Shooting his Way to Payback – Extended Epilogue

Chad Drake headed down the road that would bring him to the Oak Tree Ranch.  The name had been changed since the death of the first owner, Elliot Evans. He had been complicit in the infamous Wells Fargo robbery ten years ago that left three men dead. Drake had been one of the men who finally broke the case after ten years. He had been promoted since the last time he was in Danville. He couldn’t stay long on this trip, but he wanted to see his old friend, Jack Caldwell, and his wife, Samantha. They had a child he wanted to meet too; a two-year-old boy named Elliott.

As he rode, he thought it had not changed much in three years, but there was better scenery. The ranch had expanded and both beef and horses wandered through the land. It looked like a prosperous ranch. He also rode past a small cemetery that was about a half mile from the house.  The most prominent grave was the one for Mr. Evans. He was one of the men who participated in the famous robbery. Although his daughter knew of the deed, she put fresh flowers on his grave every week.

As he rode up to the house, it looked bigger than the last time he saw it. Perhaps they had built a nursery. Caldwell opened the door and yelled a welcome to him.  Samantha was by his side.

“Chad!  It’s good to see you again! I was beginning to think you were not going to get up here again. You’re head of a bureau downstate now so I figured that would take up most of your time,” Caldwell said.

He walked out to shake his former partner’s hand. Samantha followed him.

“You’re looking good, partner. How does it feel to be a wealthy landowner instead of a Wells Fargo agent?” Drake asked.

Caldwell laughed. “To be truthful, I like both jobs, but as a ranch owner you get to dictate your own schedule. If you don’t want to work one day, you can take the day off.  That’s the great thing about being a boss. It’s really a fine job.”

Samantha showed a skeptical smile. “Despite what my husband says, he doesn’t take many days off. And on more than one occasion, he has put in a long day. If he tried to do nothing, I don’t think he could stand it. Work is built into his character.  I can’t ever see my husband with his feet up on a footrest, doing nothing. I’ve known a few men who would be very happy doing nothing. Jack is not one of them.”

“Come on in, Chad. I’ll pour you a drink,” Caldwell said.

He walked his former partner through the house until they walked in a large outside sun porch. Several chairs were outside so everyone had a scenic view of the ranch.  Drake eased down in a cushioned chair while Samantha brought him a drink.

“So glad to see you again, Chad. We’ve been missing you,” she said.

“Thank you. I kinda missed my old partner too. We had some good times together and brought some bad guys to justice.”

“I’ve heard you are still doing a good job at that. Wells Fargo promoted you and should have.”

Chad sipped the drink and laughed. “Well, I’m in a profession where business will never dry up. There will always be bad guys out there. You put one in prison and another one pops up. ”

“Yes, I’m sure that is very true,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell looked around. “This was always a good-sized ranch, but it looks like you’ve expanded. Have you bought some additional property? You seem to be branching out.”

Both Caldwell and Samantha nodded. “We are,” she said. “Jack wants to be the owner of the biggest ranch in Colorado.”

“That’s an ambition. If you go into a field, be the best at it,” Chad said.

“I don’t necessarily need to have the biggest in the state, but I would like to expand the place. After all, we should leave something to our children. We have one son, and Samantha is pregnant again.”

“Really? Congratulations!” Drake said. “That is wonderful. Have a limit on how many children you plan to have.”

“I have always wanted a large family,” Samantha said. “I did not come from a big family, and I always wanted a brother and a sister and often wished for two brothers and two sisters. So our goal is five children. I don’t have any objection to more. I want a full house.

“With five children, you will have one,” Drake said. “I hope the pregnancy has gone well.”

“There’s been no problems,” she said. “And, I don’t expect any. My first pregnancy went without a hitch. No problems whatsoever, and I expect my second to be the same way. My doctor said I am in fine shape, and he expects everything to go fine too. He’s a man I trust; a very fine doctor. 

You’re not married yet, Chad. You need a wife.”

“That’s true, partner,” Caldwell said. “I will tell you married life is wonderful. It’s a joy.  I heartily endorse it.”

“Well, as soon as I find the right woman, I’ll walk down the aisle. I haven’t been as lucky as you have in finding that elusive right woman. Then again, who could compare with Samantha here.”

“Stop it, Chad. You’re just gun shy, and there is no reason you should be. It’s good for a man to be married. It settles him down a little and gets him thinking about stability and progress.”

Chad sipped more of his drink. “I understand what you are saying and, I assure you, as soon as the right woman comes along, I will invite you to the wedding.”

“You better,” Samantha said. “We want to be there. We want to hear you say ‘I do.”

He sipped his drink again. “Let’s change the subject. I’ve been in the south part of the state, but I understand Mr. Catlow is finally doing time for his role in the crime.”

Caldwell nodded.

