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Rated: E · Article · Western · #574048
Garth and Banjo have a guardian angel.
Pieces of straw clung to Garth’s jeans and shirt as he pitched the last dusty bale of hay into the barn. He dusted himself off with his hat and removed his checkered bandana from his face. Sweat beaded his forehead and he swiped at it with the bandana
.
“And that’s the last of that,” he said to himself.

He closed the squeaky doors on the barn to keep the livestock out. A stray speckled hen squawked and flapped her wings as she scurried aside. As the latch fell into place with a clunk, Garth decided to ride into town for a cool beer and maybe a little relaxing entertainment that evening. He sauntered off to the bunk house. It was a squat one-story structure, more of a shed that a house. Red paint was peeling off of the weathered boards. Garth figured rightly that he’d be scraping and painting before the cold winter set in.

He drew up a small pitcher of water and poured it into a white porcelain bowl. It made a nice splashing sound as it began to fill the container. Garth peeled off his well-used plaid work shirt and washed himself off with a course rag. It didn’t do to go into town without cleaning up first. The ladies at the saloon were partial to men who bathed. Donning a plain dark colored shirt, he stuffed the tail into his jeans and viewed himself in the cracked mirror that hung over the porcelain wash bowl.

As he combed his long dark hair into place, he said, “You’re a right good lookin’ feller, ya know,” and smiled widely at his joke. The image in the mirror seemed to agree. Garth picked up his battered Stetson and headed out to the corral to saddle his horse.

The ranch foreman called out, “Garth…hey Garth…you headin’ into town?”

An easy-going sort but one to engage in a little mischief, Garth called back, “Depends on who wants to know.”

The foreman smiled at the comment and walked up to where Garth sat astride his horse. “Mr. Crowder needs this money dropped off at the bank. Would you mind running it over there before you hit the saloon?”

“Naw…wouldn’t mind a bit,” returned Garth with that broad smile. It made him feel pretty important around the ranch when he was called upon to run errands for Mr. Crowder, the owner.

The money exchanged hands and Garth rode on out the lane that led to town. His pinto had a smooth but fast gait so he made good time as he traveled along. “Banjo,” he said to his horse, “how was your day?” The horse swished his tail as if in answer. “My day was hot and sweaty. Wish I could just stand around in the corral all day.” He kicked the horse a little and they galloped for a ways stirring up a pale cloud of dust behind them.

As he passed a briary thicket near the dusty trail, three men wearing bandanas over their faces quickly surrounded Garth and Banjo. They’d been waiting for a victim to come along and he apparently fit the bill.

“Hold up mister,” said the tallest one wearing a black bandana and brandishing a Colt .45 revolver. Garth pulled Banjo up to a halt and raised his hands in the air.

“What do you fellers want,” asked Garth with an alarmed look on his sun-reddened face.

“We want that money you’re carryin’,” growled the man who rode a tan horse. He kept blinking his eyes as if he had something wrong with them.

Garth looked at the third outrider and realized he had a long wicked looking scar that curved across his forehead. As he reached for his pocket, he told the outlaws, “I don’t want no trouble. Here’s the money…you take it…but I don’t want no trouble.”

Before the money could be snatched from his hand, loud rifle shots sounded from a nearby hilltop. Puffs of smoke could be seen breaking through undergrowth on the hill as bullets ripped through the arms of the outlaws.

Three shots in almost 3 seconds was shooting pretty fast but all the bullets found their marks as the guns dropped from the bandits hands. One of the gunman fell from his saddle.

With wild looks in their eyes, the other two looked all around them as their horses jumped a little chaffing at the bit. Dark red blood dripped from the wounds in their arms. With no further attack, the tall leader yelled to his accomplice to help the other one to his horse. When they were all three mounted again, another shot sounded and dirt kicked up from the ground in front of the outlaws.

Without further hesitation, the leader called, “Let’s go,” and the three vanished as quickly as they came.

In the ruckus, Garth had dropped the money which scattered into the brush at the side of the trail. He got down and started picking it up but kept an eye out over his shoulder for any further doings. When it was all safely put back in his pocket, he called out, “Hello?” There was no answer. The only thing that could be heard was a soft wind whistling through the trees and the sound of Banjo’s hooves as he shifted position. “Hello? You on the hill…” called Garth. There was still no answer.

Realizing that his savior was not coming down, he remounted Banjo and started slowly on his way again. For several minutes, he was all eyes, looking everywhere but finally wondered if it had just been a dream. “Well, Banjo…what do you think of all that? Who do you figure it was that helped us.” Banjo just swished his tail and kind of dipped his head up and down a little. “Well, whoever it was…I sure thank them…and really fine shootin’,” he called out in a loud voice hoping his rescuer would hear. The horse snorted and picked up his gait.

Garth got the money deposited alright and told the tale at the Goodnight Saloon in town that evening. No one knew what to make of the mysterious deliverer who’d plucked him from doom. Garth and Banjo knew though…they had a guardian angel and thanked their lucky stars as they rode home that night under the canopy of the brilliantly lit sky.

Dwane Barr
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