Jump to content
SASS Wire Forum
Sign in to follow this  
Charlie MacNeil, SASS #48580

Firelands-The Beginning

Recommended Posts

Linn Keller 9-24-07

Jackson Cooper set down beside me, and the man was troubled, but not like I'd ever seen before.
"Sheriff," he said, "I need your advice." He was handling his hat nervously, like he wanted to roll it up into a sausage, but it was a new hat, and he was trying to keep it presentable.
Across the floor, Emma smiled shyly, and thanked the red-shirted fireman that cleared her table, and the fireman smiled at the gentleness of her reply.
Esther listened carefully as Jackson Cooper spoke. She'd been impressed by his gentlemanly conduct the first night he came into the Jewel, and especially when he took pains to speak with her as he did.
"Sheriff," he said finally, "I want to do the right thing here."
Several possibilities as to the reason for this "right thing" came to mind, but I honestly didn't think of what he spoke next.
"Sheriff, I'd like your blessing on Emma and I getting married."
Emma's hand was gentle on mine and I heard her sharp intake of breath. I turned, and her hand was to her mouth, an expression of utter delight on her face.
"Jackson," I said, "when a man meets the right woman he is perfectly in the right to ask for her hand. How does she feel about the notion?"
Jackson Cooper looked over at the diminutive schoolmarm and smiled, and his expression was ... well, it was tender, and that's something I never, ever thought I'd see on this hard-bit face.
Jackson Cooper had been badly and harshly treated, and I would have understood if he'd become an embittered old hermit, or even a murdering outlaw. From all that had been done to him, a man could harbor an immense load of good old fashioned anger, and when that happens, more often than not, a man is going to lash out and explode.
Jackson Cooper hadn't.
I looked the man square in the eye.
"Are your intentions toward the woman honorable?" I asked, as if I were a father, or an older brother.
"Yes, sir, they are!" he replied, with absolutely no doubt either in his voice or in his eyes.
"Can you support this woman in the style to which she has become accustomed?"
He looked over at her, and his shoulders sagged a little.
"No," he whispered. "Not to what she's used to."
I laid a hand on his shoulder. "She's a schoolmarm," I reminded him gently, "and she has a farm she can't run herself. She can't muck out stalls and fix fence and feed livestock. Strikes me she needs more than what a hired hand could offer."
I wasn't quite sure how to read his expression. His bottom jaw thrust out, and he looked down to the table top, and he was thinking pretty hard.
"I've got some saved back," he said finally. "Believe I could make a living."
"Would you like me to talk to her?" I said finally.
Jackson Cooper looked back up at me. "I would," he said simply.
Esther laid her hand on my arm. "Let me go first," she said quietly.
I've no idea what she said when she went over and talked to Miz Emma. She never did say.
When she came back, I went over, and asked Jackson Cooper to come over with me. I won't talk about a man behind his back, and what I have to say about him deserves to be said to his face, for good or for ill.
In his case, it was not for ill.
"Miz Emma," I said, "Jackson Cooper has asked me a question that is usually asked a father, or an older brother, or the head of household."
Miz Emma's eyes were shining, and she looked a little afraid, almost, but she sat right there, and her hand went to Jackson Cooper's. She composed herself and sat up straighter. "Yes, Sheriff," she said politely.
"I give my blessing on this man asking you what he will," I said. "You deserve to know about him."
I told her how I'd met him, years before, back in the Athens County coal country: how we'd worked together, and laughed together, and got in trouble together, how we'd raided bee trees and cut locust posts for the mines, just before I took the deputy marshal's position and then became town marshal. I told her how there had been a killin', and then a robbery, and how the murderer was supposed to be a big man, and Jackson Cooper had wrongly been tagged with the crime.
I'd had to go after him, and I caught up with him, and we were talking, quietly, behind a barn near Sedalia, north of Chauncey, on the crest of Walnut Hill.
"I have to take you in, Jackson," I said. "I am sorry, but the warrant is written, and if I don't take you in alive, someone's going to take you in dead."
Jackson had shaken his head and he put his hand on the big knife he carried. "Nope," he said, "I didn't do it, I won't stand to be accused of it, I ain't goin'."
"Jackson," I'd pleaded with him, "I can keep you alive. If you run I can't."
"I thank you for that," he said gravely, "but I'll not be taken." He thrust out his hand. "I'm headed West, far West. Don't believe I'll see you again."
I took his hand. "I regret that," I said.
"So do I."
About then someone took a shot at him and the bullet hit the white oak boards between us. Jackson pulled a revolver from the middle of his back and fired three quick shots in reply, and sprinted into the darkness, and there was the gallop of hooves, and he was gone.
Emma Jones was listening closely, her lips parted a little, squeezing Jackson's hand hard enough to run the blood out of her already pale knuckles.
"He was caught up with, just shy of the Mississippi," I said, "and convicted on a false accusation. He spent time in prison for what he didn't do. I was able to swear before a Federal judge that I had caught the actual murderer, I provided the court records where the murderer had been convicted, and the executioner's report where he'd been hanged, but it didn't help. Wasn't until they changed Presidents that I got a judge that would listen to me.
"I got Jackson out of the pen but by then he was a hard man. Who wouldn't be? Locked up for something he hadn't done, nobody believed him, and now stained with the name of an ex-convict."
"He didn't do those things? Oh, my dear!" she murmured, and I thought she was going to cry.
"That was a long time ago," Jackson Cooper rumbled gently.
Emma shook her head and looked absolutely miserable. "Take me home," she whispered. "Please take me home!"
They stood.
"Miz Emma?" I said, and they stopped, Miz Emma clinging to Jackson Cooper and looking like she'd lost her best friend.
"Miz Emma, Jackson Cooper is one of the deadliest gunfighters I have ever known. He is a blooded killer. He is also the most honest and honorable man I've ever known. I have never, ever known him to lie, and every man he killed, came after him first, and had he not killed them, they would surely have murdered him, back shot him, ambushed him or otherwise killed him in cold blood. What he did, he had to do, and I find no fault in him."
Emma Jones bit her lower lip and leaned her head against Jackson's flat belly.
"You have my blessing," I said.
Jackson's lips were pressed hard together, and he nodded, and offered his hand.
I taken it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sweet Violet 9-24-07

 

Sitting on the seat of the buck board, Emma felt numb. She looked over at Jackson and he suddenly looked much older than his years and haunted. Haunted by his past that had come back to him and stared him long and hard in the face. Taunting him, ridiculing him.

He had been silent as he gently helped her into the wagon. And silent he remained, giving her time to sort out what she had just learned, hoping against hope that she would see in him the same things that May and Herbert had seen. Silently willing her to trust him.

A war was now raging in Emma's mind.

"He has killed men."

"But those men would have killed him."

"He has been in prison."

"But he was falsely accused."

Then her heart took over. She sat there next to this man who had taken the lives of men who would have taken his life, but cared for her Aunt and Uncle asking nothing in return. Had been falsely and injuriously accused of murder and robbery, and now longed to be trusted, loved, and accepted again. Had been inprisoned and wore the brand of ex-convict, but quoted Shakespeare to her in front of a room full of people. She smiled to herself at this thought. An ex-convict and an ex-society lady. What a couple they were.

She had witnessed first hand the hypocracy of those with whom she was acquainted in Boston, her Father being one of them. How they said one thing and did another all the while only trying to better themselves or build their tiny empires up. They had no honor. What they did to others, they did first and they did on purpose.

Jackson was different. What had happened had been done to him. He had had the chance to make a different life for himself. One of murdering, drinking, and yes, the thought crossed her mind, whoring. But he hadn't gone that route. He chose the side of valor. Jackson Cooper was worth 100 of those she left behind in Boston.

