Cole rode as hard as he could until his horse could bear him no longer. Cole and his companions came upon an old town named Bixby where they took rest in a battered inn. Cole, Pit and Conrad sat in yet another hotel room discussing their next move.
"I say we make for Dodge City" Pit suggested, "Sawyer wouldn't expect that!"
"Pit, you're dull as dishwater!" Conrad yelled, "We might as well ride our horses off a cliff! Sawyer probably has his men stationed all over Dodge!"
"They aren't his men anymore 'Connie'!" Pit retorted.
"Just because he ain't leadin' the regiment anymore don't mean they ain't faithful to him!"
"What would you suggest then?"
"I'm going to have a drink" Cole said staring at the floor.
"I'll join you." Pit said, "I have had enough of this nonsensical conversation anyhow. Connie, you in?"
"Haven't had a drop of alcohol in seventeen years." Conrad said, "Not gonna break that record tonight."
Cole stood up and walked out of the room leaving the door open behind him. Pit rushed for the door after him but stopped at the doorway of the room. He turned around and said, "Connie, hold down the fort." He tipped his hat in respect and closed the door disappearing from Conrad's sight.
Conrad shook his head and mumbled "Ignorant fool!"
Sawyer paced back and forth across the empty office. The walls were decorated in a burgundy flower wallpaper and the floor was a clean light brown wood. It had been polished daily so that it shined constantly. Suddenly a young man walked in to the room. He was dressed in a black suit, he had jet black hair that was combed back. He was a very clean and handsome young man and Sawyer recognized him immediately as his son, Jacob.
"Hello father." Jacob said
Sawyer glared at Jacob, who felt very uncomfortable gazing at his father's eye-patch.
"Where is Sullivan?" Sawyer asked
"Mayor Sullivan is away on business. I came here to ask you to end this outrageous hunt that you have started. Why can't you see that Cole is not a villain? He is an honorable and respectable man!"
"I must hunt down Whetherstone because he is a scoundrel and a thief!"
"Are you really so blind with power that you would hunt down your own son-in-law?"
"Don't patronize me! I am your father! You will respect me and the decisions I make!"
"I will not stand beside you this time, father. Neither will Michelle!"
"I don't give a damn what you or that whore you call your sister do! I am going to kill Cole Whetherstone and you cannot stop me!"
Another man walked into the room. He was repulsive compared to Jacob. His clothes were filthy, the teeth he had left were brown and yellow, and he had an odor identical to horse manure. "Sheriff Sawyer." he said, "The men are assembled."
"Thank you Liam." Sawyer answered. Liam walked out of the room, and Sawyer followed saying nothing more to his son.
Sawyer walked outside and stood on the gallows of Empire City looking out over four hundred men. Some of them were soldiers. The rest were thieves and cowboys. Sawyer grinned and said, "Today, we will ride to find Cole Whetherstone! Any man who kills Cole or his companions will be rewarded with one thousand dollars!"
Jacob sat in the office staring out the window looking over the crowd. His heart sank as he heard these words emerge from his fathers mouth; "Cole Whetherstone will hang from a tree by the end of the week!"
Cole stared into his glass of whiskey. The saloon was roaring with life. Everywhere Cole looked there was a drunk cowboy flirting with a repulsed prostitute. Men were drinking, and playing poker and pool. Even Pit had found a nice young lady that he might find comfort in. Although he was drunk, and she was clearly repulsed by him, he kept pursuing her. It was an awful sight.
It actually reminded Cole of a time long ago when he was in a similar saloon. Cole closed his eyes and tried to remember.
Cole and three of his brothers sat in a saloon playing cards. There were five southern soldiers drinking and 'trying to get lucky'. But there was one in particular that stood out. The soldiers called him Gromp. He was the largest man Cole had ever seen. His giant hands were clasped around a woman in the saloon. He was yelling at her, but the words slurred out of his mouth in an unclear way. "Ye ginla gilvel mle a ploke!" Gromp said. He slapped her in the face and she screamed.Cole stood up and yelled, "In the name of the Union, stand down!"
Gromp glared at Cole and burst out laughing. Cole's brothers pulled him back into his chair. "Do you want to get us killed?" they yelled. But before they knew it, Gromp had tipped over their table and punched Cole's brother, Liam in the face, and kicked away his other two brothers. Gromp then turned to Cole and grabbed him by the throat and lifted him into the air. Cole was filled with fear, but he managed to blurt out one word; "Draw"
"Chlallenge aclepted" Gromp said and he walked outside
Cole turned to his brothers. "What did I just do?" he asked
"You just challenged him to a draw." Liam answered, "Now you have to go outside and fight him."
"How?" Cole asked
"You have to stand across from each other." Liam said, "But since you challenged him, you have to say 'Draw' and then he pulls out his pistol and fires. You cannot draw your pistol until he draws his first. Is that clear?"
"Uh-yeah." Cole answered, "But I don't have a gun."
"Then yer screwed." his brother said coldly.
Cole walked over to the pool table and stared down at the green covering. He was terrified. But suddenly he felt a wave of confidence come over him.
"Cole let's go." his brothers said, "We can get out from the back of the saloon."
"No." Cole replied, "I have to do this" He looked down at the pool table and grabbed the orange "5 Ball" strapped it to his belt and walked outside.
Gromp stood in the middle of the dirty street waiting for Cole. His hand rested on his revolver. Cole took his stand fifty feet away from Gromp.
"On yer call bloy!" Gromp yelled
Cole stood silently, staring down his opponent. Then the word left his mouth, "Draw!"
Gromp pulled the revolver an inch out of the holster and began to raise it when Cole grabbed his "5 Ball" and hurled it at the giant soldier. The ball hit Gromp in the head and he fell to the ground. Cole ran towards Gromp who was squirming on the ground. Cole dove for the revolver which lay next to Gromp. He picked it up stood to his feet, pulled back the hammer on the gun and fired a shot into Gromp's forehead.
Cole walked away from the dead body, admiring his new revolver.
Cole opened his eyes and looked at Pit, who so closely resembled Gromp pursuing the girl. He grabbed Pit and pulled him aside. "That's enough." he said as he pulled Pit out of the saloon onto the dimly lit street. Conrad rode up to Cole and Pit towing their horses.
"Hurry," Conrad said, "Sawyer's on his way here now with four hundred men!"
Cole was overcome with terror as he and Pit jumped onto their horses and galloped away."
To Be Continued...