The Railroad Authority team spent the morning in Nathan's office. They wanted an official report on Marshall Merrin, and even though they knew that Nathan wasn't a doctor, they knew the report would be accurate. They also took a statement from Vin on his findings. The only item they waited on was the paper extracted from Merrin's shoe. That was down in the newspaper office, hopefully drying. Ahern was decidedly pleased that he had taken the Judge's advice to include these western lawmen in the investigation.
Chris and Josiah had worked most the morning on the papers. They knew Mary had a big magnifying glass. The creases of the papers were useless as were most of the edges. But they were able to make out railroad securities, and a name Daniel Drew. Merrin had notes detailing a securities fraud and a witness in Colorado, but the other names we illegible, at least it was something the Judge could work on.
After thanking Mary, Josiah and Chris made their way to Nathan's office. Ahern was waiting there for any additional information they may have ascertained.
Chris shared the documents with Ahern, "Copy all you want, but these originals go to the Judge."
Ahern didn't argue, making notes of all the pertinent information. Buck walked in as Ahern was writing and Ahern was startled to see Buck make his way toward him instead of his partners. Buck handed him a folded telegram and nodded at him before he turned away. Ahern stood up after reading his telegram and spoke to the four men in the office. "I want to thank you, and the rest of your team. Your help has been invaluable. We'll be leaving for Kansas City shortly. The other half of our team has found some clues there, and we're needed." He shook each man's hand before he left.
Buck spoke as soon as the door shut behind Ahern, "Cody had sent a telegram before boarding, only the lines were down, and it just arrived today. Cody wanted me to meet him at the stop before the crash. if the lines hadn't been down, I'd have been on that train." Buck seemed a bit dazed.
Josiah put it in perspective, "It wasn't your time, Buck." Then reading a fleeting expression on Buck's face, added, "If you'd been there, it still woulda happened. Don't beat yourself on mighta beens." Josiah squeezed his shoulder.
Chris looked over at Buck as he said, "That woulda left an awful lot of ladies deprived of your company, Buck." The intensity of the stare communicated more than the light words implied.
+ + + + + + +
JD walked into the telegraph office, only to find that it so crowded that he couldn't get to the counter. He called out to Graham, "Need some help?"
Four Corners only telegraph operator looked up, "I'd be grateful JD, would you deliver these telegrams to the patients in the church. The last three days have been non-stop."
JD pushed through the throng of people and took the stack of telegrams to be delivered. He headed over to the church that was still being used as a make-shift hospital. With Josiah's help, the two of them were able to get everyone their message.
Chris and Vin joined Ezra at the saloon. Ezra had no takers for cards so he welcomed the respite from the monotony. Chris poured a drink for himself and Vin from Ezra's bottle, Chris then smiled at Ezra as he refilled his glass. Ezra held the glass up and gave Chris a silent toast before he drank it. Chris nodded before he emptied his glass. Ezra readied the cards for a game and was preparing to shuffle as Nathan entered the saloon and made straight for their table.
"Chris, I've run out of white willow bark powder, and I still have many patients that have need of it. Eagle Bend has already sent their supply, so I wired Langdon and I can get the amount I need, but they don't have anyone to send." Nathan sat, looking tired as one might after three days of little sleep.
Before Chris could comment Vin said, "Ezra and I 'll go." Ezra nearly choked, and was about to refute Vin's words, but Vin gave him a serious look along with a shake of his head.
Chris nodded his head, "Fine, leave today." His voice roughened, "Those folks should have the chance to live." Chris nodded his head as he stood and left the saloon.
Nathan looked at both men as he stood and said, "Thanks." His wide smile showed his relief in their willingness to make the journey to Langdon. He hurried back to his office.
Ezra watched Nathan leave and slowly fixed his gaze on Vin, holding it several seconds before asking, "Mr. Tanner, what reason is so compelling that I will become sufficiently motivated to vacate this fine establishment and travel in the cold air to Langdon?"
Vin leaned forward, curled his index finger, motioning Ezra forward and whispered close to his ear, "Train crash." Vin leaned back and kept his expression enigmatic.
