A/N Alright bear with me here folks, a western is allot harder to write than I imagined it would be. I'm trying my best at this so I'd like a little feed back on how I'm doing (I'm a little nervous about this experiment)
Thirteen years ago:
Two miles from the Oklahoma border, a team of oxen rested in the sun as the two wagons they pulled stood by side. Standing just a few feet away from the wagons, two men stood staring into the outstretched horizon.
"The plan is to head to Middlewood, Colorado. It's probably just a few days away."
"Well James," the second man put out his hand, "this is where we part. Me and the family have our sights set on Texas. We've got some folks down there who need a helping hand."
James smiled and shook the other man's hand. "Well, it was nice to have a companion along. I daresay we went weeks without hearing another human voice before we found you."
"I've got to tell you James, we are much obliged to you and your family. I always believe in doing my own work; but if you didn't happen along with a spare wheel, I don't know…"
James put his hand up. "No need pard, I know it doesn't pay to be too trusting in these parts, but the Possible clan is always willing to give a helping hand."
"Well sir, I owe you." He removed a bag full of coins from his pocket.
James shook his head. "No, I'm no greedy wagon master. Everything me and my family did was out of the goodness of our own heart."
The man laughed out loud. "James, you are something else, the salt of the earth. If you don't mind me being nosey, what do you plan on doing from now on?"
"We've got a ranch waiting for us near Middlewood, a few thousand acres all to ourselves."
The man whistled. "I've heard some ranchers in Texas have over a hundred thousand acres. Can you imagine that? I'd like a ranch of my own, nice piece of land for my family, a place where we can live in peace."
He turned towards the wagon, where he saw his son running back and forth, a smile on his face; a little red headed girl was playfully chasing him around.
"Well those two peacocks are getting along just fine."
"That doesn't surprise me, your boy is the same age as my Kim." James put his hand over his eyes and looked towards the sun. "I guess it's about time we hit the trail. Well Elliot, it's been a pleasure."
"Same here." The two men shook hands again and then called their respective families over to begin the preparations for their departure.
Minutes later the two wagon trails started off in opposite directions. Elliot Stoppable was sitting at the head of the wagon when his son took a seat next to him.
"How's your mother and sister doing?"
"They're fine pa," he answered.
It was then that Elliot Stoppable saw a small necklace hanging from his son's neck, half of an arrowhead with a small thread running through it.
"Ron where did you get tha… did that little gal give it to you?"
Elliot laughed and rubbed his hand through his son's blond hair. "After a week and a half huh? Me and your ma are going have to keep an eye on you. You're going to be a lady killer when you grow up, can't really blame you though, it's in your blood."
"Pa, where did Kim go?"
"She and her family went off to Middlewood son. Good people those Possibles, they even invited us to their ranch if we ever passed by their way."
"Is it a fun place?"
"Well according to James it is… kept going on about how peaceful it was; a place where a man can settle down with his family. That James Possible is one lucky son of a gun, he's got his chance at happiness, some of us aren't that lucky." He turned to Ron. "Son, a man gets only one chance at true happiness, for him and his family. If he misses out on that then all that's left, is for him to wait until they pile six feet of dirt on him."
Ron blinked in confusion, not really understanding his father's words.
Elliot chuckled. "I'm sorry boy, that might be a little too harsh for your small ears." He sighed. "Lets hope your old man hasn't missed out on his opportunity."
Elliot Stoppable stared forward; it would be a few more hours before his son would say anything more.
The Present 1875
The rider came from the south out of the summer haze. He pulled up his reins as soon as he saw the town. His face was hidden from the sun by a round hat with a wide brim; it was old and dirty brown, like the land around him. The tattered vest, gray shirt, and the cowhide chaps over his jeans where all covered with dust and grime.
The rider strode into the town and dismounted at the first hitch rail he could find. He slowly sauntered out onto the boardwalk.
"Well, looks like we've got ourselves a new visitor."
Ron turned to the old man who was whittling a piece of wood as he rocked back and forth on his porch.
Ron greeted him with smile. "Well howdy there pard!"
The old man wiped a bead of sweat from his forehead. "Hot as a whorehouse on nickel night, isn't it stranger?"
Ron approached the porch. "I wouldn't have put it in those words, but I reckon I'd have to agree with you."
