Wednesday, 4 Aug 2021

Steve Braunias: The secret diary of the Collins Gang



A cold wind blew through the middle of the main street of Dodge. It scattered old blue rosettes into the gutters.

Whitey Collins, leader of the Collins Gang, walked into the saloon and held up a finger to the barman. He took out the cork from a bottle of rotgut, and poured a shot. She held up two fingers. He poured another shot. He was about to put the bottle back on the shelf but she learned over and grabbed it, uncorked it with her teeth, spat it out, and took a long pull.


She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and turned towards the voice. Three of the gang stood there nervously. They were a delegation who wanted to let her know that things were going pretty badly with the Ardern Gang, that townsfolk were still waiting for the vaccine, and were running out of patience.

“Shut it,” said Whitey. “I got bigger fish to fry.”

She stared into a dark corner of the saloon, where Stunned Muller sat whispering trade secrets to one of the reporters from the Dodge Gazette. He thought no one could see him but what he failed to notice was that Little Snake Kuriger lurked behind him in the shadows, and shone a torch on to the back of his head.


Wolves in the canyons howled at the full moon. But no one could hear them inside the saloon, where Whitey sat on her high horse and screeched at the gang.

“You saw what I done to Old Nick the Smith!”she hollered.

No one said anything.

“Spat him out,” she shrieked, “like a cork!”

The barkeep gave her the bottle of rotgut for her to demonstrate.

She pointed at Stunned Muller and roared, “You can go and join him! Git out of here! Go on, git!”

The gang stomped their feet. “Git,” they chorused. “Git! Git! Git!”

But one member of the gang held his peace. With a deep sigh, Milan Kundera Patrick White Federico Garcia Lorca Dan Brown Bridges dipped his quill into a bottle of ink, and bent his head to the task of writing his masterpiece.



The delegation approached Whitey with more news of the Ardern Gang’s failings and downright incompetence, pointing out that the promises of mental health care for the townsfolk didn’t add up to a hill of beans, that all they’d supplied was five extra beds.

“Shut it,” said Whitey. “I got bigger fish to fry.”

She returned to a stack of invoices and expenses pertaining to newly returned gang member Three-Piece Lounge Suite Hipango.


Stunned Muller settled himself in a velvet armchair in the smoking lounge of the saloon and lit a cigar. He was joined by Evelyn Waugh Gustave Flaubert Robert Louis Stevenson John Grisham Bridges.

“Seems like a mighty fine place to sit and bide my time till I have to git at the next election,” said Stunned Muller, ordering a plate of crackers.

Bridges nodded.


The delegation met in the saloon cellar.

“We ain’t got no choice,” they whispered to each other.

Suddenly they heard a creak on the stairs.

They looked up, and saw the man they were waiting for.

“Howdy,” said Winnie The Really Old But Still Possibly Useful Kid.

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