The Origin of "Skeeter Bill"
That I did son! Now, if everybody will pay attention, I'll get today's breifing started. Wait a minute Cap, aren't you going to tell us about Jake's Grandfather? You can't leave us hanging like this! Yea, come on Captain! I think we better get down to business; we are wasting enough of the taxpayer's money as it is! Several oth er men called out wanting to hear the story. Captain Jenkins winked at Jake, stopping to re-light his pipe. Alright, one story and that's it. I was a young feller, hell, younger than most of you in this room, when I signed up with the Marshal's Service. Since I was new I got the job of delivering prisoners to the various Federal prisons. I drove a prison wagon pulled by a couple of big old jack mules. If I was haulin' a real desperato I sometimes got a shotgun rider, but mostly I was on my own. It was a early winter day, colder than hell, when I was picking up a prisoner somewhere in Montana. Can't rightly remember the name of the town now. It was snowing and sleeting most of the day. The road was bad and I didn't make very good time. I got intotown late that afternoon. Istopped at the livery stable and had my mules put up for the night. I walked over to the sheriff's office to check in. I opened the door and there was a huge man leanin' over the desk. He turned when he heard me come in, and saw my badge pinned on my coat, turned around and continued talking with the sheriff. I noticed a short barreled Greener propped up on the sheriff's desk. He handed the stranger a slip of paper. The big man took it and and put it in his duster pocket. He picked up his shotgun and gave me a nod on the way out. The sheriff looked at me annd wanted to know where the hell I'd been. I told him to look outside at the weather. No need, I guess that's what stalled you, he said. Guess it won't hurt to hold this low-life for another night. I told him I'd be over at first light and be on my way. There'll be two instead of one. That big feller just brought in another one. I've got paper on him as well. I told him no problem. I was cold and wet and tired from the long trip that day, so I went over and checked into the hotel. It was a little early for supper, so I thought I'd go to a saloon and have a couple of whiskeys to warm up. Just down thhe street I saw a combination saloon and 'comfort palace', so I headed in there. When I walked in I saw the big man from the sheriff's office sitting in the corner with his shotgun propped up against the wall. He ssa wme and motioned fro me to come over. There was a bottle of good whiskey sitting on the table, not the usual rot-gut crap you saw. He motioned to the bartender, holding up his glass. He brought me one over and and the big man poured me a drink. He wanted to know if I was the one driving the prison wagon. I told him yes. He said to have another drink; he might have one more for me to haul in. He left his duster on the table and picked up his shotgun and walked over to the bar. He spoke ot the bartender for a minute and slipped him some money. He walked up the stairs and disappeared around the corner. A few seconds later I heard the sound of wood bustin' and then the damnest thing; a lot of screamin', but it almost sounded like a man! I yanked my Peacemaker out of the holster and ran up the stairs. I got to the hallway and there was the big feller lookin' in a room with a grin on his face. Iwalked over and there ws a little skinny guy buck-nekked with a big ole whore kickin' and cussin' at him. I wondered what the hell was going on when I heard a door open and another feller came out wearin' only his hat and a six-gun! He took one look and saw the badge on my coat and snapped off a shot. The bullet just barely missed my head. Then, quick as lightning, the big man raised his shotgun and let go with both barrels! The sound dammed near deafened me. It blew the other feller off his feet, damn near cuttin' him in two. Then I heard this screamin' again. I looked in the room and it was the little feller makin all the commotion. The whore was kicking at him, trying to push him out of the bed. Turns out, when Jake's Grandfather kicked the door in, the little feller was 'in the saddle', so to speak, and when he saw the shotgun pointing right at him, he was so scared he shit the bed! The whole room burst into laughter! Even Cap't. Jenkins was laughing, holding his side; he even noticed O'Hara had tears running down his cheeks from laughing so hard. After several moments Jenkins composed himself. Turns out the bartender was drunk and gave Jake's Grandfather the wrong room number. The sheriff heard the shooting and came running over to the saloon. When he got upstairs, he