Chapter 1 of a western family in the 1850's. Strong family ties, and lots of action.
| CHAPTER 1
Yes, it was going to be another hot day in the valley where even the shade provided no relief for man or beast. On days such as these a man needed a good cool drink to make things right. The thought of being able to quench his thirst made him push his horse a little harder. Jasen Weathers had just ridden into Ikeville, Kentucky.
Ikeville was just another one of those old cow towns in the mountains. It consisted of a general store, a couple of saloons, several hotels, and a very big delivery stable, and then there was Ben’s Den, the oldest building in Iketown. Some people say it was built in 1783. The old building was not much to look at, but you couldn’t get better vittles anywhere else, except maybe if you went to one of them fancy places like in St. Louis, but if you asked anyone around Ikeville, even them places couldn’t hold a candle to old Ben’s Den. To the east corner of town, past the boarding house, was the Sheriff’s office and next to that was his house.
You wouldn’t have given Jasen a second look. He looked like any other mountain man with his deerskin outfit, and his beaver hat. This was what he liked wearing. It was comfortable on his long rides. He knew George, his boss, the federal judge, had hated his outfit. George had thought a United States Marshal should wear something more presentable. Jasen told him that the day he couldn't ride in his deerskin outfit and beaver hat he would quit. It was a continuing argument between the judge and himself. Besides he enjoyed seeing him livid. Jasen was a big man standing 6'4 and weighing about 230 lbs. He had sandy long hair to his shoulders. He had often been told he was pleasant to look at, but in this town no one would easily recognize the deadly gunfighter because just about every man here wore deerskin and was of good stature. Some men were even bigger than him. What everyone did notice though was the enormous white stallion he rode on. He would go for almost 20 hands. Lucky was one gorgeous horse, but he could be mean as the devil when provoked.
Jasen had gotten Lucky from a Tennessee family who couldn’t do anything with him. Jasen got on him and the big stallion knew this was a man worthy to ride him, for he too was as ornery and mean as the devil too. They deserved one another. It had not been easy to ride the stallion at first for over an hour Lucky did everything in his power to get him off, bucking, falling, trying to bite him, trying to slam him against the corral rails and even sliding up against it to obliterate the rider’s leg, but it seemed like the rider could sense what he was going to do and he was always there sliding off the horse, moving his leg or whatever it took to show this beast that he was the one in control. The other thing the people would have noticed was Jasen’s well-oiled pearl handled twin 44s hanging at his hips, there were no notches, nor marks. And you could plainly see the way he carried himself, he was not a man to be messed with.
Jasen tied Lucky near the saloon. He wanted to get that cool drink, he has been longing for. Then he would get a bath before he headed to Ma’s farm. Jasen wanted to get the weeklong dust off him before he met up with Ma. She could still be a mean woman when she had a notion to be and there were a few things you did before you stepped into her house. First, you smelled fresh, second you better had washed your hands before you sat down to eat, and last of all, you waited for the blessing before you reached to get your vittles. All her seven kids were grown now, but Ma still had that wooden spoon by her side at all times. And she wouldn’t have any qualms about hitting you with it, and that could be amazingly painful.
Ma in her late sixties was still very energetic and agile, and if you wanted Pa's support, it was well known that you wouldn't get it. He would just look away; even the grandchildren wouldn't mess with Ma. Pa on the other hand was a very easygoing, agreeable man, to be in his early seventies; he was very energetic, and still a big man. All he wanted was; peace and quiet and of course for everyone to leave Ma alone as long as Ma wasn't mad he was fine, if they riled her up sooner or later he was the one that had to pay for it. Pa still enjoyed working the farm. They still raised their garden and raised wheat for extra income.
Jasen went on into the saloon. He smiled to himself. After six years of being away old man Taylor, still had never figured out a name for his saloon. It was still named, “Old Saloon”. Jasen looked around at the same three poker tables, the old, weathered long bar. The same old, rickety tables provided for privacy, and yes even the faded portrait of Madame Ruby, still hung on the wall smiling down on anyone who by chance, happened to look her way. Nope, nothing had changed much that was for sure.