Peace stole over her whole being. She knew without a doubt that she could trust Jackson Cooper with her life and heart. And very startling came a sudden and overwhelming desire to show him love and mend the heart that had been hurt by so many for so long.

Emma scooted a little closer to him, removed her glove and gently slid her hand in the crook of his arm. She could feel the shudder of his sigh of relief as she turned her face to him and smiled.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mr. Box 9-24-07

 

The party was pretty well wrapped up and the cleanup was well under way, thanks to the Irish fire brigade. I decided to try that tequila Miss Duzy was fond of. Afterall she could just toss it down like water so it couldn't be too bad. I poured myself a shot and dumped it in my mouth and swallowed quick. I slammed my eyes shut, shook my head, popped my eyes back open, and gasped for a breath, all in about a second! My ears were on fire! Sean said "Ye got a wee proplem, Laddie?"
I pushed the bottle toward him and asked, "Have you tried any of this stuff? It's got a kick like a mule!"
"No, Laddie, I cannot say as I have."
I gave him a shot glass, "Try it if you dare. Miss Duzy can slug this stuff down and not bat an eye."
Sean poured himself a mansized shot. "Down the hatch." The next sound I heard was more like a war whoop and the rest of the fire brigade was coming at a dead run! They were wide eyed and looking puzzled. I just set five more shot glasses up on the bar. I poured them all full. They hoisted them all at the same time. I just put my fingers in my ears! After they caught their breaths they all went back to cleaning up. Occasionally I'd see one of them shake his head.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lady Leigh 9-24-07

 

"How's Sarah?" Bonnie had just closed the door seeing that she, and Dawg, were resting for the night.

"Asleep ..."

"Bonnie? You probably made Liam rather upset, you know ...."

"I know ...."

"He'll question you further."

"Tomorrow is another day, Caleb. He won't before then. Besides, the way I see it, if Liam was an honest man, he would have sought me out before tonight. If he was an honest man, he would have informed me he was coming. If he was an honest man, he wouldn't be seen with the likes of that Clara woman."

"I know exactly what you mean, Bonnie! Hopefully there will be responses to the telegrams tomorrow ... that is sure to help."

Caleb looked over at Bonnie, thinking, not for the first time that night, how beautiful she was. God, how he cared for her!
*
*
*
*
Liam was on his way to his boz car, walking very hurriedly, "Games! Games?? Well, cousin dear, I guess we will play games! Father was right, you probably will be a handfull!"

Just before walking into the box car, Liam paused. "I need a Lawyer, he thought. "All lawyers can be bought with the right price ...."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Duzy Wales 9-24-07

 

What Fred Baxter and the Irishmen didn't know was Duzy was standing at the top of the stairs listening. She smiled to herself. Yes, it was true, Duzy loved tequila, especially after one of her dreams. She had been having the dreams since a child and could remember taking a drink of her Papa's or Aunt Esthers' "moonshine" or apple brandy to calm her nerves after the dreams. She had always heard it was for "medicinal purposes." It had seemed to be the only thing that would help to stop the shakes and allow her to go back to sleep without fear. She had never heard her Papa or Aunt Esther say a word about it and didn't know if they knew; they had never spoken of it to her, so she surmised that if they did know, that they understood.

Now her choice was tequila, and yes, she could drink it without the effect it was having on these grown men! She watched silently, amused as each man made a silly face after each shot! Duzy usually limited her alcohol use for just that purpose, as she tried to keep a clear head, to learn from her sixth sense. After watching for a few more minutes, she thought it was probable that she could out drink either of these men, but sleep was what she needed and she turned to walk to her room, hoping it would be a dreamless night.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 9-24-07

 

The horse drew them easily at a walk, and the moonlit night was filled with the sound of quiet hoof-falls, and trace chains, and the insects of early fall.
Emma's hand was warm on Jackson Cooper's arm, and it had not escaped his notice that she'd taken off her glove before taking his arm.
As much as he enjoyed the ride, he was equally tormented. Every word the Sheriff had spoken had been true, true! He was a skilled gunfighter, and he had killed, and not just once, and not always with guns. What he'd done was simple survival: he was not particularly proud of having killed, but if he intended to continue breathing, he had it to do, and he did it.
Now he shared the upholstered buggy seat with a fine woman, someone with whom he had actually fallen in love. Love! He almost snorted. Once he'd considered it a weakness, a liability, something a man running could not afford, a vulnerability a wanted man could not risk.
Now?
He looked down at the top of her head, leaned against his upper arm, and considered how fragile, how delicate she looked.
Can I love this woman, he asked himself, without destroying her?
He thought of Herbert. He'd come to love that gentle old man and his methodical ways.
He hadn't destroyed Herbert.
He'd come to love May, bless her sweet old heart, and he had not destroyed her either.
The horse knew to stop in front of the house, as it had many times before.
Jackson Cooper set the hand brake and climbed out of his side, and came around to help Emma out. Emma put her arms out and smiled, and he put his big hands under her arms and lifted her out, easily, like a doll, and spun her about, in the moonlight, and she was laughing, and there was delight in her face.
They walked to the front porch together, silent; her hand was still on his arm, and his hand was warm on hers.
They stopped at the front step.
Jackson Cooper took off his hat, and went to one knee, holding her hand.
"Emma," he said, "every word the Sheriff spoke was true. I am a bad man. I have done everything he's said, and more, but every man I killed had it comin', and I looked every one of them in the eye when I did." He swallowed hard. "You are a refined lady, and if you don't want a thing to do with me from now on I will understand, but I must speak my heart."
Emma's heart was in her throat, and her ears were pounding. She felt faint, as if he might leave, and she would be alone, alone with a thousand memories of how happy she used to be, here, and she would have nothing ...
"Marry me, Emma."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 9-24-07

 

I saw Esther to her room, and I kissed her hand at the door, and bade her good-night.
Miz Fannie had given her back the envelope containing the railroad documents. Tomorrow would see them safely locked away; tonight they would be secure enough with her.
I didn't know for sure, but I suspected she didn't sleep alone. Like most women of the era, I thought, she probably has a trusted friend who could argue loudly and powerfully on her behalf in time of need. I learned later that I was right, she kept a Smith & Wesson revolver in easy reach, generally under her pillow, and when awake it was never more than arm's length from her, though never obvious.
I turned and went back down the stairs.
Ruby's Room was returning to normal, cleanup was nearly complete; Mr. Box was drying his carefully-tended mahogany after its final cleaning. He winked at me and asked if he could get me anything.
I looked back up the stairs. Miz Duzy smiled and waved, and I smiled and waved back.
"Miz Duzy?" Mr. Baxter asked, and I said yes.
"Fine looking woman, that one," he smiled, leaning down to catch the light reflecting off the mahogany, then vigorously buffing something I could not even see.
"She is that," I agreed, "and every bit of her a lady!"
"She'll make a fine catch, she will." He turned his polishing-cloth over and applied it vigorously to a stubborn, invisible something on the bar's top.
"Reckon so."
"Given thought to your new house, Sheriff?" He stepped back, shifting his head back and forth, frowning a little; satisfied, he moved a few feet to the left and began working on another spot.
"Been thinking on it, Mr. Baxter," I said, "been thinking on it quite a bit."
"You do that," Mr. Baxter said, dipping his hand in the water bucket and wetting the top of the bar, scrubbing at a half-dried something I could barely see. "It's much easier to change things while you're still planning them than after you've built!" He folded the polishing cloth, tucked it in his apron and pulled out a beer mug. "Step over there, if you could, please, Sheriff? I'm going to slide this to find any sticky spots."
I moved to the end of the bar.
Mr. Baxter gave a gentle shove, and the glass mug sailed smoothly about two-thirds of the way down, and spun, sliding toward the edge.
"Thought so," Mr. Baxter muttered, and bending down to reflect light off the suspect area, pulled the cloth from his belt, put the cleanest side down, and applied his efforts with renewed vigor. He would have a perfect bar-top, as it was a thing he took pride in.
"Reckon I'll head back over to the office," I said. "Need a hand with anything before I go?"
"No, don't believe so, Sheriff." He ran a hand over the offending area, satisfied. "You get good rest now. Let me know when you two set the date."
"I'll do that. Good night."
"Sheriff?" Miz Duzy called quietly from the top of the stairs.
I stopped, hat in my hand, and put one foot up on the bottom stair.
Miz Duzy had changed into soft slippers, and her tread was silent as she came down the stairs.
I smiled. "The man was right," I said softly. "You are a fine looking woman."
Miz Duzy laughed, and her laugh was like running water. She straightened my neck tie and tugged at the lapels of my coat. "You clean up pretty well for an old lawman." She tilted her head a little to the side. "Thank you, Sheriff. Esther is so very happy, and I am too!"
I know my expression was a little troubled. "Duzy, will she be happy with an old lawman like me?"
Duzy was honestly startled. "What??"
"Esther is a sophisticated woman from back East. I don't want to disappoint her!"
Duzy laid a hand on my shoulder and gave me what I can only call a "Schoolmarm Look" -- if she'd been wearing spectacles, she would have been looking over top of them -- "Sheriff, if she didn't think she would be happy, she would never have said yes. If she didn't think she would be happy, she would never have ridden into town ready to take on the entire Royal Navy single handedly when she heard you'd been shot!"
I started to say something and Duzy laid a silencing finger on my lips.
"You listen to me, you gray haired old badge packer!" Daisy hissed. "You are a good man. You are noble and honorable and decent, and you are more than head and shoulders above those soft and two-faced sorts back East! Now I don't want to hear any more about not being worthy!"
She tried to hold a serious face.
She couldn't.
Watching her smile bloom was like watching a sunrise, and her laugh was infectious, and she hugged me and kissed me on the cheek.
"You've made my Aunt Esther a happy woman, Sheriff."
I was very glad to hear it.
I know, tonight, Esther had made me a very happy man!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 9-24-07

