker, Charley was quite good.  He didn’t appear to have giveaways in the form of ticks, scratching, or holding his breath.  Roy knew that there must be something to give him a clue – maybe the way he shifted his leg back and forth, rolling on the heel of his worn boots.  The hairs in Charley’s mustache lay painfully still on his pock-marked face, except when he smiled across the table, waiting.  With a grunt, Roy threw down the cards and Charley, laughing, scooped up his winnings. As the clock ticked on toward the morning, the oil lamps burned softly in the windows, lighting their nightly game.
At six o’clock, Roy hobbled home to his office.  He slept there on an old worn sofa that had been in the little building when he found it so many years ago.  His old mutt lay beside him on the floor, panting softly in the already warm morning air.  Though he had sipped carefully all night long in order to keep his skills, Roy was drunk.  Snoring loudly, he slept late into the morning until he was woken by a knock at the door.
“You, Judge Bean!” came a high voice.  “Judge Bean, you in thar?  You need to talk to me!”
Begrudgingly, Roy sat slowly up, and with a sigh said “come in.”
The visitor, Calvin Miller, ran the local butcher shop as well as the post office, as they were all one building.  He hadn’t a hair on his head, and hid his bald pate under a beat-up bowler cap.  His stained apron stunk of rotten meat and he had blood under his fingernails.  Still, he seemed excited about something, so Roy let him in and poured him a cup of yesterday’s coffee.
       “I heard you lost another hand last night, Judge,” Calvin said. “How much you out this time?”
Roy stated that he only lost “about a dollar” which wasn’t completely true.  Yes, he had lost “about a dollar” but he had also lost several other dollars.  He had come to collect on a fee that day for hanging a local rustler, and had had more cash on hand than usual.
“Well, I suppose that’s good,” said Calvin. “The way I hear it, some folks down yonder lost a lot more than you.  The way I hear it, they say the game warn’t all in fairness.”
Upon hearing this, Roy set his cold coffee slowly down.  He could not abide a thief stealing from others, and he could not abide a thief stealing from him.  In all truth, he had lost nearly ten dollars at the table last night, and that was more than he could afford at the time.  He put his hand in one pocket to find only a small pebble that he had not remembered being there the day before.  But certainly no money remained.
“What makes you think the game unfair?” Roy asked, pulling at his long, white beard.
“I don’t know, Judge,” Calvin said, leaning back. “But they’re sayin’ it.  You’re the law ‘West of the Pecos.’ Ain’t no other rules out here.  If something’s to be done, it’s you that’s done it.” 
With a pause, Roy swallowed the last of his coffee and got up from the table.  Following behind, Calvin tipped his hat and left to butcher a pig.  Though Roy always liked a good case, he knew Calvin to be somewhat of a gossip and needed real evidence.  He hitched up his wagon, dropped a pot of beans for the mutt, and headed off to talk to the “them that’s sayin’ it.” 
Roy arrived in Grand Mesa in the heat of the day.  Sweating off the night before, his parched tongue sent him straight to the “Red Star Saloon.”  He sat down with a cold beer in hand and asked to speak to someone in charge.  Expecting the bartender, he was surprised to be tapped on the back by a lacy, white glove.  He turned to see a heart-shaped face of perfect olive complexion, full red lips, and green eyes that pierced him straight through.  He felt his jaw drop but was powerless against her beauty. 
“Don’t worry, stranger, I don’t bite,” she said, with a musical laugh. 
Embarrassed, Roy grabbed her hand (in what she expected to be a kiss) and started shaking it violently.  Seeing that he was unable to go on with the conversation, she started again:
“I hear you want to talk to me?  I figure it’s about O’Doherty, right?”
Roy nodded dumbly and took a deep breath.  He somehow untied the knot in his tongue and introduced himself.  She was known in those parts as “Rosemary Dove,” and worked an unspoken profession upstairs in the saloon.  She knew all too well about Calvin O’Doherty and had the misfortune of spending several evenings in his presence.  Leaving out the improper details, Rosemary Dove described Calvin as the coward that everyone knew him to be.  He drank by the quart and he cried himself to sleep over his “poor dead mama.”  No one really knew what happened to the woman, but it can only be assumed that she died out of regret for the burden she had brought on the world.  Still, Rosemary Dove claimed that Calvin was no card cheat and any money he had--while he didn’t work for it--came from an inheritance. 
