Jump to content
SASS Wire Forum

Firelands-The Beginning

Recommended Posts

Linn Keller 5-15-08


Mr. Baxter drove Nellie back toward Firelands, a quiet smile on his face, the wind cooling his pomaded scalp where he'd parted his hair squarely down the middle. Most men his age fretted about their scalp "poking up above the timber line" but Mr. Baxter's thatch remained thick, and rich, and neatly combed. His black mustache, waxed into a full and villainous handlebar, might have looked like an affecation on a lesser man; Mr. Baxter was, however, not a lesser man. Square across the shoulders and retaining the tapered waist of his equestrian youth, he remained a good-looking man, well built, with a good natured, genial disposition that softened what could be a formidable appearance.
Nellie was content to travel at a slow trot, and Mr. Baxter was content to let Nellie set her own pace. He'd petted her and curried her and chided her for getting soft and fat there in the livery; Shorty, rasping a hoof in an adjacent stall, chuckled quietly to himself, listening to the barkeep.
He smelled, briefly, the odor of molasses-cured chawin' tobacker, and he knew Mr. Baxter had just offered Nellie a handful.
Good for her, Shorty thought. Kills worms.
Mr. Baxter drove leisurely up the alley and onto the main street, and drew up in front of the bank with a quiet "Ho," and Nellie ho'd.
Mr. Baxter smiled. He'd just picked a small handful of nuggets out of his favorite streambed, and idly panned a tablespoon full of flakes.
"Nellie," he murmured, stopping to pat the mare's neck, "this isn't the only reason I enjoy our little drives in the country, but it's certainly one of them!"
Nellie blew and nodded as if she understood perfectly.
Mr. Baxter went inside and deposited his funds.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charlie MacNeil 5-15-08


Alton Parker was a vengeful man. Many self-important men are, because they can't conceive of anyone or anything besting them in any way. When the vagaries of fortune swing away from them it is always someone else's fault, never their own. Parker was no different.

The news that MacNeil had been shot had come to the Marshal's office in very short order. At the same time, the rumor that he had been killed surfaced as well. Parker viewed such news as a golden opportunity and managed to convince himself, and the rest of the office staff, that it was not a rumor but the truth. He had already managed to skim a goodly amount of cash from the office's operating funds, and the demise of the new marshal was almost too much of a good thing. Now Parker would have free rein, at least until a new marshal could be appointed. The sudden appearance of MacNeil was a shock of earthshaking magnitude. And Parker's firing was not to be excused.

Parker was now hunkered down in the mouth of an alley near the restaurant Charlie and Ozzie had gone to for lunch.

Charlie and Ozzie strolled nonchalantly down the street toward the Marshal's office. Charlie was watching those who passed both on foot and horseback around him as a matter of course and he was happy to see that Ozzie was equally as vigilant.

Ahead was a narrow alley that they had passed on their way to the restaurant. There had been no tracks in the loose dirt in the mouth of the alley when they went down, but now there was a set of tracks leading into it. Ozzie glanced at them and shrugged mentally. Anyone could have made those tracks. Nothing to worry about. Until he heard a sudden rustling in the alley and a muted clicking sound.

Ozzie dropped his shoulder and rammed it into Charlie's ribs, bowling him off his feet and rolling him into the dirt as a loud boom echoed off of the buildings. Charlie heard a high keening cry and two pistol shots. He rolled to his feet with his own gun in his hand in time to see Alton Parker drop a short-barreled shotgun into the dirt and fall on top of it. A reddish stain was spreading on the front of his tailored white shirt as he collapsed.

Ozzie was down in the dirt as well. The left shoulder of his coat was shredded and sodden with blood and his breath was whistling through clenched teeth but the barrel of the Smith & Wesson never wavered from Parker's corpse.

Charlie holstered his gun and knelt at the young man's side. "He's dead, Ozzie," he said. "You can put the gun away now." Ozzie turned his face toward Charlie. His was ghostly white and his eyes were wide. He nodded once, his eyes rolled back in his head, and he fainted dead away...

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Linn Keller 5-16-08


Tom Landers eased his weight off his left leg. It had been broken some ten years before, and it never failed to faithfully remind him of that long-ago event, generally when the weather turned.
The weather was turning.
Mr. Baxter had just returned to his station, having installed a new keg of beer downstairs, where it was cool. The Jewel had a well deserved reputation for quality, and Mr. Baxter was one good reason they'd earned that reputation.
Morning Star approached him, eyes down and moving with all the noise and fuss of a passing cloud. She still never smiled, but she seemed less terrified, somehow; Tom knew the look of fear in someone's eyes, and it had long bothered him that Morning Star lived with that look. It had diminished since she'd started at the Jewel, and to his knowledge the only time anyone had even tried to mishandle her, the Sheriff had stepped in and put a hard stop to the situation.
Tom Landers smiled at the memory. He'd done as much, when he was still Sheriff.
I wouldn't have minded educating that riff-raff, he thought, but it's kind of nice to set back and watch someone else do the work!
Morning Star handed him a steaming mug of coffee.
Tom Landers accepted the mug and sniffed it, smiling.
Life was good.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Duzy Wales 5-16-08


Josie reached for the bottle of laudanum; the headaches were getting worse, and the doctor she had seen in Saint Louis had told her it would help. The darkness was swirling around her and she couldn’t find relief. She took a drink, and later another, just to ease the pain, and if she was honest with herself, it also helped to forget the questions that kept coming to her mind, questions she didn’t want to face because she wasn’t ready to know the answers. With the liquid came oblivion and she didn’t feel the pain.

There was a knock on the door, probably the lawman that had let her rest on his bed until they left for Colorado, the one who had kissed her, the one who had given her Colts back to her. The other items had belonged to Duzy Wales. Josie had looked at the woman’s clothing, and had read her diary. Now she knew why the two lawmen acted as they did, always competitive, sometimes sarcastic with each other. They had both loved Duzy Wales….they both thought Josie was Duzy, but how could that be? They were so different. Duzy was a lady who had planned her life; Josie took each day at a time. The laudanum started taking effect and Josie forgot about Duzy and the knock at the door.

Kid turned the key in the lock when Josie didn’t answer, and slipped inside the room, trying to be quiet to let her rest. His hope was that her memory would return before they reached Firelands, but being a careful man, he had sent word to Sheriff Keller advising him of the situation. Kid thought it best that her friends and family know before “Josie” walked into the Silver Jewel and asked for work! Bonnie would need to be warned to know how to tell Sarah, who would be expecting her Auntie Duzy! They would all need to know that it could be a temporary change of personality, but Chang had confided to him that he had seen it happen and be permanent; and even worse, that it could manifest itself into multiple personalities in certain situations.

Kid walked over to the bed and looked down and smiled as he thought of her actions as Duzy and Josie, and wished he could take her with him to Mount Sopris, to let her live as Josie, to have her by his side and take care of her; he wanted her whether she was Duzy or Josie, unfortunately, so did Jake!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 5-17-08


The day was going downhill fast.
Lightning's boy caught up with me just as I finished a sentence in my journal.
I was thinking of Duzy, and thinking of Bonnie, and of the times they had both been terribly discouraged, and for no particular reason I'd written, "You are unique, and you are special. In all the bottomless oceans, in all the infinity of stars, there is only one of you. Just one. You are unique, and you are special."
I smiled as I wrote it. I'd told individuals pretty much this same thing, in private moments, moments when they needed to hear it. Sometimes it helped and sometimes not but there are times when it needed said.
I asked Lightning's boy, as he shifted restlessly from one leg to the other, how they were getting along in their new office in the Depot.
"Fine, sir," he grinned, self-consciously as I slid a coin across the desk to him. I knew he had plans, he'd mentioned them in an unguarded moment, and a young man -- for he was growing tall and growing into the idea that indeed he was becoming a man -- is often born with the fiddle foot, and travel requires money, and I knew him to be a thrifty sort. Like as not he had a tin box with every one of those coins I'd given him, squirreled safely away.
"Pa likes the floor better. He said his chair don't bump and try to twist out from under him when he slides it back now."
"Well, that's good," I chuckled. "I've had some of them chairs throw me now and again."
The lad grinned and was gone, with the nervous energy of the young, and I unfolded the telegram and began to read.
Not five minutes later I was elbow deep in a three way conference with Tom Landers and Esther. The flimsy was passed from hand to hand to hand, its wording read, its meaning discussed, and while Tom and I being men were free to scratch our heads in outright puzzlement, my lovely bride, bless her, was constrained from that activity by a ladylike upbringing: she had to content herself with sliding her spectacles down her nose and looking disapprovingly at Lightning's neat print.
"Duzy thinks she's someone named Josie, eh?" Tom muttered. "And she'll be askin' for work. Hell, she owns part of the Jewel, she doesn't need to ask" --
Tom shook his head.
"Duzy wouldn't have to ask," Esther said quietly, "but she's not Duzy now."
"Damndest thing I ever heard," Tom mumbled unhappily.
"I trust the Kid's judgement," I declared. "Might be such a thing as she hit her head in that-there tornado or whatever happened to 'em. I've known men hit their heads and been addled for some time."
I looked at the floor, then up at Tom. "Y'know, my Pa told me once the wise man is the one who knows where to find his answers. Reckon I'd best go talk to Doc."
Tom grunted unhappily. "You do that."
Esther laid a gentle hand on Tom's arm.
"Tom? What are your thoughts?"
Tom patted Esther's hand, the gesture of an old and trusted friend.
"Ma'am, I'm just an old lawman. I know criminals and crooks, scoundrels and scalawags, I know the law and I know the enforcing of it, but darned if the workin's of the female mind are one thing I just can't get my rope around!"
Esther laughed, an easy, flowing laugh, a sound that unwound the knot a little in my gut.
"So women are a mystery, are we?"
"Yes, ma'am," Tom nodded. "I freely and readily admit that women are about the biggest mystery I ever come up ag'inst!"
"Good!" Esther raised up on her toes and gave him a quick peck on the cheek, then looked over at me, and merriment danced in her emerald eyes. I winked at her as Tom turned an amazing shade of red.
"Likely it won't take long for the train to get here," I hazarded. "I'd say we have maybe a day. I'll talk to Doc and then ride out to the Rosenthal place, let them know."
Tom looked over at the bar. "Mr. Baxter?" he called in a friendly voice. "I think you should be in on this too, and while you're at it, could I trouble you for a shot of Old Pain Killer? My leg is tellin' me it might rain here directly."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 5-17-08


