The Writer's Corner
Written by Klara's Boy
“It hurts …”
“I bet it does …”
“Please … your bullet … it must have shattered my collarbone.”
“Well … that´s the spot I aimed at in order to knock you out of
the saddle, Bruce. Sorry about the hard fall. The ground is
quite rocky out here. Let´s get this over with. I tell you what
I know and you are welcome to add any information I might need,
“My shoulder … it hurts so badly.”
“I get you to the nearest town as soon as possible. But before
that you have to tell me, what exactly happened after your
“Sure. I am a man of principles. Let´s see … after the holdup
you split up. I caught up with you, but your brothers are still
at large. My question is: when and where do you intend to meet
“Yes, we want to meet … please, you have to take me to ...”
“I promised you, didn´t I? Please tell me where your rendezvous
point is. Come on, Bruce. Otherwise I fear you might bleed to
death, and we don´t want that, do we? Would you kindly tell me
what I want to know?”
“Yes … we will meet on the second of March … at the Cougar´s
Rock, 10 miles outside that town … south of that town, about 100
miles … to the south … Cougar´s Rock, that where we planned to
meet again … I swear… it´s true … on the second of March … Burt
told us that he knew the place … it was Burt´s idea …”
“See? It´s not that hard, is it? Now tell me the name of that
town with that … Cougar´s Rock. I have never heard of it before.
What town? Come on, Bruce. After that I take care of you.”
“You promise …?”
“I promise. You can trust me. Do you know what trust means?
What´s the town´s name?”
“North … North Fork … I swear … North Fork …“
“Thanks. That´s all I need to know. I´ll take you to the nearest
“Yes … I need a doctor …”
“I don´t think you will need a doctor when we arrive, Bruce. You
see: As I said I am a man of principles and my most important
one is: always pick the easiest way to collect 500 dollar.”
“Please … no … I am …”
A rifle shot released the victim from his excruciating pain.
Three rapidly fired bullets sent three cans flying high into the
air. Lucas was satisfied. Even for a master like him it was no
easy task to hit such small targets posed on the fence more than
50 feet away. While he was reloading his weapon he noticed a
horseman approaching the ranch. Lucas decided that he had enough
practice for today. When he entered the house he was greeted by
the lovely smell of the delicious meal, Mark was preparing.
“Well, I hope lunch is ready, son. It looks like we gonna have a
“Lunch will be finished in a minute, Pa!”
The rider´s buckskin mare was walking slowly. When the man
arrived he raised his right arm, showing his empty hand. Lucas
returned the greeting looking at the stranger. The man was in
his forties, not a giant but of a massive stature, wearing a
brown jacket, leather cloves and a wide-brimmed hat. A well
trimmed beard, already starting to turn grey was covering his
prominent chin. The man was armed with a Colt 44 holstered at
his ride side.
“I hope you don´t mind the intrusion, mister …”
“McCain, Lucas McCain.”
“My pleasure, Mister McCain. I couldn´t help seeing your place
from up the hill. I would like to ask you a question.”
“Sure, but why don´t you join us for lunch? My son Mark is just
preparing the meal.”
“I don´t mean to cause any inconvenience, Mister McCain.”
“Not at all.”
“In that case, I am much obliged. I haven´t eaten for two days.
I really had a hard ride.”
“Be our guest, mister …”
“Kaufman, Daniel Kaufman from Colorado. At your service, Mister
“Mark! Get one more plate ready! Mister Kaufman will join us.”
Gratefully smiling the stranger dismounted and followed Lucas
into the house.
“Well, Mark, I consider myself an honest man and as such, I say
this was the best steak, I´ve eaten for a very long time. You do
have a mighty fine son, Mister McCain.”
Lucas grinned. He liked his guest. Kaufman was polite, humble
and gentle. His voice was full and deep, his smiling
“You´ve got kids yourself, Mister Kaufman?”
