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FREE BOOK – The DEACON – Episode 14

“I’d rather not, but I gotta eat. Ain’t had nothing since they killed that man back on One Horn Creek. Les should be back in a minute or two. He don’t like that food any more than you. I’m getting . . .” He walked away grumbling.

The Deacon a quick prayer of thanks and opened the door.

The two barrels of a shotgun looked like tunnels. “Get back out where you belong. I told you men, no one comes in this house without my invite. Get.” It was the fat man.

Daniel turned and walked out.

“Don’t that beat all. I get right up to the man and he’s got the drop.” The Deacon walked away from the back side of the house as he saw a man coming his direction. He dropped behind the ruins of the jail shack Diane had been in before. There was not much of it standing after someone had destroyed it. He laid there until the sun’s light no longer did much for the guards.

The man knocked on the door. The fat man answered. They talked for a minute or two. The only words the Deacon caught were, “then someone else is in this area, find him.” just before the door slammed in the man’s face. The man ran to the front of the building shouting order to everyone he passed.

Two men trotted around the house and set up station at the back door. Others went running everywhere, but no one thought of a tumbled down shack in plain sight. The lookouts were sent out to at least three points and a couple of men were put on the roof of the bunkhouse, which had a roof higher than any other building. The voice of the fat man shouted, “Take him alive and we’ll teach him to leave us alone.”


 17

 

Surveying the area left few options for the Deacon. He could stay where he was or move and hope it would work out better. Just as he decided to stick until he could see really well, all havoc broke out. A man came running down the hill behind the house towing a horse. That horse was Solomon. Now he knew he had to do something.

The fat man came out of the house, listened for a moment and started shouting orders about searching the place with a flour sifter if he had to, but he was getting the man who owned the horse. The fat man lined everyone up in two lines facing opposite directions. The lines were anchored on the house at one end and the bunkhouse at the other. The men were spaced far enough away from each other that they could see each other and all that was between them.

He yelled, “Move straight ahead and comb every spot and pile and building on the place. I’ll get the house and the area behind it. Hawkins, you get the area behind the bunkhouse.”

“Yeah Boss,” was the only reply.

The Deacon knew he would be found in about 25 steps. He rolled sideways away from the building until he hit a dip he could not roll out of. Gathering his feet underneath his body he lunged and ran as fast as he could for the tree line a good quarter mile away.

A man shouted, “There he goes,” and threw a couple of quick shots into the night.

The Deacon ran like he had never run before, except maybe the time he got caught in the melon patch. He laughed as that thought went through his mind. Shots were coming at a steady rate behind him, but nothing was hitting very close. The sound of men running soon disappeared in the sound of horses running.

He stopped and turned, gun in hand.

Six horses were just passing the running men. Only three of the horses had riders allowing the runners to attempt to catch and mount the free running horses. He watched one man swing into the saddle by grabbing the horn and then sail all the way over the horse making a hard landing the dirt.

He fired two shots and moved quickly to the left as far as he could without losing too much of the lead. He turned and ran, shots were hitting the dirt where he had fired. In moments he saw a shallow ditch to his left and angled for it. It was too shallow for his purposes. The trees were closer, but still out there a ways.

The poofs of dust were getting closer. He realized he was running over a hump and the stars were behind him in the view the outlaws would have. Cutting his angle back to the right, he willed himself to go faster as he prayed deep in his mind. ‘Lord, this is a bit more delivering that I had asked for. If I had another choice, I’d ask for them to all fall down and let me get to the trees.’ He looked back. They were still coming.

He stopped, turned, and let fly with two more rounds. The rider fell off the lead horse. The Deacon ran. ‘This ain’t getting no easier, Lord. I know you said that vengeance belonged to you in your book. So, you wanna take your vengeance on these sinners, please? Any time now would be fine.’

He found more energy and kicked his feet out in front a bit further with each stride. Before he really thought about what to do next, he was in the trees. A sharp turn to the right seemed appropriate, so he did. He saw the ditch just in time to jump it and get a great idea from it.

A large tree 50 yards further became his barricade. He turned. Punched out the fired rounds and poked 4 rounds in as replacements. Looking back where he had come from, he could see three riders entering the trees. They would go past him if they continued that direction and he would be covered on two sides. Not a good position when a man is afoot and the chasers are on horses.

He fired three shots directly at the lead man who fell forward over the neck of his horse. As the wounded man hung on, the other two drew up. The Deacon fired one more round. He hit nothing but the air it passed through as far as he could tell, but it had the desired effect. The two riders turned toward him and ran their horse into the ditch.

The Deacon ran back and with a heavy hand smacked both men with the barrel of his .44. They both ended on the dirt in disorganized piles. The horse both had broken legs, the Deacon shot them and quickly reloaded. “One of them could have come through this with four good legs, Lord. I would be riding now, but thanks anyway. You’re in charge and not me. Where to now?” he said to the sky.

All he heard was, ‘Whistle.’

He did.

He also worked his way through the trees further away from the runners. As he was ready to fall down and take a rest, he heard the sound of horse’s hooves coming from direction of the ranch. The sky was beginning to look a bit gray allowing a bit better sight in the thick wooded area. The way out was going to be too well lit in a matter of minutes and he would have no chance against the riders coming.

A whiny sounded.

“Solomon?”

Another whiny.

“Solomon. Here boy. You good looking devil you.”

The horse extended his muzzle. The Deacon gave it a quick pat and then swung into the saddle. His spurs just naturally gigged the horse’s ribs none too gently. The horse took off, swerving right and left around the trees at a clip that caused the Deacon to lie down on his neck and pray the horse was smarter than he was.

When the Deacon realized there were no more trees whizzing by, the sky was light enough for even a human to see the trees in spite of the forest. There was just one problem, there were no trees and the two of them were running horse belly to the ground across a large open flat area.

Shots sounded behind him. He turned. They were so far away and off the horses trying for a luck rifle shot. Nothing landed anywhere near.

