Once upon a Time...
The Sheriffarrived at the New Orient Hotel. Mr. Ming was on hand to greet him. Sadly, communication was limited to Mingexclaiming “Sheriff!” over and over again. The Sherifflooked around for Lily, hoping for a translation, but she was nowhere in sight. After a few minutes of hand signals, Mr. Ming finally escorted the Sheriffinto the dining room where Jed Bartlett and Judge Timmons sat enjoying a steaming bowl of soup.
The Judgesimply smiled. The banter between the two had been going on for years. “Sit down. We are having some kind of pork soup.”
“Ya two days late.” Jedcommented.
“Apparently Texans can’t tell no time, but we can sure save the confederacy.”
“Oh no, they can tell time fine, just not Texans in Old Mexico … or New Mexico… hmmm… Yes New Mexico.” Jedsaid. He seemed as confused by his bumbled statement as the others.
“Yes.. Yes.. there should be.” The Sheriffsaid with a smile.
“How you guys let Georgia get burned by those damn Yanks, I’ll never know.” The Judgesaid. The Sheriffjust smiled at the comment. He could still remember the beginning of the war, and the battle of Atlanta. Sylaswas too young to do anything about it, but the memory of the Yankee army burning Atlanta to the ground would always remain with him.
“Good. They doing ok.” The Judgeanswered as he continued to sip on his soup.
Suddenly Jedjumped with a start. He looked around in total confusion. “How did we get to the New Orient?” He asked in surprise.
The Sheriffand the Judge, used to Jed’s absent-mindedness simply ignored him. “Just eat your soup Jed. It’s some kind of pork thing.” The judgeturned back to the Sheriff. “Anyways, you should watch out for the Ames Gang.”
“The Ames Gang? Ah yes, that strange moto cycle gang, or something… they ride those strange metal contraptions.” The Sheriffsaid, finally taking a true interest in the conversation.
“Exactly. You should be prepared Sheriff. You’ll need a lot more than that boy of yours.”
“Tom? He’s a good kid.”
“Seems a might twitchy to me.”
Jedsat up quickly and leaned into the table. “You don’t mean the James Gang do you?”
“The Ames Gang.” The Judgeexplained.
“Oh, never heard of them.” Jedsaid and leaned back into his chair.
“Ya, I’ll have to look into some guns.” The Sheriffcommented as he thought about who he would get to help.
“Ya. There are fifteen members of the gang if I remember correctly.”
“For what?” Jedasked suddenly confused again.
“To fight the Ames Gang. ‘Cuz they are coming at us.” The Sheriffpatiently explained.
“They been shooting up the towns in the area. Last I heard they were spotted up north of here. Dangerous men these Ames brothers.” The Judgeanswered.
“Are they wanted?” The Sheriffasked.
“Yup. $200 on the two Ames Brothers and $25 for each member of their gang.” The judgesaid.
Taking a quick sip of his soup, Jedasked, “So who are you thinking of asking?”
“Ya, that’s why it’s called Jim’s General Store.”
“It is, but he also goes by Jim. I thought lawyers were suppose to be smart.”
Jedignored or maybe didn’t hear the comment. “Can he shoot?”
“Ya, he can shoot real good.”
“Who else you thinking?”
Jedstood up straight in a start. “Me? Why me?”
“I need people.” The Sheriffexplained simply.
“But I don’t know much about guns and shooting and stuff. “ Jedstopped and thought for a second. “Well, I’ll help you anyway I can, I guess.”
“That’s funny, bringing a Yank to a gunfight.” The Judgechuckled.
“You know, Cooper’s man.”
“Bryce Coopersman?” Jedsaid. His confused expression was almost becoming a permanent feature.
“No Bryce Colton. He is Clayton Cooper’s man.”
“Oh, Colton, from the double C double bar ranch.”
“Ya, he can shoot good I hear.”
“Ok, well I’ll help you anyway I can unless they retain my services of course.”
“Well, you never know.” Jedanswered sheepishly.
