PISTOL PETE PLATT DOMESTICATED

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: DOWN-HOME


Pete Platt born wealthy, after challenging his father's co-owner of a shipping company operating out of San Francisco, is banished with vested interest in the company. Seeking and cherishing his
freedom, Pete becomes a skilled shooter of pistols loving to demonstrate publicly his skills, for which he never kills a man. Going from one adventure to another, he always subdues within himself
his past experience, until one day through fate he meets a woman that makes all the difference in his life.

Submitted: September 13, 2018

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Submitted: September 13, 2018

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PISTOL PETE PLATT DOMESTICATED

Painting and Story by Virgil Dube’ – Copyright 2018

When James W. Marshall discovered gold on January 24 at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California, people of extreme diversity aiming to strike it rich panning gold, or otherwise, flocked into northern California from across the globe. Approximately 300,000 with gold-fever came. They either hit pay dirt, or after expenses draining their pockets and poor or no luck, became penniless between 1848 and 1855. 

Bartram Canellas Platt and Chester Lloyd Mantas total strangers before they met by chance in Sacramento, partnered March 11, 1848 on a claim, early enough together they struck it rich. Five years after leaving Sacramento and arriving in the Bay Area, the duo seeking business venture, merged their fortunes to begin and operate the Platt-Mantas Shipping Company out of San Francisco harbor. It was incorporated as a merchant marine shipping company with a fleet of first three ships, which increased to twelve that transported and imported goods between America, China, Japan, the Philippines, and South American countries. 

In the meantime, Bart met Doris Glanville of Sacramento, married her in 1850, and settled in a mansion on a hill overlooking the Bay. Their only child Pete Beauregard Platt, was born March 16, 1851.

Chester not one to be tied down, preferred single life and varied female relationships. He fathered no children, had no known relatives, and had no heirs whatsoever to inherit his fortune.

Primed several years on business matters, and he ready at age nineteen, Pete was hired and placed by his father to work in his office doing minor at first then more responsible errands later. Soon, he was permitted on the docks with ships’ crews to help as an upstart. Six months into his new career Pete was bequeathed by his father a quarter of his vested interest, making son Pete an instant wealthy third partner. 

Chester unattached to any semblance of family, resented the escalating intrusion, regardless of his outward amiability, and for a while, acceptance of the lad’s hiring. He had long recognized Pete’s entry would happen one day, and understood the company would eventually fall into future family hands, so he tolerated the new partnership with silent reluctance. 

Nevertheless, he and the young man rarely saw eye-to eye business-wise, arguments sometimes ignited between them on the docks far from Bart’s ears. That restrained friction spurned by jealousy by the elder and mounting distrust by the upstart would erupt shortly with consequences. 

One afternoon in 1870 as Pete sat in his father’s dockside office, he and Bart having lunch together, the two began to discuss business matters that related to South American shipping, Bart seeking ideas and the lad’s input – a test of sorts. Their voices penetrating the clapboard walls into the adjoining office and to Chester’s ears sparked him into action. 

Beet-faced Chester charged outside and into his partner’s office, “I dare you kid to step into matters that should involve me and Bart alone … not just you and your father. And that’s not all; you’re taking much more liberty with the crew’s handling merchandise than you’re allotted without proper authorization, which includes me and not just Bart.” 

He redirected his accusation with pointed finger to Bart sitting stone-faced and in shock. Leaning over the desk, he bellowed, “You especially should know better!” 

Before Bart could defend his conversation with his son, and past deeds that included miscellaneous Pete’s dock duties, the young man sprang to his feet. The quarrelsome intruder stepped back, eyes wide and anger contorting his pudgy face. 

Pete leaned defiantly close to Chester seething, and in a deep-base voice, roared, “Chester, calm down; dad and I were discussing liberal matters prior to you being drawn in. It wasn’t out of disrespect but to get our heads together on several ideas he passed by me, and then he seek your advice on which one might be possible … you with the final say-so. As for helping the crew’s, that’s just it, I’m only lending a hand, basically with Derek Johnson and his longshoremen crew, my father giving me the okay so I can learn that aspect of the business from the ground up.”

“Look,” Chester shrieked, spittle flying as he pointed a finger inches from Pete’s face, “all that doesn’t matter. I’m to be included on everything that pertains to this company, viewpoints, scheduling, or dock duty … what man does or doesn’t work there. Nor do I need your inexperience to intrude into important and specific shipping directives.”

Pete angered, responded harshly, “If that’s how you see it, listen … I’m vested and part owner now, will do as I please.”