The Deacon eased back on the reins and said, “Easy there, big boy, we got a ways to go and there may be more coming.” He was checking the surroundings as he spoke and the hills to the right looked like the best option.

‘It was going to be a long ride around the Lazy E in order to get in position in order to save that gal,’ he was thinking.

Not a soul stirred on the grounds of the Lazy E as the Deacon stood in the middle of the yard that had bristled with men 12 hours before. The .44 was hanging in his limp hand as he looked around. Tracks all over indicating a lot of moving around told the story of a rapid evacuation of the grounds.

He entered the last building in his search, the house shack. The stench of old sweaty men’s bodies was mixed with the gentle fragrance of a woman. He checked the only other room to find a bed, if you want to call it that, covered in a tick mattress that was more lump than mattress. No woman’s things were left out in the open that he could see right off. A shiny object caught his eye. He picked it up, a concha. A concha from the belt the girl had been wearing.

He stuck it in his vest pocket and left the ranch site with a new zeal to get that gal out of the hands of the Lazy E.

After riding a mile straight away from the buildings, he did a circle all the way around. Tracks showed that the men leaving had left in groups of two and three, all going in different directions. “That ain’t gonna work, boys. All I gotta do is follow one of you and I get to the meet up spot. The question I have is, which one of you has Diane with you?”

He followed each set of tracks back to the ranch one at a time. On the third one just hundred yards or so from the house, he found another concha. It matched the one in his vest pocket. He pointed Solomon’s nose along the direction of the tracks and kicked Solomon into a steady, ground eating gallop.

Within two hours it was easy to tell that the horse was about done in. The Deacon saw a small trickle of water coming from a seep into a water carved basin just a dozen feet off the trail and stopped. “Not the best place to camp, but it works.”

The horse nudged the water and sucked what was in the basin, which wasn’t much, and then walked toward some dried grass still standing beyond the seep. From the strength of the trickle of water, it was going to be an hour or so before the basin would be filled again. Both horse and rider settled in for a nap.

They had not gone very far after resuming the tracking, when the Deacon got a revelation. The three horses he was following were headed for the gal’s ranch. The man grumbled, “Wish I knew the country. It’d be nice to swing around and beat them there.”

Not a mile more the horse stopped. The Deacon looked around and tried to get him to keep on the trail which was pointed at a group of mixed aspen and fir on the far side of an open area. Every time the Deacon would pull his head straight on, the horse would turn to the right. The man let him go the way he wanted which was the downwind side of the grassy meadow the Deacon was trying to get him to cross.

Not but a few moments into the circle, the strong smell of smoke came to them. “Is that a camp or a rest spot, Solomon?”

The horse bobbed his head.

They travelled on until the Deacon caught the hint from the horse that it was time to turn back to the trail which brought them to a spot where the fire and the movement of men around the fire were seen. “Looks like they’re in for the night. Got’em a brush shelter, for the lady of course, and a chunk of meat on the fire. They musta brought that with them. There haven’t been any shots fired since this morning at the ranch.”

He dismounted and started toward the fire.

Half way to the fire he heard a noise off to his right. As he turned his head swiftly in that direction, his world went crazy. A dizziness hit him, his eyes refused to focus, and the day went dark as he fell to the dirt.

He woke up to the sun on the other side of the sky. He had been out all night. Trying to stand was a comedy show in itself. A whistle brought the horse after he checked in the direction of the fire to find nothing there. The horse walked up behind him as he was checking his gun. He turned quickly and the dizziness hit again, only this time he grabbed a tree and held on it and consciousness at the same time. Solomon looked at him as if to agree the Deacon had a problem.

The Deacon took inventory. He had been shot. He had fallen. He had not eaten for two days. The combination was obviously dangerous for him. Cogitating on all of it brought back a memory of a time when Evelyn had been climbing the steps into the caravan when his father had opened the door in a powerful hurry catching Evelyn in the head. Evelyn had gone down hard, landing on the back of her head. She was dizzy and out of sorts of a few days. His dad was mad because she could not sing and draw the crowd.

Dad had called her problem something that was hanging on the back of his mind. A concussion. That’s what his problem was, a concussion. How long would it last? How many times would he fall? How was he going to rescue the gal if he kept sleeping for many hours at a time? Something about sleep rang a bell. Someone with a concussion was not supposed to got to sleep for a day or so.

Well, he had stayed awake for a couple of days so he should be all right. But, he was not all right. Why?

“Solomon, we got a problem.” The horse bobbed his head.

“Is that the only answer you have?” The horse bobbed his head.

“Forget it.” He took the reins and walked into the campsite. Another Concha was lying in the dirt just under the edge of an emerging fern curl. Next to it was the ‘Rafter B’ scratched in the dirt.

He had been right. Now all he had to do was get there. Something else caught his eye. On the fern curl was a spot of what looked like blood. Her blood? Was she trying to show that she was hurt or being hurt?

“Come on, Sol, we got places to go and no time to get there.”

He let the horse set the pace.

Free Book – The DEACON – Episode 8 – Tell me what ya think

“I wanted you to come back anyhow, but not this way. Did ya have to bring your friends?”

“They got a bit pushy. Who’s that you got there with you?”

“Wounded man. Still breathing, but that’s about it.”

Tor leaned into his rifle butt and squeezed off a round that took a horse out from under one of the riders. Daniel’s following shot sent the rider tumbling. The last rider pulled up behind a large fir tree filled with moss. Dan couldn’t see him. He put five rounds through the tree about man high.

Tor did the same thing as Daniel reloaded.

While Daniel was reloading, he could hear the wounded man trying to say something. He leaned down to listen. He whispered desperately, “They took her.”

“Who?”

“They took her, my daughter, they took her.”

“Where?”

“North . . . uuhhh . . . west.”

“What’s her name?”

He tried to sit up. Daniel held him down. “Calm down, we’ll help ya.”

“They took her.”

“What’s her name and why?”

