In 1867 the city of Cheyenne, the City of the Plains, would be founded upon this very spot, but at the time it was 1840, and only known as Crow Creek Crossing. What some historians have lost is that there was a settlement here prior to the construction of Cheyenne as a railroad stop. Just a tiny spot with a few buildings, but it was a nice place for the most part.
The Cheyenne didn’t have a problem with the people of the settlement, and would sometimes assist the folks there if there came a need. And the townsfolk gladly welcomed any of the Cheyenne who came to visit. One of the Cheyenne named Wahoo even chose to live there. It wasn’t his real name, but when someone called him that after hearing his war whoop, he decided that he liked it. As he liked to put it, he was too lazy to live like his own people, and liked Ms. Susie Tanner’s cooking too much to leave.
Wahoo was anything but lazy really, and whenever there was work to be done, he was often right in the middle of it. Moose Morowski couldn’t run his trading post without Wahoo, according to him, and Ms. Susie found his help very valuable. Moose was a Polish immigrant that came to the territory by way of Quebec, and set up shop in the middle of nowhere. Susie was meant to go to New Archangel in Russian Alaska as a mail-order-bride, but only made it that far when she met Moose.
Sgt. Tomko of the US Cavalry had set up a small waystation there for use by the Army, but it was forgotten about, so the Army didn’t use it, supply it, or send orders to it. Sgt. Tomko sort of became the law there by default, but wasn’t the kind to stand alone against outlaws. If they ever came that way, he wouldn’t have to handle it alone, but it was still good he didn’t need to.
Father Neil Drummond set up a small building as a church, hoping that one day there would be a thriving town to help build a larger one. For the time though, he was happy with his small congregation, even if he did have to explain to Wahoo that baptizing and bathing were different, and he didn’t need to be baptized every week. Wahoo thought it was fun.
French trapper Jean Louie, an old friend of Moose, supplied meat for meals and furs for resale at the post. Mexican farmer Jose Cortez grew all the vegetables for the settlers. And then there was Chi, the Chinese immigrant girl, who escaped a possible life of prostitution by running away. Chi ended up lost nearby, until Wahoo found her. Now she lived there and worked with Ms. Susie making clothing.
It was a nice place to live for the most part, and trouble seldom found its way there, but one day there came an omen of ill tidings. A gun fighter came to town by the name of Mike Webster. An unassuming name for a man that made his living with shooting irons, but a gun fighter nonetheless. But he wasn’t the trouble, he was simply a sign that trouble was coming. God don’t send a man of his sorts to you unless he is needed.
Mike wasn’t a coldhearted killer type of gunman, he was just fast, and had found himself in a series of situations that only his gun could get him out of. His first was against “No Class” Robert Bass, a dirty mongrel of an outlaw that was more of a bully than a hardened desperado. After that, each one made it easier and easier to kill in his defense. So down they fell to the bullets from his gun, Joe Cagle a loudmouthed cowboy, greedy rancher Verne Siebe, and finally gambler “Diamond” Tim Flowers.
Mike came into town delivering a parcel to Susie from an A. Goodgirl back in Missouri. After it was delivered, and a suitable number of jokes about her name were passed about, Susie invited Mike to stay for dinner. Over dinner Mike took an immediate liking to Chi, and decided to stay on. He soon got to know everyone in town, but to pass the times of day he wasn’t trying to get to know Chi better; he took to helping Jose with his farming.
They spent a part of everyday alone together, Mike helping Chi with anything heavy, sitting beneath a tree and talking, Chi learning better English and Mike learning Chinese, and Mike even taught Chi to shoot. He eventually got her a smaller sized Colt to carry on her.
Mike never mentioned the money he carried with him from gambling winnings and hiring himself out to ranchers and such, but he was far from poor. One day, months after Chi had fallen for him, he decided to ride back East a bit. He didn’t say which town he was going to, or where he had been when he returned, but when he did he asked Chi to marry him, and she said yes in her language and his.
