|The Million Dollar Bounty
Author: homel001 PM
When an old Outlaw suddenly becomes wanted, Law man Lewis MacGregor sets out to bring him in after the death of a family at a local ranch many years ago. However it wont be easy as it seems. My homage to the Spaghetti Western pictures. Also my first piece of Western fiction. Please read and review.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Western - Chapters: 3 - Words: 6,759 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 10-03-12 - Published: 08-06-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3048205
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The Million Dollar Bounty
My ride across the desert had been a smooth one or so I thought. I was no more than five miles away from Coyote when a deadly sandstorm rolled in from the south. When you're out in a storm, you have to be prepared to put up with a battle. Your horse freaks out and before you know it, you're in the dust, struggling to survive. All I had to protect my face was a thin, cotton bandanna. It was hardly useful but it was all I could use. Visibility was poor as the sand flurries hurt my eyes bad and believe me, the pain was excruciating. I had been out in sandstorms before but this one took the piss. I gripped the reigns the best I could as I headed along the trail. It must've been at least another mile when I saw a faint light in the distance. Coyote was dead ahead and I knew I could make it.
The storm began to ease when I passed the town sign. Those last few miles were treacherous so I was relieved when I arrived at the main street. The first place I headed to was the saloon where I knew I could get a decently earned glass of whiskey. I spat sand out of my mouth as I dismounted my horse and blanked the many stares that the people were giving me. They were obviously not use to strangers, not that I cared anyway.
The saloon was pretty busy with locals and hookers as you would usually expect. Tables were full, music was playing, cigar smoke lingered in the air and blood stained the wooden floor. It was like the cloakroom to hell. Just one blink could cause a one way ticket in a cardboard box. I sat up at the bar and called over the shady looking bartender. He wasn't the welcoming sort as he glared at me with his tired eyes. I sat there sipping my whiskey, sensing that someone was inspecting me from across the room. As I slowly look behind me, I saw him sitting there at the corner table.
He wore a fancy black shirt with a grey bandanna around his neck with brown pants and boots. He wore a scarlet leather waistcoat that draped over his polished brown gun belt. His hat was a thick, black Sedona hat casted a shadow over his eyes, obscuring the top half of his face. A thin grey bristly beard covered the lower half of his face and a long cob pipe protruded from his thin and pale mouth. He had his feet up on the table showing a non-threatening relaxed demine. He was no threat to me.
I returned to my drink and though nothing more of it. I could hear the sound of spurs hit the wood that suggested footsteps but it still didn't concern me that was until I could a warm breath hit the back of my next accompanied by the strong smell of tobacco. He was standing right behind me.
"You're Lewis Macgregor aren't you?" he asked me, his gruff voice piercing my ears. "That smooth Marshal from Ironclad?"
"Who wants to know friend?" I replied as I turned round and met him straight in the eyes. "I'm just here to have a drink."
"Oh I'm not here to cause any trouble, friend." The man replied as he sat down next to me. "Word gets around that's all. Everybody here has heard of the famous marshal turned bounty hunter."
"Yeah well I'm not here to meet the fans." I said as I knew the man was going to joke with me. "I'm just passing through for a drink."
"Sandstorm got you huh?" the man replied as he called for a drink. "Are you sure you're not here for other business?"
"Oh, like what?" I replied, suspiciously.
"Like this." The man replied as he showed me the towns wanted poster. "I know you're looking for him."
I couldn't understand how this drifter knew me but he was hot on my case. As I sat there, eyeing my target on the tatty sheet of paper, I thought of a way to throw the man off the sense. The first explanation that came to mind was that he had been following me all the way from Ironclad. For now, I just played along. Maybe he could help me.
"Suppose your right, friend." I continued. "Suppose I am looking for this vicious son of a bitch. Perhaps you can help me."
"It would be worth something, say fifty dollars for the information." The man smiled.
"I'll make it a hundred if you can tell me where I can find a hooker by the name of Beth Stevens?" I said as I made the offer easier. "You see, I want to speak with her."
"I'd imagine you would." The man replied as he opened his hand and gestured me to pay him. "She's over at the Hotel Rio just across the way. She'll be working in the main lounge right about now. I should watch her though, she is a crafty one."
