Dead Hand Dan's Capture

"They don't call it the Wild West for nothing," Moo made the comment while he and his posse were coming back from the latest victory against the Masked Bull. The Masked Bull had tried blowing up the Elbow's Bend hospital with dynamite, but got caught in the act. For once in his life, Saddlesore and Boot Hill Buzzard had nothing to do with his failure. Moo and the cowboys just got there in time.

"Yup," said Dakota. "Wonder why his henchmen had nothing to do with it?"

"Don't have a clue," Cowlorado replied. "I wonder if the mayor is continuing to let them rot in jail for the sake of the Masked Bull's actions? If what Puma says is true about Sheriff Terrorbull being the Masked Bull, and his brother Horrorbull dons that disguise when he's not available, that might be the case. Other than that, I got nothing."

"That is a strong possibility, Cowlorado," Moo agreed. "Like it says in the Code of the West, 'A criminal can be in two places at once if two or more varmints share the alter-ego.' Even the Fab 5 think Puma's telling the truth. One of these days, I'm going to prove it. Just not today."

When the cowboys made it back to Cowtown, just as Moo anticipated, the townspeople were thrilled to see justice done (after Moo made the announcement that justice was done). Cody Calf was ever so-excited. Mayor Bulloney pretended to be happy, due to the fact he was really a get-rich-quick schemer, and Sheriff Terrorbull was his front. By this point, however, Terrorbull had moved to Lonesome Gulch, and was now the sheriff of that town, though continuing his role as the Masked Bull. Because of this, the mayor now conducted schemes out of his own actions, such as high taxes and charging people for their water supply. The first of those two continued to work for him, but the latter was discontinued thanks to J.R. and Tejua's actions.

"Magnificent job, Montana!" the mayor exclaimed. "I am proud to see such an example of law and order in our mist."

"Well, it's not just me, Mayor Bulloney, but all of the cowboys. Don't forget Dakota and Cowlorado. On appropriate occasions, even little calf-pint here proves himself a worthy cowboy in the battle between good and evil on the frontier plains." Cody acknowledged the cheers and applause that followed, and Miss Lily was even applauding. In recent weeks, she grew more comfortable with him taking the risks he was known to take, and it was more and more evidence he was destined to be a great law cow just like his hero, Marshal Moo Montana.

"We're just staying true to the Code of the West, Mayor. That's our job," Moo continued. "Protecting the good folk of Moo Mesa from those varmints that would perpetrate evil and cause bad things to happen. Sorry. I get all riled up just thinking about it."

That night, Mayor Bulloney slept restlessly. All the while, in his dreams, he could still be seen talking to Sheriff Terrorbull as if he was still in the mayor's service, saying, "I despise a law cow that prevents me from becoming richer!" Sheriff Terrorbull would always respond, "Don't I know it?"

The next morning, Moo, Dakota, and Cowlorado had stopped by J.R.'s teepee to check in with their Indian friend. Previously, J.R. had been the Masked Bull's target as bait for the Fab 5, and J.R. took a long time to cope with the stress of the matter. This time, J.R. handled it better, thanks to getting plenty of rest.

"Feel better about it, J.R.?" Moo had asked.

"Much better, Moo, thank you," J.R. replied. "How's the Fab 5 doing?"

"Oh, just dandy. They helped us capture the Masked Bull after he tried robbing a train down in their hometown of Hicksburg, Texas just a few days ago. Well, it's been Cody's and John's home all their lives; it's the current town for Benjamin, Bryce, and David."

"I see. Next time I need help from a bounty hunter, I know where I'll look."

"I'm sure." Moo paused to take a sip of water.

"Yup," Dakota echoed. "Wonder what they're up to now?"

"I don't know, Dakota, but I'm sure they doin' all right. Sometimes I'm left wondering why they're frequent visitors to Moo Mesa. Got any ideas?"

"My only guess is that the two regions are close enough to one another," Cowlorado replied. "No matter how much they do for us, and vice-versa, Sally Sue Holsteen has declared she won't keep her hooves off me. I know that sounds dangerous, seeing as how physical contact can be fatal as far as infectious diseases go, but that's the way she put it."

"Well, like it says in the Code, Cowlorado, 'You can't keep the bear from tasting the honey.' Maybe it's the fact you're so good at roping up cattle and the varmints that require it."

Just then, Dakota caught a glimpse of Jack. "Moo!" he called. "It's Jack again!"

"Well, back with another one, eh, Jack?" Moo turned to Jack.

"Yeah. I just wish I didn't have to travel all over Moo Mesa just to find you. But that's the way it is. Here's the message." Jack handed the telegram to Moo.

"Let's see," Moo said, opening the telegram and reading it. "It says, 'Marshal, thanks for your help in conquering the Masked Bull in our hometown. Now we'd like to return the favor. We're chasing our town's most wanted outlaw, Dead Hand Dan, into Moo Mesa. Now as y'all know, Dead Hand Dan is that there crazy coyote gone bad. In fact, his actions are what temporarily turned our fellow cowboy Bryce into that there bandit outlaw for a short while, by means of one of them falling safes. When he done and got hit in the head again, he turned good again. I made sure he wasn't jailed, 'cause he ain't never had no intentions of doing evil. I just thought I'd give y'all a heads up, 'cause old Dead Han Dan is comin' right for y'all's territory. Don't fret. We're comin' to help y'all out!"

