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Long Ride to Abilene: Chapter One

He downed his whiskey in one quick gulp, wheeled around to face me, and dropped his hand to the butt of the colt forty-five slung low on his hip. Looking into dark eyes, eyes that were once filled with, laughter, deviltry, and a sense of fun that spilled over into anyone around him, now filled with bitterness and hate sent a coldness like I had never felt before, starting at my toes, surging upwards that set my hands to shaking.
I knew that death stared me in my face, and if I made a wrong move, or even so much as blinked, this might be my last day on this green earth. At that moment, my mind circled back to the day that set me on this course, and I caught myself thinking, “If only I hadn’t decided to go into Plentiful so early in the day. If only old Jim Wills had of been quicker at his figuring out what we owed, or what he intended to give me for the things I’d brought in, but he wasn’t, and thinking on what could have been, or might have been wouldn’t keep me breathing, not much longer anyway.”
The only thing that might spare me, is I had taken the bosses advice and left my gun in camp before coming into town.
He snarled, “You’ve been ridin me for a long time. Goin on about how you is better than me. How much more work you do than me. How you’re better at settin a horse, or ropin cow critters. We’ll I’ve had it. I ain’t goin to take it no more. You ain’t goin to be tellin me what to do. And I say to hell with you and your brother. And I say to hell with our trip to Oregon. I’m for settlin our differences right here and right now.”
“The kind don’t have no gun,” came from behind me.
I didn’t have to turn to know who was speaking. I was wishing I could see Trav once more.
It were dark enough in the saloon to see the flame shooting out the end of his colt. The thunder of it rolled around me, dimming my hearing, giving me the kind of chilling coldness I had never known before.

