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 didn’t want to run. But his brothers felt they needed to get ahead of the lawmen that were comin’ for them. And with Milly helpin’ to track the Jackson gang down, there was no tellin’ how far they’d get before their time ran out.
Ethan just couldn’t believe what was happenin’. Milly helpin’ the law to put him and his brothers away… this is Milly, his Milly.
But she wasn’t his Milly anymore, and she hadn’t been his Milly for some time. Part of Ethan was beginnin’ to think everythin’ he felt was nothin’ more than lies he told himself so he could sleep at night.
What Ethan couldn’t figure was how she got around the law when they were still wanted for their crimes. Whatever she sold them must have been well worth it.
How could he have had everythin’ so wrong… even thinkin’ on him and Milly maybe havin’ somethin’ worth savin’… or havin’ anythin’ at all?
But none of that mattered now. The only thing that did was the Jackson gang gettin’ out and not gettin’ caught. Instead of runnin’ across the countryside, the Jackson’s went to Fran, who always said she would help the Jackson’s if they needed it. She told them about an unused hideout she owned and the boys were welcome to it. It was about five miles out of Callan Ridge, and the boys knew exactly where it was.
The gang headed to the hideout and laid as low as they could, only comin’ out to gather supplies from town. Fran was heavily involved in keepin’ the boys off the law’s radar by makin’ regular trips back and forth when it was dark.
Fran was the only person they could trust now. And even that was risky–all it took was for some local to get wind of what Fran was doin’ and go to the law for the reward. And that reward was now $500.00 for each member of the gang caught or for the next best thing–their hideout location. That bounty was a good one and Ethan knew it would get hunters from all over interested in catching the infamous Jackson Brother’s Gang.
But Milly was his only genuine concern. She knew the gang and him like nobody else and even though she hadn’t been with the gang for a long while, it was clear the law took stock in what she was tellin’ ‘em.
But what was she tellin’ ‘em?
When he thought beyond that, everythin’ got dark and Ethan couldn’t deal with more nightmares of Milly. He was barely sleepin’ as it was.
The boys laid low for what seemed like several months or more. And it was becoming a problem. Four men couped up inside some old homestead in the hills bound to caus somethin’ to go wrong.
Lincoln weren’t doin’ all that well inside the hideout with the others. He was beginnin’ to see things, kinda like he was sufferin’ from heat stroke or somethin’. Whatever it was, it was makin’ him irritable. And he knew the only way for it to end was to get out of the hideout.
So the night when Lincoln was supposed to be on lookout and looking for any suspicious signs of someone or anyone getting’ close to the hideout, he upped and left and went into town for a drink.
And he never told nobody that he weren’t on lookout. The Jackson Brothers were smart about their hideout, but Milly and the other deputies were smart, too. Milly had tailed the gang since they left Callan Ridge. And they were waitin’ for the right time to corner the gang and finally bring them all to justice.
They weren’t counting on Ethan being equally smart, and he knew that Lincoln would do somethin’ stupid. So Ethan followed Lincoln into town with a plan to confront him about leaving the hideout.
Milly and the others were a few hundred feet away from the location of the hideout. Even though Milly weren’t in charge, the deputies with her were listenin’ to her every word on the Jackson gang.
The other bounty hunters that were claiming the Jackson brothers as their bounty did whatever they wanted. They weren’t about to let some girl tell them how to do their jobs, and that was fine with Milly. She weren’t there for any of them–she wanted the Jackson brothers dead and for everythin’ else; she didn’t give a damn. Not even for her own safety. If she had to die gettin’ the Jackson’s, she was ready for it anytime, anyhow.
When they saw Lincoln leaving, Milly said they should get ready to move on to the hideout. Milly left her position and didn’t see Ethan leaving. She figured they were all inside and sleepin’ which was gonna make this entire job the easiest thing she’d ever done.
But Milly was dead wrong about that.
-END OF PART XXXV-
You can read Part XXXVI of Ethan’s story right here.