Jack Hardcock: The Wrath of God (Part VI)

“How many times do I have to explain to you,” Jack stated while blindfolded and strapped to a chair, “I don’t understand the gibberish you are saying. I’m an American. And as an American, it is my goddamn right to only speak English. So you better get to speaking my language or you will be facing the wrath of God which won’t be seen again until the final days.”

Jack heard a loud guffaw then his blindfold was lifted. Before him stood an old, scarred up gentleman covered in tattoos. His teeth were rotted out and his breath reeked of tequila. “I am Jose Altuve and in this country we speak Spanish,” the man said.

Jack looked around and noticed a ragtag gang of Mexican bikers. Then he spat on the ground. “So what do you want from me?” Jack asked, “Are you the cartel?”

Following Jack’s lead, Jose and his gang all spat on the ground. “We are no cartel,” Jose ominously declared.

“Then why the abduction? What do you want with me?”

Jose ordered Jack to be cut free. The old tattered man then opened a bottle of tequila, took a swig and handed it to Jack. “The cartel runs this town,” Jose explained. “They killed my family. They’ve killed everyone I loved. The Federales do nothing! We are ones that stand in their way.”

“Cool story bro,” Jack said, “but what does that have to do with me? I’m in Juárez for one reason and one reason only: to rescue my father from this godforsaken place.”

“I know,” Jose said. Then he picked up an M16 and placed it in Jack’s lap. “We’re going to help you.”

Jack glanced at the weapon and looked back at Jose. “Why?” he asked.

“Because Rod Hardcock was one of us.”

Jack was shocked. “But…but how could that be?” he asked, “my father is a mule! I thought he worked with the cartel!”

Jose laughed. “That’s what he wanted you to believe,” he explained, “he wanted to keep you out of danger. If you believed that he worked with the cartel, Senior Hardcock thought you would stay away from here.”

“My father thought wrong. I can never escape danger. He should have told me this a long time ago!”

Jose popped a magazine into an M16 then placed a Desert Eagle and a Bowie knife under his belt. “Thank the Heavenly Father for sending you here,” he said, “because we’re hitting the cartel tonight. You’re one of us.”

Jack took a big gulp from the tequila bottle and picked up an M16. “Hand me my .38,” he ordered, “and do you guys have AKs? These things are pieces of shit.”


Jack Hardcock: The Wrath of God (Part IV)

The border crossing station stuck out against the barren desert. The two guards laughed as they contemplated their easy assignments. “Lo tenemos hecho,” one said to the other.

Suddenly a lone figure barged in. The guards stared in awe at the ominous character. “Passport, please?” one asked in broken English.

The mysterious figure pulled out his .38.

“Jack Hardcock,” a guard gasped.

“Which way to Juarez?” Jack asked.

The guards silently pointed to the west.

“Gracias,” he said.

As Jack walked away, the guards watched as marched towards the horizon. “Dios ayudanos,” they uttered.

Gunshots and Mariachi music echoed through the streets of Juarez. Jack feared no evil as he walked through the valley of death. He knew the city would face the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah; God’s vengeance would soon reign.

If he himself was the one to deliver this vengeance, Jack did not know.

“I’m looking for La Casa de La Muerte,” Jack said to a random street vendor.

“Que?” the vendor replied.

“I’m an American,” Jack stated, “it’s my right to not speak Spanish. So you better answer me or answer to my .38!”

“sé lo que estás diciendo,” the vendor said, “pero no conozco este lugar.”

Jack pistol whipped the vendor and prepared to empty his revolver into the poor bastard. But Heaven granted the man a reprieve: at that moment, an angelic voice appeared. “Jack, no!” it ordered.

Jack’s hand began to shiver as he aimed the .38. He knew this voice.

“Maria,” he uttered.

Jack slowly turned around. Maria was as radiant as a bluebonnet under the Texas sun. He thought he’d never see her face again. “Wh-what are you doing here?” he asked.

“I’ve been in Juarez for sometime,” she said, “why did you not respond to my letters?”

“Maria,” he pleaded, “I’m so sorry. I…”

That moment, Pablo Santora came marching up in his Wrangler jeans and snakeskin boots. He put his arm around Maria. “Jack,” Pablo smiled from underneath his mustache, “so pleasant to see you again.”