They could hardly wait for the week they had decided on before they were married, which made spending time together a temptation. But the week went fast enough, and the big day was fast approaching, but so was trouble.
One day a stranger rode into the trading post, talked with Moose, and said his name was J.R. Bundy, a bounty hunter after a runaway Chinese girl named Chi. Heard that she was working there at the trading post.
“She ain’t here. Hasn’t been for some time, if she was running, she kept on going.” Moose lied.
“Then I suppose you wouldn’t mind me looking around.” Bundy said.
“Yes, I do mind.” Moose said, getting angry.
“Then you have something to hide.” Bundy replied.
“No, I just don’t like being called a liar.” Moose shot back.
“Now whether you’re lying or not don’t make a pile of manure to me, but if I got to through you I will.” Bundy said, his hand sliding to his pistol on his left side.
“That hand moves another inch, I’m shooting it off.” came a voice from his left side.
“Now who might you be a farmer?” Bundy said, looking at the slender young man with dirt on his clothes.
“My name is none of your business, and neither is anything else here.” Mike said.
“Is that so? I am an agent of the courts, boy. I have the law on my side.” Bundy answered.
“You are just a hired gun, looking to make a payday on a bounty. More than likely you’re a criminal with a price on your head as well. I wonder how much you’re worth dead.” Mike said.
“You won’t get lucky enough to find out boy. Even if you do, I’ve got some boys supposed to meet up here with me. I came early, looking to have some of the slant-eyed girl to myself. If you do kill me, then you have to answer to them.” Bundy said.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. As for you, you gonna talk me to death, or go for that gun.” Mike asked.
“Well now, I’ll play.” Bundy said, the burly man climbing down from his horse.
Bundy moved a bit away from his horse, which to its credit was smart enough to move even farther away from Bundy. Mike stepped away from where he was putting nothing at his back but the barn. The two men eyed each other, trying to figure out their play. To Mike it was easy, when the stranger went for his Mike would draw. He wasn’t a cold blooded killer.
“What are we doing? Two grown men thinking to kill each other over a worthless runaway whore.” Bundy said, throwing his hands into the air.
“That “whore” as you say, is to be my wife.” Mike said calmly, watching Bundy and knowing when his hands dropped to his side, he would make his play. He watched as Bundy shrugged his shoulders and his hands dropped, the left hand going for the gun.
Mike’s right hand snatched up his gun so fast that it seemed like it had been in his hand the whole time. One shot from the hip, one bullet hitting Bundy square in the chest. The fat man fell backwards, dead as could be.
Mike and Wahoo buried the fat man in a big grave as Father Drummond said some words for the dead man. By the time they finished it was dinner time. The next day Mike and Wahoo took Bundy’s horse out to the Cheyenne, thinking it a good place to hide it.
On the way back, as they passed a lake, they were fired at by a lone man with a rifle that made them drop their guns. They complied. The man got off of his horse and approached them.
“I followed you two out here with Bundy’s horse. You gave it to the Cheyenne, which was smart. Where’s Bundy?” the man asked.
“Why do you want to know? Are you after the price on his head?” Mike asked.
“The price…what? We are bounty hunters. He ain’t got no price on his head. Did he tell you that? That sidewinding polecat. He’s got the Chinese and running off with her.” the new bounty hunter said.
“He did a bit of drinking last night, and said he killed some sodbusters out Nebraska way. Said there was a mighty big price on his head. We being simple folk, we couldn’t kill him and take the bounty for him, though it would be a help to us.” Mike said.
The man stepped over to Mike pushing the rifle into his chest. The man stared at him, trying to read his face for tells of a lie and trying to remember if he had ever seen a poster with that face.
“I’d be careful pointing that at me like that mister, the Cheyenne we took the horse to are friends, and we invited them to supper. If they see you with your rifle in my chest, you won’t live the rest of the day. They should be coming over that hill there in a minute.” Mike said.
