What to Do When You Shoot Up the Town; or, The Cowboy Code in Action

Cowboy accidentally fires gun in hotel.

Is this what the Wild Western World has come to? “Accidentally”?

Aren’t cowboys–the rough-riding kind that gallop through streets shooting guns in the air, whooping and hollering and making schoolmarms dive for cover behind Randolph Scott–supPOSED to fire guns in town streets, saloons, and hotels?

Oh, movies. Right. Where extras are safely out of line of stray bullets zinging through walls and the bullets are blanks anyway.

So imagine a guy in a Holiday Inn in Salisbury, North Carolina. In his room he’s surrounded by awful emerald green carpeting and pastel prints on the walls. He might have the TV going on the weather channel, or–hell, I won’t judge–porn. He’s a card-carrying member of one of the many “cowboy shooting associations” in the U.S., and he’s getting ready to shoot up the town–I mean, targets–in a competition with his Taylor and Company Uberti .357 Magnum rifle, the kind with a glossy stock and smooth action and a heavy kick.

Maybe he’s dressed in authentic-type Wild Western duds. He might be in one of the cowboy action shooting groups that require members to wear spurs, or dress like B-western heroes of the 1940s. He might have a horse, and be one of those daredevil mounted shooting cowboys who fire at a gallop, just like his childhood TV heroes and Texas Rangers. And he certainly has a moniker that reflects his inner cowboy, like Slim Jenkins, or Ironhand Luke.

All this takes him from his Holiday Inn setting, the bills he forgot to pay before he left, the souvenirs he has to get for his kids, his wife he knows is whooping it up with her girlfriends, and the excellent fried steak he ate the night before.

He’s cleaning his magnificent rifle (and if I weren’t the fauxness that I am, I’d know the intricacies of this) and BLAMMO!

Trained as he is as a shooter, his muscles have tensed, his eyes have closed, his heart as recoiled from the blast of sound. Because there’s a bullet hole in the wall of his hotel room. And in the next room…

He’s gotten a little heavy in the past few years–he keeps telling his wife that he’s going to join her at the gym but he does like those steaks and brews he gets with his fellow role players, and during college football season, he doesn’t have much time to lift weights or go out riding like he used to. But he flies through the hotel hall, watched by hotel guests peering cautiously into the hallway sure they are in the middle of a twenty-first century gang war, and he bangs on the hotel door but no answer…

While he waits in the hallway, pale and sweaty, members of hotel management put on their grim faces and step in and find that the next door room was empty at the time, and the bullet did nothing but pierce a few layers of drywall and tore through a jacket hanging in the closet.

The cowboy, maybe dressed in spurs and chaps and leather vest and hat (although he’s taken it off inside as he is a gentleman), doesn’t do any whooping. He doesn’t get a shot of whiskey and a few more with the boys. He doesn’t jam the accelerator on his way out of town in his Ford mantruck to escape the law. He has the Roy Rogers Riders Cowboy Code in his wallet. What would a cowboy do?

He writes a check to the hotel to pay for damages and offers to pay the owner of the jackets for damages as well. (And I hope doesn’t clean his guns in hotels anymore.)

True story. Except for the parts I made up.

gratuitous Gary Cooper photo

2 comments to What to Do When You Shoot Up the Town; or, The Cowboy Code in Action

  • flapjack42

    LOved the RRRCC! More people should live according to The Code…
    LOved the story, especially the parts that Bucko made up!
    And particularly thank you for the Gary Cooper…Super dooper!

  • bucko

    Welcome words coming from a storyteller!

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