Numbly, Roy listened, awash in the conversation of a beautiful woman.  He knew he wasn’t getting anything he needed, but he couldn’t seem to leave, either.  Time ticked by as they engaged back and forth until the sun crept behind the only tree for miles.  With a jingle, one of Rosemary Dove’s “regulars” swaggered in and demanded “the usual.”  With a sigh and a slight role of her jeweled eyes, she grabbed the stranger’s hand and headed upstairs, stopping only to give Roy a small wink before disappearing behind the door.  Not wanting to know any more, Roy quickly stumbled out and back to his wagon.  Heart pounding, he sat and stared off into the distance, seeing nothing but her beautiful face, hearing nothing but the soft strings of her voice.  The sun set while Roy stared on until the cold jerked him awake and he started back towards town. 
That night, back at the table, Roy started winning a little.  True, his only competitors were the drunk doctor and a man so old his children had all preceded him in death.  But whatever the reason, Roy needed a win.  His safe showed little of his earnings as the “Hanging Judge,” and he had nearly scraped the bottom of the bowl.  But he knew that big jackpot stood out in front of him, and if he could just reach a little farther…
In walked Charley O’Doherty.  The glint of the gold on one of his few remaining teeth caught the lamplight as he snapped his fingers at the bartender.
“Drinks all around, Shawn!” he said with a cocky bounce to his step. “I’ve got money to burn and plenty of matches!”
Roy groaned under his breath but took the free drink eagerly and swallowed it so as to get another before Charley’s generosity ran out.  Picking his teeth he stared hard into the deck of cards, as the dealer passed five across the table.  He was determined to win.  So determined, he felt, that if the game was at all honest, he would go home a very rich man.  This seemed to cheer him up a little and he leaned back in his chair, shuffling the cards back and forth.
Sooner than later, all Roy’s high hopes sat underneath the floorboards.  He had sunk so low in his chair, that his bushy white beard lay moist in a puddle of beer on the table.  Charley, on the other hand, had continued to buy drinks for his “good friends” all night long.  As the cards were dealt each game, Charley excused himself, and went for another round at the bar, bringing back glasses full of all manner of amber liquids.  This continued, blurring the lights deeper and deeper until Roy sat stumped, unable to continue.  Pulling himself up with a little help, he walked slowly out, broke, drunk, and miserable.
The next morning Roy awoke to the sound of wagon wheels and a small team of horses.  Through the window he saw a whitewashed wagon parked out front of Tanner’s Hotel; seated in front sat a beautiful woman with green eyes.  He could tell they were green, even under the yellow parasol and so far away.  Down stepped Rosemary Dove.  Had Roy been a clever man, he might have looked around, tidied up a little, and combed that knot of a beard.  But Roy hanged for a living and hadn’t had a woman’s touch in years.  He adjusted his suspenders a little, grabbed a crust of bread and cold coffee, and stepped out into the sun.  Though he desperately wanted to go into the hotel and shake the woman’s hand violently again, he had a man to hang today, and he needed the money.
Just before lunch, Roy, and a small crowd of onlookers stood around Caius Jones as he sat sweating upon his horse.  The Father read him his last rights, fed him communion, then turned to Roy.  Caius couldn’t be thought of as a bad man, but he made poor decisions and ended up running with a band of rustlers who had come through town.  Drunk one night, he thought it might be fun to go with them to round up some horses.  In the morning, they and several horses had disappeared and Caius was discovered drunk and asleep on the back of stolen pony.  With a slap to the hind-quarters, justice came swiftly to Caius Jones and swung into eternity.  Ten dollars exchanged hands and Roy headed back to the saloon. 
