Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Western in 30 Days -- Full Day Three

Two chapters done. Pretty good rate for someone as slow at the typewriter as I am. Some excerpts:

Only one structure stood. A small outhouse located behind the ashes of the station. Small, but probably at least three holes. Stryker moved toward it with careful steps, his eyes sweeping the ground, then the horizon, then the far hills, then the nearby desert growth. Dark splotches led to the outhouse door. Blood.

“You touch that door, mister, and you’ve got a .56 caliber slug through your guts.” The voice cracked, like its owner’d not had a drink in days.

“I’ve got water,” Stryker said. “I’m Matt Stryker.”

“You following someone?”

“Who’s in there? Dodge? That you?”

“It is, and I got a goldam hole in me. All the way through.”

“I’m gonna open the door, Dodge. Don’t you shoot me with that Creedmoor.”

Dodge Miller didn’t answer, he just groaned. Stryker tried the door handle but the door wouldn’t budge. “You’re gonna have to lift the toggle, Dodge. Can you do that?”

“Cain’t move, Matt. Bust the damn thing.”

A mountain that might be called Signal Butte, but its real name is Picketpost Mountain.
“Four of ‘em, Matt. Old man and three younger ones. The old man sent one of the youngsters over to check me. ‘Wee Willy’ he called the boy. Big. Really big. He come. Shoved me with the toe of his brogan. I flopped. He stood there looking for a long time, then he want back. ‘Dead’ I heard him say. But I figure he knew I was still breathing. Wee Willy. That’s what they called him.”

“Wee Willy.” Stryker stored the name in his head. “You hang on, now. I’ll get stuff for your shot places.” A clump of prickly pear grew across the stage road and halfway up the hill from Miller’s Well. Stryker lopped three pads from the cactus and carried them back to where Miller lay.

Lots goes on between now and Tucson. But you can read that when you get the book. So what about Tucson?

Old Tucson looks like this today, and Tucson may have looked like this in the mid 1880s.

Stryker left Miller at Doc Singleton’s place. “I’ll be back as soon as I’ve talked to Bob Paul,” he said. “Then we can go see Gil Steiner. He’s the best horse trader in these parts.”

He rode Saif down Pennington, past the courthouse to North Court. He looped Saif’s reins over the hitching rack and went into the courthouse looking for Pima Sheriff Robert Paul’s office. He heard Paul long before he saw him. Standing six foot six inches in his sock feet and weighing out at nearly two hundred fifty pounds, Sheriff Robert Paul dominated any gathering he was in. In this case, a gaggle of four newspapermen who stood around the door to his office.

“Listen. You’d better hear what I’m saying.” Paul folded his arms and looked down on the newsmen. “The judge said the land deal is legal, and for the moment, that’s all there is to it. Now shove off. Let me be.”

Stryker raised his voice. “Hey Bob. You getting in over your head?”

Paul pushed his way through the newsmen. “Matt Stryker. What in heaven’s name are you doing in Tucson. Thought you’d have had enough of this country after that little fiasco down in Sonora.”

After niceties, Stryker gets down to business. 

“Bob, you got any wanted flyers on anybody named Dent?”

“Gol. Who knows? Pile of them damn things over there,” Paul waved at a card table on the far side of the big office. “I shuffle through them once in a while, but never pay much attention. Help yourself.”

“Obliged.” Stryker hitched his chair over to the card table and started sorting through the dodgers. Some he knew had been apprehended, so he put them aside. He had a three-inch stack of wanted flyers before he found a Dent. The flyer was out of Kansas, of all places.

Wanted for murder and robbery. Lester Dent.

The flyer showed a drawing of a gangly oldish man with straggly whiskers that might or might not look like the real Lester Dent.

Still, according to the wanted dodger, he’d held up trains and stagecoaches and done his share of killing. The reward was set at five hundred dollars.

“They’re here,” Stryker said. “Reward’s five hundred.”

“Doesn’t sound like enough for you to mess with,” Paul said.

“Knowing they’re wanted is enough, Bob. Plenty enough. Me and Dodge’ll ride after them soon as he’s able.”

“If the stage was carrying enough, the reward might be jacked up.”

“Don’t matter. We gotta get Molly. If we can bring the Dents back alive, we will. If not, they’ll come back belly down over their saddles.”

Word Count: 5494

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