Robert M. de la Torre
Cover art by Jeffery Johnson
Books by Robert m. de la TorreCopyright 2010 by Robert M. de la Torre. All rights reserved. Printed in the united States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For information address Tattletales 437 Cougar Way 2B Beaumont California 92223.
Son of the Phoenix
The Green Shutters
Jack Sleeps in the Park
The Ape Mine
Ichie the Fly
Always Walking Barefoot
Beyond the Tulips
Jonnie the Scarecrow
Bullion Bob: Mojave
All stories written and created by the author
Robert m. de la Torre.
The end of spring had finally come to a close, and the desert that was left behind, stood out from the west like a giant, though not sleeping. Days of strong winds were long and the sand blew from all directions, making it sometimes difficult to see just a few feet in front of ones own mount, his mule that kept him from walking, as sure footed crossing over the mountain that led to the town of dry sage, where Bob was certain his new life would begin and the woman that would be there waiting.
Bob kept his Colt clean, ready for danger, that he knew would be waiting also, as he entered the town that had rejected him.
Lilah was his only friend, besides Trappy, who he left behind with his Mojave bride and son, he trusted no man, especially with a gun. Scarred from the drifters who had left him lying in the hot desert sand to die, had his gold and the memories of the men he killed.
Dry Sage appeared as he crossed over the mountain, looking the way it had when he last seen the town that sat in the middle of nowhere. Determined to start his new life, he knew the days ahead were going to be hard and fast. Bob spat in the dirt and led his mule to Dry Sage, with a certain thought that he may have to kill again.
The year was 1890. The story of “Bullion Bob” lies here from the sands and wind of the great Mojave.
Bullion Bob: Dry Sage
The mule had shown great strength crossing over the mountain. Its ears pointing toward the path ahead that Bob had traveled before with his trusted friend Trappy. The smell of sage had left his senses, and now the pines were leaving also. Only the smell of his mule he could taste in the air, as he sucked in through his swollen nose, from the dryness that the wind had brought him.
He could see the town appearing through the dust clouds that were forming, letting him know that he would soon be in Dry Sage.
“You did good mule, I should give you a name,” Bob whispered to himself as he patted the neck of his mount. The mules ears stood high, shifting positions in all directions now and then, feeling the path that was ahead of them. “I’m going to give you a home my friend,” he said as he thought of what to call his loyal mount. Bob’s mule kept a steady stride as the two of them entered the outskirts of Dry Sage, passing the graveyard, that kept a reminder to those who entered the town, that they could wind up buried deep in the dirt, if one wasn’t obedient of the law they upheld.
Bob tipped his hat as he passed the graveyard, and looked straight ahead as he passed by the bank, where he laid down his claim. The town looked different from the time before and he searched for the ones who he thought might notice him. The street was empty, and a uncertain feeling came over him, as he felt his Colt beside him in his holster, the only thing that wasn’t hot from the sun, cold and ready, as he dismounted, then looked around, seeing no one. The door on the hotel creaked back and forth from the wind, as a tumbleweed bounced down the street. Bob looked back to see his mule and saw that he was tied right, making sure the knot would slip, incase he needed to mount him right away. Not sure if he was welcome in Dry Sage, Bob kicked the dirt from his boots and entered inside, noticing the music had not been played by the same man as before, the piano sounding the same, he sat down on a chair at a table, then saw one only person standing at the desk. “What’ll it be stranger,” the clerk asked him politely. Bob lifted the brim on his hat to get a good look at the man, and waited a few moments to answer him. “It’s going to be a tonic young feller,” Bob answered back. “Sure one tonic,” he confirmed.
Bob studied the picture above the fireplace and saw that it resembled Lilah, the woman who he came after, to ask her for her hand. “She’s a pretty one,” the clerk commented as he poured Bob’s tonic, noticing that he had a liking for her. “You seen her around,” Bob inquired patiently. “Sure have, she’s still here, sept that she went to visit her brother out at his ranch,” the clerk spoke with enthusiasm. Bob took the tonic from the clerk and studied another man who looked beat down from the trail drinking his whiskey and asked the clerk if he knew who he was. “Can’t say I ever saw him before, sat down and asked for a whiskey then didn’t say much after that,” the clerk told him while wiping the sweat from his brow. “Say stranger, we don’t want any trouble here in Dry Sage,” he said with a stutter. Bob sipped his tonic, then took out a small nugget and handed it to the clerk as he studied the man and wondered who he was. “Holy cow sir, whar did you find that?” the clerk asked abruptly. “Never mind, you want it or not?” Bob asked him sternly, never taking his eyes off of the man sitting down across the room. “I’ll take it, guess it would bring at least 40 dollars,” the clerk stated with surprise. “I figure you right young feller, I’ll take a room and you can add the tonic, make sure I get a bath to go with that,” Bob ordered before he started upstairs to where he was at the last time he was there. “I’ll make sure you get the exact change coming,” he told Bob, as he rang his bell for the porter to come. “Oh, and do you mind me asking sir, whar did you get them scars?” the clerk wondered. “Had to fight a bear for my supper, how about that bath,” Bob stated impatiently. “Sure sir, one bath my apologies for askin,” the clerk replied with a half cracked grin.
Bob made his way upstairs, and couldn’t help but thinking about Lilah and the last time she shaved and bathed him. The most thought that came to his mind was getting cleaned up and a good nights sleep, with a belly full of home cooking, then he would worry about Lilah later. Bob parked his saddle bags down in the corner of the room, stripped down and climbed in the tub and waited for the porter to come and fill it with hot water, still wearing his holster and Colt, he sat back and eyes weary, fading from the day‘s ride. The hotel porter was out back, heating up the water for Bob’s bath, while Bob sunk down into the tub, falling fast asleep, gun strapped to himself; waiting patiently for the hot water to fill the tub that he was in dire need of, smelling like a skunk on the trail. He cracked open his left eye, to see that his saddlebags were still lying in the corner where he left them, still clutching his Colt.
The man who was not identified, who sat at the table downstairs, crept up the stairs silently to the room where Bob was sleeping, and looked for the porter to see if he was noticed. The man searched through the keyhole to see if he could spot Bob, then saw that the door wasn’t locked, and let himself in.
