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Fulton's Fury

A Predatory Excursion - To Ravage …. Fury
The Decision — Chapter Twelve
Written by Frank Charles aka weinerdawgy

Will got up early to find Lucas snoring. He decided to take a walk and do some thinking. As he exited the hotel, he noticed Owen Pollard walking along and he decided to have a talk with him.

“Hey Owen, do you have a few minutes? I need to talk about what I saw yesterday, do you mind?”

“Not at all Will, lets go over to the town square and sit down.” Owen motioned to cross the street. “What’s on your mind son?”

“I don’t rightly know, I’m just bothered by so much happening over this property and how it could affect so many if we cause trouble.”

“I see. We did mention this at the start and I had a feeling that something would come up. You see, back when your parents were here that land was an unknown commodity. As it turned out, it was more important than anyone could figure. Vernon Carlson was a very rich man and he thought he could own it all just like a cattle baron would. And mark my words, we’ve had plenty of trouble with cattle ranchers over the years. It was a greedy time back then, everyone was trying to make it big. Cattle didn’t become such a deal in Dallas you see, but we have a huge cotton crop. My guess is that Carlson probably was used to getting his way with cattle before he decided to swallow up a big chunk of the cotton industry. Whatever the case, he tried to grab all that land. Now that the properties have been united into one effort it has become key to the success of many people, not just the owners.”

“That’s what has me concerned. Like I said early on, I don’t want to make waves. The last thing I want is for the people of Dallas to have a reason to hate me. As it is right now, there is still a chance that I can do the right thing by them. If I start something that brings down the farm, it could ruin life for many. I am considering leaving things as they are and not becoming the owner. It pains me as it was my parent’s farm, but I already have a good life ahead of me. I don’t need to come back here and be a problem.”

“I admire you for all that you must consider and the way you are taking others so much into account. It is a fine line to walk and it’s fortunate that the newspaper hasn’t gotten wind of this so far. If that happens you are in for a ride worse than a wild bull.”

Will let out a deep breath. “It hasn’t exactly been a smooth ride so far. From that day long ago until now I have been on one bull or another. My brother put me through a hell almost as bad as losing our parents. Follow that with eight years of prison and I wonder why I am even alive. If it were not for Lucas, I would be mixing mortar and setting bricks right now.”

“Life is seldom fair and most of us don’t get the luxury of time to worry about it. You my friend have had a heavy dose of unfair. I wish I had a simple answer for you, but I can tell you this. You are surrounded by the best possible people in this world. Masterson is capable of handling anything that comes along. Likewise, Lucas is one of the wisest and easy spoken men I have ever seen. As long as you keep faith in them you’ll be alright.”

“I know that. God has blessed me with those two, they are the answer to my prayers. What has me worried the most is that I could endanger them and everyone else involved if I continue to pursue the property. I know Bat has unearthed some disturbing facts and these lawyers are behind a terrible fraud. Sarah stands to be hurt something bad if this goes wrong. I’m afraid that Bat’s instinct to follow the law might bring on more trouble than it’s worth.”

“That very well could be the case. I have known Bat for a long time. One thing I can say about him is that he doesn’t like to see a crime go unpunished. But he does reason the welfare of those involved and very well may be thinking the same thing you are. Another thing to consider, if it is done right, Bat just might be able to bring these men to justice and actually save the farm from ruin. I like the fact that he is the one discovering this. Other lawmen would see an opportunity to make a name for themselves and jump right into the trouble.”

“I guess that hasn’t occurred to me, but you are right. He deserves a chance to continue if there can be a good ending. If the ownership of the land is brought into question, I wonder if Sarah would want to own all of it?”

“That very well could be a solution. It could go up for bid and another investor would have a chance, but with the most valuable part in your hands I don’t think many would take that risk. We all thought that Graham was a rare bird at the time. Now I understand how rare, he didn’t exist at all. The real question is, who is behind this thing? Is it Renfro or somebody bigger? I know that Carlson is an obvious suspect. Maybe his family put Renfro up to it. You can just imagine how that would be thought of. And considering how that lease is written you know they were hoping Sarah would pass on before the fifteen years were up. I know things could be tough if they are exposed, but it is so despicable that it begs to be dealt with. I don’t envy you this dilemma, but you might arrive at the conclusion that you have a moral obligation to see this thing through.”

“I keep going back and forth with that. Something I learned through my experience with my brother is that revenge is an ill conceived intention. I have to know there is more to the decision than just getting back at these people. It makes me plenty mad, don’t get me wrong, but revenge alone is not worth the danger to others. Too many suffered at the hands of my brother and his gang for no other reason than to satisfy his hunger to get back at life. I won’t let that happen with me again.”

