Strike It Rich
It was a beautiful day in Cowtown, but no one seemed to notice. Keeping up with the Smiths seemed to be the task of the Cowtown folk, ever since the incident at Smith's mill where gold was discovered. John Smith, the owner of the mill, asked Marshal Moo Montana and his posse, "Please tell no one about this; if you do, I'll go broke."
"We won't tell a soul," said Moo, "but I have a bad feeling the word will spread. Besides, the Masked Bull is always eavesdropping on us, and when he isn't, his two henchman are. Wonder where they've gone? We haven't heard from them in forever."
"Then are you saying I'm doomed?"
"Not necessarily. All you have to do is convince the folks of Moo Mesa that the gold isn't for sale."
"Yup," said Dakota.
"Besides," Cowlorado added, "if anybody's gonna find out, it's the outlaws. That's just the way it works, at least in this part of the West."
"I see," said Smith as he walked inside to rest for a while.
Now the reason Boot Hill Buzzard and Saddlesore had not made their presence known in recent times was because the Masked Bull was so fed up with their incompetence (and their impotence and stupidity) that he banned them to a factory in Chicago where they would work until they could learn how to behave like a true outlaw, as he put it.
The word did spread about the gold, but it wasn't the Masked Bull who spread the word. Instead—and to Smith's relief—little Cody Calf, who had stumbled across his own piece of gold around his land, and started preaching everywhere, "Gold! Gold! I'm rich! I'm rich!"
Miss Lily even found her own piece of gold. "I'm rich, too!" she exclaimed, showing her piece to Cody. "This is phenomenal! Why, everybody's bound to strike it rich sooner or later!"
The next day, Moo was in his office when Cody Calf stopped by to show the surprised Marshal and his deputies the gold. "Well, fry my hooves!" Cowlorado exclaimed. "You found gold faster than a coyote escapin' a henhouse."
"You and Miss Lily sure are lucky cattle," said J.R., who had just entered the office. "Moo, I think everybody's finding gold around these parts. What's causing this?"
"I don't know, but it definitely isn't the Masked Bull's doing," said Moo. "One thing's for sure, however; he's going to plan to steal it if we're not careful. What should we do?"
"I wish I knew," said Cody. "Hmmm." He continued to think aloud. "What would the Fab 5 do? Or what about Nickelback Nathan? I'm sure they're digging for gold, too."
"If they are, they must be crazy," J.R. objected.
"Yup," said Dakota.
"Oh, I don't know about that," Cowlorado replied. "Gold's pretty rare down where they live."
"I suppose you're right, Cowlorado," said Moo. "In the meantime, let's do lunch; I'm starving." The group headed over to Miss Lily's Tumbleweed Saloon, where, to their surprise, was the Fab 5 showing Miss Lily their pieces of gold!
(In case you forgot, the Fab 5 consist of Cody Belachman, John Thane, Benjamin Travis, "Bandit Bryce" Burton, and David Blaze, all of whom reside in Hicksburg, Texas. "Nickelback Nathan" is the nickname of Nathan Stanley, who resides in Glenn View Springs, Arizona. His posse consist of "Dangerous David" Jamison, "Crazy Colton" Swabb, "Lucky Luke" Fritz, and "Tumbleweed Tom" Sharkey.)
Upon seeing Cody Calf's gold, Cody Belachman reacted (though not surprisingly) to the sight. "Whoo, doggies!" he exclaimed. "Them lawcows have struck it rich, too!"
"Moo! Moo!" John called, supposedly using a scripted response. "Did it get you, too?"
"If the 'it' was gold, then yes," said Moo. "Folks all over the Mesa are finding gold and not knowing why, or what to do with it. What do you do with gold down in Texas?"
"We got one of them 'cash for gold' exchange shops," said David. "Perhaps one of these days your gold should be shipped down to Hicksburg. It just might give you the cash you need to build that new hospital you mentioned in the last telegraph you sent me."
"That should do it," Dakota replied. "Been needing one of those since Mayor Bulloney closed down the other one because it didn't meet health code standards. Then the Masked Bull done dynamited it!"
"It was to be torn down anyway, Dakota," Moo interjected. "Well, boys, it seems like we're headin' for Texas. But first, we better tell the townspeople about it. They'll approve it."
"But will Mayor Bulloney approve it?" asked Miss Lily.
"He will; don't worry about it," Moo replied. "Besides, Terrorbull isn't his Sheriff anymore, remember. J. Paul Bull Dog is now, and he isn't corrupt like Terrorbull was."
"Oh, I see," said Miss Lily. "In the meantime, looks like y'all could use yourselves a sarsaparilla."