"I see, so we've got ourselves a gentleman of the first water coming to town."
"No, I'm not one of those proper types," Ron countered, "it's just that my language isn't as colorful as yours, old timer."
The old man looked Ron over. "I'd have to warn you, the sheriff doesn't take lightly to gun sharks coming to town."
Ron was visibly taken aback. "Gun shark?"
The old man continued to cut into the wood. "Well, you're heeled enough."
Ron looked down at the two ivory handled Colts hanging from the holsters on his gun belt... "Oh those, sometimes I forget I'm carrying them." He looked up. "This is all for decoration. When it comes to real gun slinging, I've got more green in between my ears then earwax."
"Hmmm, so tell me what's the latest news from the outside world?"
"Sorry, but I've never been focused enough to pay attention to things outside of my own head. But if you don't mind I've got some questions for you," Ron climbed up the stairs of the old man's porch, "if you don't mind of course."
"Shoot," he replied, "just watch out for the…"
Suddenly Ron's foot hit a loose floorboard causing him to go tumbling head over heels past the old man through the doors of his house. .
"…floorboard." The old man shrugged and went back to cutting wood.
Ron found himself inside the old man's house lying on his back, a coffee pot rolled across the floor next to his head. He looked up to the ground, his gaze fixed on the figure standing over him. A red headed beauty looked down at him incredulously with fire in her emerald green eyes. She looked back and forth between him and the large coffee stain on her flowered shirt.
"You ignoramus, look what you've done to my clothes," she shouted.
Ron sat upright. "Ig-nor-a-mus," he spelled it out slowly, "does that mean I'm handsome?"
"Ugh!" She shook her head and headed for the door. "Mr. Lunsford I'm sorry, but I've got an important appointment."
"Don't worry about it young-un, you can just skedaddle on out of here."
The girl hurried down the porch and rushed across the boardwalk. From the doorway, Ron watched as she ran across the street. Old Man Lunsford followed Ron's gaze and laughed. "That's Kimberly Ann Possible; her pa owns the Circle C ranch just outside of Middlewood. Fine young lass, goes out of her way to lend everyone a helping hand, some people say she can ride and rope as good as any man.
"You don't say."
"You better keep your thoughts to yourself, she's already spoken for"
Ron turned to the old man his curiosity piqued. "Really, says who?"
"Says a fella by the name of Josh Mankey, they've been sparking together for a couple of weeks now. She's probably on her way to meet him now, must be why she's so angry with you for mussing up her shirt."
Ron turned back to the street. "Hmmm… Possible, the name sounds familiar…" He shook the feeling off. "Just as well I guess. I've seen and learned allot of things in my life, but a female critter is something I'll never understand."
He sighed. "Old man, I mean Mr. Lunsford, do you know if there any job openings in this grand town of yours?"
James Possible was halfway between his ranch house and home when he saw the rider coming from the southeast. He walked quickly to his porch where a Winchester rifle was waiting for him. There had been rumors of rustlers coming near a few miles away from Middlewood. He checked to see if the rifle was loaded; it always paid to be careful.
"That's far enough stranger!" James called out when the rider was in shooting distance.
Ron brought his horse to a halt and put his hand in the air. "I don't mean any harm mister I just want to talk to you."
The door to the kitchen opened and Ann Possible, in an all white dress, bustled out and stepped on the porch. "What's going out here?"
Ron instinctively gave her his best smile a habit he had picked up in his former lifestyle. She smiled back; apparently his smile had the intended effect.
"James, he's just a young boy, he's not a cutthroat rustler."
"You never know Ann."
"Hold on," Ron slowly untied his gun belt and tossed it to the ground, "I just wanted to talk."
"You see, he's a nice boy James. The way you're acting, you'd think the cattle you raise have more manners than you."
Ron stayed in place. "Don't worry ma'am, I understand, these days. There aren't many people you can trust."
"Come on closer. Don't worry, my husband won't shoot you."
"Thank goodness, because that would probably ruin my week."
James lowered his rifle. "Well I'm not going to apologize for being careful. So what's your story?"
"Ron Cooley is my handle and I heard from a crazy old coot back in town that you've got a job opening and it comes with free room and board."
