Western Romance Fiction Short Story
© Copyright Cupideros, Saturday, August 29, 2015
When Kate Beckett and retired Bounty Hunter, Gordon Drago, move to Utah and decided to married nine months later things began to unravel their plans to live peacefully as ranch hands.
Wednesday, June 08, 1872
Burnt Water, Utah
First Protestant Church
"Do you Kate Beckett take Gordon Drago as your lawful husband, to cherish and obey, in sickness and health, till deaths do you part?" Reverend Zachariah Henny said, reading from his black worn Bible on the small podium.
"I do," Kate replied, never taking her eyes off Gordon Drago, her square faced, square jaw, and handsome bounty hunter husband-to-be.
All of the town's sixty people remained quiet, quiet as stars in the invisible night sky of midafternoon.
Reverend Zachariah Henny cleared his throat, "And do you Gordon Drago take Kate Beckett, as your lawful wife, to cherish and obey, in sickness and health, till death do you part?"
Gordon's blue eyes showed admiration for his pretty new bride’s female form as he looked out from his attractive face. He looked good in all black suit, white shirt and thin black Western bow tie. His blue and black diamond handkerchief invisible tucked into his inside jacket pocket, and why he wore it remained a mystery to Kate.
Mrs. Ellen Fletcher sniffled. "Kate looks so radiant and beautiful, like an angel. That lovely white wedding gown is so becoming on you, Kate, Dear."
Reverend Henny cast her quick scowl.
Mrs. Fletcher designed the fancy updo Kate wore under her white wedding veil. Kate felt right out of place until, Mrs. Fletcher, introduced her to Burnt Water, Utah society.
"I then announce you man and wife."
Kate and Gordon smiled simultaneously.
"You may now kiss the bride," Reverend Henny commanded, and adding a curt nod to Gordon.
Gordon pulled Kate over into his strong arms. His eyes almost held tears of joy.
Tears of joy, though, pooled in Kate's blue eyes, but Gordon knew those tears never last long. Kate was tougher than a wall of barn-high stack hay bales. Committed, fearless, dangerous to her foe, and warm, loving and generous to her friends and allies, Kate Beckett Drago provided the comfort and support Gordon always longed for and never thought he'd obtain.
Gordon kissed Kate.
The sixty citizens of Iron County, Burnt Water, Utah, just west of Cedar City remained silent, almost awestruck.
After a quiet minute the livery stable man said, "Did you say Gordon Drago was your name?"
Gordon smiled wide and nodded.
The banker who took Gordon’s final payment of two thousand dollars for the large ranch land, added in defense, quickly, "He--he been purchasing the land under the name Mortimer Drago."
Sheriff Tom Lancing slowly rose out of his front row seat. He stood the same tall height as Gordon’s six feet, and a foot and a half taller than Kate, Gordon’s new wife did. "Gordon," started Sheriff Tom Lancing, "Your wife can stay in Burnt Water, but you have to leave."
Gordon’s smiling jaw snapped shut. His lips closed forming a thin line.
Kate saw the anger in Gordon’s expression. That thin-lipped smile meant Gordon really didn't like what he heard; furthermore, Gordon needed time and space to calm down. Not that she worried, Gordon hurt her. Toward Kate, Gordon played the consummate gentleman. She remembered when he helped track down her ex-lover Jacob McCoy for months into the far, deep recesses of Nevada. She remembered how he tried to avoid his love for her because he thought she was already committed in love. Most of all, she remembered how he waited after Jacob denied her love, spurned her in Aimwell, Nevada, at the old fort. That Gordon Drago is the one she knew. Her man loved sincerely with all his heart. He wasn't perfect. He didn't tell her he knew Jacob wasn't her brother. He waited for her to come to her senses. He forgave her for lying and being a lovesick woman over a man who jilted her years before.
"What is this all about Sheriff Tom?"
Wednesday, June 08, 1872
Burnt Water, Utah
First Protestant Church
"You saw the sign before you enter Burnt Water. No bounty hunters allowed," Sheriff Lancing said coldly.
