Baileys Besieged

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Chapter 4

The Complete Account of Baileys Resort (1889-1937):

No one thought it strange to see Cledus Beaumont ride up on a horse, or witness the man swing from the saddle and tie his beast to a hitching post. Cledus walked with the confident gait of a man who won a few scuffles, saloon brawls, and felt a man gurgle-shirk in the last burst of human blood. In passing, Cledus knew men at Bailey’s carried shooting irons; in fact, any man who called himself a man carried cold steel power across the early frontier with them.

The drop. A good drop separated the men from the boys; otherwise a boy didn’t live to see manhood. Cledus drew with the best of them, in his youth, before developing necessity to cherish wits over speed. He was meticulous in keeping J J clean and happy, for the one time he needed her support, or for the crucial moment flint and steel acted as savior. Cledus often considered his youth and a time he could shoot off a single sagebrush bud, at thirty paces, at a time when his eyes were perfect and his aim was true.

“Tarnation! I hates Nancy-boys,” Cledus exclaimed. He pushed demandingly through swinging doors at Pesky’s Saloon, with no concept of sounding like Yosemite Sam. As he stepped foot inside the saloon, the noise of western traffic hardly struck an odd cord. In fact, the deep bell tone of an organ rang out with a familiar tune. Four men sat around a wood card table caught in the throes of a game of draw poker. Many smoked, while desperately trying to better each other with well warn playing cards. A strumpet adjusted her chemisette atop a crinoline skirt as she sat atop a wood trellis, kicking her legs out and flirting. It was her best plan to put a stint as a matchgirl in the streets behind her.

A chubby barkeep tried to catch Cledus’s eye, tried to ease an obvious threat in the man’s cocky step, but he knew nothing would faze the skullduggery’s swagger. Cledus met the mahogany counter as if his body demanded it soften under his weight. Although it didn’t give, it creaked under the intense pressure his large rugged body applied. Jay Jay grazed the counter from the nest of its holster.

The chubby man grew use to a barking iron because everyone carried one. Jay Jay was threatening because Cledus appeared savage as a meat axe, and often conveyed going whole hog in every physical movement. What made observers nervous is they didn’t know whether they were part of the plan or not. Even a shot of whiskey didn’t dispense with the stranger’s aura, but it better illuminated deep intensity lurking behind highly troubled eyes.

“You in town for a spell?” The barkeep asked. “Probably none my business.”

Cledus looked past the man, as if chubby became one with invisibility. What from another man would have been a question quickly became an imperative.

“Snakes alive…You serve liquor in this doggery?”

“Sam Hill, Pard, acknowledge the corn.”

“Land sakes, yuv gone coon. Give me Tarantula Juice or a Phlegm-cutter.”

An invisible set of hands grabbed a hold of the chubby man’s collar—over the counter.

“Skip yur shit-eating grin…Yu pile on de agony tu a brick in me hat!”

Upon release, the barkeep acted skeery. He continued polishing a new glass with a shabby hand-towel. He eyed his own J J, loaded for bear, resting peacefully underneath the solid wood counter. Barkeep named his own 1873 single action colt revolver Peacemaker. Chubby imagined his Peacemaker getting a drop on the stranger’s J J. But he thought about his aging reflexes, a poor round of sweating his guns, and both invoked a genuine fear of variability and uncertainty of the outcome.

The woman sitting on the trellis jumped down, in order to catch the gunman’s attention. She first gave Chubby a wink. “Things ok Mac?” The woman asked, casually.

The short man behind the counter’s expression said to get the all possessed, bad egg, away from his saloon. But his mouth acquiesced in fear.

“Things are fine, Lola…Nothing to stop yur cavorting about…Not yur funeral.”

The woman tilted her head flirtatiously, and touched the gruff man’s shoulder with a hand inside of a feminine glove.

“Howdy, Pard…Nothing worth getting jo-fired about!” The woman added.

Cledus spun the harlot’s way with a rakish tilt that set her weak in the knees. The lewd woman found herself so overwhelmed by unanticipated physical attraction, she wasn’t sure the emotional intensity she felt was fear or pure animal lust. Both the barkeep and his confidant were shocked, when the man who looked as if he could bite a tin-penny nail in two tipped his hat, turned his head, grinned, and replied, “Gol adventurous! Got a mind to go full chisel?”

Cledus left the strumpet asleep in the bagnio, after a quick visit to the brothel’s water closet. A quick face-flush helped him leave in a conquering mood. A smile formed on his cracked and well-worn face.

The first thing outside, the desperado checked his horse and attached saddle bags. Cledus carried several compact irons, a sheathe concealing a derringer with a modified sight at the front of one rudimentary barrel, and enough ammunition for three men. Cledus felt his trump card was a sheer element of surprise as he watched from atop his beautiful horse, and took a long swig from a handy water-bag. He wouldn’t have admitted a relief to anyone—when a fellow rustler galloped up on horseback, bathed in a final swatch of the sun’s arc. His partner appeared ready to join the small posse. Baileys had missed their daily drop, and both rustlers caught wind of it; they both lived for the pure thrill of whipping their weight in wild cats. It seemed even Jay Jay wanted to host a court of law.