Bob snored loudly, as the unknown man looked about the room, and spotted his saddlebags laying in the corner. Seeing that Bob wasn’t about to wake up, he snuck over and grabbed them, not looking over his shoulder to see that Bob had him red handed and waiting for him to see that he was not asleep anymore. The sound of his boots, scuffed the wooden slat floor as he shuffled backwards, not wanting to see that he had been caught stealing the bags that Bob was protecting with his life.
“You just sit them back down and turn around,” Bob told him as he aimed his Colt at the back of his head. “Don’t go getting yourself in a twist old timer,” he returned with a crack in his voice. “That’s it, now take your hand of your gun, and turn around,” Bob instructed peacefully. The man figured he could outsmart Bob and as he turned around, he drew his gun and before he could say a word, Bob had blown the back of his head almost completely off his shoulder. The loud report from Bob’s Colt could be heard throughout the hotel, and the porter came running in to see that the unknown man, was laying on the slat wooden floor, blood pouring out from the hole he had in his head that Bob’s Colt made in him.
Bob stood in the middle of the room naked, only wearing his gun belt, avoiding the blood on the floor, as he stepped over the man that was sure as dead, and grabbed his saddlebags, then climbed back into the tub and waited for the porter to ask him what had happened.
“You have that water I asked for young feller?” Bob asked impatiently. “Yes, I do sir, sorry to have you a waiting so long,” he apologized, as he looked at the dead man that Bob had just killed. “Don’t make me wait to long,” Bob hollered. “Yes, sir right away,” he returned, then ran down the stairs, his boots clashing with the wood, as he almost fell down.
The porter ran out of the hotel, yelling in the streets, that he just saw Bob kill the unknown man, who had been sitting at the hotel room table, sipping his whiskey just a few moments ago.
Meanwhile Bob sunk back down inside the tub and waited for his bath, then fell back asleep again, thinking that the dead man was somebody that would have killed him first, if he hadn’t of shot him like he did. About a few minutes had passed, then marshall Cox came in the room with the porter, who had the pale with him of hot water, then splashed it on top of Bob’s head. Bob felt the soothing water turn warm after it had soaked him real good. The porter gave him a bar of soap and told him to scrub up and get ready for supper. “So tell me, you say your name is Bob?” the marshall asked him as he sat across the room studying him. “That’s my name marshall,” he replied with a grin while soaping himself up. At that time the porter came back into the room with another pale and poured it over Bob’s head, rinsing the suds off of his body. Not paying any attention to Bob’s gun work, he asked him about the saddlebags and wanted to know what it was inside of them. “He was going for my bags marshall, I let him have it,” he confessed as he looked up at him and saw that he was interested in his story. “Looks to me like you did real good there Bob,” he mentioned, looking at the dead man laying in his pool of blood. The porter poured another pale of water over Bob and left the room again to fetch another one, as the marshall questioned Bob some more, wanting to know about the saddlebags.
The water dripped off of Bob’s beard and he saw that the marshall was getting fidgety and wanted to know what he had in his bags. “Gold,” Bob stated. “You mean gold?” the marshall asked him intently. “That’s right marshall, he was going for my gold,” Bob repeated again. “You mind if I have a look?” asked the marshall curiously. “Sure marshall go ahead and please yourself,” he cautioned. marshall Cox lifted the heavy bags and unfastened the straps, then peeked inside to see that Bob had them filled with nuggets the size of his thumbs. “Whew we boy, your rich!” he barked.
Bob laid back into the tub and watched the look on the marshall’s face, then saw the porter coming back into the room with another pale of water, still fixed on the dead man that laid in his blood.
“Bob, I know you’re not going to like what I have to tell ya,” he mentioned to him. “It was self defense marshall I swear to you,” Bob warned him. “It’s just a formality Bob, until I can clear your story,” he added as he nodded positively. “I know marshall,” Bob agreed as he stood up from the tub. “You can get dressed and we’ll take you down stairs Bob,” he instructed with a smile. “Don’t try anything you might regret Bob, I will kill you if I have to,” the marshall mentioned.
The porter left the room to fetch Tyle Travers, the undertaker, while the marshall waited for Bob to get dressed and follow him to the jail. Bob handed over his Colt and bullets, then dressed himself, and lifted his heavy saddlebags to follow the marshall who was waiting for him, who had his shotgun ready for any mistake Bob would have made.
They drug his body out of the room, by both feet, as his head scratched the slatted wooden floor. Not ever knowing who he was, the man who had tried to steal Bob’s gold was being taken to the undertakers, then buried out at the graveyard just outside of town. The marshall closed the heavy iron door behind Bob, then told him he would get a fair trial. Bob sat on the bench, with his saddlebags next to him, wondering if the marshall was telling him the truth. The meal he was hoping to have was cold beans, enough to fill his stomach, and he waited for the morning, looking out of the bars that kept him from being a free man.
Bob saw a tumbleweed passing through the street, still no one insight, wondering if he shouldn’t have killed the marshall and went back up to the mountain where he could hide. His mind still fixed on Lilah and if she would ever know how much he loved her, then saw his mule tied outside with one ear lower than the other. The cool wind blew through the bars and dust followed with it. The dirt floor was barely enough room for him to lay down on and he tried his best to get the sleep he would need for the morning. Knowing he would have to depend on the marshall and his word, that he would get a fair trial.
“You awake in there Bob,” the marshall asked him while seeing the plate of beans empty. Eye’s squinting from the sunlight that beamed through the bars, Bob looked up to see the marshall waiting for him to awaken. “I’m awake marshall,” Bob returned as he yawned. “The mayor wants to talk with you Bob, says you got a good chance to be a free man,” he reported with a smile. “I’m ready marshall, anythings is better than this here jail you have here,” Bob returned as he picked himself up off the dirt floor of the jail. “You just have to stick to your story Bob, wasn’t too good you put one in the back of his head,” the marshall grinned. “He was going for my bags,” Bob swore to him. “Tell it to the mayor Bob,” he laughed. The marshall led Bob out of the jail and locked up his bags in the safe, then they both went over to see the mayor. Bob in leg irons, to make sure he wouldn’t make a run for it.