A cowboy will not walk across the street if he can ride.
Rose o' the Mornin', however, was stabled at the livery, and I'd never been a working cowpoke, so I had no compunctions about riding Shank's Mares to the livery in order to secure more suitable transportation.
I'd gotten about half way down the alley when something large, gold and FAST came ripping out of the livery and straight toward me.
"HO!" I yelled, pointing at the great golden stallion, and its ears came up, then laid down flat, its teeth bared and it reared up, windmilling its hooves in a direct challenge to my authority.
I pointed a finger at his nose.
"NOW YOU STOP THAT!" I shouted. "SHAME on you! Behaving like that in public! SIENTENSE!"
The stallion came down on all fours and obediently dropped its bottom to the ground, looking absolutely chastened.
I walked fearlessly up to him and fondled his ears. Reaching in a coat pocket, I found one of the last of last year's apples, somewhat the worse for the winter, but not quite so squishy as to foul my coat: I offered it on a flat palm, soothing the stallion with my voice, gently massaging its ears, its neck, with my free hand.
The stallion happily masticated the wizened apple, and leaned a little into my manual ministrations.
There was a hail from the livery, a burst of Mexican, syllables best left unuttered in polite company, and a familiar grin surrounded by a great, gaudy sombrero lurched out of the shadows.
"Eduardo!" I exclaimed. "What brings you to the cold country?"
I snapped my fingers, made a gesture; the stallion obediently came to all fours, following with the docility of a favorite dog.
"Hace frio, si," Eduardo agreed, shivering a little. "I see you remember Rey del Sol!"
"Indeed I do, and he looks better than I remember!"
"He looks younger, senor!" Eduardo laughed. "This is el Hijo del Sol! He is but young, senor, and his belly is full of lust."
I laughed. "And so it is with the young, my friend! Have you eaten?"
"I have, gracias, pero tengo una pregunta." Eduardo laughed as Hijo del Sol made a good attempt at taste-testing a good percentage of his right hand.
"You have but to ask, amigo."
"Mi jefe, the acalde, knows of your Rose of the Morning," Eduardo said carefully. "El Jefe se quiere -- he wishes that Hijo del Sol should sire a colt on her."
I blinked. I'd thought to have Rose bred, for she was of good Kentucky stock, a line of blooded race horses known for both speed and endurance, and I remembered Eduardo's recounting a five-mile race with this stallion that was even now snuffing my pockets, hoping to find another apple.
"He offers gold, senor," Eduardo said tentatively.
I smiled.
"Eduardo, my answer is yes, and su acalde will wish to have mi Rosa de la Manana in his pasture while she grows large with foal."
Eduardo reached inside his coat and drew out a buckskin bag, bulging with small, irregular shapes.
He opened it, jingled the golden reales between his fingers.
I held up a forestalling hand. "Eduardo, you do me much honor in offering such a fortune for this little favor. Your acalde honors me more with this worthy mating than with mere gold. Hijo del Sol is a fine stallion, and I doubt me not his hot blood in the Kentucky veins of a foal will produce a line of horses the like of which the world has never seen!"
Eduardo blinked. I don't think he expected to gain this favor so easily.
"She is yours, my friend, for the foaling. Would you wish to take her back to the border country with you?"
Eduardo recovered his mental footing quickly. "Senor, El Acalde instructed me to spend this and this much more gold to gain this favor. He will be most pleased at your generosity!" He returned the poke to an inside pocket. "Perhaps su esposa would keep it for you, eh?"
"I would not insult as fine a man as El Acalde by refusing," I smiled, treading carefully, for this was a matter of honor, and I wished not to bruise any honorable sensitivities. I became acquainted with such matters at a young age, more so in uniform, and especially so when in the South.
Eduardo rubbed Hijo del Sol's nose and smiled. "He is yours, senor."
I about fell over.
The look on my face must have spoken volumes, for Eduardo laughed: he started out with a grin that fair to split his face in two, then he began a delighted cackle, and ended up bent double, holding his ribs and gasping for breath.
Hijo del Sol took the opportunity to nip playfully at his backside.
Eduardo yelped and straightened abruptly and then began his hysterics all over again.
Finally, when he'd recovered enough to get some wind in him, he said "Senor, I would be a bandito indeed if I were to beg a man's horse and give him none to ride in return!"
I patted Hijo del Sol's neck. "I have never ridden so fine a stallion," I admitted.
"Fear not, senor," Eduardo assured me. "He may nip your backside, but he has not taken off your hand. This is a good sign!"
"I need to ride out to the Rosenthal place. His barrel is bigger than Rose's. Do you reckon her saddle will fit?"
Eduardo threw back his head and laughed again, with that dazzling display of strong, white teeth. "Senor, forgive me! El Acalde has sent you a saddle for your troubles!" He turned and disappeared into the livery, reappearing a moment later with an absolutely beautiful, silver and torquoise mounted, carved, sculpted and fiendishly expensive, Mexican saddle, and an equally exquisite blanket over his forearm.
Hijo del Sol danced as we saddled him, and accepted the bit with a token show of reluctance, and when I stepped into that finely carved, silver and torquoise mounted, sculpted and fiendishly expensive Mexican saddle, I expected to feel like I'd just saddled a keg of dynamite with a short fuse.
Rey del Sol seemed just as pleased as punch, as if he wanted to show off, and damned if he didn't just absolutely strut as we trotted up the alley and down the main street.
"I will see you for supper, senor," Eduardo called happily after us.
"Come on, fellow," I said, grinning like a kid with a new toy.
"Let's see what you can do."
I touched my heels to his ribs and lifted the reins.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charlie MacNeil 5-17-08


"Somebody get a doctor," Charlie barked. "Now!" A boy at the back of the crowd that had formed, drawn by the gunfire, suddenly dashed away. Charlie looked around. "Somebody get me something to stop the bleeding," he said. Several hands held out handkerchiefs, some of which were even clean enough for Charlie to use. He pressed two of the cleanest to the wound in Ozzie's upper body.

"Mister, you're bleedin'," a voice said just as a salty trickle suddenly blurred Charlie's right eye.

"Ah crap, not again," Charlie said resignedly. He was beginning to think this city was jinxed.

A warm wet tongue approximately the size of most bath towels, give or take, suddenly swiped up along Charlie's face. He turned to look into the grinning face of his sidekick. "Where were you while this was happening?" Charlie asked. Dawg looked so downcast that Charlie had to chuckle, albeit grimly. "Don't worry about it, pardner," he said. "It's not your fault." He raised his voice. "Where's that doctor?"

"Right here," a deep voice said. "Just hold your horses." The voice was raised. "Make a hole, dammit! I need through."

The doctor, a large fellow in a well-tailored gray suit, knelt beside Ozzie. He spared a millisecond's glance at Parker, saw that he was dead, and turned his attention to the living. He took a probe from his bag and gently parted the cloth of Ozzie's suit jacket to expose the injury. Ozzie's face twitched and his eyes opened and he hissed through his teeth. "Easy there, Doc," he said faintly. "I've been shot."

"I came to that conclusion on my own, my good man," the doctor said. He looked around at the crowd and raised his voice. "Somebody get something here to take this man to my office." A door appeared from somewhere and Ozzie was placed on it and hoisted into the air. The doctor looked at Charlie. "Mister, you are bleeding. Follow me." He turned to follow the door and its burden without looking back to see if Charlie was following.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 5-18-08


Rey del Sol had been a sizable stallion, I recalled; this colt of his, now, this colt was equally as tall, as long-legged ...
I grinned with delight.
I hadn't set this far off the ground since old Sam, and he was a plow horse, not a blooded racer!
Hijo del Sol's gait was butter smooth. I thought Rose o' the Mornin' had a smooth pace, but hell, I could ride with a fussy baby in my arms and it would sleep as if in its mama's cradle!
We cleared the fire house and I raised my hat to the Irish Brigade; they were polishing their gleaming engine, and one of the mares called to Hijo del Sol, and he swung his head around and rumbled a little, deep in his chest.
"Easy, fella," I soothed. "I know what you're thinkin'. I did too when I was your age."
Hijo del Sol began to stretch his pace a little, and I let him, and he began to reach out in earnest, and I have no idea how he did it but he went from a butter soft lope to a long-legged gallop in one easy step.
I was moving with him now, and the more I moved with him the faster he ran and my hat flew back and bounced once or twice on its storm strap and I leaned down over his neck and whispered "Go, boy," and damned if he didn't light a fire from somewhere and put the fastest horse I have ever ridden in my entire life to absolute SHAME!
I couldn't help it.
I cut loose with a wild wahoo, like some kid with his first girlfriend's kiss hot on his cheek.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Duzy Wales 5-19-08


Josie awoke feeling lethargic from the laudanum, but having slept well; she packed the liquid and dressed for the trip to Firelands. Somehow, she felt better knowing that she had it close by, and decided to get more from the doctor before leaving. Josie had heard of the opium based drug, but like most people who become addicts, she didn’t believe that it would ever happen to her; she needed it for the headaches and when they stopped, she would stop as well.

