Saturday, December 4, 2010

And Hell Came With Him...Part 2

Wil practiced tirelessly day after day. When the shell boxes were empty, he bought more. The days turned into weeks, until one day the speed came back. The accuracy followed close behind. But, Wil had to be sure. One morning he brought Miguel Saldano, his farmhand, to the field where he practiced. He handed Miguel a tin can.
 
“Miguel, walk out about twenty paces and hold that can out.”
 
Senor?” asked Miguel, an alarmed look spreading across his face.
 
“Trust me, Miguel.”
 
Hesitantly, Miguel marched out twenty paces and turned around.
 
“Hold the can out,” said Wil, holding his arm out at shoulder level. Miguel raised his arm.
 
“Drop the can whenever you’re ready,” ordered Wil.
 
After a moment, Miguel released the can. At the first sign of movement, Wil became a blur of motion. He drew his Colt and shot the can at waist level. Miguel crossed himself.
He asked Miguel to retrieve the can and this time hold it waist high. Again, Wil shot the can before it touched the ground.
 
Madre de dios,” said Miguel, crossing himself again. “I did not know you could shoot like that, Senor.”
 
Reloading his Colt, Wil walked back toward Miguel.
 
“You go after Senora Cassie’s killers?” asked Miguel,  “you wish me to go with you?”
 
Wil dropped the Colt into its holster, put his arm around Miguel’s shoulders and they walked toward the house. “Miguel, I want you and Maria to run the farm while I’m gone,” he told his farmhand.
 
Miguel stopped and looked at his boss. “Me, Senor?”
 
Wil smiled at the Mexican. “You’ve been with me from the start, Miguel. You can run this farm as good as I can. I’ll make all the arrangements to make sure you get all the help you’ll need.”
 
“I’ll do my best, Senor Wil.”
 
Wil left Miguel in the yard and went into the house. In the bedroom, he removed the clothes from the trunk. Putting on the Levis and the blue cotton shirt, he slipped a black leather vest over the shirt. After stomping into his boots, he slid the leather scabbard and the Bowie knife on his gunbelt and rebuckled the Colt around his waist. He rethonged the holster to his left thigh and settled the black, low crowned, flat brimmed hat on his head.  Grabbing the Henry rifle from the corner by the dresser, he walked from the bedroom where Miguel and Maria waited in the kitchen.
 
“Move your things into the house,” ordered Wil.
 
Maria threw her arms around Wil’s neck and gave him a hug. “Thank you, Senor Wil. I will pray that you find the men that did this thing. Come back safe to us.”
 
Wil hugged Maria for a moment and then shook Miguel’s hand. “I’m taking Cassie’s horse. Buck is going with me too.”
 
Si, Senor,” said Miguel, “She is a good horse and Buck will watch out for you.”
 
Wil went to the barn and saddled the golden Palomino mare that was Cassie’s pride and joy. She had not been ridden since Cassie’s death. Throwing his saddlebags behind the saddle, he put the Henry rifle in the saddle boot.  Walking the horse outside, he stepped into the saddle. Wil could feel the anticipation of the powerful horse. She hadn’t run in a long time. He waved at Miguel and Maria standing on the porch as he rode out of the yard.

“Vaya Con Dios, Senor,” whispered Miguel.

Wil Sunday reined up at the white picket fence surrounding the grave of his beloved Cassie. The gravesite sat on a hill under a tree, overlooking the farm. She liked to come up here and sit.  Dismounting, he walked through the gate, picking up the wooden folding chair that lay on the ground next to the fence. Unfolding the chair, he sat down next to the grave. Taking off his hat, he set it on the ground at his feet.
 
“I guess you’re wondering why I’m dressed in my old clothes again,” said Wil, looking down at the fresh flowers Maria had put at the head of the grave that morning.
“You prob’ly noticed I was wearin’ my gun too. I’m goin’ after the scum that done this thing to you. I know I promised you I wouldn’t wear a gun again, but I didn’t know this would happen, either. Don’t be mad, just try to understand. Miguel’s gonna watch the farm and I’m takin’ Goldie and Buck with me. Goldie’s a good horse and Buck’ll be a good companion. I don’t know how long it will take, but I’ll come back every so often to let you know how it’s goin’. I love you, Cassie. I always have and I always will.”
 
Wil picked up his hat and put it on. Rising from the chair, he folded it and laid it next to the fence before walking through the gate. Buck sat outside the gate and Wil scratched the big brown dog’s head as he walked by him. Mounting the Palomino, Wil sat for a moment looking at Cassie’s grave. Turning the horse, he looked down at Buck.
 
“Ready to go, boy?”
 
Buck replied with a boisterous bark and followed after Wil.
  

  
Wil rode into the town of Beecher a little past noon. His unusual dress attracted attention as he dismounted in front of the bank. He withdrew one thousand dollars from his account and asked to see bank president, Hiram Willis.
 
“I want to authorize Miguel Saldano to make any withdrawals or deposits as needed on my account.”
 
After a mild objection, Hiram Willis drew up the paperwork for him to sign. Wil, then, made stops at the General Store and Hardware Store before dismounting in front of the sheriff’s office.
 
“I wondered when you were going to get around to this,” said sheriff Logan Shepherd, eyeing the thronged down Colt when Wil walked through the office door. The sheriff knew about Wil’s bounty hunting past and had vowed to keep his secret.
 
“Before I leave, I’d like to look at your dodgers,” informed Wil.
 
Logan opened a desk drawer and removed a stack of wanted posters and laid them in front of Wil. One by one, he looked at each poster in turn, setting aside three. When he reached the bottom of the stack, he looked up at Logan Shepherd.
 
“I found them.”
 
Logan looked at the three posters. The faces of Wade Jessup, Briley Cole and brothers Jess and Aaron Walker looked back at him.
 
“Cole and the Walker brothers still ride with Jessup,” informed Logan and slid the handbills back to his friend. “Where you find one, you should find them all.”

Wil folded the posters, put them in his shirt pocket and held out his hand to his friend. “So long, Logan, keep an eye on Miguel until I get back.”
 
Logan shook Wil’s hand. “Be careful, my friend and good luck.”

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