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 was the first one up the next morning so as is tradition in the Jackson home, first up makes the breakfast and last up does the dishes. Ethan already knew who would do the dishes that morning… Jason was always the sleepyhead in their family.
Ethan grinned to himself at the thought of Jason getting pushed out of bed every single morning when he would sleep right through breakfast.
As Ethan prepared breakfast, the powerful scent of coffee must have woken up Floyd because Floyd was walking around the house.
“Mornin” he murmured, sitting down at the breakfast table
“Mornin” Ethan replied, bringing the food and the coffee to the table
“Dammit, Jason… get up boy!” Floyd shouted as loud as he could
Ethan reached for the bread and drank down his coffee as his brother stumbled into the kitchen with terrible bed hair.
“Mmm smells mighty good in here Ethan” Jason said, piling what was left of the eggs on to his plate.
“Eat up boys, we’re headin’ into Callan Ridge–got a contact I’ll be meeting up with a little later that might point us in Earl’s direction” Ethan said, eating the last of his eggs and piling up the dishes for the sink
“Good, we definitely need to visit the general store and get supplies,” Floyd replied
“While I’m getting the info on Earl’s whereabouts, you two can get whatever we need in town” Ethan said, putting on his gun belt
“Well, those are some mighty nice-looking pistols Ethan… where’d’you get ’em?” Jason asked
“Don’t ask him that, Jason!” Floyd replied
“Naw it’s fine… I bought them from a very particular type of gunsmith–one that only deals with bounty hunters” Ethan replied
“Jason thought you were gonna say you got them from someone you killed…” Floyd teased
“No, couldn’t do that even if I wanted to–there’s a code ya know… and every bounty hunter has to abide by it” Ethan said
“Really?! What’s the code?” Jason asked.
Ethan just shook his head
“Can’t tell ya that brother… or I’d have to kill ya!” Ethan replied, putting on his hat
“Aww yer no fun, Ethan! Can’t ya tell us anythin’ ‘bout yer huntin’?”
Ethan stood in the doorway with the door ajar.
“Maybe one night when we’ve all had a little too much to drink, I might talk about it but until then, let’s get goin’–Callan Ridge is waiting” Ethan said
With that, Jason started tidying up the dishes and left-over food, and Floyd got up and stumbled back into his room to finish dressing
Ethan had already pulled the horses out of the barn when his brothers joined him.
It was going to be a scorcher by the look of the sky, and it was beautiful–blue as far as the eye could see.
Ethan closed his eyes and took in a deep breath. The smell of the clean air out here was something special. And it made him feel even more invigorated for the day ahead.
In single file, the Jackson brothers followed Ethan towards the main road into Callan Ridge, and Ethan was keeping a steady pace. He didn’t want to rush the trip, but he was excited to see his old township once again. It had been many years–too many.
As the brothers eventually arrived at the township, Ethan noticed the town had grown in his absence. It was a lot busier than it used to be and there were people going about their business everywhere, even this early in the morning. This pleasantly surprised Ethan. He was expecting something very different.
“You two visit the general store and get whatever supplies we need and I’ll meet you both here at noon” Ethan said looking at his brothers
Floyd and Jason nodded. They split up with Ethan heading straight for the saloon where he knew he could find information on a man known only as “Preacher John”. He was a local but Ethan hadn’t been local for quite some time so he needed a guide on how to get around Callan Ridge after being away so long. In particular, on how to find a hermit that was only known to people like Franny Walsh who owned the saloon. Franny was a good friend of the Jackson’s and Ethan hoped she would still hold their name in high regard.
Ethan hadn’t been in the saloon for a minute when he heard someone call his name–his family name, that is.
“Well, I’ll be… how long has it been since a Jackson set foot in my place?”
Ethan turned around to face the owner of the voice
“You can’t be Holden… Holden Jackson?!” she asked,
Ethan shook his head
“Ethan” Ethan replied
And with those words, Ethan realised he was no longer a phantom… nor a whisper between passers-by. Saying his name out loud confirmed that he was really back.
“Ethan Jackson! Boy, is it good to see you back at Callan Ridge! How long has it been boy?”
Ethan let the woman hug him–he wasn’t gonna win that argument.
“A long time Fran–too long I think” he replied
Fran was grinning from ear to ear and she was exactly as Ethan remembered. She was a little older, a few more grey hairs here and there, but she still had the warmest smile Ethan had seen.
“Sit yerself right there, I’ll get a bottle of my finest whiskey!” she said, walking behind the bar.
Ethan slyly looked up from his table to see if anyone was paying more attention to him than they should.
Ethan didn’t plan on drinking today, but this was a special occasion and he knew it was important to play the role he needed to play so he could open the doors he needed to open.
Fran was about as local as you could get and she knew everyone in the town and the surrounding area. If she didn’t know where to find Preacher John, nobody would. After a few whiskies, Ethan was feeling like he could ask Fran the questions he needed to ask so he could get on and find Preacher John. Not only did Fran know him, but she gave Ethan an excellent description of where to find him. Ethan wasn’t surprised to hear that Preacher John wasn’t a preacher. Anyone that connected to bounty hunters wouldn’t be a genuine man of god.
Fran gave Ethan and his brothers an open invitation to the saloon and to her place any time they needed it. Ethan felt great about that because he needed to feel like the Jackson’s had support in this town–their town.
Ethan finally left the saloon and made his way straight to Preacher John’s. And before he got to the location, he made sure his pistols were in his hands and he was ready for anything.
Preacher John was a lot easier to find than Ethan expected, and as soon as Ethan got the introductions out of the way, things seemed to go smoothly between him and John. The bounty hunters have a secret word that is only used amongst their circles and as soon as Ethan revealed that word, everything fell into place and Preacher John was like an open book.
Ethan came away from John’s place with the information he needed to get onto Earl’s trail again, and this time, he was going to make sure he didn’t lose it.
-END OF PART XVII-
You can read Part XVIII of Ethan’s story right here.