While on his way to Cut Bank Montana, Jas happen to see someone having trouble getting his horse to pull his wagon. As he approached the man he could see it was his old friend Rufus Pitkin. He and Rufus had done an excavating job in the past. (See
"Looks like you've got too much wagon and not enough horse," said Jas. Rufus was too busy with trying to get his horse to pull the wagon that he didn't see or hear Jas ride up. Both men were glad to see each other. As they shook hands Rufus said....."Jason McCord.....you old son of a gun.....it sure is good to see you again!" "What are you doing in this part of the country with a contraption like that?" Asked Jas. "Well, I took the money you gave me for the Alaska job and bought myself some store teeth." Jas laugh at Rufus and he showed off his store bought teeth. He told Jas that he invested the rest of the money in a poker game and won himself an undertaken business. Jas laughed as he read Rufus's business card. "Rufus I Pitkin.....Dignified Undertaker." Jas walked back to Rufus's wagon. "You see.....it works out perfect because my initials spell R. I. P." "Rufus.....what do you know about undertaking," asked Jas. "Well whose gonna complain? All my clients are satisfied and I just don't figure on any return business, but I did have a little bad luck.....my other horse died a ways back and I'm afraid this load is just too much for little ole' Margaret," said Rufus. "I'll tell ya' what.....ride that mare back to town for help, lets unhitch her," said Jas as he started to undo the horses harness. "No.....no.....no.....it's ain't that simple Jason. You see I got a sort of a time problem." "Time problem?" Asked Jas. "You see, the last earthly remains of a dear departed one in there and it looks like it's gonna be a real scorcher," said Rufus as he started towards Jas's horse. "Say.....Jason.....if you could hitch your horse up to little ole' Margaret I could get my client back to Cut Bank in no time." "Ah now wait a minute Ruf.....this is the best saddle horse in the west.....I can't put him in harness, it would break his spirit, " said Jas. "Could ya' even just for old times sake Jason, it's only a few miles and my client won't last in this heat?" "I can't do it Ruf," said Jas. The two men just stood there looking at each other. "Jason.....they promised me a big fat fee if I could get the dear departed one into town real fast." "No.....no.....no.....!" Said Jas again. "Jason, you remember when your dog sled broke down in Alaska.....remember.....huh?" Jas just stood their looking at Rufus. He knew he owed him big time. So Jas finally agreed to let
Domino pull the wagon.
"I sure appreciate this Jason, a couple of fellas, Fred & Marty Slate asked me to pick up their deceased cousin this morning and before they put the lid on him I had in mind the way he looked. I mean he looked so life like and
still kind of pink with a glow of living. Jas asked if they could go a little faster, but Rufus didn't want to jitter him around. It was to be a closed coffin job and he promised not to open the box. He had his professional pride and he wanted to keep him nice & neat even if nobody ever sees him again. "How would you feel if I did a sloppy job on you?" Asked Rufus. "I'd demand my money back," said Jas. "Ya' know.....I got a lot of faith in that old saying we all gotta go sometime Jason. But these folks in Cut Bank, they hang on, they just plain refuse to go." "I was through Cut Bank a few years back.....I'd be glad to go!" Said Jas. Rufus laughed. "Well, the town ain't much, being an undertaker don't win you no popularity contest," said Rufus. "I guess we have something in common, huh?" Asked Jas. "Ya' know Jason, sometimes I have a feeling the sun is shining every place else and it's only raining on me." "And then sometimes.....all in one day I meet up with an old live friend like you and the money makin' cold stranger like him."
They finally got to Cut Bank. Jas helped Rufus unload the coffin and then went to tend to his horse. Rufus said he'd give him a hand as soon as he dusted off the coffin. It had a lot of road dirt on it from the long trip.
When Jas unhitched Domino he noticed that the pole from pulling Rufus's wagon had his horse rubbed raw. There was no way Jas could put a saddle on him now. Jas was hoping to leave town, but he knew he had to get some salve on Domino's sore & hoped it would heal enough so he could ride out in the morning. Rufus told Jas how sorry he was & that he had some embalming fluid that works like a miracle. "I once had a client shot full of holes and I spilled some of this on him and he healed right up over night." "No thanks, I'll take him to the livery stable," said Jas. As Jas started towards the livery stable Rufus yelled to him....."I'd be glad to stay up all night with him Jason!"