“You are one great man for thinking about that Fulton. You just go on and keep that in mind and the right thing is bound to happen. Look at how richly blessed you have been up to this point. I intend to discuss all of this at length with Bat. We have spoken plenty already. We always did get along and talk a lot. We’re on your side Will, all you can ask for is at your disposal.”

“Thank you Owen, I knew I could count on you to help me think things through. I just needed another’s view to help me sort this out. I think I know what to do.”

“That land will always be good for cotton and those people will always have work, it will simply be a matter of for who. You go talk to Sarah and the rest will settle out just fine.”

“I was thinking along those lines. We just might come out smelling like a rose!”

“Good, it will be Spring soon, time to bloom!” Owen cracked a big smile and stood up. “I best be on my way, I’m expected to show up at my usual haunts as I do my rounds. We’ll talk some more, I want you to know that you can trust me.”

“Thank you, I look forward to it, and you’re always welcome with us, anytime.”

“You’re family is growing son, I’m proud to be a part!”

Will sat by himself for a while trying to let this settle in his mind. Owen made plenty of sense and he knew that he could trust everyone involved. Will’s regard for right and wrong had taken some serious turns in the past, but he knew that he was doing his best to be fair. There was no point in dragging this out just so he could quell his anger. But the anger was still there to be reckoned with. The very thought that Carlson could still be profiting from this after all of these years was enough alone to consume the normal man.

Will thought back to the time he was face up on that ledge with a broken leg. He remembered the feeling of falling backwards and not knowing when or if he was going to land and how hard. There for an instant he thought he was going to die. And he thought about how Lucas keyed on the Bible verse about giving one’s life for a friend. What about a stranger? What about many? The noble side began to take hold and William Fulton began to see the light. It was what he now understood from when he commented at the graveyard, that doing the right thing can become as breathing air. It might be a narrow path but he also knew that he was no longer in the dark. He now knew all of the players and what the game was about. He was holding the winning hand. What he needed to do was summon the courage to play it.

Will looked around at the town in a different light. It was his home and still could be, at least at times. Ann seemed to like it and they could always go back to North Fork. There was nothing to lose and everything to gain. Thank God for trains!

Will went back to the hotel to speak with Sarah. On the way, he ran into Bat coming down the stairs for breakfast. He told him he would join him in a few minutes but he needed to talk with Sarah. Bat looked back at the rushing William and shook his head. Will knocked on her door and took off his hat. Turley opened the door and motioned for him to come in. Sarah was sitting in her stuffed chair and about to go down for breakfast herself.

“Why William! What can I do for you?

“I just wanted a few minutes to talk with you before we gather. I’m trying to decide what is best to do about the farm land. I need to ask your feelings about something. I’m concerned about what would happen to the people who depend on the farm if we’re to do it any harm by exposing Renfro. What would happen to the business after that?”

“I have been giving that some thought too. I’m sure that another owner could be found but that is not a guarantee. It is within my means to acquire the operation I suppose, but that would take some doing. I don’t know if I can depend on John Templeton to do me right any further. The real estate people are very capable of handling matters once we know what to do. It is a difficult matter William, I hope you know it takes tremendous patience to handle real estate. I’m going to talk with my children about this as well, they deserve to have a say.”

“I respect that, I must think of them as family for that matter. I’m concerned for many things. Everyone’s safety is most import, then the fate of the farm and the people who depend on it, and what it could do to the whole town of Dallas for that matter. What do you think of just leaving things as they are and waiting the five years?”

“That would be the easy thing to do, but is it the right thing to do?”

“Owen just spoke with me and he said it might come to the point that we have a moral obligation to expose the fraud.”

“I agree. It won’t be easy or painless, but it is the right thing to do. If the Carlsons are behind this somehow, they must be brought to justice. I can’t blame them for wanting to profit from what their family was invested in, but doing it by fraud is wrong. They had to know I would never agree to leasing them the land. I’ll never forgive myself if Quentin D. Renfro gets away with this scheme. No sir, this must come to an end. It is not about just you any further William. It is about truth and my reputation also. I wanted to do something nice for you at the start and now we find that the rats have been scurrying behind my back for ten long years. I cannot let them poison the town of Dallas or any of us. If we can fight for what is right, then I say we do it!”

“I don’t want to endanger you or any of the others. We are about to get involved with the worst possible thieves and murderers. They took away from me all that I knew and loved. I won’t let that happen again. If this starts to get rough, I’m sending Lucas and the girls home. Bat can decide for himself if he wants to remain involved. But I am here to stay until this is finished.”

