The Blazing Guns of Revenge – Extended Epilogue

One Year Later

“You look much the same as you did on your own wedding day.”

Minnie’s soft voice had Rex pausing as he looked in the mirror, adjusting the jacket he was wearing. Over his shoulder, in the bright sunlight of the day that streamed through the window, he caught Minnie’s eye. She was sitting on the edge of their bed, her brown hair loose about her shoulders, for she had not yet changed.

“Do I?” Rex said with a laugh. “I find that hard to believe.”

“The hair may be a little grayer,” she teased, as he chuckled warmly, his eyes darting to his appearance in the glass. He didn’t begrudge his age, especially after all that had passed. Today was about another wedding, and if his son was as fortunate as Rex had been in his life, then he had a very happy life ahead of him.

“The gray hair comes from good years,” Rex observed as he loosened his hands from the necktie around his throat and turned to look at his wife. “You can barely sit still.” She was restless on the bed, reaching down to the two gowns she had pulled out to wear.

“Can you blame me? By ginger, part of me thought we’d never make it to this day.” Minnie laughed as she picked up one of the gowns and held it to her shoulders. “If Albie hadn’t had the gumption to ask Lorelai to court that day, maybe it wouldn’t be.”

“He just needed a little push, that was all.”

Rex could remember it all very well, how he had come home from his adventure searching for Albie to see how much hope Albie had lost in the life he had chosen. The darkness had swum in, and the nightmares were entrenched deeply. Albie had taken to heart the advice Rex had given him—“Find something else to live for, kid.”

He couldn’t deny Albie had done that.

Albie had suffered the nightmares all the same after he had returned home. More than once did Rex catch Albie appearing in the kitchen, his dark shadow looming soundlessly in the doorway. More than once it had scared Rex to the core, as he hadn’t been expecting to find his son there. He’d offered up the bottle of scotch a handful of times to help Albie sleep, but it wasn’t always the best solution.

Sometimes, he just needs to talk.

The last year had changed much between them, and Rex was thrilled to see how much closer he was with Albie these days. They talked openly, and in those nights alone where they both suffered nightmares, they would retreat to the kitchen together and go over old tales of what they had faced. Albie seemed to take heart in the shared stories, and to Rex’s surprise, Albie showed no intention to abandon his job, not yet at least.

“Someday, Pa,” he’d said to Rex once as they had sat by the fire, watching the flames burn the logs that Rex had chopped up earlier that day. “First, I want to build a life for myself, get the money to buy a home for Lorelai and me.”

Albie was already doing that.

“Speaking of the groom, I should go and see where he is,” Rex said as he left the room and wandered the corridors. “Either gown is beautiful.”

“Oh, that hardly helps!” Minnie complained and grabbed both dresses, standing off the bed before pushing past him in the corridor and hurrying to Emma’s room. “Emma? I need your help deciding what to wear. Your father is no good at helping me at all.”

“I have other skills besides choosing dresses,” Rex teased as he passed her, moving toward Albie’s room. “Albie? Albie.”

He tapped on the closed wooden door as Minnie disappeared into Emma’s room, waiting for an answer, yet none came.

“You drank too much and passed out?” Rex asked the doorway with a smile on his lips. “Not the best of ways to start your wedding day, kid.”

Still, no laugh came, no groan, nothing.

“Albie?”

Rex took hold of the door handle, pressing his weight against the door to open it. Only a step inside, he froze, leaning his shoulder against the doorframe.

The room was empty, and where the covers should have been mussed from where Albie had slept the night before, they were well kept and pulled back, exactly where Minnie had put them the day before.

“Albie?” Finding no one in the room, Rex hurried down the corridor and the stairs, calling out his son’s name. “Albie!” he called again, louder this time, but there was no response.

All his shouting accomplished was a commotion in the kitchen. Benjie managed to drop a cup of tea Casper had made, and Casper groaned loudly.

“You’re picking that up, I’m not doing it.” Casper turned his back and returned to the table.

“It’s not my fault. It’s Pa’s fault! He made me jump.”

“Thanks for that.” Rex’s serious tone captured the boys’ attention. “You two seen Albie this morning?”

“I thought he was due back last night,” Casper said, gesturing to the telegram someone had left in the middle of the wooden table in the kitchen.

“He was.” Rex snatched the telegram off the table, needing to read it again to be certain he hadn’t missed anything.

The telegram was a simple one from Albie, sent two days before. He’d assured them all he would be back the night before his wedding, but at a late hour, long after they’d gone to bed. He would deliver a thief he’d found two towns over to Sheriff Peckham before coming home.

This is all too familiar.

Rex dropped the letter, letting it float down to the table like a leaf falling in an autumnal breeze.

“Boys?” Rex called to the two of them as Benjie began to pick up the broken cup. “Check to see if his horse is here.”

They hurried out of the room, leaving the broken cup behind. Rex finished clearing up the shards, then checked all the rooms downstairs. There was no sign of Albie. In the gun cupboard, all of Albie’s weapons were still missing, too, suggesting he hadn’t returned at all.

