The Shooting of Dirk McGrew (or The Lady Known as June)

by Rod Nichols

The hour was growin’ late that night
at the Malamute saloon,
the piano man
had left the stand
after playin’ one last tune.

A rag-tag crew were playin’ cards
while the barkeep swept the floor,
a token brush
to stir the dust
when a stranger hit the door.

“Mister we’re about to close”
said the barkeep with a sigh,
but held his tongue
and crawfished some
when he met the stranger’s eyes.

His face rock-hard and chiselled out
with deep-set eyes of stone,
said if you’re wise
you’d be advised
to leave this man alone.

“On second thought it ain’t that late
what is your pleasure sir?”
“I’ll take a beer
and while I’m here
I want to talk to her.”

“I mean the one who took the poke
of a man she never knew,
who here was killed
although he drilled
a hell-hound called McGrew.”

The barkeep starred in disbelief
“You want the gal named Lou,
but she’s now gone
to parts inknown
we’ve hired a new chantuse.”

“The hell you say” the stranger cursed
“I’ll see that gal senor,
and she’d best know
where I can go
to settle up the score.”

“Well stranger..” purred a girl in red
“..for a drink I’ll spend some time,
but as for Lou
I’m tellin’ you
she’s one gal you won’t find.”

“I know this by the cut of you
you’re not some poor galoot,
those raven curls
might fool a girl
but not them custom boots.”

“They’re hand-tooled leather, special made,
the finest in this room,
I’m known as Jenn
to these here men
but you can call me June.”

The stranger grabbed the gal named June.
“Now let me have my say.
He met his doom
in this saloon
and someone’s gonna pay!”

“It eats away my gut at night
it haunts me on the trail,
you gulled him dry
and that is why
I’m sendin’ one to hell.”

“Then turn her loose and look at me”
a voice behind him snarled.
“I’m Dirk McGrew
not Dan or Lou
I’ll settle up your quarrel.”

The look upon the other’s face
said more than here I am,
cold black with fire
and hell’s desire
a visage of the damned.

The stranger moved to pull his gun
he felt, then heard the roar,
he stumbled some
and then went numb
fell crumpled to the floor.

Then someone yelled and lights went out
and when they came back on,
the man was dead
and Dirk had fled
those custom boots were gone.
The boys still talk about that night
at the Malamute Saloon,
how Dan’s young son
with his own gun
had sent a man to doom.
A stranger dead without a name
went shoeless to his tomb,
while custom boots
became the loot
of the lady known as June.

(NOTE: I’m afraid this is one adventure you won’t be seeing on my field trip page. You’ll have to take Mr. Nichols’ word for it.)


© Rod Nichols, 2001. All poems are copyright the artist and should not be reproduced without permission.