Authors: Robert J. Thomas
The guard looked down at Haines desk where Haines was arguing with a man about his note owed to the bank. “He’s busy right now, perhaps you could come back later.”
“Go over there and tell him to make some time right now,” demanded Jess.
The guard finally got his feet and walked down to inform Haines that there were two men here to see him and that they weren’t taking no for an answer. Haines started yelling at the guard. Jess walked down to Haines’ desk and when Haines saw who it was, he quickly stopped yelling at the guard.
Jess glared at him. “Is your name Wilbert Haines?”
“That’s right, now you have to make an appointment to see me, you can’t just waltz in here demanding a meeting with me. I’m the bank manager.” Haines was trying to look as if he was in control of the situation, but he was scared to death.
“Shut up and sit down in that chair,” demanded Jess. Haines quickly obliged. Jess looked down at the man sitting in front of Haines’ desk. “What were you arguing with Mr. Haines about a moment ago?” Jess asked the man.
“He keeps raising the monthly payment on the note on my house. He’s raised it four times already and I can’t afford the payments anymore,” the man exclaimed. “He’s saying that the bank is going to take my house from me next month.”
Jess looked at Haines. “Why do you keep raising this man’s payment?”
“It perfectly legal according to the contract he signed with the bank. If he had only read the entire document, he would know that,” replied Haines.
Jess looked down at the man. “Mister, I’m sorry about interrupting your meeting, but I have something to discuss with Mr. Haines and it can’t wait. As for you payments, I’m sure that Mr. Haines will see fit to reduce you payments to the original amount.”
“I’m not doing any such thing!” exclaimed Haines.
“Oh, but I think you are. Here is what else you’re going to do. You’re going to send out wires to every town you can think of and take out notices in every newspaper you can think of and inform any of the ranchers who were forced out because of the dirty deals you made with Manny Welch. You’re going to inform them that they can buy back their ranches for the original amount that Manny Welch paid the bank for them. No interest either and their monthly payments will be the same as before,” said Jess.
“And what make you think that you can make me do that?” demanded Haines.
“Because, Mr. Haines, I live by a very simple set of rules. One of them is that I figure that I can do anything I want to do at any time as long as I’m willing to die for it. So the reason that I know you will do exactly what I say is that if you don’t, I will hunt you down and put a bullet from this pistol right here,” replied Jess, as he gently put his left index finger on Haines forehead, right between his eyebrows. “Now do you want me to do it now, or are you going to do as I said?” asked Jess, as he slowly slipped his hammer strap off his pistol and placed his hand on the butt of it.
Wilbert Haines looked at Jess and knew by the look in his eyes that he meant to do exactly what he said. Haines regained his composure somewhat. “And what kind of fees will I be collecting for my expenses?” asked Haines.
“You’ve already collected all the fees you’re going to get from all of the money you received from Manny Welch that you two already swindled out of all of the local ranchers.”
“And what does Manny Welch have to say about this?” asked Haines.
“Dead men don’t talk much. Haven’t you heard the news yet? It seems that Manny Welch’s ranch was burned to the ground earlier today and he is nowhere to be found. All they found is some well burnt bones in the rubble. If you want to talk it over with him, I can send you to straight to hell right now and you can have all the discussion’s you want about it,” replied Jess.
Wilbert hadn’t heard the news of Manny Welch’s death yet. He’d been in meetings all day with people about their notes on their homes and ranches. He decided that it might be a wise decision to follow Jess’ advice and do exactly as he was told. A look of resignation came over his face. “Okay, Mr. Williams. I’ll do exactly what you’ve instructed me to do. Just promise me that if I do, you won’t come back here and shoot me anyway.”
“You have my word on it,” replied Jess, as he and John stood up and walked out. The guard actually smiled at Jess as he walked out. They rode together until they reached the east end of town.
“Well Jess, I guess this is where we part ways. It has surely been one hell of an experience working with you. I’m heading down to Mexico for a little vacation and I suppose I don’t have to ask you where you are headed,” said John.
Jess stuck out his hand and shook hands with John. “No, you sure don’t. It’s been a pleasure working with you too and something tells me that we’ll meet up again. John, I might suggest that you stop in Black Creek and see my banker there. His name is Mr. Jameson and he’ll invest some of your money for you. He’s made me a lot of money.”