Ezra sat back also, brow furrowed, expression puzzled, and said, "Huh?"
"Ezra, I think it's possible we can get a line on the fellas that caused it. Got a tip. Worth a try." Vin replied soberly.
"Indeed it is." Ezra replied equally sober.
They arrived in Langdon early the next morning. After breakfast in the restaurant, Vin headed out to secure the medicine for Nathan, Ezra headed for the saloon for a game of cards and information.
Vin placed the willow bark in his saddle bag, then spent the next several hours moving about the town. Blending in almost invisibly, picking up snippets of information, Vin gathered bits of useful news.
Ezra entered a poker game, winning and losing just enough to keep the big players in the game. A lively game kept people's attention focused, allowing the others customers to become complacent and talk freely.
Ezra's attention was caught by a couple of men at the counter. The short, blond man had been buying drinks all afternoon for himself and tall companion. It was the word train that had Ezra paying close attention to their conversation, but the most enlightening sentence held the phrase 'I took care of him'.
Vin entered, standing near the door, using only his eyes, he surveyed the room for his friend. After locating him, Vin kept his eyes going, in case it would be beneficial for their connection to remain unknown. He saw Ezra stand and excuse himself, Vin turned and left first. He headed for the telegraph office, once there, he stood in front causally, chewing on a piece of straw.
Ezra excused himself for nature's call and went out the back way. He continued around front and located Vin in front of the telegraph office. He proceeded down the frontage and crossed in front of the general store. He walked to the telegraph office and went inside. Vin joined him inside.
Ezra said to Vin, "Reinforcements?"
Vin almost smiled, "Yup."
Ezra did smile and sent a telegram off to Four Corners.
The two of them headed for the outdoor restaurant. The waitress brought them water and waited for their order, leaving only after giving Ezra a big smile.
Vin chuckled, "Women just seem to love those fancy clothes."
Ezra shook his head, "Probably wants a tip." Ezra took a sip of water, grimacing slightly, and shared his overheard information.
Vin contributed what he'd learned, "The men that wanted it done is different from those that did it."
"The scoundrels in the saloon would be part of the second bunch. Pride could be detected in one of the miscreants voice." Ezra was disgusted.
"With a hundred thirty dead, we need to bring them in." Vin could recall too vividly the faces of the unknown dead he hauled up from the water. "It'd be best if I kept an eyes on the fellas from the saloon. The two fancy dudes are staying at the big hotel." Smiling at Ezra added, "Your fancy clothes should fit right in."
With a resigned look, Ezra replied, "Indeed."
+ + + + + + +
In Four Corners, Chris refolded the telegram and headed for the saloon. He found Buck, JD, and Josiah sharing a meal, he joined them.
Without preamble, "Seems Vin and Ezra are needing a little assistance. Thought we might like to join 'em."
JD looked up earnestly, "About the train?"
"Reckon so," Chris answered.
Buck looked straight at Chris, recognizing the anger held in check behind the bland reply, added his own, "I would sure love to get my hands on those bastards."
"Doesn't seem right all those folks dying and their murderers running round free. Think I would sleep a whole sight better if those responsible were made to pay. Think the dead would rest easier too." Josiah said the words calmly, but his expression was anything but.
"What about Nathan?" JD asked, wolfing down his dinner, ready to leave at any second.
"I'll go over and talk with him, " Josiah volunteered. Done with his meal, put his napkin on his plate and left the table.
Chris added as he stood, "We leave early."
Josiah nodded and continued on his way to Nathan's. He climbed the stairs quietly and opened the door, catching the weary look upon Nathan's face. "Vin and Ezra need our help and we're leavin in the mornin, think you should come too."
Nathan shook his head, "Nah, all these patients....."
Josiah interrupted, "Nathan, most all they need is healing time. Mary and Inez and even Mrs. Potter will tend them. You need a break in routine. Keep ya fresh."
Nathan was set to shake his head no, but weighed Josiah's words. Leaning back and rubbing his neck, changed it to a nod. Josiah relaxed with Nathan's silent agreement.
