A Final Battle Against Bandits (Preview)

Chapter One

Drake Allmont peered through the binoculars as the wind tossed sand and dirt to and fro.  The savage crosswind couldn’t make up its mind today and ripped north and south, east and west over the plains. He had decided this was going to be his last bounty. He was tired of trailing evil men and was ready to find an easier job, one that had a future.

He spotted his partner and friend, Jim Wales, through the binoculars as he scampered toward the camp at the top of the hill. It was morning, and he hoped the outlaws were still half-asleep. There wasn’t much cover from where he was to the outlaw camp, but Wales was a good tracker and especially good at disappearing even when there didn’t seem to be much cover.

As it ran over the hills and sand, the wind gave its usual mournful cry. The sound, Allmont thought, was like a eulogy to an outlaw. A sad lament for a wasted life, then a guttural roar perhaps depicting the hell the outlaw was currently experiencing. Through the binoculars, Wales suddenly appeared, ran into a group of sage bushes, and disappeared again. Only one of them checked out the camp because they were cautious and thought two men would be spotted, but one might make it. Allmont peered toward the camp but saw only a dark figure through the binoculars. Nothing distinct. The sun had risen about an hour before, but the outlaws had been slow getting up. Allmont hoped that was because they didn’t think anyone was tracking them, so perhaps they had become careless. This, of course, was a big mistake in the West and especially dangerous if you had your face on a wanted poster, which all four of the outlaws at the camp did. The largest reward was five hundred dollars for Bear Reams, the leader and the most murderous member of the group. Most rewards were about two hundred to three hundred dollars. But Reams had wantonly shot a man when he pulled his latest bank robbery. The man held his hands up and offered no resistance to the outlaw gang. But Reams just blasted the man and fired two bullets into his chest. He died on the bank floor. One of the witnesses to the event was the bank president. Both saddened and infuriated, he personally put the five hundred dollar bounty on Reams.

Wales popped up again and, head low ran down the small cliff and squeezed behind the tree where Allmont was hiding. He nodded and smiled.

‘It’s just what we thought, Drake. The four of them are there, but they are casually talking and walking around without a care. It’s like they think they have evaded all the posses and are in the clear. They don’t look worried about any lawmen or bounty hunters, for that matter. One is still asleep. Maybe he got drunk last night and needs to sleep it off.”

“Good, let’s hope he stays asleep until we surprise them. Who else is with them?”

‘Besides the ugly leader Reams, there’s Jacko Collier and Mean Eyes Smith. I didn’t get a good look at the one still sleeping. But Collier has two hundred on his head, and Smith has two hundred or two-fifty. I don’t remember the exact amount. But if the guy sleeping has just a one hundred dollar bounty, we can get five hundred each when we get them all.”

“Good, I’m planning to quit and getting that much money as the last job isn’t bad.”

Wales smiled. “And we don’t have to be too careful. The posters say dead or alive.”

“Should we move now?” Allmont said.

“Yes. I saw Reams. He’s not only mean; he’s ugly. But he’s the only one who looks fully awake. We can go up now and maybe catch them all half asleep.”

“We should circle around first. All of them appear to be looking this way. If we go around, we should be able to catch them by surprise,” Allmont said.

“I agree. We should keep low until we get to the other side.”

The two took one last look and then ran  around the hill. They didn’t see anyone as they moved. Allmont hoped they were too busy sitting around the campfire drinking coffee. Both men were in good shape. Fast and alert. And good with their guns. They had both been bounty hunters for three years and knew many of the tricks of the trade. Both had rifles in their hands. For a moment, they stopped and listened. Birds could be heard chirping their morning songs. In their position, the two men heard the low sounds of conversation. But the tones were of a normal conversation. Nothing had scared or alarmed the outlaws.  The two men eased up the hill step by step. As they went, the conversations became louder and louder. They could hear the outlaws clearer now.

“I should have killed that bank president,” came a voice. “Dang man put five hundred dollars on my head. I should have shot him instead of that other man.”

Allmont and Wales jumped into the clear and aimed their rifles at the four men.

