Aboutface

Early Sunday morning, the Pony Express was given the sack. Their services were no longer required, owing to the ubiquity of the new United States Postal Service, and telegrams – especially the telegrams.

Abner Drab, the youngest recruit in the Pony Express, joined up just three short months ago, read the dispatch posted on the horse barn, and did a swift aboutface. “T’ain’t right!” he shouted to the bleak morning air, and the bleak faces of the men milling about – the now jobless men milling about, whose bleak faces were their only resume, that and their willingness to ride fast, and hard, into the gritty west. They were the raunchiest, most radical riders these dehydrated gulches, sidewinder-stuffed and sun cracked plateaus had ever produced. They’d been nourished on hard tack and tobacco since the first days of the miserable Pony Express; their hands were cracked from the desert frost, and the hard leather of their reins; and they had, to the last brutal, ugly one of them, been beaten, without even a broken-knuckled fist being thrown. Beaten by the future, electricity, and that damn telegram.

Not one of these men argued with young Abner Drab. Neither did they offer another rousing cry. They shuffled off, in search of bad saloons to get drunk in, or rodeos without too many rules.

Abner Drab watched the old men go. He kicked the sand seared edge of the old horse barn impotently. If this was the price of progress he was sick of progress. The future held nothing but wiles and quicker mail. It was all hands-free. So Abner Drab decided to use his two hands to do something about it.

It was the greatest bank robbery ever pulled by a man on a pony.

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