The Gunslinger (Barnett Ranch)

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©
by Pamela Ladner

The Gunslinger

Barnett Ranch Series (vol.1)

 

 

Pamela Ladner

9/18/2012

 

 

Table of Contents

Chapter One
             
3

Chapter Two
             
6

Chapter Three
             
9

Chapter Four
             
11

Chapter Five
             
14

Chapter Six
             
16

Chapter Seven
             
20

Chapter Eight
             
24

Chapter Nine
             
26

Chapter Ten
             
28

Chapter Eleven
             
30

Chapter Twelve
             
32

Chapter Thirteen
             
35

Chapter Fourteen
             
40

Chapter Fifteen
             
42

Chapter Sixteen
             
45

Chapter Seventeen
             
48

Chapter Eighteen
             
51

Chapter Nineteen
             
54

Chapter Twenty
             
56

Chapter Twenty One
             
58

Epilogue
             
61

Chapter One

 

Chugwater, Wyoming
Territory
1885

             
He rode into town on a big black stud.  His pistols strapped to his sides, and a rifle strapped to the saddle.  He had only his saddlebags, a bedroll and a sheepskin cantina.  He wore a black vest, black hat, black jea
ns and black boots.  His very
e
s
sence spoke volumes about how dangerous he could be.  His complexion darkly tanned fro
m being out in the sun often, h
is hair was jet black and his eyes were a deep blue. 
He rode into town, in the middle of the afternoon, and headed for the hotel.  He was a stranger to these parts.  No one knew him here and he felt he could finally put down his guns and start a new life. 

             
Angel
Jax
Tanner would no longer be know
n by the name; The Angel of Death. 
He was here to start over.  He
wanted to change h
is ways from the first time he
picked up the good book.  His mother would roll over in her grave if she knew he lived his life as a gunslinger.  He may not have a wanted poster with his name on it but he’d become, known for being fast with a gun and gunslingers came looking for him everywhere he went. 

They were all the same, young men who thought themselves fast with a gun alway
s wanted to make a name for their self
.  T
hey tracked him down and picked
a fight.  He’d tell them to walk away, but they never listened.  He was tired of killing children, who thought themselves grown.  He
only killed to protect himself, but i
t was never something he enjoyed.  He was done with it, all of it.  From now on
,
he was just Jax Tanner.  No one knew h
is middle name, so he hoped no one would
figure it out.  He was done with that life.  Today he was starting over.  It was time to settle down. 

 
 
He walked into the hotel
,
took a room and had a bath brought up.  His face was, covered with dirt, from days on the trail with no bath.  He needed a shave, too.  He would take care of all of that after he took his horse to the livery.  He figured by the time he got finished taking care of his horse, he would
have a warm bath waiting on him at the hotel. 

His spurs jingled as he walked up the street toward the hotel, his saddle bags slung over his shoulder and his rifle under his left arm.  Women stopped to stare and the men folk ushered them along. 
The sight of him probably scared most people.  He was a drifter, and if any of them knew his reputation, they’d have good reason to run away in a hurry.  He pushed the door open to the hotel took his room key and headed up the stairs. 

The bath was ready and waiting for him.  He deposited his belongings on the bed, draped his guns over a chair within reach and climbed in the tub, clothes and all.  He grabbed
a bar of soap that lay
on a table next to the tub
, and
scrubbed his face and neck.  He removed his clothes and scrubbed the rest of him, then scrubbed the clothes.  The water turned black, and he figured it was time to get ou
t.  He dried himself off and laid
his clothes out to dry.  He grabbed a clean set of clothes out of his saddlebags and put them on.  His stomach growled so he decided to go see about getting some food in his belly. 

There was a restaurant next to the hotel, and he hoped he could get a good meal there.  He strapped on his guns and walked out.  It felt good to be clean, but when you were clean
,
you suddenly started smelling everyone else’s body odor.  He turned his nose up as he passed the ho
tel clerk.  The man smelled as if he had no
t had
a bath in a month
.  Still, he knew he’d been just as rank himself.  He hurried out the door and into the restaurant next door.

They were serving fried chicken, potatoes, turnip greens and cornbread. It
had been a long time since he
ate a home cooked meal.  All his meals consisted of beans, and stew over a campfire.  It would be nice to eat something different, even if it wasn’t the best he’d ever had. 