Daniel could see that the man was getting weaker and weaker with every breath.
“What’s her name?”

“Diane. Just like her . . .  mother . . . Diane.”

“Where would they take her?”

“The ranch. Get her back. They’ll …. kill …” He tried to sit up.

Daniel eased him back down, “Who are they?”

He breathed a shallow breath. Blood oozed from the hole in his chest. Daniel could see him gather himself for one more answer. “Lazy E brand. My . . .Rafter B. . . save it for her.” He paused with a gasp that Daniel thought was his death rattle. “Kill . . . Bur…”

This time he did die. It was over for him.

Tor stopped firing as a horse ran out from behind the tree they had fired at. “Let’s go see what’s what over there.” He looked at the dead man. “He still alive?”

“No. Just died. We got a problem.”


11

“I don’t have a problem, yet. All we gotta do is make sure those three over there are dead or gone and then do some buryin’.”

“Tor, this man says they took his daughter and he has a ranch they are trying to take from her.”

Nothing had moved for a while. Tor stood up so he could see the ground just over the creek bank. Nothing. “Let’s ride.”

‘It is over,’ Daniel thought, ‘I killed at least one more man. God forgive me.’ He started shaking.

Tor walked his horse through the stream and up the bank into the campsite before looking back, “You comin’ or you gonna stand there and feel sorry for yourself. We defended ourselves from them killers and now we gotta take care the leavin’s.”

Daniel walked through the stream and started toward the fir tree he had filled full of holes. He was half way there when he remembered Solomon. The horse was off a couple hundred yards to the east grazing on the sparse grass alongside the creek. “Solomon, you’d do me a favor if you came here.” He whistled.

The horse lifted his head, looking straight at Daniel. He bowed his head for another bite and Daniel thought he was in for a long walk to get the horse. Instead, Solomon picked up his head and started trotting toward him with his head off to one side to keep from stepping on the reins. Daniel waited and when the horse got close, Daniel grabbed the saddle horn and climbed aboard wondering what else this horse could do.

At the fir tree, Tor was examining the bleeding man on the ground. “Bout time you got here. Check them other two. This one’s still alive. If them two are dead, check the horses for brands and clean out the saddlebags for letters and stuff that might tell us about these men. Did that other horse run far?”

Daniel looked around. “Nah, he’s over at the tree line munching on the grass.”

“Check him out. We could use a pack horse or two.”

Daniel checked the first man. Dead. The second was still alive, but just barely. He had a round through his middle just above his belt line and another in a lung which was bubbling pink blood.

He hunkered down next to the man, “Fella, you are dying. Are you right with your Creator?”

“You . . some kinda . . . idjot . . or what?”

“I’m a preacher.”

“You . . shot me.”

“You tried to kill me. What did you expect? Would it make a difference if I said I’m sorry.”

The man spit in his face. “Damn you.” He fell back and breathed one last breath as one last bubble popped on his chest.

“I think you are the one that is damned. I just need God’s guidance in a better way to deal with men like you.” Daniel was talking out loud as Tor eased up behind him.

“My man’s dead.” He heard what Dan said and added, “What other way is there to handle men that are coming at you shooting and trying to kill you and send you to heaven?”

“I don’t rightly know. Me and God will have a couple of long discussions about this.”

“Daniel, why do you think God gave you the gift of being able to hit a fly in the eye at fifty paces with a six gun and take out a running rabbit at a hundred?”

“So I can eat.”

“You really mean that don’t you. You’re not just talkin’?”

“Yeah.”

“Did you ever think that maybe God wants a Christian man to stand up for the weak and take care of the feeble, the orphans, the women, and such?”

“Well, yeah. Been thinking and praying on that, but God ain’t done no answerin’ yet.”

Tor swept his arm around the whole scene before them and said, “You really believe this isn’t God speaking. What’s it gonna take? You waiting for Him to boom out of the clouds with words loud and clear?”

“That would be nice and definite, wouldn’t it?”

“Yeah, but I don’t think He works that way. He’s a bit more subtle. He sends three killers after you while you’re helping an old man die. He tells you there’s a weak woman off someplace in trouble, a woman that can lose her ranch. We don’t even know if there’s kids involved. Matter of fact, we don’t know that the woman is a woman and not a snotty nosed kid still.”

“Let’s bury these four bodies and get on up the trail of the rest of the killers.”

“Sounds like a good idea. We done took care of a bunch of killers and put a dent in the forces of evil what took the gal. Come to think on that, did you think you were fighting evil here just as much as you would be in the tent or the opry hall or wherever? Too bad we don’t have Miss Evelyn here to make for a nice send off for these three hoodlums and specially the old man over there.”

“Shut up,” Daniel smiled. “Let’s get the burying done. You dig and I’ll say the words over their graves.”

“You help dig and I’ll listen to the words. How’s that?”

“What we gonna dig with? This dirt’s hard as a rock and filled with rocks.”

“Let me look around.” He rode off toward the trees.

Daniel caught up the only horse standing. He had to finish one that was wounded too bad to save. He found a bit of jerky and some pinon nuts in one set of bags and nothing else but a few rounds of ammo and a clean shirt. Tor claimed the shirt and they split the ammo.

The sun was low on the horizon as they set the last two rocks on the grave. “I really wish we could have given the old man his own grave and not had to bury him with his killers.”

“Get out of it. There was just this one big knocked down tree I could find. They all fit in the root hole and there was a mess of rocks up close. They are dead. You told me yourself as we laid them to rest, these are just casing for their souls. God will pick them up later.”

“I guess you could say it thataway, but I still don’t like it.”

“Daniel, when you get to likin’ killin’ and buryin’, it’s time for you to hang up your gun and spend the rest of your days praying.” Tor pointed toward their horses. “Let’s mount up and git. By the way, I like what that gunsmith did with the grips on your gun. That engraved cross in blood red says a lot about the man carrying the gun.”

“It gives me a good grip, but I think it’s a bit dramatic.”