“Pablo,” Jack simply said. He had to restrain himself.

Pablo lifted a cigar to his mouth. “Jack, old friend,” he continued, “I am the proprietor of La Casa de La Muerte. Please, stop by and see us, yeah?”

“Thank you for the invitation, Pablo,” Jack said.

“Mi amigo,” Pablo chuckled, and he slowly strolled away.

Jack and Maria continued to lock eyes.

“Why Maria?” Jack asked, “Why Pablo?”


Jack Hardcock: The Wrath of God (Part III)

“I can’t thank you enough for shooting me in the shoulder,” Brother Joses said, “sometimes all it takes is a bullet from the Lord to help one see the light.”

“Amen brother,” Jack replied, “Jesus wants you to know that I ain’t no puss. So don’t ever accuse me of that again. Or next time I’ll shoot you in the face.”

The sun beat down on the Preacher and Jack like a hellish balefire as they ate their afternoon brunch under the Utah sky. The two were conversing a lot in those days; they knew the plight of modern times represented the mark of the beast. They both trembled and reveled at the pending onslaught of blood and glory from the Lord.

“Tell me,” Joses spoke as he slapped down his napkin, “what’s this business with Johnson? He must know the Lord’s vengeance is near.”

“Oh yes, Brother Joses, he is well aware,” Jack retorted, “but there remains this business with our father.”

“Your father? I thought Rod Hardcock was dead.”

Jack looked out to the deserted horizon, wishing he could push the many years of pain off the edge of the earth. “I believed he was too,” Jack lamented, “unfortunately he was only in Mexico.”

“Mexico? Why the devil would he be sent to such a castoff corner of hell?”

“Drugs,” Jack replied, “and churros. But mostly drugs. He presumably shoves them up his ass and smuggles them into the United States.”

“A mule, in other words.”


“So your father has never heard the Good News of Jesus Christ and the impending destruction of earth and the violent demise of all unbelievers in His Name?”

Jack chugged his beer and spat on the ground. “I’m afraid not,” he said, “moreover, the cartel is holding him ransom for unknown reasons.”

“My word,” Joses gasped.

A haunting silence fell between the two as they pondered this unspeakable predicament. “Then you must go to Mexico,” Joses finally spoke, “deliver the Word to your father…and rescue him from the clutches of Satan…before it’s too late.”

Jack pulled out his .38 and looked down the sights as he pointed it in the direction of Mexico.

“I know,” he uttered.


Jack Hardcock: The Wrath of God (Part II)

Jack stepped outside to take a piss. He held his dick in one hand and a beer bottle in the other. Dear God…please take away this burden, he thought to himself.

When he was done, Jack zipped up, dropped the bottle to the ground and stumbled back into his trailer. He fell then vomited all over himself as he took the first step.

His brother rushed up to his side to help him up. “What happened to you, Jack?” he asked, “I was afraid that the devil would get you when you went to California.”

“Layla,” Jack kept mumbling.

Three of Jack’s plain wives helped him over to the couch and cleaned him off. His brother was afraid. He had never seen Jack so disheveled…so unkempt.

“The Mormons,” Jack kept mumbling, “The Mormons are helping me see the light.”

“But Jack,” his brother said, “you’re a drunk, you basically run a harem out of your dilapidated trailer in the middle of the desert, and Joseph Smith was a spawn of Satan.”

“You don’t get it Peter!” Jack retorted

“Peter? I’m your brother: John! Johnson Hardcock! Who is Peter?”

“Oh shit!” Jack realized, “I’m so sorry John! I can’t stop thinking about Peter Tucker!”


One of the many wives walked up to deliver a glass of water to Jack. “He’s been calling everyone ‘Peter’ these days,” she explained.

“Uh huh,” John said, then pressed forward. “Jack, what are we going to do about dad?” he asked, “we can’t just let the cartel kill him!”

Jack let out a massive fart. “I think I shit myself,” he said.

“Focus!” John snapped, “The cartel wants $2 million in cash and I just don’t have that money!”

Jack sat up, uncapped a bottle of Jim Beam, and started chugging. He then loaded the .38 and began slurring out his words. “I’ve got a plan,” he said, “since Biden won’t build the wall, I’m gonna saw off Mexico from America.”