“Sadly no … well, but I have two younger brothers. They were a
pest at times when we were kids, I can tell you. But I love them
just the same. Having a great family is the best thing that can
happen to a man.”
“You wanted to ask me a question, Mister Kaufman?”
“Yes, actually two questions. First of all: is there a town
called North Fork nearby?”
“Yes, you just follow the street down the hill. It´s just a
couple of miles. You can´t miss it. And your second question?”
“I hear there is also a place called Cougar´s Rock around here.
Is that right?”
“Yes, Cougar´s Rock is south from here, about ten miles. It´s
called after a puma which was killed by an Apache chief in a
bloody fight maybe hundred years ago. Do you want to go there?”
“As a matter of fact, I heard that some friends are going there
for hunting. I intend to join them, since I haven´t seen them
for years. They will come together tomorrow at that place as far
as I know, so I better leave now. I´d hate to be late. My father
always used to say: Punctuality is the politeness of kings.”
“That´s what my teacher always says when I … I mean, when some
of the other kids are late for school.”
The brawny man grinned understandingly while pulling a little
pouch out of the pocket of his vest.
“I hope five dollar square us up, Mister McCain. The steak was
Lucas shook his head.
“You were our guest, Mister Kaufman. I would never take money
from a guest.”
Kaufman bowed forward looking Lucas straight into the eyes.
“Mister McCain, you are the friendliest man, I´ve met for a long
time. Don’t insult me by declining my money. Maybe your son will
need a pair of new books for school anytime soon. Education is
very important in this world and bringing up a boy is not cheap.
So it would be a real pleasure to me to repay my dept. Please
don´t say no.”
“Well, there is surely no debt …but if you put it that way …”
Without any further words, Kaufman put the pouch on the table,
left the house and mounted his horse. He tipped his hat to his
host, charmingly smiling.
“So long. It was a pleasure meeting you. Maybe we will see each
other again, Mister McCain. Mark.”
Father and son watched him heading south.
“He has good manners. Mister Kaufman is a real gentleman.
Wouldn´t you agree, Pa?”
Lucas turned the pouch in his right hand, feeling the heavy
coins in it.
“Such generous men are few and far between, Mark.”
Mark was on his way home from school. When he was riding through
the narrow path surrounded by trees and tense bushes, he noticed
a man he had never seen before. The boy stopped his horse. The
stranger turned around and nodded. He looked weary and thirsty.
“You´re alright, sir?”
“I lost my horse a few miles back, boy.”
“I am sorry. Is there anything I can do for you?”
“What´s your name, son?”
“Alright, Mark, my name is Burt … and as a matter of fact, you
can help me …”
The stranger pulled a Colt 45 out of his holster and aimed it at
“… by getting off your horse right now. Don´t try anything
foolish. I hate shooting kids. But even a god fearing man such
as me can do rotten things if he is forced to resort to them.”
Mark was frightened but he remembered what his Pa had told him:
never to resist in such situations. So he decided to obey the
stranger. No horse was worth dying for.
Mark dismounted and stepped aside into the thorny shrubs. The
man nodded contently and holstered his gun. Then he took the
reins. Mark was terrified. The highway man was slender and tall,
wearing a dusty jacket, a red shirt and worn out pants. The
crook smiled charmingly. Obviously Burt was pleasantly surprised
about the encounter with the defenseless boy.
“This is really a beautiful animal, Mark. I am much obliged.”
“I raised it myself, sir.”
“Well, I appreciate that. It was very nice making your
acquaintance. But now I have to leave you. There is place I have
to go under all circumstances and I am already tardy. Thank you
once again for your wonderful gift.”
Burt mounted up and looked into Mark´s eyes. Then he seemed to
contemplate an idea.
“You know, Mark, now that you know my face … I don´t think it
would be wise to let you go away and tell someone, maybe even a
lawman. Of course I could make you swear no to tell anybody what
happened here. But my motto has always been: better safe than
Burt pulled out his Colt and aimed it at the boy´s head.