By the time Rex returned to the kitchen, a grave fear was taking over, one that didn’t need confirming by the frantic way in which Casper and Benjie ran back into the house. Their smart clothes were somewhat dirtied now from the mad dash into the stables. Judging by the straw in Benjie’s hair, Rex guessed Casper might have pushed his brother into one of the hay bales.

“Well?” Rex said as they both burst through the door, breathing heavily.

“The horse isn’t there,” Casper said as Benjie shook his head. “There’s no sign it’s been there at all. He hasn’t come home.”

“It’s not happening again, is it?” Benjie asked, his voice wary and quiet.

Rex said nothing but placed a hand to Benjie’s shoulder in comfort as he reached for his coat on the nearest peg.

“Where are you going?”

“To see the sheriff. Maybe Albie went there this morning. He at least knows where Albie has gone.” Rex burst out of the door, wondering if he should have slung his weapon’s belt around the hip line of his smart trousers. He darted back to pick up his Colt pistol instead, then hastened out, Casper and Benjie on his heels. They all ran to the stable.

“You can’t go now,” Benjie said, his voice rising in volume. “The wedding is in just an hour.”

“That’s the point, Benjie. Without Albie, there won’t be a wedding,” Rex muttered as he grabbed some reins and began to tack up his horse.

“Erm, Pa?” Casper called from outside the stable.

“Oh no.” Benjie thrust his hands into his hair with the words. “What do we tell Lorelai?”

“Nothing yet,” Rex said, placing the saddle on the horse’s back. It whinnied in surprise at the sudden movements.

“Pa!” Casper snapped, louder this time.

“What is it?” Rex tossed the words over his shoulder.

“I don’t think you need to saddle the horse or go see the sheriff anymore.” Casper had a small smile on his face as he pointed across the land. Rex abandoned his task, turning his back on the smell of the horses as he hurried out of the stable, with Benjie following closely. Bumping into Casper’s shoulder, Rex caught sight of what had excited him so much.

Far down the track road, there was a horse traveling toward them. As it grew in the distance, coming closer, Rex recognized the hat first, then the jacket slung across Albie’s shoulders.

Albie.

“Zounds,” Rex muttered with a sigh and bent forward, his hands to his knees. Casper clapped him on the shoulder.

“He had you worried there for a minute, didn’t he?”

“You could say that.” Rex looked between his other boys, rather hoping that neither of them wished to go into the bounty-hunting business, as well. Worrying for one son out on hunts was hard enough as it was.

As he stood straight, he noted that Albie was not alone on his horse. Slung across the back of the horse’s rump was a man with his wrists bound together. He was cursing, throwing insults at Albie in a heavily accented voice with every breath he took.

“I hope your horse bucks ye and kills ye in the dirt beneath your feet.”

“Pleasant guy, isn’t he?” Albie asked as he pulled the horse to a stop in front of them.

“Albie? Should I even ask?” Rex’s eyebrows raised as he nodded his head at the man.

“He caused me a little difficulty.” Albie glared down at the man behind him, his features contorting a little. “We couldn’t take the train back in the end, so I had to come by horse. Rode all night, but I’m here.”

“Thank God,” Rex muttered.

“Lorelai might have been a little disappointed otherwise,” Benjie said with a chuckle.

“I’ve just come to let you know I’m here. I’ll drop him in town with the sheriff and then we’ll go to the church.” Albie spoke conversationally, completely at ease, but Rex’s eyes were already darting down to the man behind him. The thief had risen his bound hands and was reaching for a knife in Albie’s belt.

“Albie!” Rex said, pointing forward, but he was too slow. The thief had taken the knife and sliced through the rope that kept him bound to the saddle.

He rolled off the horse as Albie turned round, trying to block him off before he could escape. The man was fast and darted around the animal, sprinting into the distance back down the track road which he had come from, kicking up dirt and dust behind him.

“Pa, I need a gun,” Albie called, moving the horse around again.

“What?”

“I’m out of bullets,” Albie said quickly, waving at the gun in Rex’s hand. Rex could have taken the shot, but he knew he didn’t need to. He tossed the gun by the barrel into the air and Albie caught it atop the horse, turning the animal once more with one hand on the reins.

Facing the running man, he took the shot. The bang echoed around the farm, and the man fell down to his knees.

“Did you kill him?” Benjie asked, a look of horror on his face. Albie glanced back at his brother, a small smile on his lips.

“Dying men don’t make so much sound.”

Rex laughed, knowing Albie was right. The man had fallen down and was gripping an injured leg, wailing as if he were being mauled by mountain lions. He clawed at the ground with one hand, as though he hoped he could use it to get away.

“He merely grazed the man’s leg,” Rex explained. “You two go and get the rest of the family ready. We’ll meet you at the church. I’ll help Albie get this man to the sheriff.”

Rex hurried into the stable and collected his own horse, pulling tightly on the reins. Clambering up into his saddle, he followed Albie down the road, coming up a short distance behind him as Albie jumped off the horse and unlatched another loop of rope.

