The Badest Outlaw of Them All
Nights in the dry barren Badlands of Arizona can be lonely. Cowboys driving their steers through these empty wastelands always urge the greatest speed out of their herd. Water, or rather the lack of it, is one reason to move through this country as quickly as possible . . .
but NOT THE MAIN REASON!
You see, the Arizona Badlands is the main stomping grounds of . . .
' The Badest Outlaw of Them All '.
There is a small watering hole, down a narrow twisting canyon. It makes a natural corral for the herd and the perfect place to stop and bed down for the night.
However . . . only the bravest cowpoke will venture into this canyon and only the foolhardy will stay for the night.
Night closes in quickly, particularly in the deep dark recesses of the canyon. The steers are nicely corralled by the surrounding canyon walls and the cowboys gather around their fire. The usual joking and rough banter that takes places of an evening after a hard day in the saddle goes on, but if one is observant enough to notice, there seems to be a nervous edge to it.
These cowboys are hard men, living in a hard land and doing a hard job. Injuns, storms, stampedes, rattle snakes, grizzles and panthers, they’ve faced them all with nerves of steel. Nothing scares them . . . nothing!
But . . . they know where they are . . .
they know whose territory this is. These tough as leather roughriders know . . . and they are AFRAID!
So they laugh and joke and chow down on their evening meal, but they are listening. They stare into the comforting flames of the camp fire and try to ignore the gathering darkness. It doesn’t pay to stare too hard into the dark shadows and recesses of the canyons rock walls. One might just see something or someone move.
So they sit there and pretend to be at ease. But they are listening . . .
and a sound so faint, drifts along the floor of the canyon and is picked up by the cowboys. So faint as to be ignored. Surely just their imagination. Still one or two decide it might be a good idea to check that the leather safety loop is slipped off the hammer of their colt. Possibly a good idea to check and make sure all the chambers are loaded too. Normally smart to travel with the hammer down on an empty chamber, but tonight perhaps a full load might be a sounder investment.
Moments past and nothing . . . surely just as they thought . . . just their imagination . . .
and then the sound drifts down the canyon towards them again. Louder this time, more difficult to ignore. Looking at each other they realize that the others have heard it too. Okay, so it's not their imagination, but perhaps they try to convince themselves, it’s just the wind. Considering where they are it’s easy to get spooked after all . . . RIGHT?
Yea, just the wind . . .
and then the sound comes again. Very soft and faint but unmistakable. Not at all a threatening sound. Just the faintest rustling sound like leaves tumbling in the breeze. Just a gentle wind creating a small eddy amongst a bed of old dried leaves . . .
Only problem is there aren’t any leaves in this canyon in the Badlands to tumble! No trees, no bushes, no leaves!
And the sound builds. The crinkling, rustling sound cuts through their mind like a knife. Growing louder and louder until they can’t stand it anymore . . . until they want to scream!
Finally one of the cowboys jumps to his feet, perspiration pouring down his face and shouts, “Damn the steers. I ain’t paid enough to stay here and face him. Night time or not, I’m leaving!” Grabbing his belongings he quickly ties them together and saddles his horse. The rest of the cowboys follow the stampede. At least the noise of all the activity in camp has momentarily drowned out that ghastly sound. Perhaps they yet have time . . . have a chance to hit leather and get out of there before he is upon them.
And so in a mad frenzy the camp is packed, the horse’s saddled and the cowboys gallop towards the canyon mouth and safety. The cattle left to the mercy of the one who approaches.
Later, in the safety of a small town and bar, one of the cowboys would swear that as they raced out of the canyon, he had chanced to glance back and caught sight of him. Back in the camp they had just vacated, a figure stood, bathed in the glow from the fire. A man, but not just a man . . . ‘The Badest Outlaw of Them All’. Unmistakably clothed head to toe in his trade mark light brown garments.
Those cowboys were lucky. They lived to tell their tale. But how may haven’t?
So, I won’t tell you where that canyon actually is. Always the chance that curiosity might draw you there. False bravado, which will quickly change to fear as you hear the sound 'The Badest Outlaw of Them All’ makes as he approaches you.
SO BEWARE! As you sit around the night campfire, listen carefully. Is that really the sound of leaves being blown in the wind, or is 'The Badest Outlaw of Them All' coming to get you!
Yep, he’s still out there . . .
BROWN PAPER PETE
You’ll know him . . . he wears a brown paper hat, a brown paper shirt, a brown paper coat, brown paper pants and brown paper boots. And he’s one desperate hombre, ‘The Badest Outlaw of Them All’, wanted in all Territories for . . .
PS:- Some say that Brown Paper Pete is no more . . .
some claim that one day while shooting some cap and ball black powder revolvers his brown paper clothes caught on fire and he was burned to death!
Evidently some cowboys came upon him whilst on the ground and on fire, but had more savvy that to jump on a burning brown paper bag and try to put out the flames . . ..