“Not for the showman for the Lord that you are.”

“I ain’t nothin’ but a servant in the Lord’s house.”

“Well now, let me do some figurin’ here. The Lord’s house is the Church, right?”

“Well, yeah, you could call it that.”

“And the servants of the Church are called Deacons, right.”

“Yeah. They were set up to help the weak widows and orphans.”

“So that makes you a Deacon, don’t it.”

“I guess you could say that. All I want is to be a servant of the Lord.”

“Okay, Deacon, you got yourself a name.”

“What? You’re gonna change my name?”

“Yup. God did that with Abram and Saul when they started working for Him. Why not you? I like the ring to the name, Deacon.”

“I ain’t too sure, Tor. I ain’t really cut out to be helpin’ widows and orphans and such.”

“Which piece is missing?”

The Deacon didn’t have an answer.

After tying two saddles to the saddle on the one standing horse, and making sure the guns were tied on tight, they rode into the trees with rifle butts on their thighs, leading their new packhorse. The tracks led them not more than a hundred yards into the trees before turning left and following the terrain through the trees until they cut to the right and uphill along a cut with a small trickle of water flowing and up over a pass a ways past the spring that fed the trickle.

Once over the pass, Tor called a halt for the night. “Gonna be too dark to see the track right soon and I’m getting’ a mite hungry.”

“I’m beyond hungry.”

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.”

The Deacon – Episode 5

“Sounds like my father. Tell me about it.”

The deputy looked around. “Let’s go in that café. I could use a cup a coffee and maybe breakfast.”

“I got a dollar. I’ll buy.”

By the time the eggs and bacon, flapjacks, honey, and a slab of beef was set in front of them to enjoy, the cups that had been filled three times, the story came out.

The elder Fount had been in a notorious saloon on the edge of Denver. The poker game was wild and high stakes. The barmaid had brought another round of drinks to the drunken Right Reverend Fount and he grabbed her, pulling her into his lap. The gambler across the table told he to let her go. He refused. The gambler got up and smacked the retired phony preacher with his gun. The preacher challenged him to a duel for his honor. The gambler provided him with a gun and then stepped out the back door. The gun was empty, the gambler’s wasn’t. Three shots were fired and only one hit preacher Fount. It was a good one, a quarter inch over his right eye. He died instantly.

Daniel felt the catch in his throat and worked hard to hold back tears. His father would never have another chance to change his ways. “I’d like to go make arrangements after we finish here. Which parlor has him?”

The deputy slurped another slug of the acidic coffee before saying, “It’s just down the block and around the corner. I’ll walk ya down there. Need a formal identification for my report on the murder. That gambler is going to swing from the county gallows, my friend.”

“If I forgive him will that change anything?”

“No. Would you really forgive the man who killed your father?”

“Yes I would. I believe I can do that and be alright with the court’s ruling.” He turned to his meal, carefully cutting a fair sized hunk of beef and putting it in his mouth.

“Don’t think I could do that, Preacher Daniel. Matter of fact, I’m sure I couldn’t do that.”

“A week ago I couldn’t have done it either. Let me tell ya why I can now.”

Twenty minutes later the deputy said, “Maybe someday I’ll think that way, but not just now.”

“Don’t wait too long. Come tonight and I’ll tell ya more.”

In the funeral parlor, the Right Reverend Lawrence P. Fount was laid out on a marble slab boosted four feet off the ground by two marble pedestals looking right peaceful and dead. His head was covered with a cloth. “He died instantly, young Daniel, instantly,” was the mortician’s opening remark.

“That’s my father? I want to see his face.” was all Daniel could say for a few moments.

“Son, when a man is shot with a .44 in the back of the head, there is no face.”

The deputy introduced Daniel to the mortician, Ev Biscotti. “He’s the best there is in this town.”

“Why thank you, Tor. I’ll put that in my next flier.”

The mortician turned to Daniel, “It’s a shame he had to die like that, shot in the back of the head is painless, though.”

“Back of the head?” It finally sunk in enough for comment by the deputy.

“Why yes, the bullet went all the way through. When I got to cleaning him up, it was easy to tell that it went in the back and out the front.”

The deputy said, “You sure?”

“Oh, yes, quite.”

“That puts a bit of a different light on the argument that Bixby has. He says they stepped off the paces and then turned and fired. The preacher here supposedly fired first, but we found the gun had no casings left in it and didn’t smell like it had been fired recently. Bixby fired three times at him.” The deputy stopped and thought for a moment or two, “I knew that was a lie, because this man bled out not six feet from the back door. Old Bixby really wanted a sure thing then, an empty gun and then shoot in the back. Ain’t never heard of anything surer when it comes to winning a gun fight. He’ll hang, no doubt of that.” Tor turned and walked outside where he sat on the steps writing his notes while he waited for Daniel.

Daniel finally came out, turning toward the caravan without even seeing the deputy.

“What that your father, Daniel.”

“Yeah, I checked the stuff Mr. Biscotti took from his pockets and the rings on his fingers,” Daniel held his hand out showing three rings, “It was him.”

The deputy jotted down his affirmation. “What you gonna do now, Daniel.”

“Preach the Word and try to live like Jesus.”

“Man, you sure do have that stuff stuck in your head don’t you?”

“Sure do. Makes life easier.” He turned and kept on walking.

The deputy went to the office to file his report with the marshal, knowing he would have to go get the gambler, Bixby. He thought of how he could set up a fake breakaway by Bixby so he could kill the man, but then the words Daniel had said to him stopped him cold. Something about forgiving those that hurt you the worst. Not his normal way of thinking. He’d have to think on it.

By sundown, the gambler was in jail, alive, Tor was sitting in row four on the aisle, Daniel was ready for the night’s service, the place was packed, and Miss Evelyn was warming up to sing, ‘Amazing Grace,’ always a favorite of every crowd. The pianist began playing as Miss Evelyn strolled onto the stage from the wings.

