RIDE OUT OF HELL
1861-1865 - Civil war
1860 - over 9000 miles of railroad built, Major cities were being networked, Civil war halted the process
1864 - U.S president Andrew Johnson elected
What a waste of life. Was my thought when I discovered what had become of me. "7 years wasted!" I spat out at a bar later that night, among foreign men who didn't know my words. This morning, I awoke under familiar baking sun, a little larger then normal, and the ground more dry and rough. Hands bound and legs tied around waste and saddle of a horse. Sent south to Mexico. My head was rocking when I awoke , I could say I awoke far passed the border by then. No one gave aid, the horse carried on. When I asked people nearby they would laugh or ask for money. I was left with nothing but clothes. Not even a gun. And so they continued laughing. Finally in a town an American man spotted me. He did not laugh, he was sympathetic. He cut me loose, and offered to buy me a drink. At the bar, I drank 7 years worth of intoxication.
I slowly came to form in my mind what had happened to me, lining out my life in detail to the nice fellow. I, Jack McCormick, had spent 7 years, mending poor unwanted cheap land into a profitable place, it would have been done quicker if not for the civil war. I himself did not believe in slavery, every man should do his own work. As well he should fight for his countrymen, I fought for the south and considered myself to have lost honourably. When it was over I returned to my business, the south wasn't the same but there was still money that could be made.
On the other side of my purchased land, after travelling a harsh path there was a city forming. At first it was a town but I knew a city would grow from it. I purchased that empty dusty land that was close to the mountains, and supposedly hard to maintain crops. But crops were not my attention. I built my home, big and with many extra rooms. I purchased breeding horses and prepared my stable. I also maintained cattle but they had to be herded in different locations for the land I owned was not suitable. It was hard but worth it, for long ago when I surveyed the land I took notice. The floor around the town, now a city was very uneven. To uneven for a railroad. while my land was perfect for a rail way. If a station was built on my land, passengers would need transport through the hard path. Paying for my horses or a stage couch ride. And my home would have been a bed and breakfast, cheaper and more comfortable then the city hotel. My life had been set. I tended hard to that land until the day came the rail road companies came knocking. Of course they wanted to buy my land from me, and I said no. I said I knew they was coming and had my own plans. Since I wouldn't sell the land, they had no choice. We negotiated a deal, they could build a station on my land without my charging them or asking for profit. And in return, they made a contract that would enforce no merchants and peddlers selling on my land. No money would be gained on this property unless it was by me or the rail road. I also negotiated having a sherrif's office here and a liquor licence, they took kindly to that. It was mutual profit for both of us. Yes that was a wondrous day. I was elevated that day by my overwhelmingly bright future. I felt so damn sure I was climbing to the top.
Life as they say, is a whore mutt. I believed myself to have met a noble and loyal women. A traveller who came into town looking for work, and earned a job at the general store. The hotel's prices would have made life hard for her so she came to stay in my bed and breakfast as many did. Long before the rail road came I was forced to build two extra buildings to accommodate overwhelming guests. The lovely Jane, with gorgeous green eyes and brown hair that took me away, had a voice that could sing even savage Indians into a calm state. Why was I foolish enough to make her my wife so quickly I'll never know. She said life was short. For those 5 years, we got along great, there was no hint of deception. Yet somehow I knew this was her deed. What a fatal mistake I made.
You see as I said I was elevated, and a week later a lawyer come to have me sign the contract. He brought up an issue though, The name I owned the land under was false. It was necessary to do background checks for the sake of the company before they do a deal. The name I used was Thomas Harring. I like many men in this country, had a bad past. I was a rude and eager young man, with wild horse and guns blazing. I did many things I am not proud of , but I wanted a second chance at life and I took it myself. I couldn't use my real name or my fake name. You might see where this leads. That innocent acting wive of mine stepped up to the task, I had my land resigned to her name, Jane Harring. Everything that I owned was hers. She had to sign the contract now. Its hers now, all of it. I don't get a penny of it even if I go back. Last I remember we were eating dinner. It was late dinner because she had been out all day. I found that suspicious. The men staying at the inn that night were also suspicious. Normally we had more then a dozen guest, for the past two days we had only 6 mean looking young men, who played nicely to me. I could see it in their eyes, they were hard men like me, but they played with nice words. I knew it wasn't right. I don't remember anything after eating, woke up on the god forsaken horse. I figure two weeks was long enough to plan it out.