Strolling over to the bar he saw Taylor behind it and asked him for a beer. He recalled that the old man, was so cheap he attended to the bar himself and Jasen knew better than to order whiskey from the man because it too was sure to be cheap and strong. He bet if you drunk a whole bottle of it, the whiskey would burn a hole in your stomach. Everyone harassed old Taylor about his whiskey, but he paid them no mind, for he was proud of it. After all he made it himself which saved him money.
Jasen went to the table to drink alone when he spotted a middle age man looking at him. The fellow nodded and then asked, "How about a game there stranger?”
Jasen could tell a card shark when he saw one. It made him wonder what a gent like him would be doing in Iketown. This old town never made any money. He looked at the guy and said “no thanks.”
Old Taylor looked up at Jasen and asked "ain’t you one of old man Weathers boys?"
Jasen looked at the old man and replied, "Yeah we’re kin."
At that moment a few fellows overheard their conversation and turned around from the bar. One loud mouth guy laughed and said, "You better get out of here then mister. Red, here is getting drunker by the minute and he hates all the Weathers."
Jasen looked at the guy and replied, “I’ll leave when I get good and ready to leave.”
Red turned around and looked at Jasen he said,” You’ll leave now". Red’s hand went down to his gun and the man at the table said "Red, cool down, Jack ain’t going to like you causing trouble and spoiling his plans.”
Red angrily exploded, "I ain’t afraid of Jack or anybody else.” He then walked over to Jasen and leaned down into his face. Gritting his teeth with anger spurred on by the drink he said, "Did you hear what I said!"
Looking Red up and down slowly Jasen straightened in his chair to meet him eye to eye. "Are you going to keep talking or do something?"
This infuriated Red so, that he took a step back preparing to take Jasen on. The sound of a double barrel shotgun being cocked broke the tension. Old Taylor held the gun firmly in his hands. “Gentlemen, take it outside. I don't want any bloodshed in here." Chairs could be heard scraping the rotted wooden floor of the saloon.
The man from the poker table stood up with several of his friends. "We're leaving Taylor. We don't want any trouble." Grabbing Red firmly they escorted him out of the building.
Taylor walked over to Jasen. "If you've finished your drink I would like you to leave too." Rising Jasen nodded his understanding, "Okay Taylor, Thanks for the drink". Throwing a few coins on the table he headed out the swinging doors.
No sooner had he stepped outside, Red was there drawing on him. Without even thinking about it he reached for his gun and put a 44 slug between Reds eyes. Red hadn't even been given the chance to level his gun fully at Jasen when he dropped to the ground with a hard thud, his eyes staring blankly, into the sky. And Jasen knew Red would never bother another soul again.
The gambler, Bobby Ray, and the other two fellows stood stunned and surprised. Red was faster than most men in the territory. He was in fact Jack's best gunman, even though he had a reputation of being uncontrollable. Bobby Ray knew about speed and gunfighters, and what he had just witnessed surpassed any quick draw he had ever seen. It was in fact the fastest draw he had ever seen. He would remember not to make this stranger upset. You could be sure he would tell Jack that it was probably a good idea to leave the rustling of old man Weather’s cows alone. Besides he didn't really own enough cows to make it worthwhile. He had already cautioned Jack once not to mess with old man Weathers. After all he still had two sons and two daughters living nearby. The other boys had moved on.
Stephen Weathers is a bounty hunter, while Michael was studying law in St. Louis. The brothers that lived on the land were William the oldest then Stuart the next to the youngest who's wife, Lucille, was fixing to have a youngun anytime. Janet lived in the next town Hollom, KY, with her husband, Travis. He was the Sheriff there and he was no stranger to trouble, while Polly was the youngest daughter and she along with Janet ran the Hollom dress store. Now all the brothers together was a bad tribe to mess with but the worst to tangle with, was Jasen he was the middle child, whom had made a name for himself and was a well known lawman and if anything would happen to anyone in that family, oh well, he felt sorry for that someone and knew it sure wouldn’t be him. Bobby Ray was sure Jasen would make his way down to investigate, and Jack did not need that.
After the bath, and shave from the hotel Jasen headed on that familiar path heading to the Weathers farm, it must be a good ten miles from town. On the way there Jasen spotted a rider heading towards town Jasen loosened his guns a little, something that has kept him alive all these years. As the man got closer, he saw the stranger had a badge on. The lawman looked at Jasen and introduced himself to Jasen. “I am Deputy Mead.” He asked Jasen “where you heading?”
