They say if there’s one lawyer in town he’ll make money, but if there are two they’ll get rich. By and by a rival prophet of the non pork eating kind sets up across town and this makes for a cloudy new horizon. Cloudy but lucrative for us both. Flames of hate and rivalry fanned.
Harold Bean was an itinerant farm hand whose resentment was given wings one day when he came home to a meal his wife had cooked; it was the same desiccated salty pork the rest of the fieldhands ate but Harold decided that nobody should have to eat such shit because it would be better to starve. Harold had never had fits and visions, it wasn’t his style, and he didn’t then either. But he did have a religious experience of some kind. Harold became Hassan, the prophet of the new religion of Nusslam. He wore a hat like the African Muslims wear and had his disciples get up an hour before dawn to meditate and pray to Allah; but mainly it was the avoidance of pork. I can’t blame him. I wouldn’t eat that shit either.
Hassan is a very devout sort. Very sincere and above-board, unlike me. There’s plenty of business to go around in this place. Besides, the flames of anti-Nusslam bigotry, fanned by the local media and exploited by bigots in the county seat, sends more ignorant people to be bilked and exploited by people like me. And the Nusslams come from the ranks of real cutthroats, people even I wouldn’t have in my tent, so Hassan is welcome to them. My visit to Hassan’s place is very congenial and we both are accommodating to each other as we decide who owns what territory. I just wish more evangelists were like him.
Tess is pregnant. Surprise, surprise. She never bugs me to marry her or for any commitment at all. For this I worry about her. If not for me she’d be alone and pregnant by some pimp or doper that would have disappeared on her. And she only finished the eighth grade. I want to get her in some kind of school but now is not the time.
Remember the night I took this place over? Waiting with Tess had been two older girls, the redhead (Mila), and the brunette (Alexa). Mila had sulked around my quarters and when Tess left, full of my semen, Alexa came into my tent, glowering and cursing me. She told me what filth I was, what a degenerate, whoremonger, pervert, etc. etc. And giving me all that verbal abuse seemed to get her as hot as it did me because then we became very well acquainted, even though the only reason she was doing this with me was out of utter pity for me, etc. In addition to Tess, Alexa and Mila are also pregnant by me, which is good. I will need the loyalty of blood to protect me from these bloodthirsty bastards if they should turn on me.
Amos was buried in the churchyard in back. I should’ve tried to stop that lynching but frankly I was afraid. I’m no hero. And now we all have an agreement that before we hang somebody we will have a trial first. With me as judge who supervises things, decides guilt or innocence, and does the sentencing. These bastards all seem homicidal and would kill me in a New York minute if it suited them. So I have to keep my authority any way I can.
Out of this worry I got rid of Baldy. He was just too dangerous for me to suffer him to live. I framed him for the statutory rape of a fourteen year old girl, served as judge who pronounced him guilty, and sentenced him to hang. The next morning I rose before daylight and in the weary hours before dawn went to the big barn to see him hung. To administer a kind of last rite. When Baldy ascended the scaffold it was paling light and everyone was there to witness the execution. Even little kids. I wish these idiot parents would spare the children the sight of such things as this but WTF they’re not my kids.
Day breaks outside and speeches are made and hymns sung (Shall we gather at the River, of course). Then suddenly a bound figure rises vertically from among his peers up to the level of the barn rafter and he hangs there and there he dies. I order him left there to make a point. At his rope end he looks an effigy to frighten crows. After two days I have him cut down and interred in the churchyard with Amos.