Chapter Eighteen – Come to Jesus Meeting/Cat Hangin'
Hell Bent for Leather
Well, a lot has happened since the last chapter. Let's see…Jessie and Garrett are now married, Jessie has a full pardon per the Governor, and the newly wedded couple is on their way to Fort Sumner to hire Ash Upson to write the story of the hunt for Billy the Kid.
Billy unexpectedly showed up in Santa Fe, surprising Jessie…
1880 - Las Vegas, New Mexico
The pain in my head was reminiscent of the tide; I remembered sitting at the wharf as a young girl, I would concentrate on a large stone in the bay, and watch the waves come in and cover it entirely, then roll back out, leaving the stone visible and exposed.
I slowly opened my eyes, to find myself lying on an unfamiliar bed. My only friend at this point was the darkness.
I tried to recall the events that brought me to this place, as another wave of pain extinguished any rational thoughts. I struggled to place pieces of my jigsaw puzzle memory, but could only remember-
"BILLY! You sonofabitch!" I shouted with frustration.
I sat straight up, and my head spun. I could feel the contents in my stomach rising.
I heard a chuckle. Oh, I know that laugh…I know it only too well…
I then remembered…remembered that Garrett and I were supposed to be leaving Santa Fe, and then Billy showed up. Billy the bloody kid!
Billy slowly walked over to me, Arkansas Dave by his side. Both were smiling down at me. "YooHoo, Jess!" Billy sang to me with a smile. "Have you missed me?"
I narrowed my eyes at Billy, as I slowly stood up. "You bloody bastard!" I shouted. "Why in the hell did you take me? Why-"
"You know damn well why, Jessie. Or should I call you Mrs. Garrett now?" Billy sneered, throwing the New Mexico Independent newspaper at me. "How soon we quickly forget the ones we love."
My fists balled up with anger, I so wanted to punch Billy in the face.
I stood up, doing my best to mask the dizzy spell that overtook me. "You selfish, childlike, philandering…walking bag of manure! I left you because I caught you with Paulita…in bed...together!" I spat out a curse and continued my rant. "Love, hah! You don't know the first thing about love. Oh, wait, you do…you only love yourself!" I grabbed the newspaper he tossed at me, and threw it in his face.
"You think Pat loves you, Jessie?" Billy asked; grabbing the newspaper I threw at him, tossing it to the ground. "He is using you! He needs you for his grand plan, and you fell for it, like a love sick little girl needing to be saved!"
I could feel my face getting hot, my ears were on fire. What in the bloody hell is Billy talking about?
"He's just playing you, Jess...all of us." Billy's voice started to crack. "He is capitalizing on your suffering, and your Father's death to make himself a known man."
"You are crazy…" I whispered as I stared at Billy with disbelief.
"Crazy am I?"… Billy took two steps towards me. I thought for a moment that he might hit me, and then he spoke softly into my ear. "Think about it Jess…now that you're pardoned, your Father's estate and holdings are now yours…or should I say…your husbands."
My Father's estate never crossed my mind. Was it still intact?
"So, Now that Garrett has the capital to achieve his goal, what does he need with you?" Billy looked at me and smiled, the anger now leaving his face. Billy looked unexpectedly calm.
"The way I see it Jess…" Billy said, as he twirled some of my hair with his fingers, "I just saved your life...again."
My first reaction was to knock his head from his shoulders. But then I thought I would not let this man make me lose my composure ever again, because that would prove to him that I still had feelings for him.
I took a deep breath and jerked my head back, freeing my hair from his fingers; I looked Billy directly in the eye. "Know this, Mr. Bonney…if I had a weapon on me right now, you'd be dead on the floor."
Billy only smirked at my statement. "We are going to spend some time together…more than ever before, isn't that grand?" He started to laugh.
"Garrett will come for me." I boldly stated.
"You think Pat Garrett has time to come looking for his 'lil sweetheart shooter?" Billy questioned.
"I bet he made time to consummate your marriage!" Dave said with a lewd laugh.
Billy's expression suddenly turned solemn.
I ignored Dave and glared at Billy. Oh, if looks could kill! My stomach still felt nauseous, and I wanted to throw up. I felt dizzy as well.
Dave approached me from the side. "I'm glad I was the one to knock you out, Jessie. I told Billy here to just let Patsy do you in…you deserve it. You are a total pain in the ass!"