This man was kind, he wouldn't tell me his name. And I guessed he had been in Mexico to hide from a criminal past. He said to simply call him J.
" Whats to gain if she has to split it with 6 others." He asked.
" Its not like that. She owns it all, all the profit, it is hers for as long as god permits. I guarantee you she is paying them a one time large sum for the deed. The fools don't fully grasp the plan at hand." I said.
J was serious and his voice stern.
" I see, well you've discovered the villainous plot. Now only two tasks remain. Drinking into a drunken stupor, one that may be your last and treated as such. Then tomorrow, or the day after, you ride north and take what's yours."
"It is not enough to simply go up and shoot them. I cannot claim the land when she is dead. It will go for auction and I have no money." I told.
" The lawyer is witness to the original land owner." He said.
" It is in the companies favour that I not have the contract. They'll gain it in the auction if one is ever held." I told him.
" So let them have the damned land. If you cannot claim your land then fine. But don't let that hell servant women have what she has stolen. You will agree with me after this night. The emotions will fill you and you'll be screaming for assistance from the four horsemen. An eye for an eye is in the wisest book my friend." He told me.
" I'll drink to that J,"
No headache had ever been as horrendous as that one. I would not waste day light though. There was a long trip ahead back to Texas, I do not know how long I had been knocked out when tied to the horse. The sun pushed into the sky and I forced myself awake, still drunk and spinning. I committed to my tasks.
" My life was lived," J said. " I'm here now with no purpose and nothing to spend on accept liquor. I have a horse for you and some guns. You have a purpose, the woman spits on the American land and government doing what she has done. I hope that you will live long to see it rectified."
Yes as drunk as I was I thanked him , I took with appreciation, his Henry rifle, Colt Army Model 60, and A knife he had crafted himself. J took pleasure in making rhythmic designs in the handle. The Colt Army was a cap and ball style, old fashioned at this point. The Henry rifle could make up for it though. In the Civil War this weapon earned many Confederate soldiers a ride in the Devils Stagecoach. I myself witnessed with my own eyes, the Union soldiers armed with the " 16 shooter" decimating my fellow Confederate men , then armed with just muzzle loading one shot rifles. Now years later, the newly released Winchester Rifle was much closer to the reapers work, but much to expensive.
I laughed when he handed whiskey, it rocked my head and caused pain.
" It's a long ride, I suggest you entertain yourself." He told me.
I travelled slowly and carefully for a a couple hours. When the sun was high and my head was clear, I drank. I continued myself into a cheery mood, when void of thoughts that death was imminent. I sang to myself loud and drunkenly.
It is a foul creature that calls itself Jane
that stroke my heart and lied to my ears
I've lead down the devils path
and have come to claim flesh and blood
Iron will be my salvation
Lead will be your death
Goodbye to my love
goodbye to heart and tears
There is no love in this country
just death and greed
" Oh god help us," I chanted at the end.
If I could remember the next few hours, I think I could say I sang and fell of the horse several times. I tossed the bottle coming into Texas. Feeling familiar to the land. The city was still a few hours away.
Hell is on its way my dear love Jane
Hide and Pray in a chapel
The flames are coming sweetie
I built camp and took rest at the outskirts of the city. I checked my gear,the Colt handle felt great. I always enjoyed the feel of a Colt in my hand. It was a sizable iron beast , the size needed to fire the deadly 44-caliber. It was kept in good shape, the barrel's metal was smooth and easy to polish. It was a great looking and powerful weapon, but not easy to use. The Henry rifle was stylish and simple. You slid the loading sleeve on the barrel to the rim and turned it left to open it. You place 16 44. shots and you close the sleeve and slide it down. After you fire, you down stroke the lever , a spent cartridge pops out and the next shot is ready to fire.