If it wasn’t for her long dark hair, flowing loosely under her hat, Josie could be mistaken for a young man dressed in her newly acquired clothing. It wasn’t until taking a closer look that anyone noticed how differently the clothes fit and how they accentuated the womanly aspects of her body. Josie felt comfortable in the clothes and could care less what anyone thought, as she strapped on her beloved Colts and met her traveling companions downstairs.

It hurt Jake to see Duzy as Josie and he thought he would try to talk to her about it. He walked over and took her hand, kissed the back of it lightly, continuing to hold it in his. “Duzy, I never have stood much on convention, but you look so much prettier in your day outfits, and you used to love them, won’t you consider changing for the trip, it may help you to remember if you wore your own clothes.” Jake said as he noticed she looked a lot like her brothers in those damn britches, it didn’t set well with him, and the lady he had fallen in love with wouldn’t be seen in public dressed like that. He hoped her memory would return soon. He missed Duzy.

“First of all, my name is Josie, not Duzy! Second, I love what I am wearing! I can move and breathe and shoot easier than I can all corseted up! Third, I read Duzy Wales diary, and I would think that if you two were as close as she so delicately described in that pretty handwritin’ of hers, that my clothes would be the least of your worries right now, Marshall Thomas. Or did you really love Duzy Wales? Didn’t you tell her you could work through anything together? And just one more thing, how would you feel if I am never, or never have been Duzy Wales? Put that in your damn pipe and smoke it, I don’t give a damn if you like what I am wearing or not!”

Jake could have kicked himself, but it didn’t seem he could do anything right with Duzy or Josie these days, ever since Mary Sloan, that and remembering her in the cemetery kissing Kid in the rain, both of them soaking wet and plastered against each other. He knew what would have happened if he hadn’t walked up. It seemed to eat at his insides and then he thought of her last question. How would he feel?

Kid walked up and leaned into Josie’s ear and said, “Josie Darlin’, I think those britches suit you and I have never seen anyone look any prettier than you do in them,” and then winked at her. Josie laughed and asked, “Women or men, Kid?” Kid laughed with her and said, “both, but I was speakin’ of the females.”

Chang followed and sat down beside Josie on the train. “Josie, I knew Duzy; I wish to know you. If you care to know if you were Duzy, I offer my assistance in helping you to bring the memories back if it is possible.”

“Thank you!” Josie said simply, not thinking she could be the woman in the dairy, and yet she had no memories of Josie’s past, so it was something she needed to think about. The problem was when she thought about it, the headaches and darkness came.

Josie excused herself for a few minutes and walked to the other side of the car, where no one was seated and reached for the small vial of laudanum from her shirt pocket and took a small sip without anyone noticing. She had left the bottles in her carpet bag.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 5-20-08


Caleb whistled with admiration as we paced up to the Rosenthals' front porch. Sarah, far less reserved, let out a happy squeal and launched herself down the front stairs and toward the great golden stallion.
For a moment, for just a moment, I feared disaster -- until Hijo del Sol put his nose down and Sarah gave him a hug and a kiss and demanded "Where have you been! I have missed you so!" and damned if Hijo del Sol didn't mutter at her and rub his huge head against her, just begging to be petted.
Caleb and I looked at one another and laughed.
"I reckon he's not the first male to be absolutely charmed by a lovely lass," I said, and Caleb agreed.
Wisely, he remained on the porch.
I dismounted -- and realized again I was farther off the ground -- and loose-reined Hijo del Sol to their hitch rail. Sarah was bouncing on her toes the way she always did: "Uncle Linn! Uncle Linn! Pick me up!" and Hijo del Sol wasn't the only male that day to be absolutely charmed by the same lovely lass.
I took off my hat as we went inside. Bonnie had a double armful of babies, both of them asleep or nearly so, the glow of motherhood making her absolutely beautiful.
Caleb Rosenthal, I thought, you'd better appreciate what you have here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 5-20-08


I rode back past Doc's office, there in the shiny new hospital.
Dr. Flint was off on a house call, but Dr. Greenlees was in, and he and I had a bit of a talk.
I handed him the telegram and he furrowed his brow as he read it, his left brow slowly climbing a little the way it did when he was thinking.
I leaned against the door frame, Stetson in hand, and let the man think.
Finally he rubbed the corner of his jaw and handed it back to me.
"Is there a history of previous head injury?" he asked formally.
I shook my head. "None as I know of, but it's hard to tell what happened when that tornado went through."
"Hm." He thrust his hands in his pockets and regarded the stamped tin ceiling with a serious expression. "Shock," he murmured, "psychic distress, sensory overload, closed head injury, alcohol induced delireum, prolonged malnutrition, prolonged dehydration ..."
I knew better than to interrupt the man. He tended to order his thoughts before giving an actual answer. I was one of the few people with whom he would think out loud, probably because I did not interrupt.
Finally he blinked and put away his faraway look like a man will put a note in his pocketbook and tuck it in a hidden pocket.
"I will know more when I speak with her," he said briskly.
The door burst open and one of the woodcutter's boys blurted, "Doc, come quick! Some mule just kicked Miz Esther!"
My belly fell out from under me and Doc and I collided going out the door.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 5-20-08


Hijo del Sol was standing hip shot at the hitch rail, his head down, looking for all the world like he was dead, discouraged and wilted, at least until the front door slammed open and Doc and I came boiling out.
Doc took off up the street at a sprint and I grabbed for Hijo's reins.
I don't even recall getting my foot in the stirrup before we were from dead stop to full gallop in one long jump.
We went past the church picking up speed and there was a mule in the middle of the street, a big jack hawing and kicking and making life miserable for anyone within ten feet of his reach and I aimed Hijo del Sol straight for him and touched my heels to his ribs and yelled "HAAA!" and Hijo's ears laid back and I felt him dig into the ground and he fired himself at that mule like a cannonball out of a rifled field piece.
That mule was solid built but Hijo had him in weight, speed, height and downright meanness.
Hijo hit him broadside and drove him ten foot sideways before he went over that screaming jack, kicking as he went over top of him.
I didn't have to haul back on the reins.
Hijo slid his hind quarters and drug his backside on the ground getting turned around and I think his shoes threw sparks he was digging so hard.
That jack was fighting to get back up and Hijo reared, screaming a stallion's challenge, just inviting that long eared troublemaker to get up.
The jack tried to rear up and swing its hind end to bear and Hijo beat him to it, clubbing him twice before swinging his own hind around and belting him with a good two legged kick.
I was kind of busy trying to hang onto this gold cyclone to see how far the mule went this time.
Hijo buck-jumped twice under me and spun again, screaming that whistling challenge that was to become his trademark, rearing up on his hinders and windmilling those fore hooves, just inviting the jack to come up and fight.
He must have clobbered that jack a good one, for the jack just lay there and grunted.
An old prospector was faded back against the front of the Jewel, trying to turn invisible.
I gentled Hijo down and nudged him up to the crowd gathered around something in emerald silk piled up against the board walk.
Hijo shoved bodies out of the way with his big nose and I swung down and crowded through the hole he made me.
"Don't move her," Doc cautioned me, one arm across my chest.
I stopped, nodded once.
Esther's cheek bone was scraped some and she was bleeding out her nose, but that didn't worry me.
She was doubled up on her side, dead pale, her mouth open and gasping desperately for air.
Jacob was on the board walk, his jaw set and if ever there was unforgiveness carved in marble, it was in his face.
I saw him walk over toward that mule.
Doc was examining Esther and I sorted out what half a dozen babbling voices were trying to say.
"That mule just went crazy," Mac declared, wringing his hands in his shopkeeper's apron. "Just went crazy, I tell you! Miz Esther was crossing the street and that mule just went crazy!"
"Don't tell me crazy," I said, ice in my voice. "Say what happened first."
"Well, well, well," Mac stammered, "it jerked loose of the hitch rail and kicked off its pack and begun to spin and kick and bray, and about the third or fourth spin -- it was fast, I tell you, fast! -- why, it fetched Miz Esther right in the belly and sent her into the edge of the boardwalk here!"
Heads nodded, voices affirmed.
"Will she live?" I asked Doc, and my voice was cold, cold, and my belly squeezed up into a knot the size of my fist.
"The hospital, now," Doc said quietly, and eager hands cradled Esther up and carefully stepped sideways, Doc staying in arm's reach of my wife.
I looked up at the prospector.
He looked at me, plainly sick at what happened.
I turned to the mule.
Jacob was standing to its back, the mule was still laying on its side.
Jacob went down on one knee.
"Sir?" he called.
I grabbed my temper and shoved it down in an iron kettle and screwed the lid down tight. This was no time for feelings.
Jacob reached down under what was left of the mule's pack frame, squeezed something quickly, then plucked it free.
He held up a hornet.
I beckoned to the prospector.
We explored the mule's back and backside and found at least three stinger welts.
The prospector laid a hand on his mule's neck.
"Is he hurt?" I asked.
The prospector was quiet for a long moment. "I never seed him do that afore," he said sadly. "He's bin stung afore an' never did that."
I looked at the dead hornet in Jacob's pinched grasp. "Hornets are mean," I said and laid a hand on his shoulder. "Wasn't the mule's fault."
The prosepctor looked up at me, misery in his eyes. "Who was it he hurt? Any idee?" he asked.
I nodded. "My wife," I said.
"My mother," Jacob said.
The prospector closed his eyes. I reckon he was preparing to lose his good and faithful friend.
"Let's see if your mule's hurt," I said.
The prospector allowed himself a tiny glimmer of hope.
"You ain't a-gonna kill him?"
I shook my head. "Wasn't his fault."
I looked up at Jacob. Rage was still etched in his face and he turned away, mad enough to bite the horn off an anvil.
"Jacob?" I called gently.
He stopped, arms stiff at his side, and with an effort, mastered himself.
He turned. "Sir?"
"Go see to your mother," I said gently. "She needs her son."
"Yes, sir."
He turned and was three paces toward the hospital when I saw his step falter.
The phrase just sank in and hit bottom.
She needs her son.
Jacob stopped for a long moment.
She needs her son.
Jacob squared his shoulders, paced off on the left, and strode for the hospital.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charlie MacNeil 5-20-08


