List of Claude Morris' Poems
  A Grave Situation    
  A Rum Complaint    
  Commercial TV D.T.s    
  The Draw-Back    
  The Eucalyptus Cutter    
  The Legend of Angel Creek
  The Run-up    
  The Shooting Of Sam McHugh    
  The Topaz Trail    

The Shooting of Sam McHugh

  © Claude Morris

The Shooting Of Sam McHugh
The far Southwest had a nasty guest
By the name of Sam McHugh;
His beard was red from chin to head
And his teeth black, yellow and blue.
An utter cad, and utterly bad,
Born with a will to kill --
He knew no law but the .44
That he used with deadly skill.

He kept no book of the lives he took
But the number made him proud;
At a random guess it was in excess
Of the number the Law allowed.
He rode one day - on a horse, by the way,
To the town of Nevertell;
An outlaw den full of wanted men
And unwanted women as well.

He found a saloon in the afternoon
With nary a hombre in sight.
In their simple way they slept all day
And brawled in the cool of the night.
Sam breasted the bar like a red Hussar
And called for a shot of rye,
But the old barkeep, besotted with sleep
Could only lift one eye.

Quick to correct this lack of respect
Sam, without further ado,
Cracked the ageing nut with his pistol butt
So the other eye opened too.
This kind of start was dear to his heart
And his thoughts began to dwell
How to leave his name in the Hall of Fame
In the town of Nevertell.

There were rustlers and bums and numerous scums
In this sun-kissed Border town,
Who came from their holes like mice and moles
When the red-eyed sun went down.
There were hussies and pards and liquor and cards --
Innocent pleasure for all --
And everyone knew that Mister McHugh
Wished to be Belle of the Ball.

If he wasn't the Belle it was easy to tell
That he had full charge of the floor,
And action was prompt when he bellowed and stomped
And flourished his .44.
These children of shame knew well of his fame
And for peace were ready to sue;
Used to disgrace, it was better than face
The gun of this killer, McHugh.

From Alkali Flat came a queer desert rat --
A kind of a queer-looking guy.
He carried the hide of his burro that died
And a hard-looking glint in his eye.
He carried a chaw in the side of his jaw
And he chewed and spat as he went.
He spat mighty fast with a poisonous blast
At the insects that picked up his scent.

He could call every shot and land on the spot
With hardly a pause to aim;
Quick as a flash he would settle the hash
Of insects and things as they came.
He reached the saloon in the light of the moon
And he crossed the bar-room floor;
A noogin of 'Crow' went down with one throw
And he still kept the chaw in his jaw.

He carried his gun -- a purty old one --
Stuck in a loop of his belt.
He looked pretty mean and not overly clean,
And as tough as his dead burro's pelt.
He didn't like talk, this strange sort of hawk
And seldom he let a word fall
He minded his ways, didn't make any plays,
And didn't upset none at all.

He stood there and drank and quietly stank
But no-one made any comment,
The Code of the West forbade a request
That a man should dispense with his scent.
But Mister McHugh, his deboo overdue
Presently came to the fore;
"Stranger", he said, "You smell like the dead,
And here is a word or two more --

"If you don't smell that way, at the moment, I'd say
I craves to give Nature a hand --
Unless you pop off for a bath in the trough,
We'll shoot it out here were we stand!"
The audience spread to avoid flying lead
Disgusted with Sam's bad display;
Though partners in crime, for the very first time
They were hoping that crime wouldn't pay.

But the guy didn't cringe, didn't widen the range,
Didn't show any symptom of fright,
And the killer, McHugh, instinctively knew
That at last he had someone to fight.
Still the stranger stood there, never turning a hair
Peacefully chewing his chaw,
With his eye on McHugh, awaiting his cue,
When Sam made his play, and yelled "Draw!"

Sam went for his gun as so often he'd done
But he didn't get further than that,
The queer-looking guy for his gun didn't try --
He puckered his lips up, and spat.
Sam's terrible yell must have echoed in Hell
As the spit travelled true as a die.
Completely undone, and forgetting his gun
He clawed at his spit-spattered eye.

At his eyeball he tore as he rolled on the floor
Yelling for mercy and help,
But nobody stirred, no one offered a word
They stood there and just let him yelp.
He recovered at last from that nicotine blast
But his nerve had been mortally hit,
It was awful to hear the man gurgle with fear
When anyone offered to spit!

His defeat quite complete, he was jerked to his feet
And booted with force through the door;
With advice given clear that he'd best disappear
And return to the town nevermore.
And Sam left the town ere the moon had gone down
With nary a backward look,
Months later came word of his carcass interred,
Chopped down by a one-legged cook.

But the guy from the Flat did much better than that,
And he owns a saloon, the Ace High,
His clients don't draw their guns any more,
But their spitting sure catches the eye.


         Copyright © 1996 - Andy’s Media Services, All rights reserved

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The Legend of Angel Creek by Claude Morris