The distraction was enough to make the man look over his shoulder to the hill. As he did, Mike grabbed the rifle barrel with his left and moved away from the business end. With his right, he punched the man in the face. Tearing the rifle from the man’s hands took a bit of extra effort, but Wahoo grabbed the man by the throat as Mike took it away.
Wahoo and the man tumbled down the slope and into the lake. They grappled each other trying to get the upper hand. At one point though the man gained the advantage, and pushed Wahoo under the water. But Wahoo turned the tables by pulling the man’s head under the water too. Both men were under for several minutes, as Mike jumped in to find them, but couldn’t.
Eventually the man came up first, but remained face down. Seconds later Wahoo came up gasping for air. Mike helped Wahoo to his feet, and they dragged the man out of the water. After they dried a bit, they dug a shallow grave for the man. They took his horse to the Cheyenne as well, Wahoo picking on Mike for using his white man’s power of speaking with a forked tongue, and Mike offering to teach Wahoo how to swim.
They returned in time for supper, and most everyone went to bed early that night, with the wedding planned for the morning. Mike thought about Chi and how beautiful she was, how he couldn’t wait to make her his wife, but also of any more friends of Bundy showing up. He decided that everyone, even Father Drummond should go armed to the wedding.
The cock announced the dawn as usual that morning, and everyone woke to start getting ready for the wedding. Susie got Chi ready in a dress of hers she had altered to fit Chi’s smaller frame, and thought to herself of getting Moose to marry her.
Sgt. Tomko, being about Mike’s size, loaned him one of his Sunday best suits. Moose, Wahoo, Jean Louie, and Jose busied themselves at dressing their best for the wedding, and as per Mike’s request everyone carried a gun.
The ceremony began without a problem in Father Drummond’s little chapel. Susie the maid of honor, Sgt. Tomko shared the best man duties with Jean Louie, Jose and Wahoo, while Moose had the honor of giving Chi away. Not as elaborate as Queen Victoria’s wedding to Prince Albert that year, but good enough for them.
“Dearly beloved.” Father Drummond began, and before long he was finished reading all of the accompanying scriptures. Jose almost fell asleep, but Wahoo nudged him to keep him awake. Finally the preacher came to the good part.
“Do you Mike, take Chi as your lawfully wedded wife? To love, honor, and cherish, to have and to hold, for better or worse, as long as you both shall live?” Father Drummond asked.
“I do.” Mike said.
“Do you Chi, take Mike as your lawfully wedded husband? To love, honor, and cherish, to have and to hold, for better or worse, as long as you both shall live?” Father Drummond asked.
“I do.” Chi said.
“We do.” Mike said, with a big smile on his face. Chi laughed and repeated it.
“I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride.” Father Drummond said.
The couple kissed, smiled at each other, kissed again, and again. This came to an abrupt stop as they were suddenly mobbed by their friends, their family. After hugs, kisses for the bride, the hand shaking, and all around congratulations, they headed out from the chapel to have the little reception in Ms. Susie’s dining room. They stepped outside to find four men on horseback looking at them.
“Well, there’s the China doll, where’s Bundy and Foster? You folks know where our buddies got off to?” the one with greyish beard asked.
“We do.” Mike said, stepping forward and ready to draw down on all four by himself if need be.
“Listen. I don’t really give too much thought to what you may have done to them two. They rode on ahead, thinking to collect this tiny reward for themselves and cut us out, while we were collecting on bigger ones without them. They got whatever they deserved. Now however, you ain’t got no objections to us just taking the lovely bride there with us do you?” the mouthpiece asked for the other three.
“We do.” the residents of the trading post answered in unison, each drawing their weapons and aiming at the four men.
“Do you think that you frontier home bodies can stop us? We’ll just be back later when you aren’t ready. Do you think that you can honestly win here?” gray beard asked.
“We do.” Mike said, shooting the man in the chest before shifting his aim to another, while his family also fired at the bounty hunters. Not one of the bounty hunters got off a shot.
“Wahoo, do we have time tomorrow to take these horses to the Cheyenne?” Mike asked.
“We do.” Wahoo answered.