Into the West: Last Showdown Sneak Peeks
This is an unedited free version of a scenes I am working on as part of part
five of my Into the West Saga Serial -- Into the West: Last Showdown.
Please do not copy, print, download, or share this text. If you know someone
else who would like to read this, please just direct them to this page. Thank
you. All text is copyright protected.
Please note, these scenes may or may not end up in the final published
version of the book. Strange things can happen during editing, but they
are part of the story at this time in the development.
Into the West: Last Showdown
March 26, 2021
As soon as Tonja left to head back to her campsite, Ines hightailed it to the Blacksmith’s behind the Dry Goods store.
Clyde Dawson owned the Blacksmith shop and had been in Sharon Springs since before it was an actual town. Clyde had been a former slave but had one his freedom due to events he has never felt the need to share publicly
and no one in town was about to press hi on the matter. Everyone had a right to their own privacy about such things.
Clyde had started out working for Mr. Stephens but as he built the town up, Mr. Stephens knew the townsfolk would need a good Blacksmith as well. So instead of trying to bring in another blacksmith, he helped Clyde set up his own shop in town. Mr. Stephens said it was because he wanted the best of everything for his town and he had never met a better blacksmith than Clyde Dawson.
Clyde had stables and storage he rented out to the townsfolk who didn’t have enough space in town to store their wagons and horses. He had plenty of space and fair rates.
Steve Meyer had been working for Clyde for a few months. Steve had just turned 19 and was trying to get his life on track after a few missteps with the law. He had never committed any violent crimes, but he had pushed his luck more than once with some petty theiving the last few years to try to help his family survive.
The Meyer family had also immigrated from Germany years back and had moved out west about the same time as the Rülkes. The Meyer family had a few rough years after moving to the Kansas Territory and it was their plight and few other like them that had moved Ines and her family to finally take action to help their neighbors they felt were being unfairly treated.
Luckily for Steve, Sheriff Ike “Shorty” Rowlett had taken a liking to the boy and had tried to help him find ways to help his family that did not involve thieving. It was Shorty who had talked the Clyde into giving Steve a job in his stable tending the horses. Steve had a real affinity for the animals and it had been a good match for everyone involved.
Ines knew Clyde had been courting a woman over in little settlement not far from Sharon Springs. The whole group of settlers were former slaves who had moved to the Kansas territory in hopes they live free lives and make their own way. It was a fair ride there and back so Clyde had been leaving early and letting Steve deal with any customers that might come in. He rarely got back until well after dark.
Steve always left for home to have dinner with his family about six every evening and would not be back until the morning. Ines gave him a few extra minutes to get things closed up and head out just to be sure she wouldn’t run into him.
If she could get the wagon out of town without anyone seeing her it would be a miracle but she really didn’t want to get Steve involved if she could help it. He was a good kid and it was bad enough she was already corrupting Tonja. She did not want to add Steve to her list of sins.
Into the West: Last Showdown
March 12, 2021
Fritz and Jenny had been able to sneak out of town on foot and make their way unseen to a hidden campsite near the valley outside of town. In one of the bluffs overlooking the valley, was a small cave set back on a ledge about twelve feet above the valley floor. Most of the ledge was hidden by blackberry bushes that grew along a good deal of the ledge in front of the cave.
Ines and Jenny happened upon the cave a few years after moving to town. They had noticed the blackberry bushes on their way back to town and had climbed up the bluff face to pick some berries to make jam. When they found the cave, they decided to hide the entrance with tumbleweeds and brush to try to keep their find a secret. As far as they knew, no one else had found their hiding spot.
On a subsequent trip, they found a small passageway in the bluff where they were able to get a horse and a rider through, single file. They were able to ride straight up to the ledge. As long as you didn’t shy from tight places, it was much better than climbing up the bluff face.
Once they had been fairly certain no one else was using the cave, they began stowing basic supplies there. Whenever they passed through the area, they usually came by to check on things. Over time they were able to outfit the cave with most basic necessities and even used it to store their old theater trappings. They still had trunks of costumes, props, and an assortment of makeup that included wigs and other hair pieces to completely change any actor into the character of their choice.
Since Fritz and Jenny had traveled on foot this time, it was not a problem getting through the passage to the back of the ledge. They had emerged from the passageway and worked their way behind the bushes to the cave entrance. Fritz cleared away the brush and bits of wood they had placed to brace up their camouflage so he and Jenny could go inside. It took a bit of work to get it all back in place once inside, but he managed. He had plenty of practice over the years. They felt their way through the caves entrance and around the sharp right turn into the main cavern. Fritz opened a trunk near the back wall and took out a couple of bedrolls and a candle in a tin holder.
Fritz struck a match on the back of the candle holder and lit the wick in what was left of the old candle. The tiny flame was all their dared have tonight. He and Jenny set up camp and settled in to wait.
Jenny sat crosslegged on her bedding. She had to shift and reach under the blankets to move a few errant stones she had missed when rolling out her bed. She settled back in place and pulled the carpet bag she had brought with her into her lap. She opened the bag and took out a few tins of meat and a fresh, crusty loaf of bread. Jenny tore some bread off the loaf for each of them and put the rest away while her father opened the tins.
