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Jul 8 11 8:43 PM
“Get to work, boys.”
Jul 10 11 5:26 PM
Crowe Crossing MemberBen Perver
Jul 13 11 6:28 PM
Wet Russelling Watery Wench
HOUSE OF USHER
Vivienne Furnell watched,
horrified, as the four men surrounding Cort each took a turn at punching him.
On the express orders of Henry Usher they steered clear of his face and head,
but everywhere else was fair game. They were standing so close she couldn’t see
his face, but she heard him grunting with pain as the blows landed. After he’d
taken four hard hits they stepped back and Usher asked him again where the
money was hidden. Cort’s face was pale; he was sweating, breathing hard and had
difficulty getting the words out.
“Go to hell, Usher!”
She’d waited several minutes,
long after the commotion in the cell next to hers had ceased, before shimmying
out from under the bunk where she’d hidden. It was obvious they’d captured Cort
and she’d crept down the passageway, heart in mouth, and watched them tie him
to the roof joist and throw water over him. She was at a complete loss for what
to do; the communal area was full of men and there was no way she could cross
the room without being seen. For a while she figured she’d wait it out, hoping Jonathan,
Ben, Toby and the others would return quickly but, when they’d started in on
the violence, she realised time was a luxury none of them had. Cort was getting
hurt badly and she was certain he wasn’t about to give Usher the information he
Usher was standing with his
back towards the passage where she was currently ensconced, hidden in the
shadows and she saw him motion to the thugs who were looking at him
expectantly. She watched as another four, crippling blows rained down on Cort’s
body. He barely made a sound but it was all she could do to keep from crying
out in anguish. She’d only known him a few days but the powerful attraction
she’d initially felt had swiftly turned to emotions so intense she hardly dared
acknowledge them. It was deeply unbefitting for a society lady and recent widow
to be falling in love with a former outlaw, killer and small town lawman, but
no amount of rationalising would make those feelings diminish even a little.
Now she was losing him. In the unlikely event Cort broke down and gave Usher
what he needed, he’d be killed on the spot. If he didn’t talk, he’d surely die
from the injuries being inflicted on him as she watched helplessly. ..
The thugs moved clear again
and her stomach churned. Cort was hanging limply from the rafter, his head
lolling forward. Usher issued a curt command and one of them grabbed his hair, yanked
his head back and slapped him hard across the face. There was no response. Cort
was out cold and Usher ordered the same man to fetch another pail of water. He grabbed
the empty bucket with bad grace and she heard him stumping up the stairs which
led to the ground level of the courthouse. His three buddies took their ease, some
of them rolling cigarettes.
Henry Usher took a few steps
back, bringing him so close to Vivienne’s hiding place that she could have
reached out and touched him. She held her breath as he removed his hat and ran
his fingers through his silvering hair. She glanced around the room at the
other occupants. The county sheriff and marshal of Tucson were standing
together, talking amiably as though they were out for a stroll on a summer
afternoon and, a few feet behind, Mayor Anderson and Father Reuben were watching
silently; both of them looked absolutely appalled and the Mayor seemed as
though he might puke at any moment. Usher’s head swivelled to look at him.
“Do you find this distasteful?
I find it a most effective way to encourage co-operation.”
The Mayor’s jaw dropped. “I
knew you were a pitiless man, but I thought you had at least a little moral
fibre. You’re about to kill a helpless, unarmed man and it seems to me you’re
enjoying the process!”
Usher shook his head. “You’re
an imbecile, Anderson. Nobody complains when a rabid dog is put out of its misery.”
Anderson stared at him. “I
was in that courthouse, Usher, and I believed what those defence witnesses said.
He’s a better man than you’ll ever be and he doesn’t deserve to die like this.”
Usher shrugged. “If you don’t
like it then I strongly suggest you leave. Things will only get uglier and I don’t
want to offend your delicate disposition!”
The marshal and sheriff
sniggered and Anderson scowled. Father Reuben’s face was red and he seemed about
to speak. Usher addressed him.
