So, as the first excerpt, here's the tale of how notorious outlaw Terry Simms rolls into the the blacksmiths shop, and the aftermath of the confrontation between our beloved giant Daryl and the Simms Gang:
Daryl was just putting on his leather apron to get back to work when he noticed four men ride up to his shop. He hung the apron on the nail where it belonged and turned to the men, forcing a smile to his lips.
The smile faded immediately as his eyes met with the man seated in the saddle of the big roan in the middle.
Daryl stepped slowly towards the man.
“Can I talk to you?” Daryl said as calmly as he could, nodding towards his house that served as his office, “in there.”
“Sure,” the man said calmly. The man stepped from his saddle and followed Daryl into the office, noticing as he did so that the blacksmith looked bigger and bigger the closer he got. It was only when Daryl stepped through the eight foot door that the man paused with realization as to how big the blacksmith really was. He paused only a moment, then followed.
There was a large table in the office and Daryl sat on one side and nodded for the man to take the chair across from his. Daryl sat in his chair, leaning forward slightly, his huge hands bunched into fists.
“I’d like to tell you a story,” Daryl began after the two men were seated.
“Okay,” the man said with an amused smile on his face. He was on the range most of the time and always enjoyed a good story.
“When I was just six years old, my ma left me in Dodge City,” Daryl began using all his efforts to keep his voice calm, “She took my little sister, got on a train goin’ east, an off she went.”
The smile on the man’s face began to fade, he already didn’t like the way this story was going. The look in the blacksmith’s eyes didn’t match the calmness in his voice. The man gently let his hands slip from the table and into his lap.
“That train got robbed halfway ‘tween Dodge and Wichita,” Daryl continued just loud enough that the man could hear him, “it was the Simms gang.”
The man, keeping his shoulders still to avoid the attention of the huge blacksmith, slid his hand onto the butt of his Colt. This blacksmith was bigger than anyone he’d ever seen, but it was nothing a couple of lead slugs in the breadbasket wouldn’t cure.
“After I learned about what happened, I went to the sheriff’s office and memorized ever’ wanted poster he had,” Daryl said, his breathing slowing and his eyes focused into the eyes of the man before him, “And I made myself a promise that if’n I ever met the man what done it, I’d give him back what he got coming.”
The man across from Daryl kept surprisingly calm. He’d been through a lot of situations in the past that were similar to this, though never quite at this close range. He sized that blacksmith up and was wondering if two slugs in the belly would be enough to stop him. He resided himself to the fact that two might not stop the giant blacksmith, but would at least slow him down enough to get the gun above the table and finish the job.
“I know who yuh are,” Daryl said coldly and the two men sat staring into each other’s eyes.
The man’s eyes were caught by something shiny on the top of the huge blacksmith’s hands and he let his eyes dart back and forth from the giant’s eyes to his hands. As his vision bounced back and forth he saw a silver dollar slowly materialize from the giant’s hand and clatter onto the table.
A look of confusion came over the man’s face, which doubled when he again looked at the giant and saw him bust an ear to ear grin.
“What the hell?” Terry asked in confusion.
“It’s the silver dollar yuh give my sister,” Daryl said laughing and pushing the silver dollar across the table with a finger.
“Huh?” Terry asked, being more confused than he could ever remember.
“Maybe you don’t ‘member,” Daryl continued, chuckling as he went, “she was the one what shoved a silver dollar in her mouth, but couldn’t close her mouth fer the size of it.”
“That was your sister?” Terry blurted his own smile reappearing.
“Yessir,” Daryl answered with enthusiasm.
“And you ain’t sore none?” Terry asked in disbelief.
“Heck no, Mr. Simms,” Daryl said smiling merrily as Terry sat in stunned disbelief, “you done made my little sister near as well knowed as you are. I don’t reckon there ain’t nobody west of the Mississippi what ain’t heard that story. Why there ain’t a year goes by at the fair,” Daryl continued, taking on a proud look, “what someone don’t come up and ask me would I tell ‘em the story ‘bout how my sister come to be the only person in the whole wide world what met Terry Simms and come away double her money.”
“I’ll be damned,” Terry said laughing, “I will be damned, you know I almost shot you.”