 

The clerk listened to the nighttime sounds of the New York street with callused inattention. He was concentrating on finding one particular message. He would have ignored it, like he usually did, until he read the words NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT.
Riffling through the record-book's pages, he found the date, ran his finger down a column; moved his neatly-trimmed fingernail along the line.
"7432," he read, and picked up another book.
Another page, another column; no, not here ... another book, and he found it.
He read the sender's name and pursed his lips in a soundless whistle.
This could be worth a coin in his pocket, he thought, and began to copy the original message.
He double-checked an adjacent column, and it was blank.
It had never been received and acknowledged.
Checking his work one last time, he took the slip to the duty telegrapher and asked him to send this one right away.
The telegrapher wrapped thumb and forefinger around the button on the end of the key and began sending:
TO SHERIFF, FIRELANDS, COLORADO TERRITORY.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 9-24-07

 

Clara snarled into the ball of cloth that filled her mouth.
Liam's coat was draped over a chair; he'd changed crops twice, and had just worked up a light sweat with a third.
He traced a finger along Clara's jaw line, and kissed her bottom lip.
Clara growled and twisted in her irons.
"You seem distressed, my dear," Liam said soothingly. "I think you are unhappy."
Clara's clawed fingers snatched at the air, high above her head.
"I think I can make you happier." He blew a long, soft breath into her ear.
Clara's eyes rolled back in her head and she twisted, vainly trying to get free.
"You remember the Wales woman."
Her eyes snapped wide open and she froze, suddenly intent.
"I see you know her." Liam tapped his chin with the end of the crop.
"I understand she is the very, very good friend of this Fannie Kikinshoot you love so well."
Clara convulsed in her restraints, fairly screaming her rage into the silencing cloth gag.
Liam stroked her cheek with a fingertip. "How would you like to hurt them both?"
Clara half-lidded her eyes and made a purring sound.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mr. Box 9-24-07

 

"Mighty fine doin's, Miss Duzy. Looked like everyone had a great time."
"Yes indead." she replied.
"I sure don't like the looks of that McKenna feller. I didn't get to watch him as much as I wanted to. That blonde gal looks like trouble, too."
"Yes Fred, I'm sure you're right."
"Good night, Miss Duzy"
"Good night."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 9-24-07

 

"Sir?"
"Yes, Jacob?"
Jacob hung his suit carefully, tweaking out the wrinkles. "Sir, I never had a suit before."
I was shaking the wrinkles out of my own. "What do you think of it?"
Jacob grinned. "I like it fine, sir. I'd like to wear it again."
"And I intend that you shall." I hung my own up, beside his, on the adjacent peg.
"When will you be married, sir?"
I looked at Jacob. He'd been a boy when Sopris sent him with a note in hand, and like most Western boys, manhood was coming quick. He'd grown since I'd first laid eyes on him, and his speech, never really juvenile, was ... well, mature.
I reckon he's been keeping company with Charlie. Boys tend to pick up a man's habits.
"I don't rightly know, Jacob." I took a deep breath, sighed it out. "I would like soon, but it's polite to let the woman have a say in the matter."
"Yes, sir."
Jacob turned toward his cot, turned back. "Sir?"
"Yes, Jacob?"
"Sir, I was out to the graveyard today, before all the celebration started." He smiled, a little, remembering. "I wanted Miriam to see me in my new suit." He looked up at me. "There's a stone on her grave, sir. A proper marker."
I nodded.
"You had a hand in that, sir?"
"Seemed the right thing to do."
Jacob was silent for a long moment, then: "Thank you, sir."
I laid a hand on Jacob's shoulder. "Kindness is never wasted, Jacob. I can do nothing for Miriam. She is far beyond our poor powers to help or to harm. The stone is for you."
"Sir?"
"Was there no stone, the earth would settle a bit, and smooth over. Grass would grow on it, and wild flowers, and in time it would look like undisturbed prairie. Because it is fenced, and her plot is marked, she will never be forgotten."
Jacob considered this.
"You knew I would not want to forget her."
I nodded.
Jacob was silent for a long moment, then: "Thank you, sir. I appreciate that."
We looked at the cots.
"Jacob, how would you like to sleep in a real bed?"
Jacob looked troubled. "Sir, I've not slept in a regular bed since ... well, since I left ..." His voice trailed off, remembering.
"Jacob, I had to learn many hard lessons in my life," I said, walking back over to him and putting both my hands on his shoulders. "One that I learned just yesterday or so was, you are worth it!"
"Sir?"
"Look around, Jacob. The jailhouse is no place for a man's bedroom. Let's fold up these cots and get us a decent bed over at the hotel. Folks have pretty well emptied out, I reckon they'll have two empty rooms we can have." I grinned. "Just think, you'll not have to walk near as far to get to Daisy's good cookin'!"
Jacob grinned real broad at that one. "Yes, sir!"
I wrote out a note, left it propped up on the desk so Charlie could see it when he came in:
Charlie -- we're sleeping in the hotel -- might as well have a comfortable bed for a change, come on over, town's paying for it -- Linn
We folded the cots and stacked them in back, folded the blankets, tucked them under our arms, and headed over to the hotel.
We both carried our Winchesters.
Matter of habit, you understand.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Charlie MacNeil 9-25-07

 

Charlie had left the party before the dancing was done. His side ached and he wanted to lay down, but once he got to the jail and shucked his suit coat he couldn't stay still. He started to pull off his boots then decided not to. He was restless and didn't know why. And for a minute he thought he could smell roses in the jail office.

