New Western Adventure Story
The life and times of Marshall Luke Johnson
by a. j. Lombardi Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved
A soldier no more
For the next few moments the Sheriff just kept puffing on his cigar and nodding his head. He then reached out his hand for me to shake. “My name is Dan Hockshaw, but you can just call me Sheriff! He did not ask me what my name was but just kept referring to me as Yankee boy.” After a few moments he tipped his hat and said, “you think you could help me get this here fella down to the undertaker? I agreed. “Much obliged Yankee boy! I’m sure this here fella would thank you if he could! It wasn’t my place to laugh in that I could not tell if he was trying to be funny or just making a remark. As we both started to lift the man’s body off the chair, I was hoping that the Sheriff would not take notice of the Colt 44 protruding from my side belt. That changed quickly when it slipped from my belt and to the floor when we started to lift the dead man off the chair. To my surprise, the Sheriff did not say a word.
On the way over to the undertaker’s office I asked Sheriff Hockshaw if he knew anything about the dead man. He said the man’s name was Benjamin Randall. His family owned a prosperous ranch outside town and lost it all when the Yankees came in. He was one of the first men in town to join the Confederate army, and soldiered under General P.G.T. Beauregard. He helped beat the Yankees at the battle of Bull Run. “Unfortunately, he suffered an injury which caused him to lose his eyesight. When he was brought back home, the life he once knew was gone. From then on, he would just come into town to the Dove Tree saloon and drink until his wife and son would come by to take him home.” I heard that at the battle of Bull Run he was somewhat of a hero. Hearing this story gave me a deepening sorry for this dead man and his family. “I dare not mention that I also fought at Bull Run.”
After we dropped the body off at the undertakers, the Sheriff invited me over to his office for a coffee. The office walls were lined with various rifles, handguns and a few dead or alive wanted posters. An old black coffee pot sat on a pot belly stove in the corner. There was only one desk in the room and from what I could tell, the Sheriff was a one man show. Putting a small log into the potbelly stove he then turned to me and said “have a seat Yankee boy! He then took out two banged up tin coffee cups and proceeded to pour the steaming black coffee. Before sitting down, he reached into his desk draw pulling out a bottle of liquor and poured a good amount in each cup. “This helps take off the edge Yankee boy!” This job takes a toll on a man, especially if you have to do it alone! “I rightly don’t know why I still hang in here in that I have not been paid since you Yanks came in few months back. They tell me that someday back pay will come my way. For now, I figure someone has to do the job and I reckon that's me! The job is more than I can handle right now. We got soldier boys coming back home only to find that there ain’t no home no more. “Bands of renegade former soldiers from both sides are going about raiding whatever they could, not to mention the displaced negro slaves who don’t have nowhere to go!” I should also mention that we have a band of injuns that refuse to go to the reservation. I sure hope that Lincoln knows what he is doing. We could use some of that reconstruction plan he keeps talking about. Just yesterday, a gang of renegades raided a local ranch ransacking everything they could. “Since this dang war started folks aren’t the same, it seems that all humanity has left us!” After hearing what the Sheriff said, my thoughts went back to the young boy Ben and his mother who had to go back home without a father and husband.
After about ten minutes of listening to Sheriff Hockshaw’s rantings he looked me in the eye and said I could sure use a good deputy, and I rightly don’t know how one man can handle all this rukus! “He then nodded his head and said, I see your toting that fancy colt in your side belt!” That tells me that you might be handy with a gun. Too bad you’re a Yankee boy or I could offer you a job. The fact that he kept on referring to me as Yankee boy was getting darn right annoying! I tried to hold my anger, but I had enough! I think the strong liquor in the coffee made my reserve go away. “Sheriff, you best stop calling me Yankee boy, or I might have a mind to thrash you one! “The wars over and it's high time to move on just like Mr. Lincoln said! He then tipped his hat and said “well now Yankee boy, don’t go getting all sasin on me!” Maybe if you changed that Yankee uniform you are wearing for some regular duds that would make a difference. “Besides, like you said, the war is over and you ain’t a soldier no more!”
Please note that this is an ongoing story that will contain several additional parts that will continue to be published until it's completion.