Inside, Rosemary Dove had already made several “friends.”  Nearly every man in town, sat in a circle around her, listening to her with the focus of a horse race.  She didn’t really have anything of importance to say, but then the men weren’t listening to the words as much as they were drinking in her whole being.  As Roy approached quietly, he sat amongst the suitors feeling important, as he knew her first.   He felt that they had a sort of bond, though she really didn’t recognize him at first glance.  It wasn’t until the Barber, Manuel, started introducing the lot, that she looked into Roy’s eyes and said,  
“Well, Roy!  I was just tellin’ these boys about you and your big ‘Law North of the Pecos.’”
  Roy nodded dumbly, unable to correct her.  He thought he might even change his sign out front, just to please this angel.  He turned a violent shade of red as she clasped his hand between her two small palms, and smiled.  “Go on Roy,” she said dreamily. “You tell ‘em about your hangin’.”
Sheepishly, Roy looked around the room, knowing that every man here knew what he did for a living.  But everyone had come to an unsaid consensus that they were there to butter up Rosemary Dove.  So Roy lapsed into a long and heroic tale of capturing criminals and bringing them to justice “even if it meant sacrificing (himself) for the law.”  Truthfully, he had never had to “capture” anyone, but simply strung them up.  But his audience all played the part and nodded, wide-eyed, “ooh-ing” and “aah-ing” at every breathtaking crescendo.  Amid a sentence of bleeding heroism and martyrdom, the door swung open.
“Why, Dove!” came the all too familiar drawl.  Charley O’Doherty stepped swiftly up, and grabbed Rosemary Dove around the waist, pulling her from the sad lot.  He whipped her around a couple of times to the plinking and planking of the old player piano and gave her a kiss on the cheek.  All the men watched in awe.  For as much as they hated Charley, they envied him too.
“Hello, Charley” Rosemary Dove said, the tune stalled in her voice.  Clearly, she was about as pleased to see him as the rest.  “I thought you were goin’ to California to find your gold.”
“Why would I, when I’ve got gold right here?”  His smarmy grin churned at the stomachs of his audience.  In a moment, the bar had cleared out including Roy, who’s ten minutes of fame, or love, seemed to have passed.  He walked down Main Street “lookin’ for something to hang,” but found only good church-going folk and small children and cats.  With a snort, he headed back home to sleep away his troubles.
Roy walked into that night’s poker game with the few cents he had left.  He knew he would lose them, but he also knew that Rosemary Dove would be there.  Maybe, all he had ever needed was a good luck charm, of sorts.  Having a beautiful woman around was just about the luckiest thing he could think of, and her emerald eyes might be a sign from the beyond.  Roy didn’t claim to be a praying man, but he took a quick glance at the stars that night and thought good thoughts.
Sure enough, Rosemary Dove sat at the table, a feather in her hair, and black lace gloves covering her long fingers.  She said she didn’t play cards, but she would attend for a night of good conversation and a few mugs of beer.  There was something about a beautiful woman drinking a man’s beer that stood Roy’s hair on end.  With a happy little shiver, he sat down and grabbed his cards.  Good hand or bad, bluffing or truthful, Roy began losing almost immediately.  One by one, his fellow players rose angrily from the table and stormed into the night.  By midnight, Roy sat alone with Charley O’Doherty and Rosemary Dove.  The latter encouraged him with each hand to “give it a shot,” or “play it safe.”  Time to time, she would lean in to him pulling a mirror from her carpet bag and with a few adjustments saying “how do I look, Roy?”  Roy always turned bright red at these leading questions and replied with a gruff “Oh, fine, fine.”
With his last chip and will on the table, Roy asked for two new cards.  The dealer passed him the cards, a bit awkwardly, knocking over and breaking a glass in the process.  Nervous and apologetic, he grabbed a rag and a broom and scooped away the mess.  Something caught Roy’s eye as the dealer passed between him and table, still shaking his head in apology.  Charley O’Doherty, swifter than the naked eye, had reached over and slipped a card from the bottom of the deck. 
“Cheat!” hollered Judge Roy Bean.  “Goddamn, filthy card cheat!”  Charley raised his hands in innocence and looked alarmed at the accusation. 
“Roy, now I don’t know what you seen, but you didn’t see nothin’.”  With a smirk, “I supposed all the free drinks is shaking up your head a little.” 