Charlie shook his head at that. "You're just gettin' old, and smellin' things that ain't there," he told himself. But that smell, imagined or not, got him to his feet. He pushed himself up and slipped the Remington from its holster and checked the loads, just out of habit. He started to reach for his other belt, the one with the full-sized shooter hanging on it, then pulled his hand back. "You aren't gonna need that one," he told himself. He dropped a handful of cartridges in the pocket of his sheepskin coat and shrugged into it. He seemed to get cold easier lately, and it was late in the night. He put on his hat and went out to make the rounds of the town.

Charlie eased through the shadows, favoring his side and taking his time. He saw Miss Duzy and Jake leave the hotel and start walking, and smiled. There was a heaven-sent match if ever there was one. He'd been wondering how long it would take Miss Duzy to realize it. Jake had told him why he'd left Firelands, so he knew how Jake felt early on but he hadn't been sure about Miss Duzy, especially when he'd seen her cozying up to Liam Mckenna. Now there didn't seem to be a doubt, especially after the way Miss Duzy had looked at Clara when she put on her big show with Jake. If looks could kill, that woman would have been burned to a crisp.

When Liam McKenna drifted down to the train yard and his private car, Charlie followed. A nearby cattle chute let him get up high enough to see in the windows of the car through some gaps in the draperies. He expected to see some interesting sights, and he wasn't disappointed. While he watched, McKenna opened a closet that seemed to be a little more stoutly built than normal, especially considering the bars on the inside. Now that was interesting. Why would a purported gentleman such as McKenna need something that sure appeared to be a jail cell in his private car? Charlie made himself as comfortable as he could against the rails of the side of the chute.

McKenna reached into the "closet" and brought out two sets of shackles. One of them he attached to some sort of rings in the ceiling of the car, the other he draped over a nearby chair. Then he poured himself a drink and sat down with an expectant look on his face.

It wasn't long before Clara appeared. She was scurrying from shadow to shadow, looking back over her shoulder quite often to see if she was being followed. "The guilty flee where no man pursueth" ran through Charlie’s mind as he watched her almost scuttle up to the rail car and tap on the door. McKenna stood and let her in then locked the door behind her.

"You're late," McKenna snapped. His voice came clearly through a slightly open window.

"I had to wait," Clara whined. "You said not to follow too close."

"Never mind, just get your clothes off," McKenna told her. Clara quickly stripped down to her stockings with a look of anticipation on her face. She stepped to where the shackles were attached to the ceiling and lifted her wrists. She was soon shackled to the ceiling and her lush body was stretched to its limits. What followed was so sickening that Charlie knew that something had to be done about getting those two out of town. That sort of depravity did not belong in Firelands.

After only a minute or so Charlie made his way down the cattle chute and back to the jail. He found Linn's note but he elected to stay at the jail, now that he was there. He sat heavily on his cot and worked his boots off then pulled off his gunbelt and draped it over his boots before laying down with his coat on. The fire had gone out and he didn't feel like rebuilding it tonight. He pulled a blanket up over his feet and legs and lay back. He had a lot to think about and he had to figure out the best way to tell Linn what he'd seen. Somewhere along the way he fell asleep.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 9-25-07

 

A burst of light, dirty, boiling and sulfurous.
Sound beyond sound, more felt that heard, a concussion that slammed his ears like a pair of giant's hands and kicked him in the chest.
Numbness, then pain ...
Strong hands getting him into the saddle, reins pressed into his hands, a smack, and the chestnut surged under him.
Pain, blinding pain.
The night air helped. Hat long lost to the passing wind.
It was hard to breathe.
Blood ... blood ...

Paralyzed, the Sheriff shivered, a little, and a quiet sound of pain escaped his tightening throat. His hands crushed the bedsheet, trembled.
She came to me for help,he heard his own voice say, and her gentle eyes regarded him, from a great distance.
It was not your fault.
Tears leaked out of his closed eye lids and ran back into his ears.
The Sheriff rolled over and curled into a ball, right elbow pressed hard against his scarred ribs.
Outside, not far from the church, a shadow flowed through the dark and stopped beside a new tomb stone, pointed its great furry muzzle to the cold, full, uncaring moon overhead.
Dawg drew a great breath and huffed once or twice, his breath coming as great puffs of steam in the silver moonlight.
He began a howl somewhere about the root of his tail, a mournful sound, a song of grief for every lost soul, every lost love, driven out his great lungs through the focus of his muzzle, shaped by his wild throat and given song by the darkness he felt swirling around him.
He howled once, one, long, grief-filled note, a note that silenced the shrill song of coyote that usually serenaded the night. One deep song of mourning, forged in one, long, single howl, hanging in the eternity between earth and sky, and then his shadow flowed back toward town, past the Tree of Truth, past the truncated stone with a single rose laying on its smoothed top.
As if in response to Dawg's deep-throated howl, the full moon began to turn red, as if being washed over with blood.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 9-25-07

 

Daisy slipped out of bed, gently, so as not to disturb Sean. The great Irishman's arm came over to the warm spot where she'd lain just a moment before, and she saw him smile in his sleep.
She wrapped the robe around her, stepped into her slippers, opened the door, slipped out into the hall.
Duzy was just coming out her door, also in robe and slippers.
Neither spoke; each accepted the other's presence.
They made their silent way downstairs.
The staircase, where they'd floated in gowns and celebration, did not even squeak under the soft soles of their nighttime slippers; it seemed smaller, somehow, here in the darkness, without the lights, and the excitement, and the celebration of the evening before.
They made their way into the kitchen. Moonlight streamed in the window; there was no need for a lamp.
The stove was still warm, its glowing heart had been banked against the coming morning, and Daisy quickly, skilfully coaxed it into life. Water was heated, the tea set out; still having uttered not one word, the two fixed themselves tea, and sat comfortably in the nighttime kitchen.
"I dreamed--" each spoke, then both giggled.
"You go first."
"No, you!"
They sipped their tea. Daisy added honey to hers, stirred it carefully to keep from dinging her spoon and shattering the fragile night with its sound. She sipped, made a small sound of satisfaction.
Duzy laid her fingers on Daisy's wrist. "Listen!"
Not far away, a single, long, mournful note, deeper than any coyote, or even a wolf.
Daisy shivered and crossed herself, whispering the name of St. Florian, patron saint of firefighters, and looked out the window.
It was her turn to reach for Duzy's wrist.
Duzy's gaze followed Daisy's.
"Blood on the moon," Daisy whispered, and shivered.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sweet Violet 9-25-07

 

Emma shivered in the cool night air as she looked down into the questioning eyes of Jackson. He had just asked her to marry him! There was hope and fear written all over his face. A face that to her, was the most handsome she had ever seen.

The emotions on Jackson's face were quite different from the ones that played over the face of the last man who had asked her to marry him. That face belonged to Richard Johnathon Edwards the Third. It was back in Boston in the drawing room of her Father's house.

He had been an acquaintance of her Father's and had wanted the betrothal only as a way to further himself, assuring the place in society that he had made for himself would forever remain his. Emma's Father accepted Richard's proposal for her.

Richard reminded her of a weasel, not only because of his greasy looks but because of his actions. He had weaseled his way into their home and was now attempting to weasel his way into their family. Not long after the engagement was made public, the gossiping tongues started wagging. Richard Johnathon Edwards the Third was a skirt chaser and had more that one steady mistress. When Emma approached him about the subject, he just smiled his greasy smile and said, "Get used to it my dear, for such will be your lot in life."

One month before the elaborate and costly wedding, Emma's Father was arrested for embezzling money from the company he worked for. The scandal was widely publicized and rocked the very foundation of Emma's life. But one good thing came of it. Richard Johnathon Edwards the Third, decided he didn't want to marry Emma.

Now here she stood, outside the house of her Aunt and Uncle, in the wild west town of Firelands, Colorado, in the cool night air, looking down into the face of an ex-convict who had captured her heart. He didn't want her for a place in society, for connections, for money. He wanted her because she was Emma Jones, school marm.

