Each weekday on this blog you will find an episode of a western short story featuring Rance Dehner, a detective who operates in the old West. When the story concludes, it will be archived for those readers who prefer to read a story from start to finish.
“You can have my
badge!” He ripped the star off his vest and threw it at the saloon owner.
Walking around the desk he began to unbuckle his gunbelt. “The town bought this
gun for me when I became sheriff. You can have it back too.”
The disgraced lawman began to hand Fenton Goulding his gun but as he did, he
slipped the six gun from the holster and fired into Goulding’s face. As blood
splattered over him, Dehner drew iron and triggered a bullet directly into
Laverty’s chest. The lawman stumbled backwards and fell.
Spur Sanders and Dehner quickly checked the bodies of Fenton Goulding and Rob
Laverty. It was a matter of routine. They knew both men were dead. Rance
noticed a shiny object, spotted by blood, lying on the floor between the
corpses. He picked up the badge and handed it to Spur Sanders.
Buck Torveen stepped out of the barn
and watched his sister with increasing curiosity as he approached the ranch
house. She was tying several old blankets over the bed of their wagon.
“What’s up, sis?” His tone conveyed
Rebecca was not in a joking mood.
“I’m covering up all of my things. The trail to Forrest’s ranch can get pretty
“Why do you need to take all of your
things? You said you were goin’ over there for dinner.”
Rebecca did a final check of her
handiwork. “The blankets should stay in place for the ride.”
“Rebecca, I asked you a question.”
“Reverend Buchanan and his wife are
also going to be there. Forrest had a long conversation with the pastor after
he got out of jail this morning.”
Buck shrugged his shoulders. “So?
Why are you takin’ all of your things?”
“Forrest and I are getting married
at his ranch this evening.”
“What? We planned a big wedding with
all our friends. You aren’t even inviting me!”
Rebecca turned to face her brother;
the anger that had been in her eyes earlier in the day was still there, only
now it was aimed entirely at him. “I don’t want a big wedding, Buck. I want to
feel safe. You allowed your brother to be ambushed. When there was real
trouble, I had to hire two detectives. Forrest is a man who not only loves me,
he can protect me. I have one more bag to pack, then I’m gone.”
She began a brisk walk toward the
house, then suddenly turned around and yelled in a voice heavy with sarcasm,
“Drop by and see us, any time!”
The red glare of sunset was easing
off, creating a pattern of odd shadows as Rebecca guided the wagon down the
road. A long grove of trees lay ahead. As she got closer to the cottonwoods, a
rider came out of the grove and onto the road. Someone had been waiting for
She halted the horses and gazed in
amazement at the figure in front of her.
“Hello, Becca, surprised to see me?”
The woman replied in a near cry.
“You’re the only person who ever called me Becca. I’ve missed you, Wes.”
“I never went away, Becca, not
“Wes, I don’t understand.”
“Let me explain it to you.” The
rider drew nearer to the wagon. Rance Dehner pulled back one of the blankets,
sprang up from the bed of the wagon and jumped onto the rider. Both men hit the
ground and scrambled to their feet. Dehner delivered a roundhouse punch to the
side of his opponent’s head. The man went down and Rance grabbed his beard,
which came off.
The man lying on the ground was Buck
Tomorrow: Episode Twenty-Two, the
conclusion of One Arm Lightning