Charlie and Stephen were on their knees, hands behind their heads with their fingers interlocked. Their captor paced back and forth, eyeballing them. His hefty gut overflowed over the top of his pants.
“Name’s Dapper Dan,” the bald man said. “On account of my impressive physique.”
Normally, Charlie played it cool in such situations, but his face betrayed him as he shot Dan a look as if to silently ask, “Really?”
“Name made more sense twenty years ago,” Dan said with a frown. “I’ve let myself go.”
Charlie and Stephen exchanged confused looks.
“Noooo,” Charlie said. “I don’t see that. Stephen, do you see that?”
“Not at all,” Stephen replied.
“It’s like we’re staring at an Adonis,” Charlie said.
“Stop,” Dan said. “It happens to the best of us as we get older. Russ!”
Dan’s sidekick, a goofy looking doofus with a bowl haircut stepped over with his pistol drawn.
“My assistant,” Dan said. “Big Russ.”
“Howdy,” Russ said.
“Hello,” Charlie replied.
Russ seemed to be of average height and weight, prompting Dan to explain the irony.
“He’s big elsewhere,” Dan said.
Charlie and Stephen had no comment.
“It’s time to pay the toll, boys,” Dan said.
“What?” Charlie asked.
“We’re the toll collectors,” Dan said.
“Toll collectors?” Charlie asked.
“You got shit in your ears, boy?” Dan asked. “Toll collectors. It’s time to pay your fucking toll!”
“Fellas,” Charlie said. “Maybe I’m missing something here. Is this some new thing Al Swearengen has set up? Because he and I have an understanding. I kick up to him once a month and he leaves me be.”
“Fuck Al Swearengen,” Dan shouted. “We’re self-appointed toll collectors! We don’t need anybody’s fucking permission to collect a toll!”
Charlie gulped. “No problem, gents. We’re just talking about material possessions here. Wagon’s yours.”
“I know it is,” Dan said.
“Take whatever you want,” Charlie said. “You won’t get any sass from me.”
“We want more,” Dan said.
The day before in Cheyenne, Charlie had done a lot of business, charging fees to transport packages and letters to Deadwood. All the coins he received added up and he kept them in a little burlap sack that he kept tied to his belt.
“I’m going to reach down for something slowly,” Charlie said.
“Don’t you try nothing,” Dan said.
“I won’t,” Charlie said as he untied the sack from his belt. He jingled it to prove that it was filled with money, then tossed it at Dan’s feet. “How’s that for a toll?”
Dan kept his gun trained at the Utter brothers as he nodded at Russ. Russ picked up the bag and looked inside.
“Oh,” Russ said as he handed the sack over to Dan. “That’s a good toll.”
Dan took a peak. “Yeah. That’s good. But not enough.”
“Not sure what else I have that I could offer you,” Charlie said. “You got something in mind? Maybe we can make a deal.”
Much to Charlie’s surprise, Dan stepped closer and started rubbing his greasy mitts through the businessman’s clean hair. “Oh I got something in mind, alright. Such a pretty, pretty man.”
Stephen dropped his head down in defeat. Charlie closed his eyes in disgust and took a moment, then tried again.
“I was thinking more along the lines of a promissory note?” Charlie said.
Blam! A gunshot interrupted the conversation, a development that Charlie did not mind at all.
Dan kept his shotgun pointed at the Utters but turned his head just enough to see that Jane was standing behind him.
She was holding a gun.
“Nick?” Dan asked.
“That his name?” Jane asked. “Fucking face down in the dirt dead is all he is now. Just like you’ll be if you don’t point that twelve-gauge away from my friends here.”
“Jane,” Charlie said. “Maybe a more diplomatic tone is in order?”
“Shut the fuck up, Charlie,” Jane replied. “No one asked you.”
“Fair enough,” Charlie said.
“You got no play, bitch,” Dan said as he pointed his shotgun at Charlie. “You shoot me I shoot him.”
“I’ll take my chances,” Jane said. “You look slower than molasses in January, lard ass.”
“Then Big Russ will shoot your other friend,” Dan said as he nodded his head towards his partner in crime, who had his pistol trained at the back of Stephen’s head.
“He doesn’t look that big,” Jane said.
Charlie piped up again. “You don’t want to know.”
“Well fuck me,” Jane said. “Looks like we got ourselves an honest to God Mexican standoff here and not even a damn Mexican in sight.”
“Looks like it,” Dan said.
“We’re all just destined to stand here like a bunch of assholes forever and ever until one day someone happens by and finds a bunch of fucking skeletons pointing guns at each other,” Jane said.
“Or you just walk away, cunt,” Dan said.
“What did you just call me?” Jane asked.
Charlie winced. “Oh now you’ve done it.”
“Don’t call me a cunt you fucking cunt,” Jane said. “Why the fuck would I walk away when I’m the only one without a gun pointed at me? ”
“She’s got you there, boss,” Russ said.
“Shut the fuck up, Russ!” Dan shouted.
“Can either of you jackasses read?” Jane asked.
“Huh?” Dan asked.
“Jesus Christ,” Jane said. “Did I just have a fucking brain fit and start talking Chinese and not know it? Do either of you know your letters?”
“I know my letters,” Russ said.
“Why don’t you read what it says on the side of that wagon?” Jane asked.