"Thanks." I replied as I paid the man his money and headed out of the saloon. The Hotel Rio was the largest hotel in town and you couldn't miss it. The drifter was right though; this hooker was working her shift as the lounge lights were on, casting a glow into the street. I was adamant that I was going to get the answers I was looking for.
Once I stepped inside, I was surprised to see how quiet the place was. It was well decorated which meant that the place had a wealthy owner. I peered into the lounge area so see her there, polishing the hotel's fine china. She was a slim beautiful, brown eyed, black haired girl who appeared to be only in her late twenty's. She was dressed in the finest laced dress ever and she her appearance warmed my heart up. However, I knew that looks could kill so I tried to remain cool as possible.
"Are you Beth Stevens?" I asked as the lady stopped her work and looked at me.
"I am and if you want me to pleasure you tonight, please sign and wait for me over there." she replied. "I'll be done in five minutes."
"I'm here to ask you a few questions." I went on as she continued with her chores. "I'm looking for a man that you apparently use to work for."
"You'll have to give me a name." Beth replied clueless as to who I was on about. "I've worked for a lot of desperate wealthy men in the years I have lived here. Perhaps I…"
"Bill Diego." I said, stopping her words, coldly. "I know you use to knock boots with him. He's a wanted man right about now and I want him."
"I haven't heard of that name before." Beth denied as the tone in her voice began to change. "You must be mistaken?"
"I don't think I'm mistaken at all." I replied as pulled out a slip of paper that the Sheriff gave me earlier. "I'm a federal paid bounty hunter from Ironclad and I have the proof right here that you worked for him. So let's not beat around the bush here and tell me what I need to know."
"Now look!" she snapped as she threw her stuff on the floor. "If I tell you where he is, he'll find me and kill me! I worked for Bill for only a year and then he dumped me like a piece of crap! Thing is I'm still wrapped around his finger so he'll come looking for me when he wants some fun! I just want to live my life and settle down and I don't need some two bit bounty hunter telling me where to find him!"
"Don't you get it?" I replied as I raised my voice slightly. "If I bring him in alive or dead he won't be around to even look at you! Besides, he's worth a million dollars for a crime he committed years ago, a crime that I was involved in. Just tell me where he is. Please? I'll be on my way afterwards and you can live happily ever after and all that shit."
I watched on as Beth turned away for the moment and sighed. She was thinking it through and I couldn't help but realise that she was telling the truth. She was afraid of this monster and I wanted to help her.
"Alright I'll tell you, but you got to promise to keep me out of it?" She said as she turned to look at me. "Bill left here a month ago and headed towards the old town of Dellugo. It's an old town that the Confederates used to defend a fort that they had built on the hill above. He hides out at the fort with his men. So far, no one can get to him."
"We'll soon see about that." I said as I tilted the brim of my hat in appreciation. "Thank you for your time and I promise you. He won't hurt you again."
Beth smiled as he headed out of the hotel and headed down the street. I wanted to go to the railroad station where I wanted to buy a copy of the local paper. The sky had cleared by now as the stars twinkled and the dust began to set. I wanted to find out as much information as I could before I could plan the next length of my journey. Unfortunately, my plans were going to change. As I approached the closed post office stand, my sharp sight quickly spotted the drifter that I had met earlier on in the saloon. He was standing there waiting for me as he leant up against the brick wall, filling his pipe with tobacco leaves.
"Well did you get the information you were looking for?" he asked me as I approached him with even more suspicion. "She's a decent girl, that Beth."
"Look just who the hell are you?" I asked I stepped up towards him. "Why are you on my case?"
"Because I'm looking for the same person." He replied as he lit his pipe and exhaled a plume of smoke in my face. "You see. I was there too that night when the Kinney family were slaughtered. I was one of the rangers who came in to assist your posse."
"What's your name?" I asked bluntly.
"My name is Ryan Garrison." The drifter replied. "Does the name ring a bell to you?"
"Garrison?" I replied as the name quickly stuck in my mind. "I remember you. I thought you died in the fire when you tried to rescue the family."
"I couldn't get in." Ryan explained as he told me his story. "The bandits had destroyed the door, blocking the entrance way. By the time I could've got in, it would've been too late. So I spent the next few months searching for him throughout the desert. I had been close a few times but he would always find a way to slip through my fingers. Now my search has led me here."