“I admire that William, I’m sure we can decide what is best over breakfast. You have a great heart my young man, be confident that I’m with you one hundred percent. We haven’t come this far now to let the rats have their way. I can take whatever scandal might come forth. But we should protect your reputation at all cost. Once this story breaks we will be in for it from the press. Renfro might get dirty and try to say bad things about us. Your story means a lot and should be told in a positive light. We have to be careful in how we proceed. Let us discuss this further with Bat and Lucas, I’m getting hungry.”

“Me too. I needed to know how you felt before I went any further and I respect your wishes. I feel the same as you. Let’s get those rats I know we can do it.”

“If this goes well and I wind up owning the operation, we can become partners, does that sound good?”

“I’m in it for the long run, and I bet we could get Bat to be part of it also. He deserves anything he wants for all that he does.”

“I agree, Bat is a wonderful man, he is welcome to be involved if he desires to. You know he is part owner of ranches and farms from people he has helped in the past. He was a cattle driver at one time. I wouldn’t take advice from anyone else if he is involved.”

“Well, Lucas gets a chance too. I think everyone can work together and be one big happy family. Owen thinks of us that way.” Will put his hat on and offered his hand to help Sarah to her feet.

“I like Owen, he is a good man. I can see we are growing fast. Let us be on our way William, I know Bat is waiting to talk with us.”

The meetings during meals were becoming such an expected event each day that Bat was tempted to bring a gavel. But the opening statement was up to Will this morning. He brought everyone to attention by tapping his spoon against his water glass.

“I want to express my thanks to all of you for being so helpful and involved with the issues over the farm. I know this week has been very busy for everyone. I think we know that this business stands to get dangerous if we decide to conflict with Renfro or anyone else involved. So first of all, I want to let you know that I do not expect anyone to continue with this effort. I think Sarah and I have reached a decision to go on if there is a reasonable way to bring this fraud to an end. If things get rough, I want the women to go home and maybe even you Lucas. You don’t deserve trouble over this.”

“Let me be the judge of that Will. It may be wise for me to accompany them home, but I would be right back here afterwards if that is the case.” Lucas patted the Colt 45 under his new oversized shirt.

“I don’t want you to be in danger or to miss out on the gun shows. This may take some time. And that also goes for you Bat. What do you think is best?”

“That is a very loaded question, so to speak. Obviously we have a lot to consider. First of all, the gun show is going to happen soon. People are starting to get excited and are very much aware of Lucas and myself. I think it’s best to concentrate on the gun show for now and let the farm land issue settle. We can do some more research and planning, but if we move too fast and the press finds out then the gun show might suffer. I think we can make another appointment to visit Renfro for the week after. We’ll let Beckwith send him a message. This will give them time to rehearse the Graham imposter and be more confident in their attempt to fool us. We will be better ready to deal with it by that time. The Ladies can go home and Lucas can look in on your ranch project. I think I can remain involved for now and Emma’s show will stay in town for a week after the gun show. I want to see this thing through with you Will and Sarah. With that said, if this looks like it might take a long time to resolve, we can decide to move on from there. But I am hopeful that we can reach a point of conclusion rather quickly. Once we expose the fraud, we can get the authorities involved, then it will be their turn to wait, behind bars.”

“I am very concerned for how the cotton farm might be harmed if we cause too much trouble with Renfro and the others. Sarah and I talked about this and we do want to go on. But we also want to be very careful to not bring trouble to the people that depend on the farm for a living. If the land goes up for sale for instance, and the lease is broken, what will become of the farm?” Will asked.

“I was very taken by what I saw yesterday. I realize there are many futures at stake. The last thing I want is for the farm to be ruined. I cannot speak for what might happen if the land goes up for sale, but I know there are ways of dealing with that. Are you prepared for that to occur Sarah?”

“I have given this some thought and I believe I would be able to acquire the operation if it would become necessary. Will and I spoke about this as you may imagine. I would like to let all of you know that if we decide to proceed in that direction then I am willing to allow William and the rest of you take part. There is much to consider and I know we cannot make such decisions at this point. Bat, you are most welcome to be a partner in this at no cost to you. You have risked plenty already and stand to do much more before this comes to an end. I suspect we are going to be in for a fight.”

“That is most likely the case. I intend to do more research and planning. I am very flattered that you would include me in your plans for ownership. We can see where that leads as time goes on. I liked what I saw and would be proud to be partners with all of you. I do not need the incentive however. But I do like the idea of running these rats back into their holes and right into the mouth of a pole cat!”

“I like that image! I am very disappointed with lawyers right now. I never suspected John Beckwith to be involved with this. Do we need to go after him or do you think Renfro will take a fall without him?”

