Thursday, March 29, 2012
Starting Today: The Robin Hood of the Range
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The Robin Hood of the Range handed three ten dollar bills to an elderly woman. “That’s for you and your husband, Mrs. Bolger. Reckon you can use it.”
“Thank you, Mr. Cates, but you shouldn’t--”
“Sure I should!” Ricky Cates smiled broadly as he spoke. “Why, you folks have been mighty kind to hide me out these past two days.”
Simon Bolger sat at the dining table in a small house consisting of a dining area, kitchen and bedroom. In front of him lay a copy of Ricky Cates: The Robin Hood of the Range, a dime novel. The publication was one of the very few “extras” the farmer allowed himself.
“This here drawin’ of you on the cover is a good likeness, Mr. Cates. But won’t that be sort of a problem ...”
“Reckon not,” Cates replied. “Why, every lawdog in the Arizona territory has a description of the Robin Hood of the Range. I just learn to live with it.” At twenty years of age, Ricky Cates carried a monstrous vanity regarding his appearance. He dreaded cutting his long brown hair and Buffalo Bill style beard.
Elsie Bolger took the three bills Cates had given her and stepped through an open door into the kitchen, where she took down a large jar from a shelf that sided the oven. “The west certainly needs a man like you, Mr. Cates.” She placed the bills in the jar and placed it back on the shelf. “That banker, Russ Adams, has got plenty of money in his bank. He can spare two hunnert dollars. Folks like us got almost nothin’.”
“That’s right ma’am, and I plan to hand out more of that money, startin’ today.”
“Are you leavin’ us, Mr. Cates?” Simon asked.
“Yes sir. Been two days since I robbed the bank. Guess the law has figured I’m far away by now. I need to start handin’ out money to poor folks that need it.”
“Well, before you leave you gotta have a good breakfast,” Elsie declared. “I’ll start getting’ the food on the table. Isaiah should be back from early chores soon."
Ricky Cates smiled, but he wasn’t happy. Isaiah, a hired hand, was a lot stronger than his elderly and frail boss. Cates could tell that Isaiah did not accept the Robin Hood story he had fed that crazy writer from the East. The outlaw hated Isaiah for that. Ricky Cates also hated Isaiah for his black skin.
Hoofbeats sounded from outside. Simon awkwardly arose from his chair and hobbled over to the window. He brushed back the thin curtains, then turned to Ricky. “It’s Marshall Tyler and his deputy!”
Tomorrow: Episode Two of The Robin Hood of the Range