"I reckon it's about that time," said Benjamin as the group walked inside the saloon. Dakota and Cody Calf took a look at some of the other customers who were also discussing what to do with their gold. Since there weren't very many customers, they opted to listen to Moo and Cody mention the shop. Since Mayor Bulloney and J. Paul Bull Dog were also eating lunch, they mentioned to Moo that they did indeed approve of the idea, so that afternoon, the people loaded their gold on a wagon train that was to ship the gold to Texas. Miss Lily had Buffalo Bull send a telegram to the cash for gold store Cody mentioned, "Gold Buyers, Inc.," saying they were coming.
When the group reached Texas after a long period of travel several days later, they immediately went to the store and sold the gold for cash, which was to be delivered in the stagecoach that was returning to Cowtown when the C.O.W.-Boys were to return home. Since it was a return trip home for the Fab 5 (as the reason they were in Cowtown was chasing down an old crony of Dead Hand Dan's, whom Sheriff J. Paul Bull Dog helped arrest), they personally took charge of the matter.
Soon Cowtown had the money they needed to build the new hospital, but that still didn't satisfy Mayor Bulloney, as deep down inside, he still plotted to get rid of Moo and his posse. In a few side projects, chances of him eliminating the Fab 5 and Nickelback Nathan weren't very high either, but still, since he hadn't really changed one bit, what was to be expected from the public but ambition?
After the gold was finished being stored, Moo, Dakota, and Cowlorado took themselves, J.R., Sheriff Bull Dog, and Cody Calf to the restaurant the Fab 5 had introduced them to before. It wasn't long after they made it to the place and were about to enter when they caught sight of some other cowboys coming. From the distance, nobody could tell whether they were friend or foe, but the Sheriff of Hicksburg, Dusty Clark, and the mayor, Harry Stevens, wanted to know. The way the cowboys were approaching, it looked as if there was trouble. But relief soon ensured on the faces of everybody. Cody was the first to notice.
"No need to fret, y'all," he reported. "It's just that Nickelback Nathan y'all spoke to me of a few days ago. Yup, I've met him before. And what a great one he is, ain't he?"
"Wonder if he's got any gold as well?" Moo asked.
"Or if he's just stopping by to say 'hi?'" Cowlorado put in.
"We'll soon find out," Cody spoke up. He turned to Nathan, who had just arrived within speaking distance, though still from afar. "Howdy, Nathan," he called. "What brought y'all down here to Texas?"
"Howdy," Nathan replied, now standing next to the Fab 5 and Moo. "I was hoping y'all would show up. My posse and I got a problem, and I ain't one that's a-gonna go stompin' down them hills worryin' 'bout it."
"It doesn't have anything to do with gold, does it?" Moo asked.
"Gold? Who durn said anything about gold?" (Nathan didn't believe in wealth and prayed he never got rich enough to be considered high-class.)
"Well, folks in Cowtown were finding gold all over the place and didn't know what to do with it. We're just lucky we got it traded in for cash, and now Cowtown can build a new hospital. The old one was to be condemned anyway for health violations, but the Masked Bull sped it up with dynamite."
"Oh, so that's why that was in them newspapers."
"You don't have any gold, Nathan?"
"Not unless y'all count the black gold I found down at them mines."
"Oil!" Cody Calf exclaimed. "That's big as well, maybe even more!"
"Y'all know somethin'? It must be contagious, striking it rich like this. Some outlaw's bound to try and rob me of it."
"Don't worry about it, Nathan; we won't let your oil be stolen."
"Oh, I ain't worried about it, Moo; I ain't got no use for it. I can't handle being that rich!" By this point, the group had entered the restaurant and had taken orders.
"Oh, that's right," said Dakota. "You don't like cash. Or do you?"
"If y'all try and reward me with one of them bounties, I ain't takin' it," Nathan clarified. "My reward is to see justice being served."
"What a remarkable cat you are!" J.R. exclaimed. Nathan tried not to blush at the remark.
That afternoon, Nathan showed everybody where the oil was. It became evident to him someone was trying to steal the oil, but no could say who. Then shots rang out. Naturally, Moo, Cody, and John fired back into the mist. Only after about ten minutes of blind shooting did the shooter reveal himself, and an Ace of Spades fell out.
"Five Card Cud!" Cowlorado exclaimed as he drew his lariat and aimed it at the villain. Nathan quickly followed suit. In no time at all, the ropes tied up the ever-hated outlaw. "I knew this wan't going to work," he said to himself. "Luckily for them, the dynamite hasn't gone off yet."
"Where'd you plant it?" Moo demanded.
"There," said Five Card Cud, where Cody Calf was holding it. It soon became obvious that if the outlaw were to dynamite it, the oil would be worthless instead of priceless, and he could figure out how to pass the oil off as his own. But it was not to be.
That night, Five Card Cud was back in jail, and the town celebrated the profits from the oil.
Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa © Ryan Brown
The Fab 5 and the Nickelbacks © me