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Fulton's Fury

A Predatory Excursion - To Ravage …. Fury
Dallas Rebirth — Chapter Three
Written by Frank Charles aka weinerdawgy

The Train pulled into Dallas on the third day of the trip. Spirit was unhappy and wanted out of that railcar bad. Flash had been on a train several times to be at various events and was well behaved. Will had to calm Spirit and help get him down the ramp and onto the loading dock. The feisty horse was hard to handle, Will was glad that he thought to get there before the railroad workers tried to move him. Once Spirit was off of the loading platform and onto solid ground he realized that Will and Ann were with him so he settled down. Will produced some sugar cubes from his pocket. He slipped a few to Spirit who was quickly happy and nosing with Flash in front of the railroad station. Bat directed Will and Ann to the best livery and to then meet with everyone at the St. Charles Hotel. Bat wired ahead for reservations before leaving Santa Fe. They agreed to have dinner at the hotel and take it easy for the first night in town.

Will was anxious to ride out to the farm site. He didn’t look forward to how he would feel once there, but something in him wanted to get that first look over with. At dinner, Bat suggested that they should find out who presently owned the property by searching the public records at the courthouse, which was very close to the hotel, and that it would be a good idea to make sure there weren’t any warrants outstanding for his arrest. It would be best if he knew what to expect before venturing out. The last thing he needed was to come up against any unfriendly farmers or lawmen. Bat offered to visit his old friend at the marshal’s office to see what he could find out before going to the courthouse. Will knew better than to be hasty and get into trouble. Bat was familiar with Dallas from his past and he had helped others in similar situations. Will agreed to be patient and wait a day or two. But any longer and he would go mad. Just seeing downtown Dallas again made him feel strange. The town had become much larger, but he could still remember the older buildings and the hotel where his mother had once worked. He could see himself running up and down the hallways while she cleaned rooms and did various chores. One redeeming thing for Will was that he could look fondly upon the past in many ways, unlike his brother. Hank was old enough to go off on his own back then and they didn’t always play together.

 Talk at dinner continued with Will’s descriptions of his early life in Dallas. He spoke of his first school in town and the small room where they lived. He recalled details of being with his mother as she worked at the hotel. After a short time, Sarah promoted her to work at the front desk and to look after important guests. Then he moved on to the farm and a new school. He described the hard work and how Hank had to take on much of the responsibility when their father would go to work in town. His mother quit work at the hotel and stayed home with the boys to look after the farm. This brought things to the point of his sixteenth birthday when his father gave him Spirit. It was a great time in his life, being the center of attention with his friends. This led him up to within a year of when tragedy struck. Ann helped him by turning the talk to a different subject. She asked Will to describe the first evening when they were reunited and he got to see Spirit again. Will became emotional with this story, but for a good reason. As he finished, he leaned over and kissed Ann. This gave the meal a happy ending and everyone retired early, worn out from a long train ride.

In the morning, Bat went for a much needed walk. He first stopped in at the Marshal’s office for a friendly chat. Marshal Owen Pollard and Bat knew each other from way back. They both were involved with the incident at Adobe Walls. Those were some tense times, greatly outnumbered by Indians, neither of them figured to walk away and be able to meet now.

“Well hello Bat! I heard you might be traveling to these parts. The newspaper ran an article about your shooting exhibition in Santa Fe. I might add that Emma is getting great reviews. Good to see you!” Owen reached out and shook Bat’s hand.

“The pleasure is all mine, Owen. I hope you have a few minutes to talk. I have some things I need to find out. You look good for your age, how has Dallas been treating you?” Bat took a seat in front of the desk and lit a cigar, offering one to Owen.

“Thanks Bat, but I’ll wait until later. Dallas is getting bigger every day. It’s not like the old times, we have a large force here now, and I have to look like I’m busy more often. With all of these newspaper reporters running around, one has to be careful. But what can I do for you old buddy?”