Jasen thought of the fort nearby, and told Mead “I’m Jasen Weatherby, and I am heading towards the fort." Mead being content with the strangers answer rode on towards town. With a watchful eye Jasen watched him ride off until he was out of sight.
Jasen was happy to hit familiar ground, when he had been riding about twenty minutes more Jasen was encountered by about six riders coming up to him when a fine young man in his early 20s said “I was fixing to ask your business here, but I can tell your a Weathers.”
Jasen looked at the young man and asked, “Are you William and Sharon’s boy?”
Matt said “yes sir and over there is Todd.” Jasen shook his head and said “I know I have been gone to long now you boys were knee high when I last saw you.”
Todd said, “Your Uncle Jasen. Aren’t you?”
Jasen smiled, “yes.”
Matt told the guys “come on lets get back to the farm and I’ll let Ma and Pa know your heading to mamaw’s house.”
Jasen rode on towards the farm when he heard a trigger pull back, that has always made a mans neck hairs stand up when you hear a shotguns trigger and then he heard Ma's voice “supper fixing to be ready if you want to stay, but if your looking for trouble I’ll bury you back on the top field with the rest.”
Pa was running out of the field and hollowing at Ma, “dad burn it woman can't you tell one of your own young’uns?”
Ma came running out as Jasen got off Lucky. Ma came up to Jasen and hugged him then she stepped back and looked at Jasen and slapped him. Ma said "Jasen it sure took you long enough."
Jasen rubbed his cheek and then quietly said "I came as soon as you wrote me Ma"
Ma slapped Jasen again and she said "that is for six years of worrying your mother; I didn’t know if you were dead or alive.”
Jasen knew better to say anything else; he knew Ma was just showing him she was happy to see him. Then she hugged him again and she said “My Jasen, has become such a famous person, every time Stephen or Michael sends me newspapers, there you are, fighting with your guns. Why don't you settle down and find yourself a wife and have a family. I swear Jasen you’ll be the death of me yet.” Ma kept rambling on she said “Stephen and Michael will be getting here soon and Stuart will be here as soon as his work in his field is finished. But I wasn’t worried about the one's that are close; I wanted Stephen, Michael and you to hurry home in case we need some more gun power.”
When they went inside the chilly old house Ma told him to sit and she would get him and Pa some coffee.
Pa looked at Jasen and said “I guess your wondering why your Ma wrote you,” he continued “about 2 months ago I was plowing the upper field when I found something shiny in the ground and of course I stooped down to see what it was and saw it was silver, so then I came back to the house and fetched me a small bag and filled it up. Then Ma and I headed into town and that was when it started Jack Timberwood’s gang was in town and Ma and I had to kill three of them before we got out of town.”
Then Ma said “yep and we went to that good for nothing Sheriff Perry and we told him he needed to do something about those bandits, and of course the Sheriff promised he would check in on it, but I believe he and Deputy Mead are in on it with this gang with their stage robberies and holdups and their cattle rustling.”
Jasen asked “what about Buck Jones the US Marshal for this area?”
Ma looked at Jasen and said “what about him? We can handle this ourselves and plus your the law in this family.”
Jasen tried to explain his position again, “Ma this isn’t my territory we are all assigned different areas I have 3 deputies under me. And we work our assigned territories until they all become states.”
Ma looked at Jasen and said “The law around here ain’t worth a hill of beans that is why I’m bringing the family in and we are going to straighten this mess out!”
Jasen looked at Pa and said "Pa talk to Ma about this explain to her that you can’t just go around shooting people, this is the 1850's. Do something!”
Ma was fit to be tied, she grabbed her wooden spoon and swung it at Jasen, but he was already out the door and running towards Lucky and heading out.
Jasen hollered back “Ma I’m heading back into town to talk to the Sheriff and see what’s going on and please Ma, don't tell anyone I’m in town just yet ok.”
Ma smiled and hollered at Jasen “that’s my boy, Jasen go get that good for nothing Sheriff, Oh be home before dark I have someone I want you to meet.”
Jasen waved bye and Ma said “I mean it Jasen.” Jasen just shook his head, forty years old, and she’s still trying to tell me what to do.