Jonathan Trust, the mayor, was waiting to see Bob who was led by the marshall to come and tell his story, sat in his chair puffing his pipe, while the marshall came inside with Bob. “Good morning boys,” the mayor greeted them while puffing his pipe. “This here is Bob sir,” the marshall opened. “So, you’re our new gunslinger in town boy are you?” he asked Bob looking at him. “Just came in for a bath sir, never intended to kill anyone,” he returned. “Well, I saw what you did to him, he’s got a hole in the back of his head the size of the Mississippi,” the mayor announced with pride. “He was going to kill me sir,” Bob added. “Yes, of course, I know what you got in those bags son,” he mentioned to him. “That’s my property sir, I dug that with my own hands,” Bob stated as he stared into his eyes. “The town wants you to hang Bob,” he said with a sad face. I figured they would sir,” he returned looking out the door. “Bob, we can do something for you, for a fair price, isn’t that right marshall?” he said to him sternly. “Sounds to me that you want something from me sir,” Bob said intently. “That’s right son, you pay us and we let you free, or else you hang, do you hear me?” he snapped as he spat on the floor. Bob knew he was going to have to pay the town or else a rope he would have to hang from. The thought of his neck breaking wasn’t too pleasant and he looked at the mayor and agreed. “So marshall, have you set a fair price for this here gunslinger?” he wanted to know right away. “I was going to leave it up to you sir,” the marshall mentioned as he turned and looked at Bob. “One hundred dollars, sounds fair boys?” the mayor chuckled. Bob looked at the marshall and shook his head, then turned toward the mayor and nodded. “Oh and by the way son, we need a good man for sheriff in this here town, sound like something you can do for us?” the mayor added as he spat again on the wooden floor of his small office.
Bob looked around the office of the mayor and saw a picture of the old sheriff hanging there on the wall, then asked him what had happened to him.
“Well you see Bob, the late sheriff Roy had not kept his promise,” he mentioned as he spat again. “I see sir,” Bob stated as he studied his face. “You just keep your end of the bargain and everything will be fine son, now marshall see that he pays the town and give him his badge,” he laughed as he spat on the floor.
Bob left the mayor’s office and went to the jail to get his bags and his badge, knowing he had to pay the town, he was content now that he had a job and was the new sheriff in Dry Sage. Strapping his Colt to his side, he paid his fine in full in gold, then went back to the hotel to get a home cooked meal, that he had wanted for some time. Bob led his mule across the street holding on to his hat, that the wind blew from his head. The tin badge he wore, with his snake skin boots and Colt strapped to his side.
The buildings were covered by the dust that picked up from the wind. Dry Sage was engulfed by the weather that had changed to the storms that blew hard across the town that had a new sheriff. Bob had now taken his gold to the bank and left it there, now being the richest man that the west had ever seen. The drifters that came and met their fate by the Colt that he carried, were buried at the graveyard just outside of town. Bob had a reputation in Dry Sage that carried as far away as the East, where he had originally came from. Though he kept the law himself and protected those that lived in his town, Bob knew deep inside that he wanted to get revenge and take back his gold that he was cheated out of, making sure that the mayor got what was coming to him.
A man who rode up to the hotel, came dirty and long haired, scruffy was his clothing, that made him look like a madman, was inside the building that he drank whiskey from. Cussing and ordering the women who worked in the hotel, he stunk badly and Bob kept a close watch on him, as he sat crouched, waving his gun and wanting to die. Bob saw that the drifter was drunk, and had his hand tight on his Colt, waiting.
Staggering outside, he smashed his glass on the floor and stumbled to the street, leaving the hotel guests in awe, as his horse even became frightened from his presence. A loud report from his gun was heard from all parts of Dry Sage and silence filled the air, as he called out to Bob to come outside, calling him a coward and one ugly fellow that needed to die. Bob stared at the few people who stayed inside, fearing that the drifter in shab would actually gun them down, for being alive. Bob wanted to stop him fast and went to the swinging door and kicked it open to see the drifter waiting, staggering and calling him out.
“Best you get on your horse and get out of town mister,” Bob ordered as he studied his move. “You’re yella,” he cried. Bob could feel himself tense, and ready to draw and put the drifter out of his misery. “You ain’t no sheriff, your yella,” the drifter shouted as he waived his gun. A shot came from the drifters gun, hitting the door, just below Bob’s waist and ricocheted off of it, splintering the wooden post that was holding it up. “You got one minute to get on your horse mister,” Bob told him as he cocked his Colt, aiming it at the drifter head. Another shot was fired from the drifters gun, and in a second the nose on his face disappeared as his eyes crossed and fell backward into the street.
They stood around the body of the man who had wanted to die. Blood seeped into the dirt, as he laid there, eyes open and looking to the sky with a blank gaze. Bob kicked him in his side to make sure he was dead, then Tyle Travers came over to scoop him up off of the street and prepare him for his grave.
The horse that he left was a fine one, Bob gave his trusted mule to the porter and told him to take good care of him and had the dead man’s horse cleaned up and fed. The black quarter horse with white spots on his neck was as beautiful a mount any sheriff could hope for. Fast and sturdy, Bob was proud to have taken it from the drifter and call him his own now. The saddle he sold, and bought one of his own liking, custom made from the town’s best saddle maker. A special place was made to hold his Winchester rifle, which he bought from the pay he earned as sheriff. Bob had now a reputation, that the people of Dry Sage looked up to, and many feared him, hoping they would stay from the sight of his Colt.
Bob rode hard to the place where Lilah was staying with her brother. The news he got from town was that he had been ill and Dry Sage’s doctor couldn’t help him anymore. Bob figured she would need someone out there, and besides, he was getting tired of waiting for her to come back to town, where he hoped she would stay. His horse galloped most of the way there, with dust pushing up from its hooves, snorting with its mane dancing in the wind. He made his way up the trail to the ranch and could see the light of their lamps in the windows glaring in the night as he approached with caution.
His horse trotted up to the door, standing and breathing hard, as he dismounted and carefully went up the porch where he hoped she would be waiting. The sweat from his brow dripped off of him, as he knocked on the oak door and made sure his clothes were proper, then he removed his hat and waited. “Who’s there, say who you are mister, or take a bullet in your gut,” she bellowed from behind the door where Bob stood waiting. “Lilah, it’s me Bob,” he said with his voice low and barely audible. “You can speak up mister, I can barely hear you,” she said as she cracked open the door, revealing a shotgun. Bob’s face lit up from the light of the room as she opened the door and saw him for the first time in over a year. “Bob, what on earth are you doing here?” she asked him fervently. “I came to help you Lilah,” he returned as he held his hat in his hand. She could see that it was truly Bob, recognizing the scars on his face, standing there on her brother’s porch. “Come in Bob, make yourself comfortable, I’ll be right with you,” she invited with a smile, glad to see him again.