“To get right to it, I need to find out what I can about a man named William Fulton. He used to live on a farm south of here. His parents worked for Sarah Cockrell. They were  burned out of their farm about ten years ago by a man named Carlson. Are you familiar with that incident?”

“Incident hell! That was the most blatant case of horrid murder we’ve ever had in these parts! What’s got you barking up that tree?”

“I’m glad you have such a strong opinion so quickly. William is a friend, I met him through some unique circumstances and I agreed to help him find out some information regarding his parent’s farm and his past.”

“I certainly would be glad to give you a hand. I can look back in the records and see what I can find. I can tell you right now that he was being looked for in the day. We were confused as to why the boys disappeared. There wasn’t any reason for them to fear us and we thought they should want to see the murderers prosecuted. The younger one, your friend William, was thought to be killed in the fire. But it wasn’t long before that story changed.”

“You seem to know plenty about this already. Were you involved in the investigation?” Bat shifted in the hard chair and rattled his ash off into a gadget that looked like an ashtray on the desk.

“Yes, I had a part in it. You know I go way back around here and news like that would have a hard time escaping me. It was a sore spot with Sarah, she really liked the Fultons. I promised her I would do what I could about it.”
“I knew I could count on you Owen. Sarah is a good lady. This town owes her plenty. So, was the murder ever solved? Who owns the land now?”

“That, my friend, is a long story. Sarah was very busy at that time, she had finished the process of building the new bridge over the Trinity. Her son Frank had a lot to do with it also. It was a high profile project and along with her hotel and other concerns, she had alot to watch over. There were other people busy with her real estate business at that time. She managed to obtain the property rights after the fire. A man named Vernon Carlson owned most of the adjoining parcels. He was suspected right away. I don’t know why he thought he could get away with it. But he managed to avoid being charged for a good long while. He had money and friends. But we finally brought him and his men to trial”

“I have to admit to you that I have heard most of the story up to the fire from Will’s perspective. Carlson had to be blind with rage over the water shortage. It happens often when those things are not known about before the land is divided into parcels. Owners buy in and find out later when they dig a well. I imagine Carlson was hoping to gain water with every purchase before his bad luck brought him to the point that he found out the Fultons had what he wanted. They were one of the first to buy in and had the best parcel. I suppose Sarah had something to do with that.”
“She is a sharp lady, it wasn’t by luck that the Fultons had the best parcel. If you ask me, she should have backed them to own the entire area and spread the water throughout. But hindsight is worthless in this case, until now. The law was slow to react, but Carlson was eventually prosecuted, found guilty, and hung. So were his men. It was a long drawn out court battle though. Carlson had a lot of money and influence, but Sarah had more. He tried to prove that it was robbers that murdered the Fultons, but too many knew about how Carlson tried to intimidate them into selling their farm. It came down to Sarah testifying as she had a good bit to do with them over the years and had warned them of Carlson’s intentions. The jury wouldn’t buy the story about robbers. A large farming operation now occupies most of the area, Sarah may still have the Fulton parcel, I think she might be leasing it to them. It’s a whole different situation now. I hope William doesn’t have designs on getting his family farm back. I can tell you right now that would be an unpopular thing. The farm really depends on that water.”

“If I know Mister Fulton, he is more concerned over what he can do about his parents memory and wants to be sure the name is clear. Can you check to see if he has any outstanding warrants for what he was involved in with his brother, Hank?”

“You bet, there may be, but I am sure we can work something out if there is. He was a child under duress, Hank would be the one in real trouble. I know we were looking for him, but I have lost track of that case long ago.”

Bat struggled to the edge of the chair and leaned on his cane. “Do you know that Hank is dead?”

“No, all I can recall was that he was wanted for murder and robbery. I didn’t know him and we never got onto their trail. Like I said, we thought one or both of them could have died in the fire at the time. I guess Hank thought to use that as a chance to disappear. It wasn’t until some time later that he garnered a reputation as an outlaw.”