Ozzie Smithers lay as still as death on the examining table except for the gentle rise and fall of his chest. Blood dripped from his torn shoulder onto the floor and pooled there. Charlie stood to one side while the doctor made his examination. "This shoulder is ruined, as is the upper arm," the doctor said. "He must have taken almost the entire charge of shot there. It looks like I'll have to take the arm." He reached for a pan holding enough cutting instruments to dismember an elephant.

"I don't think so, Doc," Charlie said. His icy words were punctuated by the whisper of steel on leather as Charlie tucked Ozzie's pistol under his own belt.

"There is no way this man's arm can be repaired," the doctor protested.

"We'll see about that," Charlie said. "You start picking out the shot and get the bleeding stopped. I'll be back shortly." Charlie turned and hurried out and down the street to the livery. A few minutes later he was heading out of Denver at a high lope.

At the mining camp Charlie yanked the lathered horse to a halt and jumped off and onto the boardwalk in front of the large tent he'd just left the day before, and crashed through the door. "Doctor Chang, you're needed," he called.

Chang appeared from the rear of the big tent. "Marshal MacNeil! What is the matter?"

"A man's been shot and he needs your help," Charlie said.

"Are there no other doctors?"

"There's a doctor with him right now. One who wants to take the man's arm. I want you to save that arm."

Chang stared at Charlie then turned back toward the door at the rear of the room. "I will get my bag," he said simply.

Willy limped into the room from outside. "What's this about savin' a man's arm?" he asked.

Charlie filled him in on what had happened, finishing with, "And there's no way Ozzie's gonna lose an arm."

Willy looked at him speculatively. "You're gettin' involved again, ain't ya?" he said. He chuckled and shook his head. "I reckon you can't help it, can ya?" he asked rhetorically, already knowing the answer.

Chang appeared, shrugging into a coat. "I am ready," he said.

"Have you got a horse?" Charlie asked. "It's a fair piece from here to there."

"I can borrow one nearby," Chang said. He went out the door with Charlie on his heels.

The two men drew up in front of the doctor's office and hurried inside. The doctor looked up, startled to see who was with Charlie. "Chang!" he said. "What do you think you're doing here?"

"Marshal MacNeil has asked me to look at this man's wound," Chang said. The doctor stepped between Ozzie and the Chinese doctor. "Please step aside," Chang said.

"I will not step aside and let a heathen touch one of my patients!" the doctor declared.

"Then I guess Ozzie just ceased to be one of your patients," Charlie said coldly. "Step aside."

The doctor, who was half again Charlie's size, turned to him. "I'll be damned if I will!" he declared.

Charlie's pistol apeared magically in his hand. "And I will guarantee you'll be double damned if you don't," he grated. "Now move!"

The doctor stared incredulously at Charlie, then down at the gun in his hand. "You wouldn't dare," he snapped.

"You just try me, my sizable friend," Charlie said easily. "I will not have this young man's life wrecked because you're prejudiced." Charlie waved the pistol a quarter of an inch to the side, and the doctor moved.

"We'll just see about this!" the doctor declared. "I have friends, you know," he blustered.

"Bring 'em on," Charlie said. "The more the merrier."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 5-21-08


The Sheriff tugged the slip knot on the great stallion's reins and began trudging toward the doc's office.
Mac had just picked his broom up again to resume sweeping the boardwalk in front of the Mercantile.
"Now whattaya daydreamin' about?" Bill growled, setting down a bucket of water.
"Look at him." Mac gestured toward the Sheriff's slowly retreating form.
"You'd think he was going to his own execution."
They watched as the Sheriff bent over double and heaved up his guts.
"Yep," Bill agreed. "Sure does."
"If Esther dies, he might as well just lay down and die with her," Mac said softly. "You seen the way he looks at her?"
Bill squeezed his cleaning rag, trickling soapy water back into the wooden bucket. "I seen how he treats her."
"Like a queen."
Bill began wiping off the Mercantile's windows.
"Reckon she's hurt bad?"
Mac began sweeping harder.
Mac was sweeping hard enough to whisk the grain out of the wood.
"Now what's eatin' you, you ugly excuse for a checker player?"
Mac stopped sweeping.
"She's pregnant, you fool," he said softly.
Bill's nerveless hand dropped the balled-up cleaning rag.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Duzy Wales 5-21-08


The train came to an unscheduled stop, and with a stunned look in everyone’s eyes, Kid departed the train with a string of horses and pack mules, just outside of Glenwood Springs, and told Jake to “see that Josie returns to Firelands.”

“Josie, I hope you find what it is you’re looking for, if you don’t, I will be on the northwest side of that huge mountain, 12 miles south, just southwest of where the two rivers meet…I hope to spend what’s left of my retirement foolishly. Vaya Con Dios Amigos.”

With that, retired U.S. Marshall Sopris rode off. He never looked back, not even after hearing the departing train whistle!

Josie stood in shock, a single tear running down the side of her face, feeling as if she had lost her best friend. “Stay safe,” was all she could say as she watched until he was out of sight.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 5-21-08


Jackson Cooper was in the waiting room with Jacob and what seemed to the Sheriff like a hundred other folks, He reckoned nine or ten would be an accurate count but then he was not really himself.
From the look of Jackson Cooper, he wasn't either.
He'd twisted his hat into what looked like a felt sausage.
Jacob caught his Pa's eye.
The Sheriff lifted his chin in acknowledgement, crossed the shining, polished quartz floor in a few long-legged strides.
"She's askin' for you, sir," Jacob said in the quiet voice men reserve for a sickroom. "I was ready to come fetch you."
"Thank you, Jacob."
Jackson Cooper looked positively sick.
The Sheriff looked at Jacob, shifted his eyes to Jackson Cooper without moving his head.
Keep an eye on him.
Jacob's head nodded, a fraction of a degree, enough to let him know he understood.
The Sheriff walked slowly to the waiting door.
Hesitating before the stained, varnished, carefully crafted oak door, he raised his knuckles to knock.
Susan opened it before he had the chance.
He stepped in; Susan took him briskly by the arm and steered him over to where Esther lay on her side, almost as pale as the bed sheets, or so it seemed. Her hair and her lips stood out brightly against their stark backgrounds.
He was no longer the Sheriff, tall, strong, a lean lawman with ice-blue eyes.
He was a husband, worried for his wife.
Her eyes were closed, and her hand, cool, cool and soft like it always was, but with that indefinable ... something ... that something that meant she was alive.
The Sheriff had held the hands of the living, and the hands of the dead; he'd held dead hands that were warm, and living hands that were cool, and could always tell the difference.
His worst fear disappeared with this simple touch of flesh.
Susan had cleaned Esther's face, but the scrape and subsequent bruising, apparently from a hoof coming entirely too close to her cheek bone, purpled nearly half her face, or so it seemed.
Esther's eyes opened, slowly.
She smiled carefully and instantly grimaced, and then regretted that too.
"Jacob was in," she said, slurring her words a little. "Face hurts."
"Don't talk, dearest," he soothed. "Rest."
Esther's eyes closed, not in sleep, but in contentment: she'd been waiting, waiting for her husband's big, warm hand in hers.
Now all would be well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 5-21-08