I turned to give Dave a piece of my mind. Instead, I emptied my stomach on his person.
My knees went weak, and I sat heavily on the bed.
Dave stood there, his palms out and his hands to the side. His mouth was open with shock, his torso dripping with my vomit. "Jesus Christ, Jessie, you are disgusting!"
I could hardly hear him complain over Billy's laughter.
"Go get yourself cleaned up, Dave," Billy told him, as I slowly lay back down on the bed. I could feel myself slowly slipping into darkness.
I felt the weight of Billy sitting on the bed beside me. His hand brushed back the hair that was on my face. "It's gonna be like old times, Jessie. Pals, remember?"
I felt his lips on my forehead. "I know you still love me." He whispered.
I felt woozy again. I just let go of my senses and let the wave cover the stone.
"That bastard could have killed her!" I heard Doc mutter.
"She's fine now, Doc, don't worry. Jessie is tough." Charlie chuckled softly. "She got Dave good, huh?"
As I slowly awoke, I felt my hand in some else's, and a cool compress on my forehead. I wiggled my toes to find my boots were now off my feet.
"Damn it!" Doc swore. "I knew I should have taken her to New York or old Mexico with me." I could hear him heavily sigh with guilt. "But she had to stay with that bastard."
"It ain't your fault, Doc." Charlie told him. "She's married to Pat Garrett now."
"And what good did that do? Billy kidnapped Jessica…right under Pat's nose! We all swore an oath to John…to protect Jessica no matter what."
"Yeah… but Pat didn't." Charlie exclaimed. "What if it's true what Billy says about Pat, just wanting Jessie here for John's lands and money?"
What were they talking about? This cannot be true, what Billy said about Garrett. He said he loved me. I gave myself to him…mind, body and soul.
I slowly stirred, glad that I didn't feel nauseous any longer.
"Bonita." Chavez whispered, as I felt his hand squeeze mine.
"Regulators…" I mumbled as I opened my eyes. I slowly smiled at my three dear friends.
"Jesus, Jessie…" Doc started to smile as he rushed over to hug me. "You had us so worried!"
I blinked back my tears. I was so happy to see them. "Doc…" My voice cracked as I fought to keep the tears down.
I surveyed my surroundings. "Hey, where are we, anyway?" I asked.
"White Oaks…Jane Greathouse's new place." Charlie replied.
"Oh, bloody hell! Are you serious?" I almost laughed. Jane Greathouse is a good friend of Billy and I and the other Regulators. She is also a well known Madam with a successful brothel.
Doc sighed. "We need Billy with us. He has the support of the people. That is the only thing saving our necks right now." Doc reached for my free hand. "I'm so sorry all this happened to you, Jessica." He looked down at the ring my father gave me on my 16th birthday, and then my wedding ring. "I understood why you married Patsy. It was the only thing you could have done to clear your name, Jessica. But…" Doc paused; his blue eyes looked troubled. "Pat Garrett is a desperate man."
"Yeah!" Charlie agreed. "The Governor was ridin' hard for Pat as well."
I looked at my closest friends. To believe that Garrett…my husband…could do such a thing would devastate my fragile existence.
Was Billy just trying to plant seeds of doubt? I wouldn't put it past that son of a bitch.
I took a deep breath, and gained my resolve. Garrett loves me and I love him…don't I?
"I didn't think Billy would go to these extremes." I said.
"We had no idea what he and Dave planned." Doc told me. "But Billy was sure that Pat would have given you up to save his own hide; that is if you didn't agree to marry him." Doc squeezed my hand to bring my attention back to his gaze; he had a very concerned look on his face. "Jessica, what do you remember about the day you left Maxwell's place?"
" Yes…what happened, Bonita?" Chavez asked.
I told them what happened, that I found Billy with Paulita in bed back in Fort Sumner. "I almost shot them both, but I couldn't do it-"
"Wait a moment," Charlie interrupted me, holding is hand up. "You are sayin' that you walked in on them, and you had your scatter loaded and ready?"
"That is exactly what I'm saying."
Charlie grinned. "You never cease to amaze me, Jessie."
"Jesus, Charlie, this is serious!" Doc sighed, as he shook his head.
I continued talking, telling them the terrible account of Dirty Sanchez, and how Garrett saved me. I was so emotional at that point, I started to softly cry. They let me talk it out, not interrupting me.
