Blaze of Glory

It was a hot day in Cowtown, just like any hot summer day. Folks were doing all they could to keep themselves cool, and the Masked Bull was doing all he could to keep the heat on to accomplish his goals of frying Moo once and for all, and to keep anybody else from finding out his identity (Moo once unmasked him, proving the rumors from the town's blind alarmist, Puma, were true). "It ain't easy," he said to himself, "but at least I don't have those bumbling idiots anymore." By that, he meant Saddlesore and Boot Hill Buzzard, who had been sentenced (by the Masked Bull) to work at a factory in Chicago until they could "learn to behave like a real outlaw," as he put it.

Mayor Bulloney, who hated hot weather as well, was also desperate to get rid of Moo, but was afraid the town figured out he was as corrupt as he had always been. Up until Moo unmasked the Masked Bull and revealed it to be Sheriff Terrorbull, the mayor had done an excellent job of covering up the fact he was using his office as a front and for political gain. While the public forgave him for his acts by continuing to re-elect him, thus ensuring him an eleventh term, they continued to watch for any hints showing his corrupt ways and attitudes.

Since the mayor wasn't trying to hog the town's water supply, J.R. and Tejua spent some time hydrating themselves with water. Knowing the habits of the mayor, J.R. occasionally kept a lookout for any suspicious activity, but found none. "Hmmm," he said to himself. "Guess the mayor's not trying any more of those schemes of his for the moment. Better keep an eye out, though. Ooh. That sounds painful."

Moo and his posse had stopped by Miss Lily's Tumbleweed Saloon for a sarsaparilla (which was a non-alcoholic drink, by the way). "I see you haven't lost your touch," Moo said after he, Dakota, and Cowlorado got their drinks.

"Well, thank you, Moo," said Miss Lily. "Say, as hot as it is, you think the mayor is going to try and hog the water again?"

"Don't think so, not after I unmasked the Masked Bull in front of the public and revealed it to be the Sheriff, the infamous Terrorbull."

"So Puma was right, then."

"Yep. When Terrorbull isn't masquerading as the Masked Bull, chances are his brother, Horrorbull, is. But we haven't heard from him since then."

"Last I heard of him," said the town's new Sheriff, J. Paul Bull Dog (the first canine officer in Cowtown), "I witness Horrorbull break out of jail, only to be put in jail in the town where he held up the saloon."

"Which town was that?"

"Some town in Arizona. I can't remember the name of it."

"Does the town have anybody famous for protecting the good folk from those outlaws that perpetrate evil?"

"Probably, but I've only been in that town ever so briefly."

"Oh, okay."

Just then, another posse arrived in town, but it wasn't the Fab 5. It was a different posse. Moo and his posse had never seen them before, but Sheriff Bull Dog thought he recognized the posse's leader from his face. Once he listened to the leader's voice, however, he knew who it was. He let Moo and the gang talk to the group while they ate lunch.

When the time came for Miss Lily to give the bill for each member of the posse, she wasn't anticipating what the group's leader would do. "And five cents is your change," she said to him.

"Thank y'all kindly, ma'am, but no thanks. Please take that there nickel back. It's five cents more than what y'all would've had."

"Okay," said Miss Lily, confused, "but I don't think I've ever seen someone so insistent on me keeping the change. I've had people do it before as part of paying tips, but not with just the bill."

"Oh, I included them tips of yours in that there bill. But I insist on y'all keepin' y'all's change; I've been askin' them folks that for years."

"Nickel back?" Moo thought aloud. "Wait a minute. Where have I heard that name before?"

"Y'all ever dealt with Bully Dawggerson and his gang, before he came to them senses of his and turned good again?"

"Nope, but we heard the legend of him. You the cowboy that put him to justice?"

"Yes, that's me."

"Yup," said Dakota.

"Then it's no surprise to me," Cowlorado spoke up. "You must be the one they call Nickelback Nathan!"

"Well, I'll be!" Miss Lily exclaimed in surprise, yet with a smile on her face.

"Yep, and howdy." Nathan tipped his hat. "Appreciate y'all's service, ma'am. Now that y'all figured out who I am, and I'm sorry I tried to hide it, since I don't like introducin' myself to folks I don't know, I'd like y'all to meet these here friends of mine that make up my faithful posse, the Nickelbacks." He gestured towards his group, "Dangerous David" Jamison (a lion), "Crazy Colton" Swabb (a cougar), "Lucky Luke" Fritz (a jaguar), and "Tumbleweed Tom" Sharkey (a tiger). (Nathan was a wildcat.) The fox alongside Nathan was ex-outlaw (due to walking amnesia) "Natural Nick" Nicholson.

