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 and his brothers gathered what they needed for the trip to wherever they needed to go. Eventually, they would have to return to the township where Ethan first met Milly. He figured if she’d be anywhere, she might be there, or at least someone there might know of her whereabouts.
And then Ethan thought of Running Elk. He felt bad that he hadn’t seen Running Elk in a long time. But he knew Running Elk would understand why–probably even better than Ethan did.
But going back that way was an enormous problem for the Jackson brothers. The problem was they were wanted all over that county and the township would be no different. It would be a risk going back there and Ethan knew it but what choice did he have? The negligible amount of background checking he did on Milly lead to Milly’s parents’ graves, which he was torn over visiting. He knew he couldn’t take his brothers there. That was a trip he would definitely have to do alone. He owed that to Milly.
Ethan was almost dressed as he reached down into his jacket pocket. He could feel something at the bottom. It felt like material of some sort. He reached down and pulled it out of his pocket.
How that ended up in his jacket he couldn’t figure, but here it was. Ethan leaned back and could see his brothers in the other room pulling their stuff together. He slowly closed his door, so it wasn’t ajar and looked down at the bandanna. He closed his eyes and brought the bandanna up to his face. Could he smell her in this old piece of material? Could there be a part of her still there, a part of her that was still his?
Suddenly, a knock at the door which brought Ethan out of his reverie
“Ethan, we’re ready,” Jason said
Ethan quickly pushed the bandanna down to the bottom of his jacket pocket, pulled open the door and nodded to his brother.
“Let’s go” he replied
The brothers weren’t in any hurry and Ethan didn’t want to rush his way back to a county where they were wanted men any sooner than he had to. But the slower trip gave him more time to think, which sometimes scared him. He didn’t want to get locked in a memory of the past that was painful, and many of his memories were.
Maybe this is what he needed to do–maybe this is how he’d find his way back to her, or at least to some part of her. Ethan figured they’d have to drop by Running Elk before going anywhere near the old Miller farmhouse–or what they left of it. Running Elk must have seen her during this time, and Ethan was counting on that a little too much.
But what would he even say to her if he found her? Would she even want to see him? What if something had happened to her? Ethan lifted his hat off his head, wiped the sweat away from his brow and thought on something else.
As the sun slowly dipped below the horizon, Ethan and his brothers called it a day and made camp.
They talked about what they were going to do next and how they would get into the town near the farmhouse over their meager dinner. Ethan didn’t have all the answers, but he wasn’t the only one thinking on Running Elk to do what they needed.
“What about Running Elk?” Floyd said
“I’ve thought on that too, but I ain’t sure he’d wanna go into that town,”
“Well, he ain’t a wanted man–it wouldn’t be that hard to just look,” Jason said
“We can ask but I ain’t holdin’ my breath on it”
“You, Ethan–you need to be the one that asks him. You were always the closest to Running Elk, even more than Holden,”… Floyd said.
“I ain’t seen him for a long while… who knows what he’ll be thinkin’ about us”…
The brothers thought on this for a moment. Ethan was right. Nobody knew what Running Elk had been doing this long time. They weren’t even sure Running Elk was in the same place as he was before all the troubles happened with the law.
But Ethan was sure of one thing, and that was that Running Elk would give him a straight answer, no matter how much it hurt. Ethan needed to know the truth, and he knew Running Elk would give that to him if he could.
-END OF PART XXIV-
You can read Part XXV of Ethan’s story right here.