Golden Blaze

by Rhys Barter

As the sun rose over the New Mexico desert, Sherlock Holmes and his faithful steed Watson finally came upon Hugh Boone’s camp.

For days Sherlock had ceaselessly ridden north, passing through the townships of Shoscombe, Milverton, and Breckinridge, reliably informed by each sheriff in turn that he was only hours behind the notorious bank robber. Boone was on the run for stealing the Blue Diamond, the most famous jewel in the US.

In every town Sherlock stopped to check the “wanted” posters. The reward for Boone had gone up from $1000 to $5000.

Dead or alive.

As the Wild West’s most feared bounty hunter, Holmes did not doubt that he would take home the prize.

Boone had set up camp in Fear Valley, a barren landscape with little opportunity for ambush. Luckily Holmes possessed a skill that his fellow cowboys did not. He was a master of disguise.

And so it happened that at 8:15am an elderly priest rode right up to Boone, and asked the villain if he could spare any water.

“Sure father,” Boone said, “Just let me give Golden Blaze his breakfast.”

Boone fed his horse, and then suddenly span around, a gun in his hand.

Holmes reacted quickly, pulling his gun from Watson’s mane and shooting Boone in the shoulder. He then tied the injured Boone to the back of Golden Blaze and marched him all the way to Albuquerque to claim the reward.

Then the police realised that the diamond was nowhere to be found. Boone claimed never to have heard of the jewel, let alone stolen it.

Sherlock didn’t care; he was already drinking away his reward in a local tavern. Then suddenly, sometime during his sixth whiskey, he remembered something.

“How could I be so stupid?” he said. Then, taking up his knife, he bounded over to the police stables.

Holmes demanded to see Golden Blaze and his request was immediately honoured. However, when he plunged his knife into the beast, slicing its belly open, the stable manager feared he’d made a mistake.

Holmes knelt down, and shifted through the fetid chyme until he found what he was looking for.

“Congratulations Holmes,” the stable manager said, “Shall I fetch the sheriff?”

“No,” he replied, “I’m not retained by the sheriff to remedy his deficiencies.”

Then he pocketed the diamond and rode Watson out of town, never to be seen again.