Fritz proudly pulled out the can opener he had received as a gift from Ezra J. Warner himself, the man who invented it. At least, that is what the letter read that had come with can opener asking the Rules to sell consider selling them in their Dry Goods Store. Fritz smiled at Jenny and raised his left eyebrow a few times. It was a habit of his when he was trying to get a smile from her. When she finally smiled and chuckled at his antics, he smiled back and then began opening the cans.
As Fritz sawed around the cans’ lids, Jenny pulled out two spoons and wiped them off with her handkerchief. They dared not make a fire tonight. It was too easy for light to be seen from a distance out in the valley at a night. They knew even lighting the candle was a risk, but the cave was pitch black without it. Even with the brush covering the mouth of the cave and the sharp turn in the caves passage, they didn’t want to take the chance someone would see a campfire flickering and come investigate.
Many people traveled through this valley going to and from Sharon Springs. If anyone found them here, their plan would be for naught. Besides that, the ventilation was not all that great in this part of the cave. The last thing they needed to do was smoke themselves out just to have a bit of warm food tonight.
When Fritz had both cans open, he handed one to Jenny and she gave him his share of the bread. The pair ate in silence, each lost in their thoughts and neither were in the mood to share at the moment. When they finished their meal, they put away their tins and lay back on the bedrolls.
“We should try to get some sleep before Tonja shows up with the wagon,” said Fritz. He then added, “If she agreed to help us.”
Jenny tsked at her father then said, “I know Tonja will help us. It is not in her nature to refuse a friend in need. She would die for us.”
Fritz was shocked at his daughters words and quickly turned his head and spit in the dirt three times as he said, “Toi! Toi! Toi!” Then he look back at Jenny with a scowl.
“Jenny, why would you even say such a thing? It is inviting bad luck to speak of such . . . such . . . bad omens!”
“Papa, Tonja is a very smart, capable woman. She can take care of herself, she has had to most of her life.”
“I know that, but the devil is always listening, daughter. You do not need to say such things to invite his attention into our lives,” said Fritz as he ran hand nervously through his hair.
Into the West: Last Showdown
February 26, 2021
When Tonja had started earning her own money, the first thing she bought was her own horse. He had been a symbol to her of her independence and her ability to take care of herself without help from anyone else.
She had come to depend on her horse more than the people in her life, so she always made sure he knew just how much she appreciated everything he did for her. Which is why she started thanking him every time before she rode him.
For the first few months, Tonja did not have a name for him. The other performers in the Wild West show kept giving her suggestions: Fast Draw, Tawny, Dancer, Lightenin’, and many others.
Tonja just shook her head and said, “He’ll tell me what his name is when he’s
ready.” Until that time came, she just called him “My Boy”.
Not long after she got her horse, Tonja had a disturbing nightmare. She was riding hard in the dark through a wooded area with someone chasing her. She turned in her saddle to see who was behind her just as her horse made a sharp turn around a tree.
Tonja was not prepared for the sudden change in directions and was sent flying from her saddle. When she hit the ground, it knocked the wind out of her and left her dazed for just a moment. When she gathered her wits about her, she looked around frantically for her horse, but he was nowhere to be seen.
The stranger came riding up on her and pulled his horse to an abrupt halt, just inches from her; showering her with dirt and debris. Tonja reached for her sidearm. Her hand hit the leather, but to her horror, her holster was empty.
Tonja looked at her pursuer, but all she could see was a dark figure on an even darker horse. He just sat there for a moment as his horse pawed at the ground and huffed like it was mad it had to stop the chase. Then the dark rider slowly drew down on her.
All Tonja could do was sit there as she heard the stranger pull back the hammer on his revolver. She let out a sigh of resignation as she waited for him to pull the trigger. Just at that moment her horse came running out from the trees and charged the stranger and his horse.
Her horse reared and kicked at the stranger, sending him flying from his mount. Unfortunately for him, his foot was caught in the stirrup, leaving him half hanging from the side of his horse.
Tonja’s horse continued his attack, kicking and biting at the other horse, causing it to dance over its entangled rider. Suddenly, the dark horse took off at a dead run dragging its rider with him. As Tonya sat, watching in disbelief as the dark figures disappear through the trees she felt a soft nose and warm breath on her neck.
Tonja turned and looked at her saviour. She stood up and wrapped her arms around her horse’s neck and began to thank him profusely.
She moved around in front of him and held his harness as she placed her forehead on his.
“Oh my dear Lord,” said Tonja. “I haven’t been that scared in all my life.”
Tonja pulled back and looked him in the eyes as she said, “You’re my hero.”
Her horse started nodding his head, yes, just as something woke her from her dream. Tonja sat straight up and looked around. Her horse had gotten loose from where she had tied him off for the night and was standing over her with a copperhead snake hanging dead in its teeth. It was still nodding its head, beating the snake on a nearby rock.
Tonja jumped up and quickly began calming down her horse. She took the dead snake from him and quickly check him over to make sure he had not been bit.
When she was sure he was going to be fine she took hold of his harness and looked him in the eyes and said, “My God, boy. You really are my hero.”
Just like in her dream, the horse began to nod his head, yes. Tonja had to laugh. Suddenly she felt a strange connection to her horse. With an indescribable certainty she knew his name.
“Hero,” she said, with a touch awe in her voice at what was happening.
When she said the name, her horse once again nodded his head, yes. Tonja leaned down and touched her forehead to his as she scratched his chin and whispered, “My Hero.”