“Something on your mind,
The priest just shook his
head and stared at the floor. Vivienne heard footsteps clumping down the stairs
and when the thug with the bucket returned, she knew the beating would begin
again. She had to do something, quickly, and instantly she knew what it was. Heart
pounding, she snapped her right arm, activating the release on the holster
hidden in her sleeve and the two-shot gambler’s pistol dropped into her hand. She
cocked it while everybody was still off-guard and chatting, darted into the
room, grabbed Henry Usher by the collar of his expensive coat and put the gun
to his head.
“Call off your dogs or I’ll
kill you where you stand!”
The room abruptly fell silent
and everybody tensed. Five of the men drew their guns and the one with the
bucket dropped it on the ground with a clang. She raised her voice a little.
“Drop your guns and raise
your hands or I’ll shoot him dead!”
They didn’t move, just stood
there with their guns pointed in her direction. She moved behind Usher, using
his considerable bulk to shield herself.
“Call them off, Usher, or I’ll
shoot you in the head!”
Usher’s voice was calm and
collected as he replied. “I don’t know who you are, young lady, but I assure
you none of this is necessary.”
“Don’t tell me what’s
necessary, you son of a bitch!” She spoke the words contemptuously. “You killed
my husband so you might say I have a debt to settle!”
She felt Usher tense but his
voice remained calm. “I take it you’re Vivienne Furnell and it’s unfortunate
you feel that way. I knew your husband and found him to be a fine, upstanding man,
but his death was suicide and nothing more. Cortez Thompson, on the other hand,
is a worthless criminal and I don’t see why you’re involved in this affair.”
“That’s not your concern.”
She pushed the pistol hard against his skull and he grunted with pain. “Tell them
to drop their guns.”
Usher raised his voice. “Drop
them, boys. We’ve got a crazy woman to contend with but I doubt she’ll be able
to keep it up for long.”
The other men placed their
pistols on the ground and then simply stood there, looking at her coldly.
Vivienne found herself in something of a dilemma. Even if she could find the cold-blooded
instincts to kill Henry Usher, she’d be shot in return for his death. The
alternative was an uneasy stalemate which couldn’t last for long. All the men
were steeled, ready for action and somebody would surely make a move…
Father Reuben stepped forward
cautiously. While she was relieved to see him alive, she wasn’t certain why he
was here in the lockup or whose side he was on. When he picked up the pistols
belonging to the marshal of Tucson and county sheriff, cocked them and aimed
them at their owners, she got a pretty fair indication. He spoke to Mayor
“Now’s the time to make
amends. Throw off the shackles of oppression and denounce Henry Usher forever!”
Anderson stared around the
room, looked at Henry Usher nervously for several seconds, then moved towards
the nearest gun. Vivienne saw the four thugs eyeing each other and knew they
weren’t about to stand there and let it happen. At that moment many pairs of
feet began thundering down the stairs and her heart jumped; it seemed the
cavalry had arrived. Perhaps disturbed by the noise, Cort chose that moment to
moan quietly and she glanced at him with concern.
The small moment of
distraction proved disastrous. Henry Usher moved quickly and his elbow collided
solidly with her solar plexus, the force of it robbing her of breath and
slamming her back into the wall. She fell to her knees, retching as all hell
broke loose around her. There was shouting, gunfire, darkness, screams, bullets
ricocheting off hard, stone surfaces and a smell of sulphur and saltpetre intense
enough to set her coughing fiercely. She had just enough sense to crawl into the
passage and round the angled bend which led to the cells, putting her out of
range of any stray bullets. Eyes burning and streaming, she waited for the fight
Things went quiet presently but
she couldn’t move. She remained hunched against the wall, legs pulled up close
to her chest, sick with worry and fear, her ears ringing and head spinning.
Eventually she heard footsteps and saw a light coming closer. Somehow she’d
managed to keep hold of her little pistol and she aimed it carefully, ready to
shoot whoever came round the corner.
A figure loomed into view, but
the light streaming from its lantern blinded her and she couldn’t see who it
was. She tightened her finger on the trigger.
“Stop right there or I’ll
shoot, you bastard!”
The lantern was placed on the
“That’s no way for a lady to speak!”
She almost shouted for joy
when she heard the voice. Jonathan! She leaped to her feet and threw herself
into his arms.