The stage clattered to a stop, dust and trace-chains and the driver's shouted profanity drawing a couple downright glares.
The shotgun rider stood, stretching his short, stocky legs, and snatched up the mail sack. "Here ye go!" he yelled cheerfully, spinning it toward the laboring pair on the boardwalk.
The sack knocked over Bill's bucket of soapy water.
Bill dropped the rag and its wet payload of Colorado farmland, formerly deposited on the Mercantile's window, and snatched up the heavy canvas-and-leather bag before it could soak.
"Now what's eatin' him?" the shotgun wondered as Bill stalked inside.
"Dunno," the driver grunted. "Help that little gal outta there, wouldja?"
"Yeah." The shotgun guard parked his Greener and climbed down from the high seat.
Miss Messman looked out at the familiar front of the library and smiled.
Home! she thought. Home, and Duzy, and ... Jacob!"
She colored a little at the thought of the handsome young man, tall and slender and so very strong, confident and yet shy, the walking contradiction that young men are at that age.
She smiled at the shotgun and took his hand, stepping delicately out of the leather-sprung coach and to the dusty, almost-rutted street.
The driver handed a heavy trunk down to the shotgun, who shouldered it, bounced once and grunted, "Wheredayawannit, lady?"
"The library, if you please," Miss Messman gestured to the building across the street.
The shotgun waddled across the sunlit street, scarcely burdened by more than a hundredweight balanced on his right shoulder.
Miss Messman unlocked the door, swung it open. "In here, please," she smiled, and the shotgun waddled into the cool darkness of the library.
"Anywhere will do, thank you," she said, and the shotgun swung it easily to the floor, setting it almost delicately on the polished wood floor, resembling nothing more than one of the underground mining dwarves she'd read about in some story or another.
He'd no sooner waddled out the door than Daisy came in, smelling of biscuits and bacon. "Ye're back, thank God," she said, her brogue prominent with her distress, and she embraced the surprised girl.
Annette embraced her back, blinking. "Why, whatever is the matter?" she asked.
Daisy pressed the corner of her apron to her nose. "It's Miz Esther," she said, "but it's no' her I'm thinkin' of, it's puir Jacob."
Miss Messman's fingertips went to her lips. "Jacob? Oh my, what happened?"
"He just grew into a man, lass, but a hard thing it is. Ye should go t' him."
"The hospital. Miz Esther's been hurt, but I know the look in a man's eyes, an' Jacob isna' takin' i' well a'tall."
"Thank you!" Annette's touch was light on the older woman's shoulder as she snatched up her skirts with her other hand and ran out the door.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 5-22-08


Two tall men sat watch: one within, holding his wife's hand as she slept; the other, younger, no less tall but more slender, sat without and waited.
Jacob was no stranger to subjugating his feelings, nor to cold reflection, and now, in the still of the shining-clean waiting room, he examined his feelings with an objectivity as warm and welcoming as King Winter himself.
He saw the mule, in slow motion, rear and snap its reins free of the hitch-rail; he saw its tail corkscrew as it danced back on its hind legs, mouth open with a nasal HAAAWWW, then, driving its forehooves into the hard packed dirt street, reared up and kicked, twisted and came down on top of its pack, busting it loose.
He remembered Esther, laughing and waving at Maude over at the Mercantile, and how she turned, her left hand dropping quickly -- for a weapon? he wondered -- and how the jack rolled again, upright and launching into another gyration.
He remembered Esther's right arm coming up to block the approaching, steel-shod hoof, and how she threw her head to the side: almost, Jacob thought, but not quite enough.
One hoof grazed the side of her face.
Her head snapped back with the force of the grazing blow.
Jacob saw the second hoof following the first, but a little wider, and how it buried itself in the emerald silk of her dress, down near to the waist, and it drove deep, deep into his mother's belly.
Esther had come clear off the ground.
He remembered seeing the flash of her shoe soles as she went over, eyes wide and staring and her face pale, pale ...
Jacob was on his feet and running through cold, clear honey, like in a nightmare, and he was filled with an unbelievably clear-sighted rage.
He was going to kill that jack that just killed his mother.
His Pa was there, of a sudden, and things changed.
Pa, he thought. Pa will make it right!
Jacob's hands were restless on his Stetson brim as he stared through the glass-smooth quartz wall, seeing it happen again, all over again ...
He saw his Pa on a horse he didn't recognize, a stallion that carried the weight of a freight engine with the grace of a dancer.
He saw a fighting stallion drive into that fighting jack mule and knock it senseless, drubbing it with forehooves and hind-hooves in the process.
He saw his Pa, a warrior-god, astride the equine incarnation of Mars himself, delivering war and thunderbolts, and Jacob closed his eyes and he heard the stallion screaming, screaming ...
The outside door opened.
Jacob saw a silhouette against the blazing sunlight.
He stood.
Annette's heels were quick and urgent, echoing on the sterile floor.
Jacob, like most young men, learned much more from his Pa than his Pa ever realized, and one important thing Jacob learned, was how to treat his lady.
Annette drew up, suddenly unsure of what to do, but Jacob did not hesitate.
Annette found herself enveloped in a wiry, trembling embrace, and her feet left the floor as he picked her up.
She smelled of soap and a trace of lilac, and his face buried into her hair, his lips near her ear. Her hat tilted a bit, but at the moment, she did not care.
"I'm glad you're here," he whispered, and Annette's arms were firm around him.
They held each other for a long time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 5-23-08


Susan came out periodically to reassure the several who waited that yes, all was well, no they didn't need to worry, yes, she would be fine; one by one the residents trickled out, all but Jacob and Annette and Jackson Cooper.
Finally Susan sat down beside Jacob and took his hand.
Jacob blinked, surprised.
Susan patted his hand. "Jacob, you are a fine young man," she said with a direct, no-nonsense tone in her voice. "You will make that young lady a good husband, but first you must take care of yourself."
"Ma'am?" Jacob blinked, surprised.
Susan laughed, a pleasant sound in the cool stillness of the spotless waiting area. "Jacob," she admonished him gently, "sometimes I wonder if you think of yourself at all."
Jacob looked over at Annette, then back to Susan.
"I don't think of me much, no ma'am," he admitted.
Susan stood, still holding Jacob's hand, and used the grip to draw him to his feet. "Since you're obviously thinking of that lovely lady whose hand you're holding, why don't you take her to the Jewel and get her some food? I'm sure after her trip she's probably quite hungry!"
Annette blinked, surprised, and Susan laughed again.
"There! I thought you might be!" Susan released Jacob's hand and patted his shoulder.
"Your mother will be just fine, Jacob. She had the wind knocked out of her and she may have cracked a cheek bone, but she'll be fine."
"Yes, ma'am," Jacob said, picking up his Stetson.
"And you!" Susan pointed to Jackson Cooper, who was ruefully regarding the rumpled remnants of his hat. "Aren't you supposed to be working, or bringing the buggy around for your wife?"
"Yes, ma'am," Jackson Cooper said meekly, a surprisingly gentle sound from such a sizable man.
Susan relieved him of the hat and with a few deft punches, restored the crown, at least, to a passable shape. "There. I think you can probably have this steamed and reblocked. Ask Maude, she'll know." Susan reached up, stretching a little and settling the re-contoured skypiece on the man's head.
"Now go on, all of you! Shoo! Go get a meal, get a bath, get out of here!"
Susan's smile and her light tone gentled her words, and her shoo-away gesture, combined with the near-laughter in her voice, brought even the stoic Jacob to a near-smile.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kid Sopris 5-23-08


Retired US Marshall Sopris was tired of the politics, the everyday crud of butting his head against the hitching post: He also recognized that he need to give Duzy/Josie time to heal and find the time to explain to Jake her feelings.

The mountain air was crisp, the rivers of the Roaring Fork and Crystal merged in a turbulent splash before widening out and bringing calm after the confluence.

Sopris was at the foot of the very mountain bearing his name, Mt. Sopris. He had a large cabin on the North-westerly side of the Mountain between the small communities of Crystal and Carbondale.

He found this place after escorting a load of Marble from the community below Crystal, used in the White House in Washington DC. His Father discovered the mountain and retained a section of land there.

Sopris felt he was still a creel short of fish in dealing with the public, so his nerves and patience was thin. Riding into town, those who recognized him, almost gasped for air out of surprise. Hitching his horse and mules, he strolled into Dr. Bottoms place. Doc, was one of the best poker players around, because he never changed expressions, even when he was happy to see someone.

Doc barely looked up when he saw his old friend drift in, instead he poured a large hot coffee in a tin cup, and spoke. "The Ol squaw still keeps your place in top shape. I suppose it's because you saved her fathers life. You stickin around or passing thru?"

Sopris took a good drink of the mud, Doc called coffee, and replied, "Shut up Doc and deal, you talk to much".

So began the next chapter of Kid Sopris life.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kid Sopris 5-23-08


It was near dusk, when Sopris reached the cabin..It looked more like the St. Louis Biltmore. The Squaw, had apparently already knew of Sopris arrival, or maybe it was her ancient ways. Either way the fresh venison stew simmering on the old stove could be smelled a mile from the cabin.

Beaver had already cleared most of the trees adjacent to the Terlamis stream, so named after Harry Terlamis an ol time prospector, allowing clear passage for the train of horses and mules without any difficulty.

Stable had fresh hay and oats already filled in the troughs and the work of unsaddling and unpacking was much easier. The brush-outs and grooming before seeing to his own needs was completed in about an hour.

A lone wolf stood guard by the door..it was a wild hunter of the forest before the squaw befriended it and made it half tolerable. It never growled, snickered or gave way to Sopris, who approached the front door.

The wolf gently licked Sopris's hand as he walked inside to the clean but dinner is ready smell of the cabin. Sopris not sure why the wolf was so friendly, except the smell of the venison was probably a good motivator.

Fresh fish also hung in the outdoor shade cooler by the kitchen and fresh coffee was brewin...All Sopris needed was some vanilla.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Duzy Wales 5-23-08


Josie had never felt more alone than she had watching Kid walk off, leaving her feeling more desolate than she could remember…..but then she laughed at herself, because what did she remember? All she knew was the contents of Duzy Wale’s diary and what she had been told. Now, she was faced with going to a place she had never been, and didn’t know anyone, except Jake, a man who had betrayed the woman he thought she was.