"Pleasure," said Moo. "I'm the Marshal everyone here calls Moo. That's Dakota over there."

"Yup," said Dakota.

"And that one's Cowlorado."

"Yee-haw!" Cowlorado shouted gleefully.

"What brings y'all to Cowtown?"

"Oh, just passin' on by. Also, we thought we saw some crazy bull dressed in black say to himself that he was gonna steal some random invention of some of them scientists in this here town that's supposed to keep weather fair and square for all them people. I can't bother myself with all them bits of scientific lingo, but all I can say is what I done heard."

"Then you've seen the Masked Bull?"

"If he's that there bull in black."

"He is indeed. Glad you informed us about it; we're the ones that have been putting him to justice. Show us the way if you would please. In the meantime, let's rodeo, boys!" Everyone saddled up and followed Nathan. All the while, it got hotter and hotter.

When the cowboys found the invention the Masked Bull was planning to steal, they made sure to inform the inventor about it, and he immediately ordered maximum security. No sooner had he ordered security when gunfire rang out, even though the inventor had said to Nathan, "I thank you, Mr. Nickelback, for your warning, but I ask you be very careful, or else the Masked Bull will find me."

"I think he already did!" Nathan shouted, getting the inventor to safety.

"So, we meet again," Moo spoke up, motioning towards the Masked Bull.

"Yup," said Dakota.

"Now you just step aside and give me that invention," the Masked Bull ordered. "I got me a town to fry!"

"You want to kill everybody off?" Cowlorado asked in anger.

"Not everybody, just you," the Masked Bull replied. "You've been thwarting my schemes long enough." He fired again. The latest bullets struck down the front door to the lab and the inventor ran inside to protect his invention.

The gun battle continued until the heat of the sun seemingly caused the lab to catch fire. The brigade was immediately dispatched to put it out, but that didn't stop the Masked Bull from trying. In anger, steam could be seen exiting his nostrils, but that didn't stop Moo from apprehending him. With Nathan and his posse's help, Moo managed to hog-tie the Masked Bull in his own trap that would've resulted in the Marshal being trapped in a barrel full of dynamite. The resulting explosion left the Masked Bull black as charcoal, with his disguise torn in half from top to bottom, revealing his real identity (Terrorbull).

"That's y'all's real face?" Nathan exclaimed.

"It is, but I ain't telling you my identity!"

"I don't care what y'all's real identity is; what have y'all got to say for y'all's self, ya varmint?"

"I'll do whatever it takes to eliminate the bugs bugging and running my life known as Marshal Moo Montana and his posse."

"You'll have to get out of jail first," Moo snapped as he handed the frustrated outlaw to Dakota, who escorted him to jail with Cowlorado and the rest of Nathan's posse. Moo and Nathan stayed behind to console the inventor, who had been crying, "My invention! My invention! All I wanted to do was make the weather fair for everyone, and all the work was for nothing! Now what will I do?"

"It ain't nice to mess with Mother Nature," Nathan replied, "so it turned out for the best them fire brigade officers came by and put that there fire out, but your device is nothin' but ashes now. I feel y'all's pain, partner, but there ain't nothin' I can do about it now. One thing's for sure, however; y'all's invention went down in a blaze of glory."

"You might want to retire from the biz altogether," Moo added. "Some of the best inventors in this town have turned rouge when they determined the public can't handle their scientific beliefs. I think all of Moo Mesa would prefer to let nature take its course anyway. If it storms, ices, or shines large heat, so be it."

"Besides," said J.R., who had also come with Moo on his response to the crime, "when in doubt, there's only one way to go: back to nature."

"I suppose you are right." The inventor walked inside his house to rest as Moo, J.R., and Nathan headed back to Cowtown, where they caught up with the rest of the gang. Naturally, he shed tears all night long.

Celebrations ensured that night, and Nathan and his posse were introduced to some other folks in town, including Cody Calf, who seemed to be thrilled to meet the legend of Glenn View Springs, Arizona (his hometown, which he clarified to Sheriff Bull Dog). "And that code of the west y'all live by is a code we live by as well," Nathan told Moo.

"Glad to hear that," said Moo. "Like it says in the code, 'It ain't a code if there ain't people living by it.'"


Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa © Ryan Brown

Sheriff Bull Dog, The Fab 5 and the Nickelbacks © me