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The DEACON – Episode 7

“Well, how many times am I gonna be hitting my gun with a rock?”

“Probably never, but if you drop something on the hammer when it’s in your holster, you will have a nice groove down your leg for the rest of your life, which might not be very long. A shot like that just right and you’d bleed out in a minute, or get gangrene, or lose the use of that leg due to a shattered knee, or just plain have an ugly scar on a weak leg.” He handed the pistol back to Daniel, who slipped it back in its home on his hip. “All them options are not too healthy. A working man cannot afford to carry a round under the hammer. Once you get in the battle, the first time you reload you fill them all. If you know the battle is coming, you load them all. Got it?”

“Yes, sir. None of them options sound good to me. Don’t want the battle either.” He drew and shot a large rattlesnake coming out from a hole under the rock right next to Tor. “There’s supper.”

Tor jumped and landed about six feet away from where he started. “You eat snake?”

“Nope. Hear it’s good though.”

“I don’t eat snake,” he said as he continued to watch the reptile writhe in the dust making mud with its blood. “I’ll be back in a few minutes. Get us a fire going.”

“For supper?”

“Yup. You the eatin’est feller I ever rode with.”

“How do you think I keep my manly figure.”

Tor went hunting.

Daniel went fishing as soon as the fire was burning well.

The fish were not biting and Tor was not back after an hour. Dan had heard no shot and was beginning to wonder what was happening in the woods when the shot finally came. It sounded surprisingly close.

He gathered more wood and set the coffee to boiling as he waited. The fishing line got checked a time or two. Still no Tor. Dan strapped on the Bixby gun and saddled his horse. Just as he swung into the saddle, “Hey, you wanna come over there with that horse and help be bring this in.”

It was Tor.

Dan rode his horse across the stream and up to where Tor was coming out of the woods dragging a young doe, all nicely gutted and beheaded, toward camp. Dan pulled it up on the horses withers and gave Tor a hand climbing on behind him, turned the horse for camp and crossed the stream. As he was crossing the rock he had tied his fishing line to came off the large rock he had set it on.

He had a bite.

An hour later they were eating venison steaks in the dark and rigging a rack to make jerky on. The fish got away.

The coffee pot was empty nest to the embers of the fire when they rolled into the bedrolls for a night’s sleep. Each was full to the brim and content.


10

Two days later, the two of them rode into Golden. Tor wanted to stop and see an old saddle partner and Dan was just going to find someplace with a couple of books for sale. Didn’t make a difference what they were, he just wanted to unwind a bit in something other than the Bible. It had taken him a full day to make that decision.

Tor pointed in the direction of the hotel, “Meetcha there in a couple of hours. Two beds please. You roll and toss so bad I’ll end up on the floor. There’s a gunsmith down the block a bit that might be able to do something about the slickness of them grips on your Colt. Try him.” He rode away before Daniel could say anything.

Daniel was dazzled. He’d seen big cities before, but never had he seen a town with the hustle and bustle of this one. He had to guide his horse around wagons and people walking in the middle of the street. A wagon loaded with beer from the Coors brewery almost killed a man after the wagon driver took his eyes off the street to look at a dance hall gal on the balcony of a saloon. The man turned and saw the lead horses when they were about two feet from straddling him.

Dan eased up the street looking for the sign advertising a hotel in the midst of all the other signs. Seems like every building had three or more businesses or products to sell they thought worthy of having its own sign. “I ain’t seen this many signs since St. Louis, but St. Louis never had this many folks running around like chickens with their heads cut off.”

“Hey, quit star gazing and get outta the road, young feller,” came from his right. A pedestrian was held up by Daniel’s slow rubber necking of all there was to see.

“Sorry, old timer, I’ll push a little here now. How far’s it to the hotel?”

“Two buildings down. Only sign is on the winder, but ya cain’t miss’er a bit. Bright green paint around them winders.”

“Thank ya kindly, sir.”

