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Fulton's Fury

East Bound — Chapter Nineteen
Written by Frank Charles aka weinerdawgy

Bat and Lucas got up early in the morning, both sporting a hangover from the big night at the Lyon House. Bat made a tidy sum of over four hundred dollars and learned almost everything he wanted about his old friend, Wild Bill. With the story of Luke Short and the gun shows to peak interest, it was a sure thing that a profit could be made in most any town along the way. The next big stop was going to be St. Louis. They wished there could be more time to stay there for a gun show, but that would take too long. This trip was a good warm up for the day when a tour of many towns along the rail would surely come. Lucas was once again in awe of Bat’s ability to woo a crowd. He held court like a King while Lucas felt more like a Knight. But he was at ease with the many strangers at the Lyon House and he figured it was just a matter of time before he would be able enjoy the socializing same as Bat.

The train wandered through the Ozarks at what seemed a snail’s pace. They were thankful for that day off in Springfield. They continued to talk and play poker between water stops and small towns. At most stops they took a quick walk along the main street. They were recognized on several occasions but had little time to visit. It was late at night when the train rolled into St. Louis. They decided to get hotel rooms and keep out of sight. It was tempting to go out on the town, but they wanted to rest. Their train was scheduled to leave early in the morning. From this point, it was a smoother ride on the New York Central Railroad. They would enjoy the privacy of a Pullman car for several nights rather than a hotel. Lucas marveled at the size of the city, keeping in mind that this was only a small sample of what he would experience once they reached their destination. The Hotel room service was highly recommended, so they chose to dine late in Bat’s room.

“I guess we won’t get to see much of St. Louis, I know it’s a roaring big place. I was out this way long ago before and during the war. But it was nothing like this back then.” Lucas commented.

“Yes, it has grown since I was last here. It’s been a long time. I know it would be a great place to have a gun show. If we get to a point where we can take a similar trip in the future we can perform in many of these larger towns. We should keep our scouting instincts busy as we go, make some notes if we see something. I don’t always keep a journal, but I started one in Dallas once we got involved in the land scandal. I made some notes about Hickok and Springfield. And I’m writing things down about what we have learned from our first three shows. We need to order shot glasses ahead of time, and other target materials too. I’m ordering some extra parts for my guns so I can repair them on the road. We’ll need to hire a few men to work with us, throwing the shot glasses and coins, and tending to the targets. There will be many things to note along the way. You should have a journal too Lucas. Think about how valuable it could be to you and Mark later in life. It would serve to dispel any rumors about what we are doing too.”

“I like that idea, you’re right. Maybe I can find a store that carries such a thing before we leave tomorrow. I’ll use plain paper until I find one if not.”

“It would be best to keep it safe too. We wouldn’t want any unsavory characters finding them as we investigate. It could get complicated once we enter New York. Manhattan is a crazy place. I have some sensitive information already and I don’t like the idea of thugs or our suspects getting their hands on it. The safety of our friends could depend on our discretion. I think we should either have a strong box or check them in at the hotel safe each morning.”

“That would be best. We’re in for a number of dangers as we conduct our investigation. I have some experience with the law, but you are my coach on this adventure Bat. The big city is not my territory, I guess I’ve spent most of my life avoiding it. I’ve been studying some maps and newspapers. Maybe we can pick up some more tomorrow before we leave. I need some fresh reading material.”

“I agree. We should prepare in every way possible so New York won’t be a total stranger to us. We’ll ask the clerk downstairs if he can direct us to any information. Sometimes they have newspapers and maps for travelers. The papers may be a few days old, but this town is a hub for most destinations and the trains must keep recent copies coming in.”

“I’m looking forward to this, I think I saw where they sell papers at the railroad terminal. I bet they have them all along the main line.” Lucas finished off his meal and picked up his drink to wash it down.

“I was so tired I didn’t even look, but you’re right, newspapers like the Times send their copy out on a regular basis, what am I thinking. They’ll have plenty of maps too. Maybe we can find something about how to act when in New York. You know, do as the Romans do.”

“Becoming a Roman would be wise, I can see that most anything we find out will be helpful if we intend to go around town unnoticed. I still don’t have any hat except for this Stetson. I don’t mind being who I am, but I guess I better have a costume before we get there. I didn’t want to take Will’s derby, that’s too much of a keepsake. Do you think I would really look right in a top hat?”