Feeling alone, Roy looked around.  The dealer stood stock still, and a little guilty, himself, while Rosemary Dove powdered her nose and kicked at the broken glass around her shoes. 
“Now boys,” she said with impatience.  “Let’s not get worked up over a little card game, please?”  And with a huff, she rose with her carpet bag and parasol and climbed the stairs.  “It’s time for bed, I think, Charley.”  Again, a wink to Roy.
Roy knew himself enough to know that he had seen what he had seen.  Beer or no beer, he had sweat himself silly in the Texas sun that afternoon and it would take a lot more than an evening of cards to make him fall down.  He marched straight over to the sheriff’s family home, and banged on the door, hollering “Yooo, Sheriff!  Wake up, you old bastard; I need to hang somebody!”
The term “sheriff” had little meaning west of the Pecos.  Badges passed from man to man with little more reason than the “last ‘un got kilt.”  Sheriff Bigsby, while a big man, was least qualified yet most willing of all the men in town.  He had lost a toe to gangrene a few years back and couldn’t keep up with most chickens, let alone men.  Not that he tried.  Bigsby preferred the “finer things in life,” which just so happen to be wine, women, and song.  If you could find him sober, you’d grab him up quick, for he was always on the way back to the bar.  Stupid and disliked though he was, people generally treated him well, being that he was the law.  Roy, feeling more like the law, himself, didn’t care for Bigsby’s reputation and considered him little more than a squat figurehead.
Bigsby opened the front door slowly, his bulbous nose poking out into the moonlight under his white night cap. 
“Bean, it’s late,” Bigsby said with a sigh. “Why are waking me up?”
Roy pushed his way into Bigsby’s front room, which appeared to be little more than a lean-to for kicking the dirt off his boots.  He elaborately replayed the evening’s events, adding unnecessary details about Rosemary Dove’s eyes, gloves, and rosy red lips, until Sheriff Bigsby threw his hands in the air and said “what is it you want me to do?"
“Why, arrest the thief, Sheriff!” said Roy, a little flabbergasted at Bigsby’s nonchalance.  “I’m the judge in these parts.  Give him to me for trial. I’ll take care of the ugly bastard.” 
Again, with a sigh, the sheriff raised his hands.  “There’s no evidence, Roy.  It’s only you that seen it, and no one else.”
Grumbling, Roy said something under his breath about the poor luck of getting a clumsy dealer.  Giving up, he rose, bid the sheriff good-night, and walked back into the street.  In the eastern sky, the pastel colors bloomed on the open frontier.  Roy cared little for the “goddamn sunrise.”
The next day, Roy attempted a citizen’s arrest on Charley O’Doherty.  Hoping against hopes that Rosemary Dove would be out, or at least decent, he banged on the upstairs door of the saloon. 
“O’Doherty, come out! I arrest you in the name of the law!”  Bang! Bang! Bang!
Slowly, the door opened, and a sleepy-eyed Charley O’Doherty looked at Roy with a smirk.
“Whatchu want, Bean?  I’m busy.”
Roy quickly grabbed Charley by the wrists and hog-tied them together before pushing him towards the stairs.  Rosemary Dove appeared in the doorway, concern lining her forehead as she gripped the knob.
“Don’t worry, Dove.  He’s just an old lunatic; I’ll be back in time for lunch!” said Charley as Roy pushed him down below. 
Marching down Font Street, Roy and Charley caused quite a crowd.  Every store owner, barber, bartender, and working woman came out to see the ruckus.  Charley did his best to appear as confident as always, and winked at the whores as he passed.  Roy stared straight ahead as he approached Sheriff Bigsby’s door.  Bigsby, who had come out with the rest, stood waiting for the two. 
“Sheriff Bigsby,” said Roy, somewhat formally.  “I, with God as my witness, saw this man steal a card from the bottom of the deck in last night’s game at the saloon.  I aim to try him, convict him, and hang him.”
“Now just wait a gol darn minute, Sheriff!” said O’Doherty, starting to see cause for concern. “I already told him he didn’t see what he thinks he seen.  I am an honest man who plays an honest game, God sure as my witness.”