"Yes we do, need a new cowpuncher."
"Cowpuncher? I'm going to be honest with you Mr. Possible but busting my hump knee deep in cow dung doesn't sound to appealing to me."
James laughed. "You know, this isn't the best way to ask for a job."
"You wouldn't happen to have an easier job available."
"Well, I'm going to be honest with you son, I don't cotton much to lay-abouts."
"Fair enough, how do you feel about sit-abouts"
This time Ann Possible laughed. "So where are you from young man?"
"I was born in this territory ma'am but I don't remember much about it. My family and I moved to Texas, but I lost them when I was… younger."
"Goodness gracious… what happened?"
Ron frowned. "I'm sorry ma'am, but I don't want to talk about that, not for the rest of my life."
Three other punchers made their way across the yard. They had just seen Ron ride in and they were curious to his identity. They argued amongst themselves as they walked.
"Dammit, Roger that was the worst meal I've ever had in my life. How in the world a man can make beans taste terrible is beyond me."
"Look here boys, the last thing you want to do is argue with the man cooking your food. Now you can either stand the gaff and eat, or you can cook your own meal."
A smile bloomed on Ron's face. "Mister Possible, I may have an arrangement for you, if the lovely Miss. Possible would allow me into her kitchen. I'll leave my pistols behind."
"Certainly" she said
Ron followed them both into the kitchen.
"I don't want to blow smoke, but I'm the best cook this side of the Mississippi."
Hours later, Kim whistled to herself as she rose up to the hitch rail near her house. She climbed down, just as Ron came out of the house carrying a bucket of water.
"Well look what the cat dragged down in."
She looked at him in confusion. "What are you doing here?"
"Sheathe your claws, am only trying to be sociable…I'm the new cook around here."
"Hold on, I know we had a rough start, but I want to make amends."
Kim frowned. "It's your fault that I showed up to my date with stained clothes. I had saved up for months to buy that dress, I've never been so embarrassed in my whole life and…"
Ron bowed. "Miss Possible, I sincerely apologize for messing up your date."
She sighed. "Don't take on so, I'm not usually this angry, I'm just a little tired." She sniffed the air. "What is that… it smells delicious?"
"That smell is a dish called Venison Parmesan over Pasta, and I've added an extra side of sourdough biscuits just for you."
She sniffed the air again. "Well, I am kind of hungry."
"Beautiful!" Ron smiled. "Come on in." He held the door open as she made her up the stairs of the porch.
"You don't need to hold the door open for me," she said.
"I don't, but seeing that I work for your family, I think it would be to my advantage if I kiss up to you."
She stopped and glanced at the guns at his side. "Those are pretty fancy pistols you got there."
"These, they're more of a fashion statement than anything. I couldn't hit Montana with a scattergun."
"Most men out here wouldn't admit that they're carrying a pistol as a fashion statement."
"Lady, most men out here wouldn't admit to bathing at least once a month. That don't make them right."
She laughed. "That doesn't make them right" she corrected.
Ron scratched his head. "Isn't that what I just said?"
"Yes but… I'll explain it later."
Kim was an early riser; the fact was she had to be. There was never enough time in the day to do what she had to do. She was dressed before anyone stirred in her house. She made her way down the hall, and out the front door. She took a deep breath of fresh air when she noticed that there were still no lights coming from the bunkhouse windows. She sighed and made her towards it.
Ron shifted under the covers in his bed, adding his own loud snoring to the other seven in the bunkhouse. He had just shifted from his back to his belly when someone poured cold water on his face.
"Gah!" Ron bolted upright.
"Finally, I've been trying to wake you for at least ten minutes," said Kim.
Ron rubbed his eyelids. "Huh, what's going?"
"It's time for you to get to work," she scolded.
"Work, yeah right," he said, half asleep. "What's for breakfast?"
"I should ask you that, you're the cook aren't you?"
"Right, right I'm the cook… wait a minute, the sun isn't even up yet!"
"As the cook, you've got to wake up before everyone else."
"Oh god, I may have bitten of more then I can chew."
"Well I'd like to chew on something right now, if you don't mind."
"All right, all right." Ron threw off the covers, he immediately regretted the decision.
Kim looked down and her face instantly turned beet red. "Oh my god," she exclaimed, and turned around quickly.