+ + + + + + +
Vin had identified the two men Ezra was to keep tabs on. When they came in for a late dinner, Ezra sat down at the table next to them. Ezra didn't really wish to consume another meal, but he knew it would look odd if he didn't.
Ezra nursed his drink in direct contrast to his subjects. The consumed almost two bottles, and their conversation became louder as the meal wore on. Tom and Dan, they only used first names, started disagreeing, then it got a bit more heated. "I'm having a difficult time reconciling all those deaths....."
Dan answered his friend, "It was them or us, anyway, we had no prior knowledge of what was planned. Jay kept all the plans to himself. We are not responsible ."
Tom shook his head, "It's not that easy, we benefited."
"Tom, you worry too much. I'm headed back east tomorrow. Staying won't change anything." He put some money on the table, "I won't mention to Jay about this meeting, don't want to put his back up." Dan tipped his hat to the waitress as he left.
Ezra also left money on the table and tipped his hat as he left. Just managing to restrain himself from shouting in anger at the overheard conversation. He went straight to the saloon, and found Vin sitting at a table alone. He schooled his expression and emotions into a complacent mask and entered the establishment.
Vin's hat was pushed slightly back, drink on the table in front of him. To those looking at him, they would figure he was drunk, but only a chosen few would recognize the hawk like ability, that didn't miss a thing. He saw Ezra, but nothing in his expression changed.
Ezra nodded slightly as he passed by and sat at the poker table. He played several rounds, actually paying more attention to Vin and the objects of his observation. After about an hour, Vin recognized the state of complete inebriation in the ruffians he watched and stood to depart. Ezra finished his hand and left to meet with Vin in his room.
Vin had left his door ajar and waited to the side. Ezra rapped on the door as he entered and closed it behind him. He noticed the Vin's hand was at the ready, in case it hadn't been him. Vin relaxed, Ezra did not.
"Those bastards, they're part of the group that arranged it." Ezra was still trying to restrain his anger. He paced the room, nearly squishing his hat that was still in his hands.
"You're gonna have ta shoot the hat to put it out of it's misery. Sit down, now what'd ya hear?" Vin stood at the window, checking the streets.
"The two men's partner, Jay, arranged the crash. The actual perpetrators are still here and they who they are. One feels somewhat guilty, the one that doesn't is leaving in the morning."
Vin didn't let on at his surprise on finding that Ezra's fancy speech all but disappeared when he was rattled. He was also surprised to see Ezra rattled. Instead, all he said was, "We should have a serious talk with the one staying."
Ezra stopped his pacing, that he had resumed when he realized that he just couldn't sit still. He looked at Vin, diminishing were the feelings of helplessness, replacing them with a solid purpose. "Yes, Mr. Tanner, that is an excellent idea." The look in Ezra's eye did not bode well for the eventual condition of that man.
In the morning, Daniel Drew left for Kansas City on the earliest stage. Tom Scott had not come to say goodbye, but after last evening, Drew hadn't really expected him to. Actually, Tom had planned to see his partner off, but was waylaid in the hallway by the gun muzzle held firmly at his side.
Ezra motioned him to the back stairs, keeping close to him as they stepped out into the morning sun. Vin waited with horses and his rifle drawn. He covered Scott as Ezra put him on a horse and mounted his own horse. Ezra resumed his close watch as Vin took the lead of Scott's horse and led the group out of town. They traveled several miles out of town and off the main road. They tied Scott up as the two of them set up camp. Never saying a word aloud. Scott asked, then screamed many times at them, wanting to know what they wanted. Silence was all he received.
When camp was completed, both men turned to Scott. Scott's fear was tangible, hanging in the air. This only enraged Ezra further. Vin took out his long knife and stepped toward Scott. The fear easy to read in his eyes. Vin stood over him and squatted in front of him and very slowly brought the knife down to Scott's throat and pressed it ever so gently against the skin. "Well, pard," the tone said anything but, "I do believe that I am yer only friend here. If I was to leave, that one," pointing to Ezra, who had his gun pointed at Scott, "Would finish you off in a second. So, if you have any plans that include living, best you tell us what we want to know."
