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Dave and Emmett Ride Again

Dave and Emmett together again

This is written as a stand alone story but some of it might be better understood if you read the first two chapters starting with “The Town Drunk.”

Dave Meyer and Emmett Wolf had struck it rich with a fabulous gold strike which had raised their station in this town of Dead Cat from nonentities to ones of prominence, even to highly respected citizens.

But, to be truthful, neither of them were very respectable. They still drank copious amounts of whiskey and spit and swore whenever they were not in genteel company. But, it seems, the veneer of piles of cash tend to make people overlook such indiscretions when the perpetrator is stinking rich.

Nevertheless, they had even found themselves members of the town council. The only two, it turned out, as the greedy corruption of the previous council had earned them quite some time in the state facility for nefarious politicians.

So, here we find them, Dave as acting mayor and Emmett as vice mayor, treasurer, secretary, town clerk, and sometimes janitor. As Emmett didn't read all too well, Dave's wife, Kate, filled in where needed. The two of them wasted very little time setting up a special election to fill the vacant seats, so as to spread the blame when things didn't turn out as well as expected. Does this sort of thing ring a bell to any of you?

The election turned out fairly well with Emmett and two others allies of Dave while the other three considered Dave the second coming of Beelzebub. Dave, as mayor, had the tie breaking vote if needed.

Shortly after the election hubbub had died down, Dave and Emmett were sitting in the mayor's office, enjoying some liquid refreshment when Emmet said, “Alright Dave, where do we go now that we've got these damn jobs? We can't just sit on our fat cans and expect things to be hunky dory, can we?”

“Hell no, Emmett, it's like I told Rupe, the banker, I've got a lot of ideas to fix up old Dead Cat. But first, we have to expand the tax base, and bring in some money. If you could count above a hundred you'd realize those last crooks bled this town damn near dry. Look at this office, it's fit for the president. A long ways up for old Shoddy, ain't it.” Shoddy being the name Dave was previously known by.

“Sure as hell is, Dave, must have cost a fortune of the town's money. Quit hoggin' the bottle and hand it over here. What's a tax base? I never heard you use words like that when you lived in the back of the livery.”

“I knew them, just didn't have any use for them then. A tax base is people and businesses that pay taxes. We've got to make it bigger by bringing more jobs to town so the people that can't find work will be able to. Then they can help pay some instead of living off the others.”

Emmett looked around for the spittoon and let fly with some tobacco juice that hit it dead center, then asked, “How're we going to do that? There ain't no place for them to find work. The only business around here is the mines, the ranches, and the stores, and they have all the help they need. Even the saloons have extra bartenders to spread it out some.”

Dave leaned forward in the plush chair and stated, “We need more business and more jobs, is how. I want us to build a mill on the creek. We could build a dam on it up in that gulch west of town and we'd have plenty of head of water to power all the mills we want.

I figure a saw mill, there's plenty of timber around here. Maybe a grist mill, or a stamping mill for the mines, they wouldn't have to haul their ore way to hell and gone to extract the gold. Maybe even a bark mill for a tannery to make leather out of all the hides. Think of the jobs that would create. Don't hog all that whiskey”

“I always said you were the thinker in our partnership, Dave. My head hurts when I try. Do you think we've enough money for all that? That's a powerful lot of building to do. Hand me the bottle.”

“I already talked to Rupe at the bank, he's all for it and wants to invest in it. If we don't have enough he'll cover it. With the railroad getting closer, they're looking for places that have goods to haul out and that need stuff for them to haul in. I tell you, Emmett, this town could have a bonanza. Once we've a tax base we can really fix the town up. Plus, we'll get richer with us owning the mills. If we don't do it nobody else has the money to, not even the bank.”

“Okay, Dave, you knew I'd be in 'cause you've never steered me wrong. Do you think we can get it past the whole council? Some of them just want to see you fail, and don't care if it helps the town. Let me have some more of that joy juice.”

A week later, at the town council meeting, there was a flurry of objections from the three antagonistic members. Let's call them Tom, Dick, and Harry, so as to not sully their already bad reputations. But they had no basis to stop operations as Emmett had already bought the land with the gulch for the dam and millpond. Dave had purchased a large piece of land for the mills where the mill race would end. At the end of the meeting Dave could see the three plotting in the corner, it wasn't over yet.

By month's end our two entrepreneurs had already put a lot of people to work, cutting timbers and hauling stone for the dam, while another crew was laying a stone foundation for the mill. Things went along very well for some time, and progress on both fronts was taking place. The town was excited with the thought of more prosperity to come.

Then the accidents started. A man on the timber crew was crushed when someone dropped a tree on him with no warning. No one saw who was responsible as it was deep in the forest, away from the rest. The next day another man drowned when he had his leg caught in a rope that was tied to a tree that was pushed in to float to the dam.

Axes and saws were left hidden to cut men walking through the thick brush. Large stones mysteriously fell on men for no apparent reason. Scaffolding that the day before was sound suddenly collapsed, pinning men beneath it and whatever it had been holding. The men were scared and by being extra cautious, always looking around instead of working, work slowed dramatically. Many men quit, not liking their chances.

When one thug was caught hiding a saw in the brush he was quickly hanged by the rest of the timber drew before he could be asked who hired him. But that didn't stop the trouble, so Dave went to see Chet, the town marshal.

As Dave walked into the marshal's office, Chet came from the back, where the cells were, and greeted him, “Morning Dave, you don't have to tell me why you're here, I've heard all about it. You know I have no jurisdiction out side the town limits and I don't know how I can help you. Sorry.”

“Yeah, I know, Chet,” he said as he pulled a paper from his pocket and continued, “That's why I wrote the governor and he sent this,” and handed the paper to Chet.