Seeing this as a good time to escape, the Sheriffstood up from the table. “Well, thanks for the breakfast. I got some things to tend to. You both have a good morning.”
The three men said their goodbyes and the Sheriffleft. His mind swimming with images of what the Ames gang would do to the town. As a bit of thought he decided to head up to the Cooper Ranch and see if Brycewas willing to join the Posse.
A little more than an hour later, the Sheriffarrived at the Double C Double Bar Ranch, owned by Mr. Cooper. To the Sheriff’s untrained eye the ranch seemed to have fared well after the storm. He did not realize that the cowpokes had been up since dawn repairing most of the corrals and buildings.
The Sheriffrode up to the horse trough in front of the Cooper’s house. His horse, extremely thirsty, did not even wait for him to dismount before drinking from the tough water. The Sherifflooked at his horse and knew that Brycewould give him a talking too about the care of his horse, but there was nothing he could do about it now.
As the Sheriffdismounted his horse a Mexican cowpoke walked over. The Sheriffstruggled for a second to remember the man’s name, but came up blank. He spent a few minutes using broken Spanish and hand signals trying to ask the cowpoke where Brycecould be found. Eventually he succeeded as the Cowpoke points up to the Cooper House. The Sheriffthanked the man and walked up to the big house. He could tell that the ranch was very busy this afternoon. A lot of the cowpokes were in the field repairing fences and taking care of the cattle. Out in front of the big house a few cowpokes were getting a wagon ready for something, probably a trip into town, Sylasthought. He knocked on the front door and waited patiently for an answer.
When the door opened Sylashad quite a start. Standing in the doorway was Mrs. Abigail Cooper. Her face was as white as a ghost. She tried to greet him, but instead launched into a coughing fit. The Sherifftried to keep his expression blank as he waited for her to recover. Mrs. Cooper wiped blood from her lips and greeted the Sheriffasking him to come in.
The Sheriffentered the mud room and began cleaning off his boots, while Mrs. Cooper went into the kitchen offering him some lunch. The Sherifftried to politely refuse, but Mrs. Cooper ignored him. After cleaning his boot he found Brycein the kitchen trying to politely send Mrs. Cooper back to bed. It was only after Rosa appeared, yelling at Mrs. Cooper, did they succeed in getting her to go back to bed.
Brycegreeted the Sheriffand poured him a fresh cup of coffee. They sat at the kitchen table exchanging pleasantries. Bryceexplained the state of the ranch, and talked about the weather. The Sheriffexplained to Bryceabout the Ames gang and asked him if he would be willing to join the posse against them. Bryceagreed as they left the house. Bryceexplained to the Sheriffthat he was taking Rosa into town and it was decided that they would ride together.
As they stepped outside, Bryce’s eyes immediately fell on the Sheriff’s horse. They walked over and Brycebegan taking care of the horse’s hooves while he complained about the Sherifflack of care. After the horse was properly treated they started the ride into town.
Around 1:00 pm in the afternoon a gunshot was heard from a bedroom in the Double Down Saloon. Greaveshaving heard the shot rushed out of his office and into Navi Lopez’s room. Inside the room he found Navi sitting on the bed holding a small derringer. The same derringer he gave her earlier. Navi was hysterical. She was rocking back and forth crying and shaking.
Laying against the wall was Gusterson Jenkins with a small hole in his head. Uriel Greaves thought quickly and pulled Gus’ knife from his belt and placed it in Gus’ Hand.
“He had a knife!” He said to Navi.
Being nearby Jim Mathis heard something he thought might be a gun shot. He grabbed his sharps big 50, in case there was trouble, and wandered over to the Double Down to find out what happened. When he reached the Saloon he learned that a young whore had shot a miner. Intrigued by this, he decided to stay and took a sit on the bench on the porch. After a few minutes He saw the Young Deputy, Tom Klein walking up the street, shotgun in hand. Jimwas worried about Tom’s ability to handle the situation and wondered where the Sheriffwas. With no Sheriffin sight, Jimdecided to stick around to make sure the young Deputy would be ok.
