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Authors: Robert J. Thomas

Brother's Keeper

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The Second in a Series of Jess Williams Novels
Brother’s Keeper
By

 

Robert J. Thomas

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the publisher. For information contact Boji Books d/b/a R & T Enterprise, Inc., 7474 N. Hix Road, Westland, Michigan 48185

Copyright © 2005 by Robert J. Thomas
Publication Date: January 2006
Published by: boji books d/b/a R & T Enterprise, Inc. Cover Illustration by Dave Hile, Hile Illustration and Design LLC, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Publisher’s Cataloging-In-Publication Data

 

(Prepared by The Donohue Group, Inc.)

 

(Prepared by The Donohue Group, Inc.)

 

 

Brother's keeper / Robert J. Thomas.

p. ; cm. -- (Jess Williams novels ; 2)
Sequel to: The reckoning.
Summary: Jess returns to his hometown of Black Creek,

Kansas, to continue on his chosen path of being a professional bounty hunter. His new mission is to locate the brother he never knew he had until recently -- a brother who may have had something to do with one of the murderers of Jess' family.

ISBN: 0-9668304-3-1

 

1. Brothers--Fiction. 2. Bounty hunters--Fiction. 3. Western stories. I. Title.

PS3620.H66 B76 2006
813.6 2005902657 In memory of Bernice V. Dopkowski (October 28, 1913~August 29, 1993) In this book I have depicted Bernice as Wanda Dopkowski, a polish immigrant who came out west and worked as a cook in the town of Baxter. I wanted to do something different from the usual dedication page and knowing the impact she had and still has on my wife’s life and family, I thought a letter from me to her would be appropriate.

Dear Wanda:

When I first met you, I was dating your granddaughter, Jill. I know that you wondered if our relationship would work. After all, there was a 17 year age difference. I was the Mayor of Westland, Michigan, and politics pretty much ruled every aspect of my life at that time. I know that you wondered what the future held for us and that you only wanted the best for Jill.

I want you to know that we got married a few years after you passed away and your granddaughter is very happy. I will make sure that she will always be cared for and loved unconditionally by me. She was the best thing that ever happened to me and I believe that if she could tell you, she would say the same. I wanted you to know that.

I am sorry that our time together on this earth was not longer as I feel as though I have missed out on a great relationship. Jill talks about you often. She told me that you had a love for fishing. I have always loved fishing myself and regret not being able to do this together. I plan to take Jill fishing on the lake you loved, Lake Mindemoya, and when we do, I know she will call on you to help her catch the biggest fish.

Wanda, your entire family still remembers you, talks about you and still loves you very much. I know that Jill certainly does and I’m sure that wherever you are, you are on a lake, still catching fish. Save a few for me. We all love you and we will always remember you.

A
UTHOR

S
N
OTE

For those of you who read THE RECKONING, you know the whole story behind the unique pistol and holster that is depicted on the front cover. For those of you who didn’t read THE RECKONING, the pistol and holster on the cover of BROTHER’S KEEPER is the type of pistol and holster used in today’s fast draw competitions. I had this pistol custom built as well as the holster.

In THE RECKONING, this pistol is somehow, with no real explanation as to how or why, transported back in time from 2002 to 1876, where young Jess Williams finds it hanging on a peg under his father’s hat. Dave Walters, the man who had the pistol and holster custom built for himself in 2002, mysteriously loses them after locking them up in his gun locker. He then finds the pistol and holster in a small basement museum and is so astonished at the discovery; he decides to accept the discovery as if it were fate or destiny.

In SINS OF THE FATHER, the third in the series of Jess Williams Novels, Dave Walters will make another discovery which will somewhat explain why Jess Williams received this unique pistol and holster and it will tie Dave Walters and Jess Williams together for the first time.

Chapter
One
J

ESS WOKE AT DAYBREAK AND
ate a breakfast of salt pork and pan bread. He had learned to make pretty good pan bread and he

made it several different ways. Sometimes he made it with just flour and water, mixing it up good and pouring it into the skillet after frying up the salt pork. When it got brown on one side, he would flip it over until brown and then he would cover it and let it bake a few minutes more. Sometimes he added a little corn meal and he had even taken to adding some beef or salt pork crumpled up in it. Sometimes he would make some extra so that he could eat it on the trail during the afternoon when he got hungry.

He ate his breakfast right there under the big oak tree that graciously shaded the family cemetery. He had spent last night sleeping under the big oak tree after returning from a long and very bloody hunt to track down and dispense justice to the three men who had viciously murdered his entire family. His hunt had been very successful. As he ate, he looked around the old home-site and wondered what might have been. He tried to imagine that nothing had happened and he was still working the ranch with his pa. He took a deep breath and he could smell the richness of the soil that had led his pa to this place. He tried to imagine sitting down to supper with his family and enjoying a good home cooked meal that his ma had prepared. He tried to imagine his sister Samantha and whether or not she would ever quit causing him more work and trouble. He tried, but he couldn’t. His life had been so drastically changed that there was no going back, even if just for a moment in his thoughts. He had seen too many bad things and killed too many bad men to think much of anything else.