There was a body in the coffin they just brought in, a live body, one Richard Barlow. While Rufus & Jas were outside, Richard Barlow carefully & quietly got out of the coffin and snuck out the side door of the funeral home.
As Jas and Rufus was coming out of the livery stable they couldn't help but notice the stagecoach pulling into town and how heavily guarded it was. "Well if their delivering something valuable they're sure announcing it to the world," said Jas. "Well.....it's a secret
but everybody in town knows it," said Rufus. "It's a secret, but everybody in town knows it," laughed Jas. "Well the sheriff let it out the other night in the saloon. You see whiskey kinda stampedes his mouth.....it's a gold shipment," said Rufus. Jas stopped laughing and was suddenly serious. "Really!" Said Jas. "It's worth somewhere between a hundred and a hundred and fifty thousand. It's an overdue payroll for a boom town in Nevada & they have to stop here for tonight," said Rufus. "That Overland Stage Depot looks as porous as a gunny sack," said Jas. "Well there ain't nobody worried, not with those guards standing watch over it and besides nothing ever happens in Cut Bank," said Rufus. "Nothing good you mean," laughed Jas.
Barlow went to the hotel to meet two other men that were waiting on him, Fred and Marty Slater; they were brothers, Marty being the slower of the two. They were all in on this together. They wanted the shipment of gold that the Overland Stage was carrying. "Well boys, there's our future down there," as Barlow looked out the hotel window. He walked across the room as he said....."In a few minutes there will be about a hundred thousand of dollars in gold stacked nice and neat about seven feet
straight up," said Barlow. "I can almost see it," said Fred. "But isn't it in an iron safe?" Asked Marty. "Marty.....don't you ever relax?" "I've cracked safes four times as big as that in New York and Chicago.....in St. Louis and Detroit.....all over," said Barlow. Marty looked at him with a big smile on his face and said....."Your face must be pretty well known by now." "Why do you think I had your brother ship me in town in a coffin for?" Fred had to laugh to himself when Marty said that, even though he knew Marty was serious. "Now relax will ya'.....your working with a real pro here," said Roy. "No more of those dinky cover wagon jobs you and your brother use to pull," said Barlow. "Sure.....relax Marty, Barlow's got it all planned perfect," said Fred. Barlow sat on the chair with a smile on his face feeling proud & smug. "Tell me how it goes again," said Marty. "Alright Marty.....look.....we finish cutting the hole in the floor.....the safe is right below it. Now.....when they finish work tonight.....we lower Roy down for the money," said Fred. "Roy".....said Marty, as if he was hearing this for the first time. "Yeah.....simple as that," said Fred. "Then these educated fingers go to work," said Roy. "I still think we oughta get a wagon & haul the gold out of here tonight," said Marty. "That's because all he's got between his ears is that ugly face." "Look Marty.....we take the money to the funeral parlor.....put it in the empty coffin.....and then in the morning.....that simple minded undertaker buries it for us on Boot Hill," said Fred. "Right! Because.....when they find out that gold is gone.....we wouldn't get 10 miles from here. Now.....in a month or so.....you boys can come back to town.....have the body dug up because you want to have it shipped back east to be buried in the family plot," said Roy. Marty thought about it and thought the plan sounded real good. Roy thought it was great. "Then why do I feel so sick?" Asked Marty. Roy could not believe his ears. He was disgusted. He got up from his chair and walked over to the window. Roy saw Jas & Rufus outside talking. "Hey.....I just think we bought us some insurance," said Roy. "Insurance for what?" Asked Fred. "I rode in that hearse today with a fella by the name of Jas McCord," said Roy. "The coward of Bitter Creek," said Fred. "Right.....we're gonna cut him in for a piece of the action," stated Roy. "Another partner?" Asked Fred. "Not exactly," said Roy. "You see in case we make too much noise.....cutting through the rest of the floor.....he's gonna keep the sheriff and the guards from hearing us," said Roy. "I don't cottonin' to taking on another partner," said Marty.