“Why did you take so long to
He hugged her tightly. “We
ran into some trouble at the top of the stairs. Usher left a couple of his gang
there and they took some persuading to let us in.”
“Is Cort alright? He was tied
up and barely conscious when the shooting started..”
Jonathan stood back and
looked at her gravely. He didn’t need to say anything and her stomach clenched
up in knots of fear. She dodged past her brother and raced to the communal
area, pulling up short as she entered a scene of carnage. There was only one
lamp illuminating the space but she could see well enough to be appalled. There
was smoke, bullet holes everywhere, several corpses, men injured and groaning and
the beam where Cort had been tied was empty. Billy Reynolds and Jack Bellows were
standing together and talking intently; bleeding and grim faced. Two deputies
were levelling shotguns at four men in the corner, which included the county
sheriff, and another group was huddled near the kitchen. With a start of horror
she recognised Toby, Ben Carter and Father Reuben; all occupied with something
on the ground. She approached slowly, heart hammering, already certain what she
Cort was unconscious and
bleeding from a wound in his leg. The priest was murmuring under his breath and
she hoped to God it wasn’t the last rites. Ben had Cort’s head pulled into his
lap and his own was bowed, his hair hanging in his face so she couldn’t see his
expression. Toby was pressing a cloth to Cort’s midriff and it was soaked with
blood. She put her hand on his shoulder – he was trembling as much as she was –
and he looked up, his face blood-streaked and pale, his eyes red. His voice
shook as he spoke.
“The leg wound’s from a
ricochet, nothing to fret about, but he caught the other bullet full on and I
reckon it’s still inside him…”
The knots in Vivienne’s
stomach wrenched tighter. Her throat closed up and she felt like screaming, but
she struggled to keep her voice steady.
“You’re a gifted surgeon,
Toby. Greg talked about it all the time and you even impressed those snooty tutors
at your college. You’re the best man to take care of this.”
Toby stared at her for a
moment and then nodded. Something in him changed and suddenly he got a grip on
“I need to get my stuff, and
you need to move him somewhere more sanitary than this hell hole.”
He jumped to his feet and nudged
Ben. Ben raised his head and his face was streaked with tears. Toby eyed him
“Blubbing won’t help him, deputy.
Take him into the courthouse and lay him on one of those big tables. I ain’t
got no chloroform so get ready to hold him down!”
He pushed the bloody cloth
into Vivienne’s hand and left in a big rush. Father Reuben muttered something
about attending the dead and then melted away into the shadows. She knelt and
pressed the rag to Cort’s wound, terrified by his bone white complexion and
shallow, ragged breathing. To try and keep from panicking, she stared around
the dimly lit communal area, this time paying close attention to the detail. It
seemed to her there were at least five bodies who weren’t moving and she eyed
Ben curiously. He was looking up the stairs after Toby and wearing a mutinous
“Do you know who died here
Ben squinted around the room.
“By my reckoning it was the marshal of Tucson, Mayor Anderson, one of Billy’s
deputies, some feller I’ve never seen before and Henry Usher!”
Vivienne’s heart began
pounding. “Usher’s dead? Who killed him?”
“I don’t rightly know. It was
chaos down here with hardly any light. I took a shot at him but I couldn’t see
for shit; it could easily have been a stray shell that killed him.” He
shrugged. “Either way he’s dead, and these boys of his ain’t going nowhere.”
Vivienne grabbed his wrist
and pushed the rag into his hand. “Keep the pressure firm on that wound, don’t
let him bleed to death!”
She went to the kitchen, lit
a lamp and then made a cautious tour of the room. Jonathan came to join her,
slipping his arm about her waist as they gazed at the dead men. Henry Usher was
indeed one of them; a bullet had passed through his throat, which was most
likely what had killed him, but she counted a number of other wounds on his
body. It seemed as though plenty of men had been shooting at him and Ben had
been correct in his estimation; Mayor Anderson, the marshal of Tucson, a Bisbee
deputy and a hired thug were all dead. Of those still standing few seemed to
have escaped injury and Toby was looking at a long night ahead of him.
Vivienne was too numbed by
the images to take much in. Henry Usher was dead but Cort was grievously
injured and that was all she could focus on. She squeezed Jonathan’s arm and he
turned to look at her.