“Don’t do it,” Dan said. “It’s a trick.”
“Shut the fuck up mongoloid,” Jane said to Dan, and then to Russ. “Do it.”
Russ looked like his brain was about to explode from the pressure. He looked at Dan, then at Jane, back and forth. Finally, he kept his gun on Stephen as he turned his head to read what was written on the side of the wagon.
“Holy shit,” Jane said. “Down at the bottom, you slack jawed monkey.”
Russ squinted at the bottom of the wagon. “C. Utter, M.J. Canarry and J.B Hickok, Partners.”
The scumbags each did a double-take. “Hickok?” Russ asked, as he began to tremble nervously.
He looked at Dan. “You didn’t tell me this was a Goddamn Wild Bill Hickock outfit!”
Dan stuttered. “I…I…I..didn’t…shit…you think I fucking knew that?!”
The duo dropped their weapons and shot their hands straight up in the air.
“Yeah,” Jane said. “Now you know.”
A stream of hot piss ran down Dan’s leg. “Please Ma’am…”
“Oh its Ma’am now huh?” Jane said. “A minute ago it was ‘cunt.’”
“Just a little misunderstanding,” Dan said. “There’s no need to tell Bill about this, is there?”
Jane walked around Dan and stood behind Stephen and Charlie. She motioned for Dan and Russ to back away. They complied like obedient worms.
“I don’t know,” Jane said. “I’m feeling chatty as fuck. On your knees.”
Dan and Russ obeyed.
“Hands behind your heads.”
Jane looked at Charlie and Stephen. “What the fuck are you dummies waiting for? An engraved invitation? Get the fuck up!”
“Just following your lead,” Charlie said as he and his brother rose to their feet.
Jane pressed the barrel of her gun against Dan’s forehead.
“How’s that feel?” Jane asked.
“Not good,” Dan answered.
“Jane,” Charlie said.
“Get ready to meet your maker…”
“Jane!” Charlie shouted.
“What?!” Jane shouted back.
“Maybe a little clemency is in order?” Charlie asked.
“Goddamn it, Charlie!” Jane barked. “I don’t tell you how to do your job. Don’t you tell me how to do mine!”
“The threat’s been removed,” Charlie said.
Jane was furious. “These two shitheels were going to rob you…”
Stephen butted in. “And rape us.”
Jane’s eyes widened as she stared at Dan and Russ. “You were going to rape them?!”
“What?!” Dan asked incredulously. “No!”
Russ added. “No, no. Not at all.”
Jane waited for the confession.
Dan pinched his thumb and pointer finger together. “O.K. maybe there would have been a small to moderate amount of rape.”
“A very brief amount of rape,” Russ said.
Jane’s finger hovered over the trigger.
“Jane,” Charlie said ever so calmly.
“Ugggh!” Jane cried. “Fuck you and your sanctimonious conscience, Charlie!”
And then to the two galoots on the ground, “Up!”
They stood up.
“Take your clothes off,” Jane ordered.
Dan and Russ looked at each other, confused.
“Fuck!” Jane shouted. “Am I speaking Chinaman talk again?!”
The bandits pulled their shirts off.
“And your trousers!”
Both sets of pants dropped to the ground.
“And your drawers!” Jane insisted.
The criminals were now standing before Jane, butt naked.
“Russ, you are a fucking liar,” Jane said.
Charlie stifled a chuckle.
“Turn around you Goddamn perverts,” Jane ordered.
Charlie, Stephen and Jane found themselves staring at the two most hideous, pimply, sweaty, rash infested derrières they had ever seen.
“Don’t you two pieces of shit ever show your ugly mugs in Deadwood or that will be the end of you, you hear me?”
“Yes ma’am,” they replied in unison.
“There’s another town about ten miles south,” Jane said. “Start marching.”
Dan and Russ walked away.
“Stop! Jane shouted. They did so.
“When you get there,” Jane said. “You both have to stand in the town square, naked as you are, and publicly declare that you’re a couple of lowlife dumb as fuck inbred perverts who were bested by a woman.”
“Oh come on,” Dan said.
“Wild Bill’s got friends everywhere!” Jane shouted. “If you don’t do it, he’ll know!”
Dan sighed. “Alright.”
Dan and Russ walked away, defeated. Jane uncoiled her whip.
“Hey Charlie,” Jane said. “You ever seen one of these? It’s a fucking rope you can put wherever you want it to go.”
Jane whirled the whip around and around over her head then released it, sending the end sailing through the air until it landed on Dan’s backside. He jumped and grabbed his pained cheeks.
She cracked the whip against Russ’s ass so he wouldn’t feel left out.
“Fun toy,” Charlie said. “I’m sure it will provide you endless hours of pleasure.”
“It will,” Jane said.
“Thank you, Jane,” Charlie said.
“Aww don’t mention it.” Jane coiled up her whip, returned it to her belt, then climbed into the back of the wagon. Seconds later she called out, “Ready when you are, Mr. Utter!”
The Utter brothers remained in place for awhile.
“You were not pulling my leg about her,” Stephen said.
“Nope,” Charlie said.
Charlie pointed at Dan and Russ as they walked towards the horizon.
“And that, dear brother, is how Wild Bill Hickok earns his keep.”