John threw up his hands. “I can’t talk to you when you’re like this,” he said. He stood up and looked out the window to the vast, shitty Utah landscape. “It’s been 2000 years since Jesus walked this earth,” John continued, “I just know in my heart that He’ll be returning at any moment. There’s no way that millions of people have been wrong about this. I know that I haven’t totally wasted my life believing in nonsense.”

Jack began to sober up. “I know what you mean, brother,” he said, “I too have felt that He’ll be coming soon. He’ll be coming hard, coming fast, and coming all over. And this time, there will be no kind words. He’ll be coming with a sword to vanquish His enemies. And I am that sword.”

John turned to face his brother. “How do you know this?” he asked.

“I don’t take this burden lightly,” Jack said, “Sometimes I feel like Jesus on the cross; sometimes I feel forsaken by God. It’s a responsibility I would wish on no man. But I am the chosen one; chosen to deliver God’s wrath. That is my duty and I will fulfill it.”

“Then you must find our father before it’s too late,” John replied.


Jack Hardcock: The Wrath of God (Part I)

Brother Joses stood over his parish like a specter from the past. He was no mere preacher; he was a prophet of things to come.

“The Lord is not a Lord of peace,” he proclaimed to his captive audience, “as Isaiah told us: See, the day of the Lord is coming — a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger. . . . I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty. . . . Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be looted and their wives violated. I shout to the world with the power of a thousand trumpets: repent! For the Lord shall have His vengeance!”

The parishioners nodded, too awestruck to proclaim their faith with revelry.

In the front pew sat Jack Hardcock, his hands trembling. He had seen the wrath that Joses spoke of, for he was It’s one instrument. And Jack’s own instrument of Death was none other than the Smith & Wesson .38 special. It was holstered securely underneath his jacket. But the fiery message of Brother Joses was speaking to his God-given urge to kill.

Jack quietly stood up, buttoned his jacket, and proceeded to exit the chapel. Halfway to the door, with his back turned toward Brother Joses, the preacher shouted: “Brother Jack, the Lord does not call upon the faint of heart!”

Jack turned around, unbuttoned his jacket, and pulled out the .38. The parishioners sat silently as he unloaded the revolver, leaving one in the chamber. “Do you trust the Lord?” asked Jack.

Joses said nothing as beads of sweat poured down his face. Jack spun the revolver and placed the stubbed barrel up to his chin. “I certainly do,” he said.

Then he pulled the trigger.

A few screams echoed through the chapel, but there was no gunfire. Jack stood there, barrel still to his chin, laughing at the weakhearted parishioners.

But Joses didn’t flinch.

“It appears as though I am one of God’s chosen,” Jack said to Joses. Then he pointed the .38 at the preacher.

“Are you?” he asked.

Jack pulled the trigger, unleashing a bullet that went clean through Joses’ shoulder. Blood splattered all over the Christian flag. Pandemonium broke out as parishioners rushed to their preacher’s aid.

“Faint of heart?” Jack chuckled to himself. He shook his head and walked out the front doors. As he proceeded down the steps, Jack looked out into the barren Utah landscape. He noticed a lone figure standing in the dusty wind.

Jack squinted.

“Could it be?” he thought.

It was his own flesh and blood; his brother. It was Peter Hardcock.

“Don’t you know that Mormons are godless heathens?” Peter asked.

“Peter,” Jack said, “I’m so sorry. After my last case, I had to go somewhere. The Mormons were the only ones that would take me in. I’m sorry that I never reached out.”

“Nevermind that,” Peter replied, “our father is missing.”

“Our father?”

“Yes. Our father is missing and he needs your help. Rod Hardcock has been taken prisoner by Mexican cartels.”


Once Upon a Time in Montana (Part XI)

We found Dickleburg at the train station, boarding the Barnum and Bailey Circus train headed for Helena. “I got an open shot,” I yelled to Oppenheimer.

I emptied the revolver in Dickleburg’s direction but every bullet missed. “Goddamn you suck,” Oppenheimer said.

Dickleburg jumped on the train just as it was departing. Oppenheimer and I chased the caboose down the track and we made it onboard right as the train picked up steam. Oppenheimer kicked open the back door and fired a round in the air. “We’re looking for Dickleburg!” he screamed at the startled passengers.