As unwilling as he was to perform his duties on a regular basis, Sheriff Bigsby certainly didn’t know Charley O’Doherty to be an “honest man,” in the eyes of God or anybody else.  The idea of him playing an “honest game” was almost laughable, and inclined the lazy sheriff to proceed with Roy’s request.  He turned to face Charley O’Doherty and read him his rights in the name of the law.  Pale, O’Doherty looked around until his eyes met Rosemary Dove’s.
“Sheriff,” Rosemary Dove cooed, softly placing her hand on his fatty forearm. “Please don’t do this.  I know Charley’s a nuisance, but you can’t convict a man for winning at cards.”  Turning to Roy, her eyes melted away his frozen heart and he nearly let go of Charley’s tied wrists.  Blinking twice, he looked away, regaining his convictions and with a deep breath said to Charley:
“You are arrested in the name of the law.  You will be tried in my court at two o’clock to be sentenced to hang by the neck until dead.”
By 2:15 the trial had finished with the desired results.  Outside Calvin Miller tied the noose tight around Charley’s neck, as he sat on the back of a deep brown mare. 
“Charley O’Doherty,” Roy began. “On this day of September 5th, 1879 you are hereby convicted of cheating in a game of cards and so stealing from your town.  You are sentenced to hang by the neck until dead and will so be hung.”
With a last check of the noose, Calvin gave Roy the all-clear.  With a slap to the hind-quarters, Charley O’Doherty swung to eternity.  Throughout the crowd, several of the whores fainted onto the dirt.  Callous and disliked though he was, Charley knew every “woman” in town, and had had a piece of all of them.
Feeling somewhat perky, Judge Roy Bean kicked up the dirt and headed off to the saloon for a beer.  Behind him, Father O’Connor pulled Charley down from the rope and blessed him before carting him off for burial.  Rosemary Dove watched silently, without tears.  She had never seemed to like Charley O’Doherty, but certainly never wished him dead.  Seeing him wheeled away, she headed back to her quarters to think.
Over the next few weeks Roy won back nearly all of his losses.  Without O’Doherty around, the games became “honest” once again and real winners won, and real losers lost.  Feeling rich, Roy bought a few drinks here and there for the locals, but always glanced upstairs as if to use his earnings on something a little more memorable.  Still, Roy Bean had no gumption in the area of women, and sat stump-like on his stool getting older, fatter, and richer.  
Two weeks after the hanging, Rosemary Dove came downstairs.  Beautiful as always, she didn’t appear phased by the death, and smiled at all of her “boys.” 
“Hello boys,” she said. “I’ve had a two-week nap and I’m ready to talk cards.”  In an unusual move, she scooted in and requested that the dealer pass her five cards.  Dumbly, she stared at her hand and shuffled the outside in, inside out, and so on.  “I’ll be, Roy, but I sure don’t know what all these numbers mean,” she said coyly. “Is it good to have all the people, or just the red ones?”
A toothless stranger across the table smirked and added ten chips to the pot.  Roy felt protective of the lady, saying quietly: “Shhhhh, Miz Dove.  Don’t let nobody know your cards.”  Nodding in wide-eyed understanding, she pushed a chip into the center of the table.  Old Toothless won that hand, but then Rosemary Dove won the next two.  Happily, she leaned into Roy and squeezed his shoulder.  He smiled back at her as the light from the lamps glinted on her gold pendant. 
Judge Roy Bean cleaned himself up a little over the next few weeks.  Having won money, and gotten rid of a scoundrel, he felt a little more confident than usual.  Hair slicked back with bear grease and wearing his red suspenders (usually meant only for special occasions), he picked a few of the orange poppies that had broken through the cracked earth next to his office.   Shaking only a little, he approached Rosemary Dove who sat chatting with Calvin Miller, and handed her the flowers.  Smiling, she thanked him and sat down for a drink. 
The game that night went on as always, though Rosemary Dove had returned to just watching.  She wore one of Roy’s poppies over her ear, and stroked his white beard with her long fingers.  The hours passed, and Roy sipped his whiskey and gin, feeling as happy as he had ever felt.  His eyes began to droop as the room swayed back and forth.  Rosemary Dove grabbed his bear paw and pulled him towards the stairs.  As they climbed, she turned and winked at him, as she always had, though now he needn’t leave. 