Owen brought out a thick book with ragged papers poking out in many directions. He started to thumb through towards the end until he ran across an old warrant for Hank’s arrest. “Here it is, train robbery and two banks. Four men suspected but only Hank Fulton is named. I’ll have to look in the current files to see if William’s name comes up. I’ll be right back.” Owen walked off and Bat sat back to puff on his cigar.

Owen looked down the list and found no mention. Then it dawned on him, maybe Will was in the missing persons file. He went to a seldom opened drawer and there it was. Sarah insisted that they keep a file open for him in case he was caught with Hank. She wanted to see that he had a chance to redeem himself. She knew Will better than Hank and thought a lot of him. She also needed to have this on file to place her claim on the property at the time. Owen took the file and came back to the desk.

“Here it is Bat, a missing person report that Sarah filed. Will is in the clear. I would love to talk with him and close this out. Is that possible?”

“I think I can arrange for that. He is in town with my party as we speak.”

“Great! I’ll see what I can find out, we may have record of the trial and whatever else happened after the fire. I must tell you there wasn’t much left. That is why we thought the boys could have died of course. Sarah must have made arrangements for the parent’s burial. If that is so, I’ll bet they are right here in Dallas, her husband’s grave is not far from here. What is with Will these days, is he doing well?”

“That, my friend, is a long story! In a nutshell, Hank was killed after the bank job in Martinsville over eight years ago. Will turned himself in and wound up doing time in Santa Fe. He recently was released into the custody of an associate of mine and we are trying to help him put this terrible memory to rest. It looks pretty cut and dry to me, but we will have to see what young Fulton thinks of this. He is the one who must find peace and know that he can go forward with his new life. He has a full plate and I don’t think he wants to make an issue over the property. We can go into much more detail once I talk with him later today. I have one more stop at the courthouse to look over the deeds and see what I can find at the newspaper archives. I want to be sure all of the bases are covered on this Owen. I don’t want this young man to torment himself or get into any trouble. There is a lot of hurt for him to deal with and just seeing his old stomping grounds might trigger something we don’t want to happen.”

“I understand completely. You let him know that I will support him in every way that I can. Nobody should have to go through what that boy did, nobody.”

“That’s right, a long story and a lot of pain, we sure have plenty of those, don’t we!”

“You know it Bat. I sure enjoy seeing you, I hope you will be around for a while.”

“You bet. I need your assistance for other matters. We hope to put on a target show while here, does that sound like a good idea?”

“I was hoping you would bring that up. I can’t wait, that Lucas McCain sounds like one of us. I want to find out about getting one of those rifles myself.”

“I will make sure that happens friend, not to worry. I’ll be back late today if I finish my search and tonight I hope to be playing poker, perhaps you can be there.”

“You got it Bat. I’ll know what I can by then, I sure didn’t expect for any of this to come up and it’s even a bigger surprise that you would be in on it. Great to see you!”

“Thank you my old friend, I’m glad we can be doing something peaceful and beneficial for a change. I’ll see ya later then.” Bat walked out into the sunlight and on toward the courthouse. The old planks creaked under his feet just as they had in times past. He was feeling pretty good for Will’s sake, no warrants, that was what he most wanted to hear.

At the courthouse Bat was able to look up a deed and a lease agreement. Sarah Cockrell still owned the land and it was currently leased to the R.J. Graham Agricultural Company of Dallas Texas. This was a good sign too. If Sarah was going to be co-operative Will just might be able to resume ownership of the land. Bat knew Sarah from long ago. He knew all he had to do was ask at the hotel and he would be in touch with her. He decided that would be best. He didn’t need to go to the newspaper right away after all. He went back to the hotel and inquired about Sarah before contacting Will, who was just waking up with Lucas. This was going to be an interesting breakfast. A message was sent out from the desk and they thought that she would be heard from some time in the afternoon. Bat next went up to the room to speak with Will and Lucas.

“Hey Bat, you seem happy, do you have some good news?” Will was keen to know.