“I will do that and you’re probably right about that first thing. We’ll see each other again and it’ll probably be when you get your behind in a bind and you will be calling on me to save it,” John said mockingly as he turned his horse due south.
Henry Stidham was indeed a very wealthy man. He never married. He thought the whole idea of marriage was a bad idea. It would take him away from his work and that was the most important thing in his life. He didn’t just work for the bank; he owned it and most of the assets that were held in it. His father had been a wise investor and began buying up all the land around the City of New York. When he passed away, he willed all his holdings to Henry who immediately followed in his father’s footsteps. Henry was a very savvy businessman. He would build a nice hotel on one lot and then a few lots down from that, he would build another business. Once they were established, that made the remaining lots nearby worth a lot more money. He generated the demand for the land and then sold it for a tidy profit. He owned over two dozen profitable establishments in New York City, but he still liked living in the countryside just outside of the hub of the city.
He had a very strict daily routine. He would arrive at his bank at eight in the morning and work until four in the afternoon. Then, he would get into a very nice rented coach, which would take him to the train station. He would take the train about an hour out of town where the train would make a special stop just for him. His personal coach and driver would be waiting there for him and he would enjoy a drink or two on the final leg of his journey home, which took about twenty minutes. The coach driver would pull up in front of a huge mansion and open the door for him and he would walk up the few steps and into his very large mansion. His supper would be waiting on the table for him as soon as he sat down, cooked for him by his own personal cooks and servants.
He would then retire to his office and enjoy a cigar and some fine scotch and read a little. Then he would retire to his very comfortable bed, usually around ten in the evening.
Jess had watched this routine for four days now from a hillside that had some heavy trees to give him cover. The odd thing he noticed was that there didn’t seem to be any guards on the premises. Jess figured that Stidham thought that out here in the countryside, he didn’t need guards. He felt safe in his very large mansion. Jess had counted the driver, one man who worked the grounds and two women who were probably Stidham’s personal cooks and cleaners. All of his personal staff lived in their own quarters out behind the mansion.
On the fourth day, Jess waited for all of the servants to go into their living quarters behind the large mansion and then waited for the last light to go out in the mansion. Then, he waited another two hours to make sure that everyone was fast asleep. He walked down the hill and quietly walked up to the front door. He turned the door handle and he was happily surprised to find that it was unlocked. He opened the door and found himself in a lobby that was probably larger than Manny Welch’s entire house. There were two half-circle granite stairways going to the upstairs where Jess knew Stidham’s bedroom was.
The granite stairway was another plus for Jess. He didn’t have to worry about any creaking boards that would give him away. He quietly made his way to the top of the stairway and he looked over and saw in the dim light a chandelier that probably cost more than most people’s houses. He knew that the last room on his left was Stidham’s bedroom because he had watched him retire to it for the last four nights. He stopped at the doorway and placed his ear to the door and he heard loud snoring coming from inside the room. He pulled his pistol out and slowly turned the handle on the door and gently opened the door. There were no squeaking hinges on the door. Henry Stidham wouldn’t allow something like that in his mansion.
Jess walked into the room and it was larger than most houses. He closed the door behind him and waited for his eyes to adjust to the light. He looked around the room and it was magnificent. It was made up of beautifully custom-made furniture and a bed large enough for four people to sleep in, although, there was only one. Jess slowly walked over to the bed. He looked down at the very peaceful looking man who he had been watching for the last four days. Henry Stidham was a small and slender man. He was snoring quite loudly, which was all the better for Jess. Jess looked at him for a moment, thinking about all the grief this man had caused him by placing the ten thousand dollars of blood bounty on his head.
Jess took his pistol and gently placed it onto Henry Stidham’s forehead and the snoring stopped. Then, Henry Stidham slowly opened his eyes as he heard the sound of Jess cocking back the hammer of the pistol. He looked up at Jess’ face and Jess had his left index finger on his lips letting him know not to yell out. Jess lowered his face a little closer to Stidham’s face as he said—
“Hey, ain’t you that Henry Stidham Fellow?”
Read all the books in the Jess Williams series…
Sins of the Father
The Dodge City Massacre
Hell Hath no Fury
The River Runs Red
Badge of Honor
In Cold Blood