As Roy lay next to her, he stared blurrily up at the ceiling.  The wallpaper, dotted with red roses, seemed so appropriate for a woman like Rosemary Dove.  At this very moment, he thought of her as his and his alone, as his drifted off to sleep to her rhythmic breathing.  Minutes later a fire erupted at the livery stable, but Roy and Rosemary slept on.  As the red glow lit their bedroom, the townspeople below ran with buckets of water, in vain, as the fire burned the stable to the ground.
The next morning Roy awoke alone beneath the soft silk sheets.  Remembering only little of his happy evening, he rose, confused, and went downstairs.  Through the windows of the empty saloon, Roy saw an angry crowd gathered in the street, shouting and pumping their fists.  Sheriff Bigsby stood in front, hands raised.
“Now, people, we’ll get to the bottom of this.  Your money ain’t gone, it’s just missing.” 
“Isn’t that a wonder?” came a musical voice from the end of the bar.  Rosemary Dove smiled and pointed towards the burned livery opposite the street.  “Someone burned down the stables last night, horses and all.  While folks were runnin’ to save the place, same someone seems to have robbed the bank.”
Still not yet awake, Roy sat at an empty table to think.  He had never trusted banks, and so had never ventured to put his money into one.  A mattress had always worked perfectly fine – should he ever have that much money – or a cookie jar, or underneath the floorboards.  But the poker games would stop for a while, there being no money left in town, and the first man to walk into a game with a stack of money would be arrested for arson and theft.  So, no, there would be no game, at least not tonight.  Grumpier over that loss than anything else, Roy huffed and walked out into the street.  The crowd had dispersed, leaving Sheriff Bigsby to pretend to follow tracks in the dirt, as if solving the crime. 
“Any witnesses, Sheriff?” asked Roy, squinting in the morning sun.
“Only God, Judge" said Bigsby, nearly smiling at the irony.  “One of the whores claims she saw Charley O’Doherty’s ghost run in the livery last night, but I don’t believe I’ll keep that one on the record.”
Eyebrows raised, Roy pondered his own beliefs.  He’d never seen a ghost, himself, but he’d never gone looking for one, either.  He considered himself to be a bit of a coward, and couldn’t stand the idea of running into the dead poker cheat.  But even a ghost couldn’t win money with an empty bank in town. 
As news spread of Charley’s ghost, every man, woman, and child came up with a story of bumping into the dead fellow.  Some claimed he sat with them at dinner, while others saw him in the back pew of the church, “with his neck all crooked-like.”  Rosemary Dove scoffed at the idea and said that, despite her profession, she was a God-fearing woman who had no time for believing in the risen dead.  Roy always agreed wholeheartedly, more often than not to please her, but also to convince himself. 
As the only man in town with any money, Roy made more friends these days.  People wanted to shine his boots, cut his hair, and sing for him at his dinner, all in hopes for an extra penny here or there.  The old tightwad never spent a cent on anyone but himself or Rosemary Dove, as he prized her companionship above all else in his life.  Even his old mutt had been neglected to the point of starvation and had died on the back porch, while sunning itself.  But even Rosemary didn’t know that Roy’s true wealth lay just below the front stoop in the form of one solid gold brick. 
Roy had never dug up the brick, in fear that he would soon be shot over it, but he couldn’t spend it, either.  On his poorest days, back when he could gamble, he thought about that brick sitting there, worth more by the day.  Roy’s Great Uncle Felix Bean had struck rich back in the early gold rush days, and  had filled a wagon (so they say) full of solid gold bricks before getting drunk one night and stepping into rattlesnake nest.  As he lay dead, his riches were soon discovered and cleared away.  All but one brick disappeared and was supposed to have been buried along with Felix Bean.  But his mistress kept the brick for herself until his brother came to town and she gave it to him.  No, Roy had never told anyone about his precious solid gold brick, and would probably die without ever touching it.  Still, it made him feel safe just knowing it was there.