“Yes I do young man, maybe some very good news. I stopped in at my associate’s office, one Marshal Owen Pollard. He was able to find some records and tell me of what happened in regards to your farm. The best news is there are no warrants and you are in the clear. There was, however, a missing person report issued on your behalf by Sarah Cockrell. It would behoove you to accompany me to the office this afternoon to clear that report. The next thing is that I easily found the deed and lease information at the courthouse. Sarah still has ownership. She leases the land to a company that owns the Carlson holdings.”

“Well, I’m bursting here Bat, what became of Carlson?” Will felt both eager and relieved at the same time.

“Alright William, one thing at a time now. Carlson was prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and eventually hung! It took them a while to fight in court. He was a rich man and had plenty of power I am sure, but he is gone as sure as I am standing here, Owen was directly involved in the case, he told me everything. The men involved with him are gone also. You are free and clear my friend, and most likely you can take care of any outstanding issues. I have sent for Sarah to contact us, it is my estimate that she is wanting to see you and may just be willing to reinstate your rightful ownership. But let us not get ahead of ourselves, we don’t know what might be involved at this point. I only know that Sarah is a great lady and she was very concerned about you at the time of your disappearance. We can go down to the newspaper archives after we eat and pay a short visit to the marshal. Does that sound like a plan?” Bat twirled his cane and sat on the edge of a bed. Lucas was quietly listening to all of this.

“I don’t know what to say, I didn’t think you would find all of that out so soon. This is great news. I hope that Sarah is doing well, she was so nice to my parents. This is truly a miracle, thank you Bat!” Will tossed the towel he had been washing his face with into the air as he contemplated what might come next.

“That’s quite a bit of news there Will, I hope it all works out well for you. What if you are to become a Texas Land Baron?” Lucas smiled and grabbed his hair brush. “I suspect Bat is just a bit hungry by now, what do you say we get on over to rope the women folk and make our way to the table.”

“I’m so relieved at this point, hunger is not tormenting me, but I am going to buy Bat the best thing on the menu! Let’s get ourselves together and be off!”

After breakfast, Bat escorted everyone to the marshal’s office in order to close out the missing person’s report. Owen was very gracious and curious to speak with William. He informed them that he had sent a message to Santa Fe to obtain copies of his records. It was a matter of formality to be sure that proof of his legal history was on file. He showed Will the warrants for Hank and that there were none for him. Owen handed the William Fulton file to Will as they sat in front of his desk. Then he instructed him to sign the closure report at the bottom of the page.

“You look through this file and see if you have any questions. I want you to know that everyone involved from our perspective is on your side. As soon as we have a report from Martinsville proving Hank’s death, we can have a completely closed case. I know the records from Santa Fe are legitimate due to the return telegram we have from the prison office. How does it feel to be home?”

“I am still kind of in shock I guess. Everything that has happened to me this past year could overwhelm the best of men. If not for these great friends of mine, I would be lost. I have a new home in New Mexico that I would never think of leaving, but Dallas is where I come from. It will take some time to sort out my feelings. I really need to see the site where our farm stood. I know it is not there, but it will give me some finality to this nightmare.”

“I can understand that. I will be happy to ride out there and you all can spend as much time as you need to look things over. We’ll have to get permission from Sarah, and perhaps the R.J. Graham people, but that should be no problem. One thing I want you to remember is, times have changed and this property is very much counted on to maintain the operation of a large investment. Please tell me that you won’t try to upset the peace around here over this.” Owen opened a side drawer of his desk and brought forth a great looking box of cigars. He handed them out and gave them a light.

“I have plenty with my new family Mister Pollard, I can assure you that I intend to be as understanding as I can considering the circumstances. It wouldn’t be fair to anyone if I made trouble. Hank and I were the ones to leave. I only wish things could have been different. I was a young boy in shock, led astray by my older brother who was already involved in illegal activities. All I really want to do is find out where my parents were buried and to have Hank’s body brought to be with them. After that, anything else will be icing on the cake. There is no room for revenge, guess I missed out on that dish.”