“I seen that,” Daryl said through his Laughter, “I was kinda figgerin’ what I’d flip that silver dollar in the air to yuh, but sein’ the look in yer eye, I figgered I best not.”
“Damn good thing you didn’t,” Terry said, then his eyes took on a thoughtful look, “What about yer ma?” he asked carefully, “wasn’t she there too?”
“I reckon you musta missed that part of the story,” Daryl said a cold look coming to his eyes, “she’s the one what run off and left me a sittin’ there in Dodge, she just scooped up my little sister and off she went, didn’t never even look back once.”
“Yer shittin’ me?” Terry asked wondering how a woman could do something like that. Even with all the things Terry had done, his ma had always been good to him.
“Nossir,” Daryl said sadly, “When I found out you done robbed her, well I reckon she got what she had comin’.” Daryl’s expression immediately brighten, “Hey,” he said as he quickly spun up from the table and took down a bottle of whiskey and two shot glasses, “I been savin’ this fer a special occasion.”
As Daryl poured the shot glasses full, Terry silently thanked his lucky stars that the giant hadn’t been after trouble. The quickness of motion Daryl used in getting the whiskey, made Terry wonder if he’d have gotten enough lead into the giant to slow him down before he made it across the table.
“To you robbin’ my ma,” Daryl said laughing, as they tinked their shot glasses together, “and making my sister knowed.”
“I don’t reckon I’ve ever been thanked for robbin’ someone before,” Terry said after he tossed down his shot and stood slowly. He went to the office door and motioned for the other men to come inside.
“Hey,” Terry said with a mischievous look in his eye and giving a wink, “go with me on this one.” As the other men entered, Terry took on a serious look and Daryl followed suit.
There were plenty of chairs around, and the other three men sat hesitantly.
“Boys,” Terry began quietly, “you ‘member when?”
Terry paused looking at Daryl, “How long ago was that?”
“Right near twelve years,” Daryl said nodding thoughtfully, “I disremember exactly when.”
“Long about twelve years ago,” Terry continued gesturing with a hand to his brother Frank, “we robbed a train headin’ from Dodge to Wichita.”
Frank nodded slowly, a look of confusion on his face. They’d robbed several trains from Dodge to Wichita.
“This’n was special,” Terry said nodding to Frank, “remember the one with the little girl that had the silver dollar in her mouth?”
“I remember,” Frank said, as the other two men nodded also. The other two men hadn’t been with Terry then, but everyone knew the story.
“This here’s her brother,” Terry said nodding to Daryl and purposely adding a coldness to his voice.
Daryl had caught on to what Terry was doing and stared coldly at the others.
It got the response Terry was hoping for as the other three collectively held their breaths and stared at the giant blacksmith.
Daryl, not having the age and experience that Terry did, lost it first. Daryl burst out laughing at the expressions on the other outlaw’s faces and Terry followed soon after.
“What kind of shit is this!?” Frank barked, smacking Terry on the arm.
“It’s true,” Terry said through his Laughter and pointing to the still laughing Daryl, “it’s him.”
“Huh,” Frank said with confusion.
For the next hour, the five men sat at Daryl’s table talking, laughing and drinking whiskey. By the end, all four of the outlaws agreed that Daryl’s ma definitely deserved to get robbed.
The conversation ended when Jeb came in to ask a question and Daryl remembered that he was the blacksmith and the men had obviously come to him for a reason. Daryl answered Jeb’s question, explained that the men were folks he knew from Dodge City, and sent Jeb home for supper.
“Actually,” Terry replied to Daryl’s question, “we were just wanting to board up for the night and get somethin’ to eat.”
“Consider it done,” Daryl said confidently to Terry, “and don’t think yer payin’ me neither. Them horses are gonna git the best takin’ care of they ever had. As fer food, Theresa May’s got the best food this side of the Mississippi,” Daryl ended by nodding in the direction of the restaurant.
“I’d be much obliged if’n you didn’t tell abouts who we are,” Terry said motioning with a hand to his group.
“I’d make a deal with yuh if’n you’d let me,” Daryl said thoughtfully, “If’n you’d say you wasn’t gonna rob nobody hear-abouts, I’d sure be happy with that.”
“Fair enough,” Terry said brightly. They’d just done a job a week ago and all four men had their pockets full, “Now where’s this top notch grub you was braggin’ on?”