The
elderly woman,
who cooked
the food,
came out to check on the patrons and ask how the food was.  She hesitated before she came to his table, but after only a moment she made her way over to the table to make conversation.  “Howdy, Stranger, I’m
Mrs. Ellen
Barnett
.  How’s the food?  I hope it’s up to par.  You look like a man who’
s
traveled
a lot and
I bet you’ve ate at a few good establishments in your travels.”  “Yes, Ma’a
m, everything is fine.  The food is definitely up to par.  I woul
d say
that
it’s better than most. 
I’m Jax
Tanner;
by the way, it’s
nice to meet you.”  The old woman
took a seat across the table.  “Well now, that’s a real nice name.  I like it.  How long, are you planning to stay in town Mr. Tanner?”  “I am hoping to settle down, if I can find some kind of employment.  I’m just a little tired of traveling.”  “I guess I might be able to help you out with that.  I need a man around here
to do some of the heavy lifting, and deal with some of the more rowdy male customers, if you know what I mean.  Do you think you might be interested in a job like that?”  “Ma’am, I’d be interested in just about any kin
d of job at this point.”  “Good,
how soon can you start?  I am expecting
a good bit
of trail hands coming through here in the next few days.  It’s that time of year, when the cowboys come through here with the big cattle drives heading north to Montana.
  Of course, they say this will be the last year. I don’t know if I believe that but we’ll see I reckon.

  “Well, if you’d like, I can start tomorrow.”  “ That sounds real
nice;
I’ll see you tomorrow, bright and early.” 

Jax started to pay for his meal and leave, but
Mrs. Ellen
told him it was free to all her employees.  He thanked her, tipped his hat and left.  His next stop was going to be the livery. He wanted to check on his stallion.  He had big plans for him as a stud
.  He could make a living off
breeding the stallion and he had every
,
intention of doing
so eventually. 

He paid
the livery
,
man extra to have the horse fed and hayed.
  He would tend to all the horses other needs himself.
  Soon he would need to find a place to stay with a stable and plenty of grass.  He had a dream of owning a few broodmares as well.  The horse was going to be his lively hood. 

He patted the stallion

s neck and left him standing in his stall.  He still had
a lot to do.  He shook the livery
,
man’s hand and headed up the street toward the general store.  He needed to get some new clothes and
some tobacco for his pipe.  He
picked up the nasty habit of smoking when he was seventeen and hadn’t been able to break the habit since.

The general store was
,
packed with people, but most of them cleared out when he walked in.  That was nothing new, but he often hated it.  He was a man without friends and it tended to get a little
lonely.  The life he’d chosen was the life of a solitary man, not a man who wanted to settle down and make friends.  Maybe one day he might even like to start a family. 

He combed through the items, laid out before
him.  There were a lot,
of men

s shirts, in several different colors.  There were also plenty of dresses for women.  He reckoned there must be a seamstress in town, to have that much of a selection.  He picked up a couple different shirts, a pair of pants and he tried o
n a couple jackets.  He would need one, soon.  The winter would be here before they knew it and h
e needed to replace the one he
lost. 

He took the items to the counter to pay for them.  The old man figured it up in a hurry.  He probably wanted him out of there, so other customers would return.  He paid for the items and took them back to the hotel.  He lay on the bed and picked up the good book.  He read the psalms.  They were his favorite.  He kicked off his boots and crossed his feet, to get comfortable.  Tomorrow he would set down his roots. 

Chapter Two

             

             
Jax slept good for the first time in a long time.  It had been too long since he’d slept in a real bed or since he’d slept without one eye open.  He quickly dressed in his new clothes put on his guns and headed next door to help
Mrs. Ellen
at the restaurant. 

             
The first thing she did was make him sit down and have a bite to eat.  Then she went over his duties for the day.  “As you know the main reason I hired you is to keep an eye on those rowdy cowboys, coming in off the trail.  They get a little carried away, flirting with the ladies.  Now, my granddaughter is due in town today.  She’s going to be giving me a hand.  It goes against everything in her nature to be in the kitc
hen but her daddy insisted on her staying with me while he takes a herd to Montana
.  She’s been born and raised on his ranch with no women about.
  Her only siblings are her two
older brothers.  Her mother died in childbirth.  So as you can see, I’m the only female relative she’s got and she don’t see why on earth, she’s got to stay her
e with me, instead of going with the men to herd cattle
.  Well
I guess that’s enough about her,
you’ll meet her soon enough.  Now, as for your other duties, I’ll need someone to keep the wood supply up, so I hope you’re good with an axe.  I’ll need someone to help with the heavy lifting, and if you
don’t mind picking up a broom every now and then, that would be a lot of help too.
  Also, I may occasionally ask you to go out hunting.  I get sick of cooking the same old thing.

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