“Toby needs men to hold Cort while
he removes a bullet. Will you help?”
Jonathan looked a little
queasy but nodded reassuringly.
“I’ll do what’s necessary.”
He smiled. “He’s still my client, after all.”
“We need to move him into the
Jonathan seemed wary. “I
don’t know what the judge will think of that. It’s a place of law, not a field
“To hell with what he
thinks.” She was surprised by the force of her own voice. “Cort needs medical
attention or he’s going to die!”
She pulled away from her
brother’s embrace and went back to Ben.
“Can you find enough men to
carry Cort upstairs and restrain him?”
Ben frowned. “You’ll take care of him?”
“You know I will!”
He nodded then hurried over
to Jack and Billy, spoke urgently and then they all began herding the remains
of Usher’s gang towards the cells.
The rag covering Cort’s wound
was awash with blood and having very little effect. She tossed it aside and
ripped a swatch of cloth from her skirt. It was a thick, absorbent material and
suited her purpose well. As she pressed it to his midriff his eyelids flickered
open but the jolt of joy she felt was quickly overridden by doubt and fear.
This was more likely delirium than a return to consciousness.
“I’ve arrived in heaven and
met an angel.” His words were soft, almost inaudible but she heard them clearly.
Then he smiled and her heart melted.
“You’re not dead, Cort, just
hurt a little. We’ll take good care of you.”
He gazed at her. “When you
left me in the cell, after I told you to hide, you said something but I didn’t
catch the words…”
That took her by surprise and
she struggled to recall the memory. Suddenly it was there and she blushed a
little. The words had been spoken in a moment of peril, fear and uncertainty
and, although she’d meant them sincerely, she wasn’t sure she could repeat them
His eyes were dark with pain
but he was watching her intently.
“I didn’t catch them...”
She made a decision and,
whatever happened after this, she was bound to live by it. She leaned down and
kissed him softly on his cold lips.
“I said I loved you.”
Jul 14 11 12:15 PM
Jul 14 11 5:36 PM
Jul 19 11 7:03 PM
Ben Carter hurried down the
steps of the courthouse, almost slipping on their lethal crust of ice. A
brilliant morning sun was shining onto the snow covered street and creating a
glittering spectacle, though the smell of burnt wood and rising plume of smoke lower
down the hill proved a bleak reminder of the previous night’s events. If things
had panned out differently he’d have been in a jubilant, celebratory mood right
now. He’d just heard the jury in Cort’s case return a unanimous verdict of not
guilty; that the man who’d brought the original charges was recently dead had
not diverted the course of justice in the slightest.
Afterwards Jonathan Briers
stayed to talk to the judge, who was smiling broadly, while Jack Bellows and
Billy Reynolds, both wearing bandages, had gone to talk with the men of the
jury. The news of Henry Usher and Mayor Anderson’s deaths had spread through the
town like wildfire and the upbeat mood in the courthouse was close to riotous.
Ben couldn’t share that joy. All
he could think about was Cort; hurt and unconscious, and he was eager to return
to his bedside. They’d placed him in Billy’s bed, upstairs in the jailhouse and
Toby and Vivienne watched over him all night, reluctant to leave him for any longer
than a few minutes. Ben had managed to snatch a few hours sleep and being the
freshest, volunteered to attend the courthouse. There wasn’t much he could do for Cort right now except
watch and worry, but he hoped the good news in his possession might help revive
the patient. Cort had been out cold since the surgery last night and the reality
of the situation was that they still didn’t know how badly he was injured.
bullet wasn’t the problem; Toby had pulled it from his guts quickly and
efficiently. Ben would have marvelled at his skill but was occupied with
holding Cort down. He’d been drifting in and out of consciousness ever since
the gunfight and had unfortunately woken up just as they laid him out on the
courthouse table. Toby explained what he was going to do, that he had nothing to
serve as anaesthetic, and told Cort he should try and keep from thrashing about
since it would aggravate his other injuries. Cort received the news stoically
but not many men could have laid still for the procedure and it had taken Ben,
Jonathan, Billy and Jack to restrain him. Vivienne and Father Reuben were
present for a little while, but Toby banished them from the room when they
began to look ill. Cort had moaned, occasionally screamed into the rolled up
bandage they’d placed between his teeth, then passed out just as Toby removed the
bullet with a triumphant cry. The whole thing had been over in less than two
minutes but it seemed to Ben like a lifetime and, from Cort’s perspective,
probably more like purgatory.
