Stinky Smits Tells It Like It Is

Michael Panush

"I guarantee it!" Stinky shouted to passerby as he stood on a stacked crate on the busiest corner of Dodge City, his arms flailing in the silken sleeves of his embroidered white suit. "A winner in every couple of soap bars!" He was a thin man, looking dapper in his tailored suit and tie with a matching bowler hat resting on his head. A thick beard covered the underside of his face, and a pair of spectacles rested on his nose.

Stinky held out an ivory bar, glistening pale in the Western sun. "Yes, sir!" Stinky continued his speech as small crowd gathered in front of him. "Find the ticket hidden in every couple of soap bars and I'll give you fifty US dollars, prime currency, out of my own pocket! I tell it like it is, boys and if you want soap that will keep you nice and clean for the ladies and pay for your next meal, then get yourself some from Stinky Smits!"

A large crowd had gathered now, enticed by the soap lottery. Stinky had played his cards better than a master cardsharp, and he had more of a payment coming than any dealer of Faro. Now all that was needed to be done was to give the crowd a little confidence.

"Now ain't that a load of bullshit!" a brawny fellow with a fringed buckskin jacket and a feathered broad brimmed hat shouted, parting the crowd with his enraged bulk. "You're trying to sucker these greenhorns, Stinky!" The broad-shouldered man moved to the front of the crowd.

"What's your name, stranger?" Stinky asked, doffing his hat. His grin, already two miles wide, seemed only to get bigger.

"Folks call me Honest Ned," the stranger explained. "And I bet there ain't one damn ticket in any of them bars of soap!" He pulled out a dollar, handing the crisp bill to Stinky Smits. "I'll buy a soap bar just to prove you wrong."

Stinky's smile never wavered. He took the dollar and handed Honest Ned a bar of soap.

Ned broke it with one hand and gasped. A silver ticket peeked out from inside the crumbling soap. "Well, I'll be a goddamn red injun!" Ned exclaimed. "Gimme fifty bucks, Stinky, here's the ticket."

Dutifully, Stinky Smits took the ticket and handed a roll of bills to Honest Ned. "Ain't that something!" Ned proclaimed to the crowd. "Hell, if I can win, I reckon any poor son of a bitch can!"

Stinky reached a hand into the barrel and pulled out another bar of soap. "Anyone else want to buy some of Stinky Smits's Miracle Soap?"

The crowd surged forward eagerly, quickly buying every bar of soap Stinky had brought. Strangely, there was not a single ticket in any of the soap bars, but before the townsfolk could realize the swindle, Stinky and Honest Ned had both rode far out of a town. They headed to a secluded cavern out in the hills, where they could split the money in peace and quiet.

The American West was a land of bountiful resources, especially of the sucker variety.