Excerpt from The Bone Haus Chronicles
Journal entry by Hans Von Biermann
Dusty Ballyman is a con’s con, the ultimate flim-flam man, who can turn a no-sale into a fulfillment of the unknowing patsy’s desire. Beyond reproach with a high level of intelligence, he has the uncanny skill of finding the angle, the edge, in any situation to advance the odds into his success, however that is defined for him at the time. Typically a man of his skills is not to be trusted but Dusty has proven to be immensely loyal to me, perhaps because I saved him from certain doom. Alas, that is a story for another time and if you are not me, you might have to keep your eye on Dusty and without doubt should you cross him.
Dusty has helped me try to find clues of my uncle, Jacob Waltz, and his whereabouts from time to time. In his latest tale of adventure, en route to a sleepy settlement east of Phoenix in search of clues to my uncle’s lost mine, Dusty encountered a strange fellow just off the trail. He had his head down inspecting the ground beneath him, a notebook in his hand, and was completely oblivious to Dusty’s arrival to the area. Dusty slowed his steed and eyed the man and the surrounding area, ever mindful of threats and traps. Dusty placed his right hand into his vest and lay it upon his six-shooter ready for any misgivings that might occur. As he dismounted his horse, he called out to the man but the man still did not look up or even acknowledge him. As Dusty approached, he drew his gun from his vest, taking no chances, still questioning why a man is looking at the ground in the middle of nowhere, not even aware of his potentially dangerous surroundings. He called out again and the strange man roared up in surprise and stumbled back a few steps.
The man straightened up, shook off the startle and greeted Dusty nervously but in a kind manner. After some somewhat reserved introductions, Dusty learned that the strange man was one Dr. George Engelmann, a somewhat famous botanist apparently in some prestigious academic circles. He was studying the flora of the Sonoran desert and was oddly traveling alone, seemingly unaware of the dangers of the land. Dr. Engelmann explained that he was logging the seasonality of the cacti in the area to get a better understanding of what this desert was “willing to provide mankind”. Ever sensing an opportunity, Dusty implored him to divulge about what good these cacti could possibly do for mankind. Dr. Engelmann then went into quite a dissertation about the benefits of the prickly pear fruit and paddles - a potential remedy to stomach ailments, a good source of fibrous food in a pinch, good for reducing pains of imbibing too much, and though somewhat sour to the taste, good for your digestion. That was all Dusty needed to spawn some new opportunities. He concocted the idea to craft and sell an elixir simply made of prickly pear fruit juice and water as a remedy to anyone for anything that might be ailing them. It was, of course, a bit of snake oil but snake oil sells in this part of the world and this prickly pear juice could even be more exotic than that. So at some point, I see creating a new ale based on that prickly pear. Maybe it too will be a remedy for whatever might ail you.