She reached down with her other hand, lovingly caressed his cheek, and smiled, her heart thrilling at the words that spilled from her lips.

"Yes, Jackson Cooper. I will marry you!"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Charlie MacNeil 9-25-07

 

The mournful song of the great black dog echoed through the town and many stirred in their beds at the primeval thunder of the music. The atavistic fears of men not so far removed from their nomadic roots coursed through them and raised gooseflesh on their skin at the tingling reverberation. Some opened their eyes to see the transformation of the moon into a bloody scarlet orb that cast a demonic light across the landscape while others merely burrowed deeper into their blankets in hopes of avoiding the perils that the great ebony hound's long, drawn-out paean seemed to foretell.

In the jail, Charlie woke and sat up. The tingling echoes of Dawg's voice sent chills up and down his spine and brought with them the memories of another time when that song had foretold the destruction of an entire town. He and Dawg had barely escaped with their lives, and both carried the scars of that time, both physical and emotional. The sense of foreboding that washed over Charlie left him with the feeling that someone he knew was in grave danger but he had no clue who it might be, and even less of an idea what he could do to prevent it.

Charlie had heard of Duzy's second sight, and it was at times like these that Charlie almost wished for the same. At the same time, he had a vague idea what a burden such a gift, if gift it could be called, could be, never knowing for sure if what you had seen was prophecy or hallucination. The uncertainty would be enough to unhinge the strongest of men but the gift was often visited on those who hardly appeared strong enough to bear the burden. But anyone who survived that burden would be strengthened all the more by the very act of surviving.

When the last echoes of that mournful dirge had faded Charlie lay back down and tried to go back to sleep but he was relatively certain that the effort would be futile. He was right.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Duzy Wales 9-25-07

 

Duzy was up early and wished for some tea, slipping out of her room, still in her robe and slippers, and ran into Daisy. They were both enjoying a cup of tea when they heard Dawgs howl. They sat for a few more minutes and Duzy excused herself.

Having not slept well, as the thoughts of her dreams had kept coming in sequences. She knew she was meant to play a part in Liam McKenna’s plan to hurt Bonnie, and she could not let that happen. Things were becoming clearer after talking to Jake, with the connection Jake had told her of Luke Hawkins and Clara, and Clara’s proclivities toward pain mixed with pleasure. The images of bondage, in her dream, had been in a secret room in Liam’s private boxcar. Could she speak to Sheriff Keller and Marshall MacNeil about using herself as bait and actually going into the boxcar with Mr. McKenna? Could she give the lawmen a solid reason to search the boxcar, by looking for her? She could already imagine how Jake would feel about that idea!

Duzy decided to talk to Bonnie about it first, as she knew that she and Caleb were already trying to get information and she did not want to hinder their investigation. She also thought it important that they see what he was actually up to, and how he planned to hurt Bonnie. It must have something to do with the mineral rights, but how did he plan to take them from Bonnie?

Other parts of her dream came to her mind, the trunk, the sickening smell, unconsciousness, the threat to kill Bonnie unless Duzy did as he said. If he planned to kidnap the two friends, how did he expect Duzy to get the mineral rights for him? Or, did she not understand the dream, and he was to use the threat of Duzy’s life for Bonnie to give him the rights?

Getting dressed, she decided to walk out to see Bonnie and Sarah. She also wanted to talk to her about staying at the house alone. She hoped that Caleb was staying there, but things had been so hectic that she hadn’t thought to ask.

Tom Landers came out of his office as Duzy left her room. He was beaming from ear to ear, and asked Duzy if she would like to see the books on what they had made on opening night, saying his expectations were even higher for tonight, as more people would be in town on a Saturday. Duzy looked at the handsome man and had noticed the look on his face when she had walked outside with Jake Thomas the night before. She truly cared for him, but not in the way she did Jake. “Tom, I am going out to see Bonnie this morning, but I would love to see the books when I return, and I can see by your face that it must be good indeed.” “Yes, Duzy, that would be fine, I will be here.”

Duzy left a note at the desk in case anyone asked for her as to her whereabouts and left walking to their home on the outskirts of town.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lady Leigh 9-25-07

 

"Mama! That's Dawg! I KNOW that is Dawg!!" Sarah was frantic with what she heard. "Mama! Is he hurt?"

"I don't think so sweetheart ..." In truth, the sound Bonnie heard scared her to death, but knew she had to keep calm, so that Sarah would, too, be calm.

"Besides, Sarah, there are all kinds of dogs ... it may not be Dawg at all! And if it is ... maybe he's talking to ... another dog ... or something ..." Bonnie knew that was lame! In truth, she didn't know what to say.

"Sarah? We really should be getting into town. I have to deliver the gowns to Duzy and Auntie Esther."

"Is Caleb going to be there?"

"Yes, sweetheart."

"Mama? ..... " Bonnie looked over at Sarah through the mirror they were sitting in front of, while Bonnie was finisheing brushing Sarah's hair, " I .... like Caleb! .... do you, Mama?"

Bonnie smiled ... and blushed, "Yes, Sarah ... I do like Caleb ..."
*
*
*
*
Billy ran into the street and spyed Caleb as he was walking across the street from the Silver Jewel, "Mr. Rosenthal! Mr. Rosenthal!!!" He ran as fast as his legs would carry him, just as his father has instructed him to do, "Telegram, sir!" Caleb reached for the piece of paper, deposited a coin into Billy's hand, and tosseled his hair, "Thank you, Billy ..."

The telegram was from his father, "Levi on his way stop He will be there in a few days stop Instructions are to keep Bonnie within your sight at all times stop Cousin is trouble stop

Caleb was fearful on one hand and relieved on the other. Knowing Levi was coming told Caleb the severity of the situation. A Pinkerton would be helpful. But it also told Caleb that Bonnie was in danger ... and probably anyone who was with her at any given time.

He knew Bonnie and Sarah were on there way to the shop. He would visit with Linn and Mac Neil, then with Bonnie. "Dear God! Help us to keep Bonnie and Sarah safe!"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 9-25-07

 

The brothers Daine were gifted, individually and severally.
One could bring portraits, pictures, sketches, images from a stick of charcoal, a charred campfire stub, a pencil; another could coax a straight-back chair to dance for joy, or make a strong man grieve and weep, through the singing voice of his curly maple fiddle. Each of the others, as well, had their gifts; together, being of Scots-Irish extraction, they shared a common gift.
Esther had noticed a sweetish smell on the air of a morning, something new, not at all unpleasant; she could not recognize it -- few there did -- but Mr. Baxter knew instantly what it was.
The Brothers Daine had asked him to come and take a look at their operation. They proudly showed off their sprouting table, their ground grain sprouts set into mash; their still, and invited him to sample their product.
Mr. Baxter cautiously sipped at the offered liquid, water clear, and much less than 30 days old.
Mr. Baxter was pleased.
The Brothers Daine were artists in the true sense of the word, and their work was making more than themselves happy.
Mr. Baxter did not detect the least trace of the dreaded "Fusel Oil" which carries over in the first of the distillation run, or the last of it; this impurity, which causes hangovers and the dreaded "Popskull Headache" meant the high-concentration alcohol from the "firsts" and "lasts" of the run ended up being sold to WJ, who used it to mix varnish and shellac, and as a general solvent.
There were also several happy customers in the persons of the folks who had the hog lot on the down wind side of town. Spent mash has to go somewhere, and this otherwise-waste product is actually a fine hog food, and made the hogs themselves very, very happy.
It also made the boys in town happy, as they delighted in watching drunken hogs staggering about, especially when the chickens discovered the bounty of spilled mash outside the hog lot fence.
The sight of a drunken rooster was particularly hilarious, and the owner found, to his delight, that turning this intoxicated fowl into Sunday dinner produced the tenderest, best flavored chicken dinner they'd ever had.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mr. Box 9-25-07