As the pianist reached the second time through the melody, Evelyn began singing. The crowd went quiet and listened.

Daniel got up from his knees in the wings as she hit verse three. By verse four he was ready, standing behind the wing curtain with his Bible in hand, something he had not always done on nights before. The song ended as Evelyn sang verse one again ending it with a repeat of, ‘But now I see.’

The applause was tremendous.

Daniel waited until it began to die before stepping out.

The room went silent.

Daniel began with, “Tonight we will see. WE will see.” He paused, took a deep breath, and gave them the words that God had given the world in His book about the blind seeing.

An hour later the crowd was getting antsy. He felt it. He stopped and prayed.

The piano player played slow and soft, ‘Amazing Grace.’ Daniel invited them to come to the front and speak with him or maybe even the pastor from the night before. Miss Evelyn began to sing quietly, so quietly that the back rows could not even hear her, but they knew she was singing.

The deputy was the first one to meet Daniel at the front. Daniel threw his arm over the man’s shoulders and said, “Are you ready to be God’s’ man?”

“No. I’m only here to protect you. The gambler escaped and swore he would kill you before he was caught again. He also stated he would never be put in jail again. You and me need to be careful.”

“I will. Why don’t you move up on the stage and keep your eyes on the whole crowd and then those who want to can get down here to me.”

“I’ll be watching.”

Nothing more happened until early the next morning when Daniel heard Evelyn scream in the caravan above his bed. He leaped out of bed and through the canvas curtains that gave him privacy. A scuffle was going on in the caravan. He ran to the back and threw open the door to see Evelyn being pounded by the fists of an angry man.

“Where is that lying phony? I’m gonna kill him just like I killed that phony reverend of a father,” the man yelled in the face of the cowed woman.

Daniel said a quiet tone he didn’t feel, “I am here.”

The man turned and leaped at him. Daniel ducked allowing the man to fly over him and onto the ground. Daniel spun around and leaped on top of the man. The man sliced his arm with a knife Daniel had not seen. Daniel grabbed the man’s wrist and twisted his entire arm in a direction the arm was never designed to bend. The man dropped the knife and kneed Daniel in the groin. Daniel fell back bleeding from the cut on his arm and serious pain in his crotch.

In the background, Evelyn was screaming for Daniel to kill the man. Daniel looked to see Evelyn bleeding from the face and standing in her tattered gown which left nothing to the imagination. “Go inside,” he said, swinging at the attacker.

“I’ll kill you just like I did your father, kid.” The man spit at Daniel’s face, but missed, the plug of tobacco dribbled down the front of the gambler’s vest.

“I don’t think so. I am not drunk or helpless. Surrender and you’ll get a fair trial.”

The man swung a roundhouse blow that missed as Daniel stepped inside to deliver two heavy blows to the killer’s flabby gut. The man fell back.

Daniel followed hitting him with blow after blow, continuing even after the man was on his back in the dirt as he said, “Surrender. Surrender. Surrender.”

A hand came from nowhere and spun Daniel around, pushing him to the ground away from the bleeding gambler.

The deputy said, “That’s enough. He’s out.”

The deputy walked the two steps to the gambler and grabbed his arm to pull him up. The man offered no resistance. He offered nothing. The gambler was dead.

The deputy looked at Daniel, “He’s dead. You finished him and did the city of Denver a huge favor.”

Daniel could not believe his ears. “No, he can’t be dead. I can’t kill a man. All I did was hit him with my fists. God will not forgive me for murder,” he rambled. The rambling went on even after Evelyn, wrapped in a robe, took him in her arms.

“Daniel, he was going to kill us both. You had to do it, or we both would be dead. Don’t you understand, you were defending me. The Bible says believers are to defend the weak and helpless.”

“It doesn’t say to kill the attackers. Cain slew Able with a rock and God condemned him.”

“Sometimes you have to when they offer no other way. You tried to get him to surrender and he refused. He chose to die rather than surrender to trial and hanging. Now his only judgment will be before God.”

The deputy stood up from his examination of the body, “One of your punches caught him in the nose. His nose bone was driven up into his brain. I’ll bet you never thought a punch in the face would kill him.”

“No. He died from my fist. I killed him. Killing is wrong.”

“Would you have him kill me?” Evelyn asked.

“No.”

“Do you know how many other men like your father this man has killed one way or another?”

“No.”

The DEACON – Episode 4 – Constructive Critique requested

The food arrived and disappeared down their throats faster than a chicken will suck up a worm. Daniel stood, yawned, and stretched, “I’m for a nap. Let’s go move Dad out of the caravan. If he ain’t there, all the better.”

“He’s still you earthly father, Dan.”

“Yup, he is. He can move underneath with me. Plenty of room for two separate bedrooms under there.”

“He isn’t gonna like it.”

“That is really his problem. He passed the baton to me when he got so drunk he couldn’t preach. Now it’s my show and he’s welcome to tag along.

6

The two of them stood behind Miner’s Hall praying. The air was still and sticky telling Denver it was in store for a storm. “Let’s get inside before we get soaked.”

Evelyn answered, “I really don’t want to go in there. There are many ways for God to provide the answers to those prayers on the hilltop.”

“We’ll never know until the curtain opens.

They entered after knocking on the stage door to get the stage hand to open it.

He smiled, “I’m whipped. I never knew prayer could be such hard work. I joined Jesus last night after my wife explained some of it to me. I still need that conversation we were gonna have.”

“Congratulations. I forgot with all the excitement and the hilltop experience.” He motioned toward the hall, “How’s it look?”

“Don’t know. I’ll find out with you with we draw the curtain. It’s very quiet out there and there’s just five minutes til start up.”

They moved to the rope that controlled the curtain. The piano began quietly. No other noise could be heard. A quiet piano version of Amazing Grace lifted.

Evelyn walked to the middle of the stage still behind the curtain. As the piano got to the closing line of the verse and played the first three sections of the last line, she stepped through the gap onto the stage, down center, to the brightest stage light lifting from the biggest foot light, and began to sing as the piano continued.