He finished up his breakfast, washing it down with a final cup of hot coffee and said another good-bye to his family. He saddled up Gray and headed into Black Creek, Kansas. As he rode down the trail to the main road leading to town, Jess felt a slight twinge of sorrow slowly creeping into him. The sorrow was like a weight on his shoulders. It was the sorrow of knowing that he would miss most of what people would consider a normal life. Normal was something that he would most likely never get to experience during his lifetime. A tear started to puddle in the corner of his eye but he brushed it away defiantly.

Much, but not all of the rage that still burned deeply within his heart, had been tempered by the knowledge that he had brutally killed all three of the men responsible for the brutal deaths of his family. He also felt the burden of the knowledge that he had killed many men, even though they were all bad men. Well, most of them. Nevada Jackson wasn’t a bad man. He was simply a bounty hunter who was very fast with a pistol but also had made a deadly miscalculation. He had thought that he was faster with a pistol than Jess and that had cost him his life. Jess couldn’t feel bad about it; it had not been his decision to draw against Nevada. And yet, knowing all of this, something deep within him knew that some of that rage would never leave him. That rage would stay with him to his grave. That was probably a good thing.

The thought of crying for his family didn’t enter his mind now. He had promised himself that he had cried for the last time last night. From now on, he would do what he could do to right any wrong or injustice that he saw. He would bring justice to the killers and rapists of innocents just as he had brought justice to the three men responsible for the murder of his pa and the murder and rape of his ma and his little seven-year-old sister, Samantha. It was his own brutal style of justice that he had been forced to learn at such an early age from dealing with other brutal men. It had not been his choice in the beginning but he had now fully accepted it. And in many cases, he would get paid for dispensing such justice. That would be his life’s work, and he was already quite good at it. He was now a hunter of men, or as some people called it, a man-killer. And he had just the right tool to help him. That tool was the very unique pistol and holster that had somehow found its way to him a few years ago. He never figured where it came from or why it found its way to him. He was simply grateful for it.

He had spent the last several months using that unique pistol and holster to kill the three men responsible for the murder of his family and quite a few more that made the fatal mistake of getting in his way. He had not wanted to kill those other men but they had forced him to and he could not, or more so, would not allow himself to feel any remorse for it. It had been their choice and he had tried to talk some of them out of it, but he had learned very quickly that mean and stupid seemed to go together hand in hand most of the time for hard cases.

He had not quite turned seventeen yet and he had killed more men than most would kill in a lifetime. He was now a professional bounty hunter with a rapidly rising reputation. A reputation that would cause other men to track him down just to challenge his skill with a pistol and he knew he had to live with that. But he would keep his promise to himself. He would not hunt men for crimes like bank robbery or cattle rustling. He would leave such things to men like Frank Reedy and Sheriff Mark Steele. He would not hire his gun out to some rich rancher to enforce his will on others. He would only hunt men who were responsible for the killing of innocent men, women and children. He would come to the defense of those less able to protect themselves or their families against the brutal treatment that some men inflicted on others. As for those who would challenge him just to prove they were faster than he was, he figured that was their choice to do so and the rest of the world would be far better off without them anyway.

He stopped at the big boulder in the bend of the creek where he had met those three men that fateful day. He let Gray drink his fill as he thought of his trips into town and how he used to stop at the boulder and strip down and jump into the creek. Those were good memories. He would not have many of those in his lifetime and he would have to hold onto them. He would keep the memories stored in the back of his mind and call on them when he needed them. He would keep those memories right next to the place where he kept the rage inside of him to call on when he needed that.

Gray finished his long drink and Jess gently nudged him towards town. He hadn’t been back to Black Creek in over four months and the last time he had been there, he had killed his first man, in his first gunfight. That man was Red Carter and as far as Jess was concerned, Red deserved to die that day. He knew that Dick Carter, Red’s father, was still offering a three thousand-dollar blood bounty on his head for killing Red. He had second thoughts about riding into Black Creek knowing that Dick Carter was still after him but he had friends there and it was his home after all. Dick Carter could make his own decisions and Jess would make his and Jess figured that whatever happened happened, and that was that. That was one lesson Jess had learned from his pa. There were times that you could not control events and you simply had to play the cards that life dealt you.

As he rode into Black Creek, the town looked as if it hadn’t changed much except for a new building that he noticed, but he could sense that something was different somehow. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but it was there nonetheless. He had developed somewhat of a sixth sense about such things. There were people on the street and the boardwalk, but there was something different about the way they acted. He reined up in front of Smythe’s General Store and wrapped the reins around the post a few times. It had been a long time since he had seen Jim or Sara Smythe and he was anxious to see a friend. He walked into the store and when he saw that there was no one behind the counter, he called out.

“Hey, doesn’t anybody work here anymore!” Jess heard some footsteps and a few seconds later Jim Smythe came out from the back and when he reached the counter he just stood there a moment or two with his mouth agape.

“Oh my Lord! Jess? Is that you? By the love of God, it is you.” Jim came around the counter and gave Jess a big bear hug. Jess was somewhat startled by that. He wasn’t sure how to react to it. On one hand, he was unsure about letting any man that close to his gun and yet this was someone he would entrust his life to. “Damn good to see you, Jess,” Jim added, as he turned his head in the direction of the door going into the kitchen and hollered for Sara. “Sara, you won’t believe who’s here. Come on out here and see who finally dragged his sorry ass back to see us.”

BOOK: Brother's Keeper
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