Bob sat on a chair, waiting for Lilah to appear from the room where her ill brother was lying. He never took notice of the badge he wore, thinking that she had already known that he was the sheriff of Dry Sage now. He put down his hat and covered his right knee with it and rocked back and forth looking at the paintings on the walls that decorated them.
Lilah had come from her brother’s room, and her stride across the floor, made Bob think of how graceful she was indeed. He studied her hair as hit flowed and moved with the air that pushed away from her body as she moved closer to him.
“So let me look at you,” she said as she moved in closer, bending down to see his face again. “It’s me Lilah, never thought I would see you again,” he told her as he gazed at her face. “It’s me Bob, been lookin after my brother for some time now,” she spoke softly as she explained his condition. “They told me in town just yesterday Lilah, or I would have come sooner,” he said politely. “The important thing Bob is you’re here now,” she mentioned to him with a smile. Bob’s heart was melting as she stood up and turned away, moving across the room with her graceful steps. “Bob could I get you some coffe?” she asked him. “Sure Lilah, that would be right nice of you,” he returned with a smile.
Lilah took the pot of coffee from the wood stove and poured some into a porcelain cup. Its steam rose up from it as she walked back across the room to where Bob was sitting and carefully handed it to him. “Careful Bob, it’s hot,” she said softly. Bob took the cup and Lilah studied his face, studying the scars that the drifters gave to him. “Bob, you never had a chance to tell me how it happened,” she wanted to know. “How what happened Lilah,” he asked, looking at her face carefully. “I’m sorry Bob, I was just curious,” she added. “Maybe I’ll tell you sometime Lilah, just glad to be here you know,” he told her with honesty. Lilah bent down and kissed Bob’s cheek, then wiped a tear from her eye and apologized to him, as he sipped on his coffee..
Lilah heard her brother from the room, coughing loudly and barely able to breathe, sucking in air with each cough he made. She left Bob sitting in the rocker and went in the room to see if she could help him. Bob stood up and followed her, carefully entering the room where he was laying and watched her try to help him breathe. “Do something Bob, I can’t take seeing him like this anymore?” she begged him. Bob moved around the bed and saw that her brother was in his last moments, then turned toward her and put his arms around her. “Oh Bob, is he?” she asked with tears in her eyes. “There Lilah, now’s the time to tell him what your heart will before he goes,” he said to her as he held her tight. Bob let her go to his side, and watched her say something in his ear, then he gasped one last breath and his head turned to the side. His chest let out the air he took in and then Lilah laid on the bed beside him in tears.
Bob looked over at Lilah, then took his hand over the eye lids of her brother and closed them over his hazel eyes, still looking as though he were still alive. “He’s gone now Lilah,” Bob said to her in a whisper. She took the blanket and covered his head then gave him one last hug and told him how much she loved him, then left the room in silence, leaving Bob to say any last words. She sobbed in the corner of the room where Bob was sitting, looking out into the night, turning the lamp low, crying for the loss of her brother who had just passed.
“Bob I would like it very much if you stayed with me,” she told him with worry in her voice, thinking he would leave her there by herself. “I’ll get my bed roll and sleep on the floor,” he said to her. “Bob, I need you to stay out here with me dear,” she begged him. Bob had thought for a moment that he was imposing and told her that he had better get moving on when morning comes, that he would go and fetch the undertaker for her brother. “No Bob, he wanted to be buried out behind the oak tree,” she said while sobbing. “I’ll be glad to bury him for you Lilah,” he returned as he held her close to him.
Bob unfolded his bed roll and spread it out on the floor, then Lilah lit a fire and they sat awake most of the night, while Bob told her how he had been scarred by the drifters and left for dead. She stayed close to him and touched his face, as if she were healing the wounds that tortured his memory of the day it all happened. She held him close to her and felt his warm body and was happy to see him again, and proud to know that he was the new sheriff in town. Lilah fell asleep in his arms, and Bob looked out at the stars in the night, thinking of her brother and how he would have liked to have met him on better terms. Dying was no stranger to Bob, but he felt compassion for Lilah and knew the time would come for him to ask her to marry him. His eyes closed as he drifted off to sleep.
Cool soft wind blew in from the window, he was awake before the sun had risen, the day would be long and Bob woke up slowly, seeing that Lilah had gone off to her bed. He stood on his feet and left his boots off, for not wanting to wake her as she slept calmly. The body of her brother, still laid in his bed, was about to be ready for burial he thought to himself, and went to light the stove to make coffee he would need to start the digging.
He would wait for her to wake up to choose the spot where he would dig his grave. Sipping his coffee and seeing the sun peek up over the small hills, gave him a sense of gratefulness, that he was alive and in good condition. He chose a verse from the Bible and thought it would be good to read for him. Never knowing who he was, he knew he was a good man and had never been in trouble with the law. Bob marked the page in the Bible then set it down on the table where he rested the cup of coffee and waited for Lilah to rise to the occasion.
There was the spade that he found, leaning against the barn that he had built with his own hands. The horses were out in the field grazing, he had several head of cattle and many hens that he raised for eggs and eating. His name was Dan O’Donnely and had made his life from ranching. One of the first settlers that had come out West, he must have known the Mojaves and the trails that he blazed to get here. Bob wondered how many days it took him, to build his dream and wished that he could have shared their stories together about the plains they crossed to get to the West, and how he would ask his sister for her hand in marriage.
The spade struck the dirt and rock was felt as its blade dug in deep. Bob felt the sun beating down on his back and neck as sweat poured from every pore in his body. The place where Lilah had chosen for his grave was a good spot where he could rest in peace. The blanket he was wrapped in, was his favorite and the only one he slept in, now he could have it forever with him. Bob lowered his body into the grave he had dug, it had been high noon, as he dropped the end of the rope that he tied around him, and left it with him in his grave. Lilah tossed a handful of the dirt he built his home on over his blanket, then Bob covered him with it and said the prayer he chose from the Good Book he tried to live by.
A coyote had been watching us from a boulder, not moving much, just watching us. The hungry animal knew that he had been seen, and never came to close to the place where we had dug the grave. There were two hawks that circled above, searching from high above to catch their meal of field mice, their beauty and grace was enough scene to last a lifetime as they soared over the spot where we laid Dan O’Donnely to rest.