felt utterly responsible for Cort’s predicament. If he hadn’t been so quick to
run down to the church, or to lock his friend in a cell with nobody outside to
protect him, perhaps he wouldn’t be laying here now, beaten within an inch of
his life and covered in blood. The whole company had reacted with shock when
they’d removed Cort’s shirt to reveal the terrible marks all over body;
Vivienne had let out a little scream and even Jack Bellows’ breath whistled
between his teeth. Toby had given the injuries some careful scrutiny, once he’d
stitched and bandaged the bullet wound, but he had no way of knowing if Cort
had sustained internal injuries, might even be bleeding inside. Only time could
tell them that.
actual events of the gunfight emerged slowly as the long night progressed, and
Ben tried his best to piece them together. Although everybody’s version of the story
was slightly different, Vivienne’s smart thinking and bold actions disarmed
Usher’s gang for long enough to give the arriving cavalry a small advantage. Before
the lights went out at least three guns had been fired at Henry Usher; they
belonged to Jack Bellows, Billy Reynolds and Tobias Furnell. Toby was pretty
sure Mayor Anderson fired too, and Father Reuben might have been involved though
he swore he hadn’t used the pistols in his grasp. It irked Jack Bellows royally
that nobody could lay actual claim to the killing of Usher, though Ben was
satisfied he was dead and saw no need to dwell on the matter. While everybody
else seemed to have been shooting at Usher, Ben was shooting at the rope
holding Cort to the roof beam. He saw it break just as the lamps got destroyed,
intentionally for sure, and lunged in that direction, throwing himself on top
of his buddy as bullets whistled around his ears. Unfortunately he hadn’t been fast
enough. Somebody’s bullet had been much quicker…
reached the jailhouse and bounded up the stairs to Cort’s room, anxious to
share the news. The scene he encountered was pretty much as he’d left it: Toby
was slumped in an armchair; eyes closed and snoring gently. Vivienne was perched
beside Cort on the bed, mopping his face with a cloth dipped in a milky potion she’d
brewed herself. The fire in the grate had burned low and there was an edge of
chill in the large room. Ben threw a couple of logs on then shook Toby’s
shoulder gently. The kid was totally exhausted - he’d spent hours patching up all
the men injured in the gunfight, then sat up all night with Cort. His eyes
opened slowly and he squinted at Ben.
smiled. “A unanimous verdict of not guilty!”
yelped with glee, leaped from his chair and squatted on the other side of the
bed. He leaned close to Cort. “Did you hear that, marshal? You’re a free man,
didn’t stir, Ben hadn’t really expected him to, and he advised Toby how he’d
best get some sleep before he collapsed. To his surprise the kid obeyed without
hesitation. He addressed Vivienne in turn.
as well, ma’am. It doesn’t need two of us to watch an unconscious man.”
shook her head. “I’m not leaving him.”
felt a pang of irritation. “I’ll fetch you if anything changes but please get
some rest; you’ll be no use to Cort if you get sick on account of exhaustion.”
words seemed to reach her and she rose from the bed and gazed at him.
nap in one of the cells. You be sure and call if you need me!”
nodded curtly and she left the room with a final, lingering look at Cort.
she cared for him was beyond question but that particular look confirmed Ben’s
suspicions. She was in love for sure and it should have made him happy, but right
now he could only think about losing his best friend. If not to death, then to
next few weeks passed slowly but eventfully. The snow finally began to melt,
the roads out of town cleared enough to permit travel and there was a great
exodus as the townsfolk of Redemption rode home and the remnants of Usher’s
gang, those who hadn’t been arrested, bolted for freedom. Father Reuben was
fully occupied with planning and organising the construction of a new and
bigger church while Randy Quirrell from the Blue Angel had put himself forward
as a contender for the Mayor’s position. He seemed a popular choice.