Backstage there was still no sound from an audience.

Daniel listened as she sang. At the end of the first verse he stepped through the curtain. Every seat was filled. The side aisles and the back were filled with standing men and women. An occasional child could be seen, but all were quiet.

Daniel stood in awe. His body began to shake from fear. Only organized angry people could stay that quiet as they waited for the key word that would loose the lions on the two of them.

He looked out over that crowd with his Bible in his hand. They had come and by all that was Holy they would hear the word. He opened the Bible and began to read. “For God so loved, HE LOVES YOU, the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever, WHOSOEVER, believed on Him, THE SON, should not parish, DIE, BUT, BUT, hear me, BUT have everlasting life. Perfect life. No sorrow. No tears. No pain. No fear of death. The perfect life for all eternity, THAT MEANS FOREVER. From right now until FOREVER.

He nodded to Miss Evelyn telling her it was time to quit the song. Evelyn shook her head and sang louder. He lifted his arms high in a gathering motion, “Come, come as I did three nights ago. Come to Christ. Come find life anew. Come in faith that all this is true. Come, now is the day of deliverance from your bondage to the devil,” he shouted over the music.

Minutes went by. No one moved. No one made a sound. Then one young woman against the back wall began sobbing and walked toward the stage. A cowboy walked forward with his hat in his hands covering his face. A kid came smiling. A brushy faced old man hobbled to the front, shouting, “Hallelujah.” Some folks laughed, but even those were laughing without mocking. The man yelled even louder, “Hallelujah.” The crowd echoed his cry, “Hallelujah.” The windows rattled and dust fell from the chandeliers.

Daniel cried real big tears of joy. Miss Evelyn moved to the stairs and joined the growing crowd at the foot of the stage. A local pastor joined her in providing counsel to those seeming to be sobbing out of control and answer any questions put to them.

One laughing couple asked, “Can we be baptized now?”

The pastor said the river was a good place and began a march to the river that stopped at the first horse trough. First the pastor slid Daniel under the surface of the water and then Daniel moved across the street to another trough and began baptizing all those who were willing. Cries of, “Thank you, Jesus,” and “Hallelujah” were heard as the seemingly endless lines of people were dipped in the mossy waters of the troughs.

After an hour, Daniel noticed that the lines were down and a crowd was standing around, many of them dry as a bone. He jumped to the stand on the hitching rail and pulled himself up on the roof of the shade over the wooden sidewalk, where he shouted, “Come to the waters in faith all you sinners. Know the true God of this world. Live the life He designed for you.” He kept beckoning as the dry individuals slowly walked away or came crying to the trough.

As it was apparent that the folks were not going home, but were standing around praying, singing, or just plain watching, Daniel began the sermon he had prepared for this night. The street before him squirmed with live bodies trying to hear the Word. More people were caught up in the excitement and some were even directed to the trough where the Pastor continued to baptize all that agreed to the Sacrament.

At 1 AM, a local deputy from the Marshall’s office walked up to a position under Daniel as he stood on the roof, “Sir, I must ask you to stop preaching and allow these folks to go home. We do have a noise ordinance and there have been complaints. There are also laws against blocking the street and holding a parade without a permit.”

“My apologies, I didn’t note the time was so late.”

“I’ll give you fifteen minutes to disperse this crowd,” the deputy added with a smile.

Daniel spoke a few words and said a long prayer of thanksgiving before notifying all present that it was time to get out of the road and go home.

The crowd slowly dispersed with much cheering and singing as they went. Miss Evelyn was found seated on the edge of the sidewalk, sobbing. She answered Daniel’s query with, “I’m so happy.”

Daniel took her arm and led her to the caravan.

His father wasn’t home.

Pushing aside the canvas drapes, he crawled under the caravan and crashed into his blankets thinking he would hunt for him in the morning. He chuckled to himself when he realized it was early morning and shut his eyes.


8

Evelyn yelled and pounded on the bottom of the caravan, “He didn’t come home. We need to find him.”

Daniel used his boot to thump his acknowledgement to her call and crawled out of bed. Once dressed, he moved out from under the caravan and wondered which saloon or brothel he would find his father in this time.

Evelyn opened the side window of the caravan, “How much longer you going to keep hunting him down every other morning?”

“Until he’s dead or breaks the habit. Or, he could be hit by the truth of all those sermons he preached as a phony and then we could work together.”

“That would surely be miracle.”

Dan smiled, “No more than my change and last night.”

“Yeah, you’re right.” She paused, “Well, go find him. I’ll get dressed and get us some breakfast. Oh, did you bring the bucket home?”

“No. I’ll look for that, too.”

He trotted down the hill to the opera house. The bucket was there by the back door, but there was only one silver dollar in it. The silver dollar went in a pocket and the bucket was left at the back door. The nearest saloon was two doors down. No one was there.

He started walking.

Seven saloons and two brothels later, he met the deputy from the night before. “What you doin’ out here at this hour? The preaching don’t start till dark, does it?”

“You’re right. Dark. I’m looking for my father. Heavy man, white hair, clean shaved, about your height. Wear’s black broadcloth suits most of the time.”

The deputy stepped back. “I know where he is. I was just coming to see ya about your daddy.”

“Problems?”

“Not for me anymore.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I think your father is at the funeral parlor.”

“Is he trying to do the services or something?”

“No,” he paused and took his hat off, “He’s dead.”

“How?”

“Got in a gun fight with a bad man gambler over a floozy.”

Free Book – The DEACON – Episode 3 – Critique requested

5

“Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, I stand here before you a humbled man. As many of you may have seen last night, I was struck down by the power of knowing that I was a sinner and needed the Christ I have been preaching. My father was a fraud and I have been a fraud for almost four years. Now I am the new man I have spoken of many times. Now, I am one transformed to being God’s man by His power. I stand before you a true, renewed man of God, convicted of the truth of the words I have been preaching by the Holy Spirit, and ready to share those same words with you in truth and power.”