“He went that way!” the bearded lady pointed. We ran in that direction but unfortunately the next car contained the lions. One of them was pissed because he was hit from one of my stray bullets when I shot at Dickleburg. He roared and leapt towards Oppenheimer but I shot him in the face. That only angered the other lions so I shot the rest of them as well.

Then PT Barnum rushed in ranting and raving. “You killed all of my lions!” he yelled. So I shot him too.

“Was that necessary?” Oppenheimer asked.

“Fuck that guy,” I said.

We heard a thud from above. We knew that Dickleburg was attempting to escape from the top of the train. We climbed up some boxes and unlocked the cover to the roof.

The cold Montana air instantly blew us back. A few cars away, we could see Dickleburg rushing towards the front of the train. So we braved the elements and climbed to the top. My hat immediately blew off. We leapt from car to car, running into the wind, until we were at the front.

When we climbed back inside, Dickleburg was running between a gaggle of clowns before grabbing ahold of a pair of conjoined twins. He pulled out both of his six shooters and held both to their respective heads. “Do you really want to do this?” Dickleburg asked Oppenheimer.

The two of us paused just feet away. Oppenheimer lowered his weapon. “Let them go, Dickleburg,” he ordered, “this is between you and me.”

“Why didn’t you consider my offer?!” Dickleburg asked, “So many people didn’t have to die!”

“Let em go and we’ll talk.”

“Drop your gun first!”

Oppenheimer slowly bent over to drop his Smith & Wesson. However, noticing an open shot to the legs, the sheriff dropped to the ground and fired a round into Dickleburg’s kneecap. He screamed in agony as the conjoined twins ran off.

Oppenheimer stood straight up and lifted his gun to Dickleburg’s head as he was bleeding on the ground. “You can’t kill me,” Dickleburg said, “you’re a man of the law.”

I could see a hint of pity in Oppenheimer’s eyes. He was worn out from the bloodshed. “You’re right Dickleburg,” Oppenheimer replied while placing his gun back in its holster, “I can’t kill you…”

“…but I can,” I interrupted. Then I emptied my revolver into Dickleburg’s chest.

We both gazed upon the dead body for a moment. “Thanks,” Oppenheimer said, not making eye contact.

“Can we go back to our timeline now?”


Once Upon a Time in Montana (Part X)

“I get it,” Dickleburg yelled, “we’ve been assholes. It was wrong of us to come in and run roughshod over the town. Let’s put this all behind us and end everything peacefully.”

J Robert Oppenheimer stood motionless as he held up his laser pistol. His black duster was swaying in the wind. I could see his hand shaking as he lowered his finger towards the trigger. I approached him quietly then spoke in a low, calm voice. “Perhaps Dickleburg’s right,” I said, “we may have more advanced weapons than them, but they severely outnumbered us. There’s no way this ends with all of us alive.”

“Come on Bob,” Dickleburg shouted, “let’s be smart about this.”

Beads of sweat were pouring down Oppenheimer’s face. I leaned towards him again. “Do we really want to unleash this kind of bloodbath?” I asked him.

“Just let my family go,” the sheriff finally uttered, his voice cracking.

“First we need you to agree to the terms,” Dickleburg replied.

“Let them go, and we’ll talk.”

Dickleburg smiled and motioned over to his men. The two gunmen released Maybelline and Malachi. As they started running towards us, I saw another gunman peep out from around the corner. As he lowered his shotgun, I took out the .357 and hit the ground. “Everybody down!” I yelled.

One shot. One shot was all it took to take out the gunman. Dickleburg ducked for cover as he dodged laser shots from Oppenheimer. The bright blue beams hit the two gunmen standing behind him, vaporizing them instantly.

All hell broke loose in the town square. Everyone looked for cover.

Maybelline and Malachi ran into the whore house while bullets and lasers flew around them. Windows were smashed, dust was kicked up from scrambling boots and horses, but the four of us maintained our line.

“Aaaahahhahha!” screamed Rockwell as he tossed a space grenade. The device bounced towards four of Dickleburg’s gunmen. When it detonated, a plasma bubble formed around them which initially caused confusion. However, heat rapidly increased within the bubble and their skin began melting off. The screams were unbearable.

“Jesus fucking Christ!” I yelled to Rockwell.

“I didn’t know it would do that,” he replied.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ree was on the roof of the whore house, picking off men with his laser Winchester. Heads were popping like watermelons all around us. Yet no matter what we did, more gunmen kept pouring into the town square.

