‘Twas a mining town called Golden Gulch
While the West was yet untamed.
There two bad men met, made a bet,
And the winnings never claimed.
The boys had ridden into town
One payday afternoon
To line the bar at the Lucky Star,
Which was Dandy Ran’s saloon.
Now the dandy was an onry cuss
If by chance you made him sore,
His only law was the lightning draw
Of the heavy guns he wore.
On his watchchain hung a dozen bells
Of the finest silver spun,
Each tiny bell for a man that fell
When the dandy drew his gun.
They seemed to jingle merrily
To a tune that brought him luck,
But they rang the bell for the man that fell
When the dandy rang them up.
Well the boys had finished a round of drinks
When the bar room door swang wide,
And a man walked in with a reckless grin
And a funny cat-like stride.
On his dusty boots were golden spurs,
His face was lean and brown,
And at each hip the well-matched grips
Of six guns holstered down.
He spoke in a voice that was deathly quiet
And said, “I’ve come to waste some shells
On a man they say whose draw is quick
With a chain of silver bells.
“A dozen bells for a dozen men
Buried somewhere on the plain,
It’s my intent to beat that gent,
I’ve come for the dandy’s chain.”
Well the dandy faced the stranger’s gaze,
His coat was buttoned tight,
A gun swang free above each knee,
But the bells were hid from sight.
“So, it’s the dandy’s silver bells
On which your heart is set.
That’s a fancy pair of spurs you wear,
Would you care to make a bet?
“The silver bells for the golden spurs,
But I’ll warn you from the start.
You’ll lose that bet and all you’ll get
Is a bullet through the heart.”
Well the stranger smiled his reckless grin
And said, “If the dandy tries
They’ll find him dead with a chunk of lead
Placed neat between the eyes.”
Then the stranger unbuckled his golden spurs
And slid them along the bar,
Said, “I’m callin’ the hand of Dandy Ran,
Come out wherever you are.”
Then slowly the dandy’s hand went down
And unbuttoned his lapel,
And there it rest on checkered vest,
The chain of silver bells.
The stranger watched with narrowed eyes,
The time had passed for talk.
He hadn’t drawed but his hands were clawed,
Like the feet of a diving hawk.
Then suddenly the dandy’s hand went down
For his right-hand gun.
No one saw the stranger draw,
But two shots rang out as one.
The dandy stumbled to his knees
With a look of wild surprise, and
With a chunk of lead, like the stranger said,
Placed neat between the eyes.
The stranger stood at the end of the bar,
Except for a spot of red that slowly spread
Beneath the left pocket of his shirt.
The Golden Gulch is a ghost town now,
Its mining days are done.
There are coyote tracks in the tumbled shacks
Bleached white by the desert sun.
The Lucky Star is deserted, too,
All littered with sand and straw,
Where the laughter rang and the dandy’s gang
Once drank to his lightning draw.
And the silver bells and the golden spurs
Still hang in their place of fame,
Above the bar at the Lucky Star
Still waiting the victor’s claim.
Image by Eduardo Muriedas