By Jo


It had all started innocuously enough. Ben liked that word, innocuously.



At first, there had been just that single butterfly. A small innocuous blue one, fluttering near his left ocular orb.



But it...stayed. It never left him. He'd close his lids, hoping when he'd open would be gone.

Innocuous as it was, it began to irritate him.



Then it all got worse. Much worse. Much, much.



From that day onwards, he was never butterflyless. Never.



It was really starting to aggravate him. Really. A lot.



They were everywhere. Simply everywhere.



He began to think...unpleasant...thoughts, thoughts involving the use of forks.



No place was too sacred for a butterfly to invade.



His patience was at an end. A total, absolute, end.



Cleverly, he led them out of town, way out, out into the most innocuous portion of the desert he could think of.



And there, yes, there he began his deadly process of butterflyicide.



He tracked them mercilessly across Arizona, through Iowa and Maine, then back to Arizona again.



No butterfly was safe from his dreadly depredations.



He'd thought, truly he had, he'd eliminated them all. He was wrong.



Stage coach marauding was never the same after that. The butterfly hordes wanted vengeance and

they wanted it in this life...and probably the next. Ben would wait for the stage, knowing inevitably

the patter of little wings would not be far behind.



Not even allowing him the grace of murder and mayhem, they would fly ahead...



And by the time Ben would arrive, they had already flipped it and taken the payroll.



"Go from this place!" he cried, eyeing one of the ringleaders, who merely laughed, frustrating our

Benjamin in a completely not innocuous manner.



Ben ran for his horse, hoping to outwit, out last, out ride the outlaw butterflies.



Back in his second-floor room above the nearest brothel, he looked carefully out the window.

Yes, they had followed him, damn their little black hearts, but he would close the window and

not one of them would get inside!



It wasn't until he lay down that he realized how wrong he'd been.



He tried to catch it, intending to squish the life from it with his bare hands if necessary.



But, alas, he discovered there his room.



Many more. Many.



His gloves were not safe...



...nor was his beloved hat.



Thoughtfully plucking butterflies off its crown, he knew he needed reinforcements.



Life had become unbearable.



"Why?" he asked. "Why, why, WHY?"



But not one of them would answer him.



So he sat, waiting for the Butterfly Bounty Hunter to arrive.



"You hold them at bay," Ben said, "while I climb out the window and make my escape to the train."



But they knew he was trying to escape. Butterflies always know.



Desperately, he tried to elude them.



Alas, in vain.



His gun was useless to him now...ever since it had been butterflied so thoroughly.



They came at him from everywhere, imported into town in large barrels.



But he would make it to the train. He HAD to!



Flinging himself down inside the tiny depot, he waited, tense, his heart pounding.



When the 4:75 to Pittsburgh arrived, he dashed into the people cage, slammed the grate, and glared back at them,

fluttering outside, unable to enter.



He would fool them. He would fool them ALL. He'd ride the train out of town, then whistle for his innocuous horse.



But butterflies know. Always.