“You may not believe me but … I am really sorry that I have to
shut you up permanently. It´s nothing personal I assure you. I
understand that you´re really a fine boy, Mark. Actually I like
children. Maybe one day I will have a boy just like you. I might
even name him after you.”
Mark closed his eyes. When the first shot rang out, Mark fell to
the ground hiding his face. But he felt no pain. A moment later
he heard a second shot … and then … after a pause … a third one.
Mark fainted. Not even the heavy thud directly in front of him
or the frantic nicker of his horse made him open his eyes.
After endless minutes he was brought back by a hand gently
striking his cheeks.
“Come on, boy. No need to fall asleep. That brute won´t hurt you
Lucas was riding to town to get some supplies when he heard
three rifle shots coming from down the road. He frowned. His
instinct warned him. He pulled his rifle out and spurned his
horse. After a quarter of a mile he saw a movement between the
trees along the road.
“Pa! I am over here!”
“Mark? You´re alright?”
Then very next moment the worried father noticed a stranger next
to his waving boy. Lucas lifted his rifle, prepared to take on
“Don´t shoot, Pa! This man just saved my life.”
Lucas galloped at full speed to the trees and a few seconds
later he swung out of the saddle right in front of his son. He
kneeled at his beloved boy, looking into his watery eyes.
“Mark, what happened? I heard gunfire! Are you alright?”
But the sniveling boy was too worried to answer. Instead he just
hugged his Pa. Nonchalantly the stranger lit a cheroot.
“Your son can count himself lucky, that I took care of things,
Lucas looked up. The stranger was a man in his thirties. He was
of dark complexion, black hair and an angular body frame.
Despite his smile his blue eyes seemed to stay cold. The man was
neatly dressed: he wore a black jacket, blue paints, a white
shirt and massive boots adorned with little beads. Lucas was
highly suspicious and still prepared to do anything to defend
“What happened here, mister?”
Still highly agitated Lucas rose and eyeballed the sneering
rescuer, who was holding a large Winchester Model 1876, a
powerful weapon built for hunting big game.
“I earned myself quite a pretty penny, mister. That´s what
happened here. I can hit the right eye of a fly with my rifle
let alone such a worthless rascal.”
Burt was lying right at their feet on the dusty road, starring
into the cloudless sky. Blood was running out of three big
bullet holes staining his red shirt. Mark, still trembling,
pointed at the body.
“He first took my horse and then tried to shoot me, Pa!”
“He tried to shoot you? What man can possibly …?”
The stranger ejected an empty shell out of his Winchester.
“Your boy is right. I came just in time. The man over there used
to be a member of the infamous Brooks Brothers. He was the third
on my list. Now I am in for quite a sum, yessir.”
Lucas started trembling. His mouth became dry.
“Thank you, sir! Thank you … but what do you mean, mister? Who
“My name is Rafael Delgado. I am from Texas. That horse thief´s
name was Burt Brooks. He and his two brothers robbed a bank in
Colorado a month ago killing three guards and wounding a teller
severely. I took up the chase three weeks ago. When I caught up
with the youngest of them, he told me that the Cougar´s Rock was
their meeting point. That´s where I ran into the second brother
this morning. I was hiding behind a boulder and let him pass me.
Then I placed my bullet right between his shoulders. He never
felt a thing.”
“The second brother?”
“That´s right. I left him over there between the trees with my
Mister Delgado pointed over his shoulder to the Mesquite trees
where two horses were waiting. One was a buckskin mare carrying
a dead body over the saddle. He turned, walked over to the
animal, grasped the corpse´s bloody hair and violently lifted
its head. Delgado´s well shaved face showed the pride of a
“That´s Bart Brooks. He used to be the oldest and meanest one of
the family, that´s why he is worth as much as 800 dollar. There
had never been a man more spiteful and dangerous. He liked to
present himself as distinguished and bountiful gentleman and
many people fell for his fine manners. I buried his victims in
three different states. Well, I made sure he will never murder
Mark´s eyes became wide when he saw the pale face of the dead
“No, that can´t be … that´s ….”