“I think we can make those things happen for you. Sarah will be able to tell you what you need to know. It is also a matter of record to find out where your parents are interned. There should be no problem in having Hank’s body brought here, as long as the graveyard has room, you never can tell. I also have the court transcripts from the Carlson trial. I found them soon after Bat left this morning. You can come here and look them over if you like, I can’t let them leave this office though. But that is all in good time. I want you to go from here knowing everything is going to be made right. You should take some time to get to know Sarah and feel comfortable in town. We’ll go out to the property in a day or so. There may be some old friends for you to look up. If this story gets out, they will find out about you. Are you prepared for that to happen?”

“I hadn’t put too much thought toward that, but I can see how this would be a big story. I think we will trust our friend, Bat, to call that shot. It will be a while before we know all of the details ourselves.” Will looked over at Bat for advice.

“I would say that we should wait to talk with Sarah. We can then go see the property and get your feelings settled before letting the newspaper get near this. Once we know the details are in order we can determine if we want to talk with the press. On the other hand, they might get wind of this before we want them to. So be prepared, they may have already seen us here today, right Owen.”

“That could be the case, but I have not spoken to anyone about this so far. I have no interest in that. There are a few people here who must eventually know, but they can wait a few days. I’ll keep this paperwork to myself for now. Nobody was expecting this to happen, so it is our secret. If anything comes up, I’ll tell them nosey reporters you were just here to discuss permission for a gun show.”

   “That is very good on you Owen, I was thinking to go to the newspaper, but now that we have discussed this, I think it is a good idea to keep it to ourselves. Talking with Sarah will be the most informative thing we can do. We can also wait to advertise our target shooting, unless Owen has to let them know. You alright with that Lucas?”

“Alright by me. Dallas looks to be a great place to explore, time is on our side.” Lucas looked to Aubrey and she nodded in approval.

“Do you know of a good target range we can use to make ready for our show Owen?”

Bat patted his Colt. “I like to stay in good shape in order to keep up with Lucas here.”

“We have a private range for the lawmen as a matter of fact, will that be acceptable?”

“I think we can make use of that to start, great. Once we get the word out though, can you recommend a public range? We find it a great help to practice where the public can come see us and we like to have the rifle sales available at the same time.”

“Of course we have a good public range, two in fact, now that Dallas has grown. We’ll have plenty of time for all of that.” Owen walked over to his gun belt and brought out his Colt 45 Peacemaker. “What do you think of this beauty?” He handed it over to Bat and he gave it a thorough inspection.

“Quite a popular hand canon, I wouldn’t be caught without one!”

“I hope you will do me the honor of taking target practice with me.”

“You don’t need to even ask Marshal Pollard!” Bat tossed the gun back.

“What I do want to ask is, how do I go about getting one of those signature Rifleman 1892 Winchester commemorative fire sticks?”

“You are the first one to make it onto the order list. I will personally see to it that yours’ will arrive first. Winchester will have a man here within days. I will send out a telegram to John Browning for a special order and your name will be engraved on it. How is that?”

“Make sure he spells Pollard with two L’s” Owen laughed heartily and the laughter became infectious. “That is really great Bat. To be honest with you, I am happy enough to know that William Fulton is back with us and I know that Sarah will be pleased to no end. It really broke her heart when this all happened. You stand to be partners with a great lady young man. She will be so surprised to see you!”

“That is perhaps true, but I have a great lady right here. She is my partner for life.”

Will got up and grabbed Ann by the hand. Everyone stood up and shook hands as Will and Ann hugged.
“Bat dawned his derby and twirled his cane. “Shall we all meet for dinner and some cards? I think we should go check at the hotel to see if Sarah has given us a response.”

“That is a great idea. I will close up for the day soon and get ready. Congratulations William, I’m so happy that we have cleared your way for a new life. You get this taken care of and we will give you the warmest welcome ever!” Owen shook William’s hand and showed everyone out of the office. The sun was bright and the crisp late January air brought deep breaths after being in a room full of burning cigars.

Fulton’s Foray — The Gift

This is a story based on the TV series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!

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