Oh right I sleep in the nude
He pulled the covers back over his body. "I'm sorry, I picked up some bad habits…"
"No, it's ok… I'll meet you in the kitchen." She rushed out of the bunkhouse.
"Nice move peckerwood," laughed another wrangler from across the room.
"Aw shut up," Ron stated laughter filled the bunkhouse
After breakfast, Kim grabbed her horse, saddled up, and headed off towards Middlewood. The town was only an hour and fifteen minutes away by horse, which was perfect for her because she did a lot around town. Besides helping out at the general store, she had a bunch of different other errands to run.
"Hey, hold up!"
She turned her head to see Ron ride up next to her. "What are you doing?"
"Well I wouldn't be much of a gentleman if I let a lady ride off by herself, it can be dangerous out here."
"I can take of myself, I don't need a man to take care off me."
"Contrary to popular opinion, many women can take care of themselves. A man isn't the only thing that can keep a woman happy."
"What about a man with money? I've seen some fillies eyes light up at the sight of a couple of dineros."
She scowled at him.
"But I don't think you're that type of gal," he said quickly
"Are you going to be flapping your gums all the way to Middlewood?"
"That's not very neighborly of you," Ron teased.
"I'm not obliged to chat with you. We're strangers as far as I'm concerned."
"Strangers? After what happened this morning, I'd have to think we're past the stranger point…"
"Stop! Not another word! I don't want to talk about that, not now, not ever!"
Ron stayed silent for a moment as he rode next to her. "So I'm guessing that was the first time you've seen a…"
She turned to him "Yes it was! I'll have you know that I am a lady!" She exclaimed.
"Oh of course… I had no doubt in my mind that you were anything but."
"Good." She brought her gaze forward.
A moment later, she turned around, staring at the brown and white stallion that Ron was riding. "That's a beautiful horse"
"Thanks, he is a beaut."
"What's his name?"
He reflected on her question. "Name? He doesn't really have one; I usually just call him partner."
For a few minutes the only sound that could be heard is that of hooves hitting the earth.
"You know, your mother said she'd hand out the rest of the food, so that I could ride to town early."
"So?" she said without turning around.
"So all that 'I can't let a lady ride off alone' I was just saying that so I could sound more gentlemanly. I'm sorry if that offended you."
"Why would you go out of your way to do that?"
"I'm not sure… I guess I was trying to impress you. Allot of good that did me."
She stayed silent for a moment. "All that soft solder won't get you anywhere. What you and other men need to understand is that you just shouldn't assume that women are defenseless creatures. You'll get along better with me knowing that."
"Does that apply to all men or just the ones not named Josh Mankey," he teased.
Kim blushed and turned around. "You know about that?"
"I have ears don't I? I hear he's been sparking around you for more than a month."
"You've only been here for a night and you've already 'heard' about this?"
"Well it more like I asked around… allot." He coughed. "But I hear that you two are pretty serious."
"All right, we've done all this talking and it's all been about me. Why don't you flap your gums about yourself for awhile?"
"There's not much to know about me. I lost my family at an early age, I drifted around, taking care of myself for a few years and I ended up here."
"That's it, that's all you're going to tell me?"
"You want to know more?"
"There's got to be more to the story than that. I think you're at least obliged to tell me."
"You really want to know?"
"Yes I do"
"All right." Ron took a deep breath and thought about it for a moment then he opened his mouth to speak. "Uh, trust me you don't want to know."
"Oh I can't believe you…"
"Look, I can't tell you up my past because it's really hard for me to talk about it."
She stared at him for a moment. "I guess I can respect that."
"I can't tell you about my past but I can tell you about my future. I'm going to have a huge range with thousands of acres, a whole bunch of workers who will do all the work, a beautiful wife who likes to give back rubs and a pretty cook who can keep a secret."
"Well I declare…" She huffed, flipped the reins and urged her horse to gallop faster.
"Wait," Ron laughed as she pulled away, "I'm sorry, it was just a joke a bad joke. It's another bad habit I picked up on."
She galloped further away. "Alright, you don't like those kinds of jokes… see, I learned something new about you. Now we're not strangers anymore."
"How about a tour of Middlewood? Is that ok?"