Scott trembled, words coming out faster than he could speak them, "Anything, anything, I' tell you anything you want to know. The fraud, the stocks, the money......"
Ezra said with great menace in his voice as he cocked his gun, "The crash."
Scott's eyes flew to Ezra's face, recognizing the deadly intent, swallowed with great difficulty, then nodded. He hung his head down and sobbed.
Ezra was disappointed at how easy Scott capitulated, surprising himself at how much he wanted to inflict bodily harm on this man.
Vin looked over at Ezra, possibly sensing some of this and said, "Ez, best you write everything down for Travis." Not giving away who they were working for.
Ezra took down the information about the securities fraud, the swindles, his partners, but paused as he spoke of the crash. The visions of the dead faces in the freezing water still haunting him.
Scott spoke, "A US Marshall, Cody Merrin was hot on our tail. He had engaged the Pinkerton Agency to assist him. I was scared. I shared this information with Jay. He said not to worry. He had a plan. The situation would be resolved within two days time. Dan and I didn't know what was planned......I 'm not a murderer, greedy, maybe, but I couldn't kill anyone. So I never thought that was the plan. I swear...." Scott was answering the look from Ezra. "When we heard about the train crash, I got ill. Jay,...Jay said our hands were clean, it couldn't be traced to us. He'd hired some thugs he'd worked with before....it was their fault if they got too carried away. We only wanted Merrin off our backs." Scott stopped talking, but continued to sob quietly.
Ezra paraphrased that and stuffed the jottings into his jacket pocket.
Vin spoke restrained anger himself, "We'll need you to identify the men Jay hired." Scott just nodded his hanging head. Vin knew he was less likely to kill this piece of trash and suggested to Ezra, "Why don't you go back to town and wait for the others to arrive, bring 'em back here."
Ezra nodded, not trusting himself to speak, turned and mounted his horse and road back to town.
+ + + + + + +
Five men rode into Langdon in the early afternoon, they headed straight for the saloon. Though there were two saloons in town, it was easy to recognize Ezra's horse and figure which saloon their partner was in.
Ezra was in the middle of a game when he saw Chris Larabee enter. Chris went to the counter and ordered a shot, never looking at Ezra. Chris threw back the shot and slapped the glass onto the bar and turned and left. Ezra finished the hand and made his excuses and he too, left the saloon.
Outside Ezra nodded to the whole group, mounted his horse and the others followed him out of town. Vin had coffee going as they entered the campsite.
Tom Scott's trepidation only increased as he saw who rode into camp. Chris Larabee, a noted gunslinger and all round scary man.
Vin and Ezra shared the information they had gained. Chris stared long and hard at Scott till tied up. Ezra was not alone in wishing bodily harm to that man. They made plans for this evening and tomorrow. Even thought they were close to town, they all agreed to keep their camp. Josiah and Nathan went into town with Vin, to keep tabs on the two they knew of. Scott had confirmed what Ezra had originally suspected. Scott gave clear descriptions of the others he knew.
+ + + + + + +
Josiah waited all evening for the short, blond man to finally depart. Nathan had left earlier, following the tall man, who had taken a room at the hotel, they were hoping to find the rest of their gang. According to Scott's description, neither of these two were the leader.
Josiah kept his eye on the ruffian, following closer than he would a sober man. The man barely managed to get up on his horse, but lucky for him, the horse obviously knew the way home. They headed directly north, using the moonlight , and finally arrived at a shack. Josiah watched as the man stumbled inside. He stayed a short while, making sure he stayed put. Josiah then retraced his steps for the return trip in the morning.
Josiah returned in the morning, along with Buck and JD. They tethered their horses and walked silently the rest of the way. They saw several horses at the trough, and Josiah motioned for JD to swing left and make his way down to the back of the cabin.
JD was almost to the rear of the shack, when he heard the shot. He changed directions immediately and ran back to where he'd left Buck. He didn't make it as he was grabbed from behind.
