At right, the key figure in this story: Hawk Auebach. This image was taken some time after this story takes place. You can tell that because ol' Hawk is really cleaned up at this point. No kidding. You shoulda seen him when he first came to town!
Old Bill’s eyes narrowed. “That Hawk feller, he’s outside?”
Dio looked up from bandaging Pel’s leg. “Goddammit. Me an Bill shoulda kilt him that last time...woulda saved ever’one a whole lotta grief...”
“What’s that?” Sheriff Dazar Perun looked confused. “What last time? What did he do that you shoulda killed him for, Miss Dio?”
Mahaila was now visibly upset. She turned to the sheriff, hoping she could clarify the situation without making it worse: “You see Daz, Hawk was...um...he was just...”
As Mahaila’s voice trailed off, the ever helpful Mrs. Kuhr interjected, “That goddam rascal Hawk was bein rude to Mahaila, tryin’ to take liberties with her.”
“WHAT?!!” yelled Daz. His face turned bright red, and the others in the room could tell he was ready to explode. On the frontier, even in a primitive mining camp like Deadwood, society at large generally took a very dim view of any man who tried to force his attentions on a respectable woman such as Mahaila. In this case, Daz Perun’s reaction was understandably ten times worse, being as Mahaila Bertrand was his sister.
“It ain’t jus’ a problem with Miz Mah, Sheriff,” said Jesse. “He be rude to all the women!”
Mahaila began trying to explain, “He came into my office...”
Daz looked at her with a fierce expression. "Why in hell was he in there?"
“Oh he was probably drunk,” offered Old Bill. “He gets drunk n’ causes all sorts of problems...but only with the women, he don’t fool with the men.”
Dio could see where this was going. “Pel, I suspect I am gonna have to be steppin’ outside in a minute or so.” She handed him another bottle of whiskey. “Here...if the pain starts troublin’ ye, have a swig o’ this an’ jus’ hold on ‘til I get back.”
Pel gratefully accepted the bottle, and looked at it for just a moment. He then pulled out the cork with his teeth, spat it on the floor, and commenced drinking.
Meahwhile, Daz was getting even angrier. “That son of a bitch! Insulting my SISTER! Where the hell is he?!!”
Old Bill glanced out the Bella’s door. “He’s still out in the street there by the Gem, Sheriff. He don’t seem to be in no hurry to go anywhere...”
Daz Perun charged into the street, followed by his sister, who was now truly concerned that she had set in motion a chain of events that would end in violence.
“You comin’ along too, Dio?” asked Old Bill.
“Reckon I’ll be there presently, Bill.” Dio answered. Old Bill nodded and went out into the sunlit street.
Dio was retrieving her new double-barreled shotgun from behind the Bella’s bar when she heard Marshal Rau shouting for her and Sal to come out. They looked at one another and without a word, they proceeded from the Bella’s dark interior into the windy street. Cold weather was already setting in, and the frozen ground and stones of the street crunched beneath their feet. The two women walked over to the area in front of the Gem’s broad front porch. There, they found a small crowd gathered in a circle around Hawk Auebach and Dazar Perun.
Daz was not a terribly big man. He was muscular, but somewhat slightly built and like his sister, not especially tall. This made his antagonist, Hawk, look even bigger than he actually was. And Hawk was, in fact, a hugely imposing creature to start with. He stood at least a head taller than most of the men present. He was broad-shouldered, with massively muscled arms, and huge, grimy hands. And he definitely was not a thing of beauty to behold, His clothing was rumpled and stained, and he exuded a ripe stench of someone who had not bathed in a very, very long time: a miasma of stale sweat, old tobacco and rotten teeth. His hair and beard were a long, tangled mass that framed a ruddy, filth-spattered face, with burning dark eyes and a bulbous, pock-marked nose.
He was laughing at Daz.
“Yer a skinny-looking lil’ feller t’ be accostin’ me,“ he chortled. “What did I do now?”
Marshal Rau motioned for Dio and Sal to come over and explained why he had called for them: “Miz Dio, I figure we’re gonna need ya to be doctoring somebody or other here before long. Sal, is that the fellah who shot your bartender?”
“Sure as hell is,” a replied Sal quietly.
“AND you made the mistake of insultin’ my sister, ya miserable sonfofabitch!” hissed Daz. The Sheriff drew back his fist and let fly with a punch to Hawk’s face. The big man took the blow to his chin with barely a flinch.
Everyone in the crowd looked on, visibly impressed.
After a moment, Sand broke the silence.
That one word pretty much summed up everyone’s reaction. It was a good punch, thrown with everything Daz could put behind it. Mahaila commented later that she had never, ever seen her brother hit a man like that without the recipient of the blow going down.