"Now that is a big relief," J.R. replied. "At least they know how to handle Dead Hand Dan. But where did he get that name?"

"I think it has something to do with that poker term," said Cowlorado. "Some guy had two aces and two eights in his hand when he was killed by his rival, and ever since then, two aces, two eights, and one of any other card has been called the 'dead man's hand.' Perhaps that crazy coyote did the same thing."

"If not, he wins poker hands 95% of the time with that hand," Dakota replied. "Seems every time I play poker, the only time I win is if I have a flush, sometimes a royal flush."

Later that morning, the citizens of Cowtown had already taken preparations necessary. This was because Dead Hand Dan was one of those shoot-'em-up villains, meaning he was almost firing his two pistols whenever he made his way into town. Dead Hand Dan arrived at exactly five minutes until high noon along with his posse (four identical looking Timberwolves). All were firing their ammo, expecting fear and terror from the folks of Cowtown. Contrary to their expectations, nobody was panicking.

When the outlaws reached Miss Lily's Tumbleweed Saloon to stop for a drink, Miss Lily and Cowlamity Kate (in on the counterplot) took cover. Not knowing about Miss Lily's homemade sarsaparilla, Dan walked into the empty saloon, paused to make sure there was no one else around, and walked up to the counter. "Hey!" Dan bellowed. "How come every time I walk into one of these here saloons, the music stops?" He said this because he had previous experiences where he heard the piano entertaining the crowd, and when he entered, even the pianist ran away. One of the town's pianists ran to the piano. "Sorry," he apologized. "I had to go to the bathroom."

"Oh," said Dan. "Well, I can forgive that." He turned to Miss Lily. "Normally, I order my special. If you don't have it, what do you have?"

"What is your special?" asked Miss Lily.

"A shot of scotch."

"We don't serve scotch here, sir. We have sarsaparilla, soft drinks, and water."

"Okay, I'll go for the sarsaparilla. But make it quick. I got me a bank to rob."

"That's what y'all think!" came a voice from outside. In ran the Fab 5, along with Moo, Dakota, and Cowlorado.

"Drat!" Dan bellowed. "It's those cursed bounty hunters, with some other goony law men!"

"Goony I am not!" Moo protested. "I'm the Marshal of Moo Mesa, that everyone here calls Moo."

Dan pulled his two guns and fired at Cowlamity Kate's boots. "Can you dance for me, girl?" he shouted.

"Can I dance?" Kate replied in a cocky tone, beginning to dance as part of her cockiness, and opposite of what Dan was expecting. "How do you like them apples?"

"You call that a dance?" Dan replied in anger. "I've seen better dancing in a ballroom!"

"Y'all think you can just come in here and scare me?" Miss Lily added to the mix. "You think I've seen more freaky culprits than you come in my saloon?"

"I'll tell y'all one thing!" Dan replied. "If I'm going to get to that bank I intend to rob, I'll have to dispose of you first!"

"Aha!" Benjamin shouted. "A confession!"

"That's just what I wanted to hear!" Cody added. "I'm taking y'all and y'all's posse to jail, and that there reward for you to that there bank!" He pointed to a poster David was holding that listed the reward for the capture of Dan, dead or alive: $100,000.

"Y'all think y'all can just get rich from turning criminals in?" Dan continued. "Stick 'em up, and reach for the sky!" He pointed his two guns at Miss Lily, who proceeded to reach for the sky.

"I think you ought to be the one sticking 'em up!" Moo replied, drawing his own two pistols and firing golden stars. The stars bounced off everywhere until they knocked Dan unconscious for about two minutes (Dan had avoided the initial attacking, saying "You missed me!"). Cowlorado roped up the four Timberwolves before they could make their escape.

Coming out of the bathroom, Mayor Bulloney noticed that everything was taken care of. "Boy, am I glad was in the restroom!" he said to himself. Noticing Cody, he asked, "Didn't I earn $500,000 for putting you in jail?"

"Yes, sir, y'all did," Cody replied. "But remember, y'all captured the wrong Cody, as was later found out. Even though I was freed on that there technicality, y'all still get the money. That's the way we do it in Texas."

"I see. I'm sorry I framed you for something you didn't do."

"It's all good, Mayor. The Cody y'all really were supposed to be going after has been put in the same prison as y'all's wanted culprit Horrorbull, and has died since then, of heart trouble." (Keep in mind Cody was deceiving the mayor, but the mayor was easily gullible.)

"I see." Turning to Moo, he said, "Oh, Marshal, I just got word this particular Cody has been cleared of all charges against him from earlier when I won $500,000 for his capture."

"That's a relief, Mayor," said Moo. "All we gotta do now is turn these varmints in to the prison where Horrorbull is at. They won't cause any trouble there. In the meantime, we're going to help the Fab 5 collect their bounty for capturing Dead Hand Dan: alive!" The group proceeded to do just that while Moo informed the town it was safe to come out again. Celebrations followed that with hoedowns and refreshments at Miss Lily's saloon. Moo took time to relax while informing Cody Calf some more about the Code of the West, which he loved living by.

THE END

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

The Fab 5 and Dead Hand Dan © me

NOTE: This is a flashback. Dead Hand Dan has since rehabilitated and repented from crime, but his cousin, Dead-Eye Dennis, continued to wreck havoc on the community until his rehabilitation years later.