Lucas was stunned too.
“Yes, Mark … it´s Mister Kaufman. He was right yesterday. We
Mister Delgado was taking a sip from the steaming hot coffee,
“Are you now satisfied, Mister McCain? There you have all three
of them: Bart, Burt and Bruce.”
After studying the mugs on the wanted posters Lucas signed. He
looked at the man at his table, who was calmly smoking another
“I understand that you are not a lawman …”
“in a way, I am …”
“… but you´re a bounty hunter.”
The uncanny man puffed his cigar, sneering at the rancher whose
son he had rescued from a killer named Burt Brooks.
“You have to do something for a living these days.”
“You hunt men for money.”
Delgado was about to say something but then he noticed that Mark
never took his eyes of the large rifle that was leaning next to
the table. The massive Winchester with the long barrel made his
father´s famous gun almost look tiny.
“You like my Winchester, son? It´s the finest gun in the world.
And I am the best shot you can image.”
“Well … my Pa is the best shot, I assure you, Mister Delgado.”
“Beg to differ … but I don´t think that a … rancher from a
little hick town in the middle of nowhere can outshoot me. No
offense of course.”
“But my Pa is …”
“Mark! I have told you a dozen times not to brag. There is
always someone who is faster than you.”
“How true. Thank you for the coffee, Mister McCain. But now I
have to bring those bodies to North Fork. The Marshal must
confirm that I killed Burt and Bart. Burt will make his last
journey laid over my horse and his older brother will travel on
his own buckskin mare. After that I have a lot of money coming.”
Lucas swallowed. The cold voice of the bounty hunter made him
“Mister Delgado… I normally don´t stomach men who kill others
like animals to gain a profit. But you saved my son´s life
today. I am in your debt forever … more than words can tell. It
will be dark soon. So I would like to welcome you as our guest.
You can spend the night here. Tomorrow morning we will take my
wagon to bring the two bodies to North Fork. How about that?”
Delgado smiled boastfully showing his white teeth.
“Normally I fancy hotel rooms … but I guess I can put up with a
ranch for a night.”
The horse sniggered when the rider directed it carefully over
the rocky path that lead straight over the ridge. After leaving
the heights the rider galloped down the hill and headed for
North Fork. The sun was sinking and wormed his wrinkled face.
After a while the man noticed a ranch in the shadow of the
hills. He frowned and stopped his horse. He was not too familiar
with the area so he was wary. He dismounted and pulled out his
After tucking his son in, Lucas left the sleeping room. What a
horrible day it had been! He almost had lost Mark. Despite the
haughtiness he felt a great deal of gratitude towards Delgado.
The bounty hunter was standing on the porch in the moonlight
enjoying another cigar. He seemed to read a sheet of paper. When
Lucas stepped outside the stranger folded it hastily and put it
into his breast pocket. For Lucas the situation was awkward. He
felt that Delgado would kill anybody without batting an eye as
long as a corpse would bring money. For a moment he felt a great
deal of disgust for the stuck up killer. He never could befriend
him despite the rescue of Mark. The bounty hunter pulled out his
golden cigar-case and opened it.
“Care for a cigar?”
Lucas shook his head. He still could not figure that man.
Delgado lifted his right foot touching gently the shaft of his
obviously pricey boot.
“I bought those excellent cigars in Santa Fe together with my
footgear last time I got there. I intend to return to
civilization as soon as possible … as soon as I have collected
“Your harvest …?”
“The bounty, Mister McCain. Burt is worth 500 dollar as was his
younger brother. And good old Bart brings not less than 800
dollar. I am quite pleased with the outcome, very pleased
indeed. But I am kinda happy that their father perished in
prison a long time ago. The old Brooks had been one cruel man.
Even for me it would have been tough to set a trap for him.”
