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 rode as far as he could the following day and the day after that. He took out his map and looked for a familiar landmark. He was about 30 miles out of Durham and he needed to be past Durham and onto Coal’s Creek–an abandoned mining town which was the perfect place for the gang to make camp.
Ethan was tired of the road and by the time he got out of Durham he was ready to sleep for a week. Eventually, he made his way to Coal’s Creek. He got off his horse and took out his pistols. He looked around the mining camp entrance. Nothing out of the ordinary. He walked on into the camp, looking everywhere he could for a sign of his brothers. He spotted the mining shaft and figured that’d be where they’d be if they were anywhere at all.
He walked up to the opening and peered in.
Ethan closed his eyes. The sound of his brother’s voice was like honey in his ears.
He turned around and holstered his weapons.
“Ethan!” Jason said, running towards him
Ethan turned to face his brother who slammed into him pretty hard when he embraced him.
Jason was the biggest of the Jackson brothers in height and weight. He stood 6’4” to Ethan’s 6’2” and Ethan was built like a slender beanstalk in comparison.
“It’s good to see you!” Jason said, letting go of Ethan
“Good to see you too–where’s Floyd at?” Ethan asked
“He’s comin’–he’s just a little slower, we were drinkin’ most of last night” Jason mused
Ethan nodded and looked around.
“You been okay hidin’ out here? No law droppin’ in?” Ethan asked.
“Yeah well, Floyd can probably tell ya all about that–we had some close run-ins–too close if you ask me,” Jason said, sitting down on a makeshift chair made from a broken crate
Ethan looked towards the entrance of the site, and Floyd was making his way towards him.
“Howdy Floyd… been a while,”… Ethan said with a grin
Floyd pulled back his arm and punched Ethan right in the jaw
“You good fer nuthin’ sonofabitch!” Floyd said through clenched teeth
Ethan’s hat came off his head as he fell backward shaking his head
“Now calm down there Floyd–it ain’t Ethan’s fault and you know it!” Jason said, grabbing Floyd and pulling him off Ethan
Ethan reached up to his jaw, which was stinging from the pain
Ethan looked up at Floyd who was still trying to grab him
Getting slowly up and on his feet, Ethan touched his jaw again
Floyd pushed Jason away and walked towards the mine entrance
“I guess we ain’t all good with what happened in Durham,” Jason said
“I guess not”… Ethan murmured, watching his brother walk away
“He’ll be alright… maybe just hold off talkin’ til he comes around” Jason said
Ethan nodded and walked towards his horse to grab his blanket and saddle
“I’ve been ridin’ hard these last few days so I’m gonna sleep for a few hours while he cools off” Ethan said, throwing his gear on the ground
“It’ll be dark soon enough… maybe after food we can talk more,” Jason replied
Ethan nodded again, turned his back towards the light coming in from the entrance and closed his eyes for the first time in what felt like days
It was hours before Ethan woke up and he had been sleeping for six hours straight. When he finally woke, it was dark and his brothers were organising food around the camp-fire.
Ethan felt his stomach rumble at the thought of food.
“Smells good”… Ethan said, sitting up
“I’m the cook, Floyd’s the hunter,” Jason replied
Floyd didn’t acknowledge Ethan, but he also wasn’t telling him to leave, which Ethan took as a good sign they might work out whatever was between them. As brothers, they never held grudges for long, and Floyd always was the more temperamental one.
Jason handed Ethan a plate with food, which Ethan devoured almost instantly.
“Damn little brother… you ain’t been eatin’ much or what?” Jason asked
Ethan just nodded and kept eating until the food disappeared
“Ain’t really been eatin’ regular like–been ridin’ a lot” Ethan mumbled, wiping away the stains from his mouth
“Did you even go to his grave?” Floyd blurted out.
And there it was.
Ethan put down his plate and looked at his brother
He squinted at Floyd and shook his head
“Yeah, Floyd… I did, did you?” Ethan replied.
Floyd moved forward but Jason was ready and quickly positioned himself between Ethan and Floyd
“No more cussin’ at each other or being unfriendly… ya hear?” Jason said, looking at them both.
Floyd looked down at his plate and played with his food
Ethan grabbed his canteen and washed down what was left of dinner
“Look here Floyd – I know that yer mad on how I left you and Jason…” Ethan said
Floyd wouldn’t look up
“I had to leave… I just couldn’t stay with what happened n’ all”
“No, I don’t get why you had to abandon yer kin!” Floyd snapped back
Ethan looked down at his boots, and an awkward silence fell over them
Ethan knew Floyd was right. He had nothing more to say about it except that he was sorry it happened and he had his reasons which he wasn’t entirely clear on right now.
“Well, for what it’s worth… I’m sorry I left you both and I’m sorry for,”…
Choking on the words, Ethan couldn’t finish the sentence
Floyd just nodded in agreement
Jason was lying down looking over at Floyd
There really wasn’t much else to say. The Jackson brothers were doers, not talkers, and Ethan was the worst communicator in their family. What he said took courage, and Floyd knew that.
Despite their disagreement, Ethan still felt better than he’d felt in weeks being with his brothers again and even though he couldn’t find the words to say it, he silently made a promise to make up for what he did in any way he could.
And Ethan Jackson always kept his promises.
-END OF PART XV-
You can read Part XVI of Ethan’s story right here.