 

Having been invited to see their accomplishments, I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw, and tasted. "You men have done a fine job here. I haven't seen anything this good since I was in the hills of Kentucky a long time ago. I was just a young man, but I remember that taste. You might want to talk with Miss Duzy if you have enough to sell."
After all of the festivities last night I knew I needed to be ready for another very busy night again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 9-25-07

 

I woke.
Jacob was up before I was and had already dressed and gone downstairs, and was fetching water and wood. I rubbed my eyes and stretched like a cat, grimacing at the pops and cracks that commonly greeted my rising. Nothing really painful, they just sounded bad.
Mileage, you understand.
Even with my room's door closed I could smell bacon and coffee.
My stomach reminded me it was time to eat. From the smell of things, even if I'd just gotten up from a full meal, my stomach would have called me unkind names if I'd not at least tried to partake.
Gunbelt snug around my middle, rifle in hand, I opened my door and stepped out to meet the day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 9-25-07

 

Liam McKenna's porter had departed with the regular passenger service; consequently, after his morning ablutions, he knotted his tie and followed his nose to Daisy's Kitchen.

The session had gone on all night.
Now, morning, the conference was nearly finished.
An agent stood behind the podium and addressed the assembly.
"Gentlemen, let's review.
"We are agreed, first, the Firelands gold strike is one of the richest, according to the assays, bigger than the Black Hills."
Nods, muttered agreement.
"We are also agreed that we cannot afford another gold rush such as was seen in the Black Hills."
A variety of expressions and reactions, but nothing they hadn't already discussed at length through the long night.
"The gold is of vital importance to the economy and even the continued security of this country. Everything runs on money and money is backed by gold. We are agreed that we will have this bounty but we are also agreed that we are going to alter the official reports to indicate there is no gold, or if any, minimal streaking through the quartz."
"What about the gold that's already been found?" an anonymous voice from the far side of the room asked.
"Placer gold, random gold, is scattered throughout the country, Senator. Even in your native Maryland some gold has been found, possibly deposited by glacial action hundreds of years before."
"Our overseas offices had already released news of a strike," protested another legislator.
"We've already sent out follow-up notices to the effect that the assay was wrong, samples were mixed up, incompetence in testing and reporting gave a false result."
Again a general muttering. The agent raised his gavel, rapped it sharply on the podium.
"One question," a legislator raised his hand, waving a fat, ill-smelling cigar for attention. "What about the mineral rights? What about the landowners? Speculators are just begging to buy into this, but because we've no official confirmation they are holding off. The landowners deserve something!"
"That has also been discussed. Those holding mineral rights will receive a one-time payment, provisional on their keeping their mouths shut. We are, in effect, buying their silence. Mining will be done from a remote portal with the mineral freighted by the local rail line to a remote refinery, already extant from another gold works. Those with mineral rights will receive, in addition to their initial payment, a royalty per ton of ore removed."
"Can we depend on that?" a skeptical voice asked sharply.
Agent Sopris smiled. "Yes, gentlemen. These people are Westerners, and they honor their word."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 9-25-07

 

In the Castle McKenna in Scotland, the McKenna of McKenna had received the telegram informing of the Firelands gold.
He'd dispatched a cable to his son in New York, instructing him to seize a controlling share in any mining operation "in the usual manner" -- which was their code for, "by fair means or foul."
The McKenna of McKenna had little regard for his progeny in the howling wilderness that was once known as "the Colonies." Uncivilized brutes, unfit for decent men's company.
A lovely young lass whimpered into the cloth ball filling her mouth, twisting in a vain attempt to escape the irons that held her, when the McKenna of McKenna selected a fresh crop from the rack on the dungeon's wall.
Only one of his sons, and only one of his grandsons, had shared his tastes in this particular activity, he thought. Only Liam had shown any real fondness for this delightful entertainment.
If Liam could acquire the controlling interest he demanded, the McKenna of McKenna thought, giving the crop an experimental swing, then Liam would inherit.
There was a knock, a message; the telegram was presented on the usual silver tray, and the McKenna of McKenna frowned as he read it.
He had long ago given up venting his temper with a collection of Gaelic oaths, preferring to cause harm in other ways. Jerking his head toward the lass, he instructed his servant to release her, pay her and send her away.
The McKenna of McKenna went to his desk, and with a frown, began writing.
He was removing both his son, and his grandson, from his will
.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 9-25-07

 

Certain speculators in New York paid very close attention to the official release of the Firelands assay.
It seems, they agreed, that the quartz underlying the entire area was nearly worthless, except perhaps to be crushed for gravel and used for roads.
Firelands ceased to be a matter for their attention.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 9-26-07

 

I stood and approached the dandy.
Well-dressed, at least by city standards Back East, he was a neat dresser, immaculately groomed; he regarded my approach with distaste.
I smiled and thrust out my hand. "Sheriff Keller. I believe you are Mr. McKenna."
"That's right," he said smoothly, pumping my hand. "How can I help you, Sheriff?"
"You can join me for breakfast."
"Thank you, Sheriff, that's very kind."
We sat, relaxed, casual, each of us knowing better. Daisy brought us coffee and a smile.
"Daisy, you good-lookin' thing, I do believe married life agrees with you!"
"Oh, it does, Sheriff!" she purred. "How does engaged life agree with you?"
"Suits me fine," I grinned. "Now Daisy, you remember something for me, will you?"
"Why, Sheriff, darlin', anything!"
"If Sean ever fails to treat you like a queen, you fetch out your biggest frying pan and belt him right between the eyes hard as you can swing it!"
Daisy swatted at me with her ever-present towel. "Why, Sheriff! You do go on so!" She laughed and winked at McKenna, and sashayed back to the kitchen.
I turned my head as if to follow her walk, while watching McKenna. He was watching her, lust plain in his face.
"The things I could do to her," he murmured.
"Beg pardon?" I asked innocently.
"Ah, nothing, Sheriff. A lovely child."
"Yes, she is. She's a real sweetheart. I think you'll like the coffee, we have a special blend." I sipped mine carefully. "Hot, too!"
"Sheriff?" Lightning's boy approached and handed me a telegram. I opened it.
"FIRELANDS GOLD SEAM DECLARED WORTHLESS STOP DETAILS LATER STOP ALL WELL STOP SOPRIS SCOLD END"
I raised an eyebrow, placed the telegram carefully in an inside vest pocket.
"Is there a problem, Sheriff?" McKenna asked.
I smiled. "No, just following up on a case."
"Any reply, sir?"
"No ... no, but thank you anyway."
"Sir, there was a partial telegram just before the wire went down. I'll see if they've been able to re-send it."
"Thank you. My curiosity's up on that one."
Lightning's boy grinned and dropped the coins in his pocket. Lightning had mentioned the lad's thrift, and how he was absolutely miserly with his earnings. A good sign, I thought.
Daisy brought our breakfasts and I ate with a good appetite. This McKenna fellow was not entirely comfortable in my company.
"Mr. McKenna, what brings you to an isolated place like this?" I asked.
McKenna smiled, and I did not trust that smile. I've seen that smile before, mostly on politicians running for office.
"I am looking for a relative, and believe I have found her. Bonnie McKenna. We lost touch with her family some time ago, and I thought it would be well to find them again. It seems Bonnie is all that's left."
I nodded. "Bonnie McKenna is well thought of in the community." I took a bite of bacon, savored it. "She is an established business woman and indeed is an artist in her own right. I know nothing about women's styles, except that they look good on the women, but Bonnie can create from a bolt of cloth dresses that take a plain woman and make her beautiful!"
"Perhaps I shall have to have her make a gown for my ... companion," McKenna said carefully. "Has she any family, Sheriff?"
It was my turn to be cautious. "Now, Mr. McKenna, it wouldn't be polite for me to discuss her family without her let-be, would it? That she is respected and established is evident, and common knowledge. We in the West have a sense of propriety that seems to have been lost on the other side of the Mississippi."
"Sheriff" -- McKenna leaned forward, his forearms on the table, speaking low, as if sharing a confidence -- "have you heard of a gold strike near here? A rich gold seam, something that would make Croesus look like a beggar?"
I smiled. "I'm surprised you refer to Croesus. Most Easterners think we've no education beyond how to open a can of beans with a pick ax."
McKenna smiled thinly.
"There are always rumors of gold, Mr. McKenna. Ever since the Black Hills, some old prospector will wander in from the mountains and claim to have hit the Mother Lode. He'll spin his dusty yarn, long enough to coax a few drinks out of the unwary, then he'll wander back into the hills and be gone for another year."
"No, no, Sheriff, I mean a government assay. I'm talking about a gold seam right under our feet!" He was almost whispering, as if afraid a ghost lurking under the salt shaker might hear him.
I laughed. "Mr. McKenna, I was a detective back East, and I've been a deputy marshal, I was Batallion Investigator during the War, and I'm now the Sheriff. I find things out. If there were such a seam, do you think we would have a dress shop, and a dining room, and a quiet little town?" I gave it a moment to sink in. "If there were a sanctioned, recognized seam, we would be overrun with prospectors and miners and even more gamblers and slickers, card sharpers and opportunists. Look around, Mr. McKenna. You could fire a field gun down the main street and you'd maybe scare a stray cat, but that's about all. No, I don't believe there's any gold to be had, other than the stray nugget you can pan out of about any streambed."
Liam McKenna pushed his plate back, frowning. "Thank you for breakfast, Sheriff."
"Thank you for your company, Mr. McKenna. I stood and offered my hand. "A meal is so much more pleasant with good company."
"Yes, I suppose it is," he said, taking my hand with ill grace.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Duzy Wales 9-26-07