“Lucas, my man, you are tall like Lincoln, you are wide at the shoulders and never wear a suit. I don’t think there is a costume that would hide you!” Bat laughed and Lucas joined in.

“So you think I look like a cowpoke do ya! Well, it won’t take me long to smell like one too! I’ll find a hat, but the suit will take some doing. I think I can get by for a day or two with my Stetson. Cowboys do go to New York sometimes. And when we do make our presence known, I’ll be expected to wear one. I don’t think I want to pretend to be a city slicker unless I have to.”

“It may be necessary if we try to go to the stock exchange or attend a play on Broadway. We’ll at least get you a gentleman’s hat and a nice coat. You can be a cotton farmer from Dallas if we need to put up a front. Do you think you can talk like a Texan?”

“Well I’ll be! Dern tootin’ I can speak like a Texan, put her there pard!” Lucas stuck out his rancher hand and Bat stood up to shake it just in case he gave him a cattleman’s grip.”

“Pleased to meetcha hombre, been at the cotton game long?”

“I’ve had me a cotton farm ever since ma and pa whelped me and I done growed up!”

“Welcome to New York….. let’s see, what could be a good name. We should choose some names to go by. We may not need them, but it can’t hurt to get used to them before we arrive. Think of something and so will I. Did I tell you what we are calling Carlson in the telegrams? Owen and I came up with a name, Stephen Bentley. And guess what we are using to refer to Will?”

“I bet this is going to be good, I won’t even guess.”

“Bat Junior! That’ll get his attention if he ever hears about it!”

“He’s heard it before, from me!” Lucas laughed hard.

“That’s right, I remember the story. But it still works for our purpose. I’m wondering if anyone is expecting us to visit in New York. Maybe we should use our alias on this next leg of the trip so few will ever set eyes on our names upon a passenger list. Let’s see, I used the name Ben Mansfield at the Carlson ranch, so I will have to change from that. It’s always a challenge to think of a name that isn’t corny. At least when I use Ben Mansfield I don’t have to change from using the things I have monogrammed. Allen Danforth, or maybe Jeffrey Sanford. What would you have in mind?”

“Being a rancher, I like names like Slim or Red, maybe Ned. Ned Fischer, I used to know a guy by that name.”

“Yes, but we are going to be in a big city, a name should have a slight hint of sophistication. I like Allen Danforth, probably a few have that name. It shouldn’t draw attention.”

“I see what you’re getting at. I’ll play along. William Roth Hampton III.”

Bat laughed, “That’s better than anything I could think of, what do you say to just William Roth?”

“I guess I could go with that. So we should call each other by these names for a while so we get used to them, right Allen?”

“You bet William. Or would you rather I call you Bill?”

“Bill seems more expected. It will be easy for you as we already have a William in our clan. I hope I can keep Allen in mind. Are the tickets already in our real names?”

“I believe so, and many would simply recognize us as it is. We should dress casual and try not to draw attention. I’ll be sure to grease the palm of the conductor and let him know that we desire to travel incognito.” Bat pushed the food cart out of the way and opened a new bottle of wine. “Shall we retire to the smoking room William?”

“Why of course Allen, a smashing idea.”

“Don’t say the word smash when traveling by train!” Bat chuckled. “We’ll be moving at a faster pace from now on, maybe sixty miles an hour or better. The eastern tracks can take the speed and the engines are huge. We’ll be there before you can say, I’ll take Manhattan!”

After a brief visit to the magazine rack at the railroad terminal, they boarded the east bound passenger train. The huge iron monster roared to life and before the sun was above the horizon they were on the way to Indianapolis. Lucas studied a train route map and several day’s worth of the New York Times. One thing that kept jumping out at him was the name of Fulton. He saw it on a map while leaving Texas, Fulton, Arkansas. There was a town by that name near Oswego along Lake Ontario, the town of Fultonville was near Albany, and once they were in Lower Manhattan they would be frequenting an area with a Fulton Street, right south of the Courthouse and City Hall. Finally, his eyes led him to look at a train line on the western side of the Adirondack Mountains and there about half way up was Fulton Chain Lake. The name was all over New York and Lucas couldn’t help but wonder why. Robert Fulton must be the reason, he thought. He settled down to read the front page stories in the Times and immediately locked onto an article about Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show. They were going to leave for England at the beginning of April. He wondered if they would get a chance to attend one of the performances before the steamboat was to embark. It occurred to him that it would be a good idea to learn a few things at the show. Just to have a chance to see Annie Oakley perform would be valuable.