“Hands up! We plan to collect his reward, Bear. So I’m glad you didn’t shoot him,” Allmont said.

“There’s four of us. You think you can take us all,” Collier said. “It doesn’t take long to draw.”

“Won’t take long for a bullet to hit you either,” Allmont said. “Now stand up and unbuckle your gunbelts. We’re bringing you a present. We’re gonna give you some shiny bracelets to put on.”

The four outlaws rose, ready for a fight.

“I’m not going to hang,” Reams shouted as he went for his gun.

Allmont fired three times. The bullets slammed into the outlaw leader before he could grasp the handle of his sidearm. Three blood spots appeared on his shirt. Collier also tried to pull his gun, but Wales fired twice at him. The bullets spun him around, and then he fell to the dust.

“No! No!” a third outlaw said, raising his arms, as did the last man.

“OK, I’ll cuff them. You cover me,” Allmont said.

Wales nodded, his finger on the trigger of his rifle. “Take your time. They’re not going anywhere.”

Allmont cuffed them with their hands in front so they could still handle the reins of their horses. After telling the men to sit down, Wales collected their gunbelts.

“You won’t have a proper funeral. No one is going to speak a eulogy for you. Except for the buzzards. They’ll probably appreciate the fine meal.” He moved quickly but looked at Allmont. “Did I ever tell you my buzzard joke?”

“No, can’t say as you have.”

Wales unloosed the second gunbelt and grabbed it off the outlaw. “A buzzard and a hawk are sitting on a fence, and a wren flies by. Hawk says, ‘Let’s go get lunch.” Buzzard says, ‘No, I’m waiting for the Lord.’  “Waiting for the Lord?” the hawk said in disbelief. ‘You wait for the Lord, and you’ll starve to death.” So he flies off and dives for the wren, but the wren dips at the last minute, and the hawk hits a fence full speed and breaks his neck. The buzzard looks up and says, “Thank you, Lord, for providing my lunch.”

Allmont laughed and shook his head. His friend was prone to telling jokes. Often at the most inconvenient times.  He looked at the two outlaws. “You just stay right there and don’t move.” Looking around the campsite, he located the saddlebag the outlaws had put the bank money in. He saw there was a packet of letters tied together. He picked it up and showed it to the handcuffed men.

“What are these?”

One shrugged. “Just letters. Collier picked them up this week from somewhere. We didn’t ask about them. We didn’t care. They weren’t money.”

Allmont stuffed the letters in his vest. “I’ll read them and see if I can send word to the writers and tell them about the lost letters.”

“I don’t do nothin for do-gooders,” an outlaw said.

“That’s a compliment,” Allmont said. He smashed the outlaw’s mouth with his gun. The outlaw groaned as he fell. He groaned again as he got back up slowly. “You’re lucky I just became a nice guy two months. You can guess what I would have done to you if I was still a nasty fellow.” He lowered his voice. “Get on your horses.”

Wales walked over to him. “You think the sheriff will need the bodies to prove we killed Bear and his friend.”

“No. We know most of the sheriffs in this area. They know our word is good. Besides, I wouldn’t dream of depriving those buzzards of a good dinner. They’re circling now, just waiting for us to leave.”

Wales laughed.  “I didn’t know you were such a softie, Drake.”

“I do have a soft spot, but only for buzzards.” He looked at the two outlaws. “Get on your horses, boys. You’re going to accompany us back to the nearest town where we will turn you in. And you can verify that your friends, including Bear Reams, were left for the buzzards.”

“We ain’t telling nothing,” one outlaw said. “I’m going to tell him Bear got away. You won’t get any reward for him.”

“Don’t make it difficult for me, or you might not make it to the next town, mister. I owe you nothing.”

The warning was a lie. Allmont had no intention of shooting the outlaw. He did things by the book, the law book and the Lord’s book. He was a gracious man – when he wasn’t hunting outlaws – and only shot his gun when he had been fired at. He walked to the two dead men.

“Hey, Jim, didn’t that poster on Bear say he wore an odd hat.”

His partner nodded. “Yes, it was something like a coonskin cap, with that furry little thing in the back.”