Buck whipped around as he felt the shot pass by him. He fell to the ground as he yelled to Josiah, "get down." He looked about, trying to gauge where the shot came from. What he did see what some goon nabbing JD. He stood up and yelled, "Hey,....." Another shot rang out and this one hit Buck in the side. He yelped as he hit the ground, knocking himself out.
Josiah was crawling along the ground. After Buck's yell, he tried to get a fix on his exact position, and then he too, saw JD captured. He crawled up to the shrub line and stood up carefully to get his bearings. He had just moved to the side, to get a better view, when he heard the sound of a gun cocking. Before he could react, he felt a searing pain in his back and pitched forward into blackness.
Buck came to as the pain in his head grew in its severity. He knew it was much later in the day as the sun was on its downward path. He forced himself into a sitting position, and held it there as he became quite dizzy. As the dizziness subsided, Buck tried to stand, he leaned heavily against the tree. Once again, he had to wait for the light-headed feeling to pass. As soon as it did, he advanced to Josiah's last position.
He looked about, and saw Josiah's horse off to the left. He slowly made his way there, having to stop periodically to quiet the throbbing in his head. Once he cleared the shrubs, Josiah wasn't hard to spot, he was lying at his horse's feet. The back of his shirt was all red, stained from the dried blood.
Buck forgot his own pain as he rushed forward to check he Josiah was still alive. He felt his neck by the chin bone for his heartbeat, and was rewarded with a faint but steady beat. The rush of adrenaline didn't help his head, but Buck pushed it aside as he picked up Josiah and laid him over his horse. Buck then mounted his, and after letting another wave of nausea pass he slowly walked the horses back to camp.
Back at the shack, JD found himself bound to a chair and gagged. He saw four men inside with him. They were peering out the window. JD heard another shot and twisted his head to try and see out the window himself. JD heard a 'got'em' from one of his abductors. His heart fell, thinking one of his friends were dead. But it also firmed his resolve to tell these men nothing.
A fifth man entered the shack and approached JD directly. The first thing he did was to reach out and slap JD across the face. The man stuck his ugly face inches away from JD's and said, "Whatca doin here, boy?"
JD let his eyes get big, hoping the man would back up , his breath made a skunk smell good. The man smacked JD again, then roughly pulled his gag off. He smacked him again, increased the volume of his voice and yelled, "Tell me!"
JD worked his jaw a bit before answering. "We was jus lookin for a spot to bring girls."
The man smacked him again, "Yer not from around here, try again, boy."
JD shook his head, "Honest, me and my friends jus wanted a place to bring some girls where no one could hear em yell."
The man looked outraged and hit JD with his fist closed and the blow knocked JD unconscious.
+ + + + + + +
Chris and Nathan returned from town as Vin was lighting the campfire. He was surprised to see Vin and Ezra, he thought that they were trading watch with JD and Josiah.
Vin and Ezra both, had their guns drawn as they heard the brush stir. Vin said aloud as he put his weapon away, "Thought you might be the others."
"You haven't heard from them?" Chris' worry increased with this information.
"Nary a word," Ezra said as he too, put his gun away.
Chris sighed, then quickly pondered, when had he got to understand Ezra so well he didn't need to translate his wording? Chris shook his head.
The harsh rustling of the bushes had all four men squat with guns drawn in the direction of the sound. They waited, then into a clearing a rider slumped over appeared. The rider lifted his head, "Nathan......Josiah's been shot," then he fell off his horse.
Chris yelled for Nathan, but Nathan was already running for the two men. Vin and Ezra were just a step behind Chris as they arrived at the two horses.
Nathan looked up from assessing Buck, "Buck's been shot."
Ezra looked at Nathan, "Josiah's been shot also.......in the back." Disgust apparent in his voice.
Chris' head shot up on those words, "In The Back?" Ezra almost smiled, thinking to the perpetrators eventual fate at the hands of this ethically ruled gunslinger.
"We need to get them near the fire," Nathan commanded. He took Buck's arms and Chris took his legs and they carried him over.
As Josiah was still on his horse, Vin just walked the horse over, then he and Ezra gently removed Josiah and laid him down on his front so Nathan could work on the bullet wound.