“Say Allen, look here, Buffalo Bill’s show is going to leave for England. If we hustle maybe we can see it before they go!”

“That’s a great idea. We need to see how something that big works at the Madison Square Garden, we’ll be within walking distance. I’ll ask our contact right away when we get there.”

“I’d really like to be there. I’ve read about it plenty and it may not be so easy to get a chance like this again.” Lucas rattled the paper shut and handed it over to Bat.

Bat read the article and decided right then. “I’m going to send our contact a telegram at the next stop, he may need all the time he can to obtain those tickets! Says right here that most of the remaining shows are sold out. I bet we can buy our way in though. We’ll be there.” Bat folded the paper neatly and gave it back.

“I’m willing to pay good money, this is a great opportunity and at just the right time. I’m glad we thought to get these papers!”

“Yes sir, see if you can find something about cottonseed oil while you’re at it.”

“That I will, I intend on reading every bit of these papers. Say Allen, look at this map. The name of Fulton is all over New York.” Lucas pointed out the towns that he noticed.

“Bill, you have a keen eye. This is really interesting, Fulton Street right where we’re going. I imagine that Robert Fulton of steamboat fame has to have something to do with this.”

“It makes me wonder if our friend has any relation to him. I’ve been thinking, we know very little about his family history. He said his parents came from Georgia before the Civil War. I wonder if he knows any more than that. Maybe we can help him discover his family history. The library in New York might have some records.”

“Good idea Bill, let’s send him a telegram and see what he knows.”

“I’ll do just that Allen. He’s expecting me to contact him when we arrive. And I’m kinda yearning to know what’s happening back home.”

“It has been some time since I’ve had a back home to wonder about. Be sure to tell me about it. I’m really looking forward to seeing your ranch and North Fork. Do you mind if I call it home for a while? Just for the fun of it?”

“Pleasure is all mine Allen, you can call it home for as long as you want. I’ll tell you all about it.” Lucas proceeded to give Bat the run down about North Fork.

Bat had many questions, but he knew quite a bit from their past conversations. Once they had a good understanding about the area, Bat suggested that they think of another name for the town they come from to fit with their alias. Lucas suggested they use Santa Fe because they knew plenty about it and North Fork wasn’t too far away. If it was a small town nearby, he suggested Springer. Bat kept both names in mind and told Lucas it would depend on who they were talking to. If it was for business, maybe Santa Fe would do best as it was well known. If they were trying to pass as tourists or cowboys then Springer would give them the right impression. Bat made notes in his journal to keep all of this straight.

The train pulled into Indianapolis Union Station in the mid afternoon. There was a half hour layover which gave them a chance to shop. Not far from the station was a clothing store. Lucas found a nice gray felt hat that was shaped similar to a cowboy hat but with a fancy bound rim and matching band. Bat found a similar black felt hat that had enough dress quality to fit his present three piece suits. They looked at coats for a few minutes. It was difficult to find one to fit the Big Man’s frame. The tailor offered to alter which ever one he found to his liking, but there was little time. The tailor was knowledgeable about what to wear in New York. He told them it would be more practical to wait until they reached Manhattan. Lucas did have an acceptable coat with him to match the hat, so they decided to spend the rest of the time taking a short walk up and down the main street. They came upon a book store and Lucas found a leather bound notebook to use as a journal. Bat found an interesting book on where to visit in New York. At the station they bought a few more newspapers and magazines.

The small towns started to run together with very little undeveloped area in between. The sun went down and only the brightest of lights could be seen out the window. Lucas and Bat played poker with several passengers, doing their best to use the alias names. That night was a new experience for Lucas, he did his best to sleep in a Pullman car. At first it was unsettling to attempt rest with the motion of the train, but soon enough slumber came over his travel weary bones. Cleveland was the next big stop early in the morning. They had enough time to walk around near the terminal and then back on the rail. The train hugged the shore of Lake Erie for several hundred miles taking them into Buffalo late that afternoon. It was tempting to visit Niagara Falls, they both made a note in their journal to schedule that for the return trip.

The next leg would take them 300 miles to Albany, New York. This was the second night in the Pullman. Lucas had an easier time after reading a great deal during the day and enjoying another evening of poker and conversation with Bat and some guests. Lucas had much to dream about. He wondered if Mark was getting along well in school, it was close to a month since they had exchanged telegrams. He was curious about the ranch and late into his sleep he had visions of Aubrey. He missed her a great deal as he imagined her embrace. When he awoke the morning sun greeted him as he lifted the curtain to look out the small window. He decided that he would send telegrams to everyone just as soon as he was settled in Manhattan.

