The Richest Man in Boot Hill — episode #24
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 Seward's Folly)
"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
"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
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
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
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
do you do, go for your gun?" "If you not yellow lets
see you make it to the door with your fist," said
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
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
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,"
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.
around The McCain Ranch