Bob had seen many die and some he had killed himself. He wondered about his friend Trappy whom he had not seen in awhile, then thought of his woman and her child, he looked up to the sky and had seen one hawk dive toward the ground, and he smiled for the first time in many days that had passed.
“Bob I want to thank you for coming out here and all,” she said to him. “Seems I picked a proper time Lilah,” he returned with a comforting voice. “You know Bob, he would have liked for you to stay,” she added. “I reckon he would have ma’am,” he returned as he looked at her face. Lilah never looked so appealing to him, and for a moment Bob was about to ask her for her hand before she spoke up and told him that she wanted to go to town and sign some papers for the deed of the ranch. “Lilah, I want to say ma’am that those lawmen in town are crooked,” he stated with a serious look in his face. “I don’t trust that marshall Bob, he tried to dupe my brother out of his ranch, saying the land was not his, and that it belonged to the town folk,” she confided. “And that mayor I don’t trust either, “ she confessed again. “You leave them to me Lilah, they duped me into being the sheriff and now that I have taken the job, I want to uphold my part of the deal,” he had mentioned. “What deal Bob,” she asked him with concern. “They were going to hang me if I didn’t, I shot a man and they wanted to pin a murder on me for doing it, but I promise Lilah it was self defense,” he explained with honesty. “Figures Bob, what are we going to do about them,” she asked calmly. “Things will work out Lilah, don’t you go and worry,” he said to her as he rested the spade against the barn. “Bob I want you to know that I feel for you,” she told him with a warm smile. “Lilah, I’ve been saving this up for you,” he announced. “What’s that Bob?” she asked him waiting. “Will you be my wife?” he asked her as he looked deep into her eyes.
The tears poured from her eyes and she excepted Bob’s proposal with pride. Bob stood tall and he had never felt the way he did, when he asked Lilah to marry him. She held on to Bob and her embrace lifted his soul to high places, and he swore he would take care of her.
Bob hitched two horses to the wagon and they prepared to go into Dry Sage to take care of business. Lilah wore a dress she had made herself and looked beautiful to him. She washed his clothes and he looked like a new man. She had convinced him that he would look handsome with a haircut and shave and he let her drive the wagon into town, making sure the trail was safe from danger.
The hills along the trail were parched from the heat of the sun and the horses kept a steady trot, pulling the wagon to Dry Sage, where they hoped to get business taken care of, the sky above them was a deep blue, and the smell of fresh air was all around them. A rabbit had darted out from the bushes it was hiding in and a coyote had been in pursuit of it.
Bob held onto Lilah’s arm as she drove them into town, she was proud to be the wife of Bob and occasionally kissed his scarred cheek to let him know that he had picked a good woman to be his bride. The preacher they would seek, once they arrived to have him marry them and then it would be proper for them to have been together.
The sweat and sweet smell of the horses was alive in each of their noses, as they poured sweat from every gland, muscles showing their strength and beauty as their hooves dug into the dirt they rode on. The wind blew the horses manes behind them, streaming straight toward the wagon and taking them into Dry Sage. Lilah never had to whip the horses, they knew the trail and the way to the town where trouble was waiting.
In the distance close to town, Bob and Lilah had seen a crowd gathering, maybe less than ten people, who none of them the recognized from the distance they were to them. They assembled around the old hangman’s tree, with a wagon and a man standing on it. Bob squinted his eyes to focus on them, trying to see if he knew who it was that was about to be hanged. Lilah slapped the reins hard on the horses backside, and they bolted toward the sight where the people of Dry Sage had assembled, leaving the dust that picked up from the wagon and the steady hooves of the horses behind them.
“Hang on Bob,” Lilah hollered. Bob held onto his hat, trying to see if he knew the man on the wagon, that was about to die. His clothes reminded him of a man he knew that saved him from death himself and it was clear to him that it was Trappy who was about to be hanged.
In his black suit, the mayor stood with a book in his hand and the crowd that had gathered around. Bob could feel that something was definitely wrong and nearly fell from the wagon that Lilah had taken to a dead stop right in front of him.
“Is this another fair trial mayor?” Bob asked him angrily. “He killed a man Bob, now he needs to hang fer it,” the mayor returned, as he spat in the dirt. Bob looked over at the wagon with his friend Trappy blindfolded, seeing that he was trying to make out the voice that was familiar to him. “Don’t you worry Trappy, you won’t hang today I promise,” Bob yelled. Lilah moved closer to the wagon, knowing it was the man that had saved her husband from near death out in the desert and started to cut his ropes that his hands were bound by. “I wouldn’t little lady, I’ll have you shot for that,” the mayor hollered to her. Lilah turned her head and saw that Bob had his gun drawn on him, then removed the blindfold while the crowd scattered in all directions, seeing that Bob was about to kill again. A man who stood by the wagon dropped his rifle and started to run away, begging Bob not to shoot him. The horse that was hitched to the hangman’s wagon was starting to get uneasy and flinched when the rifle hit the ground.
Trappy swung back and forth as the wagon moved out from under him, legs kicking, he tried to feel something he could stand on, that was no where to be found. Lilah caught his body and stopped him from swinging as Bob turned around to cut the rope that held him high. Trappy fell to the ground, with his hands holding his thoat, gasping for air and trying to stand on his own.
“Look out Bob,” Lilah screamed, as she saw that the mayor was about to put a bullet in the back of his head. Bob dropped to one knee, then swung around, not taking his gun out of its holster, and squeezed the trigger of his Colt, burying three bullets in the mayors chest.
He squirmed in the dirt, moving his head from side to side, taking in blood with each breath, as he laid there dying. Bob saw that he had killed him, then went to his friend Trappy who he had saved from hanging.
“Never thought I would see the likes of you again,” he mumbled as he tried to catch his breath. “You just take it easy young feller, don’t go getting soft on me now,” Bob said to him as he cracked a grin, seeing Trappy for the first time since he had left him. “He’s got Sage Bob,” he told him worriedly. “Take her easy my friend, we’ll go get her,” he promised him. “I don’t trust the marshall Bob,” he told him as he held onto Lilah. “He won’t kill her Trappy, he ain’t got the guts,” Bob assured him. “I’ll skin him myself if he has touched her Bob,” Trappy swore.
Bob and Lilah took him and placed him in the wagon, seeing that everyone had left the place where they thought a hanging would be. The mayor’s blood ran out from his body as the wagon left his corpse in the dust.