Bat had a long list of messages too. He was used to rail travel and occupied his time well. His journal had many pages of notes concerning what he wanted to investigate and how he wanted to ready things for the gun show. Communication with John Browning was at the top of the list. The more he thought about it, the business of setting up such a show in New York was going to be a complicated affair. It depended on how long they wanted to investigate before announcing their presence in town. And it was not a sure thing that they could hide for long. New York was a large enough fishbowl to school in, but once your face was in the Times, it could be as if you were caught in a net right away. He knew that an article about the Dallas show had to have ran in the Times and photos must have been used. He made note to have their contact verify this. He put some thought into where they should stay at first. On Templeton’s advice, Bat had a request in to stay at the Fifth Avenue Hotel, not far from Madison Square Garden. This was a high profile establishment where many famous figures liked to stay. It was away from the hotel district and close to many of the places they would frequent. He wondered if it was too late to go by their new names when they arrived. He decided that when they reached Albany he would send a telegram to the contact to set this up if he could. Otherwise, he thought about maybe staying somewhere else to start out and moving to the Fifth Avenue once they knew what was going to happen.

Albany was the last big town stop. Once they sent telegrams, there was only a little time for a walk around the terminal. New York’s beauty took hold as they enjoyed springtime starting to bloom. It had been a heavy winter and it was just losing its grip on this scenic state. They were treated to the beauty of the Catskill Mountains along the way. It was early evening by the time the train reached the final destination. The Water Level Route ended at the Grand Central Terminal. It was with great glee that Lucas got off the train without the prospect of having to move down one more inch of track. He joined Bat as they found where the cargo was unloaded. Lucas was in awe of the huge building with its underground multi leveled design. Little did he know what was in store outside on the 42nd avenue ground level.

Thomas Garret was there to greet them. He was the contact Templeton arranged for. Tom was a hard working lawyer and classmate of Templeton. Somebody John said they could really trust. Tom helped them get their cargo unloaded and onto a cart. He informed them that they would be staying at his flat for the short term. They could decide what to do at a more convenient pace and learn easier from him as they got started.

“Bat, Lucas, you boys are in the big Apple now, we’re going to do things right!”

“Tom, I can’t thank you enough for your hospitality. I hope you don’t live too far from here. I’d hate to move all of this gear very many times.” Bat shook Tom’s hand and stepped aside for Lucas to do the same.

“There is a storage facility not far from here. You can keep the bulk of your belongings there and take just your essential luggage to my place. It’s not far, about five miles.”

“I’m very pleased to meet you Tom, you’re a real life saver. I’d hate to think what we would go through coming here without your guidance. Lucas reached forward to shake hands.

“I know you must be tired, I can have some dinner for you at home if you like. I know some good places we can go to, it all depends on what you are up for. I know we have much to discuss. I picked up your telegrams but I haven’t had time to do anything about them. I’m afraid the Fifth Avenue Hotel already knows your real names. Better you should work out of my place for now. You can move to the hotel when you’re ready to be discovered. Too many of the upper crust like to stay there and the chances of you being recognized are high. I think you’ll enjoy having me as a host and I want to stay close with you guys during the investigation. I know how bad John wants Renfro and I want you to have as much chance as possible solve this case.” Tom reached down and helped Lucas lift the last of the luggage onto the cart. “What have you got in here, lead?”

“Absolutely! A good deal of iron too! Lucas laughed.

“That’s right, you guys intend on shooting the place up! By the way, I think you’ll be able to see the Buffalo Bill show without any trouble. I usually don’t have a problem getting tickets. They claim to be sold out and for the most part it’s true, but the scalpers can always get you in. I have my sources for Broadway shows and most anything going on at Madison Square. I’ll make sure you see it all my friends.

“John said you were his best friend. He certainly knows what he’s doing. I have a long list of requests, I hope I don’t become a pain for you Tom.” Bat tipped his hat and motioned for them to get moving.

Tom took them to the storage area. They put the big stuff away and tipped the clerk to keep a close eye on it. They carried their personal guns and luggage to an awaiting carriage. A man was waiting at the reins.

“Gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to my right hand man, Gregory Talmage. We have been together for over twenty years. If I don’t know what to do, he certainly does!”