"Now Sheriff," scoffed Reverend Henny, "We're supposed to love everyone."
"Stay out of this Zachariah. This is a law matter. Did I interrupt your religious services?"
"That sign wasn't up when I started land payments six years ago?" Gordon said caustically.
"That's correct," Sheriff Lancing replied. "This is a democracy. The Citizen's Board of Burnt Water, just recently decided to adopt the measure."
The liveryman shouted, "You're a killer, Gordon! We don't want your kind around here attracting killers."
Mrs. Fletcher said, "I--I agree. Sorry, Kate, but once those he put away or killed find out he's in Burnt Water, they'll come for him sure as the sun rises."
"No one come for nine months!" Kate defended her new husband.
"You mean all his victims," the liveryman barked, "Mrs. Fletcher has a thing for political speech."
The Jenks Macrosty Hotel owner shouted, "He can't be trusted anyway. Bounty Hunters break the law all the time."
"I have broken no laws in all the state's I've worked in."
A grandmom figure with white hair and a dotted print dress and black granny boots still knitting as she sat down in the front pews of the church opposite the sheriff said quietly, "We've got a small town. This isn't a big city. If someone came for you, you'd put us all at risk, Gordon. You're like a pile of sugar bound to attract ants."
"He means in states he hunted people down, in not worked in," the liveryman yelled.
"He came here under a lie, a pretense," said the ball-headed, short banker, shorter as Kate's five feet four inch height. "How was I supposed to connect Mortimer Drago to Gordon Drago out of all the people coming into Utah and passing through Utah on the Overland Trail? How was I to know Mortimer Drago was Gordon Drago's dad?"
"I'm afraid you'll have to leave, Gordon," Sheriff Lancing repeated.
"I didn't come here under false pretenses! Sheriff you know the men I hunted down were killers, stagecoach robbers, bank robbers, harass womenfolk and they stole horses."
"Gordon, you know as well as I that the Governor is a military appointment. Now I know the Governor. You don't want me to bring in the army to get you to leave."
Kate stood by Gordon. In fact, she moved right by his side and held his right hand in her left hand. She raised her chin and said, "Till death do us part! I'm not staying, if my husband cannot stay!"
"All right. I want my money back for the land," Gordon snapped.
"That's--that's gone to be a problem," the ball-headed banker said.
Sheriff Lancing asked, "What's the problem, Gilbert?"
The banker put his hands in his black suit pocket. He pulled them back out quickly and started washing one hand over the other. "I need forty-eight hours to get ten thousand dollars together. He's got a huge stretch of land two miles outside of town."
Sheriff Tom Lancing looked at everyone in the crowd. Not a single one supported, Kate and Gordon Drago. "You heard the man. No one bothers Gordon or his wife, for forty-eight hours."
The liveryman blasted the thoughts of the Citizen's Council, "We'll run you out of town like they used to do the leapers, Gordon. You've got forty-eight hours."
"I'll-I'll let you know Sheriff Lancing when I've returned Gordon’s money." The banker left still washing his hands.
Wednesday, June 08, 1872
Burnt Water, Utah
Gordon took his blue and black diamond motif handkerchief out of his black suit pocket and wrapped it around his neck as he and Kate walked outside to their black carriage. "I'm sorry, Kate. I thought this town respected the law."
Banto and Gordon’s Cleveland Bay horses pulled the carriage back to their Paradise Ranch.
After a minute of brooding, Kate remarked. "You've only done good, Gordon. I'm proud to stand by your side. We'll go somewhere else. This is a big country--a big country."
Gordon and Kate undressed and changed back into their cowboy, work clothes. She wore lead brown cowboy hat, beige pants, blue and black checkered shirt, peach and black cowgirl boots. Gordon wore all black pants, frock coat, black shirt and hat. He still had that knife in his cowboy boots. The horses ran around in the large corral. The chickens clucked and the pigs snorted and romped in the scraps of breakfast food, Kate had tossed out to them. The Gordon Drago Paradise Ranch had everything including a nice size natural sinkhole to dispose of any dead animals and garbage.