Delgado buffed his cigar, starring into the night. He avoided
any eye contact with Lucas.
“You don´t understand, why somebody can kill his fellow men for
money, do you, Mister McCain? You might even feel like bunching
me. Deep down you despise me for what I do, don´t you, Mister
Lucas remained quiet. For a moment he saw the tears on his
sobbing son´s face again. Then he eyeballed once again the face
of the self-absorbed killer who plucked Mark from the jaws of
“No, I don´t despise you but I believe in law and order and not
in manhunt. You didn´t even try to bring in one of your victims
alive, did you? You murder just like the men you hunt down, for
… blood money! Ain´t that right?”
“That´s right. But you wouldn´t grasp my motives anyway.”
Delgado puffed his cigar before he answered with a question.
“Well, let´s see where we have to start. What´s the most
important thing in life, Mister McCain?”
“It´s money for you, I guess.”
“No … it´s trust. Trust, I tell you! We could never build up any
relationships of any kind without trust. Without trust no
partnership, no friendship, no … family can exist. Trust is more
binding than any contract the wisest lawyer can set up. Without
trust there can be no society. We would fall back into the worst
form of barbarianism. Our entire world would collapse.”
Lucas was stunned. He was something in the cold tone that made
him listen very carefully.
“Alright … I agree.”
Delgado paused before he continued. His voice was like a steel
blade, cutting into Lucas´ mind.
“My father was a wealthy judge in Austin, Texas. He wanted me to
become a judge too. I was send to university to study the law. I
liked it there. That way I learned a lot about all kinds of
crime. Corruption, manslaughter, embezzlement, fraud … you name
it. I saw what criminals can do. I saw honest people lose
everything because they had trusted the wrong partners. Hard
working men were driven from their homes by felons with or
without guns. I saw it many times. I saw the tears of homeless
children, starving in the arms of their desperate mother because
the woman´s husband had been killed in a drunken brawl.”
“Your father was quite a man, I guess …”
“When I was 17 years old my father showed me his musket he had
carried in the war and we had target practice. My father was the
best man who ever lived. I loved him dearly. He spoke four
languages fluently and had traveled the world. He had even been
to Paris for several months. He always told me to distrust
low-brow men. As a judge he knew the depravity of the common
class. He knew the true character of the vulgar populace, I can
tell you. He told me about the meaning of trust in a man´s life.
My father explained anything to me about the abuse of trust
“What happened to him?”
“One night he was shot in his own living room during a
breaking-and-entering. The burglar was a goon who couldn´t even
write his own name. But he was quicker on the trigger than my
father. I found my father´s body lying next to the table, the
pistol still in his cold hand. Two days later they arrested the
murderer in a saloon, totally inebriated from the cheap booze he
had bought with our money. I witnessed the hanging and felt a
great deal of satisfaction. The night my father was murdered my
hate was sparked. The odium in my heart keeps me going. I made
myself a rule to exterminate every evildoer and I am a man of
That moment an owl cried.
“Crime generally is not about the money alone, as you might
think. Criminals do far worse: they destroy the trust between
men. Imagine a world in which no misdeeds would destroy the
trust in your fellow men. It would be paradise. The real sin of
criminals is the annihilation of trust. They destroy God´s
paradise. They prevent us from living in heaven on earth.”
For moment Delgado´s composure, his haggard figure and his
glowing eyes reminded Lucas of a picture of the Grim Reaper he
once had seen in a newspaper.
“That´s why I hate criminals. Sadly I was not destined to become
a judge. Maybe it was a good thing. Hate would cloud my judgment
according to the written law. If I had my way I would send any
criminal to the gallows regardless of his deed. Why? Because he
betrayed the trust of his fellow men in some way. For that sin
every lawbreaker should die. In a larger sense every petty
malfeasance is a crime against mankind.”
“The cold bodies of the brothers are already lying on your wagon
in the barn, covered with blankets. Tomorrow we will bring them
to North Fork and I will get my money. I need that blood money.