“I think Renfro will do his best to not drag John into this. John may have more involvement than we realize, but unless there is a need or we discover something worse than we suspect right now, I think we can leave him alone. It will all depend on what happens if we confront Renfro when he tries to pass off his imposter. Of course, the other side of this coin is to wait five years and let this all pass unnoticed.”

Sarah looked over at Will and sighed. “I think we may have come to the conclusion that we have a moral obligation to bring this horrible arrangement to an end. That is, if you think it is worth the trouble. I am concerned about my reputation and the future of the farm. If we let the lease run out or I should pass before that time, then the farm might not survive or completely fall into fraudulent hands. I say we get this over with.”

“Very well my dear Sarah, I am at your service for the duration. Let the battle begin!

First though, I think we better eat!” Bat tucked his napkin into his collar and took up his utensils in jest.

“I guess I’m nominated as an escort then once the gun show is over, how do you gals like that?” Lucas asked.

“You know me Lucas, I never run from a fight, I want to stay with Will no matter what!” Ann was waiting impatiently for her time to respond.

“We’ll talk about that later.” Will added.

“Aubrey, I expect you’ll be wanting to go home, you have been away for a long time. After the show is over, I’ll be happy to go back to Santa Fe with you.” Lucas offered.

“Ann will need some company and I would rather be here with you than at home wondering about all of this. If it gets too bad then I will do whatever you think is best.”

“Alright then, we will decide about going home later. But we must think ahead and be absolutely sure of your safety when we do decide to strike a blow. William is right to be concerned and if it does get bad, we must get you girls out of harm’s way.” Lucas took up his utensils as he looked across at Bat.

“I’m so thankful for all of you. We will overcome this scam I’m sure, but the price of any one of you is not worth it. I want everyone to know that Owen Pollard is one of us in every way and if he has to put you girls in a cell to keep you safe, then I’m all for it!”

Will took up his fork and Sarah motioned for the food to arrive.

After the meal, Bat took a walk over to Owen’s office and the two then went to the courthouse. Bat requested that all of the deeds concerning the property and Carlson’s land owning history be placed into special care so they could not be tampered with. He showed Owen the Carlson deed with Renfro’s signature and that all of the subsequent deeds were signed by Morgan. Owen’s eyebrows perked up and he now had a better perspective on Bat’s suspicions.

“Now I’ve met this Ronald Morgan. He has been involved in many land deals in our area. I think he is still living in Dallas. Do you want to contact him?”

“Not just yet. I’m not going to assume that Renfro doesn’t know about this deed. He probably has record of it in his files. If he is worth his salt then he will review all of his dealings and run across this. But it is the spark that lit our fire. I didn’t know at this point that there was foul play, I was merely intrigued. Lucas was the one who actually found it, I was taking notes at the time. None of this can implicate Renfro at this point, but I know what I saw in Fort Worth and this man is definitely up to no good. John Templeton enlightened me about his frequent battles with Renfro during his tenure as Attorney General. He has extensive research on him in his files. I can go there any time I desire. He is a valuable asset for us.”

“I’m impressed that you know John. I would love to meet him some day. Depending on where you confront Renfro I may have jurisdiction to apprehend him. Obviously the property is in Dallas County and the deeds are filed here. I now have charge over these documents. I can go with you to Fort Worth, but we would need the supervision of the local marshal to arrest him there. Templeton would then be very helpful. If we can get Renfro to come to Dallas we would have a much easier time.”

“I understand. I will see if we can arrange for a meeting at the farm. I can tell Renfro that I have some issues I want to discuss with Graham over the cotton business. We can think of something that would spark his interest.”

“You have my support in any way you need Bat. I think it will be great fun to see these guys squirm. Do you think you will have proof that Graham is an imposter?”

“I have a deed identified at the Fort Worth courthouse and I highly suspect one Paul Gusset. I intend to pay a visit very soon and ask Templeton to provide me with the same protection of the documents as we have here. There is also some Carlson family to investigate. We need to find out if they are the money behind the farm.”

“I see. Let me do a search on them as well. What name did you see if any?”

“I saw the name Emily Carlson on a current deed and Vernon on the previous one. Also Morgan was the lawyer.”

“I bet I can find Emily, she must be a sister, I don’t recall Vernon having a daughter, not sure though. There must be some tax records we can refer to. I had them figured for cattle people all along the way they bullied their way in Dallas. Vernon should have been stopped way before Will’s parents were murdered. But he had friends in this office to beat all hell, and so this Renfro is just another of the same breed. They think they can walk all over people and take what they want. Shame how that happens, corruption exists in many forms but one thing is almost always in common……”

Before Owen could complete his comment Bat finished it for him. “I know, there is a lawyer or politician behind it somewhere!”