Finally, we were all cornered in the whore house. “Damn, I’m out of space ammo,” Oppenheimer said. “My ammunition is spent as well,” Mr. Ree chimed in.

“I’ve still got five shots,” I stated.

“Five shots?” Oppenheimer asked, “you started off with six! You mean to tell me that in all this carnage you only killed ONE guy?”

“Maybe two,” I replied, “I hit a man with a shuriken but I don’t think he died.”

“Go to the roof,” Mr. Ree ordered, “with all that ammo and your lethal accuracy, you should be able to hold them off.”

I charged up the stairs to the top of the whore house. As I was about to aim at the gaggle of gunmen below, I heard a shout. “PROTECT THE WHORE HOUSE!” the man screamed. It was Fred Ward. He rolled out the Gatling gun and unleashed fury on the poor, unsuspecting bastards.

At least 50 gunmen were senselessly mowed down on the street, blood popping out of the bodies with each round. I barfed after I surveyed the massacre below; every man was shot to an unrecognizable pulp. “Thanks Fred,” I shouted, “I completely forgot about you!”

“No problem man! Anytime!”

I walked back downstairs where everyone was gathered around the bar. “Alright, Oppenheimer,” I said, “they’re all dead. Time to send me and Mr. Ree back to our timeline.”

Oppenheimer slammed the whiskey bottle on the bar and threw down his hat. “Fuck me right in my ass!” he yelled.


“I said I’d never be responsible for this many deaths again,” he lamented, “why me? What did I do to warrant this kind fate?”

“I dunno. The gods must hate you for harnessing their power by inventing nuclear weapons probably. Oh well. So about us going back to our timeline…”

Right then, Mr. Ree rushed in the door trying to catch his breath. “Bad news,” he said, “Dickleburg is not among the dead!”


Once Upon a Time in Montana (Part V)

“Goddamn Mr. Ree!” I said while gazing upon the bodies of nine hired guns; their brains were splattered across the dusty Elkhorn street, “I thought you were only decent with a rifle!”

“Heh! I guess I’m better than I thought,” he replied.

“Billy Friedkin and Dickleburg managed to ride away,” said Sheriff Oppenheimer, “we gotta get these bodies off the street.”

Right then the town’s undertaker, Fred Ward, stepped out of the whore house wearing only his long johns. “Sorry for disturbing you on your day off,” Oppenheimer said to him.

“Oh it’s alright,” Fred replied, “I got the whiskey dick anyway.” He immediately began loading the bodies into his carriage.

“When Dickleburg returns,” the sheriff said to me and Mr. Ree, “he’ll bring an army.” He then looked back over the carnage in front of his office. “Son of a bitch!” he yelled, “this went worse than I was expecting

The three of us rode back to Oppenheimer’s place where Maybelline and Malachi were waiting. “Thank goodness you are all alright!” Maybelline declared. She strutted right past her husband and hugged me. “I don’t know what I’d do if you were killed,” she said.

Oppenheimer spoke up. “Maybelline, bring me a bottle of scotch,” he ordered, “come on men, we have work to do.”

We all went out to the barn where Oppenheimer removed the tarp over his time portal device. He began scribbling down some equations on a note pad. “According to my calculations,” he said, “we’re gonna need five tons of gold to get this thing operational.”

“That’s a lot of gold,” I replied.

“And we have very little time to get it.”

“Any idea where we could find that much in such short of time?” asked Mr. Ree.

“The average prospector will only find a fraction of that amount in his or her lifetime,” Oppenheimer responded, “but…”

“But what?” I asked.

“But, the mother load is here in Elkhorn.”


Right then Maybelline brought in the scotch. Oppenheimer opened the bottle and started chugging. “It’s under Mr. Rockwell’s land,” he finally stated.

“So what’s the big deal?” I asked, “we’ll just go over there and take it under the cover of night.”

“It’s not that simple.”

“How do you know it’s there?” Mr. Ree inquired.

Oppenheimer took another swig of scotch. “Because history says it there. One of the largest gold deposits of all time is there.”

“I thought you said history is slightly different in this timeline. It might’ve been there in our timeline, but there’s no guarantee it’s there now.”