The army model on the other hand, takes 44. but they are balls not pointed bullets. This gun was cap and ball style as I mentioned earlier. A ball goes into one of the six chambers from the front, then I must place gun powder into the chamber. Afterwards the metal rod under the barrel was used to push and force the ball into the chamber, one at a time. Then a cap had to be placed behind each cylinder, and after each shot, the gun had to be raised up to prevent pieces from falling in and disrupting chamber or barrel. You could fire six shots fast when pre-loaded, other then that no luck. It wasn't practical use for the same amount of caliber. But it made a great side arm when already loaded. I would keep it in my holster for a quick draw when needed, I loaded the Henry Rifle, not even 60 seconds needed for 16 bullets, yes bullets not balls. I cleared my camp and took off in early afternoon. I would need to take longer alternative routes to get to my land without trouble. I wanted to arrive by supper time, catch the snake bastards off guard. I then had to wonder if they would remain still, They would have to wait for the money, she couldn't pay them a large enough sum right away. Yeah they had to be there. They had hand in carrying and tying me. What they had done was easy and very little. In fact it now dawned on me that these were small men, she hired eager experience lacking outlaws to do the dirty work. I suspect now the oldest one that I met gave good instruction and was wise. Yes it only takes one level headed man among the runts to make them a worthy force. A blonde man with black hat and clothing, I could remember the features in those two days.
I didn't push the horse to rough. I would arrive with sparing time. Survey the land and prepare my approach. I came to one of the big rocks close to my land, I left the horse there. Climbed up and took witness to my land. There was no development yet of course. Just the three buildings, the two stables and the resting saloon and stagecoach stop. The saloon was empty and closed. It wouldn't be prepared for months. It was mostly for bathroom and quick drinks. There wasn't going to be room to linger and party. I sat up in shade for an hour, watching five vigilant gun men walk back and forth on the land. Between the spare houses and the stable. Some took to tasks that were chores, aiding my wretched wive to tending the land. She and the older blonde man must be inside alone. One by one I watched them go onside, it was supper. I also took notice that there were no guests, they were that scared of some type of attack. The Henry rifle wasn't that type of rifle, it had an iron sight, it was better distance then a hand gun but essentially it was a medium distance weapon. With skill one man may be removed from a distance, a second was luck. Six, no way, They'd be charging at you from all directions, heaven help you if that happens. No way sir, that's not for me. They are going to feel vengeful wrath, close up at dinner time. That is their fate, I had decided it.
The living resident where they ate was at the centre between both buildings. There was a path from the house to the fence, outside the fence was the rest of my land, and eventually the road to city. I had to skulk through my own familiar buildings to creep up to the fence. I came from the rock to here at a good running pace, for I wanted to arrive while they still ate. Of course I wasn't a fool, I knew as I approached they would see me. Between the house and the fence, there was little cover, a few trees and a horse waggon with no horse. The waggons wheels, were thin frame, they could not provide cover and the waggon was tipped to one side. The only cover available would be in jumping into the waggon.
I approached, loose and relaxed, eagerly towards my imaginary visions of the reaper at the porch. My mind was little intoxicated now, imminent death was another psychoactive on its own. I made myself seem to walk the path but kept my focus on the waggon, I would leap into at a moments notice. As anticipated, five men, came out cheering, gawking and wailing, eager to shoot. The revolver was holstered and the Henry rifle had been in my two hands more then a few steps ago.
It was a good enough distance to see, they acted ready to draw and fire, but I knew well. Three had handguns, only two had rifles. The Three were useless at this distance. When I was close enough to the waggon, I fired a round from the Henry. A rifleman dropped, as I pulled the lever downward, shots fired in my general direction. Only the rifle shot came close, and as it whizzed by I fired my second round, that rifleman was hit as well. I was lucky to strike them both fatally. I hopped into the waggons cover when more fire came. How foolish were the three men to continue fire until empty while I remained in cover. Its to easy, 14 bullets is to much for these guys.
As they loaded I raised myself. I fired three shots without aim, it scared them. I even witnessed one drop his gun, another ducked as he loaded. The third standing, I took aim and fired. The first shot wounded him, and he managed several shots in my direction, with little luck. 2 more sent him to an end, he sprawled on the porch in odd posture.
I lowered as one of the men fired back several shots. The other man on the floor now ran to the two first dead. And drew both their side arms. With a mixture of fear and anger, he left the porch, both six shooters fully loaded and ready in hand, hollering and charging. I raised my self again and fired a quick miss shot, I took cover as he unleashed 12 thunderous claps from his two heavy iron Navy 50 Colts. I laughed in my cover, came up, and killed him, leaving myself 8 bullets still loaded. The last man on porch was now firing at me with the inferior Spencer repeater rifle. I ducked in the waggon.