Nathan had Buck's shirt torn away and was cleaning the bullet wound. "Bullet went clean through. All we need to do is keep it clean. The bump on his head is worse. Looks like its been bleedin on and off all day. Could have a concussion ....... we need to wake him."
Chris leaned down and nodded, he had an idea. He gently shook Buck's shoulder, "Buck, where's JD?" With no response, he said a great deal louder, "Buck! Where's JD? Is he dead......Buck!"
Buck knew something important was being asked of him, he fought himself to open his eyes. He heard again, "Where's JD?" Buck's eyes flew open and he struggled to sit, but was restrained.
"Easy, Buck, you're safe, what happened to JD?" Chris's voice gentled with the question this time.
The anguish in Buck's eyes conveyed the answer before the words, "Not sure, he was captured. Then I heard shots, think one of those got Josiah, not sure of much after that." Buck's voice trailed away. "I didn't even check before I left."
Buck started to beat up on himself for this, but Nathan broke in, "Hey, Buck, in your condition, it's a miracle that you got Josiah back here. Or for sure he woulda died." Nathan was examining Josiah as he spoke. "The bullet is still in there. Must git it out."
Ezra already had the water over the fire for the instruments. Nathan cleaned his hands and his instruments and set to work on Josiah. After much digging he was able to retrieve the bullet. The clunk it made in the tin plate brought a sigh of relief from them all.
"I need to stitch it closed.......," then almost to himself, "No thread....." Nathan thought of possible alternatives, all back at his place. Then he thought about the war, what the medical corp did in emergencies, "Vin, get me a long piece of horse hair.......boil it to make it soft, works better than thread." Vin nodded and did as he was asked.
Nathan got Josiah all stitched up and clean. They place a blanket under his head and were rewarded with several groans emanating from his person.
Ezra brought a mug of coffee for Buck and Chris, then seated himself with his own. Chris nodded his thanks, turned to Buck and asked gently of his old friend, "Buck, can you tell us what happened?"
"Not much more than I've said. We arrived, saw three horses out front. JD, Josiah and I were taking a different way down to check out the occupants of the shack. Then a shot whizzed by me, I shouted to Josiah and saw some goons grab JD then I got hit and went down. When I came to, the it was afternoon, Josiah was down and no sign of JD or the other men. Or there could have been and I was too out of it to notice." Buck took a sip of his coffee, his eyes full of torment.
Chris looked over to Vin sitting next to Josiah's prone form. "Can you track Buck's horse back to that shack?" Vin nodded. Chris answered the nod with one of his own, "We go in the morning."
Buck looked around, "What happened to that fool Scott?"
Chris looked disgusted, "Took him into jail this morning. Wired the Judge. Fool wired his lawyer and he posted the bail and he took the afternoon stage to Kansas City. Wired the Judge again.....he answered that he has enough that he can pursue this with the Marshall's office. That'll have to do for now." Chris' lips pursed with resoluteness, he wanted the actual 'triggermen' to pay.
Morning saw Josiah awake and five men ready to set off and rescue JD. Buck was fighting with Nathan, he wanted to come along too. Chris had one of those inflexible looks that told Buck he was going nowhere. Four determined men set off, Vin tracking Buck's horse backward to their goal.
They had been gone no more than fifteen minutes when Josiah noticed Buck saddling his horse. "Buck?" Josiah's voice rang out.
Buck turned reluctantly, expecting a fight from Josiah also.
"Saddle mine, too?" Josiah asked as he stood wobbly. Buck almost made a comment on his condition, when he caught Josiah's eye as he said, "I can shoot." Buck nodded and saddled Josiah's horse too. They didn't need to follow tracks, they knew just where they were going.
Vin got them to the place that Josiah had been shot. Then they carefully searched the area for any guards posted about. They counted five horses tethered in front and none elsewhere. Vin was holding point with his carbine, while the other three silently crept toward the shack.
Ezra was at the door when shots rang out from behind, he used the diversion to kick in the door. Both guns at the ready, he shot two men as they rushed him. He ducked outside the door as the two others were rushing out, responding to the shots fired. One man stayed inside, gun at JD's head.