Bellows spent a lot of time in discussion with the men of Bisbee who’d fallen
foul of Henry Usher. He organised their financial recompense and then lit out
for Tucson, intent on picking up the pieces of Usher’s ministry and keeping the
church business running on an honest basis. He planned to re-allocate the
stolen money in Tucson’s banks to its original owners and was accompanied by
Judge MacLean. Freed from Henry Usher’s tyranny, Maclean seemed to have made it
his life’s ambition to bring the rest of his guilty company to justice.
for his part was doing pretty hot business. His reputation as a doctor and
surgeon had spread quickly and folks were coming from Bisbee and the
territories beyond to take advantage of his skill. But something in his eyes
told Ben he wasn’t really happy doing this. He was only a kid after all; he
dreamed a life of adventure and still looked at Cort like a hero. Ben had
little doubt that wherever Cort went, this talented little pup would follow.
regained consciousness two days after getting shot. He was weak and hurting but
by then Toby had sourced enough laudanum to ease the pain. There was a lot of blood
in his piss and waste, and it hurt him to eat and drink, but there were no
signs of the internal injuries they’d all feared. He was back on his feet
within three weeks but it was another month before he was strong enough to do
called Ben into his bedroom one day, explained how Redemption was currently
without any kind of law enforcement and asked him to return and take up the
role of acting marshal. Ben didn’t want to go, didn’t want to leave his friend
and wasn’t even sure he’d see him again. Heart thumping, he asked the question.
you’re strong enough to ride, what will you do, Cort?”
raised a quizzical eyebrow.
mean, will you come back to Redemption or head on up to Phoenix?”
smiled. “I don’t think Phoenix has much call for an extra marshal. You be sure
and take care of my town, Ben Carter.”
frowned. “Are you certain you’re coming back?”
four hundred thousand dollars buried in the desert, Ben. Sure I’m coming back.”
couldn’t take much comfort from his words. He’d seen the way Vivienne looked at
him, the way Cort looked back, and how they took every opportunity to be alone
together. Love could over-ride pretty much everything important in a man’s life and he
was damned sure it was love he was witnessing here. Redemption didn’t seem like
much of a proposition if Cort wasn’t going to be there and it was with a
brusque farewell and heavy heart that he finally took leave of the best friend
he’d ever known.
he headed into the desert and Bisbee receded into the distance, he turned in
his saddle and looked back at the little town on the hill. Cort was still up
there somewhere, preoccupied with love and a whole new set of priorities. Ben wondered
what life might have in store for each of them now.
Jul 19 11 11:23 PM
Jul 20 11 2:23 PM
.....he could only think about losing his best friend. If not to death, then to a woman.
Jul 20 11 2:26 PM
Jul 20 11 2:57 PM
Jul 20 11 3:21 PM
Jul 20 11 8:28 PM
Maybe in this instance Fin was merely short for Finland!
Jul 21 11 4:55 AM
lounged in his regular chair on the hotel porch, beer in hand, and watched the
evening traffic on Redemption’s main thoroughfare. Things were generally peaceful
but a lot busier these days, on account of the town’s growing size and reputation
for strong and abiding law. The zero tolerance policy on gunplay and violence saw
many reputable families and businesses attracted to the area, and the newly installed
telegraph line gave birth to countless rumours and excited gossip about the
was nearly nine months since the events of Bisbee, autumn was taking hold and Cort
was enjoying the cooler temperatures in the evenings. Plans for the upcoming
Day of the Dead festival were well advanced and he couldn’t help smiling as he
considered just how different his experience of this year’s event was going to
pretty much recovered his physical disposition: his guts still ached in the
morning, he was forced to avoid coffee, whisky and spicy foods, and he
regularly experienced nightmares of being held down forcibly while white hot
pokers were thrust into his stomach. Other than that he felt just fine…
spotted Ben Carter leaving Horace’s saloon and begin walking towards him. At
the other end of town, Toby came out of the Marshal’s office and headed down.