Chet read it and exclaimed, “Dave, this is a state appointment, making me a state trooper, so I will have jurisdiction. But how did you get this so fast, it takes days to send him a message and more days to get an answer?”

Dave smiled and nodded, then said, “At the end of the last council meeting I could smell trouble coming and sent my plea the next morning. It just got here a couple of minutes ago. What do you think you can do?”

“Well, I've already thought about it. Do you know that old rummy that says he used to be a ship's captain? I think he's got a telescope and if we put a man up high someplace he could probably see what's going on. All he has to do is watch guys that are by themselves and see if they do anything wrong.”

“That might just work, Chet. Sure, I know the captain, he and I shared many a bottle. I even got him a job sweeping up the town hall and I'm sure he'd lend us his 'scope. I suggest you don't let anything about that appointment get out. It might scare them enough so they get tricky and we won't catch the bastards.”

“I already thought that too, Dave. We'll be real sneaky. I think we should start watching at the dam, that's where a lot of damage could be done. If it was breached that flood would wipe out what you've done on the mill and some of those poor folks shacks, too.”

The deputy, Johny, did see one dumbbell sawing on a rope but someone saw him before it was cut through, and he claimed someone paid him five dollars to do it and he didn't know who. He sat in jail.

Finally the dam was done and the water was quite high already behind it. Preparations were made to have a celebration when it reached the spillway. They could figure very close to when it would happen and the day before a large crew was sent to build a dignitaries platform and set up tables for the picnic the whole town was invited to.

At the end of the workday the crew left and the deputy was about to leave when he noticed that three men hadn't left on the wagons but were just lazing around. He settled back in his hidey hole on the side of the mountain and kept close watch on them.

It was almost dusk when he saw them rise and look down the road and around the countryside. When they didn't see anyone two of them went into the brush and came out with two crates. It was just light enough to see printed on the crates the words “Blasting Powder, Caution.” He stayed just long enough in the fading light to see where they hid them on the dam face, and then hurried down the back trail to the marshals office.

When he rushed through the door he saw Chet, Dave and Emmett sitting around a small table making last minute plans for the morrow. He excitedly said, “They're going to blow the dam! One rifle shot in the powder they hid would take out the whole face!”

Chet rose and put a hand on the deputy's shoulder, “Calm down, Johny, they won't do it tonight or would have already. They'll have somebody with a Sharps on the mountainside ready to blow it while the crowds there, so it'll discredit Dave. You saw where they put it, right? And you can pick out the men, can't you?”

Johny visibly relaxed and said, “ Yeah, I know exactly where it is, they hid it just under a big red stone and covered it with dirt. That stone will be the aiming point, it's easy to see. I'll never forget the faces on those mongrels, I could find them in the dark by their smell probably.”

“Okay,” Chet said, “We'll wait a couple hours and then sneak up there and remove almost all of it, but leave enough to make a bang that won't hurt the dam. Meanwhile I'm going to get some trustworthy men to go up there now, spread out, and hunker down. We want that shooter real bad. He'll know who's behind this.

Over the next hours they accomplished what Chet had laid out and still had a couple hours sleep. The flow was estimated to start between shortly after noon and three PM, so around eleven Chet took a large carriage and picked up the council members while Dave and Kate drove their own surrey up the mountain. There was a variety of conveyances carrying people, and many of the younger ones walking the long but not very steep road.

Upon arriving he helped Kate from the carriage, grabbed their picnic basket and took her to a nice shady spot, where he spread a large blanket and helped her sit. Looking around he saw a large crowd had already gathered and more were arriving by the minute. He then walked upstream of the dam, checked the water level, and saw it would be a while yet.

The wives of the married council members had already arrived via their own carriage. Dave went and greeted them as the member's carriage arrived and they spent a few minutes getting settled. Tom, Dick, and Harry seemed a little nervous and Dave noticed they consulted their pocket watches quite frequently. He returned to Kate until he thought it was getting close and approached the council.

“Well gentlemen, shall we take our place on the podium, it's almost time.” Seeing Chet nearby, not by accident, Dave added, “Chet, why don't you join us, you're a town official.”

As the men neared the dam Dave said, “As the official members of the town I think we should spend a few minutes we have left to inspect it, so we appear to know what we're talking about if asked anything. C'mon let's take a look.” He started down to the face of the dam.

Tom spoke up in a slightly squeaky voice, “But mayor, what if it starts to flow, I don't think we should.”

Chet put his arm around Tom's shoulders and said, “Don't be silly Tom, when it starts it will only be a trickle, there will be plenty of time to get back up.” and gently urged him forward and they continued down into the gulch. Dick and Harry hesitantly following.

Dave told them, “Over by that big red rock would be a good place to see the whole dam.” and started forward.

Just then there was a splash of water on the rocks, in the distance you could hear the report of a loud rifle and just moments later a loud bang came from the dam face. The crowd, thinking is was fireworks to celebrate, started cheering, the town band started loudly playing, and Tom, Dick and Harry fainted dead away.

After the dastardly trio were quietly laid in a wagon and taken to jail the town picnic proceeded with great success. Everyone was elated to think that prosperity was right around the corner.

The next day Dave learned that the shooter had been captured, as had the three that planted the blasting powder. They eventually found out who had been in on the “accidents” and they were apprehended too.

From the evidence gathered came the information that there were more people than the primary trio in the plot. There was a cabal that didn't want the railroad to come to town, as they had purchased land and were trying to lure the railroad to theirs, instead. If the town became prosperous and drew the railroad they would be left with some worthless land. All were tried and convicted.

Dave and Emmett rode on.

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