Before Bart could rush between the two, Chester swung a fist, striking Pete on his jaw, knocking the youngster back onto Bart’s desk. Pete rebounded, blood dripping from his bottom lip. He lunged forward returning the punch and knocking plump Chester out the open office door and onto his backside on the wood-plank sidewalk. Stunned passerby’s halted. Longshoremen a fair distance, paused their work, most not surprised by the incident they had regarded some time as frictional between the upstart lad and company co-president, ultimately on a collision course.

Chester embarrassed, blood draining from his mouth, overweight and no match for the sturdy young man, managed with some effort to stand. He staggered immediately to his office, where he flopped in his desk chair, wiped blood from his mouth with a handkerchief, and waited for Bart to join him. 

When Bart entered minutes later, he bellowed, “Bart, that boy or me has got to go!”

“Hold your horses, Chester,” Bart responded.

“Hold my what? You’re out of line in this matter, and so is your son.” 

Extending his hands straight out, and pumping them up and down in a calming manner, Bart said, “Look, we’re old friends with experience spent, hard work and perseverance in ’48 on our gold claim, and since mileage traveled between us. I feel responsible for this clash between Pete and you, and realize he and I did wrong talking business no matter its virtue without you present. My friend, I apologize.”

“You dang right, extremely inconsiderate,” Chester spat, the said apology and kind overture not checking his anger. 

“Chester, you were right, and Pete shouldn’t have lost his temper and struck you. Listen, I know your resentment resulting in disagreements with Pete and me, and Pete’s reactions have been brewing since he entered the company. I got an idea since you two seemed on a collision course that eventually could wind up with one or both of you imprisoned and me left with heartache. I’ve brooded the past few minutes, and have considered there must be a cease-fire, yet, felt that would last only as long as you two stayed distant, which in our line of business is impossible. I finally concluded, and must say I did reluctantly, that Pete should take a leave of absence; for however long it takes for either or both of you to mollify hostility, to think matters over, and hopefully reunite to accept each other in your respective positions in our company.”

“Fine by me; the sooner the better, and years preferably.”

“I have an unyielding condition, and it is this; Pete in writing must retain his entrusted interest in the company. One day he might have to return and step into my shoes after I’m gone.”

“That’s fine, just get him away from me or we’ll wind up imprisoned as you indicated.”

Pete cooling off and alone on the docks received the news from Bart minutes later. 

Partially blamed by his father for irrational and inexcusable conduct, and downcast, Pete packed basic necessities and gladly departed San Francisco on stagecoach for Sacramento to live straightway on his own. Bart stated prior to the coach leaving, “Son, at some future date when you’ve matured enough to rejoin the company as an active officer and be subservient to Chester, he and I will welcome you back open-armed. It may take time for you and him to achieve cordiality, but remember your position here is assured.” 

Pete unsmiling yet waving, did not reply, but murmured so his father couldn’t hear, “That’s never going to happen, like oil and water mixing.”

***

Despite his estrangement from his father, and the company, Pete had received quarterly dividends forwarded him wherever he was currently located. 

Frankly, he welcomed his new life wandering rather than sitting in an office and taking bullying orders and enduring insults from a belligerent co-worker. Regardless of his fortune that would flourish in time, money he needed to sustain him, he coveted his newfound freedom and happy-go-lucky spirit. Time passing into years he never tired of his liberation, even yearned increasingly for the outdoors and fresh adventure, eventually to satisfy his curiosity to drive stagecoaches for the California Overland Stage Line from Sacramento to Los Angeles. Bored driving coaches within a year, he began hauling fright on wagons from Arizona to New Mexico, and Colorado, sometimes in the company of James Butler Hickok, infamously known later as Wild Bill.

Pete soon discovered his friendship with Hickok rewarding, exhilarating from mostly a humdrum lifestyle he thus far had existed apart from San Francisco. Hickok taught him how to shoot with accuracy, how to care for a pistol, what to expect from good-natured and especially bad men. Hickok even taught him how to play poker, a game he hankered town-to-town playing with cunning and skill, his wins and loses no big deal, he never to reveal his wealth to any person. 

Many men in Pete’s position of a carefree existence might grow increasingly hostile and seek mischief, welcome confrontations at card tables with a smoking pistol. But unlike them, or Hickok a rouser, Pete didn’t have a hostile bone in his lanky body looking like as he aged it had been squashed between two boulders. Never did he welcome during his travel a fistfight or gunplay with dimwits. Instead, he avoided confrontations in most instances. Falling back on experience, his fight with Chester Mantas, and his father abandoning him, had taught him a lesson on how anger, violence, and betrayal could change a person in a heartbeat; even destroy one’s outward and inward virtuous demeanor forever. 