“He was a wily man in more ways than one. Not many outlaws behave like introverts. With his money from the robbery, he bought a good-sized ranch in Wyoming and tried to disappear.  We found him and wanted to arrest him right then, but we had to get the ok from Wyoming authorities first. That was a little difficult to do. We suspected a few people had been bribed, but for a long time we were unable to get Catlow back to Colorado. There was always another objection filed and another judge that agreed to a hearing. Catlow was a murderer, but he was also a clever man. From the moment he set foot in Wyoming, he began cultivating law enforcement personnel and powerful, influential people. He figured if he ever was caught, he would lay the groundwork to make an arrest and extradition as difficult as possible. And he did.”

Caldwell sipped his drink. “This case was unique in many ways. One of the oddities of it is I never saw one of the masterminds of the job. You did. You got up to Wyoming and saw him, but I didn’t. I just saw examples of his work.”

“Yes, it took years to get him back to Colorado and finally hang him. I saw him when I went to Wyoming. To be honest, he wasn’t that impressive in person. He was of average height and average weight. He wasn’t as flamboyant as outlaw leaders tend to be. He was a quiet man; didn’t say much. I tried to engage in conversation because I was curious about him, but he wasn’t interested in Talking to me.” He shook his head. “That’s about all I can say about him. He was something of a mystery…even as he walked to the gallows.”

“I’m glad he’s gone,” Caldwell said. “I’m not missing him. I doubt anyone is.”

“Wells Fargo sued to get some of his estate. He was married, but had no children.  The company claimed most of the money stolen from Wells Fargo and some of his estate should go to the survivors of his crimes. After it was litigated, their families did get some of the money. I don’t think this case was truly over until the final checks were paid to the survivors. It’s been almost three years since the initial arrests in the case.”

“So this case actually lasted about thirteen years. The longest case I have ever known,” Caldwell said. “At least it has a successful conclusion.”

“It just shows you can never give up.”

Samantha nodded. “Chad, you do plan to have dinner with us tonight, right? We will have the cook make your favorite meal, just tell us what your favorite is. Meat, vegetables, and dessert. I can have the cook make a chocolate cake if you like, or an apple pie, or both. Our cook is wonderful!”

Drake held up his empty glass. “Right now I will just take another drink.”

Samantha laughed, stood up and grabbed the glass.  “As your hostess, I’ll take care of this request.

She refilled the glass and handed it back to him.

“As for the dinner, I’m a basic meat and potatoes man. Just a good steak with mashed potatoes, and maybe some sweet, buttered corn.”

“We have that,” Samantha said. What about dessert?”

“Well, to be honest, I haven’t had chocolate cake for a long time. It is my favorite.”

“Then we’ll have it,” she said.  “Anything for our guest and best friend.  Excuse me, while I go tell the cook about our dinner menu.”

She excused herself and walked into the house. Drake sipped the second drink. He raised the glass as if toasting his friend.

“You do have good whiskey, Jack. One of the advantages of being rich.”

“We’ll give you a bottle before you leave, my friend.”

“Jack, I don’t mean to pry into private events, but I am a little curious. Was there any friction between you and Samantha because…well…”

“Because I killed her father?”

“Yes.”

“Fortunately, not really. Samantha has made her peace with it, although we don’t really talk about it. She was shocked when she discovered what he did, and it hurt her. But, I think she realized that once he was caught he was not going to turn himself in. He didn’t want to go to prison for the rest of his life. He preferred a plot of land on his ranch. She loved him, and for all I can tell he was  a very good father, but she knew he was not going down without a fight. There’s been no resentment or friction in our marriage because I did my duty, but, then again, we don’t really speak about it. It belongs in the past, and that’s where it will stay.


Drake nodded.

“That’s how it should be. By the way, did the company, our company that is, negotiate with you and Samantha? Did they want money? Did they make claims that some of this ranch had been built with stolen funds? They were initiating those suits after the arrests and convictions in the case.”

“Yes, after we married, the agency did claim that a great deal of Evans’ fortune and ranch was due to stolen money. We could not honestly dispute that. We hired an attorney to negotiate with Wells Fargo, but told them we didn’t want any of the stolen money. We would give back any funds that came from the robbery and the deaths of three men. Of course, that was ten years after the robbery. It was not easy to figure out. Evans made some legitimate purchases before the robbery.  While he paid for them before the robbery, he was on thin ice because he had overextended himself. But, our lawyers got together with a team of experts and did their best to unravel the situation, and we made payments to Wells Fargo until the debt was cleared. We swore to the Lord that we would pay back every cent her father stole. It took some time, but we did it. Neither of us could look to the future until we took care of the past. We both felt the same way.”

“Not the best way to begin a marriage, but I’m glad everything turned out alright.”

“The past, as we found out, is never really past. It’s always ready to make an appearance in the present and shape the future.”

