Author’s Note: This is Part II in Book I of my series Tales of the West. You may read Part I: “Milly” here.
Genres: Fiction – Western/Action/Romance
Please be aware this story has elements of violence, gun violence, murder and death.
Ethan played by Boyd Holbrook
The gang moved out of the old miller farm and headed south as far as Ethan could tell. He wasn’t really involved in the planning side of things–that was up to his brothers mostly Holden and Jason. Ethan was never really close with Jason and they rarely got on with one another. Ethan was closest with Floyd and then Holden. When he thought about his brothers, it was always Holden who put up with everyone’s problems and it was Holden that led the gang.
When it came down to the wire, Ethan was always first in line–he was the fastest runner and the best with a knife. But Ethan often said that he was just as good as his brother Holden with a pistol and Holden was damn good. Ethan grinned just thinking about how his older brother taught him how to shoot. And how he handed down that knowledge to Milly.
Ugh… he almost lasted an entire day, not thinking on her.
Ethan looked ahead of the line of horses and could see the small rise in the landscape his brother’s told him about. They had been travelling a couple days, and they were almost at their destination–the township of Durham. Ethan finally felt like he could relax. Going into a new town was the simple part–it was getting out after they’d robbed the general store that was hard. Ethan always told Holden to make a backup plan just in case things go south when they least expect it. Holden usually did but Ethan wasn’t sure he’d covered that this time around.
And just like that, that calm feeling that Ethan felt riding into Durham was gone.
The gang settled on a camp spot about 10 minutes out of the township. It was usual for Ethan and his brother Floyd to head on into the town to check it out and make sure their plans would go smoothly. Ethan and Floyd acted as much like locals as they could, dipping their hats to the females they passed in the street and nodding to the men next to them all the while surveying and getting the “lay of the land” as Holden put it. Ethan was great at scouting out issues and escape routes. But this time around, Earl wanted to go with Ethan.
“I think it’d be a grand idea for Earl to tag along with Ethan”… Jed said, shooting Ethan a sarcastic grin
Ethan shook his head
“No way that’s happenin’–it’s me and Floyd and it’s always been me and Floyd” Ethan replied
“Right, Floyd?” Ethan said, looking at Floyd
Floyd grimaced at the sound of his name.
He glanced at Holden.
Holden looked at Ethan and then at Earl.
“You done this kinda thing before, Earl?” Holden asked
Earl lifted his hat up off his forehead and shot a glance across at Holden
He spat out his tobacco and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand
“Yeah well I guess you could say I done my fair share of jobs like this one. And I’m thinkin’ it’d be a smart thang to have me tag along–ya know, like Jed said”
Earl spoke with a heavy southern drawl, a little heavier than the others
Ethan took his hat off his head and slapped it down across his thigh. Floyd gave Holden a concerned look. They both knew whenever Ethan did that, he was fixin’ to fight.
“I just said it’s me and Floyd. Besides no offence at all to you and yours, but I don’t know you. And this here is an important part of us getting outta this job alive, ya understand?” Ethan said, looking across at Earl.
Holden stepped into the circle and lifted his hand up
“Alright… how ‘bout this? Ethan… you and Floyd let Earl tag along…”
“But…” Ethan tried to interject but Holden cut him off
“… it’s alright Ethan, Floyd’ll hold yer hand just like you’re used to”… he joked, hitting his brother on the back
Ethan lifted his hat to his head, pulled down on it hard and stared across at Jed and Earl as they laughed
Ethan felt that familiar twistin’ in his stomach whenever he would get anxious or annoyed – and he wasn’t anxious.
Ethan walked over to Holden and pulled him aside.
“What n’ hell Holden?” Ethan asked
Holden put his hands on either side of Ethan’s shoulders and looked him in the eyes
“Calm down now little brother… I seein’ yer pissed right now but here’s the thing–we gotta let these boys earn their stripes. How else can they do that if we don’t let em’ do what we need em’ to do? And you’re the best there is for this–I need you to be there, so they get it right. I know you don’t trust people easily which is why I’m doin’ this so they can prove themselves to the rest of us”…
Ethan bit his lip and looked across at Jed and Earl
“You don’t have to trust them, but I know you trust me, and I say this is the way to do it right… and if they screw up–well, that’s on me and I’ll wear it. Alright?”
Ethan looked at his brother and nodded that he agreed
“Alright…” he replied
“Alright…” Holden said slapping him on the back again
The rest of the plan went ahead as normal and the only change was Earl following Ethan and Floyd into town.
Ethan still didn’t like the idea, but he trusted his brother and that had to be enough.
Ethan went back to his spot and started getting ready. He didn’t hear Earl walking up behind him.
“We ain’t had proper introductions,” Earl said
Ethan turned around quickly to face Earl with his hand on his pistol.
“Wooooahhh now, easy there kid… I ain’t fixin’ to shoot ya” Earl said, holding up his hands
Ethan squinted at the man, and then slowly put his pistol back in the holster
“Well, heck… you really are as fast as they say,” Earl said with a grin
Ethan straightened up and didn’t say a word. Earl seemed friendly enough… maybe too friendly for Ethan’s liking.
“What can I help you with?” Ethan asked, turning back around to continue what he was doing
“Well, I figured it’d be the neighbourly thang to do to come on over here and introduce myself since we’re gonna be workin’ together n’ all”
Ethan kept on doing what he was doing without acknowledging Earl
Earl waited for Ethan to speak but he wouldn’t
“Well, alright then I see yer busy… I’ll just come on back here another time when yer less preoccupied,”…
Ethan turned around then, and it gave Earl a bit of a fright. Earl stepped back a pace or two.
“Look mister… I really ain’t the talkin’ type, especially with people that ain’t kin… so you best keep on with whatever yer doin’ and I’ll do the same and we’ll get along just fine” Ethan replied
Earl locked eyes with Ethan, but Ethan was not in the mood to make small talk and Earl sensed it and backed away
“No harm done friend… I’ll be on my way then” Earl replied, turning back around and heading back to the other side of the camp
Ethan watched him walk away and looked across at Jed and his brother Lincoln who were watching the entire exchange
Ethan stared them both down and as soon as Earl walked back over, they started talking and looking across at Ethan
Ethan spat out the excess spit in his mouth, turned slowly back around and went on with what he was doing
Ethan grinned to himself ever so slyly
-END OF PART V-
You can read Part VI of Ethan’s story right here.