Once Upon a Time in Montana (Part VI)

“Man, I can’t see shit!” Mr. Ree yelled.

Sheriff J. Robert Oppenheimer led the way through the dark of night carrying a shovel and lantern. Mr. Ree and I kept tripping over rocks and branches as we followed behind him onto Mr. Rockwell’s land.

“Shut your goddamn trap,” Oppenheimer ordered, “Mr. Rockwell will shoot us dead if he finds us digging up his property.”

“Bob,” I said, “if several tons of gold is on his land, how will we carry all that weight back to your barn?”

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” the sheriff replied, “in the meantime, we just have to determine if it’s here at all.”

“How will we do that?”

Oppenheimer turned around and smiled. “You think I don’t have a plan?” he rhetorically asked. Bob opened his duster and inside he carried a small metal detector. “I’ve been itching to try this thing out,” he continued, “it ain’t easy inventing something like this in the old west. But I’m nearly certain it’ll work.”

We finally arrived at a dried up creek bed some hundred yards behind the Rockwell home. “If the gold is anywhere,” Oppenheimer said in a lowered voice, “it’s right around here.”

Bob took out his makeshift metal detector and began listening for certain radio signatures. Mr. Ree and I stood back while he walked up and down the creek. After 10 minutes of watching him do this, we sat down on a large sandstone rock.

“So we’re gonna die in the old west aren’t we?” Mr. Ree asked.

“Almost certainly,” I replied as I pulled out a flask.

“Well I gotta say, it’s certainly been a lot of fun riding around out here palling around with you. I have no regrets.”

“Yeah, I suppose we’ve had some good times,” I said as I took a few swings of whiskey, “it’s just a shame that I’ll never see my son.”

Mr. Ree patted me on the back. “You never know,” he said, “sometimes impossible things happen.”

I ignored that comment as I passed the flask to him. “Tell me, since you no longer work for the Admiral because he fell into a lava pit, what would you have done if we made it back to LA?” I asked.

Mr. Ree pondered for a bit after lowering the flask from his lips. “Prostitution probably,” he responded, “why do you ask?”

“We make one hell of I team,” I said, “if we do make it back, you should come work with me at my detective agency.”

“Say,” Mr. Ree nodded enthusiastically, “that’s not a bad idea!”

Right then, Bob came rushing down the creek bed. “Grab your shovels!” he ordered, “I think we hit the jackpot!”

Several meters down the creek, the metal detector was wildly sounding off. Oppenheimer put down his lantern and began eagerly digging. Meanwhile, Mr. Ree and I were cackling away. “We might make actually make it out of this shithole town!” I exclaimed.

Seconds later, from out of the darkness I heard the clicking of a Smith and Wesson. “Drop dem shovels fellas,” the Irish accent ordered.


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