No one would have ever found out about that brick if Judge Roy hadn’t brought Rosemary Dove home one night after a few drinks at the bar.  He’d tidied up a little, hoping she might come, and had made a fresh pot of coffee to go along with a few hard-tack biscuits.  As he stumbled and she stepped daintily up the front stoop, a rotten board fell through, and with a shriek, she lost her shoe.  Reaching clumsily down, he found the slipper and they went inside to eat, talk, and otherwise canoodle. 
As was the custom, Rosemary Dove awoke early and left for the saloon, while Roy continued to snooze.  In the early sun, something caught Rosemary Dove’s green eyes as she stepped to avoid the spoiled board.  Beneath the step, sticking out of a wrapping of old rags, was gold.  Real gold.  Solid gold.  Staring in disbelief, Rosemary Dove knelt to touch the soft metal, warmed by the air.  With a sigh, she looked up at the old office, and covered the gold with its rag and a piece of the broken step.  Slowly, without turning her head, she walked away.  She knew Roy had lived there for a very long time, and the gold could only be his.  His reason for keeping it a secret, would have to remain with him. 
As drifters came through and farmers sold their Autumn crops, money began to filter back into the little town.  But no one, not even Sheriff Bigsby, had put a single cent back into the bank.  Thinking that it was the bank that had caused them to lose their money, the townsfolk began stuffing their mattresses, cookie jars, and under the floorboards.  Any thief worth his salt could see that this town was a goldmine.  All houses without dogs or guns lay as unprotected as a pocketbook left by the sink.  Money still went missing day to day, and day to day Sheriff Bigsby followed horse tracks through the streets.  Roy waited impatiently to hang the thief that still put a hold on his poker game.  As the weeks passed, the reward increased from ten, to twenty, to fifty, and finally to one hundred dollars.  Roy wanted that one hundred dollars.
But it was early one night when a scream came from up above the saloon.  Out ran Milly, one of the older women, half dressed and shaking her finger at Calvin Miller who stood agape in his underwear and bowler hat.
“It’s him that done it!” she shrieked.  “I found my necklace in his pants pocket! He’s the thief!”
Bigsby threw Calvin Miller into the town’s only jail cell and pointed his fat finger through the bars. 
“You’ll be hung in the mornin’, Miller,” he said, his lip jutting out with disgust.  “You’re gonna hang, and Roy’s gonna do it.”
Calvin Miller wept and pleaded for his life there in the cell.  He said he’d never “burned nothin’ nor stole from nobody.”  And the next day Calvin Miller swung to eternity out front at the “Law West of the Pecos.”  Roy Bean spat on the ground before nodding to the Father to cut him down.
The robberies immediately stopped and people began depositing their money back into the bank.  Filling like a hot bathtub, the cash flowed in, and poker commenced.  Roy lost a little, and won a little, but felt so happy just to be back in his old routine that he gladly paid the winner with a smile on his face.
That night, Rosemary Dove asked Roy to take her back to his office.  They were both drunk, but happy with each other’s company, though Rosemary did seem to have her mind on other things. 
“What is it, Rose?” asked Roy, using the pet name he cherished.
“Nothin’, Roy,” she said, smiling down at him.  “I’m just glad to be here, is all.”  She poured a bottle of whiskey, brought home from the bar, into an old coffee cup and they drank.  Before long, the room began to spin, and Roy fell asleep.  He thought he heard the sound of digging, but didn’t care much and sank deeper into the sofa and Rosemary Dove’s arms.
“Git up.” Roy opened his eyes.  There, leaning over him was the ghost of Charley O’Doherty.  With a shriek, Roy jumped off the sofa and backed into the corner, spilling coffee and whiskey off the table. 
“Glad to see me, are ya?” Charley said with a smirk. 
“No, no, no,” Roy moaned.  “You’re dead, Charley.  Just be dead and leave me alone.”  He gripped the hair on his beard and felt tears welling in his eyes as he shook. 
“Oh quit bitchin’, I ain’t dead” Charley said, rolling his eyes.  “If I was dead, do you think I’d come to your house?”