I need it bad. Not for cigars or fancy boots as you might think.
The real reason is not your concern. But my true reward is
pleasure. I enjoy killing that scum. I love being an
“How can you …”
“… and no common sodbuster will talk me out of it.”
“Listen, Mister Delgado …”
“Have you ever wondered why you´re still alive, Mister McCain?
Yesterday a certain … Mister Kaufman paid you a visit, didn´t
he. You let him into your house. You trusted him.”
Delgado spit the stogie out on the porch. Then he closed his
“You´re actually lucky, that you are still alive after that
Lucas´ lips were trembling. He suddenly turned very pale.
“He didn´t strike me as a vicious killer. He seemed to be a
gentleman. He even paid for his meal.”
Delgado´s smile was cruel, cold and ironic.
“Well, here is the answer, sodbuster. Bart Brooks had never been
a good shot. He had been craven. He always killed people who
could not put up much of a resistance. Maybe he saw you with
your rifle before and knew that you would defend your son
“I was indeed practicing with my rifle when he showed up.”
“Read the bible. Eve trusted the snake too. Good night, Mister
The grey owl was satisfied. Four mice and a young rat had made
the night hunt successful. Now the old bird sought refuge on a
massive strut directly under the roof of the barn where it was
protected against the chilling breeze. When it closed its big
round eyes it was disturbed by a silent figure entering the
barn. After a few seconds of listening for any sign of danger
the man approached the wagon without a sound. He lifted the
blankets and starred at the cold faces of the dead criminals. He
signed and muttered a word. The owl looked down on him when he
left the barn as silently as he came.
Mister Delgado couldn´t sleep a wink. He was used to elegant
hotel rooms with soft beds. After an hour of tossing around he
got up and put on his massive boots, caressing the fine leather
for a moment. Then he took the sheet of paper out of his pocket
and a further cigar. He left the house silently.
Cool night air welcomed him when he stepped out into the night.
He looked up to the full moon. An owl made itself heard in the
barn. Rafael Delgado smiled. Then he unfolded the yellowed paper
and read it once more. While studying the words over and over
again he lit a match at the wall of the house. The musing killer
watched the grey cigar smoke soaring into the frigid air.
Then he heard the shot and felt the stabbing smart in his chest.
He dropped to the porch, landing on his back, flipping over,
quivering. For a moment Delgado was livid. He hated any
disturbance while smoking one of his beloved cigars. When he
tried to scream, the pain became unbearable and he lost
“Mark, stay down!”
Lucas had jumped out of his bed, grabbing his rifle. He looked
out of the window for any sign of danger. All was quiet outside.
“Mister Delgado …?”
Lucas looked around. The bed of his guest was empty and the
Winchester Model 1876 was still leaning against the wall.
Carefully the rancher opened the door, locking around. Then he
noticed Delgado lying on the porch. The bounty hunter was weakly
moving, pressing his hands against his bloody chest.
“Mister Delgado. Can you hear me? Stay calm. I gonna get you
inside the house. Just hang in there. You gonna be alright.”
Delgado groaned. Lucas lunged out of the house trying to help
his wounded guest, to protect him against an unknown enemy. With
his rifle cocked he kneeled next to the bounty hunter.
“Get up and drop your rifle, sodbuster.”
The voice behind him let Lucas froze. Then, playing for time, he
“Who are you, mister?”
“Never mind that! Get rid of your gun! Now!”
Lucas threw his rifle towards the door. From the corner of his
eye he noticed Mark inside the house right next to the door only
inches away from the rifle butt.
“Now turn around.”
Lucas obeyed and stepped backward, nearer to his rifle.
Unbeknownst to the enemy Mark was squatting in the dark of the
house, waiting for an opportunity …
A man emerged out of the dark behind the house, holding a Colt
in his right hand. He was a burly fellow of advanced age,
wearing stained pants, a checked shirt and a black hat. His
wrinkled face was badly shaved. His hateful eyes mustered Lucas.