Kate sat down in the large living room.
Gordon sat on their blue couch, his head down staring at the new floor."
"Why do you wear that blue and black handkerchief around your neck?" She said and hugged him tightly.
"When you're out bounty hunting, anything can happen. That last thing you want to happen as a bounty hunter is that your enemies string you up and try to hang you. They'd have to take this blue and black handkerchief off my neck. It'll buy me time to get away or fight back."
"I told you I'd stand by your side, Gordon."
"Now, I don't feel so alone. Out bounty hunting, it was just you, God, and the killers. Sure, some of the men were not that bad, but on a good day, those you hunted just as soon kill you as take you in to the sheriff. I got my share of bounty rewards. Don Shrader, the liveryman, made an exaggerated unjust case against me."
"Gordon, they decided as a group, Citizen's Board, remember?"
"Don Shrader is the culprit, Kate. I know it!"
"I'm going to miss this place, Gordon."
"Have faith, Kate. We've lived a good life. God is not going to abandon us."
Wednesday, June 10, 1872
Burnt Water, Utah
After twenty-four hours, Gordon and Kate had most of their things packed into their carriage, except their guns. Kate wore her peach handle six-shooter on her hip. Gordon wore his colt on his hip and his Winchester rifle stood by the door.
Kate suspected the worse from the Citizen's Board. "I don't trust that Citizen's Board Gordon."
"They can’t do anything more to us, until the banker gives us our money."
Kate rushed to the window when she heard horses pacing footsteps. She looked out. "Gordon! It's Gilbert Sokolli, the banker."
Gilbert got out of his carriage. "Open up, Gordon. I got your blood money!"
"Blood money?" Kate asked.
Gordon clarified to Kate, "Reference to Judas who killed Jesus."
Gordon opened the door.
"Let me in quick!" Nervous, scared, hands shaking, Gilbert glanced around afraid. To calm himself, he started washing his hands, again. He went and closed the curtains on all the windows. "Sheriff Lancing and Deputy Wendell Brisbane are trapped in the sheriff’s office. Penned down by some killer gunmen who want revenge for the when sheriff put their younger brother on trial. Deputy Wendell Brisbane is wounded. I believe Sheriff Lancing is wounded, too. It's a gang of four men."
"Where are all those deputies who attended our wedding, ready to arrest us?"
"Fled. Gone. Disappeared."
"By the name of Sam Hill. Dang cowards!" Gordon cried out.
"Cowards," Kate repeated.
"Lancing sent me to get you to rescue him."
"Mighty thank you, Gilbert," Kate replied, but didn't Sheriff Lancing just kick us out of Burnt Water?"
"Please! That was two days ago! Tom desperately needs your help, both of you! They're both wounded, but can still fight."
Gordon flashed a look at Kate.
Kate pulled her six-shooter and checked its bullets. "I'm ready."
"We'll unhitch the horses and ride into town. Try to get word to Sheriff Tom Lancing we're coming. But we can't say just where or when."
"I--I will," Gilbert Sokolli replied.
Wednesday, June 10, 1872
Burnt Water, Utah
After riding hard for seventeen minutes, Kate and Gordon entered the edge of Burnt Water. "I'm going to check out the situation, Kate. You find a good spot to fire from. I'll need your sharpshooting skills today."
Kate admired Gordon. His ability to forgive the Citizen's Board made her proud. "I'll find a good spot."
Gordon advanced slowly, stalking behind the store and businesses' alleys.
Kate watched from Mrs. Fletcher's Beauty Salon window.
James Hoff shouted, as he stood out in the Main Street of Burnt Water just outside of the Sheriff's Office. "Sheriff Tom Lancing!'" The slim man waved around his colt pistol. "I don't have any hard feelings about this. Don't you. It's strictly business. You put my younger brother, Kenny Hoff behind bars and made one big mistake."