Daryl walked the outlaws to Theresa May’s and introduced them as folks he knew from Dodge City that were just passing through. The outlaws had the best meal they could remember and afterwards, Daryl left them at the restaurant and returned to finish his work.
“Did you see him?” Theresa May asked Mary Anne, who was already making goo-goo eyes at Daryl’s friend Frank.
“I know,” Mary Anne said with a sigh of relief, “he sure looked better.”
“Maybe he just needed some old friends to stop by,” Theresa May said in her motherly fashion, “Y’know, someone from home.”
“He’ll be okay now,” Mary Anne added, smiling at the worrying Theresa May, now maybe they both would.
Daryl’s hammer began pinging down the street. Theresa May and Mary Anne smiled at each other as the ringing somehow sounded happier again.
Daryl worked until the sun started to set. He felt stronger than he had in the past few months and the steel seemed to once again sing to him as he worked.
He also noticed that his mind occasionally drifted to the upcoming fair and he found himself once again looking forward to it.
As he hung his apron on the nail where it belonged he looked down the street at Theresa May’s.
The lights in the dining area were still burning brightly and he could hear their Laughter and uplifted voices. Theresa May had seemed a little sadder since Merle died. Her smile had somehow lost its shine. Daryl heard her voice joined with the Laughter of the others and smiled as he started for bed, now maybe she would be okay.
Daryl awoke as he did every morning but this morning he had a different feeling than in the recent past. He felt good. He sat on the edge of his bed and breathed in the fresh air as he dressed and for the first time in several months, he realized with a huge grin, he was hungry.
Daryl hurried to the restaurant to find Terry, Frank and the other two, already enjoying their breakfasts.
“You were damn sure right about this grub,” Terry said through a mouthful of flapjacks, “this is good.”
“Yes sir,” Daryl said with a smile to Theresa May as she set a huge pile of flapjacks in front of him that made Frank’s eyes bulge, “ain’t no better eatin’ in the world than right here.”
“Well thank you,” Theresa May said to all the nods of agreement as the men were stuffing their faces. She was standing between Daryl and Terry when she started refilling the coffee cups of the men.
Instead of going around the table she leaned forward to fill the cups of the men seated across the table, her other hand on Terry’s shoulder for balance.
Just as she completed filling Frank’s cup and was leaning back, Terry reached over and pinched her on the behind.
“How dare you,” Theresa May said as she turned and gave Terry a half-hearted slap on the shoulder.
Terry looked up at Theresa May with a shit-eatin’ grin.
Theresa May’s lips started to pull back into a smile of her own, until she remembered that Daryl was seated at the table also. Theresa May looked quickly at Daryl, who had a stunned look of wonder on his face. She blushed ten shades of red and hurried from the table.
“You didn’t?” Daryl asked Terry, his face blooming with excitement.
“She asked me would I,” Terry said humbly, continuing with his breakfast.
“Does she know who you are?” Daryl asked almost reverently, “I mean who you really are?”
“Close enough,” Terry said, sipping coffee that had never tasted this good, “she knows I’m a friend of yours from Dodge City.”
“Oh my god,” Daryl said, his excitement level rising steadily, “you gotta let me tell her. I mean, I know I said I wouldn’t say nothin’,” Daryl continued nearly ready to burst from excitement, “but yuh gotta let me.”
Terry and Frank exchanged thoughtful looks which Daryl interpreted correctly.
“She won’t say nothin’,” Daryl said gently, “she ain’t like that.”
Their conversation came to a screeching halt as Mary Anne arrived at the table with a huge glass of milk for Daryl.
“What the hell did you say to her?” Mary Anne asked forcefully to Daryl, “that girl’s red as a beet.”
“I didn’t say nothin’,” Daryl answered truthfully, shrugging his shoulders and doing his best impersonation of innocence.
Mary Anne paused, considered taking his milk back to the kitchen, but grudgingly decided to leave it.
“Women can’t keep a secret to save their life,” Frank said with a nod to Terry after Mary Anne had left the table.
Terry pondered for a moment, “I tell you what,” he said with a sly look in his eye, “you give us a full day’s ride, then you go ahead.”