Notorious for displaying his two-gun shooting prowess, a regular practice of sorts before audiences in towns mostly, Pete’s popularity spread across the western frontier. As his pistoleer fame grew, Pete increasingly had to avoid skirmishes with punks seeking fast recognition as a gunfighter; he as a last resort pretending to feign the sight of blood by proclaiming it sickened him. When the blood tactic didn’t work and pushed to the limits by an aggressive challenger, he would crack some jokes to diminish the situation. It rarely failed to work. Then when that didn’t work, customarily, he draw his pistols with lightning speed, and not killing a highflying buzzard, clip it’s wing-feathers, or he would drill a street sign a respectable distance to discourage his opponents’ suicidal urges, always paying the proprietor several times the signs worth. He did the latter when he wanted company in the local jailhouse. Many a challenger, mostly drunks after witnessing his blurring draw and precise shooting would conclude the obvious – certain death – and shake in their boots, then flee not to be Pistol Pete’s first victim and planted atop Boot Hill. 

A man of deep resolve for freedom and friendliness toward his fellow person, even disillusioned dimwits, Pistol Pete Platt never drew on a man to kill him … never. If the day ever arrived his preventive tactics didn’t work, he would take the bullet instead.

***

Since separated from his father, and the business, Pistol Pete grew tired of and abandoned regular and miscellaneous work. Possessing sustenance he chose increasingly to exercise his freedom from responsibility, and roamed the West wherever the wind blew or his mule Cranky that Wild Bill gave him decided to wander, usually toward waterholes in bleak wilderness that the critter’s dry nostrils scented miles distance, many hours with Pete slouched in the saddle and sound asleep. 

Sleep, perhaps spurned from continued loneliness, and hidden sadness engineered from his disheartened estrangement, and past, became commonplace with Pistol Pete. The freshness of his initial independence had diminished to a degree. And, he was notorious for relaxing at opportune times; this observed and gossiped wherever dusty town he settled briefly. Sometimes accused of laziness, awakened he was as spry and outgoing as the next man. Nevertheless, when it came to quick action Pete was unrivaled, his name legendary because of his swiftness and six-gun accuracy shooting at inanimate objects, not live ones. 

In saloons after a long hot ride and seeking a frosty glass of milk, his favorite beverage, Pete ultimately would drift off in others’ company, even when barmaids were whispering sweet things as they nibbled on his large earlobes, trying desperately to keep him awake. 

Pistol Pete sought outlets to his loneliness. Periodically, he was arrested after displaying his shooting prowess and firepower with two blazing pistols, ‘too much noise – stray bullets can hurt, even kill people - bad example for our kids!’ the accusers gathered along sidewalks usually yelled, many times in heated chorus, trash thrown in his direction. During such instances Pete welcomed the sheriff to the rescue, by being arrested and ushered away so he could spend a peaceful nights’ sleep on a cozy bunk behind jailhouse bars. Many an incarcerated night he enjoyed socializing, playing poker way into wee morning hours with a flaccid deputy or wearied sheriff himself.

Time passing, no longer that spry lad punching an elder man on his lard-behind, Pistol Pete - tall and gangly, with vast ears and nose, close-set eyes, lustrous mustache, and almost chinless, the man of late hadn’t grown any more handsome, was no looker or semblance of attractiveness to the opposite sex by any means. Women of establishment mostly pulled back from him when in his company that was usually happenchance or was forced upon them by one of Pete’s acquaintances. 

Yet, there were exceptions Pete welcomed. The few women sincerely befriending him weren’t offended by his homely looks. They looked beyond the man’s gruff surface to be drawn more to his obvious good-natured personality, even spirited demeanor rare at his level of independence among western men.

Such a woman existed, to capture his, and he hers’ heart. With long, straight, and black-silky hair, beautiful oval naturally-tan-colored face, large and penetrating intelligent eyes, with feminine form well proportioned, she would become his better half in due time. The road they traveled between them had begun to get shorter day by day.

***

Back east an unpretentious well-dressed woman of English and Indian descent was to board a stagecoach in Austin, Texas headed west. An accomplished schoolteacher, Jane Crocker, daughter of Texas Ranger Captain Ned Crocker, who married Apache squawNascha, was hired by city elders to teach children in a town school not too distant from her uncle Cochise’s homeland in southeastern Arizona, he the great Chiricahua Apache Chiefdead but six years and buried clandestinely in the Chiricahua Mountains.

“Mom, dad, once I settle down I’ll be fine in Bridleville,” Jane commented, attempting to reassure herself, as she stood beside the waiting stagecoach. She dithered momentarily to bid her family goodbye, especially her stocky brother Jim Crocker an aspiring lawyer.

