The Deputy

from The Cosmic Balancing Act

A frontier town in the wild, wild west knew neither law nor order – for its ways were wild and its people were out of control. Its dusty, muddy, filthy streets were awash with crime and low life. Never was a town so drenched in sin and lawlessness.

And not a day passed that another hard-working God-fearing optimistic spirit – who had travelled so far from his origins, his family and his homeland, to build, to dream, to build a dream, and maybe dream some more – wasn’t shot, beaten or murdered by the dregs of the lowest of the scum that dared not even to call itself humanity.

And while the innocents cried, and bled and wept, and prayed and died and were buried – the guilty laughed and drank and gambled, and maybe killed some more.

Now the law in this town, such as it was, consisted of two disparate man – a sheriff (as bad as the rest of ’em) and his fine upstanding deputy. And so it came that one sorry, sorry morning – following a night of exceptional butchery – the deputy decided the time had come to lay it on the line.

“Begging your pardon sheriff, only as it’s time to make a stand,” he began. “A stand against the anarchy on our streets. A time to tell it as it is and make it as it should be. The time has come – for you and I – to illegalise murder.”

“What’s that you sayin’ there?” creaked the sheriff, waking up – his feet on the desk, a vast hat smothering his face, his pockets fat with bribes, his head hazy with the mist of a thousand whiskeys. “What’s that you sayin’? Illegalise murder?”

“That is correct,” the deputy affirmed, sticking to his guns (in this case literally). “There’s been so much murdering, that I think it’s time to pass some sort of a law against it.”

“So – ” answered the sheriff, removing his hat, and sitting up straight – “how is that gonna work then?”

“Well,” stuttered the deputy. “When somebody is murdered, we find the fellow who did it and put him in the jailhouse.”

The sheriff laughed and wheezed. “Well that’s a fine idea there, but what if the killer don’t care to come forward?”

“Then we look for evidence,” said the deputy.

Everdence, heh?” said the sheriff. “And what if we don’t find no everdence?”

“Then we ask questions!” countered the deputy. “We interview the witnesses, and some of the likely suspects.”

“And what – ” snapped the sheriff – growing a little weary of this discussion – “what if the suspect don’t care to confess?”

“Then we prosecute!” quipped the deputy – with a haughty confidence guaranteed to raise the sheriff’s ire.

“Now hold your haughty conferdence right there,” drawled the sheriff – his ire raised. “So far you got us goin’ round lookin’ fer everdence, which sounds like it might take some time, if there is any, which there may not be, ’specially if it’s rained and the killer is hidin’. Then you got us askin’ Lord knows how many people Lord knows how many questions, fer Lord knows how many hours of both of ours precious time. Then you got a courtroom there, which we don’t happen to have, which will require buildin’ and time and money and builders and planks and nails and stuff – not that you’d know. Then we got some travellin’ judge comin’ by, stayin’ in the best hotel, drinkin’ and eatin’ at you-don’t-say-whose expense; and a jury missin’ work when they could be doin’ something useful, to land a man in the jailhouse that only takes four when we got that many murders every evenin’ o’ the week, so then we has to hang ’em, with a rope which I don’t happen to have – do you?”

“No,” conceded the deputy.

“Then it’s moonshine,” sneered the sheriff. “It is moonshine pure and simple.”

“But surely it’s a question of morality?” said the deputy – a little surprised to find that he had to argue the point. At which very moment sheriff’s daughter walked into the office.

“Ah don’t know as it is so moral to illegalise murder,” she sang. “I don’t know as it isn’t awful patronisin’ to tell folks what the law is. I mean, who are we to say there’s too much murderin’ anyway? Maybe murderin’ is a part of our culture?”

“Makin’ it illegal,” added the sheriff, “could be mighty divisive.”

At this, the deputy was utterly crestfallen. The sheriff’s daughter sighed at him. “Your college learnin’ gone to your head again,” she smiled.

“Illegalise murder!” laughed the sheriff. “You ol’ dreamer! It’s them public lay-trines all over again.”

And the father and the daughter burst out laughing.

“I do apologise,” said the deputy. “I have no idea what came over me. Good morning to yer both.”

Moral: Quit yer dreamin’.

© Adam Acidophilus 2019