“What I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall when that happens,” one of the other men said with a chuckle as Daryl began attempting to eat his breakfast while laughing at the upcoming event.
After breakfast, Daryl walked the men back to the stable where all four horses stood saddled and ready.
“A full day’s ride, right?” Terry said cautiously to Daryl.
“Yessir,” Daryl said, still grinning ear to ear, “I won’t give a peep till then.”
Daryl shook hands with each of the outlaws. They headed out and he merrily returned to work, feeling as if a giant weight had been lifted from his shoulders.
The rest of the day went along on a some-what normal basis. One of the exceptions being, that at every meal time, when Daryl and Theresa May’s eyes met, he would begin chuckling and she would blush and leave the room.
Zeb and Jeb were tickled pink that their boss was back to his old self. Daryl was telling jokes again and even though they’d heard them all before, they were still funny. He smiled constantly and would occasionally chuckle for no reason, which made their work seem lighter.
After breakfast the next day Theresa May couldn’t stand it any longer.
Mary Anne had just left to run errands, with Daryl sitting at his usual table stealing occasional glances at Theresa May and chuckling.
“Okay,” Theresa May said standing in front of Daryl, her metal water pitcher in one hand. She’d sucked up her courage and promised herself she wouldn’t blush, “Get it off your chest.”
Daryl stood slowly and took Theresa May gently by the shoulders, “I reckon you’d oughta sit down first,” he said chuckling as he guided her backwards towards a chair.
“I can stand!” Theresa May said defiantly crossing her arms, sloshing the water around in the pitcher. The anger she felt at having her own…a giant boy telling her to sit down, helped keep her emotions in order.
“Okay,” Daryl began while attempting to keep his voice straight, his eyes filled with excited anticipation, “Now my friend Terry, I told you I knowed him from Dodge City, right? And that’s all true,” Daryl continued, as he gently but firmly held Theresa May’s shoulders, “I reckon maybe I never got around to tellin’ yuh how it was I knowed him.”
Theresa May’s look turned to growing concern mixed with confusion. She hadn’t expected the conversation to go anywhere but straight to the point the men had been laughing about at the table at yesterday’s breakfast.
“Yuh see,” Daryl continued, the expression on Theresa May’s face assisting him in controlling his voice, “when I was little, Terry was nice enough to give my little sister a silver dollar.”
“What?” Theresa May asked slowly. Then it hit her like a brick. Daryl had told her that story his first year at the fair and she’d heard him retell it at least a hundred times to others.
“Oh my god,” Theresa May breathed at the realization of who Terry really was. It was a good thing that Daryl had steered her backwards to a chair before he started because she leaned backwards and plopped into it, dropping the water pitcher on the floor.
Daryl exploded with roaring Laughter, so hard and loud that he lost his balance and fell to the floor clutching his stomach.
As Theresa May stared into nowhere, a lost expression on her face and occasionally muttering “oh my god”, Daryl rolled around on the floor bellowing with Laughter.
Each time Daryl’s Laughter began to slow, he would look at Theresa May, slumped back in the chair like she’d been dropped off a mountain, and his Laughter renewed itself.
Finally, out of self defense, Daryl brought himself to his hands and knees and still roaring with Laughter, he started crawling to the door. He’d finally neared the door and began reaching for the handle, when Mary Anne, having heard the roaring Laughter, came bursting in.
At least, that’s what she meant to do!
The door banged into Daryl’s head, which Mary Anne having not anticipated, caused her to bump into the door, which of course caused the door to bang into Daryl’s head again. All of which brought Daryl into a renewed roaring of Laughter as he rolled out of the way, clutching his stomach.
“What the…” Mary Anne said smiling as she saw Daryl rolling back and forth on the floor bellowing with Laughter. Her expression immediately filled with shocked concern as she saw Theresa May slumped back in the chair, staring off into nowhere, a stunned look on her face.
“Theresa May,” Mary Anne called fearfully, as she hurried over, “honey what’s wrong?” With no response from Theresa May, Mary Anne dipped a hand into the water pitcher and gently patted it on her face. “Honey wake up, what’s wrong?” Mary Anne continued with growing concern, giving Daryl a vicious look as he crawled, still howling with Laughter, out the door.
“Terry,” Theresa May breathed out quietly, her eyes unfocused.