Five miles of bustling city streets later they arrived at a wonderful brick building in midtown Manhattan. Tom occupied a three story flat. There were offices, conference rooms, and a kitchen downstairs. Bat and Lucas insisted on carrying their belongings up the stairs to the third floor bedrooms. Then they met in the second floor library where a meal was set before them.

“Tom, this is too good for a couple of cowboys riding in off the range. What a great place. I can’t get over how big the buildings are, and so many people going about in every direction. How do they keep so many cars and carriages from running into each other?” Lucas asked

“A very good question. I’m amazed at that myself. Many simply take their chances, crossing the street is the most dangerous thing though. We have evolved into this mess and most just seem to know how to make their way. Keep moving is my best advice. If you stand still for very long, something is going to run you down!” Tom and Greg laughed as Bat and Lucas gave each other a glance as if to say what have we gotten ourselves into now!

When the meal was finished they retired to stuffed leather chairs and glasses of wine. Tom gave them a talk about the city and where the sights could be found. He had a tour planned in the morning. Bat told the story of Luke Short and there were some thoughts shared about Hickok also. Lucas joined in about Will Fulton and the formation of the gun show, then talk moved on to the cotton farm matters.

“Tom, I have a picture of a man that we should be looking for, he is the son of a Dallas lawyer that is possibly connected to the man we are really looking for, Vernon Carlson.”

“I know something about Carlson from communicating with John, but he didn’t mention this.”

“We just found out about him the day before we left Dallas. I didn’t want to risk sending such information from the telegraphs along the way. This man may be working for Carlson. His name is Gerald Beckwith, I don’t know if he would be going by his real name. He was close with Carlson in Dallas years before as he grew up. His father works for Sarah Cockrell as her main lawyer.”

“Ah yes, Sarah is a well known lady in those parts. I have heard of her of course. The name of Robert J. Graham is where we shall start. I took the liberty of looking into him. His name appears on the roles at the stock exchange. There has to be somebody making an appearance in his name from time to time. His checks cash and the bank account is active. We should be able to track something down.”

“I want to visit the courthouse, city hall, the library, and anywhere else you can suggest even if you have been there ahead of us.” Bat tossed back his remaining wine and Tom immediately poured another.

“I haven’t done all of the footwork yet, I know people at the bank and on Wall Street. It was easy for me to get the information I have. But we can go to those places starting tomorrow. I’m hoping that they’re not expecting us to be investigating and just maybe we can catch them on a loose end. If this Gerald Beckwith is going by his real name, we have good chance to find him. There’s more people here than anyone can imagine, but we also keep good records. We’ll think of a way to bait Graham into giving up his hand. Any shark on Wall Street can be hooked if the bait smells good.”

“We’ve been developing an interest in cottonseed oil. I’ve read about a consortium in New York that is involved in the Texas market. Perhaps we can use this as a place to start. The Graham imposter we met told us about his many interests in the garment industry. Maybe we can pose as buyers in that field. We have some time to think about these things.”

“That’s true Bat, we’ll know more by tomorrow. Let me show you guys around the place, then we can go down the street and have a drink in my favorite bar if you like.”

“We still feel like we’re on a moving train. The walk will do us good. Tom, I’m having a real treat being here, Thank you!”

“The pleasure is all mine Lucas. I’ve been looking forward to meeting the both of you. There’s been some interesting articles about your exploits in the paper. We should be careful and use your alias names by the way.”

“Did they have our pictures in the article?” Bat asked immediately.

“They sure did, but they were not very clear, I have the paper downstairs and we can look up others at the library soon. I don’t think you have too much to worry about yet.

“We practiced using our alias names on the train. I am Allen Danforth and Lucas is William Roth. Call him Bill and I think I’m used to Allen by now. We have these unfamiliar hats and clothes also. Do you think this will work?”

“I’d say you’re safe as long as we stay away from certain places. I’ll try to be careful and we’ll keep to ourselves for the time being. Even if some locals recognize you, it won’t mean that you can’t deny it or keep it quiet until the investigation is over. Greg and I will make sure you’re safe for as long as you’re here.”

“I feel real good about this Tom. John knows his stuff, I really enjoyed getting to know him and I feel the same here. Thank you my friend.” Bat stood up and finished his wine. They went off to relax for the rest of the evening. New York seemed a gentle giant so far.

42nd Ave GCT at Park Ave. Opened in 1871 Grand Central depot station, or terminal in 1887?

Fulton’s Foray — Connections

This is a story based on the TV series The Rifleman
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