“Now get outta my way.”

Daniel moved the horse with a gentle gig of the spurs he’d found in the saddle bag. Tor said they were cavalry spurs, short and stubby, and also reckoned that Bixby had been cavalry once upon a time “Cuz he rode so straight up and down like he had a ram rod for a back bone.” Sure enough there was the green trim on a pair of fair sized windows. One said HOTEL and the other said SALOON in large gold and black letters.

He had to sidle in between the hitching rail and the plank sidewalk in order to tie off the gelding he had named, Solomon. Not that the horse was wise, just that it sounded like a good Christian horse name. The horse would never have a thousand wives, but being a gelding it wouldn’t matter.

He swung down gingerly; his backside still wasn’t used to all the riding, pulling his Winchester out of its case as he did. After doing a couple of deep squats, he entered the hotel and walked to the desk. “Need a room with two beds or two rooms with one bed.”

“Very good, sir. Let me see what we have.” He turned to look at a bunch of cubbies behind him. “Aah yes, sir. We have two rooms side by side, each with one bed, both on the third floor facing the avenue. Will that do, sir.”

“Yeah. How much?”

“Fifty cents each. Dinner will be served in the Dining Room,” he pointed to a door behind Daniel, “In about an hour. Of course, they always have something to eat 24 hours each day. There is also the Saloon to your right,” again he pointed, “Serving the finest of liquors, beers, wines, and just plain everyday good whiskey. One of our local miners has a still and a local brewery makes the finest beer in the territory.”

Daniel plunked a ten dollar gold piece on the counter and said, “May I start an account and sign for meals and drinks?”

“Yes sir, you certainly may. Sign the ledger please and use the same signature on your tabs.” He turned and pulled two keys from adjoining slots, flipped a tab to red like most of the other rooms, and set the keys on the ledger as Daniel signed, ‘Daniel Fount, Denver.’

“Could you tell me where the best livery and gunsmith might be?”

“Why yes, sir. The livery is down the alley on the right side of the hotel,” he pointed, “And the gunsmith is across the street and uphill about a quarter mile. Can’t miss him, he has a large six shooter for a sign hanging way out from and above the rest of the signs on this street. Old German fella that I have only met once, but the best of reputations I assure you.”

“Thank you.”

“I recognize your gun, but you weren’t the man wearing it last time is saw it.”

“He lost in the game of life.”

“Oh, very good. Sir. He was not a very savory individual. Thank you for winning in the game of life.” He smiled and turned to the lady that had just walked in.

Daniel heard, “Who is that terrible man? He killed a man in the saloon the last time I was here,” from the lady.

As he walked to the gunsmith, he got to thinking that maybe, just maybe, he would be wise to change the grips altogether rather than just have them reworked. Tor was coming down the street, saw him, and pulled over to the plank sidewalk where he said, “You wanna double up?”

“Sure.”

They finished at the gunsmith with Daniel carrying a loaner and Tor guiding the horse to the hotel where Daniel picked up his horse and they rode to the livery up the alley.

“Ya seen one livery stable, you have seen them all,” Tor said.

“And smelled them all,” Daniel added.

Two days later they left town before the sun came up and the crowds hit the streets. His old saddle partner was no longer in Golden.

It was Sunday. The bells were ringing on at least three churches somewhere in the town. Daniel felt a pull, but he was not ready yet for the questions that would come inside the walls of a friendly church. Tor offered to go with him if that was the hold up and Daniel just turned his horse to the street all the wagons had been coming into town on during their brief stay.

Within an hour the sun was up, they were off the road and on a thin trail leading into the high country, and up ahead was a smoldering fire. They spread out without saying a word as they approached the smoke. No one was there.

A breeze picked up as they looked around. Nothing. A jumble of prints in the dirt told them nothing. At least four different horses had been over this site time and time again. Tor got down and started probing the ground with a stick he grabbed. Daniel watched with his newly adorned six shooter held in position with his elbow locked into his side. No one had to tell him something had happened here.