"Marty.....don't you ever, ever, ever relax?" "He won't know that he's helpin' us. He'll be like a .....like a silent partner. Understand?" Asked Roy. Marty stood there shaking his head no. They both gave up.
Jas & Rufus went to the saloon to have a drink. Rufus told Howie the bartender....."I'd like you to meet my friend, Mr. Jason McCord." Just then Fred Slater walked into the saloon. "Well we got us a celebrity," said Fred. "Well howdy Mr. Slater," said Rufus. Rufus turned to Jas and said....."Mr. Slater is on of the bereaved ones of the deceased you helped me bring in." Jas said hello and extended his hands to Fred, but he wouldn't shake hands with Jas. "I know your friend. Made a big name for himself at Bitter Creek." "Now Mr. Slater.....you can't believe everything you hear," said Rufus sticking up for his friend. "The whole country knows how he ran out on his men.....left them to be massacred," said Slater. "Mr. Slater.....now you don't know that.....maybe it's all malicious gossip, maybe he'd be a general if people didn't start stories like that," said Rufus, again standing up for his friend. Jas was getting angry and Slater thought the whole thing was funny. "The Army don't gossip!" Stated Slater. "Now Mr. Slater you're just upset by your recent bereavement," said Rufus. "They kicked him out because he's plain yella!" Said Slater. Jas slammed his money down on the bar and started to leave. But Slater wouldn't let him, he stood in his way. "Get out of my way!" Said Jas. Slater stood there and didn't move, starring Jas in the eyes. "And if I don't.....what do you do, go for your gun?" "If you not yellow lets see you make it to the door with your fist," said Slater.
This was part of the plan of the outlaws to distract the sheriff & the guards that were guarding the shipment of gold. Fred was suppose to start a ruckus in the saloon while Roy & Marty cut through the hole in the floor of their hotel room where the safe was right below it. Jas threw the first punch. As the men continued their fight, so did everyone else start fighting. Slater crawled on his knees until he made it to the saloon door. Jas happened to see him there, but before he could get to him Slater started shooting his gun in the air. Causing the sheriff & his guards to come running. Which they did. This also was the signal for Roy & Marty to start cutting the hole in the floor and to go for the gold. Then Slater ran out of the saloon leaving everyone to fight.
It wasn't long that & the sheriff and his men came running in. Of course they all got in on the fight. The fight lasted quite a while and left Roy and Marty plenty of time to cut the hole in the floor & heave all the gold up through the floor of their room. Marty was beginning to wonder why Fred wasn't here yet. It wasn't long & Fred came through the door. Marty drawing on him. "Put that away," said Fred. "It went as smooth as glass," said Fred. "Come on and grab a couple of these bags.....we're still not out of the woods yet," said Roy.
"The way the town feels about McCord.....they'll blame him for this job," said Fred. The bags were heavy but the outlaws did get them over to the funeral parlor with no one noticing.