Kim continued to ignore him, as Ron smiled to himself. "I swear the good lord must have dipped into some snake poison when he thought up woman." He removed the colt from his right holster and looked down on the pearl handle, where the name Murdoch was scratched out, and the word scarecrow was written below it.
Ron smiled. "Well Murdoch, they're some interesting people in Middlewood. I wish you were here to see them. I think this might be the place for me"
He twirled the pistol around his finger and in one swift movement placed it back in his holster, and chased after Kim.
Randy Black Jack Clanton stepped into the backroom and took in the sight.
"HLO cowboy," said the barroom chanteuse who lay propped on the bed in a silky black nightgown. She had brown hair, ruby on her cheeks and an eye patch over her left eye.
"Come over here and solace a poor woman."
Randy smiled, she didn't have as much meat on her but that was no problem. He had a long ride ahead of him; it might be awhile before he saw another woman.
"C'mere honey and nuzzle with me a spell."
He threw off all his clothes. "Lady, I ain't meaning to do any nuzzling."
He walked over to the bed and reached for her; suddenly she grabbed him by the hand and twisted his arm. He howled in pain as she reached under her pillow and pulled out a Smith & Wesson 1870 Model 3 Revolver. Before he could react she clubbed him in the head with its handle.
The sound of the hammer of the revolver being pulled back brought Clanton back to reality. He opened his eyes only to realize that she had pinned him to the ground and worse of all, the barrel of her pistol was now in his mouth.
"Alright darling, I've got some questions for you. Now you can answer my questions or I can decorate the floor with pieces of your skull."
She pulled the barrel out of his mouth.
"Ok, I'll tell you anything, just don't kill me," he whimpered.
She smiled. "That's a good cowboy, now tell me everything you know about Rooster Coover."
An hour later;
"No doves allowed in this courthouse."
Deputy Marshal Johnson shoved the chanteuse out of the door. He smiled at her. "But if you want to meet up after." He reached for her behind.
She snatched his hand away just as forcefully as she did with Black Jack. "Now I tried to be proper about this in the courthouse, but no one is allowed to grab me there except the late Mister Director."
She pulled him forward and tripped him up with her foot causing him to fall to the ground.
"Why you…" The deputy marshal seethed. He rose up, intending to strike her.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you," a voice called out to him, the deputy twirled around.
A young man stepped out of the shadows of a dark alley, the tin star on his dark vest shone brightly in the sunlight. "You're not playing with any old heifer there, that's the widow Director, the wife of the late great Marshal Barney Director, my mentor."
"What does that mean to me?" Johnson called out. Suddenly he recognized the figure, Deputy Marshal Will Du.
"That means that she got more knowledge of the law and toughness in her one good eye than you've got in your whole body. She's learned more from her husband in a day then you'll learn in a lifetime."
"Where do you get off talking like that? I'm tired of all your guff. If you haven't noticed, you're a deputy marshal just like me! So don't rile me up!"
"Correction," Will replied smugly, "I'm not like you, I'm the best deputy marshal in the state, and just to prove it." Will opened his vest revealing the pistol at his hip "I'll actually let you feel your gun before I draw."
Sweat drops began to appear on Johnson's forehead as he contemplated drawing his gun. After a brief stare down, Johnson spit on the floor and angrily stormed off.
Betty Director made her to Will Du. "You know I could have handled that myself right?"
He shrugged. "I couldn't stand by and watch my mentor's widow get roughed up."
"What if he had drawn?"
"I would have shot him."
"In the arm of course, he would have lived…..well, do you have any good news?"
"I sure do, Rooster Coover is dead."
"What? We've been tracking him this long and he's dead! What happened?"
"Don't really know the specifics, but Black Jack Clanton, the scout for Coover's group, said he went back to their hidden camp a month ago to discover that Rooster and six other desperados had been gunned down."
Six? Counting Clanton, weren't there nine members of Rooster's crew?"
"Six dead three missing, Hap Jackson, Seth Beechum and the one who did all the killing, goes by the handle of Scarecrow. Apparently none of them knew his real name."
"How do you know this scarecrow did it?"
"Well, for one thing, according to Clanton he wrote his name next to Coover's corpse."
Believe it or not that was quite a challenege; I hope you like it.