Tor finally tossed the stick, “No new graves.”

“How do you know?”

“The top inch or so is disturbed by the prints here, but after that inch or so the ground is rock hard. If there was a grave the dirt would be loose and the stick would have gone in deep from the pressure I put on it. Why don’t you dump your canteen on this fire so’s it don’t get away, fill up from the stream, and we’ll just mosey on our way. While you’re doin’ that, I’ll just take me a ride up towards them trees and see what I can see.”

Daniel did as he asked while he looked around in the direction the horses had gone. All there was in that direction was a heavily forested area leading to the base of the biggest mountain around. The whole scene seemed strange to him as the water gurgled out of the canteen he watched Tor moving at a quick trot in that direction. When the gurglying quit, he rode down to the water and was just about off the horse when he saw him.

The man was sitting with his legs in the water next to a rock on the far side of the creek, still as the stone itself. A gun lay in his lap and the front of his shirt was bright red.

“Tor.”

No response.

“TOR!”

Daniel looked up to see Tor jerk his horse around and ride like the devil was after him toward the camp site. Out of the trees came three riders and as soon as Daniel saw them they opened fire. Daniel started to mount and then realized if he got in a good position he could cover Tor and the old man next to the rock. The rock looked like a good place to hunker down.

He crossed the creek and turned Solomon loose to fend for himself, squatted behind the rock, and then pulled the wounded man in with him. He laid the Winchester across the top of the rock, lined up the sights, and squeezed the trigger. The center of the three riders took a tumble. Tor kept coming straight across the campsite and on through the water until he jumped off his horse, rifle in hand, and took up a spot thirty feet or so downstream from Daniel.

“You okay?” Danile asked.

“Yeah, not a scratch

The DEACON – Episode 6 – Constructive suggestions wanted.

NOTE: This is right off the keyboard. typos, misspellings, and other bugaboos free just like the story. BUT, I am looking for your impressions, ideas, plot suggestions, and just plain thinking. THANK YOU for staying with me this long.

“He has killed over twenty that we know of. All have been clouded with lies good enough that we have never been able to hang him. This town is better off without him, you can bet on that.”

“I don’t bet on people’s lives.”

“Yes you do. Every time you preach you are betting that some of the folks listening will take to your message and become Christians just like you. Some you win and some you lose.”

“I win nothing. God wins it all.”

“Fine. I won’t argue the religious stuff with you.”

Daniel walked to the caravan door and went inside, emerging a few minutes later with rough clothes on and tucking a small sack of coins in his pocket. “I am going to the mountains to pray and think this through.”

He ducked under the caravan and returned with his Bible.

“Evelyn, the caravan and all that is left in it are yours. I will find you one day a couple weeks or so from now, and we will discuss the future. Deputy, where can if find a good horse at a fair price?”

Evelyn grabbed his arm, “All this is good for nothing without you.”

“There’s enough in the safe to keep you for as long as I will be gone. I’m sure you are well taken care of. If I were you, I’d find a nice boarding house for ladies and stay there. Join up with that Pastor’s church and sing in the choir. I will be back.”

The deputy said, “Come on, I’ll get you set up.” Something caught in his throat, “You know, the first time I had to kill a man, I was riding shotgun on a gold shipment. It hit me much the same as you for altogether difference reasons. I went fishing for two months to think it through. That robber got what he had coming just as this man on the ground here got what was long overdue. Would you mind if I tagged along with you for a week or so? I need a bit of a vacation myownself/”

Dan walked to Evelyn and threw his arms around her. “Thanks. You’ve been a good mother to me even if you ain’t my ma. I’ll be back. Don’t sell the caravan, yet.”

He turned to the deputy, “Where’s the fishin’ real good around here?”


