A young man stood outside of the home of Wallace J. McCarthy in the pitch black dark in a driving rain storm. His cowboy hat kept the rain off of his face but the man in front of him with a rifle in his back had no hat to keep his face dry.
“Call for him,” the young man coldly demanded.
“The lights are off! He must be in bed!” pleaded the now soaking wet hostage.
“I said, CALL FOR HIM,” the young man forcibly stated.
“WALLACE! Wallace! Come on out!” the man yelled.
A light came on in the den of the house and about a minute later an older man emerged holding a shotgun. He moved his bifocals up his nose to see the man who called him and almost did a double take. “Johnny Thomas? What the hell are you doing here? I thought I told you never to show your face in this town again.”
The rain pelted Johnny’s face as he squinted back at Wallace. “I’m sorry Wallace, I had no choice. He killed the rest of my gang — “
“What nonsense are you talking about? Who killed your gang?” Wallace replied now a little less angry, more confused.
“He found out about the whole dang plot! The — ” Johnny didn’t get to finish his sentence as he was rifle-butted in the back of the head and collapsed face first into the mud. The young man then pointed his rifle directly at Wallace J McCarthy and spoke up.
“I killed his gang.” The young man gravely spoke.
“And who might you be?” Wallace responded as he raised his shotgun. The young man walked forward slowly with his rifle fixed on Wallace the whole time. He continued forward towards the porch. “You better tell me who you are, or I’ll put a hole through the middle of you!” Wallace warned as he pulled back the hammer. The young man stopped and looked him dead in the eye.
“Better shoot, then,” the young man stated.
Wallace pulled the trigger and nothing happened. He pulled the trigger again and a second misfire. He looked at his rifle in a panic as the young man drew closer.
“You would think a man who’s wronged so many would have some security around his place. Or at least take your guns with you. Guess you’ve gotten too comfortable,” as the young man joined Wallace on the porch. Wallace threw the shotgun down and reached for a pistol in his pants. “Yeah, I took the powder out of those rounds, too.” Wallace pulled the trigger anyways twice and when he went to pull it a third time, the young man stepped into the pistol so it was in his chest as it clicked uselessly. Wallace went to swing at the young man but before he could the young man pushed Wallace off of the porch on the rain soaked ground. Wallace scrambled in the mud to try and regain his footing but the young man was already on him, kicked him in the face knocking him on his back. The young man then steps on Wallace’s chest and points the rifle directly in his face. “Why don’t you just stay right there,” the young man demanded.
“Do you have any idea who I am?” Wallace screamed.
“You are Wallace J. McCarthy, the only man who made any money from the Mesa Pueblo Gold Rush. You tell every one who asks how you did it, that you just made some lucky moves but you and I both know the truth, don’t we Wallace?” The young man stomps on his chest and Wallace wailed. “You hired the Thomas Gang to strong arm all the prospectors into signing over their claims to you for next to nothing and you killed the others who had already set up homesteads. Then you used your money to buy elections and lawmen. Your time ruining this town is over.”
“Look, if you’re trying to get my money, you can have it. I’ll get you whatever you want. I swear to Jesus!” Wallace pleaded for his life. The young man knelt down and grabbed Wallace by his shirt collar and pulled him up and met him eye to eye.
“I don’t want your money. There’s only one thing that will repay your debt.”
“Oh dear Lord, please don’t kill me!” Wallace repeated his plea. The young man picked Wallace up, used some rope to tie his hands behind his back, and put a handkerchief in his mouth. He then dragged him and threw him onto the back of his horse. The young man stopped briefly and walked back to the now-stirring Johnny Thomas. He then knelt down next to Johnny and said “Your gang murdered my entire family, just so Wallace McCarthy could own all the gold mines in town. But murder — that wasn’t enough for you, Johnny. After you knocked my sister unconscious, you raped her then you killed her. I want you to think about that for a long time.” He then shot Johnny in both of his knees and proceeded to walk back to his horse as Johnny screamed and cried. The young man stopped and took the pistol he had confiscated from Johnny earlier and emptied all the rounds but one. He then tossed the weapon towards him having it land well out of reach. “If you can reach that, I think you’ll know what to do with it.” Wallace could only produce a muffled whimper as he watched the young man walk back and mount his horse. The two made their way towards town.
Sheriff Grundy was sitting on the porch of his office watching the storm finally trickle out when he heard a cowbell ringing. He stood up and looked down the street to see where this noise was coming from. It was the young stranger riding through town ringing a bell over his head. He noticed what looked like a person slung over the back of his horse.
“What in God’s name do you think you’re doing, son?” The Sheriff yelled at the young man.
“The justice that you never did,” the young man replied.
“Good Lord! Is that Mr. McCarthy?” the Sheriff asked.
“It is.” The young man replied.
Sheriff Grundy pulled his pistol and pointed it at the young man.