"Yeah," ha ha ha ha, Alan Hoff's laugh carried far through the now empty town. "You forgot to kill him before taking him to prison."
"Now me, Alan, James, Kenny Hoff are back to tie up loose ends!"
"Gordon Drago is on the Citizen's Board, Vanburen," Sheriff Lancing yelled back.
"Ain't know Gordon Drago in Burnt Water. Everyone knows he retired in Texas after arresting Bert Slaughter--the Wood Whittling Bandit."
Gordon shouted from behind the livery stables. "That's not true."
"Gordon?" Vanburen turned around three hundred and sixty degrees searching.
Gordon stepped out from behind the livery stable west wall. "Put the gun down Vanburen. This town's had enough trouble."
"I don't have any beef with you, Gordon. I am sure someone else has, though." Vanburen laughed.
"He won't die in his old age," Alan Hoff yelled.
"Come on out, Tom," Kenny blared. "I've got to settle this score with you, then we Hoff's be leaving this dusty little, worthless town."
"Put the guns down boys," Gordon said, standing, his legs spread. Gordon assessed the situation, the men pulled out a wagon and stood behind it waving their guns and rifles.
Vanburen got angry. "I said I ain't got no trouble with you, Gordon!"
"I'm on the Citizen's Board. Now leave."
Alan said, "Where's that little sharpshooter wife of yours, Gordon?"
Kate shot off Alan's beige, flattop, planter’s hat. "Right here. Standing beside my man."
"Ain't that cute," Vanburen said, still ignoring Gordon and now ignoring, Kate. "Tom, come on out and be a man."
Gordon shot at Vanburen's feet, purposely missing him.
The melee started.
Vanburen shot back at Gordon missing his shooting arm as wood chips flew from the wall behind him. Gordon dashed for cover behind the water trough; then, Gordon ran and ducked behind a water barrel.
Kate fired a slow methodical shot and hit the leg of James Hoff.
James called out, "Ouch! I'm hit!"
Sheriff Lancing fired out from his office.
Vanburen fired back at the Sheriff's Office shattering the office glass window. "You and your lady sharpshooter wife want a fight. You got one, Gordon!"
Gordon turned back to the dress shop window. Motioning with his colt revolver, he pointed to the saloon. Counting in his mind to three, Gordon leapt up and dash forward, he ran fast as he could. Kate fired covering shots at the men. Gordon dived through the saloon window, seconds before bullets hit the saloon's window frame.
Putting down deeper love roots, Kate called out, "Gordon?"
Alan squealed, "The Lady sharpshooter's getting lonely, boys."
"She might want some company," Kenny added.
"I just want to rub my hands all in her coiffured blonde hair," James Hoff boasted.
Gordon leaped out of the saloon's two swinging doors. He aimed, fired at Alan killing him. Vanburen, though, hit Gordon’s leg.
Gordon fell and immediately began crawling along the wood floor-boardwalk toward the Sheriff's office,
Alarmed, Kate whistled, Banto rode by the dress shop. Kate hopped on board and as in her rodeo shooting contests; she dropped down on the side of Banto away from Vanburen's men. Every five feet, she hoisted herself up on the saddle horn, shooting.
"I'm hit!" James cried out.
"Me, too!" Kenny barked, "Dang, Lady Sharpshooter is going to kill us all."
Leaping off Banto, rolling on the ground as she passed Sheriff Lancing's office, Kate kicked in his door and closed it safely behind her.
Briefly, she looked at the sheriff, but she paid more attention to her gun. "You okay, Sheriff Lancing?" Kate commented as she popped bullets from her gun belt and reloaded her peach and white handle revolver.
He nodded. "I'm glad your forty-eight hours isn't up."
"Of all the sights, Deputy Brisbane said, a woman sharpshooter taking on an entire gang."