For a moment the rancher was scared. But he didn´t let on any
sign of fear.
“What do you want from me, mister? Who are you?”
The stranger cocked his gun and pointed at Delgado´s bleeding
“Are you a friend of this murderer, mister?”
Lucas hesitated before shaking his head.
“Then why do I find him on your porch?”
“That´s none of your business.”
“It is since two of my boys are lying in your barn. I was
waiting for them at the appointed place but my sons didn´t show
up. I figured they were waiting for me in North Fork. But I was
wrong, dead wrong.”
“So you are Mister Brooks senior, aren´t you.”
The old man smiled, showing his brown teeth.
“The name is Bernhard Brooks, in former times called “Bloody”
Brooks. During the war my outfit was the terror of those Yankees
in Georgia and Tennessee. I used to lead a small guerilla unit
behind enemy lines and we slaughtered more bluecoats then our
beloved General Nathan Bedford Forrest on any battlefield. Once
after a successful raid the general even shook hands with me to
show his gratitude. That was quite a day, yessir. Maybe you have
heard about me, sodbuster?”
“Can´t say I have, Mister Brooks.”
“Anyway …when I passed by your place in the evening heading back
for North Fork I saw you standing on your porch talking to this
man. Then I knew that I would never see my sons again. I know
Rafael Delgado well and he knew my boys. As a matter of fact his
beloved dad once sentenced me to prison. Some folks still think
I died in there. Well, they couldn´t be more wrong.”
The eyes of the old man became wistful.
“The son of a judge working as a bounty hunter and killer,
that´s what I call irony. He simply murdered my boys for blood
money. Those splendid boys were slaughtered like cattle. I had
always been so proud of them.”
Lucas felt anger growing inside himself.
“You might consider that your … boys were killers themselves.
Burt for instance tried to shoot a kid in order to steal his
horse not far from here.”
The old man tittered.
“Yes, Burt was always my favorite. He had a very practical way
of thinking. Burt was the smartest of them while Bart was really
wayward and capricious at times, not to mention very prudent,
even gutless. And Bruce … he once killed an old clergyman just
for his pocket watch. He came after his mother; God bless her.
Do you know how it is to raise kids without a mother? It´s not
easy I can tell you!”
The former guerilla waited for an answer but Lucas didn´t say
anything, just starring at his enemy.
“Well, I was just about to set your barn ablaze when that
low-down butcher stepped out of this house. I saw him lighting
his cigar. That made him a nice target. Smoking can be a bad
habit, I guess. Now you will die with him, sodbuster.”
“I didn´t harm your sons, Mister Brooks. I never …”
“You were harboring the man who killed members of the Brooks
family. Nobody harms my family without answering to me!”
“One more thing, Mister Brooks: where is the money from the
robbery you have committed in Colorado?”
“Not that you have to care about that … but the money is in my
saddle bags. We decided to split it the whole sum of 12.000
dollar into equal shares at the Cougar´s Rock. That was Burt´s
idea, by the way. But now it is all mine, I guess. And you ain´t
gonna live to tell anybody, sodbuster.”
That very instant Delgado lunged up. With all the strength he
had left in his haggard body he kicked his massive boots into
the killer´s hollow of the right knee. Brooks screamed, spun
around and fired a quick shot at the bounty hunter at his feet.
Before Brooks could react, Mark had picked up the rifle with
lightning speed and tossed it out to his father. Brooks cocked
his Colt to kill Lucas but it was already too late. Being an old
man, he was not fast enough. Without hesitation Lucas fired five
shots. The massive impacts of the bullets jerked the screaming
killer around several times. His Colt flew out of his hand. For
a moment Brooks tried desperately to stay on his feet, gasping
and groaning, pressing his fingers against his bleeding stomach.
With eyes wide open the old bandit seemed unable to grasp the
fact that his wicked life ended in a very sudden way. While he
was staggering off the porch his mouth muttered one last word
with low voice.