The two men galloped in with their guns ready, but loosely holstered. Cool evening air awakened their senses, sharpened their reflexes, and begged each of them to heat up the early evening with smoke and flame. Cledus killed five men. Three in duels. One for making derogatory comments to his wife, Margaret. Margaret had died, two years later, of Leukemia. The final man he killed for ridiculing his horse, Bernadette; a horse he developed incredible affection for. A horse Cledus was forced to shoot, after she plunged into a rabbit hole and broke her right leg—in five places.

The proprietor of Baileys packed his own Colt .45 and a Winchester ’73 carbine. Cledus plan was to have James distract the man, while he put a bullet between the owner’s eyes. Neither man counted on a third man carrying a weapon or sticking his nose where it didn’t belong; a vigilante who didn’t carry a badge, but the law provided leniency for—if he fought on the side of good.

Cledus examined his fellow rustler.

“You ready, Pardner?”

James gave his fellow rustler a passive once over, with subservience flooding his eyes.

He turned away to draw in a few puffs of a rolled cigarette, before answering his old friend.

“Time fir me pocket full of rocks!”

Cledus grinned. He knew if it came right down to it, he could spill his friend’s blood as well as the next man’s, blood that had no distinguishing significance when it littered the dirt or drew turkey vultures.

He hitched up his horse to a rail to the left of the main sleeping quarters. On cue…James pointed his gun into the air and fired. Several men came running with weapons squarely drawn. James ducked behind a storage house, doing his best to keep two approaching men in his sights. He missed a third man hankering on fixing his flint, of not more than twenty, who snuck up on him from behind.

James spun around and a Remington Shotgun blast tore through his right shoulder, splattering warm crimson blood across the storage shed behind him. His face reflected shock as his carcass slid, slowly, down a wall, like ice on its surface. The prick who plugged James stood piss proud and kicked the man’s hog-leg away.

“A lynching’s too good for yu!” He spat in the wounded attacker’s direction.

James could do no more than convulse, as shredded sinew tried to thwart off the pain.

Cledus stepped into the main building, opposite the bathing springs.

It’s too quiet!

An employee of Baileys entered through a door at the back of the Lobby.

“Can I help yu?”

Imperturbable and fearless, Beaumont drew his piece quickly. The employee dove behind the counter, while securing his own shooter in the process. Cledus fired two shots that splintered the corner of the counter and punched several holes in the natural timber wall beyond. The defender parried to the left, rolled, came up in a crouch, and fired a shot that whizzed by Cledus’s left ear.

Cledus dove behind a store display case, which immediately disintegrated as bullets penetrated display glass. Wood housing protected Cledus—for a spell. He quite possibly could have made it to the front door, but there was no honor in being plugged in the back attempting to retreat. No. A Beaumont never backed down in a gunfight.

Out of a crouch, intermittently, the gunfighter launched a barrage of return volleys. It only took one wrong guess and bad timing. Within a cloud of dissipating smoke, the reports soon stopped. But not before bullets flew close enough to nearly part the guarding employee’s hair. Cledus continually fired, even though he felt something pierce his thigh. He tried to continue firing, when a second bullet shattered his collarbone and folded him up like some Voodoo Doctor removed a supporting body strut.

In the next half-an-hour, it would be an understatement to say Bailey’s groundskeepers were slow in producing a doctor. Something in James’s body gave him the fortitude to live long enough to face a proper hanging. Cledus Beaumont held on for nearly an hour, pressing anything offered to various battle wounds. In the last few breaths, Cledus found an instant awareness of spiritual things. An image of his wife, Margaret, came back to him in full and vivid color.

“Reckon I’ll see you soon…Peaches!” The man labored to say.

Employees of Baileys were reported to have drug his body outside, so it didn’t mess up the floor. A neigh rang out. Cledus looked up to see the face of his horse hovering over his carcass, as if it was Bernadette that tried to fend away the hearse.

“You’re a damn good trotter…” spewed from Cledus Beaumont’s lips, before he turned cold as a wagon tire.

Those chosen to help limit the spread of disease quickly dug a hole. Riley Beaumont sought the help of a few colored people to help roll Cledus into a hollow plank crate. Riley was the only offspring of five children to see his father laid to rest. He vainly attempted to resurrect a crude grave marker reflecting an empty, savage-like father; though, Riley knew Bailey groundskeepers would tear it down the moment he walked away from the no-account’s grave site.

In 1937, Cledus Beaumont’s remains looked upon the underbelly of a brand new, regulation tennis court. Ironically, several thousand tennis shoes eventually tread on his rest of peace. Riley Beaumont passed away in 1934, many claimed of a broken spirit. Rumor had it—his wife strayed from the sanctity of their marriage bed, and the humiliation he felt knowing of the affair further fueled his long festering pain. Riley stood erect, with a rope about his neck, and kicked a chair out from underneath himself—allowing a noose of self-pity to empty his body of what hopeful breath remained. A rich, spiritually interwoven tapestry of violence, human desire, and self-sacrifice grew and solidified volatile roots in the Twentieth Century Beaumont Family Tree.

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