The audience sat or stood in silence. Vegetables fell to the dirt. Fruit was dropped. Bags and baskets were pushed aside. Miss Evelyn began signing softly to his right. The crowd slowly gathered in the words of the song, ‘Just as I Am,’ they stood and joined in the singing. Not one verse was missed. Not one person stood silent, they hummed if they did not know the words

Daniel stood with his head hanging and his hands clasped at his chest in awe of the power of the truth.

The first rotten thing hit him, a potato. The rancid stench filled his nose as the eggs and garbage flew pelting him harder and harder until he was covered in the slime of an angry city. He fell to his knees crying from the sense that he deserved all this and they had every right to vent on him.

Evelyn sang louder as she joined him on the stage. The target became her as she joined Daniel on her knees. Words like hypocrite and liar filled the air. The venom of the words was stunning to young Daniel’s mind. How could they hate so much that another had join the Kingdom of God? How?

Louder and louder the audience raged until all became silence as if someone turned off the entire group at once.

Daniel looked up. All he could see were the backs of twenty or thirty folks leaving the building. They were done. He felt that he had only begun. Tomorrow night they would be here with the power of the message, the Gospel of Jesus, and not the sweetness of a man trying to lure the dollars from the suckered crowd.

There was no time to mourn or pout, no time to second guess, he had to preach. All that he was told him that. “This is our baptism, Evelyn. Let’s get to work.”

There was no reply.

He looked to his right and saw Evelyn lying on the stage, blood coming from her forehead.

“Oh, God, please let her live,” he cried louder than he had ever spoken before.

“You care that much?” Evelyn asked.

“Yes,” he replied, startled.

“Let’s get this mess cleaned up. We got a service tomorrow night that will be a world changer, I’m sure.” His face was bright red and it wasn’t from exertion.

The cleanup took until the small hours of the morning. The stage hand had left around midnight leaving only Evelyn and Daniel. Daniel had peeled down to his shirtsleeves and trousers. Evelyn worked in the dress she started in. “It’s destroyed anyhow. The stains and the stink will never come out. I’ll trash it when we’re done.”

As they left the building, rolling the last two wheelbarrows full of garbage before them, Evelyn started singing, ‘More About Jesus Would I Know.’

“Where’d that song come from?”

“It’s a new one I just got the music on. I kinda like it. How about you?”

“It fits, somehow. I like it.”

They arrived at the caravan with both of them singing the song. As it ended again, “Goodnight, Dan.”

“Goodnight, Evelyn.”

An hour later his father came under the caravan to join Daniel. “She won’t open the door, Daniel. Make her open the door.”

“No, Dad.” He reached up and grabbed a blanket from a shelf he had built there years ago. “Here, Evelyn and I are living a new life now. You can join us in Jesus, stay with us as my father, or leave. Goodnight.” He rolled over as a very drunk and perplexed man tried to figure out what was happening and how to wrap himself in the blanket.

Noon found Daniel walking around town in his work clothes hanging new posters all over. The posters read, “The message is the same, but the heart delivering it is changed forever” at the top of the same old poster they had used for years. “Come hear the truth” was at the bottom.

When he finished he stepped into The Grub House to get something to eat only to be received with, “Boo, go away you phony.” A cry of “The imposter had arrived, give him an egg,” followed. The waitress walked up to him and said, “How could you fake your sermons so well. Only the devil himself would be able to do that.”

He replied, “The devil was truly at work.” He handed her one of two posters he still had. “Come see the real thing tonight.”

She turned her back on him and refused the poster.

A large man smelling of blood stepped up to him, “You better get outta town, faker. Most folks don’t care much for swindles and you been pulling a swindle. You get on that stage tonight and you just likely to get tarred and feathered before be lift by a splintery rail and carried out of town.”

“I wouldn’t try that if I were you.” Daniel turned and walked out with his head hanging.

Seven PM rolled around and Daniel watched the seats in the Miner’s Hall. Only two were filled. No one was coming. He had purposefully taken the offering bucket and stashed it in the caravan so folks could see he wasn’t after the money.

Daniel nodded to Evelyn telling her to step out and start singing. She did. Amazing Grace rang through the hall like it was being sung by an angel. Her new dress sparkled in the light of the candles and lantern as if it were a piece of the dark summer sky.

The two drunks in the seats were shocked into wakefulness. The first said, “What’s that caterwauling, Roger.”

Roger replied, “Some cow’s got her teat in a ringer and the farmer’s still trying to get more milk.”

The two of them laughed themselves silly and went back to sleep by the time Miss Evelyn got to the part about ten thousand days.

She finished her two songs and walked off the stage. “Daniel, we’re done.”

“Meet me on the hill behind the caravan in twenty minutes.”

“I can do that.”

“Wear old clothes.”

“I can do that, too.”

He turned and walked to the two drunks, woke them up, and escorted them out of the building so the stagehand could lock up.

The stagehand asked as he ushered Daniel out the stage door, “You done?”

“The hall is paid for the rest of the week. I will use it for the rest of the week and maybe, just maybe, if the Lord is generous, I will pay up on the option for another two weeks.”

“Works for me. I gotta be here no matter how it’s used or it ain’t. No matter to me. I would like to hear more of what you was talkin’ off that last night before you fainted.”

“I’ll be here at noon and discuss it with you.”

“Where ya off to, Daniel?”

“Up yonder hill to pray. Evelyn and I will be up there for quite a spell, I would imagine. I got a lot to confess and get off my chest, and then there’s a lot I think needs to happen in this town and I aim to find out if God agrees.” He started to walk away.

“Can anybody come up there, Preacher?”

“You?”

“Yeah. And my wife. She thinks you’re a great preacher and a very brave man.”

Daniel flustered, “Nothing great about me. I just let God go to work on and through me. Come on up and bring a friend or two. I don’t care.”

