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 next day everyone was up bright and early. They decided the gang would hit the store before people crowded the main street. So the scouts Ethan, Floyd and Earl headed out first just like they practiced the other day and got themselves into position when they arrived.
The thoroughfare had a few people walking either up or down the main street, but it was mostly dead, which was good for the Jackson’s–fewer people around meant fewer people to die. Ethan was ready to shoot anyone if it came down to it–that part of what he told Milly was true. And it wasn’t like he was cold-blooded and had no feelings about the matter. He just knew that surviving was everything, and he put that almost above anything else–that was, until he met Milly. Milly was the first person he’d ever met that wasn’t kin that he trusted with his life. And that was a rare thing for Ethan Jackson to do. What was even more rare was Ethan trusting someone he’d only just met who was related to someone he considered an enemy. And as planned in his head before they broke camp, Ethan would not let Earl out of his sight.
Thankfully, Ethan and Earl were positioned fairly close to one another. But Ethan was the first lookout, which meant he would have to have his back to Earl most of the time, keeping a lookout for anyone coming into the store. That was something Ethan was a little nervous about, but he forgot all about it when the job was going down.
Holden and the rest of the gang came into the store, and Ethan and Earl moved into the store behind them and closed the store door shut. Ethan crouched down just a way in front of Earl, who was also crouched down but closer to the back of the store. Ethan had his bandanna on and his hat pulled down over his eyes so you could barely see his face. But he could see everything from where he sat. And there wasn’t a single person anywhere.
The job at the back of the store went down fairly quickly with no resistance and no hitches. Holden and Floyd packed up everything they could, took all the money and made their way to the front of the store, leading everyone else out. Ethan got up, opened the door to the store and everyone piled out in single file.
The gang turned the corner and ran down the alleyway to the open field where their horses were waiting with Jed. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, two armed deputies came running right towards the gang from either side.
“You hold it right there, Holden Jackson!” one of them yelled out
Ethan swung around to see what was happening and his brother was turning to face the deputy with the gun. Ethan reached for his gun and swung the other way towards the deputy coming at them from the other side. He didn’t hesitate and shot at the deputy who was too slow to return fire. He dropped to the ground, yelling in pain from his shoulder wound.
“HOLDEN!!! FLOYD–it’s a goddamn trap!” Ethan yelled, grabbing onto Floyd and pushing him in the opposite direction. But Holden was too late to respond. The deputy’s gunshot rang out above the frantic yelling.
Ethan turned around, his arms stretched out towards his brother. Everything seemed to move in slow motion.
“Nooooo! Holden!!!” he yelled, tripping on his foot and falling to the ground. Floyd spun back around and pulled Ethan up by the scruff of his jacket.
“C’mon Ethan, we can’t… you know we gotta let him go… c’mon!” Floyd yelled, pulling Ethan away from Holden.
They ran as fast as they could. Ethan wasn’t even sure if anyone else made it out–all he knew was that his brother Holden was lying on the ground in a pool of blood.
Ethan could feel his body trembling as they reached the horses. He was so numb he didn’t even notice that Earl wasn’t with them when they got on their horses and rode out of Durham. The ride out seemed to take so much longer than before, but they finally made it back to camp.
Everyone was scattered around the camp, scrambling to get their gear together so they could leave. Floyd was packing up Holden’s gear and his own.
Ethan could feel the tears stinging his eyes as he pulled his gun out of its holster and walked right across to Jed.
He pulled back on the hammer of his pistol, wiped the tears off his face and pointed his gun directly at Jed.
“You son of a bitch! WHERE is EARL?!” Ethan shouted, the sound almost foreign to his ears, He couldn’t remember the last time he had to yell at someone like that.
Jed turned to face Ethan, his hands in the air.
“Hold on now, brother–we don’t got time for this. Those deputies could show up here any minute now and we need to be the hell outta here!” Floyd said, pulling Ethan away.
Ethan pulled out of his grip.
“I ASKED you a question!” Ethan said, ignoring his brother
Ethan walked right up to Jed. Jed couldn’t stand straight, his legs were shaking so bad.
Lincoln stepped in front of Ethan.
“Mister… he ain’t done nuthin’ wrong… please mister don’t kill my brother” he pleaded
Ethan looked at Lincoln and let out a half-hearted laugh.
“Brother… yeah, ain’t that somethin’. You got yours but I just lost mine and I’m bettin’ this son of a bitch knows exactly where that traitor Earl is”…
Floyd grabbed Ethan and pushed him to the ground.
“I said we gotta get–get yer gear and let’s go!” Floyd yelled
Floyd pushed Jed and Lincoln back to their camp spots and they started packing up. Ethan finally got up from the ground and walked back towards his gear clenching his left hand knowing full well the pain from his injury would rip through him like fire.
The next few moments were a blur to Ethan. He got on his horse and rode in the opposite direction, putting as much distance as possible between him and Durham with his brother Floyd calling out his name.
Ethan heard him calling, but he continued riding away from his brother and silently said goodbye.
-END OF PART VII-
You can read Part VIII of Ethan’s story right here.