Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Now Playing: Full Moon
New to these parts? To start at the beginning of the story,
click Full Moon 1.
Episode Six concluded with:
Will Maltin smashed a fist into his father’s face. The move was awkward, but the elder Maltin wasn’t expecting it. Bradford stumbled backwards. He quickly regained his footing and faked a punch to his son’s head. Will bent down, eyes on his father’s fist. Bradford tripped his son. As Will went down, Bradford jumped onto him, grabbed his hair and pounded his head three times against the floor.
Bradford rose slowly as Samuel’s loud cries mixed with Will’s moans. He weaved toward Leona. “You’re coming with me. Bring Samuel.”
Leona took a step backwards, pressing the baby tightly against her chest. “No.”
Bradford pulled his pistol from its shoulder holster. “My son was right. I’ll kill you if need be.”
Rance Dehner and Del Burgess were riding at a steady but frustratingly slow pace toward the line shack. The two men wanted to move faster, but Del was guiding a pack horse burdened with supplies for Leona.
They both stopped as they saw a buckboard barreling directly toward them. The clattering of the wagon and the hoofbeats of the four horses pulling it didn’t completely overwhelm the sound of a young woman’s screams.
Rance and Del quickly guided their horses off the road and watched as the wagon went by. “That’s Leona!”
Rance took off after the buckboard, positioning himself on the driver’s side. Galloping toward the wagon, he thought he saw Bradford Maltin pull a gun. Leona was sitting beside Maltin. She held Samuel tightly with one arm, and with the other hand she was holding on to the backless bench that was swaying violently on its springs.
The detective yanked his bandana over his nose to protect from the wagon’s clouds of dust. As he came even with the floor of the buckboard, Rance yelled, “Fall back, Leona!”
The young woman held tightly to her child as she fell backwards. Dehner was now even with the driver. Maltin fired a shot at the detective, but he had to hold onto to the horses’ reins with his other hand as the wagon bumped along. His shot went wild.
“Throw down the gun!” Dehner shouted as he reached toward his holster.
Maltin partially stood and raised his pistol for another shot but was stopped by a bullet from Rance’s Colt. Bradford dropped the reins as he collapsed onto the bench of the wagon.
Holstering his gun, Dehner let his horse drop back to a position beside the wagon bed. Moving in close to the buckboard, he removed his feet from the stirrups of his saddle and leaped on board.
Leona was bent over Samuel, protecting him from the dust. Dehner could see Bradford Maltin sitting up, leaning forward and grabbing the horses’ reins. His body weaved and then fell. A loud cry sounded over the pounding hoofbeats as Maltin tumbled from the wagon.
Rance quickly reached the bench and took command of the horses. After stopping the wagon, he turned toward the young woman. “Are you okay?”
“Yes, I think so,” she said above a cacophony of loud bawls, “He’s upset, of course, but he’s fine.”
Rance Dehner smiled at the young woman’s reply. Her thoughts were entirely about her son, not herself.
“Good thing that horse of yours is faster than my nag!” Del pulled up by the wagon, jumped on board and embraced Leona, the noisy infant pressed between them.
Dehner hopped from the wagon. A battered body lay a few yards down the road. As he approached it he could also see a lone horseman approaching. The detective instinctively drew his gun. He knew little of the people involved in this matter and could take no chances.
“Father!” Will Maltin reined up, quickly dismounted and ran to his father. Dehner watched as the young man crouched over Bradford Maltin.
The businessman’s eyes were glassy, but he was still lucid. “Don’t tell your mother…truth…make up something…”
Bradford Maltin smiled at his son. “That was a good punch you gave me…you’re not a weakling…” The businessman went limp.
Will Maltin began to weep. Dehner looked away at the young couple in the wagon trying to comfort a crying baby. He suddenly felt very helpless. There was nothing he could do for any of them.
Sixteen months later, Rance Dehner received a letter which was sent to him in care of the Lowrie Detective Agency in Dallas, Texas. The return address at the top bore the name of Will Maltin.
Dear Mr. Dehner:
During our brief meeting last year, I came to appreciate that you are a man of great competence and discretion. You are a gentleman. Therefore, I am confident that I can entrust you with the following matter.
I am now employed by the company once owned by my father. I have risen to a prominent position with a commensurate salary and can now make amends for an earlier indiscretion.
I am aware that Del Burgess planned to marry Leona. They were going to leave Colter and start a new life where they could raise Samuel free of wagging tongues.
Such a course of action is laudable and I wish to provide financial assistance. My plan is to send them five hundred dollars every year at Christmas. Of course, the gift will be anonymous.
Please be assured that I do not intend to cause any trouble for Mr. and Mrs. Burgess or to make any claims on Samuel. I am now courting a woman of appropriate station in life and realize the foolishness of my earlier dalliance. Nevertheless, I am a man of honour.
I wish to engage you to find out where Del and Leona Burgess are now living and provide me with the address where I can send the money. Enclosed is a cheque. Please let me know if the sum is adequate.
Thank you for the efforts of your good offices.
Dehner returned the check along with the address which he already knew. Rance felt confident that Will was telling the truth. He wouldn’t cause
and Leona any problems. But the
detective was also uneasy. There was an aristocratic arrogance that tinged the
letter, the writing of a man who always expected to get his way. Was Will
Maltin becoming like his father? Dehner hoped not. Del
Tomorrow: Rance Dehner returns in a new western adventure, The Darkness
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