Beatles fans: You will either like this or really hate it. Apologies for the latter.
Now somewhere in the black mining hills of Dakota lived a boy named Rocky Raccoon. Rocky was poor, even by Raccoon standards. Like most in the hills, he worked the coal mines. Wan’t much else to be done. He tried hard as everyone else, an’ harder ’cause he wanted to bring home money for his woman. Dirty, sweatin’ and flat beat, ol’ Rocky’d walk proud and tall when she was with him. One day his woman ran off with another guy. Hit young Rocky in the eye. And Rocky didn’t like that. He said, “I’m gonna get that boy.”
So one day he walked into town and booked himself a room at the local saloon. Rocky Raccoon checked into his room, only to find Gideon’s Bible. Rocky had come equipped with a gun to shoot out the legs of his rival. Being a good ole boy, Rocky had guns. Was as good a shot as any. Had to kill to eat enough times to hit his mark. But none of his guns were right for the job. Rifle or a shotgun wasn’t what he needed. So he scratched up a month’s pay and took himself to the local pawn. Bought a fine old pistol that would do the trick. He wouldn’t soon forget the wrong that’d been done him.
His rival it seems had broken his dreams by stealing the girl of his fancy. Her name was Magill and she called herself Lil, but everyone knew her as Nancy.
Daniel Badger was well-off for a Dakota boy. He worked the rail yard and quit earlier than Rocky could. Dan thought Rocky’s woman a mighty pretty thing. She was, an’ knew it, too. When her man was down in the mine, she’d smile and bat her eyes at every guy in town. But when Rocky was around, she clung to him like he was the only living man she’d ever laid eyes on. Dan found her one day in the bar. “Nancy, why you waste your time with that Rocky fellow? He ain’t much.”
“He’s sweet on me,” she said. “He treats me real nice.”
“Everyone knows Badgers are stronger than Raccoons,” Dan said. “You need you a real man. An’ that’s me. You’ll see.”
Rocky came ’bout then. He didn’t like what he saw, that Danny with his girl. He puffed up all big and marched right on over.
“Now what’s the idea here, Lil? Move on, Dan, I’m claimin’ what’s mine.”
Daniel smiled. “I reckon you’re a tad late, there, Raccoon. She ain’t with you no more. She’s with me now.”
Rocky went in swinging. He had real heart, but no good fight in him. The mines left his eyes watery and his body weak. Dan fought hard. Left Rocky a black eye to remember him by. It hurt Nancy to see her man Rocky hurt. But he was weak and this Badger was stronger. When he took her arm, she had left with him.
Now she and her man who called himself Dan were in the next room at the hoedown. Dan wouldn’t dance and Nancy was getting sore at him. She missed ol’ Rocky, but she was afraid to go back. Danny was shooting whiskey and getting mean. And she reckoned Rocky wouldn’t have her now anyhow. She ordered herself a tequila sunrise and pouted. Daniel was raising hell with a couple guys over pool and it looked fit to be a fight. That was the trouble with Badgers. They were strong enough, sure, but always having to prove it an’ rough everybody up. Nancy hadn’t had a good time in quite a while. In fact, she had just barely got through tellin’ a decent-lookin’ fellow her name was Lil when Daniel went and popped a bottle over his head.
“Nancy, baby, you make me crazy,” he slurred. “I keep my eye on you.”
She pursed her lips and downed the drink. She needed some saving. Just then it came.
Rocky burst in and grinning a grin he said, “Danny boy, this is a showdown.”
But Daniel was hot. He drew and fast and shot. And Rocky collapsed in the corner. Nancy screamed. Dan grabbed her.
“Come on, woman. We’re done here.” He drug her out.
The doctor came in, stinking of gin, proceeded to lie on the table. He said, “Rocky, you met your match.”
But Rocky said, “Doc it’s only a scratch. And I’ll be better, I’ll be better doc as soon as I am able.”
The doctor looked up. “Yer a tough old boy. Ain’t much of a fighter. Ain’t the best shot no more. But yer tough. That Dan’ll get what’s comin’ one a these days.” He slapped a bottle of morphine on the table. Rocky paid what was left of all the money to his name.
Rocky Raccoon fell back in his room, only to find Gideon’s Bible. Gideon checked out and left it, no doubt, to help with good Rocky’s revival. Gideon was a travelin’ preacher of sorts. As a boy, he was quietly religious. But he got worked up over the wild ways of the hills. So he took himself town to town and he set up big tent revivals. He’d yell the fire and scream the brimstone til folks was on their knees. Then, wham! Gideon’d whip out the Gospel like the best fireworks show. They’d be hollarin’ hallelujahs ‘fore he was done. Gideon’s revivals were first-rate. But he knew not all folks needed the preachin’ an’ the noise to be reborn. Some just needed a night with the Word of the Lord. And so Gideon left a copy of the Good Book behind everywhere he went. Jus’ left them ready for personal revivals.
Now Rocky held the Bible in his hands. He bawled a bit for his Lil, then he set to readin’ the book. And sure ‘nough, old Rocky had his revival.
Outside the hoedown, Nancy was tryin’ her darn best to look sweet.
“Scuse me, Miss Magil,” the deputy sheriff said. “I jus’ got to ask a few more questions. Tell me again how Daniel got shot.”
“Like I tole you. I was powderin’ my nose when I heard the bang. Scared me half to death. I looked, and he was on the ground. I hurried away, account of I was scared out of my mind.”
“Miss, you sure you didn’t shoot him?”
“Me? I never touched a gun in my life,” she huffed. She flipped her hair and tried to look insulted. “Musta shot himself.”
“And why d’ya ‘sppose he woulda done that?”
“Mistake I guess. He was mighty clumsy.”
“Seems to me you ain’t too upset. You was goin’ with him, yeah?”
“Mother always said ain’t no use cryin’ over spilt milk. Now, sir, if you don’t mind. I really must get out of this damp night air. It’s terrible for my skin.”
With that, Nancy turned heel and left. The smell of gunpowder trailed her. Daniel lay dead in their room. Rocky slept at peace next door.