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 could see the path winding further down the valley, but he still couldn’t see the homestead. He stopped and checked the map again to make sure he was going the right way and he was dead on track.
Ethan slowed the horse from a gallop to a trot. He didn’t wanna alert anyone in the house with any unnecessary noise.
Making sure he didn’t mess up the way he did at the old woman’s house, he pulled his horse out of the way and waited to see if he could see anyone moving around the house. And as much as Ethan was fond of the rain, he wished it would stop right about now. Visibility was next to nothing, but he’d have to take his chances.
Reaching down for his pistols, he moved his fingers around the triggers and brought them both out of their holsters simultaneously. A neat little trick he’d picked up from a bounty hunter friend of his. He swung them both upward and kept them in that position as he ducked down and moved towards the house.
He could smell the scent of rain mixing with the wet crops nearby and it gave him a strange sensation. Looking ahead, he still couldn’t see any movement outside the house. Moving closer, Ethan could see a faint light coming from a window that lit up a narrow pathway.
Someone was there.
Ethan stopped moving for a moment and closed his eyes. This is it. This is the moment he had been waiting for. Taking in a deep breath, he slowly opened his eyes and focused on the light from the window.
Crouched down, he edged forward up around the path and to the back of the house. There was another window on the side of the house but he couldn’t see a thing. The door was a mere few feet away. Ethan slowly crept up to the side of the door, holstered his left pistol and turned the door handle with his free hand. It was an unlocked door.
He quietly, pushed the door open and peered inside. He listened for any motion or sound but nothing. He moved into the house, slowly closed the door behind him and took out his left pistol.
The inside of the house was in a state of disrepair. There were holes through the wood in some places where the rain was getting in. He looked around a little more before moving further into the house and past the kitchen. He could see a small fire in one corner of the main room and a table with a cup on it and a lit candle–the same candlelight he saw from the pathway leading up to the house. But no movement of any kind anywhere in that room.
Ethan moved into the room and could see a door to the left which must be the main bedroom. Looks like they were sleepin’ which wasn’t that unusual. Ethan must have lost track of time and it may have been later than he thought.
He slowly pulled back on the triggers of his pistols–the right first and then the left and edged towards the room. The door was ajar so he could peer in but it was dark and there was no light anywhere in the room save for a window. The window had an old blanket pulled up over it as a makeshift curtain. Ethan looked towards the bed and could see someone in it but he couldn’t tell who it was.
“Mamma!” a voice called from behind Ethan
Ethan swung around with his pistols pointed towards the direction of the sound only to find a child no older than five or six staring up at him. Out of the corner of his left eye he could hear movement in the bedroom. Ethan pulled up against the back wall and pointed his left pistol towards the door of the bedroom.
“Hold on’ sugar, Mamma’s comin” a voice replied
Ethan swallowed hard and readied himself. A woman wrapped in a blanket and in her nightgown appeared in the doorway.
She took one look at Ethan and ran towards her child.
“Don’t be movin’ like that again–I coulda shot you dead!” Ethan said, following the woman with his pistols.
The woman grabbed her child and turned around to face Ethan, holding her child close to her chest.
“What d’ya want?! I ain’t got no money and not much of anythang else!” she exclaimed, her voice trembling.
Ethan squinted at the woman and checked to his left and right once more before focusing back on the woman.
“Earl Prescott… that’s who I’m here for–where IS he?!” Ethan asked
“Earl… this is Earl–yer here to kill a child?!” the woman asked, tears slowly trickling down her face.
“What’s that? No! I ain’t here to kill a child, I’m here for the baby’s daddy and if you know his whereabouts you better tell me right now,” Ethan replied.
“Chester?! That good for nuthin’ bastard left weeks ago an’ we ain’t heard of him since so you can just get the hell outta my house!”
Ethan took in another breath but this time his heart wasn’t in his throat. He didn’t trust the woman, so he kept his pistols on her. But he loosened up a little and stood up off the wall.
“Where is he–where’d he go? The sooner you tell me the sooner I can leave,” Ethan replied.
“He went with his cousin’s Jed and Lincoln to do somethin’ I ain’t askin’ about. Then he came back all in a rush and all shook up about someone dyin’. Then he took his guns and left and he ain’t returned” the woman said, looking at her child.
Ethan bit his lip so hard he thought he might bite through it. Cousins… Lincoln and Jed–the two cousins that said they weren’t Earl’s kin. Those lyin’ sonofabitch’s…
Earl shook his head in disbelief at bein’ lied to by amateurs. He looked at the woman and the child and then backed slowly out of the house the same way he came in without a word.
He got back to his horse and cussed for a good few minutes at himself for bein’ too trusting. He looked up at the sky; the rain falling down towards him on an angle.
There was nothin’ for it–he had to get himself outta there and back on the trail again. He knew Jed and Lincoln would be long gone by now and there was no point huntin’ them down when he could just focus on Earl.
At least one good thing came out of this evening and that was he knew for certain Earl was alive–well, a good few weeks ago was close enough for Ethan. The man might have got himself killed in the meantime but Ethan chose not to dwell on that.
Ethan got on his horse and rode out of the valley as fast as his horse would take him. He wasn’t even entirely sure where he was headed, he just knew he had to get out of this valley and out of this state. He finally bunked down in one of the rooms in Masterton’s shitty saloon.
There he contemplated his next move and as much as he didn’t want to admit it, he knew exactly where he had to go. And that was back to his brothers Floyd and Jason who would have returned to the “Plan B” location that Floyd and Ethan planned just before the job went down. Ethan never told Holden that he’d done that without his permission but he figured none of that mattered now.
Ethan was going back to his kin and a feeling of comfort came over him when he thought on it. Ethan never thought he’d see his brothers this soon after everything but it had been a long time. And he was a different person now.
Would they like the man he had become? Ethan wasn’t even sure he liked the man he had become, but he knew that he really wanted to see his brothers again.
And Ethan fell asleep to that thought and dreamt about a time when him and his brothers were children playin’ in the backyard of their old homestead.
In the middle of the night, Ethan work up with tears in his eyes but with no memory of why.
-END OF PART XIV-
You can read Part XV of Ethan’s story right here.