Chapter 1: The Gunman Jones
Jerrod shut the door to the saloon behind him. The place was jam-packed; you were bound to run into at least twenty drunks if you were there for any period of time. He took two slow steps forward, his hard leather boots making a loud noise as they made contact with the dirty pine floor. The saloon smelled of liquor, but there was also another, sweet smelling aroma in the air, but he couldn’t put a name to it.
Then, the bounty hunter Jerrod saw his target sitting at the bar, laughing and slapping his knee as if he wasn’t a wanted man. This man’s name was John Cleverstine, he was wanted for murdering a guy who just wanted to get him to buy a couple of mighty fine horses. The reward for him was only $400.00, but Jerrod made an assumption stating that he could get paid $500.00 for a murderer.
Jerrod adjusted his hat, and sat down on the stool next to Cleverstine. As he sat down he pulled back his coat, revealing two .36 Cal. Revolvers, with pearl handles, these were dyed to more of a golden color. Then Jerrod reached down his boot, and pulled out a knife that looked as if it could chop a pig’s head off in one sinuous motion. The blade was no less than ten inches long, and the handle was carved from bone. There were six notches on the handle of that knife, each notch resembled one life that it took.
Then suddenly, as if a wave of anger had surged through him, Jerrod slammed the knife down on the bar, tip first, making every glass that was sitting there rattle. The music stopped, and everybody stared up at Jerrod, including Cleverstine. Jerrod said aloud so that all could hear, “I been lookin’ all ‘round for ya John. First Chicago, then Stillwater, and now Hastings. Now, why you runnin’ from me John? I just gonna take you on up to the mayor, and watch you hang.”
John stared at him for more than a few seconds, then pushed off of the bar with his hand, and tried to run. He made only one step before Jerrod grabbed him by the collar, and pushed him up against the wall. He grabbed his knife from the bar, and put it to John’s throat. He said in a low voice; almost a whisper, “Everyone knows you done it. You murdered an innocent man; a man that was just tryin’ to sell you a couple of nice horses. You guilty, and everybody knows it, so why don’t you just make it easy for me, and come on outta here without no fight. That way it’s a win-win situation. I get my money, and you get to live just a little bit longer, maybe even long enough to say your final words, but I doubt the mayor will even give you that privilege. Now you hear me loud and clear, don’t you?” John’s voice trembled as he spoke, “Yes, yes sir. I understand you. Loud and clear.” Jerrod gave a nod of satisfaction, and then said, “Good! That’s very good! Come with me then.”
Jerrod lead him out the door, and to where his horse was tied. Then he took out a rope from the saddlebags, and tied John’s hands together. Jerrod mounted his horse, and lead John down to 2nd St. where the mayor’s office was.
The mayor was sitting at his desk, reading the Holy Bible when Jerrod entered the room. He knocked twice on the wall to let the mayor know that he was there. The mayor looked up. When he saw that it was Jerrod he put the book down on his desk, and removed his glasses.
“Well, well, well. Look who’s back in town! Jerrod, I haven’t seen you in what? A year?” A huge smile was spread across the mayor’s face from ear to ear. “Yeah, Ottis, I suppose it has been close to a year now. But I’ve taken up the bounty hunting business, and I just bagged me another dirty hare.” “And who might that be? Now you shouldn’t expect me to pay you any amount of money unless this man has caused my town, I say again MY town, any trouble.” The smile that was on Ottis’s face just seconds before, had disappeared. Ottis was going broke, because nobody was coming to the small town of Hastings, besides of course the Le Douc family.