Allmont noticed the coonskin cap close to Bear’s body. He walked over and picked it up. “OK, we’ll show the sheriff this. It should be proof enough.” He smiled at the two outlaws. “I’m gonna treat you two really nice because we will get five hundred dollars for bringing you in. I’ll resign from bounty hunting with that much money and try another profession. But don’t aggravate me.”

“Yes, you better not,” Wales said. “The poster on you two says ‘Dead or Alive.’ So you two better be on your best behavior on the way to town.”

“You go first, Jim. Then we’ll have the outlaws follow you, and I will follow them.”

Wales led out, and the outlaws rode behind him. Allmont stayed at the rear of the group. He figured it was only ten miles to the nearest town. The four should make it by the end of the day. While the two stayed in the town cell, he would soak in a hot bath at the hotel.

Get along home, Cindy, Cindy, get along home….” Wales sang, causing Allmont to smile. His partner had a good singing voice and often sang while they were trailing outlaws. He liked to listen to Wales’s singing.  It made the trail rides a little easier to bear.

“Do we have to listen to that?” one outlaw yelled. “You can take us in, but you don’t have to torture us.”

“Stop your complaining,” Allmont said. “My partner sings well.  Shut up, or I’ll tell him to sing louder. Hey, Jim, can you give us a chorus of ‘Camptown Ladies?”

“Sure, then I can delight you with my rendition of ‘Dixie’ and ‘The Old Folks at Home,” Wales said laughingly.

“No, that’s cruel and unusual punishment.”

“Oh, shut up,” Wales said. “You’re a thief, not a music critic.”

The trip to the nearest town of Green Hill went faster than Allmont or Wales thought. They arrived at the sheriff’s office at three o’clock. Sheriff Austin Blocker, a large man with black hair and a thick mustache, looked amused when the two men brought in their prisoners.  Sheriff Blocker had a friendly smile and a loud laugh for a large man who was not all that good-looking. They heard plenty of his boisterous laugh when they told him Bear Reams was now buzzard meat.

“Serves the scum right,” the sheriff said. “He was a mean one. Ugly too.”

He looked at the two men in handcuffs. “Well, come on in, boys. I’ve got a cell for you before you get transferred to the state prison. You get room service and everything. You two come in, too, if you will. I’ve got some papers you’ll need to sign before I can send for the bounty.”

Allmont and Wales walked in behind their prisoners. Sheriff Blocker sat down behind his desk.

“I’m guessing you boys are bounty hunters,” he said.

They nodded.

“That’s fine. I know some sheriffs don’t like bounty hunters, but I do. You have a few bad people in your ranks, but there are bad people in every profession. And if you rid the human race of Bear Reams, you have done a good deed. Like a drink?”

The sheriff pulled a whisky bottle from his desk drawer.

“Don’t mind if I do,” Allmont said. “And I probably speak for my partner too.”

“You do.” Wales chimed in.

Sheriff Blocker put two glasses before the men and poured the whisky. “I’ll telegraph the state, and they should send the money in a few days. You going to relax a while or go back to hunting.”

“I’m going to relax for a long while,” Allmont said. “I’m going to take a break from bounty hunting and try something else, although I’m not sure what that something else is yet.”

“I’m gonna take a brief vacation. I’ll play poker and plan to make a visit to the ladies in town,” said Wales winking at his friend. “Might take a trip to Denver and see the sights.”

“I wish you well. Bear Reams had been making a reputation lately, a bad reputation. I’m happy he is no longer on the loose. Bet the buzzards are happy too. He was a good-sized man. The buzzards will get more than one meal off him. Will you two be staying in the hotel here until the money comes in?”

“Yes, and I have a little business to finish,” Allmont said. He reached in his pocket and pulled out the packet of letters. “They had some letters in their camp that had been stolen from somewhere. I want to read them and see if I can get them back to the owners.”

“That’s nice of you. You hate to have a letter disappear on you. If that happened to me, I’d want to track it down.”

Allmont raised his glass. “And we know this town has a good sheriff. Sounds like a good place to be.”

“Thank you.”