Ezra froze at the sight and the rough man said, "One more step and I blow his head off."
Ezra countered with, "Your head will follow his." Never lowering his gun. Not looking at JD either.
The man was surprised, he had expected to intimidate, so he said nothing, just stared.
Ezra was contemplating his next more when a shot hit the window, shattering it. The man over JD looked over at the window, giving Ezra just the second he needed to shoot the man in the neck. Knowing this would make him raise his arm, thus even if he did squeeze the trigger, it wouldn't hit JD.
The man thudded to the floor, the bullet from his gun hitting the roof. Ezra took his knife from his boot and cut the ropes holding JD. He handed the gun from the floor to JD as they both went to the door to get a bead on what was happening.
Outside, just as Ezra was at the door, Chris heard a crack of a broken twig, before he could react, a shot rang out and a man on horseback fell over and off, hitting the ground. Another shot followed before his next breath, and a second man fell off his horse.
Vin had whipped his rifle round and saw at the same time as Chris, Buck and Josiah step into view with Buck just tipping his hat to his friends. At that moment, two men rushed out the door firing their weapons, Nathan hit the first and Vin turned and shot the second with a minimal amount of movement. Nathan and Vin rushed down the hill, guns drawn, only to stop as Ezra and JD stepped out the door with their guns out. Vin smiled as he lowered his gun. Buck let a loud whoop from above as he saw his young friend alive.
Nathan checked the condition of the two scoundrels, they were both alive. Chris calmly walked up to one and stepped on the bullet wound in his side. The man yelled in pain, Chris looked down at him with deadly eyes, "Tell me who blew up the train?" The man grunted in more pain, but said nothing, thinking Chris was bluffing. Chris slowly withdrew his gun from his holster, checked the chamber for ammo, then even more slowly placed the gun between the man's eyes. His expression more deadly than before, "Tell me now and I won't blow your brains all over the ground here."
The man studied Chris's face and believed that Chris would indeed do as he said, "We were paid to do it. Elmo, inside the shack, he was the boss. We jus did as we were told." Sweat was falling off his face as the expression in Chris' eyes didn't lessen none, and he was afraid.
Chris asked with a low deadly voice, "Who shot my man in the back?"
The fear was almost palatable as the man pointed to the other man laying near. "He was behind me, so it musta been him."
Chris walked over to the other man and ground his boot into his wound at the shoulder. The yelling did nothing to deter Chris from his mission. Just before the man reached the stage of unconsciousness, Chris said in a voice that made the man wish he were already dead, "You don't shoot nobody in the back." He ground his foot once more before going to join JD and Ezra below.
JD went back inside to retrieve his own guns, as he stepped outside Buck and Josiah joined them looking worse than he did. His bloody lip was nothing compared to the ashen faces of his two friends. JD realized that the shots yesterday had hit his two friends. He turned worried eyes up to them.
Chris said gruffly to Buck, "You don't listen to well."
Buck answered cockily, "Good thing for you I don't."
Chris shook his head ruefully and then smiled at Buck, "Good thing you don't."
They gathered the dead and the living and took them into Langdon. After wiring the Judge and his return message that no bail was set, no matter what. The seven men were ready to leave.
Chris looked at his six companions smiling, "Ready, boys?"
Six heads nodded in return and they signaled their horses and rode together toward home.
Comments to: BatsRGr8@aol.com
Even though this crash never actually happened, many like it did. For even though, by 1870 air brakes were invented, most rail companies did not incorporate them as they would put people out of work and it was costly to change over. By the year 1875, 8,216 national train wrecks had happened, all but twelve could have been prevented if the train had had air brakes. Standard time zones were not adopted until 1883, this added to the death toll, as no one expected trains to arrive on time, it was sometimes days before rail stops reported the missing trains.
Jay Gould, Tom Scott, Daniel Drew and Jim Fisk were actual people from that time period. They were involved in the rail stock frauds of the late 1860's through the late 1870's. This story line was just an invention of my mind after watching too much History Channel. To the best of my knowledge these men never arranged or attempted a train crash.