I told them how Garrett offered me his hand in marriage, the meeting in Santa Fe at the Governor's mansion, my pardon and when Billy surprised me outside the hotel.
Still holding my hand, Doc looked me in the eye. "Jessica, I know for a fact that Pat left with Sanchez that night."
No! This could not be true!
Charlie cleared his throat. "Patsy was looking to partner up with Pete Maxwell for that cantina he was bragging about opening; 'cept ole Pete told Patsy he was a bad risk and wouldn't help him."
Doc let go of my hand and suddenly jumped up. "God damn it! That son-of a bitch Billy was right. Pat and Dirty Sanchez came gunning for you that night Jessie."
Chavez began twirling his knife, to help release his nervous tension. "Pat has lost his way, and now travels the false path."
I could feel my mouth going dry, my throat started to close…I couldn't breathe. Doc was now pacing the room working out the details as he walked in circles. No…no…please, no!
"Pat and that filthy excuse for a human being must have split up to cover more ground." Doc glanced at me; I could tell his mind was racing.
"You must have been riding hard, Bonita." Chavez pointed out.
"Pat must have seen Ole Dirty coming up on you, Jessie." Charlie chimed in.
"Pat must have fabricated his grand scheme when he saw you being attacked…" Doc spit out the words as if they were poison. "The Governor was pressing him for Billy. The next best thing would have been to give them you…and Dirty Sanchez was just a nice little bonus."
The room fell deafly silent. Everything seemed magnified to me. The dust bunnies on the floor seemed like tumbleweeds. I felt the silence pressing in my brain. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion.
I was in shock. My once beautiful hopes and dreams lay shattered on the ground, like the mosaics my Father had introduced to me as a child at St. Peters Cathedral in London. How could I be such a fool?
I felt like I was drowning.
I looked to see the doorknob turn. Billy burst in, holding a greasy sack. "Anyone want any apple empanadas?"
The air was crisp and newly fallen snow blanketed the ground as the motorcade pulled up to the main house at Hyde Park.
The two hundred mile trip from Wheeler Airfield had taken its toll on Cole. The cold weather and the long car ride added no benefit to the constant pain he felt in his knee and his sour disposition. This seemingly unnecessary detour was not only keeping him from the warmer weather of New Mexico; it also delayed him from performing some important tasks involved with being the executor of his Grandmothers estate.
Cole's thoughts of home and responsibility were interrupted when Frank Wilson cleared his throat. Frank had made the trip sitting alongside Cole.
"Remember Major Garrett, the President is very sensitive about his Handicap."
Cole tilted his head and raised an eyebrow as he held Franks gaze for a few seconds. He looked down at his bandaged knee, as the car door opened from the outside. Cole grabbed his crutches and batted away the aid's hand offered as help. "I reckon we'll have lots to talk about then."
The house was grand. Cole was ushered into the main hall. Just two years ago England's King George VI visited this same house. Frank closed in just behind Cole as the door on the right was opened. A man in servant's attire gestured them in. Behind a large maple desk sat President Roosevelt.
"Archibald! Fetch my cousin a chair; can't you see he is injured?"
Roosevelt then smiled. "Gentlemen, please forgive me if I don't get up…but this wretched weather does not agree with my condition."
Cole smiled back as he sat and nodded his agreement.
"Frank," exclaimed the President, as he thumbed through some papers on his desk. "Here is my travel itinerary." He extended a folder and shook it, motioning Frank to take it.
"I remember the first year I visited New Mexico, about seventeen years ago. I was in a little town by the name of Santa Rosa. I was awakened every night for two or three nights, about half-past one in the morning, by a very heavy railroad train going through town. As it went through town, the fireman laid his hand on the whistle, and woke up everybody. What he had intended to do was to salute the young lady in town that he was engaged to, but he woke everybody else up."
Cole couldn't help but to laugh out loud at the President's story. For as a child, that same train woke him up many a night. "Mr. President, I can't tell you how honored I am to have received your invitation, but I cannot help but to feel I have more pressing matters in New Mexico."
The President looked at Cole as he lit a fresh cigarette in his cigarette holder. "My dear boy, I summoned you here not to reminisce of old railroad stories in a bygone area, but to accompany you personally back home to attend services. And by the way, to you, I am simply 'Cousin'."
Hopefully I will post another chapter for you guys really soon! I love you all!