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Western

Western

George Sparling

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Because I owe money to a lawyer who bribes a judge and gets me off after I club my wife to death, I decide to move from the east and land in Osage County, Oklahoma. It’s gotta be better here. My money runs out but then I steal horses, selling them to ranchers until they get wind of it and take me to the clink for horse thieving. I escape with the help of a convict in the hoosegow for a bank holdup, sprung by his cohorts.

I join the gang, and in 1911 we rob a train. I shoot dead the man in the mail car. Afterwards, we gallop to the hills, hiding out in an abandoned ranch house. We divvy up the loot. I’ve $5,000 in large bills. The Sheriff and his posse track us down. I’ve a Winchester repeater used in the heist, plus two .38s in holsters under a dirty serape. The vigilantes corner us and the rest of the gang. “YOU COWARDLY BASTARDS,” I yell at my gang after they surrender. I shoot it out and bullets fly through me, ending up dead, my blood among nettles and scrub.

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The Sheriff slings me down on a slab at the coroner’s office. They strip me naked and the coroner embalms me. I’m sold to a carnival for $500 and I travel. Paying crowds of spectators gawk at me in circuses and carnivals, and Rotary club members curse me. “Your kind aren’t good for business,” one gent says to another. 

In California I’m a public joke, both arms and legs painted red, white, and blue; me dressed in the same stinking, bullet-ridden clothes in which I died. In 1975, I’m sold to a Hollywood funhouse and I attract more customers. Seated on a Styrofoam gallows, I’m fluorescent-dyed: orange, red, and gold under black light. Both arms fall off, as do the two heavy .38s I still tote. Spectators gag, some vomit, and all flee.

I’d rob again if that was possible.

All rights reserved to George Sparling.

Franklin's Lesser Aphorisms

Franklin's Lesser Aphorisms

The Next Time I Die

The Next Time I Die