When I was a kid in the early sixties we boys had an old friend who was kind of a hermit that lived on the edge of town. We didn't know his real name. We all just knew him as Texas Bill. He was harmless and everybody knew it. But our parents didn't like us over their a lot. He was kind of wild and ruff around the edges. He told wild stores about his cowboy days. He told us that he actually shot and killed Comanche Indians and other bandit's. Our parents all said it wasn't true He was crazy and making up stuff. We didn't know for sure but we liked the stores.
We did know for sure he was a good trapper. He would snare rabbits and squirrels and other small animals. Or he would shoot them with his .22 rifle and He tough us all to do it to.
Every Saturday Me, Russel, Marty, Wally and a few others would show up. We'd go out in the woods with him to check His traps and see what we were having for lunch. And part of the unwritten rules for our Saturday rainbow stew was we had to steal something to put in the pot. Texas said we was suppose to get it without anybody knowing we were taking it. And by "it" I mean things like potato's or onions or carrots anything eatable that we could sneak away from home. Just something to put in the pot to share with the others.
Well that's all fine and good. I think most of our parents knew about it and chose not to say anything. After all whats a hand full of green beans or a can of corn.
But one of the worst exceptions was Russel's father. He was kind of mean and didn't like anybody. So if Russel got caught swiping anything for the stew He'd get a whipping.
Well on this particular day that's exactly what happened. When Russel's father came home from work He went out to water His garden. He discovered someone had taken three of His biggest tomato's. Then somehow He found out what us boys were up to.
He showed up at Texas Bills shack with the cops. We were in his back yard sitting around the picnic table and on stumps We used for stools. The big black pot was still bubbling over the camp fire. Russel's father came over ranting and raving his face was red, spit was coming out of his mouth.
And as Russel will tell you to this day for a fat man His father can hit pretty hard. And he started hitting Russel then and there on the side of the head knocking Him to the ground. The cop didn't do anything to stop Him. But Texas Bill picked up his rifle which wasn't loaded but it made a good club, even for Texas who was about one hundred years old. He hit Russel's father with the rifle butt right in the face.
Then the cop stepped in and grabbed Russel's father before He killed old Texas. Russel's father had blood on his mouth and a broken tooth. Texas told Him "If you hit that boy again, I will put a bullet in this here gun and shoot you right between the eyes". Everybodys mouth' went wide open. Including Russel's father and the cop's.
Then in a small cowardly voice Russel's father turned to the cop and said. " Did you hear what he said to me". The cop looked at Him then He looked at the old man with the gun, and at us. He turned back to Russel's father and said " I heard Texas say if you hit the kid again He's going to press charges."
Russel's father was real careful about what He said about Texas or our rainbow stew Saturdays. But He was still a mean man and every now and then we seen or heard something. But we were afraid to tell Texas. Because we knew he would kill him and end up in jail. Russel wouldn't tell us anything.
We were around thirteen or fourteen, what could we do? We told our parents. All they said was stay away from Russel's house. We couldn't do that, Russel was our friend. And we quietly wanted to let Russel's father know we were around watching and we were Texas Bills friends.
Well, Russel made it. He grew up and moved in with His brother in His senior year. The rest of us made it to.