“Ye bas—”

“Careful with that language,” Rex said with a chuckle, stopping behind them. “We’re off to a church today.”

The bandit merely glared at Rex in answer, struggling to move to his feet.

“Ye’ve killed me,” he muttered, his accent strong.

“I grazed you,” Albie assured him. “Now, onto the back of the horse, or I may find a reason to put the next bullet elsewhere.”

The threat was enough to make the man scramble onto the horse. He looked tempted to make another escape, but Rex took the gun back from his son and rode behind him.

“One move, one attempt to escape, and you know what happens.” He smiled at the thief, showing he was trapped. The man sighed and lolled across the back of the horse as they left the farm, riding together into the center of town.

They rode in silence for a few minutes before Rex started asking questions, finding out what had gone wrong. It seemed the thief’s last escape attempt had meant they missed the final train to town and had to ride all the way.

“What will Lorelai say when you’re late to your own wedding, kid?” Rex asked, laughing as they rode past the church. Even now, guests were arriving, though some hesitated on the threshold and pointed their way, startled to see the thief across the back of the horse.

“She’ll give me a flea in my ear for it, I fear.” Albie laughed deeply. “I hope she’ll forgive me.”

“She’ll forgive you, I’m sure of it.”

Rex had seen much of the courtship between his son and Lorelai this last year. It may have taken a nudge to encourage Albie to confess to his feelings, but since then, the pair had been practically inseparable. It was hardly unusual for Lorelai to turn up at the farm, waiting for Albie to return from his latest hunts, just so she could see him.

They remind me of Minnie and me, Rex thought with a smile as they reached the sheriff’s office. They were in love and fitted well together.

“I see you’re here at last!” Sheriff Peckham emerged from the door of the sheriff’s office and threw his arms in the air. “I thought you were coming back last night.”

“Impatient,” Rex muttered darkly.

“If it’s too late, I can always let him go again.” Albie threatened to cut through the thief’s ropes. The thief looked briefly excited before the sheriff jumped down off the veranda and hurried toward them.

“Alright, alright, hold your horses,” he muttered. “I’ll take him. You’ll have your payment tomorrow.” He grabbed the man, pulling him off the horse. “Won’t you be late for your wedding, Albie?”

“I’ll be fine.”

“Ah…” Rex paused as he heard the church bell chime across town. “Sounds like we don’t have time for you to get back to the ranch to change, kid.”

Albie’s eyes widened. They flicked the reins of their horses and galloped through the streets, making passersby jump out of the way, fearful of a collision. When they arrived at the church, the organ music inside was already being played.

“Well, do you think a wedding can begin with the bride killing the groom?” Albie asked as he jumped down off his horse, so eager that he practically fell.

“It may be a first.” Rex caught the back of Albie’s jacket, hauling him back before he went through the door. “Here, take this.” Shrugging off his own smarter coat and jacket, he passed them both to Albie, and his necktie, too, taking Albie’s for his own. He thrust the gun into his belt, hiding it from view.

“How do I look?” Albie asked, turning to face his father.

Rex couldn’t stop himself from laughing. Albie’s dirty trousers and shirt were plain to see, with his hair wild from his ride through the wind.

“You look great, kid.” Rex clapped him on the shoulder, watching as the compliment made his son smile wide.

Together, they stepped through the church doors, where the organ music was playing its final notes. At the front of the aisle stood Lorelai, her arms folded and something of a glare on her features. When she caught sight of Albie, that glare softened into a grin.

Rex hurried down beside his son, taking the seat beside Minnie in the front pew.

“A part of me thought you might not come.” Lorelai’s words could just be overheard at the front of the church by Rex, as Minnie offered her own glare.

“Never doubt that.” Albie quickly lifted Lorelai’s hand to his lips and kissed the back.

“As for what you’re wearing, we’ll talk about that later.” The two turned to face the priest just as Minnie elbowed Rex in the rib.

“Ow,” he murmured. “The gown looks beautiful, dear.”

“That was not why I elbowed you!” she hissed in a whisper. “Is that a gun? You can’t wear a gun into church.”

“Why not? I carried one to our own wedding,” Rex said playfully, watching as Minnie rolled her eyes.

“Albie is just like you, isn’t he?” she said, her smile growing. “Late to his own wedding, just as you were.”

“He’s better than me, Minnie,” Rex said with confidence as he turned his gaze forward to watch his son get married. “I couldn’t be prouder of him.”

THE END


Readers who read this book also liked

13 thoughts on “The Blazing Guns of Revenge – Extended Epilogue”

  1. Really enjoy all of your outstanding series of realistically motivated old American western frontier justicr! Great job! Just keep them coming!

  2. Enjoyed this one very much. Not nearly as disjointed as the first one I read. Very good book. I read it in a day and didn’t want to stop. I am now off to read your next offering.

  3. Loved this book, as I do all of your books that I have read. I just hope you have a lot more stories to tell! Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *