by Joe McCarter (In His Father's Voice)

Card was the brother just behind me in the family. We were close enough in age to do ever'thing together when we were kids. When we were grown, we went partnership on the Trader cattle and did some freightin' together after I quit the Diamond outfit. I ain't sure who first started callin' him Card. His name was s'posed to be Richard and Card was s'posed to be short for Ricardo.

We were closest of all the family, and I missed him the most while we were in Montana. In fact I hadn't seen him for about ten years and, after gettin' back to the Prairie, I was lookin' forward to a visit.

Card came up from Boise soon after we got in and, of course, he was pretty much up on happenings there on the Prairie as it hadn't been too long since he and Insa were there on the place. She'd died there in childbirth in 1917.

One of the first things he says is that we ought to go get a bottle and celebrate a little. Neither Card or me was too much on drinkin' especially to any excess, but when we were both single, we used to enjoy goin' down to Cass Arnold's saloon in old Corral now and then and havin' a few. I guess Card remembered this and it seemed kinda like old times again.

Now of course prohibition was still on, but things like that never bothered Card much, and I didn't do any objectin'. So we got in his Model T and where do we go but down to Jimmy Bab's.

Jimmy's livin' at the old Babington place which had been the first stage station at old Corral back in the early days. Charley Babington had been the last agent runnin' the station and, when the Boise to Hailey line shut down, he homesteaded and filed on some water outta Corral Creek and went right on livin' there.

He'd married a breed woman and had quite a bunch of kids and later on went blind and died a few years later. His nephew, I believe, also named Charley, married the widow and they had two more kids. The original Charley had been short and the later Charley tall and most ever'one called them Little and Big Charley.

The old station was made outta squared fir logs and wasn't in bad shape on the outside. Jimmy was the youngest of Big Charley's and he's livin' there by himself as the old folks had died and all the rest of 'em have pulled out or got married or somethin'.

He wasn't too big a kid when we left and, as you'll remember, never could talk very plain. Some said it was because there wasn't no doctor around when he came into the world, and he was born tongue-tied. Seems as though if a kid is born tongue-tied a doctor can clip the root of the tongue some way and this'll fix it, but anyway Jimmy grew up talkin' in a way that was damn hard to understand. Anyway, Jimmy had learned how to put together a still and it was probably makin' 'im more money than the quarter section he was tryin' to farm.

Card knocks on the door and after quite a while Jimmy sticks his head out. Card says, "Hello, Jimmy" and Jimmy sorta nods, but he keeps lookin' at me, and I can tell he don't know who I am and it seems to bother 'im. Bein' shy around strangers wasn't unusual with moonshiners, I'd seen the same thing in Montana. Anyway, he sure ain't askin' us in.

Card figures on relaxin' him a little and seein' a few old hens scratchin' around near the door, by way of conversation says, "How's the hens layin' Jimmy?" Jimmy studies this awhile and finally says, "Archa tella."

This is the first words he'd said and I'd forgot how hard it was translatin' Jimmy's lingo, but Card didn't seem to have much trouble cause he comes right back and says, "How's that Jimmy?" Jimmy's got kinda livened up now and says back, "Wellsha shat damn Fredngeorge getsha shen 'bout shever shnight."

Now, with some thinkin' I translate this as his twin half-brothers, Fred and George, are relievin' him of a hen ever' now and then. This is botherin' 'im enough that he kinda forgets about me, and he opens the door up and sorta nods, and Card and me go on inside. From the looks of things, the house ain't been swamped out for years. Card, after sayin' that stealin' chickens is a helluva way to treat family, keeps on visitin' with Jimmy about this and that. Jimmy was noddin' and grinnin' ever now and then and once in awhile sayin' somethin' that I can't much make out.

Anyway, all the sudden Card says, "Jimmy, I wanna buy a pint." You can see Jimmy's some taken aback, and he looks over quick at me and says, "I no gotcha any whisky" and shakin' his head.

Card says, "Now, goddamn you Jimmy. Bill and me ain't seen each other for ten years and goddammit you're gonna sell me a pint."

Jimmy thinks this over a while and still lookin' scared ducks out the back door. But he comes back all smiles with, sure enough, a pint bottle of some kinda liquid. Card says, "Whadda I owe ya?" and Jimmy says, "Shun shdallar" and Card hands him a silver dollar. On the way home Card tells me there's better whiskey around, but Jimmy's close and his whiskey's reliable.

We sit down against the north side of the old log barn and unscrew the lid on the pint. Card takes the first drink and I can see from the look on his face that it don't go down real smooth, so when he hands it to me I'm pretty well braced and doin' my best, manage to keep from gaggin' it back up. Whoever had showed Jimmy how to make whiskey had likely left out some of the finer points.

As Card had said, the stuff was reliable and after a drink or two sorta smoothed out and it ain't long 'til we're rememberin' the old times when we'd go down to Arnold's saloon and play cards or drink a little.

Card says, "Remember that time ol' Cass was tellin' us about him and Fred Burnett butcherin' the beef?" I hadn't remembered this story for years, but it could still bring a good laugh. Cass Arnold was a first class storyteller. This one was about him and Burnett, who was his cousin or somethin' who'd later on got to be a probate judge, killin' somebody's steer.

This was in the way early days of the Prairie before any fences when lot of cattle from the Boise valley and up and down the Snake were summered there. Cass and Burnett had rode out in the late evenin' of a fall day lookin' for somethin' fat to butcher and, a mile or two from old Corral, come upon a little bunch of cattle and had knocked down a good fat two-year-old shorthorn steer. They were figgerin' on butcherin' 'im out and then goin' back to Corral and gettin' a team and hack to haul the meat in.

Cass says they've got the beef on its back and he's busy skinnin' on one side with Burnett on the other when he notices his horse has grazed a fair distance away. Nobody wants to be set afoot and, without sayin' anything, he puts down his knife and walks out to his horse. The horse is gentle and ketchin’ im is easy and without thinkin' he just steps on and rides back to the beef.

By now its gettin' almost dark and Burnett, who's still busy skinnin' away, hears somebody comin' and lookin' up sees a rider right on top of him. Burnett's first and only thought is gettin' away and since his horse is close, he's aboard in no time spurrin' and whippin' on both sides. Cass grins and says, "My horse was younger and faster and I thought I'd run up on 'im and tell 'im it was just me. But whenever I'd get a little closer, he'd begin whippin' all around again and his old horse would gain ground. Do you know, I hadda chase that old sonofabitch all the way back to Corral before I could tell 'im who it was."

Cass and Burnett later on had a partin' of the ways over some horse deal. My ol' man was mixed up in it someway or other and there was some chargin' Cass of bein' a horse thief and I don't know what all. It was durin' the time I was workin' for the Diamond outfit, and I never bothered to get the whole story.

Anyway, I reminded Card of the time him and me was in Cass's place pretty much by ourselves with ol' Cass tendin' bar and all of us a little drunk. Cass just up and says, "Now you boys know I've always liked you two, and Orly ain't too bad a feller and Claude seems like a helluva nice kid. But that goddamned old man of yours, both him and Fred Burnett, smart ol' sonsabitches, both of 'em. Either one of them coulda been right in the Governor's chair today if it just wasn't for their goddamn meanness." For some reason Cass's tellin' us this had always tickled Card and me, and we had another good laugh about it.

We got to talkin' about how little was left of old Corral. John May had took over the store and post office. He soon got tired of drivin' down to the railroad to pickup the mail ever' day and finally moved the store down to what had been the UP depot after first movin' it off the railroad right-of-way.

A feller named Sanford had moved the old dance hall that the buckaroos had built down to the tracks and was runnin' a pool hall in it. Most of the rest of the buildings that I'd remembered had either been tore or burnt down.

Card said he guessed old Corral had started downhill the night Cass and the other saloon keeper in Corral at the time, Joe Jones, had got their "posse" together and wrecked M____'s whorehouse.

This was another one of Cass's stories though, of course, it was all true. M____ had sorta worked her trade around the dance hall and saloons there at Corral for several years. Her brother used to say, "Oh Christ, everybody knows what she is," and I guess he was right.

Anyway, she finally got ahead enough that when a house in Corral come up for rent, she moved in and got two or three more women from some place and became a madam.

This was in the big sheep days from about 1902 to 1908 and the whole country was crawlin' with sheep. I well remember hearin' Jack Skillon's foreman say one spring that they had 90 bands strung out from Bliss to the foot of Boardman Pass waitin' for the snow to get down enough so they could cross over into the South Fork and the Smokies. Jack Skillon wasn't one of the biggest ones either. Some of 'em had two herders with each band just to keep 'em from mixin'.

