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
Ethan had seen some shitty and run-down townships in his time roaming across the country, but nothing could prepare him for Masterton. The place gave him a chill which soon disappeared the moment he started thinkin’ on findin’ Earl.
Lookin’ around the township, there was hardly a soul on the streets, the roads were dusty and there was rubbish everywhere. When Ethan finally located a bunch of local folk, he discreetly asked about Earl’s family or their whereabouts posing as a long-lost friend.
Ethan was lucky enough to have inherited his mother’s good looks, and he knew how to use them. When he was clean-shaven, his boyish good looks almost always broke through a person’s walls when they had their guard up. Coupled with his natural charm, he was a double threat. Nobody would even think he was doin’ the things he was doin’ for a living. Ethan got real good at readin’ people, and he could tell pretty much straightaway if someone was tryin’ to cheat him or lie.
This triggered a memory in Ethan of the day he was pleading with his brother Holden not to let Earl into the gang or to at least watch him. He was readin’ people right even back then.
The people he talked to were friendly enough, and he didn’t seem to get any bad feelin’ off of any of them. But he also didn’t get much of a lead either. He was told that there might have been an “Earl Prescott” that had family livin’ nearby, but it was a guess from a very elderly man who was missing teeth and had very little hair. Still, a lead’s a lead and Ethan investigated everything.
He had to ride out of the township to get there and the country was rugged and a little difficult to travel, but he got there soon enough. The old timer gave Ethan a clear description of a house above a river that ran through a valley.
When Ethan got off his horse, there it was – the river and the valley. But he couldn’t see no house around anywhere. So he kept goin’ further into the valley until he finally came to a run-down house in the very back end of nowhere. Sounded like a perfect place to hold up and hide out to Ethan.
Ethan moved around the house extra slowly so as not to make a noise and pulled his horse around the corner and out of view of the house. Then he took his pistols out of their holsters and made his way slowly around to the back of the house.
There was a window and a door and Ethan peered into the window but couldn’t see any movement in the house. Ethan turned to walk around the other side of the house.
“Hold up mister–what’cha think yer doin’ outside my home?! Don’t even be thinkin’ of shootin’ them guns neither–got a shotgun loaded up just right for the likes of you!”
Ethan closed his eyes briefly
“Goddammit” he cursed in a low voice to himself
“God?! God ain’t gonna help ya–now holster those pistols and turn around real slow like” the woman said
Ethan turned as slowly as he could, holstering his pistols before raising his hands in the air
The woman was in her 50s, maybe; she looked wiry and tough as guts to Ethan. She peered at him through looking glasses that were almost comin’ off her nose.
Ethan tried to grin at the woman and his eyes dropped to the meticulously kept Smith and Wesson rifle she was holdin’ up to him aimed right for his chest.
“Well? Who in the heck are ya and why you botherin’ a woman on her lonesome all the ways up here? Huh?!” she asked, looking Ethan up and down.
“I apologise Ma’am but I’m lookin’ for a long-lost friend by the name of Earl Prescott. I was pointed in this direction by the townsfolk who said this is where he was stayin’. I came by because I heard he was in some sorta trouble is all”…
“Prescott, you say? Well, I’m a Prescott by marriage, but I ain’t heard a no Earl Prescott. I know of a Chester Earl Prescott, my brother’s boy who used to live here ‘fore he moved on out with his pregnant wife and younger sister. They live a ways down the valley–probably about half a day’s ride from here in good weather” the woman replied.
She slowly lowered her gun, and Ethan could finally relax his arms.
“So yer a friend of Chester’s? Hmm–he was a wayward child, always gettin’ into mischief and causin’ his young wife all sorts of trouble. I ain’t one bit surprised you heard he was in trouble–not one bit I say!”
The woman looked Ethan up and down once more and then turned to open her door.
“Any friend of Chester’s is welcome here–I just got cookin’ some pork and corn if yer hungry” the woman said
Ethan felt his stomach rumble. He was starving. And he could smell the thick aroma of southern home-cooked grits and fried potatoes. It was almost mouth-watering. Ethan couldn’t remember the last time he sat down to a proper home-cooked meal.
“That’d be mighty kind of ya, Ma’am thank you” Ethan replied following the woman into her rickety run-down house. It wasn’t much, but it wasn’t any different to any house you could find ‘round these parts. People were humble and poor, and Ethan knew exactly what that was like.
Ethan ended up staying later than he planned, but he didn’t mind listenin’ to what the woman had to say about her family ties to the Prescott’s. He was interested if it meant being able to piece together where Earl was located. If what the woman said was right, he wasn’t that far away and Ethan could just about taste the feeling of avenging his brother’s death.
It was a bittersweet taste, but it was what it was. Death was coming for Earl Prescott. And Ethan hadn’t been that focused on anything else since losing Milly. And when it was finally over, he could settle down a bit and look into Milly’s location next.
The old woman finally fell asleep and Ethan left her a whole silver dollar as a thank you for the hospitality and the company.
Ethan was so caught up in listenin’ to the old woman he didn’t even notice the dark sky above. The rain started dropping softly at first, but then the sky opened up and let out what felt like a river of rain. Ethan kinda liked the rain. It didn’t happen often, but when it did, it felt good on his face.
Ethan left the house as quietly as he could, saddled his horse and slowly made his way down the valley until he got to the bottom. He took out the rough map the woman had drawn for him. Ethan looked across the landscape and could see a clearway to the next part of the valley.
And to Earl Prescott.
-END OF PART XII-
You can read Part XIII of Ethan’s story right here.