Trappy told Bob how he had come in to town for his supplies and had brought with him his Indian bride, who the townspeople rejected right from the start. They had wanted to stone her at first, but when Trappy shot the man who was about to take her and beat her, they decided to hang him first. Trappy saw the marshall taking her across the livery to the jail where it had been the last time he saw her. They had already ripped her furs from her body and the people were shouting to hang her.
The town came into view as the wagon’s wheels tore through the dirt streets, Bob had himself ready for the marshall and hoped that Sage was not harmed, he felt a coldness come over his entire body, as he reminded himself of the knife that had carved his face. Bob made sure his Colt was fully loaded before he jumped from the wagon to find the marshall.
Lilah took Trappy to the hotel across the street and made him something to eat and gave him a cup to drink from, making sure her shotgun was ready, incase Bob needed her help, hoping that he would be alright when he met up with the marshall, who had his friends wife held inside the jail.
Moments after they had arrived, Bob felt the bullet grazing the top of his head, when he heard the shot from the marshall’s gun.
“Don’t you come any closer Bob, don’t make me shoot you,” the marshall yelled. “Come on out here marshall,” Bob ordered. Another shot came from the marshall’s gun and Bob moved out from his sights and ducked behind the horses watering trough. Bob returned his fire and broke the lamp that was hanging above the door in front of the jail, then moved closer to the jail to get a better view inside. The marshall’s face appeared in the window and was looking for Bob who had intently made him see that he was going to kill him.
“Get out her and show yourself marshall,” Bob ordered again. “Bob’s Colt rang out through the streets, as he stood in front of the jail, making the marshall see that he was ready for a fair fight. “I’ll kill you Bob, your no match for me,” The marshall stated as his boots hit the porch of the jail. “Did you kill the woman?” Bob asked him. “The savage is ok,” he returned with a grin. The marshall stepped out on the street, while the people were watching to see what Bob would do. The sun gleamed down the street of Dry Sage, it was afternoon and Lilah had her shotgun ready.
Trappy made his way to the back of the jail, where he poked his head through the bars, and saw that the marshall had tied her and had his way with her. He had sliced up her body real bad, and she hung her head, from the beating he gave her. “Don’t you worry Sage, I’m going to get you out of there,” he promised her. Sage lifted her head to see Trappy and had formed a faint smile on her face, too tired to say anything to him.
They stood in the street facing each other, the wind blew in a tumbleweed across the dirt and Bob studied the marshall waiting for him to make his move. “Should have killed you when I had the chance Bob,” he grinned. “You should have marshall,” Bob returned, as he watched his hands. “Today, I’m going to kill you marshall,” Bob promised him. Seeing the marshall’s grin turn to a smile, Bob waited for the moment to kill him.
Lilah slipped into the jail, the marshall not seeing that she had already been inside to let Trappy help her tend to Sage, who was waiting for them to free her. Bob’s eyes never left the marshall’s hands and stood in front of him seeing that he was about to die. The marshall made his move for his guns, both from his sides, as Bob had already taken his from its holster and putting two bullets into his head, never taking his eyes off of him.
He laid in the street, cold dead with his hands still on his guns. Bob kicked the side of his head and made sure he had killed him, then ran over to the jail where his friends were. Bob busted through the door and saw the condition Sage was in and helped them take her to the hotel, knowing the towns people would reject the idea of an Indian in there. “He killed the marshall!” one man shouted. “He’s cold dead for sure,” another yelled, as they drug his body from the street. The doctor saw that he was indeed dead, and the undertaker came to take his corpse away. “You’ll hang for this Bob,” they yelled. “Get out here Bob, or we’ll burn the hotel down with youins in it,” they shouted. .
Bob stood in the window peering out and seeing that they were going to burn the hotel. His Colt made a blast through the window and a few of the people had scattered, seeking shelter from being hit. Bob saw the man holding the torch that was about to launch it through the hotel’s swinging doors, then heard a blast from the roof top and stopped to see the man fall backward into the dirt, the back of his head missing as he laid on his stomach dying.
It was Trappy who had shot the man, from the roof of the hotel. He watched them coming to burn it down. Trappy stayed out of sight and Bob could hear him stepping on the boards from below. Another man had come from the livery out in the street calling again to Bob to show himself. Bob took aim and squeezed the trigger of his Colt, sending a bullet through his chest, with another to follow quickly, watching him sink to his knees and looking to see that he had been shot. He held his chest coughing for air, as another sent him further to the dirt, where he laid dying.
Most of them who came to see Bob drug from the hotel had left and gone off to their homes, knowing he was the new sheriff of Dry Sage, and a man not to reckon with. Only two stood in the street, waiting for Bob as Trappy aimed his shotgun, waiting for them to make a move. Lilah had taken Sage to the tub to clean her up and tend to her wounds, that the marshall had inflicted on her. She made sure she was ok with her before she went downstairs to see how Bob was doing. Grabbing her shotgun, she made her way to the lobby of the hotel and saw that her husband was not injured. She stood behind him, looking through the window to see the two men who had been calling him out, then ducked down low and waited. Trigger cocked, the shotgun was hot in her hands.
“Be careful Bob, those men will kill you,” she told him as she looked outside. Bob loaded his Colt and kicked open the door, looking down and seeing Lilah crouched down low waiting. He went out into the street to see the two gunmen who were calling him out to a fight. Bob studied the two of them, who were both carrying each two six guns. Looking straight ahead, he moved out into the street, with his boots kicking up the dust as he came closer to them. “You ready to die Injun lover?” one of them asked as he spat in the dirt. Bob never returned a reply and watched his hands, while the other waited with both hands on his six guns.
The wind blew softly throughout the street, while Bob made his way closer to the one who had just insulted him. Seeing that Bob was frozen and waiting, the one who drew on him first, Bob shot in both knees, seeing him fall, he then shot him through his right eye. The other drew on Bob and shot him in the shoulder, Bob’s gun hand was bleeding from the blood that seeped down his arm and before the other gunman could fire another bullet from his six gun, Bob’s Colt was heard through the streets. Both men laid dying and still in the street, and no one came out to help them. Trappy came down from the top of the hotel to look at the men Bob had killed, then Lilah came out to the street with her shotgun ready incase they were still alive. She held on to Bob and looked at his arm that was bleeding badly. His Colt dripping with blood as he shoved it back in his holster. “You almost got it old timer,” Trappy chuckled as he observed the two men laying in the street. Lilah led Bob into the hotel, where she could have a better look at his arm, then Trappy made sure no one was behind them, trying to ambush them as they had their back to the street. Bob kicked the swinging door of the hotel open and they walked inside, seeing that Sage was alright and walking better.
