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
The brothers travelled a while before they got close enough to Durham to make camp. Ethan didn’t want to go back into any of the towns he’d already been in if he could avoid it. If the killer were trackin’ them, that’s the first place they’d think to look. Ethan was only hopin’ that Milly was smart enough to know that trick too and stay outta the townships headin’ south. But Ethan had a problem. To find the information he needed, he had to go back into town and that meant back to Durham, the town before Masterton and maybe even Masterton itself. The plan was to get to Jed and Lincoln before the killer did and track Milly from there. But Ethan knew they’d be lyin’ low on the count of him threatening Jed the last time they met.
Ethan cussed to himself. That was a stupid thing to do, and he knew it. That was only gonna make it that much harder to find them.
After some planning, Ethan figured it wouldn’t be as obvious if only one of them went into town and he wanted to be the one that did. No point puttin’ his brothers in any unnecessary danger. Ethan was also the best person to deal with any killer’s lurkin’ in town. And it had been a long while since Ethan had to send a man to his maker, but he was ready to do it if he had to.
Going back to Durham had Ethan and his brothers on edge. It’s where Holden died… it was bad news for the Jackson brothers any way they looked at it. But that was before Ethan ripped that posse apart back at the Old Miller farmhouse. With so many deaths that night, there’s a good chance the posse disbanded.
Either way, Ethan had to go into town to look for any clues on Milly or findin’ Jed and Lincoln. All three of them were in danger and much easier to pick off for a bounty hunter. Ethan figured that the killer would go after him and his brothers last seein’ they were the most experienced. But Jed and Lincoln… they were as good as done if Ethan didn’t get to them first. As for Milly, well, she was an enormous question mark to Ethan. Dependin’ on what had happened to her since he last saw her, she could be more than ready to defend herself against a bounty hunter.
And he had mixed feelings about it. He felt a sense of pride knowin’ that Milly had come from nuthin’, just like he had. And when he met her, she was barely surviving. But now, it sounded like Milly had come into her own and had become somethin’ else. And this frightened Ethan a little. And excited him a little too. But Ethan had to focus and not think about anythin’ else but findin’ her trail.
On his approach into Durham, Ethan was tense but ready for anythin’. As he roamed on into the township, nobody was around. It was like a ghost town compared to the last time he was there.
Maybe the killin’ of the posse really did somethin’ to this town. He tried to see if he could spot any wanted posters, but there was nuthin’. Ethan headed for the saloon, but it was all boarded up and closed. The stores were closed.
Ethan stopped in the middle of the street and looked to his left. It was the alley next to the general store they robbed. A chill came over him as he sat there staring at the alleyway, pondering whether to go down the alley to where… it happened. Ethan bit on his lip and squinted his eyes. He took one quick look around before pullin’ on the reins of his horse.
Ethan stopped at the entrance and walked the horse into the alley right up to the same spot. He looked around, still not a soul to be seen. He bent down and touched the spot where his brother fell. Not a single drop of blood remained with what the wind and the rain must have taken away. Nuthin’ to speak of what happened here.
Ethan slowly got to his feet and wiped the dust off his hand.
“I’m sorry” he whispered, looking upward. He hadn’t noticed the sky today because he was preoccupied with gettin’ to Durham. But it was a pale shade of blue–the shade of blue he used to like as a kid.
He took one more look around, got on his horse and headed for the field and back to his brothers and their campsite. Even though Durham was a dead-end, he somehow felt a little relieved that he went back there, which is not what he was expecting.
When he finally got back to camp, his brothers were keen for any news he may have had. Ethan got off his horse, grabbed his canteen and drank down some water.
“Was a dead-end boys… the town’s gone, it’s a ghost town,” he said, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.
His brothers nodded, and they all sat down around their campsite.
“So back to Masterton?” Floyd said
Ethan took off his hat and laid back against his saddle.
“We can go tomorrow. I ain’t in no rush. I’m just gonna get a few hours shut-eye while I can,” Ethan said, pulling his hat down over his eyes.
Ethan was a little shaken up after visiting Durham. He didn’t wanna talk; he didn’t wanna do nuthin’ but close his eyes and think on somethin’ else.
Ethan slept right through until the next day, and his brothers didn’t have the heart to wake him.
-END OF PART XXVIII-
You can read Part XXIX of Ethan’s story right here.