Prodigal Son
Chapter 15

Copyright© 2020 by UtIdArWa

Jeff Huffman was thinking about his lunch. Trying to decide if the 2 bit beer and sandwich deal at the saloon was better than the 6 bit steak at the diner. He had decided that pastrami and rye plus a bucket of suds was better than a tough, overcooked beefsteak. When the bell over the door announced a customer.

“Yes, sir, can I help you?”

“I need to send a telegraph to Wilkins, Nevada.” The newcomer was a medium height, well-built man. While his clothes were dusty, they were made of good-quality cloth. He wore khaki pants, a canvas duster, and a tan slouch hat.

“Yes, sir. Just write the message on that pad there, and I’ll get it out as quickly as I can.”

The stranger took the pad and pencil. He paused for a moment pondering what he wanted to say. Then wrote a short message.

From Hobson To the Regiment Protection and Overland contracts filled Stop Jackson found alive End.

Jeff was used to abbreviated messages, But this was shorter than usual. “That’s it, sir? Seems mighty short.”

The stranger was smiling, “Don’t worry, son. They’ll know what it means.”

Grinning back, Jeff said. “Very good sir, I’ll have it on the wires in 10 minutes. That’ll be .50 cents.”

Dropping a Morgan on the counter, He said “Thanks, here’s a dollar for your trouble.”

“Well, thank you, sir. A pleasure doing business with you.”

As the stranger left, Jeff started checking the traffic. True to his word, the message was on the way within 10 minutes. Ten minutes after that, the Trooper in Wilkins that was learning Morse code from Stanley Justin was racing out of the western union office to the livery. Mounting the Regiments ready horse, he galloped out of town on his way to the Hacienda.

Within 45 minutes, the message was sitting on Joshua’s desk.

Meanwhile in Virginia City, “Sheriff, you need to come out here.”

“What is it, Davenport?”

“Bounty hunter bringing in some dead meat, sir.”

“Damn ghouls, I hate bounty killers. Alright, Harry, let’s see what he’s got.”

As they stepped out of the office onto the boardwalk, the smell of dead and rotting flesh rose from a buckboard parked in front of his office. A young man, early to mid 20’s, stood at the front of the horse team hitched to the wagon. “Afternoon Sheriff. I need you to write up a receipt on these 6. I know there are posters on 2 of them. The other four I’m not sure of.”

The Sheriff, once he smelled what was on the wagon, pulled a large cigar from his shirt pocket and lit it up. “Alright, bounty killer, what makes you think these poor souls are wanted men? you wouldn’t be the first to kill an innocent man expecting cheap money.”

“Oh, so it’s gonna be that way? Ok Sheriff. Each of these yahoos got their bullet holes in the front. Isn’t a backshot one in the bunch. Each of them was killed while they were shooting at my guys and me. And like I said, I know there’s paper on at least two of them.”

Leading the Sheriff to the rear of the buckboard, he pulled the tarp off the corpses. Grabbing the hair of the one on top. “This is Bad Bob Pritchert. I know there is $1000.00 on him.”

He then reached the corpse next to Bob. This is Carl Twigg. He’s worth another $500.00.” he let the head fall back. Then he pulled the tarp back over.

“Very good bounty killer. But I know that the Pritchert gang had 14 or 15 outlaws. The Word is that a bunch of them was caught east of here. In some wide spot called Wilkins. The local boilerplate has the Powell brothers being hanged in Arizona. It seems they were brought in by some vigilante group out that way. Calls themselves the Regiment. You know anything about that?”

“Yes, I do Sheriff. We aren’t a vigilante group. Nor are we bounty killers. But we also aren’t scared dirt farmers hiding out in the root cellar while the cattle are rustled, and our women are abused. We don’t take kindly to outlaws and bandits in our territory. And their bosses in other locations.”

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