A cold wind blew down from the canyon causing the fire to flicker and jump. Every so often the pine that we were burning would explode like a small fire cracker and sparks from the fire would attacked anyone on the down wind side.
My dad had put some hot coals under our chairs and I was bundled up nice and cozy in a blanket sipping my tin cup filled with hot chocolate.
My granddad sat across the fire from me and was receiving the brunt of the wind and the sparks from the fire. He was also trying roll a Bull Durham cigarette and not having much luck. He finally gave up and threw the makings in the fire and took a big swallow of his homemade moonshine and passed the jug to my dad.
When granddad finish his slug of nectar, as he called it, he let a big belch and said, "Now there,s a drink that old Roy Bean would have loved."
"Who's Roy Bean," I questioned
"He's the son of bitch that tried to hang me, that who Roy Bean is or now was. The dumb bastard drank himself to death. Now if he had some of this stuff he would still be alive."
"Really, he really tried to hang you."
"Sure as I'm sittin by this fire. Tried to hang for stealing my own horse and he used my horse to do it."
"Really, what happened? Why didn't he hang you?" I leaned forward in my chair and almost spilled my chocolate.
"Well boy, it was like this. I got in to a poker game and bet my horse and lost. Now a cowboy can't be without a horse so when I went out to show the card slick, cheatin bastard the horse, I just jumped on it and took off. But the card shark was also a good shot with a pistol and he shot me in the arm and knocked me off the horse.
Now Old Judge Roy Bean held my trial right there on the street with me bleeding.
"Does any man here believe that this lying, no good thief is not guilty of stealing his own horse. No?Then my boy, your are guilty and I sentence you to be hung with your own rope and your own horse."
They put my rope around my neck and made me climb on my own horse. Then they tied the rope to a big tree and while I was sitten there ready to meet my maker that old judge brought me a slug of cheap whiskey and took out his bible.
He said, "I know you don't cotton much to what is said in this here book or you wouldn't be drinking, whoring and gambling so I am not going to send you to your maker with any of these good words. I'll just say that "times will pass, seasons will come and go" and you won't be here to see any of them."
Then he slapped the ass of that old horse and I knew I was a goner but they didn't tie that rope good enough to the tree and I went sailing out of town with that rope tied around my neck and dragging behind me. I just kept on riding and never went back.
"Taught me a lesson that I never forgot. I ain't never played cards again and you know sumthin, that sly old goat never hung anyone. They left that rope untied on purpose."
I said "Granddad, I bet you're fibbin me"
He smiled, rubbed a scar on his neck and took another sip of his "nectar".
written for Carry on Tuesday