The arm had taken a bullet through the bone. Lilah gave him something to ease the pain, but Bob refused to take it, knowing that he was used to pain in the first place. When the doctor came in to have a look at him, he told Bob he would never use the arm again. Hung in a splint that he made for him, the arm just limp without feeling began to bleed more and more. “I’ll have to take your arm off Bob,” he told him regretfully. “Do what you have to doc, I’m ready,” he replied while wincing in pain.
They layed him on a table and the doctor went to fetch his tools to amputate the arm. Lilah held him close and tried to comfort him, but Bob went into shock, while the doctor gave him something to deaden his arm with. Trappy stayed by his side looking on, making sure no one would come inside the room, where the doctor began to amputate his arm. “You’ll be ok Bob,” Lilah whispered in his ear. Trappy knew Bob would pull through the doctor’s work, and kept his eyes open most of the time, looking out of the door to see more would want to die like the one’s they had just killed. The arm laid beside the table and Lilah wrapped it in a bed roll, to bury outside.
The bandages were soaked in blood, as Bob started to come to again. With his other arm he tried to pick himself up off of the table where he was, but the pain was too much and it overpowered him.
He slept most of the night, with Lilah by his side. She made sure he ate the broth that she made for him, to get his strength up and ride back to the ranch, where she could tend to his needs. She saw the badge shining on his vest, and wanted to pull it off of him. Lilah wanted to have him quit as the sheriff and live the rest of his life out with her in peace. Knowing that he had survived many faces of death, she knew that he would want to continue as a lawman in the town of Dry Sage.
The morning came with rain, dark clouds poured out the water from the sky, down on the streets of Dry Sage, turning them into rivers in just a matter of moments. The wind had picked up to tremendous speed, that raced through the town, and it could be heard howling through the windows. The storm lasted for three days, before it had subsided. Water had flooded everywhere, and most of the buildings took on the storms flooding. Bob looked out the foggy window of the hotel, and said that it was time to leave Dry Sage and go back to the ranch.
“You got one good arm Bob, don’t you forget that,” Trappy reminded him truthfully. He chuckled when he saw that Bob was getting along good with his only arm left, he figured it would take more to get him down. “I’m still the sheriff of these parts Trappy, don’t you forget it,” Bob told him sternly. “What are you going to do now young feller?” he asked him. “Me, I’m going to take Sage and the mule back to the mountain Bob, this here town just ain’t for me,” he returned with a smile. “Your welcome to stay with us for awhile Trappy,” Lilah suggested as she held onto his shoulder. “Shoot, we would just get in the way Lilah,” he said as he looked over at Sage.
Trappy packed the mule with the provisions he would need for the winter, looking at the sky and seeing the black clouds, he gazed over at Sage who waited for him to mount up and leave. “Trappy, you never said what happened to the boy,” Bob asked him bewildered. “The boy, oh, he died with fever two months after you left us Bob,” he told him with his head hanging down. “I’m sorry to hear that Trappy,” he apologized with sincerity while looking over at Sage.
She held her head low for a moment then looked up again and then smiled at Bob, who gave her his condolences, to what she could understand.
“I’m going to need a Deputy Trappy,” Bob mentioned. Trappy looked at the wagon and then at Sage, then he turned to look at Bob’s only arm and told him that he would be obliged, only if he kept his burro and Sage could live free in the town of Dry Sage without anyone harming her. Bob knew that she would have some trouble from time to time, but was sure that she could take care of herself if need be, especially learning how to use a gun.
“I’ll teach her how to survive her Bob, don’t you go and worry on me,” Lilah told him. “I’m sure you will Lilah, never doubted you wouldn’t,” he returned with a smile.
They hitched the wagon with the horses and rode down the trail that led to the ranch, with Trappy and Sage behind them. The sky was deep blue and a rabbit had darted from a bush in front of them. A coyote had been watching them from behind a rock and knew that he had been seen. Two hawks passed over them, with the clouds hanging above as the dust left the hooves of the horses that pulled the wagon back to the ranch.
Bob laid down in back of the wagon with the furs that Trappy had brought to trade, severely wounded, it would be months before he got his strength back and return to Dry Sage. Trappy rode shotgun while Sage drove the wagon that the doctor, Matt Benson, sold him for a nugget of gold. He told Lilah and Trappy, that he would be out at the ranch to look in on him and change his bandages in a couple of days, that Bob would need lots of rest and sleep until then and bid them good luck as they rode from Dry Sage.
The rain soaked earth gave way to the wagons wheels as they rode along the trail, the smell of the air was filled with cactus and sage bush, that were fresh from the heavy rains. Huge white billowy clouds hung high above the earth, with patches of blue sky peeking out from the immense clouds. Trappy’s burro kept up with the horses pace, as he was led behind the wagon, still loaded with the provisions that he was going to take with them back to the mountain. His eyes peeled for any of the townspeople that might have wanted to make an ambush. Knowing the fight back in town wasn’t over, he knew that they would want his Indian woman dead and kept his hand on the trigger of his shotgun. They rode passed the hangman’s tree, and kept moving fast along the trail.
Lilah had seen the cottonwoods and was glad that the 6 mile trip to the ranch was coming to an end. She knew Bob had enough bouncing around in the back of the wagon and he was going to need a cup of her broth and a lot of sleep. She could see the horses running in the pastures, like they always did when they had seen the wagon approaching. The dogs were barking, though she could not hear them yet, and started running toward the trail to meet them.
The year was 1891, they took Bob into the ranch house and fed him, then let him sleep. She nursed him along the best she could, until Doc Benson could come out there. He had struck with fever for a couple of days, and they started to get worried. Lilah figured Bob would fair out better and heal quicker if she brought him to the ranch, she started to feel guilty for taking him from town. Trappy assured her that it was the best thing to do and told her he would be alright. He reminded her that he had found Bob in much worse condition than he was in when he saw him dying in the desert.
The pain Bob felt in his head began to take him into delirium. He kept thinking of the hot iron that Doc Benson applied to him, to close the wound. He still smelled the odor of burning skin, and would never forget the day it all happened.