Drake swallowed his drink. He held up the empty. “And you say I’ll get a gift of a whisky bottle when I leave?”

“Two whisky bottles, old friend,” Caldwell said.

“Oh, I wanted to ask you if you are now on the county commission. You said in your last letter that you were being urged to run. Did you? And if so, did you win?”

Caldwell nodded. “I did run, and I did win. I had never ventured into politics before but thought I needed to now. This is a wide-open state and we are growing by the day, but we have to grow properly and orderly. Growth can certainly help a community, but it can also destroy a city or county. It has to be the right kind of growth, with progressive-minded men and women. The county is for all people, not just for a few. We have a chance to build a great county and a great city. I didn’t want us to blow it. So I entered politics.”

“I’m sure you will do a good job, my friend. I don’t think the people of this county could be better than you.”

“Thank you, partner.”

THE END


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39 thoughts on “Shooting his Way to Payback – Extended Epilogue”

    1. Yes, I did! I also did a bit of proof reading for you. I’m not sure how to get you that information…. I am 77 but have always loved to read, very hard no for me to read a real paperback or hard copy book, but EBooks fill the void! I have many on g9ogle, Kindle and book funnel. Because we live on Social security, I try not to actually purchase books, there are lots of freebies out there! ;-), or books I can get with Google points. Just wish I had more time to read! I get very tired now, CHF doesn’t help.

    2. GREAT! ENJOYED EVERY PAGE ALL THE WAY. Fact is just could not put the book down, except when I just had to sleep.
      Keep up your good writing and give us some more interesting stories of the old west. You are now one of my favorite writers.
      John S. From Russellville, Arkansas. Retired and enjoying my reading. Thank you again. Js

    3. This story went real well. I enjoyed it very much.
      Good for teens and up.
      It was good to learn about wells fargo.s approach to supporting their employees.

    4. Thanks for the books, Johnnie! I’ve read several but don’t think any of them could top the characters of this one. Jack and Drake are great together as partners, but the romance between Jack and Samantha was really special. I’m assuming you are happily married, otherwise I don’t think those two would have gotten through the conflicts still together. And you were smart enough to realize that a great marriage might still have some taboo subjects not for discussion.

    5. I enjoyed the book immensley flow of the story was great except fora little confusion on my part,,,I musta missed the part of the stoiry that dfiscussed FBI agents and Texas Rangers…as both types of enforcement appereaed to me to be mixed up as Wells Fargo Agents…I am 80 yeras old and love western sagas…I keep a;; my e books so at some point in time I will re-read and try to find out where I missed the point of the other two agencies/

  1. You mention FBI agents twice and Texas rangers once when referring to Wells Fargo agents. I enjoyed the book, but that threw me for a second.

  2. I really enjoyed your book. Proofreading could have been better. I have purchased a few of your other books as well. Can’t wait to start the new books. Keep up the good work.

  3. Enjoyed this story. Held my interest the complete storyline Keep up the good I have never been interested in this type of stories. Always romance and Christian story’s. Got one free and I am hooked. Keep up the good work.

  4. ANOTHER great western book that keeps you turning pages until the end. Loved the story great ending. Looking forward to your next book

  5. Very enjoyable & informative re-election well fargo. Kept my interest right to the end. Will look out for more of your great
    Stories

  6. Well, I agree with others it was a good story. I also agree that you need a really good editor. You went from Colorado to Texas and back again several times. You referred to the Wells Fargo agents as Texas Rangers , FBI, and those three are not even close to the same except for that time frame as they were all men. And one other thing. Do you really think they called mayonnaise “mayo” if in fact they even had mayonnaise or mustard either one back then. I didn’t check that out to see though. Oh, and poor Mr. Bar one’s name changed to Abbott then another after his death. I do feel the need to say one more thing for my benefit. I am an avid reader and mostly western but in this book, and I have read several of your books, I had trouble keeping up with who was saying what in a single paragraph. I would often have to go back 2 or 3 paragraphs to figure it out. There would be no distinction between the sentences. Granted I am an old reader in as much as I have been carrying a book around with me since I learned to read some 81 years ago. I just turned 89. Just love to read so thanks for writing.

  7. Loved the plot and characters but got confused when Conklin was talking about Farley but calling him Conklin. Also the confusion between Wells Fargo agents, Texas Rangers and the FBI, and the name changing for Mr Barone to Abbott and Everett Evans to Elliot Evans.
    In spite of the confusion, I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

  8. I just discovered your books and so far have thoroughly enjoyed them. I, too, am an avid reader and read as many as five or six books each week so I rejoice when I find a new author of Western books.
    I find your books to be interesting to the point that I don’t want to lay them down until I finish reading them. Your extended epilogue was a joyful surprise on the first of your books that I read and I am happy that it is a regular occurrence.
    Keep up the good work and I will continue to read faithfully.

    Regards from Abilene, Texas

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