Oppenheimer closed the bottle and straightened himself out. “That’s the risk we gotta take,” he said.

I shook my head. “I don’t understand this time bullshit,” I stated, “it’s either here or it’s not. You’re the scientist. Make it make sense.”

“Time isn’t necessarily linear,” Oppenheimer explained, “it’s more like a color wheel. Our timeline might be orange, for example, but the one we’re in now might be light orange. There are some similarities between the two but there’s no telling where the timelines might diverge. To make make matters worse, even if we could get the gold, time is not only a color wheel, but it’s an INFINITE color wheel, seemingly. Pinpointing your EXACT spot on the wheel would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. No…worse…a needle in an entire universe!”

“So we can only hope for the best,” Mr. Ree responded.


Malachi wondered into the barn. “Are you okay daddy?” he asked while rubbing his eyes.

Oppenheimer kneeled down before his son and held him in his arms. “Of course I am,” he said, “everything will be alright. You and your mother shouldn’t worry.”

Maybelline picked up Malachi to escort him to bed. Mr. Ree and I stood silently while we watched the small family comfort each other. After the mother and son left, Oppenheimer kept his back facing us. “Dickleburg will stop at nothing to get what he wants,” he uttered, “if anything happens to me, I want you two to take my wife and son to whatever timeline you end up in. Being there will be safer than being here.”

After he turned around, the sheriff and former scientist wiped a tear from his eye and picked up a shovel. “Tomorrow we’ll ride out to Mr. Rockwell’s land,” Oppenheimer stated, “and we’ll pray to god that we’re in the right timeline.”


Once Upon a Time in Montana (Part IV)

“Proceed no further,” Oppenheimer ordered the gang. Dickleburg and his men remained mounted on their horses in front of the sheriff’s station. The pale moonlight lit the town square; Patrons at the whore house stood by to see what the fuss was about.

“But we outnumber you five to one,” Dickleburg chuckled to the sheriff.

Only me and Oppenheimer stood ready to confront the gaggle. At that moment, the opium started kicking in. Normally that would drag me down. But Thankfully I took a bump of cocaine to keep me alert. Oppenheimer kept his eyes, along with his pair of six shooters, on Dickleburg. I had my shotgun lowered and cocked on the other nine men.

“If you’ve come here for Billy Friedkin,” Oppenheimer said to Dickleburg, “you may succeed at getting him, but we won’t be the only ones standing on hell’s doorstep tonight. So you need to ask yourself: is it worth it?”

Dickleburg gave another hearty laugh. “I think you misunderstand my intentions here. Of course I’m here for Billy. He is, after all, a very valuable employee to my company. I’m sure you’d do the same for your loyal deputy standing here,” he replied, referring to me with a wink and a smile. “I value all of my loyal employees, which got me thinking: I have not been a very good employer to you Sheriff Oppenheimer. We have a saying in Helena: money fixes everything.”

Dickleburg dismounted his horse, grabbed two comically large sacks- complete with dollar signs stenciled on- and threw them at the sheriff’s feet. “I do hope you accept my sincerest apologies,” Dickleburg continued, “I hope we have a much stronger working relationship moving forward.”

Oppenheimer stood motionless for a few moments as he stared at the sacks of cash. Finally he looked up at the townspeople still congregated around the whore house. “Give me a moment,” he uttered.

I followed him back into the sheriff’s office where he pulled out a large whiskey bottle from his desk drawer. “You aren’t serious about accepting his offer, are you?” I asked as he uncorked the bottle.

After several long seconds of nonstop gulping, Oppenheimer lowered the bottle. “Yes I am,” he finally replied.

“Come on!” I exclaimed, “What the hell is so important about Elkhorn?! Surely to god there’s a lot more places to find gold in Montana?!”

“Other places? Yes,” Oppenheimer replied, “but the best place? That’s right under our feet.”

My intuition, likely aided by narcotics, started kicking in. “So that’s why you’re in Elkhorn,” I said, “tell me: how much gold does it take to kickstart your time portal device?”

“Shit,” an obviously drunk Oppenheimer wondered aloud, “at least a few tons.”

“A few fucking tons?! You are telling me there’s that much gold in this godforsaken town?!”

“Ohhh yeah. But what does it matter now? My family’s here and it’s not like I could make it back to my own time anyway. So fuck it! I’ll take the money.”