Roy slid down the wall and sat amidst the coffee grounds.  His eyes shifted back and forth as he tried to comprehend what he was seeing.  He remembered clearly seeing Charley O’Doherty hung by the neck until he was dead.  He’d seen the life sink out of him as he jerked at the end of the rope. He’d seen the Father cut him down and cart him away to be buried. Or had he?  He couldn’t remember.  He knew he had hung, but what then?
Charley smiled down at Roy, sitting there on the floor.  “It’s too bad Calvin had to hang,” he said, reflecting. “He sure’s been a help along the way.  If it wasn’t for that meat hook he tied around my chest, I really would’ve hung to death.”
Roy’s eyes widened and he stared up at Charley.  So Calvin Miller, the gossiping butcher, had helped Charley O’Doherty escape the gallows in front of the entire town.  But what about the Father?  Surely he could tell a dead man from someone who was still breathing.
“Oh, Father O’Connor?  He’s no priest.  He’s my brother, Seamus O’Doherty.  Had to practice a long time to learn to run a church.”
And slowly the walls came down.  The bartender was Shawn O’Doherty, while the clumsy dealer was young Patrick who had meant to tip the glass so that Roy would see Charley going for the extra card.  Charley needed to be “dead.”  Otherwise, how would he ever pull off the biggest bank robbery these parts had ever known?  He had walked away with nearly $50,000, and no one came looking for him.  And in the end, they hung old Calvin Miller for a mere one hundred dollars, just to clear the trail.  Milly, the old working girl, got to keep thirty dollars to stay silent.
“Why are you here?” asked Roy, stunned by the sudden clarity.
“Why, Roy,” Charley said, the evil grin widening. “There’s one more thing I need.  What’s hiding under your porch?”
Roy froze.  He had never told anyone about that brick, and he had never planned to.  No mistress, wife, nor child (if he ever had any of these) would ever have learned about the brick.  Yet here Lazarus stood, clear as day, and he knew.  Quickly, Roy contemplated whether it was best to lie or to just give him the brick and run.  He figured, as Charley knew there was something hidden under the porch, it wouldn’t do any good to fib. 
“Take it,” Roy huffed, rolling to his knees.  “You can have it, just leave me alone.”
“You know I can’t do that Roy.  You’ve seen my face.”  Charley’s expression turned to stone as stared straight into Roy’s eyes. 
Judge Roy Bean jumped to his feet and started for the door.  On the other side stood “Father O’Connor.”  Roy had never realized how surprisingly large the “priest” was, as “Godly” men seemed so small and meek.  A freckled fist snapped him across the nose, and he barreled backwards into a chair.  Seamus leaned in, all trace of religion gone from his Irish face, and grabbed Roy by the collar.  It took two men, but they dragged him out front of the office, to his very own gallows.
“No, please, NO!” whimpered Roy, hands clasped at his chin. 
“Stop screaming or you’ll wake somebody!” snarled Charley.
Strangely, though he had nothing to lose by yelling, Roy went silent and limp, waiting to be saved.  His dear, dear Rosemary Dove.  Where was she?  She could sound the alarm, but oh!  He didn’t want her strung up beside him.  As they tightened the noose around his grizzled neck, he could see Patrick pulling the brick from beneath the rotten wooden steps.  Cheerfully, he unwrapped it, gave a whistle at its weight, and tossed it into a gunny sack.
Roy felt the rope become taught and struggled to stand, delaying the inevitable.  The other end of the rope tied to Shawn’s saddle-horn, Charley touched it softly and snapped his fingers.  From behind the office stepped the beautiful Rosemary Dove.  Green eyes shining with the moonlight, she stared up at Roy, who paused. 
“Rose, run!” screeched Roy, fear welling up yet again.  “Rose” smiled softly at him, as she walked up to Charley and, to Roy’s horrific surprise, kissed him tenderly on the lips.
“Oh,” said Charley with utter delight. “Have you already met my wife?”
And with a slap to the hind-quarters, Judge Roy Bean swung to eternity at the end of his own rope.  As she left, Rosemary O’Doherty turned and gave him a wink.