" Should've set that horse on fire. Set your path to hell." He shouted at me.
" The seats in reserve for you!" I called back out.
I wasn't going to rise and shoot. I was peaking over the edges, trying to see in what manner the blonde man would take advantage of this situation.
" Where's your boss?" I shouted.
" Ain't no position to be asking for nothing but a tombstone and a eulogy." He told me.
" You forgot about my will," I said in a low voice.
At a second floor window there was movement. He was up there preparing a distance rifle.
" I'm curious to know, why did I wake up alive in Mexico?" I asked in a much louder voice.
" I always told the yellow haired bastard. Don't listen to no woman. I said, I said to him, g-g-gut that man. Gut him good and bury him. Don't leave him alive. If any white man from up here woke up in Mexico, he for sure come back up here with hell's wrath." He rambled. " Now all is lost. My comrades dead Gumbo, Chase, G-G-Garner, ...Spaz! He just left his home, a hatchling...."
" If you were smart you'd have seen it as it came. As if he didn't know. He wants the cut for himself. That's why the four of you are laid out dead on the porch, your on your way, while he sits up safely on the second floor with a rifle. He knew I was coming. He didn't care, one dead outlaw is as good as another."
" Shut'er you damned fool, your dead you hear, so shut it. Shut the lips and embrace the light you bastard." he shouted.
I raised the rifle over the edge and fired at the window, then I took a quick shot at the last man on the porch. I decided to take time to fill the rifles barrel at 16 shots again. I was pinned here by the window shooter. So the man at the porch came taunting forward and approached the waggon.
"...A hole so big in your chest they'll think Armadillo's came borrowing through."
When he was close enough he fired a shot over head the waggon. " Throw the gun over you rodent, stand and take the shot to the chest."
I had to ask myself this out loud, " Is he really that dumb?"
I threw the rifle over the waggon and then drew the Colt from holster. I raised my hand, held the gun upside down over the edge and fired four shots blindly. It was three at first, the fourth came when breathe and whimpering was still heard.
The blonde man was shouting from the window, I couldn't hear it well, but I made out that he was bragging about me not having the rifle no more.
His voice grew louder, it boomed and reached my ears clearly from the window. Recognizably amplified by a brass speaking trumpet (acoustic megaphone).
"It's been interesting watching you tear through here like a wolf in a sheep's pen. But now your pinned and your options are very little. I suggest take you my word for this."
" What do you suggest, your hunger is still not quenched?" I cupped my hands and boomed it loudly.
" The women had offered a mighty sum, even mightier as one cut now. But still, I see what prosperous future this land holds. That women still has a heart for you. It can be negotiated. Give me triple of what she has told, and I will have her resign all items under your name. You and her may live happily ever after, and I will take my hefty sac of bank notes and leave. Tra-la-la-la."
At this moment I cursed the old fashioned revolver. It was all I had to shoot with, only two balls left. It would take about half a minute to load just a single shot. A shot from the window hit the waggon.
" Make up your mind, I can just throw a firebomb to the waggon and watch you run in circles like a headless chicken." the blonde announced.
" God has cursed my luck," I said. I threw the gun passed my rifle, after a few moments I raised my head. He was no longer at the window. I leaped over and stood in front of the rifle. I was not given another moment to grasp or even gaze at the rifle. He was already at the porch, aim ready. The feeling of imminent death swelled up deep in my chest, there were skull and bones dancing at the corner of my vision.
He smiled, standing on the porch with a Springfield bolt action in hand. The sniping rifle was useless from that distance.
" Triple, agreed?"
I didn't even dare to look down at the rifle, for it would tempt him, but I knew very well what he intended. His Right hand was suddenly free and grabbed for the Remington revolver strapped on his hip.