First post – http://wp.me/p5dVRw-1L

9

A couple hours later the two of them were riding toward the mining country around Golden and the big fish along Clear Creek. Daniel was not used to a saddle and demanded a break at midday. “I need to get off this nag and walk on my own two feet for a spell, Tor. Besides all that, I am hungry.”

“If ya wanna get down we can for a spell, but if you’re hungry, you’re gonna have to shoot something.”

“What? You didn’t pack some food?”

“Not a bite. There’s a great spot to rest up about half a mile from here. See what you can shoot with that Winchester under your left leg on the way there. You take the lead.” He pulled his horse off the trail and let Daniel pass.

“Dan, that rifle is yours. Came with the rig. All you are sitting on is the outfit of Bixby. Livery man said Bixby owed him about $14 and he’d take what the man owed for the rig. I figured $14 was a good price for a horse, saddle, rifle, and whatever’s in them saddlebags. Ya might wanna air out that bedroll before it gets dark. Check for bed bugs and lice and such.”

Daniel jumped off the horse. “I can’t take the belongings of a man I killed. It wouldn’t be right, Tor. Not right at all.”

“You didn’t mind the deal when I found it for you. It’s just that it used to belong to Bixby. Is that the drift?”

“Yeah.” Daniel sat on a rock beside the trail. “I can’t do this.”

“Okay. So if you had walked into the livery on your own and the owner offered you this rig without you knowing where it come from, you would of turned it down. Is that right?”

“Well, no.”

“Then what’s the problem. I didn’t twist the man’s arm. I didn’t ask. He didn’t name Bixby until after the deal was done. All he told me was a man owed him and died. I grabbed it cuz it was a great deal. Danged rifle gun alone is worth the money. Take it or walk. I’ll buy it off ya. Matter of fact you still owe me the $14, you ain’t paid me back yet.”

“So it’s your horse and rig?”

Daniel climbed back in the saddle and said, “I’ll ride your horse and riggin’. Ya wanna sell it?”

“Yes I do. $300 for the lot.”

“What!”

“Well, you didn’t like the deal I got for you, now it’s my turn to turn a profit.”

“That ain’t a profit, that’s robbery, highway robbery and a swindle to match. Look at this gun. The bluing is rubbed off all along this side. The butt has a crack and it’s held together with wire. This horse is ugly. The saddle is so worn I can feel the horses backbone under the blanket that you can see through. I’ll give ya $20 for the lot.”

“You think I’d see $300 worth of rig and horse for $20? You must be counting on divine intervention or something.”

“Well, I could try asking the Lord to knock you off that horse your one and give you a Saul moment? But, He don’t work that way. $25.”

“Sold. I don’t wanna be know what at Saul moment is.”

Forty yards down the trail a young elk jump from the bushes. The rifle came up. Tor yelled, “No, you danged fool. We can’t eat that much.” He pulled his pistol and took the head off a large cottontail rabbit not twenty feet the other side of the trail. “That will do. Lunch time, Dan, lunch time.”

He walked his horse over and reached down a long way to pick up the rabbit before he took off in a trot to the great spot he was talking about. Dan followed thinking, ‘Don’t much care for rabbit. The Right Reverend, my pa, fed me that every time the count was down.’

As the rabbit roasted, Dan filled Tor’s request for an explanation of a Saul moment.

“Dang, knocked him to the ground. Made him blind. Yelled at him. And, then he used him to start new churches all over the world? Ooooweeeee. That’d be some moment in my life.”

“Sure was for Saul. God even changed his name to Paul and then Paul lost his head to the Romans in the end.”

“God ain’t too much on protecting folks from the government, is He?”

“I don’t think I want to touch that comment, my friend.” Dan dug in his pocket, “Here’s the $30 I owe ya for the rig.”