“See ya in about an hour. Gotta finish locking up, making sure all the lights are out, and the till is in the safe. Ooops, no till, no safe needed.”

Daniel set his face toward the hill and started walking, dropping his coat off at the caravan, and grabbing a heavier jacked to kneel on and use if it got chilly. The top was empty when he arrived, but the sound of small rocks being disturbed came from behind and he knew at least one other person would be there, Evelyn.

“I’m here,” she said.

He fell to his knees and began praying silently with his face raised to the heavens. Evelyn understood and joined him five feet away. Within minutes they were both on their faces with tears dripping from their noses into the dirt. Neither of them heard the stage hand and his wife join their small group. Twenty minutes later six others joined. The Presbyterian preacher brought a few with him a few minutes later. By 10 PM a crowd of over a hundred was on that hilltop praying, yet not a sound was heard except sobbing.

By midnight folks were leaving the hilltop, many of them totally wrung out before their God. At the sound of the city clock announcing 1 AM, the crowd was half diminished. As the sun rose in the east, only two were still there. Each of them was standing with arms outraised welcoming the new day, praying harder that it would be a new day and life for many in the city below them.

Daniel looked at Evelyn, “Let’s go eat.”

Evelyn replied, “I feel filled.”

“So do I, but I am still hungry for food.”

They walked down the hill and across the streets until they arrived at The Grub House. No one said a word except the waitress. “What can I getcha this morning, Preacher?”

“Coffee.” He looked at Evelyn, who nodded, “Make that two.”

“Hey, Jim. Two cups a wide-awake for the Preacher and the Singer.”

“Comin’ right up.”

The waitress handed them a copy of their morning offering which offered eggs, side meat, steak, taters, beans, and grits in any combination cooked any way the cook cooked them.

They both knew what the place had, Evelyn said, “Load a plate for me,” and looked at Daniel.

“Same here,” he said.

They sat at an empty table and just looked at each other. Two smiles began to grow until Daniel said, “God’s gonna do something in the hall tonight that will determine the rest of my life. I really feel like He told me that up on the hill.”

“That goes along with what I felt. I feel He told me that my work was just beginning. The other side of that is, He wants me to dump your father and stay with you as your opener.”

“Dad isn’t going to like that after these past years.”

“I can no longer live in sin with a man not my husband. He refused to marry me last time I asked him. He was drunk enough to give a bar gal a twenty dollar bill, but not drunk enough to marry an ex-saloon gal and singer. I’m done with him. God said it had to be. I felt I had to sleep with him or I wouldn’t have a home or a job. My own stinking thinking kept me there. Your dad even preached that sermon one time in a camp where folks were all livin’ together without benefit of marriage because a preacher had never come to town and he found out. In his case it had nothing to do with sin. He wanted the money they’d pay for the weddings. It worked. He did 22 weddings that after noon and the least he received was a five dollar nugget which I still have in my case. It’s been my mad money for almost six years now. Well, I’m mad but I ain’t the one that’s gonna be movin’ out. I may have been a saloon gal, but I am not one now.”

“Sounds good to me.” He looked at her with new insight into the complexity of life as a Christian for a woman with a history.

FREE book. THE DEACON brought to you live from beautiful downtown Witch Well, Arizona.

THE DEACON is the title of my NANOWRIMO effort.

I will be posting it on this blog as I write. The first three or four days will be long because I have over 8000 words written already. Once we are caught up you will get my (hopefully) daily writings IN THE ROUGH for your perusal.

I beg you to comment on this effort. Plus or minus comments are welcome. Please try to make them constructive comments. Don’t worry about typos. We are looking at a story, a narrative, so your comments concerning plot, characters, events, actions, etc. are what I would appreciate.

I will post each days writing (on days I write) the next morning.

Tell your friends and enemies about this great FREE opportunity.

Be blessed and keep writing.

THE PANTSER GOES PLANNER, or look out outline here I come.

They tell me there are two kinds of writers.

The first is the PLANNER. The PLANNER sits and thinks, writing down an outline of varying level of detail, and then writes the document. The PANTSER, on the other hand, just sits down and writes with a varying number of ideas in his/her head concerning the document.

I was a PANTSER, hardcore. Of my 10 fiction books, all where pantsed. I sat with a varying level of ideas and let my muse take control. My muse has been getting lazy. The last three tries at novels have ended up dead ended at the 20-30,000 word stage. My 10th novel, SAILOR, I published at the 30,000 word length and still think its a better book because of that.

Now I have three, 3, books in progress and all are trying to end way to soon.

So, I am going to try being a PLANNER. I will sit and world build, deepen my characters with all kinds of emotional and physical stressers, and drag it through the mud of the thesaurus until I come up with an outline.

Can that really be a way to write a book? I fight myself on this choice. It just isn’t natural, for me at least.

All I really want to know is which type pays best in personal satisfaction. If I were in this for the money, I’d be a joke.

Pray for me,

Now go write.

WHY I WRITE IN SO MANY GENRES

I had never given that question much thought. I was born a while back and done many things since then. My grandkids think I fought in the Revolutionary War, but it was really the evolutionary war. My wife thinks I sits too much and need more exercise, but when I ask ‘pretty please’ to go on a hike, she tells me to sit down and stop such foolishness. Goin’ hiking anyhow. I dug ditches before shovels were invented. When God said, “Let there be light,” I was the electrician that threw the switch. I was in school when world history text book was only three pages long and those pages were of stone. I’ve done a lot and learned a lot and failed a lot and now I’m having fun a lot. Having ridden a rank horse and pushed cows on the trail, I write westerns. Having met Christ face to face at the ripe old age of 14, I write Christian materials. Being a natural born liar, I write political stuff. Basically, I write from where I’ve been, always lookin’ at where I want to go.

Be blessed and enjoy my books. Buy one of each, they’re great. Or at least my wife tells me they are and Amazon won’t let her write a review. Ya gotta love’m

© 2017 Doug Ball – Author