Walking back to her seat on the train, Jake handed her a handwritten note from Kid….

Josie, the Sheriff of Firelands, Linn Keller, will meet you on your arrival. You will be escorted to the Silver Jewel, where you have a position at one of the poker tables, and a room awaiting you. I promise you that Sheriff Keller is trustworthy and will not introduce you to anyone who would take advantage of you. If you do not find the answers you are looking for in Firelands, you know where I am and can come to me. KS

Sticking the note into her shirt pocket, Josie pulled her hat lower on her face and dosed as the train made its way to Firelands.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 5-24-08



I have full faith and confidence in both Dr. Greenlees, and in Dr. Flint.
I have trusted them with my life, and my son's life, and now my wife's.
You will understand that this was a delicate matter, and instead of turning to these learned men of medicine, I turned instead to a learned woman.

The Sheriff leaned back in his office chair, looking up from the precisely scribed words on the good rag paper. He turned the pen thoughtfully between his fingers, ordering his thoughts; then, dipping once more into the ink bottle, he wrote again.
Nurse Susan was at once sympathetic and professional: she told me that Esther has shown no signs of bleeding, nor of losing the baby. She said Esther was a bit further along than I had thought. Perhaps I misunderstood my dear bride when she first told me, for I had thought her but a few weeks along.
It seems that I planted a good seed, there on our honeymoon.

The Sheriff paused again, smiling a gentle smile few but his Esther had ever seen.
I have planted a good seed, he thought.
Placing the steel nib quill beside the open journal, he leaned his elbows on the desk, his chin onto his folded knuckles, and remembered.
He remembered earlier in the evening, sitting with Jacob and Annette, how he had carefully broached the news of Duzy's changed state: he'd spoken plainly, simply, the only way he knew how; he repeated the good Doctor's opinion on this sight-unseen case, he very briefly discussed his own experience with battlefield head injuries, with shell shock and psychic trauma.
Miss Messman, he remembered, had looked decidedly troubled. Her had sought Jacob's, and she looked at him, then down at the table.
The Sheriff knew something was in the wind, and this something wasn't related to shell shock or head injuries.
He leaned back a little, as steaming plates of supper were laid before them, and over beef and beans and biscuits he'd asked Miss Messman her thoughts.
She looked at once guilty, and excited, pleased, and a little afraid.
He saw her hand tighten on Jacob's, and she looked shyly at him, and dropped her eyes, confirming what the Sheriff suspected.
Jacob cleared his throat.
"Sir, I wish to ask your advice," Jacob began formally.
The Sheriff nodded, adding a bit of cream to his vanilla-scented coffee.
"Sir, it is proper to ask a lady's father for permission to call upon her."
The Sheriff nodded again, setting down the cream pitcher, placing his hands on the table and giving his full attention to his son.
"Sir, Annette's father has passed, and she has no family these days."
The Sheriff nodded again.
"Sir, who do I ask for this permission?"
The Sheriff looked down, smiling into his taters and gravy.
My boy has become a man, he thought, and of a sudden he felt very old, and very young.
"Ordinarily, Jacob," he said slowly, looking up at the young man's mostly calm face, "I would say Duzy, as she is the closest thing to family that Miss Messman has these days."
It was Jacob's turn to nod.
"I don't believe Duzy is quite herself, though."
The Sheriff paused, considering.
"I believe in this unusual circumstance..."
The Sheriff rubbed his chin.
"Miss Messman."
Annette looked up, surprised.
You have the loveliest eyes, the Sheriff thought.
"Miss Messman, is it your wish that this young man pay court to you?"
Miss Messman looked at Jacob, and bit her lower lip, and the Sheriff wasn't sure if she was going to giggle, or cry ...
She did neither.
She looked the Sheriff squarely in the eye and said, "It is my wish."
The Sheriff inclined his head very slightly, inviting her to say on.
She did.
"It is my wish that this young man propose to me, in due and decent time, and that he ask my hand in marriage."
The Sheriff nodded, slowly, a quiet smile softening his lean features.
"Yes, sir?"
"Jacob, you have carried a man's burden for some time, and you have done so without complaint. You are paid as a deputy, and if memory serves, you are a frugal and a thrifty man."
Jacob blinked. It was the first time his father had called him a man, and it was a significant moment.
"Yes, sir."
"You will need a home for your lovely bride."
"Yes, sir."
"There is land nearby, titled to my name, which might be suitable for such a project. We will look at it tomorrow. You two should be planning. If you're going to be man and wife, you should be figuring how you will live, where you will live, whether you intend to stay here, or whether you wish to make your fortune elsewhere. You should discuss children, and how they will be raised. You should take a hard look at your work and see whether it will provide a reliable income for the years to come, for a man must provide for his wife."
"Yes, sir." Jacob's expression had gone from scared to excited to serious.
"But first and foremost, we must turn our attention to this excellent meal before it gets cold."

The Sheriff picked up his quill, considering carefully, and dipped it once into the ink bottle.
He drew the nib across the mouth of the bottle to swipe off the excess, and wrote:
"My son has asked permission to court Miss Messman, and in due time will marry her.
"Tomorrow we look at land."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 5-24-08


I carried Esther up our stairs, her arms around my neck.
My tread was slow, my gait careful.
Esther murmured, "I'm not made of china, you know."
I smiled. "I know, dearest, but I want to give you a nice easy ride."
She sighed, leaning her head against my shoulder.
"Dearest, do you remember carrying me up these stairs for the very first time?"
"I remember." I stopped and looked down at her. "I remember you giggling and blushing like a schoolgirl!"
Esther smiled tiredly and laid her head back down against me. "So do I."
I started again, pacing off on the left, a habit I'd gotten into when I learned to march, a trait I'd learned to look for when observing other men.
"Do you want me to put you in bed, or perhaps in a chair?"
"In my rocker, please," she said softly.
I came to the head of the stairs, hesitated.
I looked over at the other bedroom and smiled.
"Is all well, my dear?"
I paced off on the left, shouldering our bedroom door open.
I eased Esther down into her rocking chair, slowly, delicately; I took her hand, and went to one knee.
"I was looking at the other bedroom."
"And...?" She raised an eyebrow and half-smiled the way she did when she knew good and well what I was going to say.
"I was wondering what it's going to be like to have a child under this roof."
Esther laughed, and the laugh was good to hear.
I brushed a stray curl from her forehead and kissed her, gently, carefully, for the side of her face was still horribly discolored and tender.
"And I was wondering what it will be like to have grandchildren."
Esther stroked my cheek. "You will make a fine grandfather," she whispered.
"And you will be a beautiful grandmother."
"Oh pooh," she giggled, swatting at my shoulder. "I'm too young to be a grandmother!"
I looked down at my hands.
"Esther, it's been a very long time since I've held a baby." I looked up at her, remembering. "Dana was so tiny. I was almost afraid to hold her."
"Did she break?" Esther asked with her knowing smile.
I shook my head. "Good Lord, no!" I chuckled. "She was made of whalebone and raw hide leather, covered with a little girl's skin!"
For a moment, just for a moment, I could hear the whisper of a little girl's bare feet skipping quickly along the smooth, clean floor, the giggle just before the delighted "Papa!" and the sudden weight on my back as I sat on the floor, and Dana ran and jumped on me and we collapsed to the floor, laughing.
Esther touched my face, her fingers cool and gentle.
"You will make a proud papa," she whispered, and there was a knowing in her eyes. "A proud papa, a fine papa, and you will teach your grandsons to ride great, fire-blooded stallions." She blinked, and tilted her head, curious.
"My dear?"
"Do I remember your riding another horse?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 5-26-08


Morning Star sang, quietly, a gentling lullaby used to soothe and reassure: she'd sung it to fussy babies and sick children, and now she sang to a jack mule, and her skilled fingers worked an unguent into the hemstitched row of hornet welts on his back.
The jack had been stove up and sore since the great golden stallion rammed him broadside, knocking him to the ground, the steel-shod hooves playing a merry tattoo on the mule's tough hide in passing; the mule remembered little beyond the initial collision, only that something akin to a flame-colored freight engine had rammed him, and then the street came up to kiss the side of his head.
Morning Star's fingers were firm but gentle as she explored his forelegs, then his ribs; she sang as she worked, and Shorty sat in his chair, watching, not saying a word.
Morning Star had drifted in like a shadow, her gentle voice like a magical cloud around her, bringing peace to all who heard it: man and beast, relaxed by the song, offered no word of challenge, no move of protest to her presence.
Morning Star's cupped hands caressed the jack mule's nose, and then she was gone, and with her the song she sang.
Shorty fished awkwardly for the bandana in his overall pocket.
"Musta got some chaff," he muttered, wiping fiercely at his eyes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Duzy Wales 5-27-08


Josie awoke during the middle of a wonderful dream. Knowing it was probably her overactive imagination, she thought little of the thriving, but small western town of which she dreamed. The Silver Jewel was full of people who truly cared about one another and the place itself was beautiful. Josie especially liked the semi-nude artwork, tasteful and yet appealing in the Jewel, the velvet curtains, the stage where a lady by the name of Fannie had brought the crowd to a standing ovation, and yet it was the type of place where finely dressed ladies dined along with their husbands and children. Would she be totally out of place? No, silly, it was just a dream! Josie chided herself.