“Right, Terry,” Mary Anne responded as she dipped her hand into the pitcher again and patted more water on Theresa May’s face.
“Frank,” Theresa May breathed, still staring off into space.
“Uh-huh, Frank,” Mary Anne replied, her concern lessening only slightly at the fact that Theresa May was again endowed with the power of speech.
“Simms,” Theresa May breathed out slightly louder.
“Huh?” Mary Anne asked as she stood, a look of confusion on her face. She went through her memory, which was really very good, for the names of all the men that had been here yesterday.
“Honey there weren’t no Simms,” she said as she leaned forward again and resumed patting Theresa May’s face with more water.
“Silver Dollar,” Theresa May breathed slowly.
“They all paid,” Mary Anne said reassuringly, “Its okay.”
“Terry,” Theresa May breathed again.
“Terrrrryyyy,” Mary Anne coaxed gently, now trying to find the hidden meaning or at least some pattern to go by.
“And Frank,” Theresa May said, some strength coming to her voice.
“And Frrrraaannnk,” Mary Anne said gently, knowing that this secret code had to be leading somewhere.
“Simms,” Theresa May sighed out as if all her energy had been used in transferring the information.
“Huh,” Mary Anne said as she stood again trying to put the information into order. It was a well known fact, by all the women at least, that Mary Anne was the smartest woman they had ever known. To the men, she was said to be too damn smart for her own good.
Mary Anne swirled the pieces of information in her brain for only an instant when the “Silver Dollar” fit into the puzzle.
“Oh! My! God!” Mary Anne blurted as she bent forward and looked into Theresa May’s face. Mary Anne took a deep breath and as she returned standing she howled with Laughter, falling sideways onto the table.
And Theresa May was cured!
“It’s not funny!” Theresa May shrieked as Mary Anne held her stomach and rolled back and forth on the table laughing uncontrollably.
“Oh! Yes! It! Is!” Mary Anne forced out through her Laughter.
As Mary Anne howled with Laughter, slapping her feet on the table, Theresa May stomped to the door.
“Daryl Eugene Wilson!” she screamed at the giant boy only halfway across the street, “you get your big butt back in here! Right! Now!”
Daryl, who had just gotten back to his feet and was delighting Zeb and Jeb, who were standing at the shop, laughing along with whatever the joke was, took one look at the furious Theresa May and fell down again, laughing.
Theresa May paced for what seemed to her like forever, before the still laughing Daryl staggered in.
“Just……I..I can’t…..oooooh…..you,” Theresa May began thoughtfully, barking at Daryl, “and you…..ooooh!” she finished furiously to Mary Anne before crossing her arms and sitting again in the chair she had occupied.
“I’m sorry,” Daryl said, trying to sound apologetic as he walked across the room and knelt in front of Theresa May.
“You could have told me!” Theresa May scolded.
“There weren’t no way I could’a knowed you was gonna do that,” Daryl said still chuckling.
Theresa May drew in a deep breath as she remembered what she thought the original conversation was going to be about, “He told you,” she said her cheeks immediately reddening.
“Not really… I sorta guessed” Daryl said apologetically as Mary Anne, hoping for a better view of Theresa May’s expression, rolled over, misjudged the edge of the table and splattered on the floor.
“You deserve that!” Theresa May barked as Daryl and Mary Anne continued laughing, as much at each other as Theresa May.
Since Laughter is definitely contagious, it didn’t take long before Theresa May began chuckling, “Oh my god,” she said laughing gently, “Terry Simms,” she finished with more than a little pride in her voice.
All Daryl could tell the boys was that he’d played a joke on Theresa May, but that was enough for them. They laughed the rest of the day just remembering Daryl crawling across the street.
It was less than a month later when the town of Lamar learned of the death of Terry Simms and how he had been killed. A few days after that, Daryl learned that how he died wouldn’t have mattered, Terry’s death would have happened anyway.
There was a posse of lawmen heading towards the town where Terry had been staying. They had learned of his location and had planned to take him back, “deader” than alive.
As Daryl entered the restaurant that day, Theresa May was hanging a small wooden cross on the wall with the initials T.S. on the sides. There was no sadness, no mourning in her eyes, just the look of happy memories that could never be taken away from her.