“Son, you need to stop there and get off that horse right now!” Grundy demanded.
The young man stopped the horse and got down slowly off his horse.
“Grundy, you don’t want this. You’re too old, and you’re way too slow,” The young man warned him.
“Oh, all of a sudden you’re some kind of gunfighter? Listen hear you smart-mouthed son of — ” before Grundy could finish his sentence the young man had shot him in the hand, knocking his gun to the ground.
“I told you,” the young man said as he shook his head. Grundy screamed and cursed as he put his hands up to show his defeat. “You’re not getting off that easy. I know about your sins too, Sheriff. You killed witnesses to McCarthy’s wrong doings because he kept your sorry ass in office.” Grundy was speechless. The young man somehow knew all about the indiscretions of the Sheriff. He finally was able to come up with a response.
“Only problem with all this information Stranger is who is going to believe you?”
“They are,” the young man said as he gestured to the rest of the town. As the two had been squaring off, the rest of the town had come out to see what the cause of the sudden ruckus. The young man goes to the growing crowd and borrows a newspaper from one of them and gives it to the Grundy. “You really should keep up with current events, Sheriff.” The headline on the newspaper read,
“Corrupt Sheriff Helps Millionaire Murder Innocents!“
The young man then tips his hat to Miles Hopewell, the Mesa Pueblo Informer’s lead journalist.
Sheriff Grundy read about the rampant corruption, bribes and murder that he took part in for the last 5 years and how he helped Wallace J. McCarthy become even richer, at the expense of the people of Mesa Pueblo. At this point, the young man had walked away. He took Wallace J. McCarthy off of his horse and tied his already bound hands to a hitching post. Across the street from McCarthy were twenty or so residents of the town who were now whispering to each other and staring aghast at him. He tried to avert their stare but it was near impossible for him to look away. The young man appreciated the scene for a moment as Sheriff Grundy crumpled up the newspaper and grabbed his pistol from the ground. The young man looked up and saw the Sheriff aiming for him. Before he could draw his weapon and fire, a shot rang out from behind the Sheriff. The old man immediately collapsed, his shot going harmlessly into the air. The deputy stood behind Grundy with a smoking pistol and tipped his hat to the young stranger. The two men sauntered over to the fallen lawman and the Deputy knelt down and took his badge. “You don’t deserve to be buried with this,” and handed it to the young man.
The young man walked towards his horse as Wallace J. McCarthy struggled against his restraints. “You can’t do this! I own this town!” The young man stopped his progress and turned around towards McCarthy.
“You’re right. If anyone is going to do something, it should be them,” as he gestured to the crowd of townspeople, which had now doubled and the rumblings were much more menacing.
“Just tell me who you are.” McCarthy pleaded with the young man.
“Mr. McCarthy, you don’t get that luxury. Think of me as fate finally catching up with you.”
The Deputy led the townspeople and surrounded Wallace J. McCarthy. They dragged him towards the quickly constructed gallows in the town center. The Deputy, now the newly appointed Sheriff, tipped his hat to the young man, who walked away from the crowd and towards his horse. He secured both his rifle and pistols, mounted his horse and made his way out of town towards the McCarthy Homestead.
The young man knelt before three crudely constructed crosses that were planted in the ground. He placed Sheriff Grundy’s badge in front of one of the crosses. Beneath the middle cross he placed a bunch of wildflowers and a faded picture. He reached into his coat pocket and removed a notebook. He laid the notebook beneath the third cross. He left it open to a page that had a list of names, each one crossed out.
Sheriff Benjamin Grundy
The Thomas Gang
Wallace J. McCarthy
“Now you all can rest in peace,” the young man solemnly said as he removed his hat and held it over his heart. Miles Hopewell stood about 30 feet behind the young man with his hat off as well quietly observing the somber scene.
“It’s over now, isn’t it Jim?” Miles patted the shoulder of his childhood friend.
“Yeah, it is.” Jim Chapman replied as he looked Miles in the eye. Miles carried a satchel on his shoulder. Jim motioned towards it. “Take all of that money we got from McCarthy’s safe and give it to the town. They deserve something after all he did to them.” Miles smiled and looked down at his feet.
“I guess this is goodbye,” he said quietly.
“I don’t have a place here, Miles. You know that. There’s a big country out there, I’m sure there’s some place out there that’ll feel like home.”
“Well, you’re certainly pretty handy with the irons. People can always use a good gun.” Miles said with a smirk that his friend shared with him. Jim shook his friend’s hand and walked towards his horse. As Jim climbed onto his mount, Miles yelled, “hey, Jim!” Chapman turned around to respond to his friend and Miles threw a stack of bills bundled together to him. “I’m sure no one will miss a few of these. It’s the least we could do.”
“Thank you, my friend. Take care,” Jim tipped his hat to him and rode off into the night.