“Check in with me about your bounty money. Sometimes the state is slow, but it should be here in two or three days,” the sheriff said. “Have enough money for food and lodging. The law allows me to loan you some if you went bust tracking down the outlaws.”

“No, we have a little to spare. Although after eating and getting a hotel for three days, we would be close to being busted,” Wales laughed. “And you can’t chase women when you’re broke. They want a man with money. Can you imagine that?”

The two stood up, shook hands with the sheriff again, and walked out. Sheriff Blocker pointed to some wanted posters on his wall. “If you decide not to retire, I just put up some fresh posters today. Got a couple for five hundred dollars, if you’re interested.”

Allmont laughed. “Well, if the retirement doesn’t work out, maybe I’ll come back,” he said.

Chapter Two

After a hot bath, Allmont had a late lunch at Bill and Earl’s restaurant and thought it was one of the best meals he’d ever had.  The two owners of the restaurant were actually named Bill and Earl. They were not creative in naming restaurants, but they were excellent cooks.  Allmont had a steak with potatoes, corn, and rolls. The food was superb, and even the coffee was fine. He understood why almost every table there was filled.’

He returned to his room at the hotel, stretched out on the bed, and brought out the parcel of letters. He skimmed over them and saw they were letters from a woman to her brother and his letters to her. He spotted the address of the sister in on one of the letters, an address in Orchard Mesa, a town about half a day away.  The first letter from her brother did not have an address on it but expressed touching concern for his sister and their father, whom the sister was caring for. He read the letter carefully.

My dear Linda,

I understand and sincerely appreciate your concern for me, but I think you are overestimating the alleged dangers of my venture. I am tracking down rumors of a treasure of gold and possible silver. I admit the evidence is not solid but of rumors, gossip, and whispers, but I think there is some substance to these whisperings.  Sis, I am not hunting down what I guess could only be called a rumor, just due to greed. Of course, I wouldn’t mind being rich. But we both know the medical condition of our father. The disease he is fighting is fatal but takes a long time to kill. As it progresses, it weakens the body and causes a great deal of pain in those who suffer from it. If these stories are true, the money I would make from discovering the gold will make life much easier for our father as the months and years progress. We can have medical assistants care for him.  Not that we wouldn’t, but we know, in the later days, caring for Dad may be a full-time job and one for medical professionals. The money would help provide him with the best care. And if there are any breakthroughs, those medical advances might be available only in larger cities such as San Francisco or possibly the cities back east such as Chicago, New York, or Philadelphia. If I find the gold, we would have the money to make such trips.

Of course, I can’t promise success. No one could. But from the evidence, I believe this theory is worth looking into. If it turns out to be wrong, I will quit immediately.

I also want to say I am not in this alone. I am working with a man named Flint Hampton, who is relentlessly honest as far as I can see. Searching for gold attracts drifters, con men, hustlers, and for that matter, cutthroats. But Flint is a former Army officer who has gone far and wide in the west. He also heard about those rumors, and in his travels, he has picked up some evidence showing the gold theory is real. Whether it’s from some type of robbery that went awry and the outlaws had to hide it to escape capture, or whether it is a remnant of some stolen or looted gold from the time of the Spanish conquest is yet unknown. That theory is strange, but Flint told me he heard rumors that a shipment of gold from the time of the Spanish invasion had been shipped north. He said he thought the story was unbelievable until he was shown a gold coin, which he pulled out of his pocket and showed me. It was real gold. I knew it when I saw it. It had markings that I didn’t understand, but it was gold. Do not worry. I am not going to spend my life looking for hidden gold. There are a few people out there who have. If this doesn’t pan out, I will call a halt to the search and come back to help with taking care of dad. But if there is a chance these rumors are true, I think I have to check them out.

My friend Flint is a man of the West, and he is skeptical about all the rumors but says he is going to check them out to see if there is a chance they are true. That’s how I feel.

I miss you, and I love you. I know this is a tough, emotional time for you. I won’t leave you to bear all the problems alone. I hope to return as soon as possible.