wanted to know what happened. I told him exactly how it did. He looked at the dead man. That's Mad Dog Miller! Jenkins shot a quick look at Henry. Hope he wasn't any kin to you. Henry wiped the tears from his eyes and said, me too! The sheriff told us to come over to his office so he could fill out a report. When we got done the big feller asked me if I'd had my supper yet. After seeing my first shooting, I didn't know if I could hold anything down, or not. He told me to meet him at 7:00 in the hotel dining room. I went back to my hotel room. I was shaking so bad I had to lay down for a little while. I looked at my watch later and it was five minutes to seven. I went downstairs to the dining room. I told the man I was meeting somebody. He pointed to Jake's Grandfather seated in the corner, and I told him that was him. I walked over and noticed the shotgun propped up against the wall, and another bottle of whisket sitting on the table with two glasses. I sat down and he poured us both a drink. Reaching into his vest pocket he took out a roll of bills and handed them to me. I asked him what that was for. He said it was part of the reward money on Miller. I told him I didn't do anything to deserve it. He said, you sided me with your pistol, so I figured you got part of it coming. I wasn't about to argue with him, so I put the money in my coat pocket. The waiter came and took our order. He poured us another whiskey and I happened to look out the window. Starin' in at us was the little feller from the brothel. He didn't have a hat or gloves on, and was just wearing a thin coat. Jake's Grandfather noticed him and motioned for him to come in. The feller that seated me stopped him and pointed to the door. The little feller pointed at us. The waiter's face turned kind of white and he motioned for him to come over to our table. The little feller stared at the whiskey bottle. The big man motioned to the waiter and he brought another glass. Bring him what we're havin', he told the waiter. Much obliged, the little feller said. Guess we ought to intorduce ourselves; they call me Buck. I told them my name and the littl efeller said he was known as 'Skeeter Bill'. The waiter came carrying a big tray with our meals. Bill tore into his like he hadn't eaten for days. He finished before we did, and almost finished the bottle of whiskey too. Buck asked him what kind of work he was in, and Bill replied, anything I can find. I'm in between jobs right now. Buck told him he was going to the Dakota's after a gang, and could use a swamper for the camp. Bill told him he didn't own a gun or anything. Buck told him he could have Miller's trappin's and he'd get him proper clothes for the trail. From that day on , Buck and Skeeter Bill were lifelong friends. John O'Hara stood and walked to the front of the room. Looking at Cap't. Jenkins, he said, I believe you have something that belongs to Jacob. Jenkins looked puzzled for a second, then remembered the bet. Reaching in his coat pocket he took out the roll of bills and handed them to Jacob. O'Hara turned to Jacob and extended his right hand. I'm offering my hand to you Jacob, as a apology. I always knew you were a honest man; I just thought you were spreading the blarney a wee bit thick. Jake extended hid right hand and shook hands with O'Hara. He smiled and released O'Hara's hand. One other thing, O'Hara continued. I have a confession to make. On the way home I saw a bookstore and found a copy of the book. I sat up half the night reading it. There you were, a wee lad, and you stood up to a killer with a toy gun, afraid for your Grandfather, and you took a bullet for it. I was wrong for callin' you a 'runt'. You were a big man, even as a lad. I'm offerin' my hand a second time. Jake smiled and O'Hara turned, facing the other officers. From now on there'll be no name calling to my friend Jacob. If there is, that man will be answering to me! Turning to Cap't. Jenkins, O'Hara said, I do have one question; why was the little fellow known as 'Skeeter Bill'? Jenkins grinned and looked at Jake. Maybe Jake can answer that better than me. Jake's face blushed. You really want me to tell them Cap? Aye, lad, O'Hara said. I really want to know. OK, here's why; they said as a young man nobody could go to one whore house to another faster than Bill. They said, there's Bill skeedadlin' to another 'pleasure palace', so they started calling him 'Skeedadlin' Bill', and finally just shortened it to 'Skeeter Bill'. Once again, the room burst into laughter. O'Hara put his huge hand on Jacob's shoulder. That's a great story lad!Little did John O'Hara know his new found friendship with Jacob would save his life just days ahead.