Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 34, No. 18. October 6 1971
The Most Feared Man in the West
The Most Feared Man in the West
Storm clouds are brewing over the little Critter Country town of New Bigotsville and the impending deluge could leave a permanent scar. The trouble lies embedded in a war of personal conflicts between the town's Sherrif, Rob Muldoon, and Judge, Jack Marshall. Their vendetta finally festered to a head over the nomination of Brian Brooks for the position of Assistant Judge, by the town mayoral council.
Sherrif Muldoon, feared and revered in many quarters as a ruthless and uncompromising lawman, made his views on the matter clearly known in a vitriolic statement in the Critter Country Daily Gazette. He poignantly emphasised some aspects of Brook's background which he found undesirable - notably a tendency to stray too far away from the corral. It is obvious though, that the good Sherrifs outburst was just an attempt to hog-tie his main rival for Boss of the Prairies, Judge Marshall. By knocking the Council's man for the job, he attempted to sweet-talk the townspeople into believing that only he knew all the answers.
The present big-shot of New Bigotsville, Mayor Keith Holyoake, has been conspicuously silent on the malignant situation which has developed, leaving his most senior side-kicks to settle their differences themselves. A showdown between the two arch rivals seems periolously close and could result in one being carried off to Boot Hill or at least hitting the trail to other parts. It is even being rumoured that the Sherrif, a former humble costing clerk, could return to his metier as Head Teller of the Dodge City World Bank or even to join Pinkerton's Detective Agency.
Sherrif Muldoon has a mean reputation as a lawman not to be tangled with. He totes a lightning fast draw and the 30 notches in his belt are veritable testimony to this. Among his many exploits, one more recent was his taking single-handed of that notorious bandit, "Red" Anderson, who held up the Northern Drivers' Union's stagecoach several times and got away "with murder". These holdups over the years have cost the Union hundreds of thousands of dollars, says the Sherrif.
Also to his credit say many of the townspeople, the Sherrif has made it safe for honest citizens to walk the streets at night, by his constant campaigning against town drifters and long-[unclear: haic] spongers. Since Muldoon was appointed Sherrif in 1967 he has really set about cleaning up the town, and it has been a case of heaven help any saddle tramps who got in his way. His hard-line tactics have incurred sharp criticism and some of his shooting at times has been decidedly off-target.
Another prominent and always law-abiding citizen agitated by the Sherrifs purgatory tirades is Norm Kirk, the proprietor of the "Ace of Spades" saloon He has been working hard lately to arouse public feeling against Muldoon and it would suit him to see the good Sherrif ousted from office. He claimed that Muldoon was exceeding his territory by horning in and attacking decisions made by the Town Council and Kirk even went on to criticise the Mayor, Keith Holyoake, saying that he should have put the handcuffs on Muldoon and his voracious ravings.
He says that much of the present unrest in the town is due to the near-sighted attitudes of the Town Council's policies, but he fails to suggest any constructive alternatives. Perhaps, he has ideas of running the town himself with the help of his hired bar-room cronies. Kirk and his desperadoes run a pretty tight saloon with a good deal of backing from the wealthy businessmen. A fiendishly shrewd poker player, owning the biggest gambling house in town, he could decide that it is time to lay his cards on the table.
However, Jolyoake is a mayor of many years standing, and is not likely to surrender his office without a light. He would not be gunned down easily as many have already found much to their chagrin. He has the sort of inscrutable defence which wouldn't will, even if threatened by the bore of a colt 44. Besides that, if anyone tried to lasso him from behind they would most likely find themselves having to deal with a posse of irate cattle-ranchers and sod-busters.
The present mood of the town, after Sherrif Muldoon's warning shots fired over the heads of his opponents, seems to be one of suspended bewilderment. However, these badly-aimed shots could ricochet and the Sherrif could find himself filled full of his own lead.
Some of the town's eminent citizens say that he should climb down from his high horse that he is only using his badge as a front to his personal diatribes. New Bigotsville's epitome of law and order, on the other hand, claims he is just cracking down on the town's no-account varmits.
The situation was not improved, when Brian Brooks decided that the town smelled and high-tailed-it for the hills. This spurred Judge Marshall into action. He publicly rebuked the Sherrif and assured that it was he who was the law innovator in the town and in future the Sherrif would stick to enforcing the Council's decisions.
The big question, as the mayoral elections next year draw closer, is whether the bitterness between Marshall and Muldoon will lead to a public duel on Main street. And the last straw would be the good Sherrif tellig the Judge to get out of town by sundown.