Your Brother,

Allen

When he finished, Allmont just stared at the letter. The gold rumors he almost dismissed, but he was touched by the man’s dedication and love for his sister and family. They were facing a difficult situation. Allmont thought if he was in that situation and heard of a credible theory about lost money or hidden gold, he would probably do his best to check it out because the family would need the money. He folded the letter back into the envelope and slipped the envelope into the bureau of the small desk in the room.

Allmont walked to the window and looked down on the street. He took a cigar from his shirt pocket, lit it, and blew smoke out the window. He had heard rumors of stolen gold too, or lost payrolls or the…what was it?… Yes, the Lost Dutchman’s Mine. He had heard the rumors years ago and almost forgotten them. The lost mine was supposed to be full of gold, silver, and diamonds, and a few people still looked for it today.

He didn’t automatically dismiss the Aztec gold theory. He had gone into the business of bounty hunting for money. But his mother demanded he, his brother, and his sister get a good education, and he was also an avid reader. The family was not dirt poor. They did not face starvation and had money in the bank for emergencies, and there was always money for books. His mother demanded they read the Bible, but she also strongly emphasized history books. He had read of the Aztecs and the Spanish conquest and the gold the Spaniards had stolen from the Aztecs. Of course, the Aztecs had stolen from other tribes and kept those tribes in subjugation, so he didn’t have much sympathy for the Aztecs when they lost their gold. But during the battles, a shipment of gold could easily have been taken out of Mexico to head for safer places and hidden until a safe place could be found north of the border.

He blew out smoke from the cigar again. Of course, that stolen gold could be anywhere. With the cigar still in his mouth, he went over the letters looking for a full name.  He found one note with the name Linda Crawford. She was the writer in Orchard Mesa. Allen had to be her brother. He searched for another letter.  The second letter, the one he hadn’t read yet, bore a stamp from Colorado City, about seventy miles northeast of where he was now. Orchard Mesa was half a day the other way. He would have to decide where to go first. But he was also interested in Flint Hampton. Could he track down Hampton?  From what the letters said, if he tracked down Hampton, he would find Allen. Or if he found Allen, he would discover Flint Hampton.

The letters touched him. He felt sympathy for a family trying to care for an ailing father. Some years back, he had found himself in a similar position.  His father was dying, and he was about to go to their home and spend the final weeks with him.  His sister lived in the same town and was helping care for their father when he arrived. Their brother came in about a week later. When their father passed away, all his children were there to comfort him and say goodbye. But these two siblings knew their father might take a long time to die and tried their best to care for him. That was honorable and deserved respect. Now he had deep sympathy for another man who faced the same situation he had been in.

He was enthusiastic about reading the letters. Previously, it had been more of a chore for him. Something that should be done. A favor for folks who had lost their letters. Now he had an enthusiasm about it. Maybe he could help a grown son and daughter in comforting their dying father.  He rubbed his eyes. He appreciated that both siblings had good, clear handwriting. Their letters were easy to read. First, he would visit the town saloon, buy a bottle, and sip it as he read.

As for the gold….he had no real belief that the stories were true. In the unlikely event that it was, he wouldn’t mind picking up a few gold nuggets for his trouble. But whether or not the stories of gold were true, he was still going to help the brother and sister he didn’t know in this time of need.

Chapter Three

He detoured to the restaurant for an early dinner before heading into the saloon and bumped into Wales, who waved and gave a big smile.

“This is much better than chasing outlaws. When I’m tracking, I have to eat my own bad cooking,” Wales said. “Now I get good cooks to fix my food.”

“I feel the same way. Let’s have lunch.” He slapped his partner on the back. “Jim, as long as we’re stuck here until the money gets in, I want to discuss something with you.”

“You’re not thinking of going out after another outlaw, are you?”

“Definitely not. This is a bit more complicated.”

Allmont opened the door to the restaurant, and they chose a seat by the window.  When the waitress came, they ordered steak sandwiches with a beer. The waitress smiled as she laid out the silverware.

“Be back in a minute with your beers.”

Allmont not only trusted his friend to be straight and accurate when he used a pistol, but he also trusted Wales’s intelligence and common sense.  That was one reason they had been partners for three years. They trusted one another.