There was plenty of business around Corral for the saloons and a good sized general store and a blacksmith shop as well. And then of course M____'s establishment. She'd got her a piano and had a bar built in and hired a bartender who more or less doubled as a pimp.

Now of course this all didn't set too well with the general community and the women all over the Prairie was upset. Although things like this wasn't talked about much out in the open. Nothin' was done though, and things went along for two or three years I guess. It was durin' the time I worked for the Diamond outfit.

The sheepmen done a lot of business in Corral and M_____'s place got so it was sellin' more whiskey than either of the saloons. When Cass would tell the story he'd always leave out this part. In fact, to hear Cass tell it, it was just the decent folks of the community risin' up against all these immoral goin's on. Cass didn't even claim he was the one who did most of the organizin', but ever'body knew he was. Both he and Jones had made up their minds that she had to go, one way or another, but sure didn't come right out and tell her so. Instead, they worked out a plan.

Some evenin' after business was pretty well over in M_____'s place and the women all bedded down, them and some of their regulars would just go over and bust up the bar and furniture and what whiskey they could find and scare the women so bad they'd get outta town. Cass always let on like most of the fellers participatin' were upstandin' members of the community when it mostly was just some of the two saloon's steadier customers.

Whoever they was didn't make much difference as most of 'em got scared off real quick. It seems the plan sorta leaked out, or at least M_____'s bartender had heard of it, cause he'd barricaded himself in the woodpile back of the house where they were gonna meet and break in. He'd remembered his Winchester too, and greeted the group with a shot or two over their heads to open the festivities.

If Joe Jones hadn't been there, chances are the plan would a went to hell with the first shot. Jones was a pretty tough customer. In later years he got ambushed down in Soldier by Ayre Higgs. Higgs and him had been havin' hell over something for a week or two, and after a session one mornin', Higgs went home and got a six-shooter and waited for Jones. When he stepped out of the Post Office, Higgs shot him through the throat cuttin' the jugular vein. Them that was there said Jones never turned a hair. Just said to Higgs, "Well ya yaller sonofabitch. You've killed me."

Well, as I was sayin' panic set in, but Jones managed to hold two or three of the drunker ones from scatterin' with the rest. The few of them left went around to the front of the house where they broke the door down. No one ever seemed to know what happened to the bartender as no more shots were fired. In fact, Cass claimed nobody in Corral ever seen 'im again. For that matter, they were all just guessin' it was the bartender that had shot at them.

They did a pretty good job of bustin' up ever'thing including the piano, and terrorizin' the women. M_____ got out a window at the start of things and run all the way to her folk's house over on Painter Creek barefooted and in her nightgown.

Cass claimed Joe Jones paid his unwanted respects to each of the remainin' women and scared 'em so much they all left town the next day with whoever they could get a ride with, and there ain't been a whorehouse in Corral since.

Card mentioned the time we'd been leavin' the saloon late one night and was walkin' over to where we'd left our horses. The trip took us by Cass's house and we could hear some talkin' that caught our interest.

Now, Cass was gettin on in age, I'd guess near the end of his sixties. He'd married a young woman just a few years before, and we'd all heard rumors of the kind you'd expect.

Anyway, from the sound, Cass was givin' somebody a helluva cussin' and, since there was a light from the kitchen window, we eased over to see what was goin' on. We could see Cass alright, but we weren't able to make out who was on the receivin' end. Cass was holdin' an old fashioned long barreled Colt with both hands. The gun was evidently well aimed for the barrel never wavered the whole time Card and me stood and watched.

Cass was sayin', "Killing's too good for the goddamn likes of a sonofabitch such as you. I'm just gonna gut-shoot ya and turn ya loose." We couldn't hear what the other person was sayin', but it was a man's voice and he was talkin' pretty quiet. Cass just kept tellin' him he was gonna gut-shoot 'im and turn 'im loose. Card and me got to figgerin' maybe it wasn't the smartest thing to stay around and get to be witnesses, so we walked on over to our horses and rode home. Nobody turned up gut-shot so I guess whoever it was talked 'im out of shootin' at least.

Well sir, by this time Jimmy's pint is about gone and after takin' about the last of it, I look down in the bottle and there's some things in the bottom that look kinda like raisins or somethin', and I ask Card if Jimmy has always used raisins in his moonshine. Card takes the bottle and looks down and says, "Hell, them ain't raisins. They're flies."

He tips the bottle out in his hand and sure enough there's eight or ten damn well-pickled flies comes out with the little dab of whiskey.

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