The three of them met like this every evening, discussing the day’s events and
tomorrow’s business over a few bottles of beer. Toby was always tired but young
enough to handle it. Many of his patients in Bisbee had proven happy to make
the trip to Redemption in order to continue treatment, and the locals all saw
fit to take advantage of him as well. He was juggling this thriving doctoring
business with his marshal’s duties but refused to give up on either. Old Doc
Wallace was lingering on in gleeful semi-retirement.
he waited for them to arrive, Cort’s eyes drifted to the building opposite the
hotel. Blown apart by gunpowder almost a year ago, the ruined wreck was long
gone and a new church had sprung up in its place. It was nearly finished and
would be a fine addition to the town when it was done. Cort looked forward to
the day when he could again attend Sunday worship, but consistently turned down
appeals for him to become Redemption’s priest. Father Rueben had become a good
friend and he’d recommended a young preacher who was just itching to take on his
first congregation. He was due to arrive any day now and Cort was looking
forward to meeting him.
time with Vivienne Furnell had been intense and joyous but ultimately brief.
For nearly two months he could only look at her, burning with intent but
physically incapable of doing anything about it. Once recovered enough he’d
made up for lost time and the fire of their passion frequently aggravated his
healing injuries. However the things which had drawn them together also served
to push them apart. Their shared intelligence, strength of will and independent
nature meant he could not entertain the idea of moving to Phoenix, struggling
with society status and playing surrogate father to her children. She in turn
would not countenance moving to a small, frontier town and living as a lowly
marshal’s wife. Without the frisson of danger and fear to bind them together,
the tears in their relationship soon stretched to breaking point. They’d parted
amicably, as friends, and he often missed her company though Kitty kept him
well enough entertained in the bedroom.
recently received a letter from the US Marshal’s office. It put his employment
onto an official footing and they even sent him a new badge, though he
preferred to wear the one Ellen had given him. The letter contained details of a
fairly generous salary, to be paid into Redemption’s new bank on a monthly
basis and since the recently flush town council were also remunerating him, he
used the balance to pay Ben a decent wage. Toby didn’t need paying, he was
making a fine living as a doctor but in spite of that they were all still
sharing the jailhouse. Ben refused to move out of the second bedroom and Toby preferred
to bunk in a cell unless they had prisoners, in which case he temporarily moved
to the boarding house. Cort had the strongest impression these two men would
follow him to the ends of the earth; the idea was quietly pleasing.
also had a letter from Jack Bellows, stating his intention to remain in Tucson
and run Henry Usher’s old business, and reminding Cort about the four hundred
thousand dollars still buried in the desert. Jack would be sending
representatives along for it presently, but wouldn’t be attending himself. Cort
was sorry to hear that. He missed Jack, his sardonic humour and sarcastic
tongue, though he sure didn’t miss his hard fists and unforgiving nature…
and Toby reached the porch together and exchanged greetings. Ben went inside to
get some beers and Cort smiled as he recalled the day he and Toby had arrived
back in Redemption. He could still picture the look on his deputy’s face: Ben
had been so pleased to see him he’d been unable to speak or hold a proper
conversation for fully two days, though he’d stuck to Cort like a dog and hadn’t
let him out of his sight for a moment. He was still a little like that now, all
these months later.
flung himself into the chair beside Cort, pulled a letter from his pocket and passed
picked this up for you today; looks like it’s important…”
turned the letter over in his hands. The envelope was brown manila and bore the
seal of the US Marshal’s office. He smiled at Toby.
the latest wanted list, I reckon.”
tore it open and read its contents quickly then, frowning, he read it twice
more. He took in every word slowly, not quite believing what he was seeing.
joined them and pushed a beer into Toby’s hand. The kid was watching intently
and seemed a little edgy.
bad news is it, marshal?”
heart was pumping fit to burst. Another piece of his past had just reared up
and bitten him hard in the ass. He gazed
at his two deputies.
do you know about a man called Ben Wade?”
Jul 21 11 5:01 AM
Jul 21 11 5:09 AM
Jul 21 11 7:35 AM
Jul 21 11 2:01 PM
...he regularly experienced nightmares of being held down forcibly while white hot pokers were thrust into his stomach. Other than that he felt just fine…
Without the frisson of danger and fear to bind them together, the tears in their relationship soon stretched to breaking point.
Jul 23 11 7:54 AM
“What do you know about a man called Ben Wade?”
“What do you know about a man called Ben Wade?”
Jul 28 11 1:17 PM
Jul 28 11 2:41 PM
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