I grabbed the sheriff by the lapels. “Goddamnit Oppenheimer,” I shouted, “you can’t give in that easily! You serve the PEOPLE of Elkhorn, NOT the corporations! The gold belongs to THEM…AND the natives they stole the land from.” I then let him go and straighten myself out. “Besides,” I continued, “you agreed to help ME to get back to my timeline.”

Oppenheimer just laughed. “That’s impossible and you know it.”

I shook my head. “Damn it man, if you pick up those bags of cash, I will shoot you myself,” I declared, “are we clear?”

Oppenheimer began rubbing his face. Then he picked up the whiskey bottle once again. “Dickleburg probably has some trick up his sleeve anyway,” he said. He looked out the window at the armed men standing by and took a swig. “I used to be a great physicist,” he lamented, “so what are we gonna do about Billy Friedkin? Do we turn him over?”

“That seems to be the only sensible option,” I replied.

The sheriff picked up the keys, unlocked Billy’s cell, and grabbed him by the arm. “I told you they’d be coming for me,” the prisoner said.

“We know Billy. We expected them to, you fuckin idiot.”

We escorted him outside and released him to Dickleburg. “Aren’t you gonna take the money?” the businessman asked.

“Just take Mr. Friedkin and get out of town,” Oppenheimer replied.

Dickleburg lit up another cigar and nodded. “That’s a shame boy, I thought we’d be partners,” he said. He turned around and signaled for his gang to open fire.

Oppenheimer and I dropped to the ground as bullets ripped up the sheriff’s office. All the townspeople fled into the whore house. We exchanged fire for what seemed like eternity but was likely only a few seconds. Then the sound of a Winchester rifle pierced through the gunfire as Dickleburg’s men began dropping one by one from their horses.

Mr. Ree was to the rescue.


Once Upon a Time in Montana (Part III)

“No wonder Mr. Dickleburg’s pissed,” I said to Oppenheimer after we galloped into town, “you didn’t give his man a fair trial!”

“That’s the thing about this timeline,” he replied, “they have no concept of judge and jury. Yet we still come to the same conclusions without them. It’s the damndest thing.”

Sheriff J. Robert Oppenheimer was about to hang one of Dickleburg’s company men on the streets of Elkhorn when word got to him that Dickleburg was riding into town with some hired guns. Oppenheimer and myself, along with Mr. Ree, we’re standing around in the sheriff’s office with the prisoner, Billy Friedkin, behind bars.

“You boys don’t know what’s comin,” Billy said, taunting us.

“I say we hang the son of a bitch right now and send a message,” Mr. Ree opined.

“We can’t do that,” Oppenheimer said, “Mr. Dickleburg will burn this town down.”

“Then why did you arrest Billy Friedkin to begin with?” I asked.

“Because,” Oppenheimer paused, “Mr. Friedkin shot and killed several of Mr. Rockwell’s cattle. The law plainly states that’s an offense punishable by death.”

“Then wouldn’t the government have your back?”

“No,” he replied, “Mr. Dickleburg owns the Montana government. But I had to arrest and hang Billy or else the townspeople would have hung me. You see, I’m between a rock and a hard place.”

Billy began guffawing in his cell. “Shut up,” I ordered, “I could kill you now and get away with it.”

“Relax gentlemen,” Oppenheimer said, “we need to think. Other than the time in that dormant volcano in Hawaii, have you ever been in a gun fight?”

I chuckled in response. “Bob, seriously?” I asked, “I saved Mexico City from a nuclear attack and massacred the entire West Coast mafia up in Big Bear. The FBI was pissed. So I think I know my way around a fire fight.”

“Good,” he said, “because Dickleburg and his merry men will be here in a matter of minutes. We need to set up a defensive parameter. It’s only going to be the three of us.”

I looked over to Mr. Ree. “I think I’m gonna need that opium pipe now,” I said.

Mr. Ree shook his head and dug out the pipe from his satchel. “I don’t think I’ve ever killed a man sober,” I said to him as I took it from his hand.

“Hopefully it will improve your aim,” he added.

“Don’t worry about it,” I replied, “I’ve got this shotgun. Are you any good with that Winchester rifle?”

Mr. Ree held up the weapon and smiled. “I’m no Lee Harvey Oswald,” he replied, “but I think I can handle myself.”