The deputyentered the Double Down Saloon trying as hard as he could to stop shaking. He took a quick look around and was overwhelmed by the number of people. Before he could do anything, Mr. Greaves stepped out of an upstairs room and began walking down stairs. Tomtook a deep breath, remembering what the Sheriffhad taught him.
“Alright I’m here! Everyone just calm down. Calm down the Law’s here now!” Tomsaid in his most authoritative voice.
“Watch it kid.” Mr. Greaves said with annoyance.
“Go ahead. Go ahead show me what’s happened.” Tomsaid trying to retain control of the situation.
“Just don’t shoot anyone, kid.”
“I’m the law ‘round here. I’ll take a reckoning of the situation.” Tomsaid puffing his chest out.
“Why don’t you just leave the shotgun?” Mr. Greaves said getting more and more annoyed with the young deputy.
“Don’t tell me how to do my job! I’m the law ‘round here. I don’t tell you how to pour whiskey!”
“You need to watch yourself or I’ll have the Sheriffwhoop your ass!”
“Just show me what happened.”
They continued up the stairs and Mr. Greaves showed TomNavi’s room. Inside the room Tomfound the dead body of Gusterson Jenkins. The bed was messed up and it was apparent to Tomthat there was a struggle on the bed. Mr. Greaves told Tomthat Gus pulled a knife and tried to kill Navi. Tomasked Uriel Greaves to wait outside and closed the door. Alone inside the room, Tomslowly approached the body. Gus was scratched up a bit, but it was the hole in his head that had done him in. Tomattempted to examine the bullet hole, but his weak stomach got the better of him and he threw up on the floor. After he had composed himself, Tomleft the room and asked Uriel Greaves to take him to Navi.
Urielsighed at the deputy’s lack of nerves, and took him into the next bedroom where Navi was waiting. Again the deputyasked Mr. Greaves to wait outside and closed the door. The deputyspent ten minutes interviewing Navi, trying to figure out what had happened. Once he was satisfied, the young deputyhandcuffed Navi and led her out of the room. Once Mr. Greaves realized that Navi was going to be taken to the jail, he yelled down to his bartender Francis to get the lawyer Jed. Luckily, Jedwas outside, so Francis didn’t have to go far.
Jedhaving heard of the shooting had headed to the Double Down. When he arrived at the Double Down he found Jimsitting on the porch. Shortly after Jedarrived, young Lily arrived to find out what had happened. Standing outside Jimwas more than happy to explain what had happened. Jim’s story was interrupted with Francis calling out for Jedto come inside. Jedpolitely excused himself and entered the Saloon.
“Just go with him Navi.” Uriel said as he stepped aside.
“Ok Mr. Greaves.” Navi said meekly.
Tomtook her down stairs watching the growing crowd, waiting for any sign of danger. As they slowly head down stairs, Tomnoticed Jed Bartlett entering the saloon. Jedstopped as looked up at young Tom. Tomstopped.
“Good. Good. You can talk to the sheriffwhen he gets back.”
“No Problem Tom. We can talk about this at the jail. You just go on ahead.”
Tomcontinued to lead her outside. The crowd parted to let them pass. As they stepped out of the saloon, Tomfroze a second as he saw even more townsfolk gathering in the street. He took a deep breath to steady himself and then continued outside.
Tomlooked over the crowd, then back to Jim. “It’s a free town!” Tomproclaimed loudly, more for the crowd then Jim. “If you want to walk next to me Jim, nothing I can do about it!.” Tomstarted to move forward toward the Jail as Jimfell in line with him. Still talking to the crowd Tomsaid, “If you’re just going to walk near me there’s not much I can do.” Tompaused gauging the reaction of the crowd. The crowd stood their ground and simply watched the spectacle. “We are just going to be walking in the same direction. Just Jimand me walking down the street.”
Tomcontinued forward, the further he got away from the Double Down Saloon the more confident he became. He sighed quietly as he noticed that the crowd was not following them.