 

Duzy met Bonnie and Sarah as they were coming into town to bring the new outfits! All were beautifully made and suited each person’s personality. Duzy loved the black and red floral brocade, trimmed in red silk, as it would bring out her dark hair, and the color combination had always been one of her favorites!

As they walked, Duzy gave Sarah a big hug, and told her how badly she missed her! “Auntie Duzy, you just saw me last night!” Sarah replied. Bonnie and Duzy looked at each other and smiled. “That reminds me, Bonnie; I do wish you would stay at the hotel until that boxcar is out of our sight and gone for good!”

Bonnie and Duzy saw Liam McKenna leaving the hotel and entering Mr. Moulton’s office. “Now, I wonder what that could be about.” Bonnie said. “I do too, Bonnie, although I do not think it will help Liam McKenna to talk to Mr. Moulton, but there is a way we could find out.” Duzy smiled impishly at Bonnie, and Bonnie said, “Now Duzy, I am not going to lead that nice man on, I feel badly enough already that he seems taken with me. I was hoping to introduce him to Emma, but it looks as if she is already taken!” “I didn’t mean to “lead him on,” just talk to him about our worries and he will tell us what Liam is up to, I am sure of it, and as long as he is not working for Liam, he wouldn’t be breaking any confidences, would he?” After a few minutes, Liam McKenna came back out of Mr. Moutons’ office, and he didn’t look the least bit happy! “I think it may be time for us to have that talk with Mr. Moulton, what do you think Bonnie?”

The ladies and Sarah delivered the outfits to the Silver Jewel, and Aunt Esther was overwhelmed when she saw the beautiful two toned blue that Bonnie had chosen for her! “Oh Bonnie, this is perfect! I can’t wait for Linn to see me in this tonight! However did you find the time to make it?" Bonnie beamed with pride that she had made Esther so happy! "I will always find time for the two of you," she stated simply.

Miss Tilly offered to watch Sarah as Bonnie, Esther and Duzy walked over to Mr. Moulton’s office, asking them to be sure to let her know what they found out.

As they walked downstairs, Mr. Baxter asked Duzy if he could see her for a moment. “Sure, what is on your mind this beautiful morning, Mr. Baxter?” He reached for a glass and poured a clear liquid in it. “Taste this and tell me what you think, Miss Duzy.” Duzy sipped the liquid in the glass and it tasted like some of the best moonshine she had tasted in a long time, making her think of the times she had gotten into Aunt Esther’s’ “medicinal stash.” “That surely has a smooth taste, Mr. Baxter, where did you come across it?” “It's being made locally, by some men you know and trust, Miss Duzy, and I thought you might like to buy some for the bar, as we went though quite a bit last night, and nothing that tasted this good!” “I will talk to Mr. Landers about it when I return and give him a taste of it. I like the idea of keeping our money in the local economy!" Duzy said smiling.

Duzy, Bonnie and Esther walked to Mr. Moulton’s office and knocked on the door. “Bonnie, Duzy, so good to see the both of you, I was just thinking of finding you. I have some information you should know about.” The ladies looked at each other and waited to see what he had to say…

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 9-26-07

 

Clara sniffed at the bottle and smiled.
Chloroform.
She's used the stuff and found it useful. Apparently Liam had plans he hadn't confided.
Well! she thought, two can play that game, Mr. McKenna!
She poured out the least expensive liquor from a small bottle and decanted her own supply of chloroform into it. Smiling, she corked both bottles, put Liam's back where he'd left it; content with her snooping, she looked around the rail car for something else to get into. She was feeling deliciously wicked...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 9-26-07

 

My good right hand doubled up into a tight fist.
Charlie's voice was even, and his words were quietly spoken, and there was a quiet rage in his eyes, and a deep disgust in his voice, at what he was telling me.
He spoke of what he saw through the windows of Liam McKenna's private rail car.
I turned my head and spat.
"Bad taste in my mouth," I said.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 9-26-07

 

Mr. Moulton ushered the ladies inside and closed the door.
He was uncharacteristically agitated, which manifested as an icy calm.
Duzy knew this meant a depth of feeling he did not normally allow.
"Ladies, you all need to know this. Miss Bonnie, Mr. McKenna offered me quite a sum of money to coerce you into signing over your mineral rights to him. He then offered me considerably more if I would forge the necessary papers to take the rights from you."
The words, quietly spoken, had a depth and a character they had never heard before.
I'll bet he's one hell of a trial lawyer, Duzy thought.
There was a long silence.
Bonnie asked, "What did you tell him, Mr. Moulton?"
Mr. Moulton's smile was thin and tight. "I understand a voyage is beneficial for one's ecucation, Miss McKenna. I recommended a trip for him, and offered to provide him a handbasket for the voyage."
Esther's eyebrows raised and her eyes shone with delight. "You didn't!" she murmured.
Mr. Moulton's gaze was level, but there was just a hint of amusement in their depths. "I did, madam, and in those very words."
"I don't think I've ever heard it put in such a gentlemanly way before," Esther said quietly. "I congratulate you, sir, on your eloquence, and on your presence of mind."
Mr. Moulton bowed gravely. "Your servant, madam."
Bonnie turned to Duzy. "Let's find the Sheriff."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Charlie MacNeil 9-26-07

 

Charlie sat up and yawned and stretched, carefully. His side was stiff but the soreness was starting to fade. He changed out of his broadcloth trousers and boiled shirt back into his canvas britches and another shirt. He hung the shirt and pants on a nearby peg, shaking his head at their wrinkled state. He hadn't slept since Dawg's symphony, all he'd done was toss and turn, and the clothes showed it.

Charlie put on his hat, boots, guns, and coat and left the jail. He'd finally decided to talk to Fannie about what he'd seen. She'd always had a sensible mind and he figured that between the two of them they could come up with an answer so he headed for the hotel. She might or might not be up yet, but if not he'd have some coffee and wait for her to surface.

