Pale Son: the Life and Times of Bad Bob

by P. F. White


Once in a time much like your own, in a place called Montana, in an age dominated by the power of steam and the limitless scope of human greed, there lived a murderer by the colorful appellation of Bad Bob.

Bobby Jonas Jones had been a sickly child at birth, not remarkable save for the porcelain white of his skin and hair, the red of his eyes and a certain ruthless intelligence that he wasted no time in turning to the devil’s work. He did not earn the title of “bad,” however, until the summer of his sixteenth birthday when he successfully robbed his first bank with the help of three of his closest friends.

Ten men lost their lives in this robbery, as did all three of Bobby’s accomplices when later it came time to divide the spoils. This brought the overall casualty total to thirteen, the lowest of his career, and earned him the nickname of “Bad” forever more.

Not that Bob did anything to dissuade the perception over the next ten years of unrepentant murder, theft, rape, and arson. In fact as time went on and his reputation grew, so too did his persona.

The tellers of tall tales started to whisper that he kept a bible soaked in the blood a priest on his belt. So, never wanting to disappoint, he got one. Then they spoke of his hunger for the hearts of dogs and the tongues of gypsies. So Bob developed a taste for them, too. He smiled and laughed to himself as he ate them, reveling in the wicked things people said and delighting in being able to live up to them.

But folks kept talking.

Where once they would be content to talk of his robbing a bank, he soon had to rob a church instead. Where once a simple theater fire would keep them entertained for days, in time only an entire blazing town would do. Bob made the mistake of bedding and killing a Hollywood actress of some minor repute. Soon he was spending whole weeks tracking down the latest film star to satisfy his own reputation as a rape-crazed throat slasher.

His compatriots didn’t understand this fascination he had with proving his stories true. However when they would say so to his face he would just shrug, not fully understanding it himself, either. The best he could come up with was to call it a sort of hobby. Whenever folk used the word “obsession” around him, he shot them dead.

As the stories continued, it wasn’t just the deeds themselves that escalated; soon it was the manner in which they were done as well. It was never enough to shoot a marshal in cold blood. He now had to strangle him, or knife him, or tie him up and feed him to his pet buzzard. Which first involved Bob spending over a month trying to find and tame a pet buzzard.

As Bob grew older, the tales only got more bizarre. Science and superstition had swept the West and the derring-do of older days soon began to mean very little. Bob spent more and more time in congress with witches, sorcerers, and scientists. He learned to swallow lightning and sacrifice babes to foreign devils with unpronounceable names. He was once even expected to rope a tornado and ride it through a quiet Midwestern town. It was difficult but, in the end, doable.

He smiled at that one and figured his legend well and truly complete. But the tellers didn’t agree and the tales grew more extreme.

By the end of his career he was always to be seen in a demon skin suit of midnight black with polished silver studs of purest moonlight. He wore a midnight-black ten-gallon hat that held inside it a captive vortex of lost souls. His rattlesnake skin boots were made from live rattlesnakes, and his pair of shining silver .45-caliber Colt peacemakers were stolen from the president’s own gun locker and cursed by a captured demon. Bob had inlaid their handles with human bone carved exclusively from his own clone and inscribed them with grinning skulls in gold filigree. Each bullet he carried was carefully and expensively consecrated at a black mass and cursed sixty-six times a day.

Consequently he took to not carrying much ammunition with him.

He grew sloppy and driven, stopping barely to hear the latest atrocities whispered in his name before moving on to accomplish more mischief. He could barely keep up, and what once he took pleasure in soon became more and more of a burden.

When he was finally cornered and shot to death, while attempting to win a drinking contest with a thirteen-foot grizzly bear inhabited with the soul of George Washington, it came as a sweet relief. He died with a song in his heart and a smile on his lips, cursing and fighting till the bitter end.

It was a hell of a shootout, the tale-tellers said, where the sky itself rained blood and three houses were set ablaze by the spark of unseasonable lightning. Bob had of course stopped shooting only when a .45 caliber slug of purest gold had pierced his heart, and only after the shooter had turned widdershins three times. Of the thirteen Texas rangers who did the job, seven were famous, and the other six ended up dead.

When one of the famous rangers approached the corpse and attempted to pry the revolvers away from Bob’s lifeless fingers, the weapon discharged into his stomach. This happened despite Bob having supposedly already fired his twelve shots. A thirteenth shot as unlucky as the man who ate it.

This man was said to die seven days later from fever, having spent the entire time speaking wildly in tongues and suffering from horrific dreams.

On account of this and the other amazing stories surrounding Bob’s life it was decided that he would be buried exactly where he had died, in a shallow, unmarked grave. There would be no reading of scripture, no cross and no one notified.

At the request of the town preacher, Bob was buried face down and the grave made twenty-one feet deep. It was explained to those digging that this was not to aid in Bob’s descent to hell but rather to ensure that God never had to look at the miscreant’s wickedly grinning face.

On the day that the hole was finally filled, the preacher, the mayor, and the sheriff drank a celebratory toast of fine bourbon from the mayor’s private stock.

They died in convulsions within minutes from the tincture of rattlesnake blood and arsenic that Bob had slipped into the bottle years before, the final earthly murders of Bad Bob, and the capstone to the legend he had worked his whole life in building.

The devil was not impressed.


Copyright © 2010 by P. F. White

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