Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Western in 30 Working Days -- Twelve

Curiouser and curiouser, as someone once wrote. Matt Stryker started off looking for a wanted man. Then he ran into a burnt out stage way station full of dead bodies--men, a woman, and horses. But one man, the station master, was shot and left for dead. He hid in the outhouse. The killers raped his wife and took her with them.

That gave Matt Stryker a new objective. Get Dodge Miller's wife Molly back from the killers, a family of father and three sons called the Dents.

Sounds simple.

But Matt has to take the wounded Dodge Miller in to Tucson to get treatment for his wounds. He's shot up enough that he'll not be really back on his feet for a month or so. But Molly's getting farther away.

Stage arrivals can be a big event
Matt reports to the county sheriff, Bob Paul (a real historical character) and to McCabe at the stage line's Tucson office. There he finds out that a man who's part owner in the Old Dominion Mine at Globe City's been in asking about the missing stagecoach.

But that man gets killed (made to look like a suicide by hanging).

And, where that looks like a lead gone dead, Stryker and his new partner, Elijah Carpenter, find out a lot more about what's going on. Listen to this:

Stryker took the conversation to the subject at hand. “Tell me, Lige. You know anyone called Rick Cavanaugh?”

“Heard the name, why?”

The Youngers were part of the
Kansas outlaw bunch
“When I was at Rimrock, a gent called Rick Cavanaugh was trying to become king of the mountain at Diablo. Someone that knows said Rick Cavanaugh was just a moniker that a bushwhacker from Kansas took out here in the west.”

“You taking about Nate Cousins?”

Stryker’s ice blue eyes held Carpenter’s brown ones for more than a long moment. “Know him? He was on the Kansas border to the Nations, I hear.”

“He’s here now,” Carpenter said.

“I know. He stayed on the second floor of the Royal the night Elrowe Hershey got killed. Signed in as Richard Cavanaugh.”

Carpenter nodded. “He’s riding with four gunsharps,” he said. “Ben Kilgallen, Marty Henshaw, Art Rennick, and . . . you’re not gonna like this . . . Garth Upton.”

“Why the army? And Upton ain’t no gunsharp.”

“That stage was carrying more than two hunnert fifty pounds of gold. The Dents got it, but Nate Cousins and all them gunsharps . . . and Upton . . . are gonna take that gold away from the Dents.”

“Why’d they kill Hershey?”

“Maybe to keep word of the gold from getting out? Secret shipment.”

“Could be. Could be.” Stryker wiped his cheek with one hand and lifted the porcelain cup with the other. “Anyway, that’s Bob Paul’s worry.” He poured more oolong tea and sipped. “How they planning on catching up to the Dents, do you know?”

Carpenter shook his head. “Nate Cousins is no dummy. But I don’t know how.”

“Guess we’ll just have to find the Dents and Molly Miller first, then.”

“How we gonna do that?”

Stryker grimaced a smile. “Who knows this country best?”

“Apaches?” Carpenter said.

“Yeah. Apaches.”

Word Count: 20,445