Ghost Riders of Bloody Creek - Excerpt
Colton's horse Duke bucked slightly at the sound of distant gunshots. Stretching his hand forward and speaking softly, Colton patted the neck of the big Roan he called Duke, and to reassure him said, "Easy fella, I heard it too."
Colton was a retired Texas Ranger, whom the town of Idaho City, Idaho had hired to find and bring to justice the varmints who had been holding up shipments of payroll money needed to pay the many mine workers and general labor, hired by the many businesses in town.
There were only a handful of witnesses to the robberies and their descriptions of the robbers were that they appeared to be ghosts. He was told that even the horses of the robbers, were ghost horses. Colton summarized that the riders had donned white sheets, and had even draped their horses to make them unrecognizable.
The ghost riders were very efficient at their robbing. Colton knew that by the time he arrived at where he figured the shots had come from, they would be long gone. He could only hope that there were no dead this time, but the several shots he heard, were not a good sign. Lately, the ghost riders had taken to killing everyone, leaving no witnesses. The last robbery, the old man riding shotgun had faked death, and survived long enough to give witness to the ghost like robbers. He also said that he saw the tip of a boot sticking out beneath the sheet, and it was red.
More echoing gunshots rang out as Colton spurred Duke into a stiff gallop. Duke knew his job, and at once was running at full speed. Colton's eyes were on the trail, looking for anything that would cause Duke to stumble. A horse with rider, traveling at full gallop, could be deadly if he stumbled.
In his days as a Texas Ranger, Colton had relied on his God given ability. The things he had learned, along with pure gut instinct to keep himself alive, his horse skills were as sharp as any of the many Indian's he had chased.
"If those gunshots were from the ghost riders," thought Colton, "then they are coming from Bloody Creek, and I'm already too late ..."
Colton had planned on being at Bloody Creek before daylight, to observe any movement of riders, but had overslept due to the late night he had spent with Emma Starr, the love of his life. He smiled now, remembering how the night had gone, and his attention was drawn away from the trail and that would cost him.
He and Emma had met at five o'clock and went to Polly's eatery, where they spent well over an hour in eating and small talk. It was at these times, that Colton found himself falling a little more in love with the lovely Emma Starr. After their meal, Colton had suggested a buggy ride. Colton had in mind to show Emma a spread of land he was thinking of purchasing, if her answer to his marriage proposal was yes. As he thought about his love for Emma, his thoughts went back to another time a few years ago and another love.
Colton had been married before to Amanda Soule. As a couple, they were quite a sight. He was six feet two, with broad shoulders, and a stern expression, that exuded a quiet confidence and strength. In comparison, Amanda was a tiny gal, who barely came to Colton's shoulder. He would look down at her and his expression (that made many a robber shake in his boots) changed to one of love. He caressed her with his eyes, as he stroked her long blonde tresses. Amanda was pregnant with their first child and he waited on her, hand and foot, when he was home. He couldn't wait for his baby to be born, but unfortunately, there was a gang that had robbed a bank that was in his district, and he was obliged to go. Amanda wasn't due for another three weeks, so she urged Colton to go. "I won't let that baby come before you get back." She smiled at him and said, "I promise."
That promise was broken the next day, when the pains began. Annie, a mid-wife, lived only two doors down and, holding her belly, she hurried to Annie's house and pounded on her door.
"Help Annie," she cried, "I think I'm going to have the baby."
Annie opened the door to the pounding. "Amanda, honey, what's the matter?
"The baby is coming." "Nonsense," Annie replied, "You've got, at the least, two more weeks to go"
Amanda let out a loud scream and clutched her belly.
At that, Annie swung the door wide and pulled Amanda in roughly. She pushed her onto the couch, and quickly examined her.
"Yep, you sure are going to have that baby. You go on home and I'll gather up my things and be right along."
Amanda went to leave but turned around and said, "I can't have the baby now, I promised Colton I wouldn't have the baby 'til he came back. He so wanted to be there when I had it."
Annie clucked her tongue. "Well, dearie, promise, or no promise, that little one wants out." She wiped her hands on her dirty apron and waddled back inside the house. She was a rather large woman and with her stringy, greasy, gray hair, she was not the picture of cleanliness, but she had the reputation of being an excellent mid-wife.
Just a few minutes after Amanda got home; Annie bustled into the house and set up her implements.
"This is your first darlin', so you've got a long wait. She took Amanda into the bedroom and, once more, examined her. A couple of minutes passed, and then Amanda cried out!
"Help me Annie. I'm dyin'. I want Colton," she sobbed.
Those would be the last words that Amanda would speak. Her small framed body arched up off the mattress, a loud sigh left her lips, and then she was gone.
"Oh Lordy, no!" said Annie out loud. She bent down with her ear to Amanda's chest, but could hear nothing. "Sweet Jesus, I've got to go get doc." She ran out of the house.
A few minutes later, she and Doc came rushing back into the bedroom where Amanda lay. Doc took out his stethoscope and listened. Shaking his head he said, "She's gone." Doc then checked to see if there was another heartbeat." Detecting nothing, Doc went to his medical bag and removed a scalpel. He proceeded to cut Amanda's belly open to get to the unborn baby, and just as he had suspected the baby was stillborn. Checking the baby he told Annie it was a boy.
"That's what Amanda wanted," said Annie. "Colton Jr. would have been his name."
Doc laid the little babe next to Amanda.
"How long will it be before Colton is due back?"