“I have no doubt, Sis,” Jim commented, as he along with his father stepped close to assist Jane, each taking an arm gently to pry from her hesitancy to enter the coach. Finally settled on the coach seat, she waved goodbye to the small contingent of people seeing her off, tearfully remaining anxious, unsure, wondering about her hasty decision, totally unaware she was headed for a calling she would never have anticipated in her 24 years.

“Get-tee-up!” the driver yelled, the four horses responding, setting the stagecoach on its journey toward destiny for one lucky passenger.

***

It was a blistering day summer in 1880 when down Texas way Pistol Pete reined Cranky to a halt atop a boulder-strewn hill ten miles east of Bridleville, Texas. A wolf-dog mix that had befriended him recently in Bridleville, for which he named Loafer, also stopped, his tongue hanging and he panting. Sweat pouring, Pete pulled his bandana from his hip pocket and wiped his face and neck, then removed his sombrero and fanned himself with hot air that marginally brought him comfort.

From a water bag slung across Cranky’s rump behind the saddle, he refilled his canteen. Then he dismounted to pour a stream into Loafer’s open mouth. Allowing Cranky a drink from his sombrero placed on a rock, he retrieved from a sack in the saddlebag a handful of oats to feed his mule by hand. Lastly, he enjoyed a strip of beef jerky, for which he pinched a section off for Loafer.

During his breather from traveling, little did he realize he had just experienced his last period of complete freedom, and loneliness. Within moments he would during a calamity meet his true love by chance, a spirited woman far more handsome than he.

BANG! BANG!

The loud pistol shots fired and subsequent echoes caused Pete to gage on his jerky. Tensed, his hands were magnetically drawn to his pistol’s’ butts. No lead slung his way, he looked about puzzled, for the sounds seemed to originate north, yet that could be tricky by secondary booms that might confuse one trying to discern their origin in wide-open country. When Loafer charged north, Pistol Pete jumped in the saddle and followed the dogs dusty trail on Cranky.

*  **

Jane Crocker stood with her hands held high, as did two additional panic-stricken passengers, an elderly man and his teenage daughter. The shotgun guard and driver stood to one side knobby-kneed, looking helpless as one of the three road agents fired his pistol to open the heavy-metal strong box. Supposedly, it held thousands of dollars being transported by stagecoach from Austin National Bank to Bridleville Morgan Humphrey’s Bank.

Before the bandit opened the strong box a barking dog dashed from the boulder-strewn surroundings and upon the scene. Not breaking stride, the mongrel tore around the stagecoach in circles like it was either possessed or rabid. 

The stagecoach, people, horses, and enough dust was raised to be hazardous for the stunned bandits to fix their six-guns on the sprinting animal. Annoyed, they fired several desperate and fruitless shots at the crazed animal a blur in motion. Choking despite bandanas covering their faces, and swearing, yet another intruding visitor distracted them momentarily.

“Hands up, hombres!” the loud voice yelled that sounded every bit like a maddened grizzly bear blurting English. 

Loafer hearing Pete’s voice broke away. He sped toward him and Cranky silhouetted against the cloudless blue sky a short distance away.

The command from their backs had further startled the bandits. Each swung around impulsively to fire at another undesirable intruder. 

Between two tall boulders on a hill the coach would have traveled on the two-rutted road, they spotted a rangy man sitting in the saddle on a mule, each of his hands holding a six-shooter pointed at them. They identified him straightaway as the notorious pistol-shooting marvel, Pistol Pete Platt.

Lifting their guns to drill the famous non-killer-of-men full of bullet-holes, the bandits had little chance as Pete’s pistols barked in rapid succession hell-bent on thwarting their malicious intention and otherwise unlawful action.

Bullets rained down on the desperadoes with precision. Incredibly, not a man dropped dead. However, the outlaws’ guns were shot to bits from their freshly injured hands, holsters cleaved surgically from their belts, and sombreros ripped from heads and flung high into the air.

All three bandits clutching their hands screamed in pain, jumped around like Indians doing a war dance. Defenseless and at the mercy of the assailant, they expected any moment to meet their end. But their end didn’t come, as Loafers’ dust-cloud slowly faded and Pete’s pistols cooled, and their agonizing cries permeated distantly the mute arid land.

The outlaw’s shrieks began to settle down to mournful whimpers. Pete with his hot gun barrels pointed skyward, then commanded from his lofty perch atop Cranky and between two boulders dividing the stage route, seventy feet away, “Lift your bloody hands high, swine, and get down on your knees.” 

