Eric Kimmel is one of my top 10 favorite writers. I love his adaptations of folktales and his picture books. I found Four Dollars and Fifty Cents hilarious.
Shorty Long (great name, by the way), is a deadbeat cowboy. He never pays his debts and Widow Macrae has had enough. She heads out to collect what’s owed to her and Shorty comes up with what he thinks is a perfect way to get out of paying.
His buddies build a makeshift coffin and he gets in. What could be simpler? Widow Macrae isn’t positive that he’s actually dead so she offers to take the coffin to Boot Hill for burial. She tells Shorty that if he doesn’t move by sun up, she’s going to bury him.
Neither of them expect a gang of train robbers to come to Boot Hill to divide their loot. The train robbers are of a decent sort and decide to cover Shorty’s body, except that the lid of the coffin doesn’t fit on account of Shorty’s long nose. They decide to simply cut it off and Shorty has to sit up and holler that he ain’t that dead.
The train robbers are scared out of their heads and take off leaving Shorty and the Widow with their loot. They turn it in for the reward and Widow Macrae tells Shorty he still owes her four dollars and fifty cents. Of course, the reward money was given in large bills, so Shorty promises to get back to her….
She ain’t ever gonna get that money.