Go Right In
At the line cabin, neither Clem nor Smitty took time to unsaddle their horses but dismounted and went inside.
C.J. unburdened Skewy and rubbed her with the saddle blanket before hauling the load into the little log house.
Claiming The Best Beds
Clem sat on the rope-mattress bed, and Smitty was on the plank that served as bunks. Both older men had gap-toothed grins.
“Think of it, Indian Fighter,” Clem said with a sweep of his arm. “This entire floor is yours.” He rubbed his hands together and fixed his gaze on Smitty. “Now, where’s the store whiskey?”
C.J. moved to one side and dropped his gear. He should have known something was up when his pardners didn’t stop to care for their mounts. He’d have to be more alert to their actions.
Smitty scratched his round beard and said, “If you look above the doorpost, you’ll find a loose adobe brick. Pull it out.”
Clem ran his hands along the lintel until he found the spot and removed the brick. He inserted his hand in the hole and removed a clear, glass bottle.
“Empty!” He drew back his arm as if to throw it at the fireplace.
Smitty jumped in front of him with his hands up in a surrender position. “No! No! Don’t break it. Put it back where it was.”
“What kind of game are you playing? I thought we was going to have a friendly drink.” Clem edged closer to Smitty. “Are we shooting square with each other, or does our new connection end here and now?”
“Put it all back,” Smitty said, “and I’ll show you something.”
Without taking his eyes off Smitty, Clem spoke to C.J. “Keep an eye on him. If he makes a move when I turn my back, kill him.”
“Let me explain,” Smitty said, waving his hands in the air. “You’ll see his genius, and realize it’s funny.”
“Better be,” Clem muttered as he replaced the empty bottle and brick. “Get on with it, then.”
Smitty’s tongue swept his mouth. “See, ever’body knew Davis was gettin’ drinks, and they all got to snoopin’ to find his stash. Me, too.” He raised his chin. “But I let the others do the work while I watched ‘em on the sneak.”
He cackled like a hen and slapped his leg. “Ever’one of ’em found the empty bottle and quit lookin’. Oh, they’d check on it from time-to-time thinking Davis may have refilled it, but that’s all.”
C.J. looked at the hiding spot and could picture the cowboys slink in one at a time to check the reservoir before leaving in dismay.
Even Clem seemed caught up in the story. “What happened?”
Had To Be Somewhere
Crinkles formed around Smitty’s eyes, and a grin split his beard. “I knew Davis had a hideaway. I’d mosey right up next to him and git a whiff of hooch. Then, I figured it out that he smelled right like a saloon in the mornings better’n he did later in the day. So I watched him all night as best I could.”
Clem windmilled his hand. “And?”
“Nothin’. He stayed in bed all night. Never even went to the privy.” Smitty pointed to the spot on the floor where C.J. had his saddle and bags. “I was in the same spot you’re sitting in, Indian Fighter.” The biggest grin yet parted Smitty’s lips and exposed black teeth. “I noticed old Davis was sleeping sorta scrunched up like, so the first chance I got, I looked around his bed.” He pointed at the rope bedpost nearest the junction of the walls. “Why don’t you check out around your cot?”
Clem pulled the frame away from the wall and looked for another loose brick. “Nothing. Where is it?”
“Check the wooden leg.”
“Nothing. It’s solid. You’d better quit foolin’ around, pard.”
Smitty laughed and went to the bed where he lifted the top off the post. He withdrew a ten-inch dark brown bottle. “I’ll be. Davis had just hid a new one. It’s full!”
Clem grabbed the treasure, pulled the stopper, and swallowed a mouthful. “Linen sheets, that’s smooth.”
“Yep,” Smitty said, “Duffy Malt Whiskey. Says so right on the bottle. First-rate stuff. I think Old Man Webster gives it to his secundos to keep ’em happy and doin’ a good job for him.”
“Oooh.” C.J. tossed off his blanket and rolled over. He got to his hands and knees coughing until he gasped for breath.
Clem snored on the rope cot.
Smitty peeked one eye out of his bedroll. “It’s called a hangover, Indian Fighter. Can’t hold your liquor, huh?”
Worse Than That
“I only had one sip. Didn’t like it. This is a sick coming on.”
Where will C.J. find medicine? Leave a comment now.
Here’s a fun article about Duffy’s Pure Malt Whiskey with an interesting conclusion.
To read the series, click on the down arrow in the Archive list, start with Tales Old Roy Told and work up.
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