Alferd Packer, aka Alfred,
alias John Schwartze,
earned his claim ta’ infamy
as a mountain guide ta’ greenhorns.
Born in Colorado,
with only a smidge of education,
he grew up rude an’ crude,
an’ all humanity he did scorn.
At first he tried prospectin’,
he survived by eatin’ game,
but skills fer’ findin’ precious metal
had never lived within his brain.
He was good at drinkin’ courage,
he could talk down tenderfeet,
but when push came ta’ shove
he would crack under the strain.
In the early eighteen-seventies,
a miner struck it rich,
which brought a heap a’ dreamers
ta’ the mountains of Utah.
Yet most who came ta’ prospect
were as poor as Packer at it,
they all dreamed of bein’ Big Chiefs,
but they labored like a squaw.
In the Fall of seventy-three
Packer changed his way of thinkin’,
instead of scratchin’ dirt
he would snatch from those who would.
He conned nineteen Eastern lillies
into acceptin’ him as guide,
an’ they set out in a Winter,
at a time when no one should.
It was record breakin’ cold,
an’ the game it went ta’ ground,
so all these would-be miners had
was carried on their backs.
The days turned into weeks,
an’ the weeks they took their toll,
an’ Packer could not perform
like the lies he told in shacks.
When the food ran out the party barked,
an’ Packer acted squirrely;
he was lost, an’ he knew it,
but he wanted his commission.
A stroke of luck while trekking long,
to a friendly tribe they came;
so with a full belly Packer thought
he’d go back ta’ his ambition.
Chief Ouray, with wisdom wrought
from survivin’ many winters,
told the men ta’ turn back now,
or you’ll not survive til Spring.
The prospectin’ party had a parlay,
an’ ten did see the wisdom;
what good is silver, or of gold,
if ta’ life they couldn’t cling?
A loud-mouthed braggert, Packer was,
he mocked the ten fer’ quittin’,
but all he really cared about
was the money he would lose.
Salt Lake City was not an option,
Packer knew he could not go back;
back there his debts were high an’ wide,
an’ this grubstake was all he could use.
So off they tredged within the storm,
ta’ find within a few weeks,
the very same dire consequence
that had made them desparate before.
Then bickerin’ became the norm,
the party it split again,
to the Los Pinos Indian Agency:
the number ta’ go would be four.
The weather was bad,
the directions not good,
only two men ended up where they should:
an’ that’s after days in the blizzard.
They were gaunt, they were stringy,
they looked like Death come a walkin’,
an’ both were so hungry
they’d be happy ta’ eat a lizzard.
Though as bad as it was
it coulda’ been worse,
they coulda’ remained with Packer,
like Swan, Humphreys, Noon, Miller, an’ Bell.
Off in the frozen beyond,
in an’ abandoned trapper’s cabin,
they ate their last meal
an’ laid down ta’ fight the chill.
From nineteen men ta’ five,
Packer saw his profit dwindlin’,
so he swore it was the end,
an’ took action ta’ see it thru.
Single-shots ta’ the heads
of all but Miller,
who awoke from the sounds
an’ arose fer’ a fight.
But alas, he was weak
an’ Packer caved in his skull:
a ghastly sight.
Then thru the pockets
an’ packs he did go,
no food did they have,
just thousands in cash.
Yet that wouldn’t do,
he quickly surmised,
an’ the obvious
came in a flash.
With knife in hand
he cut an’ he sliced,
an’ filled his pack
with meat from the men.
A matter of taste,
man breast was his liking;
he judged it quite good,
as he swallowed his sin.
Though at civilization’s door
he would toss the remainder away,
an’ play the last survivor role
fer’ at least a country minute.
He then spent freely
from what he stole,
an’ the wise began ta’ wonder,
an’ Packer knew he stuck his foot in it.
But the biggest ‘damn’ was yet ta’ come,
indians found them on the way in:
the human jerky he tossed away
this time came ta’ bite him.
The jig was up,
his lies unfold,
he would show the law
where the story turned grim.
Yet even then he tried ta’ lie,
ta’ claim it was self-defense;
but with four in bed, with shots ta’ head,
it easily broke that spell.
We’ll take ya’ back an’ do it right
the law dogs quoted sternly,
but these five souls will never rest
til yer’ shit deep in hell.
© JW Thomas