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
When the gang finally arrived at Callan Ridge, they went about fixin’ whatever they could and settin’ up the house with traps–traps to catch any unsuspecting law men or bounty hunters. The outer perimeter of the farm made it difficult to set traps, so the boys built a fence that encompassed the entire farm. Ethan’s Pa never got around to finishin’ the one he started, so Ethan decided they’d finish what their Pappy couldn’t.
When the fence was finally completed, it looked real good around the farm and the boys went about setting up traps everywhere so they could hear anyone comin’ a mile off.
They put sturdy locks on all the doors that they could and fixed up any remaining holes in the walls. When they had finished, the house looked as good as it were gonna get. And they built it for survivin’ just about anythin’ except maybe fire. Hell, no house would survive that. But it was mighty satisfying to see it completed.
The next task was to round up all the weapons and ammunition and take an inventory of what they had and what they’d be needin’. Ethan brought out all of his weapons, including his daddy’s Winchester rifle, which was in perfect condition. No matter what happened, none of these men were goin’ down without one helluva fight and that’s exactly how Ethan envisioned his end would come. The only part of that was missin’ Milly and not bein’ able to say goodbye. But he figured none of that mattered now that he knew who was hunting them. And he’d surely come there soon enough. It was too risky lookin’ for Milly now. If she hadn’t found somewhere to hide out herself, there was nuthin’ more Ethan could do but wait and hope the killer came to Callan Ridge first.
The gang went into Callan Ridge the next day. Floyd and Lincoln went to the saloon, and Ethan and Jason went shopping for ammunition. Once they had gathered everything they needed, the gang headed back to the homestead and stored everything away. Ethan also talked with Fran discreetly about who they were lookin’ for and Fran said she’d keep an eye out for the bounty hunter known only as “Eli”. Thanks to his rather distinctive scar, Fran could identify him. She said she’d send word as soon as she saw anyone with that description comin’ into Callan Ridge.
The days seemed like they were gettin’ longer, and the sun took a long time to set over Callan Ridge. Ethan didn’t know what would happen next, and it was keepin’ him on edge more than he’d like to admit.
But he was sure on one thing, and that was he was weary of runnin’. And so were his brothers. And if something fated it that this was gonna be the last place they were together as brothers, Ethan was okay with that.
See, fate’s a funny thing. If you believe in it, that is. It’ll come for you when you least expect. Ethan always thought fate was a woman–a woman that knew your weaknesses and knew exactly when to come callin’.
And there just ain’t no winning against Lady Fate.
The next day Ethan’s only plan was to move the bathtub out the back closer to the cliffs west of their house so he could have a bath in peace and away from any kind of distraction or intrusion.
It was so warm out that it just made sense to have the bath outside rather than inside. And the views from that side of Callan Ridge were somethin’ breathtaking. Even Jason thought so, and he weren’t much for nature.
Ethan liked the alone time. He wasn’t really the talkin’ type and preferred time alone compared to the rest of his brothers. His disappearin’ unannounced used to be somethin’ he’d do a lot when he could. But after Milly joined the gang, that all changed. And Ethan didn’t always get on with members of the gang, even before Milly joined it. Ethan was always at odds with James. James had the disposition that Ethan just didn’t like. Ethan and Holden had many discussions on it that never went Ethan’s way. And he never could figure why Holden was so beholden to James. Truth be told, it troubled Ethan somethin’ awful. But James was part of the gang before Ethan got to ridin’ with them. And that gave James a lot more control than Ethan liked over the plans and the direction the gang was headin’ in.
Ethan had his knife stored just on the inside of the tub like he usually did whenever he took a bath cept’ this time there was more reason for it than not. Despite the worries on his mind, Ethan always felt renewed after a long, hot, quiet bath. So he went about his normal routine, washed himself down, poured the soothing water over his face, laid his head back and let the sun’s rays penetrate everythin’ else. It was as close to bliss as Ethan was ever gonna get these days.
When his eyes finally closed, he slowly drifted off and everythin’ just melted away.
-END OF PART XXXII-
You can read Part XXXIII of Ethan’s story right here.