“You must have been dreaming something nice Duzy….I mean Josie, you were actually smiling as you slept.” Jake was trying hard to be as careful with Duzy as he could, knowing that the few attempts he had made thus far had been unsuccessful. “Yes Marshall, I was, but it was just a dream. I am sure Firelands and the Silver Jewel is nothing like I dreamed!” Jake smiled but said nothing.

Bonnie and Caleb had already talked to Sarah, simply telling her that Auntie Duzy had been hurt in the storm and didn’t know who she was at the moment, and not to get her feelings hurt if the lady named Josie did not recognize her.” Sarah hadn’t liked that idea at all and had said as much, “Mama, you know Auntie Duzy will know me!” Bonnie tried again to gently tell Sarah “Honey, it would be nice if Auntie Duzy knows you, but if she says she is Miss Josie, please tell her how nice it is to meet her and give her time to remember.”

"I will Mama, but I still don't understand! How could Auntie Duzy forget me?"

"She doesn't remember anyone right now. It has nothing to do with you Sarah. Duzy needs time around friends and that is what we plan to do, just give her time." Bonnie said, hoping with all her heart that Duzy would remember someday. Bonnie would dearly love to have her friend to talk to about her brother's death, her in-laws, and had been counting on Duzy to help her find out more about what had happened.

The train whistle rang and Josie heard the porter call out, “Firelands.”

Suddenly, Josie’s throat started to tighten, she felt a knot of fear in her gut, and she automatically reached for her reticule to freshen herself before debarking from the train. Then, realizing that she didn’t carry a reticule, just the carpet bag with her extra britches and shirts folded neatly inside it, she wondered where that thought had came from. Instead, Josie took her hat off, ran her fingers through her long hair, pinched her cheeks to add some color, checked her Colts, and taking a deep breath, she readied herself to meet the residents of Firelands.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 5-27-08


I set that big gold stallion and watched the Lady Esther come ghosting into station.
I'm a lawman. I don't know a whole lot about steam engines and even less about locomotives, but I know expertise when I see it, and Bill could make that big Baldwin run like a well behaved clock.
She came into town like a ghost, quiet, wreathed in steam: did I say quiet? -- I meant damn near silent, nothing but the purest white vapor coming out the stack. I heard somewhere that the big railroads would fire an engineer that came into station blowing black smoke, and I reckon the ladies on the platform would object to getting their lovely gowns all sooty, so there might be something to it.
The stallion didn't do more than blink and grunt once or twice as the engine hissed past us, not twenty feet away.
I was here to meet Duzy, or Josie, whichever she was today, but I also wanted to see what Hijo del Rey did up close to a train.
If it's possible for a horse to yawn, he did.
We waited patiently, the stallion and I, as the porter swung down and set that little set of steps down for folks to use coming out of the passenger car.
Jake was grinning at me out one of the windows, and Duzy beside him, and I grinned back. It was good to see my friend again, and Duzy was beside him, and I had to look twice.
I patted Hijo's neck and chuckled.
"That's my Duzy, all right," I murmured.
Hijo nodded.
Jake came down first, his grip in one hand, and he stopped and turned and offered his hand to Duzy.
Duzy was, uncharacteristically, in men's pants and a flannel shirt.
I had to put on my poker face.
I'm used to seeing my favorite niece in a ladylike gown, whether plain or fancy. Matter of fact I don't ever recall seeing her in anything but.
I had to admit that she filled them drawers out real nice, and she did that shirt some credit, too, though she strained the buttons a bit.
I swung down.
Jake and Duzy/Josie came walking around the end of the platform. I shoved out my hand, grinning.
"Jake, you are a sight for sore eyes!" I exclaimed. "You got any new holes in your hide?"
"Oh, none to speak of," Jake grinned back, his grip firm but his eyes worried.
I turned to the Duzy/Josie character.
"You would be Josie."
She eyed me coldly, from hat to boots. "Lawman," she said flatly.
I shoved out my hand. "Sheriff Keller. You hungry?"
She ignored my hand.
"I could eat." Her guard was up, her words measured; she was weighing my words like a chemist weighs powder on a scales, suspicious as a wolf in winter.
We walked to the Jewel.
She reached up and stroked Hijo del Sol's neck, admiring. "Big one, aren't you, boy?" she murmured.
Hijo muttered a warning, and I slacked his reins as we walked.
Let's see what happens, I thought, and deliberately paid Duzy/Josie no mind a'tall.
As I expected, she snatched the reins from my loose grip and fairly leaped into the saddle.
Hijo del Sol, as I expected, reared, sunfished and buck-jumped, and Duzy/Josie hit the ground, flat on her back.
Jake moved fast, to go to her, but my arm was faster: I threw my arm out across his chest, gave my head a quick shake, led Hijo two steps away and ground-reined him.
Then I went over to her.
She was laying there in distress, trying to get some wind back into her.
I reached my hands under her arm pits and fetched her up to her feet. She was solid and warm in my hands, the way I remembered her, and I brought her up easily; she was a solid built woman, but not given to any excess weight.
I reckon her feet were just off the ground, for I had her up to my own eye level, and for a long moment I looked into those liquid brown eyes, those deep pools I remembered so well, and her arms came up, and her hands were gentle on my upper arms, the way she'd done before ...
"Duzy," I said gently, "it's your Uncle Linn. Do you remember me?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 5-27-08


The darkness again, clouds pressing in on her ...
His hands, his hands, his hands, she thought. I remember his hands.
Strong hands.
Safe hands.
I am safe, the memory said, and the memory wore a gown, and thought of his arms around her; the memory was of a woman grown, but a woman at once knowing she was mature and desirable and yet a woman that remembered what it was to be a scared girl, and safe in her Uncle's strong arms.
His eyes, my God! his eyes, I remember them! she thought.
Ice fields, with gold, I remember his eyes!
Her resolve melted, her strength crumbled, for a moment light shone through the roiling clouds and she saw herself beside what she knew was a newspaper-press, she saw herself proofing a page of newsprint, she saw herself laughing and whirling in a laughing man's arms, the man over here...
Jake ...
The clouds thickened, and grew darker, and claimed her again, and the pain lanced through her head ...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 5-27-08


Duzy/Josie sagged in my grip and I got my off arm under her knees and swung her up into carrying position.
"Sheriff?" Jake said in a worried voice.
"Wind's knocked out of her," I said.
There was more to it, I thought, but let's give her just a minute and see what happens.
I managed to get Hijo's reins and he followed me like a big puppy, snuffing curiously at Duzy/Josie's hair. At least he didn't try taking a taste, I thought, and chuckled.
Duzy/Josie groaned a little, raised her hand to her squinted-shut eyes.
"Ow," she whispered, and grimaced.
"Let's get you inside, out of the light," I said quietly. "Jake, would you tie off Hijo here? Careful, he bites."
Jake dallied Hijo's reins around the hitch rail and quick-stepped up onto the board walk.
He fetched open the front door of the Jewel for us.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kid Sopris 5-27-08


The dawn was starting to break over Mt. Sopris; a cool inversion layer kept the smoke from the chimney of Sopris' cabin close to the ground. Elk were heard bugling in the not too distant.

As Sopris open the cabin door a deep breath of fresh air filled his lungs; the hot coffee was made to feel more so by the tin cup which contained it. On the front porch was the lone female wolf and some off springs. The were all sitting facing the doorway when Sopris stepped outside.

Sopris thought, "Somebody must've been feeding y'all regular like". If a wolf could smile, Sopris saw it in the eyes. Some trinkets of jerky were tossed down for the canines.

Not far from the cabin you could hear the water tumbling over the rocks in the stream; run off from the snow pack of last winter still shedding it's water.

Sopris thought about tending to the livestock, but he was going to finish this first cup before another interruption...Wolf or no wolf.

A deer and her fawns were breaking into the open from the trees nibbling at the fresh wild grass in the meadow below the cabin. Camp Robber Jays were setting in around the cabin looking for handouts.

The peaks of the Elk Range Mountains of the Tri County areas of Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties were very much alive with their morning serenade of peace and tranquility.

Much different than that of Washington DC and/or Firelands.

Coffee was swallowed and Sopris headed to the stable to feed and water the horses and mules. In the coolness of the underground cellar fresh meat, canned fruits and vegetables. "Looks like somebody was expectin me home", Sopris spoke aloud. Sopris checked his Colts and the Marlin for readiness, don't want to be surprised up here he thought.