I ducked as a bullet whizzed over head. My hands grasped the rifle on the floor, I fired the rifle with little accurate preparation. A bullet whizzed over him and another came in my direction. I raised the rifle to my shoulder, and prepared more time to aim. Two shots came by, one scraped my shoulder. I fired and it dodged his neck. The graze over my shoulder caused me to aim a little up. But the near shot scared him, I felt confident, I took the time to aim. A deadly strike was what was needed. Then a shot went into my arm, and that threw my aim off again, I wasn't even sure what specific point it went into. The pain was minor and I pushed it from my mind. I fired two shots, one grazed his leg. He fired his last shot. I hopped forward a few steps, dropped to knee, and unleashed five shots in his direction. He was hit in the chest several times, he stepped back through the threshold of my home and dropped dead in the hallway. I took the colt from the ground and placed it into holster.
I stood up, prideful, " Now for the wicked witch of Texas."
There was a loud ring, I came to realize that I was struck in the hip. Blood trickled down my leg, making its patterns on the dusty ground. I dropped to all fours, after a long moment there was another shot, it missed me. I crawled to the closest tree, with rifle in hand, and took cover. It was a small and thinly tree without leaves. Jane was firing a breech loading rifle from the second story of the spare house.
" That rotten women..."
Now I knew why I was left alive. She always intended for me to return here and remove the six men she owed payment too. All the while she could simply pick my head off with the Hall North Carbine rifle I had purchased for her and trained her to use.
I sat there surrounded by hopeless death, shots would come down but none could pierce through the tree and kill me yet thankfully. I was grateful for loading the rifle earlier, in mid battle. 7 shots remained in the barrel. As I said earlier the horse stables were enclosed on my residential land. It seemed farfetched, but with the great emptiness around me, all lack of life and interlude, I had nothing left to bet on.
A fence enclosed several horses nearby, horses that were familiar with me. The fence was kept shut not by a lock but by a simple and cheaply made leather tie. I fired three shots in its direction, the third finally struck. The gate slowly made an arc, the horses stumped around in front of it curiously. I fired a fourth shot over head when of the horses I recognized as being meaner was close. In its shock it stamped around and lead the horses out. I let out a loud whistle, the smallest mare, the one I took favour to when feeding, came towards me.
It ran by in full dash, I grasped hard on its mane with my good arm and pulled myself up despite my injuries. I rode the horse towards the direction of the spare house.
" Death is coming my love," I whispered.
Several feet from the porch the horse was struck by gunfire. It raised in prone position, frightened and wounded. I dropped off the horse with a hard thud, rifle slipped from my hands and landed several feet away. The horse hit the ground and slowly died. The drop caused to much pain, I landed on my wounded hip, and my opposite ankle twisted on landing. I crawled towards the rifle but couldn't get to it quick enough.
She stood at the porch, in her used up kitchen dress and apron, holding the Hall North Carbine the way I taught her to.
" I'm sorry Jack, you know I always was a woman of eager opportunity," she said.
I gave up my pursuit of the rifle. I rose up to my knees and my eyes laid over hers. Bright green eyes, with sun tanned skin, brown pony tailed hair, and the reaper's gate key in hand.
" You know, before I go over and say hello to both our parents, it would be good to know. Did you love me, and do you still Jane?"
She took a pause, her eyes looked around but saw nothing. She wasn't seeing reality, she was seeing herself in the past. " I Know for sure I did, and I think I still do. Making it harder won't change nothing."
She prepared the rifle on her shoulder, she fixed the sight on me.
" Sometimes the winds of fate change baby." she said to me.
" Indeed they do." I responded.
The holster on my hip was empty, she had seen that, she checked twice from the start. She couldn't see, that in truth, the Colt was tucked in my trouser waist at the back. I drew and fired, the two shots pierced belly and chest.
" Jack..." She whimpered and held her stomach, her footing stumbled. " I'm not ready to die."
I looked right at her, " Did you think that I was?" I asked.
She dropped to her knees, a bloody hand left a mark across my face, a loving tender touch. Then she fell over in front of me. The sky was turning dark, thunder clapped and rain came down, not water but fire. I think, I couldn't be sure. Sounds were deafening, body weak, senses gone, no strength left, accept to roll my eyeballs in the direction of my dead wive. We laid across from each other, our rivers of blood connected and flowed.
The land was sold at the city auction, purchased by the rail road company. The sum of the purchase was given to the U.S government. Not long after the station was built, the nearby town become a boom town, gold was being found, the population grew seven times. The land prospered into its own small town. What took place here became a local legend, questioned and never proven to be true.