"Why are you after him?" I continued to ask.
"The same reason why you are." Ryan answered almost within an instant. "He took a family's life and he took some money to show for it. He robbed a gold depository on his way back into to town. He took fifty thousand dollars worth of gold that is currently being kept up at that fort in Dellugo. My goal is to retrieve the gold for an additional reward of thirty thousand. I was hoping that you could help me. If we're successful, we could split the rewards?"
"I'm sorry but I'm not interested in the money." I replied, refusing the offer. "I just want to bring the man in for justice that's all. I want to bring closure to that family."
"Alright then, if you don't want the money for yourself then how about Ironclad?" Ryan went on, this time attracting my attention. "That little town could use with a whole re-supply of food and other things not to mention a huge repair after the soldiers destroyed it."
"You know, you make an interesting point there." I replied as I mulled the thought over in my mind. "Ok friend, you've got yourself a deal. Thing is what do we do first?"
"I got to do a little job first." Ryan smiled as he stepped away and headed towards the saloon. "There's a yellow bastard in there who owes me a hundred and fifty dollars."
"Really? What for?"
"For borrowing my horse and returning without it. That punk wanted to use it to go to his ranch and returned without it. He's either going to pay up or eat lead."
"Why do I get the idea that you're going to shoot him?"
"Because it always happens, kid."
I followed Ryan towards the saloon and stood in the doorway. I watched on in amusement and smoked one of my cigars as the drifter slowly made his way towards a small poker table at the back of the room. There was a small rancher sitting there, wearing a dirty set of rancher clothes. He was oblivious to Ryan's appearance and jumped as the drifter patted him on the shoulder.
"Hey Gringo. Remember me?" he said as the man stood up to back away from him. "I'm the guy who never got his trusty horse back."
"I-I didn't think you needed that horse amigo?" the rancher replied as he dropped his words.
"Now why the hell would you think a thing like that?" Ryan smiled as he slowly walked towards the man in an intimidating manner. "A man like me needs a horse to get around. He was my pride and joy. My only means of getting a job done. How could you get rid of that horse?"
"Look I'm sorry but I can't get it back." the rancher replied as he backed into the stair case. "W-what can I do to make things right?"
"Well let's see." Ryan grinned as he bared his teeth. "You can either pay me a hundred and fifty dollars or buy me new one. What's it going to be, amigo?"
"I can't pay you that much?" the man replied with a nervous laugh. "I don't have that kind of money."
"Pity." Ryan said as he stepped back a few paces.
I watched on as everyone moved aside. A duel was going to happen and I didn't want to miss this for the world. Everyone watched in awe as Ryan hovered his hand over his revolver pistol which gleamed in the lamp light. His eyes narrowed in on his target and he licked the salt from his dry lips. The rancher on the other hand, had begun to break out in a cold sweat. His limbs were shaking, his gun belt rattled and his breath echoed. He reached for his revolver in a panicked state as Ryan went for his gun and fired three shots, knocking down his opponent.
An eerie silence descended over the room. Ryan stood there over the blood stained rancher and laughed. He searched the dead body for anything he could find until he came across a small wad of cash. The rancher had lied and I realised that I was going to be working with a stone cold killer. The smell of his blood engulfed the place out as it mixed in with the humidity of the room. I needed to get out of there.
I returned to my horse and saddled up as Ryan approached me down the street. I didn't have a clue what to say to him. How could a marshal work with a criminal? If I was the lawman in town, I would be arresting no joining him and all over a horse?
"I bet you feel mighty proud of yourself right about now?" I said as Ryan walked into a barn and quickly emerged with a horse. "All that over a horse. You need a lot to learn?"
"Oh like what?" Ryan replied as he saddled his horse and rode over to me.
"Like for starters. You never waste three bullets on one man." I replied. "When you're out here, you need to save as much ammunition as you can carry."
"Well said." He chuckled as he trotted on out of town. "Follow me. I know where to go."
I agreed to follow him as we headed west of the town. The trail took is into a shrubbier area of land which was covered in thorn bushes and cactus plants. We were heading thirty miles and that was all I knew. The question that I tried to answer still remained in my head. Could I trust him?