20 Cents

“That’s it, Chester. You owe me one dollar, and I have to say, you should wash up more.”

“Thank you Laviney, that was real nice.”

“That may be, Chester, but you still owe me a dollar.”

“I can’t do it, Laviney.”

“What do you mean, you can’t do it. You did it fine.”

“I mean, I can’t pay you a dollar. I only got twenty cents in my pocket,”

“How can you come in here, with only twenty cents?”

“Well, Laviney, I was horny and that’s all I had.”

“Well, you shoulda gone out an poked a heifer. I’m gonna call Sheriff Tate.”

“Laviney, you can’t call the Sheriff, over 80 cents.”

“We will see about that. We’re going down an’ see him. You just come along now.”


“Sheriff, Chester came over to my place, all raring to go, but he only had 20 cents. He owes me 80 cents.”

“Is that true, Chester, you only had 20 cents?”

“That’s right, Sheriff.”

“Well, if that’s all you had, you should have gone out and poked a heifer.”

“That’s what Laviney said, Sheriff. But them cows can get real mean.”

“Not as mean as Laviney’s going to get. You can’t go around, ruining her reputation like that, 20 cents, an insult.”

“I’m sorry, Sheriff. What you goin’ to do?”

“Well, I could throw you in jail for a week.”

“A week? For 80 cents?”

“That’s right, Chester. But, instead of that, I think that I will give you to Laviney for a week, and she can do whatever she wants with you.”

“Sheriff, what am I going to do with that fool, for a whole week?”

“Well, he can sweep up, fix your roof, cut firewood, and such like that.”

“Wait a minute, Sheriff, does that mean I got to feed him too?”

“I guess so.”

“Well, that’s going to be another 80 cents, just for food.”

“Well then, keep him for another week.”

“But that’s another weeks worth of food.”

“Well, Laviney, you can keep him and feed him as long as you want to. Is that OK?”

“But, Sheriff Tate, that’s slavery. Mr. Lincoln freed the slaves.”

“That was down South, Chester. This is Nevada Territory.”


“Hello Laviney, I see things are looking up, over at your place.”

“You’re right, Sheriff. With Chester, I got the place painted and a lean-to put on the side where for 25 cents, the men can get soap and a  hot water bath. Chester chops the wood for the boiler. We fixed up the inside real nice. I raised my price to two dollars. So, for two and a quarter dollars, they can both get cleaned up, and taken care of.”

“Well, that’s mighty enterprising, Laviney. But what did you come to see me about?”

“Well, Sheriff, me and Chester is going to get hitched. I cleaned him up, cut his hair, and bought him a suit. He’s looking mighty good. He’s going to be my business manager and look out for things. We wanted you to be the first to know. We was hoping that you could be the best man at our wedding.”

“Why, I’d be proud to stand up for you and Chester. I knew some good would come of it.”

“Sheriff, we owe it all to you. And you know, you can stop by anytime, free of charge.”

“Why thank you, Laviney, you touched my heart.”

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