Dio moved over next to the marshal and made a quiet suggestion. “Sand, I do believe ye might wish to simply go ahead an' shoot the big ol’ cockchafer an’ be done with it...though there may be a risk it’ll only serve t’ irritate him further.
Meanwhile, Hawk looked Daz in the eye and laughed again. “That all ye got, sissy?”
Daz was holding his hand, which obviously hurt a great deal. "Jesus, you’re ugly...and I think your face is made of stone...”
Hawk grinned, “This face been thru more than you can ever think about giving me...”
Sand turned to Dio and noted dryly, “If I try to arrest him, I don’t think he’s likely to come quietly...got any suggestions?"
Although Dio had no particular wish to see anyone get killed -- even Hawk -- she figured that the threat of being shot might make him more cooperative. Therefore, Dio loudly responded to the marshal, “Well ye kin always say ye shot him whilst he was escapin’ or somethin’...or do I gotta shoot him for ye? After all, he done shot Pel the bartender at the Bella...he’s a violent cuss, an’ he’s more’n likely gonna get plugged sooner or later. Might as well save ourselves some trouble an’ get it over with.”
Sand seemed surprised by this suggestion: “Ok, woman, settle down now.”
Dazar sighed and drew his gun. He was quite seriously debating whether or not he should just shoot the man where he stood.
Suddenly, Mahaila stepped in between Hawk and her brother.
“Wait, please,” said Mah. The crowd was dead silent, except for Jesse from the Bella who was quietly praying for everyone involved.
Hawk, smiled at Daz through the undergrowth of his beard. “Go ahead and shoot me. I got no gun on me to defend m’self. But yer never gonna find m’ gold.”
Mahaila ignored Hawk’s odd statement and went on: "Nobody should be getting shot right now. This is a perfect time to use our actions to show we are serious about law in Deadwood.”
“I’m not going to be shooting him, Miss Bertrand,” replied Sand.
“They’s a better than even chance that I won’t either, Mah,” added Dio.
Mahaila looked over her shoulder at Hawk and went on. “We’ve been talking about making this a more civilized place. Well, let’s act like it. Why not a trial? Sure it would be makeshift, as we don’t really have a justice system set up yet......but couldn't we do some sort of bail or something?"
Dazar's eyes traveled up and down the big man's form, and he concluded that indeed, Hawk seemed to have no weapon on him -- he must have tossed away the gun he had used to shoot Pel. And Daz wasn’t about to gun down an unarmed man. “Mahaila, you can step aside. I ain’t gonna shoot a man when he’s not carrying.”
Mah smiled and did as Daz had asked. As soon as she had done so, her brother turned his pistol in his hand and swung it at the side of Hawk’s head, striking the troublemaker on the temple with the butt. Hawk staggered back several steps and dropped to one knee.
“I don't need your goddamn gold,” hissed Daz. "And if you ever go after my sister I’ll kill you...”
The look in Hawk’s eyes was one of pure murder. He stood up, his fists clenched and he took a step towards the Sheriff. Mahaila gasped and retreated back towards Sand.
“Oh satan's huge red testicles,” hissed Dio. She wasn’t about to kill an unarmed man either, but she figured a warning shot might give him pause and keep him from ripping the sheriff into small pieces. She pointed her new shotgun at the ground in between Daz and Hawk, thumbed back a hammer and let go with a blast to the frozen ground.
A ten-bore shotgun with a three-and-a-half inch chamber holds one hell of a load. And when that load is discharged, it makes one hell of a noise. It certainly got Hawk’s attention, and Dio was pleased to see him stop in his tracks and look at her with astonishment. She was much less pleased as Sheriff Dazar Perun made an odd grunting noise and fell to the ground clutching at his leg.
“Wrong man, dammit,” noted Sand.
“Thanks, Sand. I mighta not realized that if ye hadna pointed it out,” answered Dio.
Jess had dropped to her knees and was praying harder than ever. Mahaila looked to be in shock, and then she screeched, “DAZ! Oh my GOD Daz is shot!”
Old Bill, like many of those present had not realized what had happened. He looked at Sand and said with disgust, “Damn marshal, that wasn’t too good o’ shootin’ there.”
Sand was deeply offended: “Hey! I didn’t shoot him.”
“No, I did, goddammit,“ said Dio.
Hawk shrugged and commented in a toneless voice, “I guess I’ll get the blame fer that too.”
All of sudden, Dio found herself starting to like the big man.
Mahaila was frantic: “DAZAR!!!!!!!!!! DAZ...Daz..Dio..why?” She crouched next to her brother, who was doing a good bit of cussing. She pulled off her cloak and pressed it against Dazar’s wounded leg to staunch the bleeding.