“You got that right! So we know that Renfro has some big stuffed suits behind him in Fort Worth and probably in Austin. If we can surprise him and keep him here for a spell then he won’t be able to talk to any of them right away. We can’t let anyone else know until the time comes, not Sarah, Will, Lucas, any of them. Only Templeton if you really trust him. You bring me the proof on Paul Gusset and we will have him on fraud.”

“I will do just that. I’m going to Fort Worth tomorrow and get as much of this out of the way as possible by Monday. Then we can concentrate on the gun show for the next few weeks. We will request a meeting with Renfro and hopefully Graham soon after that. We can’t let on that we are too anxious, I don’t want to spook them and cause further delay. And whatever you do, Beckwith is to know nothing about this.”

“You got it Bat. Just you and me until the time comes.”

“You know, Arnold Colby suggested that we all come out to the farm for a gathering, I wonder if we can get Renfro and Graham to join us? My insisting to meet him can be centered around the condition of the machinery and the fact that we want to meet them there to further inspect the property together. Anybody in charge of such an operation should surely want to keep an eye on his investment. Sarah and Will need to know that one way or the other. Graham or Gusset, whatever his name is will be on unfamiliar ground and the fraud will be easily exposed.”

“Sounds like a plan Bat, say, play a few hands for me at the White Elephant. Tell Luke I said hello. I kinda miss that old boy! He has some of my money, I can’t win it back, you may as well wind up with it. I hope he’s alright. You sure he was safe when you left so soon after?”

“He had everyone at the White Elephant to look after him. He lives in an apartment attached to the same building. He has a gun. He is a big boy no matter how short he is!

I am concerned about what he is going to do with his future now that he has sold his share of the Elephant.”

“He must have done that to protect the interest of his partners and wife in case he didn’t make it. That was a smart move. I’m willing to bet they would sell it right back to him now that it’s over.” Owen gave Bat a shrug of approval.

“I expect that will be the case. I don’t think he has anywhere else to go for that matter. I’m sure I will find him working there whatever the case may be. I’ll do my best to get your money back. Poker in the upper room is a highly spirited affair. I can no more avoid the pleasure as I could target practice. Seems to me we have some gun purchases to look in on and some target practice! Let us find Will and Lucas, my trigger finger is about to come unglued!

George McCleary was still hard at work putting the finishing touches on the ivory Grips for Bat’s new Colt as they walked into the shop. He had new grips ready to install on Lucas’s Colt and Bat’s old pistol now worked like new. Lucas was very happy with the way his 45 felt in his hands now that he had some time with it. George placed an order with the factory for a larger trigger guard. It was going to be made special with a matching serial number. He put the new grips onto the 45 and Lucas liked the fit. Not so big to make concealment uncomfortable yet large enough to suit his big hands. The men sat around and talked about guns for over an hour as George did a final assembly on Bat’s long barreled Colt. Bat took a while to get used to the heft of the larger pistol. He decided that a standard hip holster would be necessary too. He was going to need some time to get used to this gun and he didn’t want it to take away from the feel he had with his short barreled model. George advised him to refrain from getting fancy at handling the new pistol and to concentrate on using it for standing fire only and not the quick draw. As they continued to banter about guns a tall stocky man walked into the shop carrying a riffle case. He delivered the case to George and then turned to realize who he was in the presence of.

“Bat Masterson! Oh my God! I didn’t believe George when he told me that you had been here. I can’t tell you what an honor this is. Michael Rumsey is my name.” Rumsey reached out to shake Bat’s hand and about yanked his arm off.

“Very pleased to make your acquaintance sir, that appears to be a very fine piece of leatherwork you have, tell me, do you make holsters?”

“I made the one George has on the counter right now. Is that for you?”

“That is correct. One day I should like to speak to you about some ideas I have about a custom holster. The one George is providing me today is very nice, I admire your work.”

“Why thank you Mister Masterson.” George turned to see Lucas. “And I know you from the posters and newspaper, Lucas McCain! What a pleasure!” Rumsey took hold of Lucas’ hand and the two shook with great force, both having large hands.

“Michael, that rifle case is mighty fine, looks like it would fit an 1892.”

“Sure does, that one right there.” George pointed at the famous firearm. “I made it special just to fit your lever and to make it easy for you to carry over your shoulder.”

“That does it! Your coming to the police range with us, Owen I hope you have room!”

Fulton’s Foray — To Plant A Seed

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

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