At the hotel desk he asked, "Has Miss Fannie come down yet?"

The clerk answered in the negative but said, "Miss Fannie left a note that if you came to see her this morning you were to go right up." He handed Charlie the note. "She's in room 210, just past the top of the stairs.

"Thanks, amigo," Charlie said and went up the stairs. He knocked on the door of room 210 and heard a stirring. "It's me, Charlie," he told the stirring noise. A minute later the lock turned and Fannie swung the door open.

"You never could manage to sleep 'til a decent hour, could you Charlie?" Fannie asked. Her hair was brushed and laying on her shoulders and she was wrapped in a silk dressing gown.

"And you always do manage to look good first thing in the morning no matter how early it is, don't you?" he answered back. "Would you care for some coffee?"

"In a bit," she said. "Why don't you come in and we can talk."

"It wouldn't be proper, you being an unaccompanied lady and all," Charlie said with a grin.

"Proper, shmoper," Fannie replied. "Since when have I worried about what other people think? Get in here and shut the door." Fannie turned and went to the same sofa she'd sat on when Duzy had come to visit the first time and sat with her feet tucked under her. Charlie perched on the edge of a chair that looked too fragile to hold up a canary, let alone a full grown man. He set his hat on the floor under the chair on its crown.

"You ain't gonna believe what I saw last night," Charlie said without preamble. "It's important, but I'm not sure how to tell Linn about it. It was pretty damned disgusting." He stopped and looked down at the floor.

Fannie kept silent and waited for him to go on. He finally looked up at her and launched into a description of what he'd seen. When he was finished she pursed her lips and said, "I've always felt that there was something not right about Clara. I've heard rumors, but I was never sure." She stopped and looked at him. "I think you just need to tell him the way you told me," she went on. "He needs to know that there is for sure a tie between her and that snake McKenna."

Suddenly she smiled. "Now if you'll excuse me, I'll get dressed and we can go to breakfast. I'll come down the stairs on your arm, and we can start some tongues wagging." She hopped up and went into the bedroom and shut the door. Her voice drifted through the panel. "I'll be out in a minute." A few minutes later the pair strolled nonchalantly down the stairs and into the dining room and there were indeed a few stares and interested looks as Charlie pulled out Fannie's chair and seated her then sat down across from her.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lady Leigh 9-26-07

 

Bonnie, Duzy and Esther walked out of Michael Moulton's office is search for Linn Keller. "I'm more worried about, Sarah, at this point." Bonnie told the other two, "And I also think maybe I should put my brother, Jamie, to rest ..."

"What do you mean?" asked Duzy.

"Well ... it may only stand to reason, that if this much trouble is being dealt with those damnable mineral shares with me, then what did Jamie have to be confronted with when my Father sent him out here?"

Esther put her comforting arm around Bonnie and they continued, in earnest, to find the Sheriff.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

William A.A. Wallace 9-26-07

 

Bigfoot Wallace was camped out near the rolling hills outside of Firelands. Assisting these folks with the building of their town and ridding it of some unsavory characters was fine, yet he longed to get to Texas and avenge the killing of his brother and cousin. Wallace had met many interesting people in the town and considered Preacher Sopris to be a true friend. Now that Preacher Sopris was gone, he thought it best to continue his journey to Texas...who knows? Maybe he'd join up with the Texas Rangers that he had heard so much about. The town was growing fast and it made Wallace uncomfortable to be cooped up within the town limits. He'd send a message to the Sheriff once he made it to Texas. Now, he saddled up and took his trusty mule by the lead rope and made his way towards Texas...maybe...just maybe...he'd come back this way to see just how the town of Firelands had grown...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 9-26-07

 

As much as Rey del Sol hated men, the great sun-colored stallion loved his rider.
He also loved to buck almost to the same degree.
Firecracker Mel's descending palm smacked Rey del Sol on his hinder just before he launched again. They were putting on quite a show in the middle of the street, and those who knew the feeling of a leaf in a tornado appreciated the skill it took for her to stay in the saddle.
Stay in the saddle she did, shrieking with delight; her hat, forgotten, lost to the horse's efforts and a passing gust, had been snatched up by Santos before it became another casualty of Rey del Sol's hooves, like so many of her hats had been in the past. He drew back just in time to miss one of those hooves. It hadn't been directed at him, as much as he almost got in its way.
Eduardo laughed. He'd felt those hooves before in a similar attempt to save one of her hats, but in a different part of his anatomy.
He rubbed his bottom with the memory.
Rey del Sol, pleased with himself, settled back to earth and trotted briskly up the street as if nothing had happened.
Santos scaled the hat through the air to Eduardo, white teeth gleaming.
Liam McKenna was watching the great golden horse and the apple-cheeked rider, and his expression was openly ... evident.
Santos, like his brother, was made of whalebone and sinew, slender and lithe, tireless; his mixed heritage gave him an Apache's stealth, and he exercised it now, coming soundlessly up behind McKenna.
He disliked the man, having divined his nature early on, and begged silently for an excuse, just an excuse, to cut the man's throat.
McKenna obliged him.
Quietly, without realizing anyone was near enough to hear, he murmured "I could teach you to scream, my dear," and chuckled. "You would look very good, naked under my whip --"
Santos needed no more reason.
He reached over McKenna's left shoulder. Seizing the man's chin, he pulled up and back, twisting the man's head suddenly and painfully to the left, and laid the edge of his long, very sharp blade against his throat, where life pulses closest to the surface.
McKenna felt the first, thin, hot kiss of the edge, and knew he was about to die.
"My sister is not yours to spoil," Santos hissed.
McKenna felt a trickle of blood run down his neck.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 9-26-07

 

I saw Santos cat-footing up behind McKenna.
I saw Eduardo watching, and doing nothing.
I could see Eduardo saying something.
I was almost close enough to hear.
Santos moved like a snake.
I have never seen such stealth, such speed, or such efficiency when it came to laying a blade to a man's throat.
I did not hasten my pace. Santos looked up at me and I made a sign, a quick motion with my arms loose at my side, and his eyes widened momentarily.
He recognized the sign, and froze.
I walked up to McKenna.
"Sheriff," he whispered hoarsely, "help me!"
"Why should I?" I demanded.
His eyes were wide and he was sweating. I could smell his fear, the sour smell of a born coward.
"He's trying to kill me!" The whisper was almost a squeak.
"I can see that," I nodded. "From what I've just been told it's not a bad idea."
I winked at Santos and he grinned, flashing that magnificent smile. He knew I was up to something, and was more than willing to play along.
Sometimes it was better to humiliate a man than to kill him, he thought.
I reached up and took the blade between thumb and forefinger. Carefully, slowly, I drew it from his throat, and away, and nodded to Santos.
He released McKenna's chin and wiped the blade on the shoulder of the coward's jacket.
McKenna dabbed a kerchief to his neck, paled even more when he saw blood on it. "Sheriff --" he began, and I slapped him, hard. Seizing him by his lapels, I hoisted him off the ground and slammed him hard against the post holding the roof over the boardwalk. I heard his teeth click when he hit.
"You listen to me," I hissed, "and hear my words. You are a plague upon this earth, you are a blight and an evil stain. I give you this one chance, this one last chance, to get in your rail car and get the hell out of my town. If you ever set foot in my jurisdiction again I will kill you myself."
I had not raised my voice; I spoke quietly.
McKenna nodded.
"Let me get my luggage," he squeaked, pressing the kerchief to his throat.
Like a damned fool I agreed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mr. Box 9-26-07

 

This little episode caught a lot of people's attention very quickly. No one was feeling sorry for Mr. McKenna. Most would just as soon seen the job finished. All eyes would be on him until he was out of town now. Rumors were beginning to spread.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.