Doc Benson leaned over his bed, then opened his eyes and saw that there was still white about them. He took his bag and laid in on the table beside him and started to mix the powder he had brought with him in a cup and gave Bob the mixture to drink. When it hit Bob’s tongue he could feel it going numb and the rest of his body followed soon after.
They sat him upright in his bed and he started to come to, mumbling things about his past and the time he had rode out to California with the Army. He looked around the room in a daze and tried to focus on those who were standing around his bed. Doc Benson felt his chest and knew he was going to be alright, especially not feeling any pain again. He gave Lilah the powder, which was opium that was used for killing pain, that the Chinese railroad workers had brought over with them.
He unwrapped his arm, and saw that no infection was setting in and wrapped him with fresh bandages, then Bob as he sat upright, thanked him with gratitude, and fell back to sleep again. A week had passed before Bob was able to climb out of bed and stand on the floor. The opium was not needed anymore for pain, and Bob was able to talk sense again.
Sage learned how to cook from Lilah and use the utensils of the white man. She had given her a dress, that she had made herself and saw how pretty she looked in it. Her hair was long and flowing and Lilah put it up in braids. She taught her how to sew and was teaching her how to read the books that the white man read. Sage learned fast from Lilah, who became a good teacher for her. She told Lilah that she wanted to have another child.
Sage started to speak English and was able to communicate with them without her native signing. She had become quite a sophisticated lady, with the help of Lilah and the way she took a liking to her. Trappy saw her transform from the Indian woman he once knew, when he had found her in the desert and was proud to be her husband. Trappy at 26 years old, was now ready again to be a father. He had visions of him growing up on the ranch and teaching him how to ride and shoot. When he got older Trappy would show him the trade of the fir and show him how to survive in the wilderness.
Bob stood in the doorway, looking out over the plains, he saw the sun peeking over the small hills, that told him the day was beginning. The wind blew his scarf around his neck and he thought of himself as the sheriff again. He had his Colt on his left side and went out away from the ranch house with Trappy to practice shooting with his left hand. It took him back to the days of the mountain, where Trappy first taught him how to use a gun and he thought of the deer that studied him from afar, then thought of Desert Wind, running across the floor of the desert with his brave, hunting with his spear for wild boar; just for the sport of it.
A few of the decent townspeople had come out to help them build a new house for Trappy and his wife, Sage. They had brought with them all of the tools they needed to make a home for the both of them. With the baby on its way, a room was made for their new additon to the family to sleep in. Lilah gave a fair size piece of her property to Trappy and his wife, and told them they owed him nothing for it. A stream had run through his land, and cottonwoods lined the trail up to it. She sold him two of her finest breeding horses and gave him a few chickens for eggs. Sage farmed a parcel of the land and grew vegetable on it. In 1893 Trappy had a new home and a new family. Lilah wanted to have a child with her husband Bob, and by the spring of ‘93 one was born to them.
“The young feller takes a resemblence to you Bob,” Trappy said with a chuckle. He laid in his crib that Trappy made for him and Sage sang her songs that she once sang to the two on the mountain when they had first met. Sage was as proud as Trappy to be his aunt and uncle, and they lived in peace on the ranch for a couple of years, until the porter from the hotel came out with the news of trouble.
“We need you sheriff, and you’re deputy to come back to Dry Sage,” he begged them. “Take it easy boy, tell me what’s going on there,” Bob asked him abruptly. “It’s Bad Luck, says he come out here to take care of you,” the porter told him with wide eyes. “He’s already robbed the bank, and now he’s set up in the hotel,” he stated. “Killed two people so far,” he added. Trappy looked over at Bob and then at the porter, then waited to see what Bob was going to do. “You go back to town, and act like you know nothing, you here me boy!” Bob told him with a stern voice. Trappy looked at his deputy then saw Lilah standing on the porch and went to tell her what the porter had just said.
“You ain’t going are you Bob?” she asked him with fear in her voice. “I have to Lilah, I’m the sheriff and they need me,” he returned. “You know I love you Bob,” she confided. Bob put his hand on Lilah’s cheek then saw Sage talking to Trappy with her head hanging down. “Morning Bob?” Trappy asked him. “Morning can’t wait Trappy, we leave tonight,” he said with certainty.
Bob kissed Lilah on the cheek and hugged his baby boy, then he and Trappy mounted their horses and plunged into the night, riding hard on the trail to Dry Sage. His hair flowing in the hot wind, and the moon full and bright, Bob sat high in the saddle with his reins tight in his hands. His horse in full gallop, he was determined to uphold the law and restore order back to the town and its people. The silouettes of the cottonwoods passed by them with lightning speed as he came nearer to Dry Sage, with his deputy by his side, Trappy.
The flames could be seen coming around the bend passed the hangman’s tree, it was in the dark of the night, that they could see the hotel burning. Several people ran back and forth, filling pales of water to dowse the flames that were burning its wooden structure.
The man known as Bad Luck, was out in the street, drunk and cussing and waiting for Bob to come to his death. He had been waving his six guns in the air, firing at will at the people of Dry Sage. A man who tried to gun him down had been shot, laying on the porches of the hotel, where he fell. Bad Luck had seen sheriff Bob coming and stood in the street, waving his hand and the other clutching the last drops in a whiskey bottle.
Bad Luck watched them dismount from their horses. “You had enough mister?” Bob asked him with a harsh tone. “I’ll tell you when I’m finished sheriff,” he returned as he spat on the ground below him. “You’re finished right now Bad Luck,” he returned, holding his horse from bolting. Trappy kept him close in his eye, making sure the drunken man wouldn’t side shank Bob as he tied his horse up. “You’re under arrest for murder mister,” Bob told him. Just as Bob was going to take him in, Bad Luck drew on him and fired a shot, missing and hitting the water trough behind him. Trappy drew his gun and shot three times, hitting Bad Luck in the gut, as Bob turned around and emptied his Colt into his head, what was left of it.
A man came out from the hotel and fired at Trappy and missed, then took another shot at him and hit him in the leg. Falling fast to one knee, Trappy returned his fire and hit the man, known as Deek in the head, killing him instantly. By then a crowd of people had swarmed into the street, seeing that the two lawmen had taken them down. Bad Luck’s head was so shot up, that none of the townspeople had recognized him. Bob holstered his Colt and went to see what he had done, then told the porter who came out to the ranch to fetch the undertaker, who had already come runn