Rufus and Jas went over to the funeral parlor. Rufus notice that one of the coffins had been moved. "Your right! Maybe you had visitors," said Jas. "Why would anybody come in here and move a coffin....." But before Rufus could finish his sentence Jas noticed something strange about the coffin they had just brought in, it looked like it had been opened. Jas slowly moved the lid and there was the gold shipment. "Well.....what's all this?" Asked Rufus. "The gold shipment you said nobody was worried about," said Jas. "How did it get in here?" Asked Rufus. Jas thought for a bit and then asked Rufus about the man who had started the fight in the saloon earlier. "Fred Slater," said Rufus. "Wasn't he related to the man who was supposed to be in here?" Asked Jas. Rufus told him he was. Now the pieces were all starting to fit together. "This is a well planned robbery by the bereaved ones and I think you and I helped them pull it off," said Jas. "We did?" Said a surprised Rufus. "Slater started that fight to draw attention away from the stagecoach office and his brother and his dead cousin robbed it," said Jas. "And if I would have buried this deceased one, he would have been
'The Richest Man in Boot Hill,' said Rufus. "We better get to the sheriff right a ways," said Jas. Rufus stopped Jas before he could go out the door. "You can't Jas.....you know how the sheriff & the whole town feels about me. They'd say I stole it, maybe we both stole it!" Said Rufus. "Not if we give it back," said Jas. "yeah but we don't know if it's all here.....how many bags and how much was in each one.....maybe there's ten thousand missing," said Rufus. "Oh I don't know, it's probably all there Rufus." "You ain't certain.....now I know that sheriff.....he'll slap me in the hoosegow right a ways and if you ride out of town he'll send a posse after you." Rufus made a lot of sense with what he was saying. "You're right! What's your suggestion?" Asked Jas. "Well.....I ain't got any.....I was hoping you'd have one," said Rufus. "Rufus.....when were you supposed to bury this coffin?" "Graveside service at dawn. I always keep an open grave or two for unexpected jobs. Just the Slater's will be there. It will be just a simple eulogy and no music....." Jas interrupted Rufus....."Then Slater's will be there?" "Yeah," said Rufus. "The here's my suggestion.....you go through with that burial service just as you planned.
The men were all there at dawn for the burial ceremony. Marty was afraid that someone may have already looked in the safe. Barlow reassured Marty again that they would not open that safe for at least another hour and that he was suppose to relax. Just then Rufus pulled in with the funeral buggy and was ready to perform the ceremony. Barlow reminded the other two men to look sad. "You gonna stay?" Asked Marty. He was afraid that Barlow might be recognized, being that his face has been all over several wanted posters. Barlow then put on a pair of glasses and said he was going into his mourning act as he covered his face with a handkerchief. That satisfied Marty.
Rufus told them he had hoped he didn't keep them waiting too long. He turned to Fred and apologized about the fight the night before. "Oh forget it.....I was just feeling kinda low and mean. You know how it is at a time like this," said Fred. Rufus told Fred that he understood and asked if the pallbearers would come with him to help unload the coffin. But before unloading the coffin Rufus wanted to say the eulogy. They all took off their hats. "Dearly beloved we are gathered here to pay our last respects to one we held close." "His laugher was like the tickle of a silver bell.....His smile as bright as gold." Just then Jas jumped out of the wagon with his pistol in hand. "Alright hold it!" The three men were shocked. "Drop your guns," said Jas. They took their guns off and threw them on the ground. Jas told Rufus to pick them up. But as he bent over he was caught off guard by Marty pushing him into Jas. Jas hit Marty, but Barlow was behind Marty and he ended up falling into the freshly dug grave. Marty got up and started for Jas. Rufus picked up the shovel and hit Marty in the face knocking him into the grave also. Fred started for Jas, but Jas hit him once on the jaw and then in the gut throwing him into the grave with the others. Barlow stood up, but Rufus hit him in the face with the shovel knocking him out. "They look so natural in there it's a shame to take them out," said Rufus. "Look Ruf.....we'll tie them up and you can deliver them to the sheriff after you leave me off at the livery stable," said Jas. "You mean you ain't gonna be with me? Maybe there's a reward." "Just getting out of town.....that will be my reward," said Jas. "You know Jason.....you got into all kinds of messes on account of me and now letting me take these fellas in alone. I just don't know how to thank ya'." "You see I'm really gonna be somebody in Cut Bank." "When I go into the saloon people are gonna wave and say hey Rufus have a beer and tell us how you caught those robbers again'." "People on the street will wave to me." "Well who knows.....maybe I'll even get a girl to go to the dance we me." Jas said with a big smile....."Ruf, if all that happens it was worth it!" "Thank you Jas!"
The town folks were pleased with Rufus, but most of all it gave Jas a good feeling about this, just being able to see how happy Rufus was. Why even the sheriff was there praising Rufus. Everyone wanted to buy Rufus a drink. As Jas started to ride out of town, he turned to take a last look at his friend. Rufus did the same thing. Jas nodded to Ruf and Ruf tipped his hat. "Come on Ruf.....tell us again how you nabbed those varmints!" Said the sheriff as they walked in the saloon.