Jedediah Smith and the Undying Chinaman
Hoss had the audacity to stand behind me and bray like a mule. There’s little I hate more than a man who laughs at his own poor excuse for humor. I slipped my hand snake quick over the well-worn handle of the Colt Peacemaker I kept crotched, swung my arm up in an arch as I skinned the cannon and smashed the butt against the bridge of Mr. Funny Man’s beak with a satisfying crack. He staggered back as his nose loosed a scarlet flood all over the floor. I kicked him in “the sweets,” threw him onto the red mess he’d made, and, because I was feeling ornery, upended that damned spittoon over his face. I shook my head. I could have wound up like him if my uncle hadn’t taken me in and paid for my education after my momma died from the consumption.
I took a long pull off my cigar and let the smoke ooze slow and evil out of my mouth as I said to anyone listening. “My name is Jedediah Smith. Does anyone else want to ask me a question?” This time I threw some of that steel in my voice I mentioned earlier. Hoss’ buddy jumped up with his hands in the air and knocked over their table. I hadn’t realized I still had my gun out. I saw a glass pipe caked with tarry residue rolling along the floor with the shot glasses and beer bottles. My eyes widened for a second as a bolt of inspiration struck me full on. I crooked a gnarled finger in the direction of Hoss’ friend and said “You!”
“Me?” He actually squeaked as he pointed to himself and looked around for a more likely subject.
“Yes, you. Where can I find an opium den around here?”
He looked puzzled, which was only slightly different from his usual idiot stare, and asked “Why do you…”
I cocked the Peacemaker as I interrupted him. “It sounds like you’re asking me a question boy, and you’ve seen how I cotton to questions.” I kicked Hoss once in the gut—hard—for emphasis. The poor bastard gurgled and went fetal as his buddy turned wedding dress white.