In the wilderness, no one goes far without their firearms. It's a Code of the West; it's not written down, it's just expected.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 5-27-08


Josie's eyes snapped open and she convulsed in my arms.
I tried to hold her but she twisted out of my grip and landed like a cat, on all fours, scuttled back until her backside hit the wall and just set there for a moment, eyes wide, getting her bearings.
I stood there, eyes half-lidded, watching.
"Duzy?" Jake asked, taking a step and I held my arm out to stop him.
My gut told me she was dangerous -- more dangerous than she's ever been -- and she could as easily kill the two of us as look at us.
She didn't.
"There's coffee," I offered quietly. "Daisy ought to have some pie, if you're so inclined."
Josie stood, slowly, tense, reminding me of nothing so much as a cat right before it pounces.
I heard something on the top step, something hard and hollow: a stick, by the sound of it, descending, slowly, with a painful slowness.
Josie blinked, her head tilting a little to the side, curious, wanting to take a look, but not quite willing to take her eyes off Jake and I.
"Coffee," she said slowly.
I nodded.
She blinked, as if to clear something from her vision; drawing arrogance around her like a cloak, she swaggered a step toward me: "Lead the way, big man!"
I stepped to the side, gestured; Jake drew back, backing toward the front door.
Josie turned, seeing movement out of the corner of her eye: Jake had removed his Stetson. "Howdy, Miz Esther," he said, respect in his voice.
Esther normally came down the stairs a bit faster, but she was still stove up and sore from being mule kicked, and I know there was distress in my eyes when I saw she was bent over a little, walking with a cane.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 5-28-08


Esther's calm, emerald eyes regarded her niece with amusement.
It was not the first time she'd worn a tall boy's clothes.
She'd done as much, as a girl back in the Carolinas; she delighted in wearing her brother's britches and shirt and racing brothers and cousins horseback, and winning more often than not.
"Hello, my dear," Esther said in that warm, welcoming voice of a loving aunt.
The Sheriff watched closely. He stepped a little to the side, the better to gauge the confused woman's expression.
Duzy/Josie's expression was one of dismay. She took a tentative step toward the older woman, reaching out a gentle hand, not daring to touch her bruised cheek; she bit her knuckle, her eyes dropping to the hand gripping the mahogany cane, and back up to the discolored face.
"You can always take a nip of moon shine like you did back home, for the pain," she offered, and the voice was Duzy's, but only for a moment.
The Sheriff felt as much as saw the change, and the change wasn't good.
She turned her head, rage in her eyes.
"YOU did this to her!" she hissed, and though he was expecting a change, though he was reputed a fast hand with a Colt, though he and his son practiced regularly at close-in fighting, there was no defense against the hand and the knife that sliced through the air on a shining arc, intending to lay open the graying man's throat.
The Sheriff never flinched as a long, shining blade intercepted the short, shining blade, nor did he so much as blink as Esther spun the Damascus-steel blade, at once deflecting Josie's knife, and then stinging her knuckles with the flat of the sword.
He did blink as Esther took a quick step to the side and pressed the edge of her blade against the front of Josie's throat.
"You may be my niece," she said quietly, but with steel overlaying her velvet, "but this is my husband, and he has never hurt me, not even once, and I will not let you hurt him."
Josie wisely held still, very still.
The Sheriff relieved her of the knife. Handmade, it was a common blade, about as long as his middle finger; its back was straight, its edge was remarkably sharp -- he scraped it experimentally down his cheek, and came away with whisker-stubble.
He wiped it on his coat sleeve.
Esther returned her sword to its cane-scabbard.
The Sheriff handed the knife back to Josie.
"I believe there is coffee," he said mildly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Duzy Wales 5-28-08


Josie tried to bring herself under control, but politely declined the lawman’s offer of coffee in favor of retiring to the room she had been promised. “If you would point me in the direction of the room I am to be staying, I will return refreshed, and try to start over. My first day in Firelands has gotten off to a rocky start to say the least!”

“Ma’am, I am sorry I pulled my knife on your husband. I haven’t been quite right since the storm and it seems I have allowed some of the stories I have been told to make me believe that I do know some of you!” Aunt Esther raised an eyebrow and looked directly at Duzy. Something wasn’t right. She had seen that look before, and the thought troubled her greatly.

Josie was shown to Duzy Wale’s room, which irritated Josie to no end! Could they not let her forget that society lady? “Damn!” Josie picked up her carpet bag and took a long swig out of the bottle of laudanum, just before she broke into tears and threw herself across the bed. As the darkness began to ease, Josie could see a light, a beautiful mountain with a well stocked cabin, and the stance of a man feeding his mules and horses, a man who hadn’t even looked back. Her last words before going to sleep were, “why, why did you leave me to fight this alone?”

After resting for a couple of hours, Josie awoke to the sound of a knock on the door. The lady in her dream, the one who sang, came waltzing in like she owned the place. With her hands on her hips, she said, “I know you! I know how stubborn you can be! So for now, you are Josie and I am Fannie. I am your friend and right now I don’t give a damn about the past, it is the future that we have to deal with. Let’s get you dressed to go downstairs and show this town what a great poker player you are. By nights end, you will rake in enough money that they will take notice! Personally, I would change in to something more befitting the Silver Jewel, but if it’s britches you want to wear, at least change into a clean pair, put on a pretty blouse and do something with that tangled mess of hair! Running a poker table isn’t all about gamblin’, Josie Darlin’!”

Josie listened to the feisty woman and laughed aloud. “You just may be right Fannie! Thank you for accepting me as Josie, you are the first to do so.”

“Do not thank me yet. I have my reasons for wanting to know you, and my first advice is not to underestimate Duzy!”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Linn Keller 5-29-08


Supper was a quiet affair.
Esther sat beside her husband, rather than across from him, at his favorite table in the back of the Jewel.
She allowed the Sheriff his silence, knowing he would speak, and soon.
She was right.
He'd leaned her mahogany sword-cane up against the wall in the place he usually parked his engraved Winchester; glancing over at it, then looking squarely at his wife, he laid his hand gently on hers.
"Thank you, my dear," he said quietly. "You were most discreet."
Esther blinked her startling emerald eyes in honest surprise, and laughed.
"Discreet?" she asked. "I just put a sharpened blade to my favorite neice's throat!"
"You could have laid it open as easily," the Sheriff said, his eyes troubled. "You would have been within your rights."
"You could have taken her to jail, or killed her yourself," Esther pointed out.
The Sheriff closed his eyes and nodded. "I could have."
"Perhaps the shock of being jailed would have brought her back."
The Sheriff shook his head. "No. I don't believe it would. Something terrible has happened, Esther. Something ... something utterly, overwhelmingly terrible has happened. I think Duzy was badly hurt by something, something she needs to heal from, and so Josie came about to handle the hurts for her, at least until she can come back into herself." The Sheriff's eyes tracked slowly as he thought. "If I'd hauled her off to jail it would only have reinforced that Josie hardcase. I'd hoped ... I still hope that familiar surroundings will help her return."
"Is it possible," Esther asked slowly, hesitantly, "is it possible that she might ... that Josie might stay?"
The Sheriff's look was haunted.
"I miss my neice," he said quietly. "I miss my Duzy. I want her to come back."
Esther's eyes sparkled a little more than usual.
"As do I, dearest," Esther said with a little catch in her voice. She dabbed delicately at one eye, straightened herself with an effort and grimaced at the healing pains in her side.
She lifted her chin.
"All will be well, my dear," she said confidently. "We Wales women are made of stern stuff!"
The Sheriff's eyes smiled, then the rest of his face.
"I doubt that not, my dear," he said, rising and handing Esther her cane, then offering her his arm.
Esther pushed with the cane and pulled on the Sheriff's arm. Setting her teeth against the hurt, she came slowly to her feet.
"Mr. Keller?"
"Yes, Mrs. Keller?"
"I shall want to dance with you."
The Sheriff smiled. "I shall want that as well, dear heart!"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charlie MacNeil 5-29-08


Josie reached into her valice for another pair of britches and a clean shirt but what she brought out did not meet with Fannie's approval. "Darlin', you may want to dress like a man, but you're not built like one," she said sternly. "And poker isn't just a game of cards. It's a game of mind over matter. If you can get your opponents mind away from what matters to him, he's beat before he starts. So you're going to dress accordingly." She took the britches from Josie's hand and shook them out. "These'll do, but you are not wearing a man's shirt." She turned toward Duzy's closet and reached inside. "Here, put this on."

Josie stared at what Fannie had in her hand. "I am most definitely not wearing sissy clothes like that," she said adamantly. The frilly blouse Fannie held in her hand was just not what Josie would wear.

The sugar in Fannie's voice didn't hide the steel sheathed beneath. "Darlin', you put this on, and tuck it in tight. And remember what I said about mind over matter." She chuckled to lighten the moment. "You'll have the boys at the poker table paying more attention to you than their cards and you'll clean 'em out easy." Her voice hardened again. "Now get dressed so we can do your hair." She stood with her hands on her hips and the look on her face said that she was going to brook no defiance from what she considered her charge.

Josie's temper flared and she made a concerted effort to stare the buxom redhead down but to no avail. Fannie matched her glare for glare until Josie relented. "Oh alright, I guess it can't hurt this once." She defiantly took off the shirt she was wearing and slipped her arms into the satiny sleeves of the blouse Fannie held. In spite of herself, she kind of enjoyed the feel of the soft material on her body as she buttoned the blouse. She stepped out of her britches and into the clean ones and buttoned them up after tucking the blouse in.

"Tighter," Fannie said with a saucy smile. "You have to make the most of what you have." She reached and tucked the blouse in tighter. "There, that's better. Now your hair." She picked up a brush from the nearby bureau and advanced on Josie.

"I can brush my own hair," Josie snapped.

"Not this time," Fannie said. "Now stand still. Then we'll do your face."

After a struggle and continuous resistance, Fannie had Josie presentable enough to suit Fannie. "Alright. Now we can go."

Josie reached for her Colts. "Those stay here," Fannie said firmly. "I'll not have you shoot anyone in the Jewel."

Josie decided that in this case discretion was the better part of valor and dropped the Colts on the bed. The two wordlessly left the room and started for the stairs.

Link to comment
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.

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.

  • Create New...

Important Information

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