The three moaning men dropped to their knees instantly, one muttering painfully to his companions, “Better do as Pistol Pete Platt says or you’ll be his first dead man planted on Boot Hill.”

The outlaws tied across saddles on their horse’s minutes later, Pete told the driver and guard, “I’ll escort the desperadoes ahead of the stagecoach to Bridleville before I resume my aimless trip east.”

Before Pete put his boot to the stirrup to mount Cranky, and she to board the stagecoach, Jane Crocker, her heart a-flutter, approached him double-checking ties binding the still-moaning outlaws, “I heard an outlaw speak your name. Pete, that was the bravest thing I’ve ever witnessed in my life. My Great Uncle Cochise would be proud how you captured those thieves.”

Removing his sombrero, and turning to face her, Pete replied, “Thanks, pretty Miss, the least I could do under the circumstance, not just saving the bank’s money, but securing your safety in dire danger at the mercy of those worthless hoodlums.”

She and he held eye contact longer than might be expected, mutual feelings astir and transcended between them minus spoken words. Both feeling suddenly awkward, stepped from each other to ready themselves for the trip to Bridleville.

In town surprised Sheriff Jacob Gentry seized custody of the desperadoes. He said he would have Doc Forensick see to their hand injuries as Pete had requested, and thanked Pistol Pete for a job well-done without killing anyone. Moments later, Jane stepped near Pete just outside the jailhouse door, and said, “Say, Pete before you ride off into the sunset would you accompany me to a steak diner this evening at the Grub and Skillet Cafe. I’m paying as a thank you?”

Pete looked her up and down, surprised at her brazen advance and gracious request. He began to see Jane as he had no other woman, and felt that here loomed as beautiful a person deep within as on the surface, no other he had come across to rival her. 

He accepted, grinning broadly and tipping his sombrero.

Pistol Pete’s fate was sealed that instant; Jane’s also.

*  **

The next events changed Pistol Pete’s life forever. He and Jane Crocker married, settled in small house on the west end of Bridleville, the town name soon changed by select citizens to Plattville. Within five years they had three children, two girls and a boy. Pete invested his money into Plattville’s school where Jane taught classes, and into the community church needing repairs desperately. And he opened and operated a livery stable, hiring several citizens to spread some of his wealth into the local economy. After elected mayor, for whom he was begged by almost everyone to enter the election, he received a telegraph that summoned him back to San Francisco. The message from his father stated Chester Mantas had died from a heart attack, that he was also sick and welcomed Pete to return and resume directly his vested interest and now larger partnership in the company. Pete replied, not hostilely but kindly, declining the offer from his frail father. Two months later he traveled to San Francisco, where he and Bart negotiated a sale of the company for mega-millions, Pete with more capital than he knew sanely what to do with. Before his departure home, Bart died, was laid to rest beside his wife and Pete’s mother Doris dead ten years. Parcels of Pete’s enormous wealth other than buried securely in San Francisco banks, was a sight for sore eyes to Plattville banker Morgan Humphrey upon his return. Not to idle and sit on his fortune, Pete purchased a large tract of land several miles outside Plattville and started a cattle and horse ranch, hiring cowboys and wranglers in large number, again to spread his wealth among the populous.

Pete busy supervising numerous projects, and feeling shackled down as Mayor decided that one term in office was enough for him. He advised Jane to contact Jim her brother in Austin, ask him if he’d like to run for the position, he presently an Austin City Councilman. Jim Crocker arrived without hesitation to run in an election, and to be near his sister, her husband, and his nieces and nephews. He won by a landslide.

Shortly thereafter retired Texas Ranger Ned Crocker and wife Nascha missing their daughter arrived. Pete had a cabin constructed for Jane’s parentsnot too distance from the Platt ranch house.

Jim, backed by Ned of broad political influence, and the Plattville City Council, asked Pete if he’d consider running for Governor of the State of Texas. Pete thanked them but declined, responding, “To jump into a gubernatorial race to lie, slander, smile while slinging muck into the face of fellow candidate as qualified as me for the job, is insufferable to my personal code of ethics. No, thank you – I got to much else to do in this life that’s just as worthwhile!”

Pete had lived his adventure through high and low times. He had coveted his freedom, but now was content at age 35 in 1886 to be settled comfortably with family surrounding him. 

Pete Beauregard Platt had emerged from banishment and sometimes-bleak existence on a forlorn trail winding nowhere in particular to rise to great things. Prosperous beyond his wildest dreams, he found substantive meaning in life doing good for others less fortunate than he, brought about and he domesticated by chance by a woman who brought the best hidden within him to the surface, his Jane, a wonderful woman indeed.

THE END


© Copyright 2018 Virgil Dube. All rights reserved.

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