I remember the day well when the whole thing that was to make such changes in my life started. I had come to town early to settle some of our accounts, not with cash money you understand, because in those days it was in short supply, but with things we made or grew on our place.
I had two honey glazed hams from our smoke house, three dozen fresh eggs, a tub of new churned butter, four slabs of bacon, two dozen cured cow hides, thirty-two tallow candles, and a sack of wintered over spuds.
Depending on the mood of old Jim Wills, there should be enough to cover what we owed, and some left over for some needful things, like flour, molasses, and dried beans.
While waiting for Jim to do the figuring, I taken a bite of time to ogle all the things piled up every which way, in corners, on old tables, hanging from the wall, and shelves spilling over with canned goods that was covered with interesting labels.
I’d done reading the labels of pork and beans, peaches, condensed milk, from some company named Borden, and was knee deep gawking at the guns and knives, when two men came busting in through the door, bringing a gust of wind, and swirling dust that set everyone into coughing.
I tugged my gaze off a new Henry rifle, and the navy colt I was a hungering after, but knew I’d likely never have the cash money to even buy bullets for them, and took in the new intruders. Old Bill Brady, sitting near the cherry red stove, stopped mid-move of his checker game. A woman I didn’t know, clutching tight to the hand of a little girl, stopped fingering the red cloth stretched out on a long table propped up at one end with timber and flat rocks, and gave them a dirty look.
An old tame Injin, weighed down by a large bundle of wolf pelts scurried out of their way as they strode down the narrow aisle.
I recognized the taller one right off, being I’d seen him more than one time here in town. Mostly I’d seen him on top of a big black stallion, or coming out of the Lucky Diamond saloon with a couple of men.
He wasn’t new to Texas, but he was to these parts, and every-body that had any knowing of the man spoke highly of him. The story they told is that he had the beginnings of a fine ranch down near the Rio Grande, with a wife and a couple of youngster’s. One day when he was out clearing a water hole and pulling some dumb critters out of the mud a raiding party of about a dozen Kiawe came helling through his place. They kilt his family and burnt his house down to the bare earth.
Some folks say he went mad over what was done, and not one person I knowed blamed him for what he done next. He took right after that raiding party and follered it down in to the heart of Mexico, right into their ranchero, and dealt with every-one of them. There were a heap of stories floating around about what he had done. Stories that would set your teeth to chattering, make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, and change the blood in your veins to ice water. It were said by many a one that he had himself a sack full of scalps that he’d take out of a night and count, just a wishing and a pining that there weren’t more of them.
But like I said no one I knew held it against him, and when he came to our part of the country to start over again, most folks, including mine held him up as some kind of a hero.
When it happened that Ma was with me, he always taken off his hat, said, “How do mam. The best of the day be with you and yours,” in a genteel rumbling kind of voice.
Like every time before, he wore clean dark grey trousers, with their tops hanging half way down over black boots polished brighter than a mirror. A Mexican style jacket, embroidered with fancy do-dads in red and blue thread, mixed with a bit of gold stretched over wide shoulders and big chest. The whole of this was topped off by a grey sombrero, covering long dark brown hair that many a Comanche hankered after.
The only thing missing from his normal outfit were a navy colt, cartridge belt, and holster. I wrestled with my memory for a mite of time, trying to dredge up a name, afore it popped full grown into my head.
Remembering my manners, the ones Ma had drummed into my bottom with a hickory stick, when- ever I was to forget them, I doffed my hat and said, “How do, Mr. Captain Roberts. How’s the state of your constitution this fine day?”
Well the burly man brushed right past me, without so much as a hello, or a friendly how do. Captain Roberts stopped right there in front of me, touched the brim of his hat. A big cheerful grin brightened his wind and sun weathered face. “How do to you to. As to the state of my constitution, it’s fine mighty fine. If I have it right, you’re Emmett Coressin’s boy…”
Forgetting my manners for a moment, I blurted out, “That’s right Captain. Davey…Davey Coressin…” Just then, my manners hit me. “Pardon me, Captain, for speaking so bold and out of turn.”
“Not at all. I do admire a man that speaks up for himself.”
A voice, gruff and raw, like it came from a throat that was scratched from dust, or had a fight with a tumbleweed, coming from behind me, roared, “Hurry up, Darius, I ain’t got all day.”
A chuckle came pouring out of the captain’s mouth, and a right eye, blue as a mid-summer Texas sky closed in a quick wink, “You go right on about your business Mayhew, I’ve got some talking to do with this young man here.”
I whirled around to take a look at the man with the whisky rough voice.
A snort, loud as a horse’s whiny came from out of thick lips perched between a black bushy beard, that could have supplied a home to a hive of bees without them getting crowded out, and a handlebar moustache that looked like it had been cut off a horse’s tail. “You ain’t goin to try and rope this here kid into your mad scheme, air you Darius?”
Eyes that seemed to spark with the fires of hell it’s-self, bored into mine, “If you’re wantin to live kid, don’t pay the captain no mind, no mind at all.”
Whenever I were to think on it afterword, whether night herding, or eating dust riding drag, I supposed it were him calling me a kid that made me make up my mind to listen close to every word that came out of the captain’s mouth and do whatever he asked me to, or die trying.
Afore the captain could get in another word, the doors busted open again, bringing with it more wind and more dust.
When the coughing fit ended and the last grain of dust settled onto the broad-board floor, every eye in the place looked at the pair of intruders, taking them in from their dust covered boots to wide brimmed hats perched on their heads.
The one, a couple of steps ahead of the other, with a swagger that made you think he knew he owned the place, or thought he did and everyone else in the world were less than he was, appeared to be the focus of most people, but it was the one a couple steps behind that caught and held my attention.

this is the first chapter of my novel and I am looking for, and hoping to get feedback

  • Keeper of the Sword

    It is often a simple thing, the roll of the dice, the turn of a card, or a chance meeting that can change one’s life forever. For Josh Campbell, and Morgan Connelly it was a seemingly harmless chain of events, a fight after school and performing a ritual that neither one of them believed in.

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    Full of fear and excitement Keeper of the Sword (The Sword of Kings) Josh notched an arrow to the bow string, pulled it back to his ear, took careful aim and released the shaft of death, and before it reached its target, a second bolt sliced through the dark. (To find out more, just follow the link.)
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