“Jack you lazy son of a bitch!”
What a way to start the day. Twenty year old Jack McCall couldn’t remember a morning that hadn’t begun without his perpetually angry father screaming at him through the door over something.
The door rattled as Pa McCall pounded on it. “Open this door!”
“Crooked Nose Jack” was the young man’s nickname about town. He fancied himself a prizefighter but his rearranged beak said otherwise. In his short career, he’d taken more punches than he’d landed, and with the beating his father was giving the door, it was starting to look like he was about to take another one, or two, or twelve.
The rattling stopped. “You didn’t muck out the pig pen. You didn’t milk the cow. You are the most worthless sack of shit I’ve ever seen in all of my days, boy! Get out of bed and get to work or so help me…”
Jack brushed his black hair out of his face and hopped out of bed. He picked up the button down shirt he’d worn the day before up off the floor and put it back on. He was still wearing the previous day’s trousers.
Inside Jack’s mind there was a vision of his fist connecting to his old father’s face, shutting up his tirade instantly and sending him to the ground in a heap.
He’d yet to do that to an opponent in the ring, but he was certain he could do it to a mouthy old timer.
But he didn’t want to. Yet he knew that it was only a matter of time before he lost control. So, he slipped on his shoes and opened a window.
His father had good ears. “Boy, don’t you think about leaving without your chores done! You give up that scrapping and you get to work, you hear me?”
Jack grabbed a book off his night stand, then slipped out the window and landed in the road. His father bellowed even louder.
“Damn it, Jack!” Pa McCall screamed. “You’ll never amount to anything! Twenty Goddamn years old, no fucking job, no wife, you’re a loser! You hear me?! A loser! Don’t you ever come back here!”
“Loser.” The word had such a sting to it. It was odd that the word retained such power as Jack had the word hurled at him by so many people in his life.
Pa McCall had told Jack to get lost plenty of times before and always let him come back, though not without a profanity laced lecture of course. Still, Jack always felt like he was eating shit whenever he did come back.
Rude as his father’s summation of Jack’s life was, the lad knew the old man wasn’t wrong. Twenty. Jobless. Broke. No wife. There was a girl but she changed her mind about Jack as often as the seasons changed the weather.
As Jack strolled down the road, he felt as if he might as well have had a letter “L” carved into his forehead.
He was in need of inspiration. He parked himself on a bench in front of one of the town’s many saloons and looked at the cover of his book.
“The Life and Times of James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok – a Biography by Elliot P. Forysthe.”
The book was worn and its pages dog eared from multiple readings. Jack licked his finger and turned to the first chapter. It was his favorite part.
“Chapter the First – Given the fact that the name ‘Wild Bill Hickok’ is well known in every household from New York to San Francisco, it may come as a tremendous surprise to the reader to learn that Mr. Hickok came from very humble beginnings, thus proving that the American dream is achievable by all willing to struggle for it.
‘I know what it’s like to be dirt poor, dead broke, and written off like a bump on a rented mule’s behind,’ Mr. Hickok told this writer. ‘But the hard times we all fight through make the victory that much sweeter. Every day a nobody becomes a somebody. It can be done.”
“It can be done,” Jack mumbled to himself.