Sand glared at Dio. “Dammit woman, How in the hell did you miss a huge, ugly-ass man like that one? I mean, how in the world...”
Dio cut him off, “Oh hush up, Sand, I stopped him from tearin’ Dazar limb from limb, din’t I?”
She stepped over to the fallen Sheriff and looked at his wound. “Dammit Daz, yer just nicked in the leg. Don't be a big goddam baby about it. I seen people hurt worse playin’ checkers.”
Dazar was still not mollified. Holding his leg, he snarled at Dio, “Goddammit! You shot me!” He pointed at the hulking figure of Hawk and said incredulously, “How the hell could you miss THAT?!!"
Dio, cradled her shotgun like a beloved child. “I was TRYIN’ to miss him, goddamit. I wasn't tryin to hit him...jus’ make him shit his trousers an’ pause a moment before he tore yer fool head off an' spit down the gapin’ hole. I ain’t about to shoot a feller what ain’t armed. So I was aimin’ in betwixt the two o’ y’all. But it hit the frozen ground an’ a pellet done ricocheted up an’ nicked yer leg.”
Mahaila shook her head and tore off a piece of her cloak to wrap the injury. She was still worried beyond words. “Daz, you need to get to a doctor...this could be worse than it looks...”
Dazar Perun sighed and told his sister, “I ain’t seeing no Doc -- not fer something like this." As his sister frowned and glared at him, Daz pushed her hands away and unwrapped his wound to look at it. “Jeezus Dio, what you got in that thing? Sounded like a damn cannon going off!”
Dio smiled. “10 bore, 3 and-a-half-inch shell with double-aught buck.” she replied proudly.
Dazar looked impressed. “Shit,” was pretty much all he could say.
While Dio and Mah looked after Daz, U.S. Deputy Marshal Sand Rau turned his attention to the large bearded man who was still standing there, watching with interest as the scene played out.
“Hawk,” asked Sand, “did you shoot a man tonight? Yes or no?
Sal answered for him, “Yes he did! Right in front of me!”
Hawk shook his head in assent: “Yeah..I sure did. He accused me of stealing.”
“Stealing what?” asked Sand.
“A cigar,” replied Hawk.
Now Sal was just livid. “He asked you to pay for cigars -- two cigars! Not one, but two! And you shot him for it!”
Jesse stopped her praying and looked up at the big man. “You don't got to go shootin' someone over seegars, mister!”
Now it was Hawk's turn to get indignant. “Hey, he called me a thief. I’da paid fer them seegars sooner or later...”
Before he could continue Mahaila walked up to him and struck him in the face as hard as she could. Hawk simply gazd at her blankly, but Mah stood there looking at him, her face burning with anger. And then she turned around, gripping her hand, gasping in pain.
"Man has a face just like rock, don't he, sis?" commented Daz in a matter-of-fact tone of voice.
Hawk turned back to the marshal. “Listen, if I wanted that man in the Bella to be dead, he would be dead right now. He just needed a lesson.”
Sand nodded. “Well I tell you what...you say you got gold somewhere...you pay Miz Sal here for the damage to the Bella and for the medical care to look after her bartender...” He paused and looked at Sal for a moment before he continued, ”AND for the two seegars...and I shall let you off with a warnin’ this time.”
Hawk grunted and pulled a leather bag out of his pocket and tossed it to Sal, who caught it. “Oughtta cover it,” said Hawk. Sal weighed it in her hand and nodded.
Hawk yawned and commented to no one in particular, “Well hell, I need me a whiskey.”
Daz swore and shouted, “Auebach! you get the hell out of town right now!”
Old Bill added his two cents worth as well. “Hawk! You bother Miss Bertrand again an’ I am comin’ for you!”
Hawk looked at them both for a moment...then shrugged, and went in to the Gem.
Dio began helping Daz to his feet. “Hey Sheriff, sorry I shot ye, pard.”
Dar Perun smiled at Dio. "No big deal, m’am. As often as I been shot, it’s kind of a nice for a change gettin’ shot by a friend.
“Oh, and I am sorry I called ye a big baby,” Dio went on. “You ain't nothin’ o’ the kind.”
Dazar laughed, "Been called worse, Miss Dio...much worse"
Jesse looked towards the Gem. “Well, that's done I guess.. he gone to the Gem fer some more whiskey...probbly Miss Foxy'll take care of him. If’n he ask her fer a kiss, she'll give him a bullet. I expect to hear a gunshot any minute now.”
But no gunshot rang out. Hawk was going to keep making trouble in Deadwood for some time to come...and then...well, that's another story for another time.