Vanburen ran pass a volley of Gordon’s bullets, charged forward in a mindless rage, bursting inside kicking in Sheriff Lancing's Office squeezing the triggers of both his six-shooters. His angry blue eyes paused for a second; he fired at the sheriff, missed but killed Deputy Brisbane.
Sheriff Lancing killed Vanburen.
Meanwhile, James outflanked Gordon and came around into the back of the saloon. He got the drop on Gordon; Gordon recovered from his surprise. He shot again at Gordon hitting in the left arm. Gordon rolled off the floor-boardwalk and under it. Gordon rose up and fired blank. Gordon cursed.
James kept coming closer. "Out of bullets, eh, your bad fate."
"No, my good, destiny," Gordon said as he leapt up and using his right hand tossed the small knife from his boot and stabbed James in the heart killing him. Gordon reloaded his colt revolver.
Only Kenny stayed alive. He struggled on to his white horse.
Gordon crawling back up on the boardwalk, yelled, “Don’t let him get away!”
Limping, running to the door, Sheriff Lancing snarled. "Not this time, Kenny Hoff. You won't get away to cause more trouble later. He fired hitting Kenny in the back.
Kenny yelled, "Auuuuggggg!" but he held on tight.
Kate who sat in the corner opposite the way the door opened yelled, “Give me your rifle, Sheriff.”
Sheriff Lancing said, “Gladly.” He tossed the rifle to Kte.
Kate broke off the remaining glass in the Sheriff’s Office window. She kneeled on the floor by the window. Resting the barrel of the rifle against the bottom wood frame to take careful aim, she watched as Kenny began disappearing into the distance, his white horse kicking up smaller and smaller trails of dust. She fired a single shot.
Kenny's head jerked back. His back straightened. He slowly tumbled backward off his white horse, while his horse kept running into the distance out of Burnt Water, Utah.
Monday, July 1, 1872
Burnt Water, Utah
Ballroom in Jenks Macrosty Hotel
His left arm in a white sling, Sheriff Lancing, scuffled backward, he pushed back his chair, bracing his right arm on the table stood up from his spot in the center of a long white table where twelve men sat. He cleared his throat looking out into the faces of forty-eight citizens of Burnt Water, Utah. "The Citizen's Board of Burnt Water sincerely expresses its apologies for kicking you out of our lovely quaint town, Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Drago. We reversed our decision and now the town is open to letting Bounty Hunters," Sheriff Lancing paused, and turned squarely to Gordon and Kate, "and retired Bounty Hunters reside in our community."
Everyone clapped and hooted, except for the livery stable owner, Don Shrader, who kept his arms folded across his chest.
Mrs. Fletcher stood up from the white table after Sheriff Lancing sat down. "I've made a welcome gift. I started to--" she cut herself off, "Oooooooh, Kate, you're such a darling. I know soon you'll be having a child, from what Doc Whipple says." She held out the pink and blue baby shoes. "For whatever sex the baby is. I'm sorry we all acted so impetuously toward you, Kate and Gordon."
Almost near to crying, holding back her emotions, thankful to God, Kate rose and took the little booties. "Thank you, Mrs. Fletcher. I'm sure the decision wasn't meant for harm. Sometimes our faith needs strengthening when the temptation to make bad decision seems sweet." Kate looked at all the Citizen Board's faces, including Sheriff Lancing, "I can't thank you enough for changing your minds like I knew you would."
Kate and Gordon left the Macrosty Hotel their spirits renewed.
"Kate, now I can settle down and look forward to rearing our children."
"So do I, Gordon. We can hang-up our guns forever."
"And then what?"
"Wait until we can teach our children to shoot."
"You're a far better shot than I am. You proved that."
“Only because I had more to fight for. Forget about it, Gordon, let's not compete against each other. I've had a life of men wanted to compete against me in sharpshooting. Let's just try live our lives as a peaceful family."
"And hope no one comes looking for us," he chuckled.
"You say that like it is funny."
"First, Kate, they possibly only looked for me; now they may be looking for both of us."
"Whatever we do Gordon, Love--"
"We do together," they both said simultaneously.