Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hugh Anderson

Hugh Anderson is one of them gun totin' cowboys
that some historians try ta' claim there weren't many of,
though I suggest ya' add 'um up an' judge fer' yourself.
Though Hugh was no brainchild,
nor was he lighting on the draw.
It's obvious he would've lived a lot longer
if he kept his temper an' his guns upon the shelf.
While trailin' a herd from Saledo, Texas
ta' Newton, Kansas in eighteen an' seventy-one
he was asked ta' join a manhunt
fer' a killer named Juan Bideno.
So he joined three other cowpokes
an' tracked the man ta' Bluff City,
where one of those cowhands,
Texas gunslinger John Wesley Hardin,
out shot Bideno an' put him in a hole.
Then upon arrivin' at the end of the trail in Newton,
Anderson learned of the death of a friend, William Bailey.
He was shot ta' death at the hands
of a rough an' tumble railroad foreman
named Mike McCluskie.
But McCluskie had left town right after the killin'.
So Anderson an' some friends
vowed ta' seek revenge
if ever McCluskie should return.
Well, the burly foreman did come back
ta' the scene of the crime,
an' Anderson weren't the type ta' waste no time,
in fact he thought it was past due
fer' bloody justice ta' have its turn.
Though I'm sure he never realized
that what he was about ta' begin
would be in history books fer' generations:
as the single bloodiest gunfight of the old west.
Although the press
never has stressed
it on the same level as the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
Nope, Hugh was just angry an' wanted release
at the expense of the feller' that done in his pal.
Around 1 AM on August 20th of seventy-one
Anderson found McCluskie at Perry Tuttle's Dance Hall
playin' faro.
So with hate in his heart
an' revenge on his mind
he made a beeline fer' him as straight as an arrow.
"Yer' a cowardly S.O.B.!
I will blow the top of yer' head off!"
Anderson yelled, while pullin' his gun an' takin' a shot.
Though he missed his head, he shot his neck,
but only slowed him down a bit
on account of McCluskie bein' so big.
So McCluskie half rose from his chair,
blood gushin' from the wound,
an' yanked his pistol from its rig.
But when he pulled the trigger
the dang thing misfired,
allowin' Anderson another free turn.
So Hugh's gun barked again,
spittin' fire an' lead:
a leg wound this time, with pain that did burn.
Which toppled Mike down,
ta' the ground he did fall,
bellowin' fierce like a bull.
 McCluskie was fallin' for his next trigger pull,
sparkin' his first shot,
which only hit the floorboards beneath him.
An' while he was down
Anderson simply backshot him,
doin' him in fer' his sin.
Now McCluskie's friends an' Anderson's friends
both decided ta' join this lead spittin' party.
Though if some of them knew
what the outcome would be
you can bet they'd a chose ta' be tardy.
Jim Riley an' Patrick Lee
took up fer' the fallin' McCluskie.
They fired at Hugh,
an' wounded him with two,
both ta' a lower limb.
So Henry Kearnes an' Billy Garrett,
comin' ta' Anderson's aid,
took pot shots at the both of them.
All four of the men with steel in their hands
advanced toward each other with guns a blazin'.
A sight amazin' ta' some,
but a nightmare ta' others,
since the combatants weren't the only ones hit.
There was Jim Martin from Texas
who merely tried ta' keep the peace,
but was struck in the neck with a bullet.
He clutched at the wound,
but the artery was severed,
an' he stumbled ta' the street where he died.
Yet the lead kept flyin'
with most of them wide,
though some hit their mark.
Lee soon fell from a gut shot,
an' both Henry an' Billy took lead ta' the chest,
sendin' each into darkness fer' eternity.
Then there was poor ol' Jim Wilkinson,
an unarmed cowboy who hadn't took part,
but was still singled out by the pumped up Riley;
an' though Riley tried ta' blow off his head,
he blew off the tip of his nose instead,
leavin' the unlucky feller' disfigured fer' life.
An' like most gunfights, it didn't take long
to inflict all this damage through strife.
In just a few minutes
there were five dead or dyin',
an' five more who needed the Doc.
Though Anderson was doctored by friends
who wasted no time gettin' him outta' town.
Now, why the local sheriff didn't hear
pert near
fifty shots at 1 AM in the mornin'
is not quite clear.
So when he finally was informed,
an' made it to the hall,
there weren't much he could do anyway.
The dead were dead,
an' the others fled,
they made good on their getaway.
Thus Anderson made good on his boast,
he done in the man that did in his friend,
an' it only took two more of his friends ta' do it.
But like all feuds, which thrive on hate,
an' where both sides think revenge is sweet,
it'll never end til they smartin' up
or each one catches a bullet.
In other words,
though things seemed ta' quiet down,
an' Anderson was in a different town;
in fact it was Medicine Lodge, Kansas
where he was tendin' bar at Harding's Trading Post,
when the ghost of his past did appear.
It came in the form of Arthur McCluskie, Mike's brother.
Another fool addicted ta' seek out revenge,
like a wino seekin' wine from binge ta' binge.
It was June of eighteen an' seventy-three
when Arthur sent a man named Richards
into the saloon ta' bring Anderson out
so he could settle the score
fer' the killin' of his brother two years before.
He even gave Anderson the option of guns or knives.
Well, guns were chosen, in fact
it would be similar to an' old formal duel,
perhaps attemptin' ta' bring some futile honor
to the taken of lives.
They even chose seconds;
there was Richards fer' McCluskie,
an' Harding fer' Hugh.
Ironically, the patrons grumbled a might
when Anderson closed the bar,
while claimin' he had a "chore ta' do."
Though he turned out ta' be a bit overconfident
when he claimed he'd be back in a few.
Once outside upon the street
the two combatants stood back ta' back
an' feet ta' feet.
They then stepped off twenty paces, turned,
an' repeatedly fired at their foe.
There were hundreds of onlookers who wagered an' watched,
awestruck, an' wonderin' how it would go.
Well the first shots went wild,
but the seconds found their mark,
proven this duel was not just a lark;
they came fer' blood an' blood began ta' spill.
Anderson's arm was brokin' an' bleedin':
a cut artery as he sank ta' his knees in pain.
Though he still had enough composure
ta' use his good hand an' take aim.
His gun spit fire an' the bullet flew,
it struck McCluskie in the mouth,
an' he spat out gobs of blood an' broken teeth,
yet still advanced at Hugh.
So Anderson fired twice more,
an' McCluskie crashed down,
with one ta' the leg an' one ta' the middle.
While most the bystanders were thinkin' it's time
ta' play a dirge on the fiddle.
But McCluskie fought through that painful feelin',
an' rose a bit til he were kneelin',
fired again an' gut shot Hugh,
who pitched backward, gaspin' fer' air.
The crowd thought it was over an' began ta' move
but Harding, holding a shotgun
said, "Stay away from there.
This is what they agreed upon,
so don't no one interfere."
An' sure enough it weren't through.
McCluskie pulled his knife,
then crawled painfully to his foe,
an' sank it ta' the hilt in his side.
Though Anderson, too, had his in hand,
used it ta' cut McCluskie's throat,
 an' both collapsed an' died.
In fact, within seconds of each other.
So the bets were collected,
the bodies quickly buried,
an', like the cliche',
"That is all she wrote."

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