Deadlands Reloaded: The Righteous, The Rough, and The Clever
I was raised in a smallish town in Texas. I spent most of my days tending what little would grow on our farm and checking cattle. Most of the time when I wasn’t working I was at church with my mother. Despite the snide looks we got from the other church goers I always enjoyed Reverend Brackin’s sermons. Especially the fire and brimstone, when his face would turn red, his voice would shake the walls and that tingling sensation would run up my arms, through my shoulders and down my spine. Reverend Brackin was the father figure I needed as a young man. My father, the town drunk, certainly wasn’t. Even when we barely had enough to eat he always had enough corn for the still. As I grew I began to stay away from home longer and longer when I went out to check the fences. Hunting was always a good excuse. Of course staying away from a beating was a better one. For some reason I never thought my father would raise a hand to my mother… me, I was used to it. I was tough and could handle a good beating. Mother was frail though. I think it was mainly from the way life grinded her down. a hard life with a horrible husband.
I heard mother screaming and crying as I rode back to the farm. The direction I was coming wouldn’t allow access to the house directly since there wasn’t a gate in the fence nearby. I rode as fast as I could towards the sounds of the screams. I could barely make out mother lying in the dirt beside the water pump. Father was stumbling towards her with the woodaxe where I had left it after splitting wood that morning. The scene before me began to slow down. I had heard the stories where in time of crisis people felt that time had almost stopped. I always figured that it was just stories, but I whispered a quiet simple, prayer to God “Help me save my mother.” and there was all the time in the world. I jumped off my horse, flipped the reigns around a fencepost, pulled my rifle off my back, took aim and fired…. all in the time it took my father to take two steps. From that range he probably didn’t hear the shot before the bullet struck his head.
The Sheriff took me into town and put me in a cell. Reverend Brackin came to see me and when I explained to him what had happened he spoke on my behalf. Everyone in town showed up to the hearing and not a person in town thought I was guilty of murder. Even the Sheriff told me he would have likely done the same thing but he had to follow procedure so this “won’t follow you for the rest of your days.” As if it wouldn’t follow me anyway. My mother didn’t last long after that. She loved me until she died and never blamed me for what happened. At her funeral Reverend Brackin preached a sermon about more than just the standard without Jesus you go to Hell and my mother was a Christian so she was going to Heaven. He also preached about God’s plan and how we don’t always understand how or why things happen as they do. It struck a chord with me that still resonates to this day. God has a plan for me even if I’m not always sure what it is.
I sold the farm, paid off the bank loan and gave fifteen percent of what was left to the church. With the rest I bought a good rifle and some provisions and headed west. As I traveled, living off the land and reading my Bible every day I felt led to people who need me. Unfortunately it seems that very often what needs to be done is someone needs to be killed. It never fails though. Every time I’ve had to shoot someone it was the righteous thing to do. Defending the weak and innocent from the predators of the world. I am beginning to wonder if that’s what God has planned for me the rest of my days. Maybe I am nothing more than his instrument of vengeance. A tool in his mighty hand. I can’t explain how it happens but sometimes I even know the names of the people I’m there to help even if I had never met them before. Other miraculous things tend to happen when I am doing the Lords work too and I’ve learned not to talk about “miracles” to the people I meet. They don’t tend to understand. I have a peace about me now. I just let Abraham (my horse) lead the way sometimes. At least until I feel that nudge from God saying “You should go that way. Go find Jerimiah and help him do what needs doing.” Looks like that loud noise I heard followed by all the gunfire was some kind of train wreck. Maybe those folks need some help.