Wild West Show

“I have had enough gun talk to last a lifetime,” said Annie, so we ate a meal spiced with symptoms, pains, and cures.

The spectators, not certain whether to applaud, stood motionless as she turned to them again. “Thank you for your attention,” she said. “I appreciate your kindness in not reminding me that my Indian friend has no eyeball. So, if you will bear with me, I’ll try to remedy that at once.”

Swamp passed her a hand mirror and a rifle which I took to be a 30-30, and she turned her back to the target. With her thumb on the trigger, she placed the rifle on her shoulder. Then, looking into the mirror, she fired precisely into the place where the eye should be.

Because my father considered the tin Indian an artistic masterpiece, my sister Margaret called it the “Mona Annie.” Marion, my other sister, called it “Chief Lead-in-the-Face.” By whatever name it was known, it was the focus of many eyes. Admirers came daily to our back porch, where it was on display.

When the stream of visitors dwindled to a trickle, Dad came in one evening bearing the tin man in one hand and his tool kit in the other. Suspicious, my mother looked up from her sewing. “What are you going to do with that?” she asked.

“I thought I’d hang it in that vacant space by the parlor door,” he said. Mother looked at him. Her reaction was quick, not stern, but it had that finality which brooks no appeal. “Over my dead body,” she said.

To borrow my father’s favorite piece of purple prose from Ned Buntline, the author of many popular Western dime novels, “Bang! Another redskin bit the dust!”