“This man is the most wanted man in all of Minnesota, and Illinois. His name is John Cleverstine. He is wanted for murdering three people, but the most recent was a horse dealer in Stillwater who was just trying to sell him a horse or two.” Ottis nodded as if he was trying to remember something, his eyes drifting off to nowhere. “I’ve heard the name, but I’m not going to pay you anything for him. If I were you I’d just hand him over to me for free, and I will hang him. If what you say is true, then we better not let him go, otherwise he might cause more trouble.” Jerrod thought that this was better than not getting anything out of this, so he said, “Alright, I’ll leave him here with you. And hey, it was nice to see ya again Ottis.” Then he started towards the door, but before he was all the way out, Ottis stopped him and said, “Before you go, I have to tell you something. There was some trouble that happened here a couple of days ago. A man that goes by the name of Jones murdered an old man and his son. Last I heard he was heading towards Chicago along with thirty other wanted men. Now, I’m willing to pay you one thousand dollars, if you bring Jones back to me alive, it will still be a fair price if you bring him to me dead, but it won’t be as much.” Jerrod thought for a second, then he said, “Alright, I’ll bring him to you. But it’s one thousand alive or dead, no less.” Ottis nodded his head, and Jerrod left the office to go untie his horse.
As he was untying his horse, a shot rang out close by. He looked around, and saw a man running towards him with his gun drawn. Jerrod whipped out his pistol and took aim, but before he could pull the trigger, another shot was heard, and a bullet went threw the man’s back, sending him crashing to the ground.
A Tall black man emerged from behind the post office with gun in hand. He waved to Jerrod and said, “Hey there!”
Jerrod waved back, and walked toward the man. “I’m Marshal Tucker Savrier, and who might you be.” The marshal looked down upon Jerrod as he spoke. “I’m Jerrod Waterrun. Who is that man.” Jerrod gestured to the body lying in the street, face down in the dirt. “That’s the boy that you just brought in, I guess you don’t know how to tie very good knots.” Jerrod chuckled, “Yeah I guess not.” Then Tuckers face became serious as he said, “So, I heard you were goin down to Chicago to bring Jones back here for the hanging. You know Jones has a whole army of outlaws down there, you can’t just go there with guns ablazin’ or you’ll surely be killed.” Jerrod looked down at the ground as if he was trying to find something to say, then he looked back up towards Tucker and said, “You got any better plans?” A smile spread across Tucker’s face when he said that. “You know, I was hoping you’d say that. I was thinkin’ that maybe I could tag along with ya.” Jerrod was in shock for a moment, but when he gathered himself again he said, “I suppose that would be okay. I’ve never had a partner before, and some of the trails do get lonely. So, I guess you can come along. I think that we should leave by tomorrow morning around six o’clock. Does that work for you?” Tucker nodded and said, “Yeah, six o’clock should be just dandy, you can come on over to the saloon tomorrow morning to wake me up, that’s where I sleep.”
The next morning, before the sun had risen, Jerrod was up, pacing back and forth within his hotel room. He was thinking of his past life, before he was born again. He paced, and paced, until the sun had risen. At six o’clock he walked over to the saloon to see it dark, and empty, no one was in there. It was completely dark, except for a small candlelight coming from a room in the back.
Jerrod walked into the room that the light was coming from, and was surprised at how small it was. All that was able to fit in there was a small twin bed, and a few small barrels of beer. Tucker was lying on the bed, his feet hanging off the end. Jerrod thought of waking him for a moment, but then thought it better to let him sleep. He doesn’t need a partner anyways, never has, and never will.
Without saying a word Jerrod left the saloon to begin riding the trails down to Chicago. The night had been a long one, and Jerrod hadn’t gotten much sleep at all. He thought of the old days, of his old life, the good one. He left that life behind long ago during that wretched war. Many people lost their lives in that war, but unlike Jerrod they didn’t come back. He thought that as a good thing, not to be born again, but others saw that as a blessing from God. Only one person knows the truth, and that is God.
When Jerrod was re-born he became a bounty hunter, a man who tracked down criminals for the reward when he turned them in. Jerrod was a selfish man, never cared much for other people, but by doing this job he was helping the public by putting these wanted men behind bars.
When Jerrod left the saloon he found a crowd waiting to say goodbye to him, and good luck. There were about one hundred people all lined up along the streets on Second Street. Jerrod didn’t smile, nor did he wave. He just went to his horse and rode off into the trails of the deep woods.