“You remember those letters I found,” he said.

“Sure. One envelope, if I remember, was pink. Don’t usually see pink envelopes out here. It does stick in your mind a bit. I’m guessing it was a love letter.”

The waitress returned and placed beers in front of both men.

“Not really, but we’ll let that go. The letters were from a brother and sister. And they…they sounded like decent, honorable people.”

And not the kind of folks we deal with regularly in our profession.”

“Exactly.  But they have a dying father. The letters didn’t say what he was dealing with. But I gather it’s some slow disease, and I’m guessing there’s no cure.”

“If there’s no cure, it’s better to have a fast disease. I’d rather die quickly than die slowly.”

Allmont smiled.  “You do have a practical side, Jim. But since we’re here with nothing to do until the money comes in—”

“I’ve got things to do. I have saloons to visit and a ranch to plan out. Have my eye on some property in Wyoming.”

Allmont sat back in his chair. “You’re buying a place in Wyoming?”

Wales nodded. “Yes, had my eye on it for a year or so and saved up my money, and since my partner is quitting, it might be a good time to start fresh myself. When I get this bounty, I will have enough to buy it or at least pay a considerable down payment. It’s a horse ranch. I don’t have expert knowledge of many things, but I know horses. I think I can build, improve, and expand the ranch. Besides, I’ll accept older horses if they have no place to go.” He lifted his beer.  A degree of emotion came into his voice. “Horses have served us well and are very intelligent animals, and can be as loyal as a dog.  When they are slowed down by age, they should not be simply killed after doing so much for us. Did you know they get attached to people?  And, frankly, I get attached to them.”

Allmont drank some beer. “Jim, you’re not only a humanitarian. You’re a horsemanitarian.” He raised his glass. “But more power to you. I like your idea. After hearing you, when I get my ranch, I may do the same thing.”

Wales smiled. “Thank you, so you wanted to talk to me about something.”

“Yes, I want you to glance through those letters to see if you can catch something I didn’t. I want to find those two people, not only so I can give them the letters, but I want to help them.”

As the waitress returned and put two plates before the men, Allmont explained the father’s condition and the rumors of hidden gold.

Wales took a bite of the sandwich. He shrugged. “I can do that. I have to be up in Casper in a month to close the deal on the ranch, but until then, I have some free time. I can go through them, but I’m not sure I will have any insights. I’ve never been one for lost gold mines or treasures from the ages or the Aztecs. But you’re my friend. I’ll do my best to help.”

“Thank you. And who knows, if the rumors are true, you will get a cut for your horse ranch if there is any gold.”

Wales laughed. “Well, if I get twenty percent, I have a hunch it will be twenty percent of nothing. But we’ll do a good deal and try to help the brother and sister.  Maybe it’s because I’ve captured so many wanted men and killed a few of them when they resisted arrest, but I admire honest folks. Honest folks and horses.”

Allmont raised his glass again. “That sounds like a toast.”


“A Final Battle Against Bandits” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

When it comes to bounty hunting, Drake Allmont is a force to be reckoned with. While his scars clearly prove he’s been through enough adventures for a lifetime, little did he know the most memorable one was yet to come… On a fateful day, a young woman’s photo and two letters with a treasure map are found in the loot of a gang, signaling the beginning of a perilous hunt.

The mysterious woman’s sad eyes inspire Drake to discover the truth…

Suave and slender, Jack Cassidy is both a gambler and a gunman. Only one rival stands in his way: Drake Allmont. When his sworn enemy knocks on his door, he is initially flabbergasted. Yet, his suggestion to go on a gold hunt spikes Jack’s adrenaline. The only problem is that they’re not the first ones to find out about the map.

A never-ending game can only have one winner…

While traveling through the wilds, Drake and Jack will face a fierce gang of bandits. However, they won’t need to wait long to realize that something far darker is on their trail. Will our former foes and current allies come out alive and rich at the end of it all? Or will this be their final battle?

“A Final Battle Against Bandits” is a historical adventure novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cliffhangers, only pure unadulterated action.

Get your copy from Amazon!

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