“About time. I was beginning to figure the interest on the loan of that fine animal and his riggin’.” Tor got up and walked to his bedroll, stuck his hand in the middle, and came out with a shiny Colt .44 in a worn holster. “Here this goes with it. Bixby’s short gun. It’s a good gun. Tried it myownself. Them grips are real mother-of-pearl, comes from some sea critter, and the .44 is an easy gun to find ammo for in these parts.” He tossed it to Dan.

The rig hit the dirt after Dan backed up and refused to catch it. “You lettin’ that gun lay in the dirt ain’t good for it. Get it on. They’s some wild and woolly boys up in these mountains and we may just have an Indian or two try to steal that nag of yours.”

He paused for a moment and saw that Dan was not going to move. He yelled, “Put it on or I won’t ride with you. This country is dangerous. The critters are dangerous, grizzly and lion, and the danged people are dangerous, male and female. Put. It. On.”

Daniel put it on.

“That was the funniest way of putting on a rig I ever did see. Thumb and forefinger of each and was all you used and it took you forever. Some morning when the world falls apart around us, you will need to get that one in a flash and get off all the shots you can in the poof.”

“Look, Tor. I am not used to a pistol. Never handled one and never owned one. This is Bixby’s, or was Bixby’s. I’m still getting used to sitting on his horse, let alone strapping on his gun rig. Look at that holster, it’s got a tie down. Only folks us them are gunslicks.”

“So cut it off.” Tor tossed his knife in front of Dan’s feet.

Daniel cut it off and tossed the leather string on the hot coals. “Show me how to use it if you’re gonna make me wear it.”

“You’ll get your first lesson tonight. Let’s move. I don’t wanna camp here, too public.”

Five hours later Daniel was standing with his legs spread shoulder wide, his arms dangling at his side, and the six gun on his hip loaded again after tearing the thing completely apart and putting all back together under Tor’s guidance. “You stand like you were watching a nice looking horse walk down the main drag.”

Dan shuffled a bit.

“That’s good. Now make a fist and open your right hand a few times.”

Daniel did.

“Now grab the gun butt, pull, ease the hammer back – whatever you do don’t let it slip – until it clicks the second time, and then pull the trigger while your pointing the gun at that whitish rock over there. The one on the bank of the hill.”

Daniel did. The whitish rock came apart. “Like that?”

Tor stood in his position with his mouth open. That whitish rock was a good 10 yards away or more. First shot and it was a dead rock.

“Do it again. This time get off two shots. Remember, you have to pull the hammer back for each shot.”

Dan put the gun back in the holster. “What you want me to aim at this time?”

“How’s about that branch stickin’ up on that dead tree?” He pointed.

Daniel brought the gun out with no apparent speed, two shots sounded like two shots from two guns one on top of the other like one was just a mite slower than the other. Two branches on the dead tree lying 15 yards or so away disintegrated in puffs of saw dust and bark.

“Reload,” was all Tor could say.

Daniel ejected three cases and inserted three fresh rounds from his belt. “How come?”

“Always reload as soon as you can after firing. You will never know when you might need all five shots.”

Daniel asked, “Why on five rounds? There’s six holes here. In a battle wouldn’t six be better?”

“How many times have your fired a pistol of any kind?”

“Just the three shots today.”

“Then how can you shoot so well. You hit the target and are moderately fast in gettin’ yourself in the fight. You amaze me.”

Daniel looked at him, “Ain’t that what a man’s supposed to do?” He flipped the loading gate shut and spun the cylinder. “Six shots loaded.”

Tor walked over to him and stuck his hand out, “Let me have your .44.”

Daniel lifted it out of the holster and handed it to Tor. “Here ya are. What’s the problem?”

“Watch.”

Tor walked over to the stream bed and grabbed a fist sized rock that was fairly flat on one side. He held the pistol with his hand wrapped around the grip. The hammer was down and his finger was not on the trigger. He smacked the rock into the hammer with the barrel pointed across the stream.

The gun went off sending a slug to ricochet off the water and into the hillside.

“That’s why.”

© 2017 Doug Ball – Author