“A … boy …”
Then his body hit the ground raising some dust.
Lucas bowed over Delgado. The dying bounty hunter was smiling
weakly, almost blissfully.
“Well, saving other people could become a nice habit, wouldn´t
you say, Mister McCain. And I was definitely wrong about your
skills as rifleman, I can see that now. I wish I had not …”
“Don´t speak. We get you to a doctor.”
“Won´t do … any good anymore. But now you have to … the money …
it´s all in the letter … you have to … please … I trust you …
McCain … that´s why … I am so sorry … so sorry …”
“You don´t have to apologize for anything, Mister Delgado. You
saved my son´s life once more and mine too.”
“The bounty … please … I trust you … I wanted to do it myself
but now … you … I … trust …”
Then he closed his eyes never to open them again.
Mark hesitantly exited the house, picking up the sheet of paper
that had fallen out of Delgado´s hand.
“Pa … you´re alright?”
“Sure … thanks to him and you, son.”
The owl was old and appreciated a peaceful hideout to spend the
rest of the night. The shots had disturbed the shy bird. So it
spread its wings and left the barn looking for a quiet place up
in the hills behind the ranch. When it flew over the house it
spotted two human beings hugging each other on the porch.
“Is everything alright, John?”
“I took care of everything, Lucas. You know, dealing with money
is my specialty.”
Both men grinned.
“I contacted the bank manager directly so the family shall get
the money within two or three days.”
“Thank you, John.”
The neatly dress bank manager smiled gleefully.
“Well, I guess it´s the least we can to for the late Mister
Delgado. Hello Micah.”
Both men turned towards the entry of the bank office. The old
Marshal seemed relieved and happy.
“How did it go, Micah?”
“Well, my colleague in Colorado will make sure that the loot
will be shipped back to the bank within a week. In the meantime
it stays in your safe, John.”
Lucas picked up his rifle and tipped his hat to his friends.
“Well, now it´s time to go back home.”
“Sure. Lucas boy. Take care. And be more careful about
After sundown Lucas was enjoying his cigar out on the porch.
After doing his homework Mark joined him.
“Pa … what did the letter exactly say?”
“Well, the letter was from a destitute widow in Texas addressed
to a friend of Mister Delgado´s father. The friend is an
attorney at law in Austin. Her husband was murdered by the
Brooks Brothers some years ago leaving her indebted with four
small kids, one of them rather sick. To top it off an
unscrupulous bank manager tries to drive the woman from her
land, foreclosing a mortgage. So she begs for help in that
letter but explaining at the same time that she had no cent left
to pay the lawyer. The doctors for her child cost a pretty
penny, you know.”
“That´s horrible, Pa. I feel so sorry for that woman.”
“Yes, life can be mighty cruel sometimes. Anyway, Mister Delgado
killed the Brooks Brothers to make them literally pay for their
crime. He wanted to send his bounty to that widow. That was his
last wish. I am grateful that there was an exact address
mentioned in the letter. But don´t you worry: Mister Hamilton
took care of things and transferred the money directly to the
bank account of the widow.”
“Will it be enough, Pa?”
“Search me. But it will be quite a help for that woman.”
“I never would have thought that such a conceited man would go
out of his way to help a poor family. He was so full of himself
and yet ....”
Lucas looked at his musing son.
“Despite the fact that he was ruthless killer he was a good man.
I am glad that we came to know him. He did a lot for us.”
“Pa … is there any possibility that we … I mean … that we could
become that poor and indigent?”
Lucas paused. He knew that the life of a rancher was subject to
many rules. Living as a rancher meant dealing with many limits,
dangers und insecurities. There was always the possibility that
something could go wrong just like the night before.
“Well … Mark … let me put that way: as long as we have each
other … I don´t fear anything.
Then father and son smiled while the owl could be heard in the
These stories are based on the TV series
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around The McCain Ranch