Note: This story is a continuation of the first part of story I recently posted at A Western Tale, where I introduced the main characters and some of the backstory & plot. That original story I had written about 9 years ago, but this one I had to write throughout the week to advance the plot. I might come back to these characters in another separate story in the distant future.
This story takes place 4 days later after arriving in Frisco.. What happens in those days will be briefly mentioned below but not in much detail by the hour. I would have to write a book if I were to do that as it already is no longer a short-story.
A Western Tale
Carlos Gonzalez swerved his hand to the right as he pulled up to a nearby saloon called ‘The Shooters Pub’. Gonzalez dismounted his horse, tied him up in the yard of the pub, and began unloading his heavy leather pack from the side.
Shooters Pub was a massive wooden establishment with cheap hard maple railings hiding behind the opulent mahogany sign that covered up a quarter of the entire 2nd floor balcony. The building was once a landmark of the town of Frisco in an era a decade earlier. At one point, it was strictly a pub where people drank well into the night and massive fights would break out that the Sheriff few doors down often had to come quell. During the Civil War and afterwards, a regiment of Union troops were situated in a nearby fort, and some gruff soldiers would often visit for drinks. As the sheriff soon found out, criminals and soldiers in same room with alcohol was truly a dangerous combo.
As the town grew in 1870s, the saloon was fully renovated to include hotel rooms on the 2nd floor. Gonzalez wanted to prepare for the long day ahead he had already planned out. His group of mercenaries knew he was going to stay here overnight based on the telegraph he had sent the day before.
“Ok, pal, don’t be causing no trouble now. I’ll be back in the morning so don’t run off without me” Gonzalez lightly smacked his horse Romeo on top of his head. Romeo snorted loudly in response while giving a curious look at his owner as if he wanted to say something but thought better.
Gonzalez climbed onto the single-step porch, and walked briskly through the swinging doors. As soon as he stepped in, he glanced around the room hoping there were not any familiar faces. The last thing he wanted was to be recognized while on a mission of vengeance and bloodshed. He was relieved to see only a few drunk men arguing at a bench in the corner and a few individuals he did not recognize. He turned towards the bar to see a short bald man with a large twisted mustache serving alcohol.
“Whiskey, straight up.” Gonzalez guzzled it down, leaving behind a burning throat. He motioned the bartender for 2 more shots. The 4th and last shot he requested was mixed with trace amounts of vodka and lemon juice. The last shot was the one he savored.
Without wasting any time, he paid for the drinks and a hotel room upstairs. Near the stairs, two women were heading towards his way. Gonzalez suspected they were prostitutes, and he ignored them both. He had no respect for prostitution but knew it was a rampant industry throughout the countryside. He had no time to spare for anything or anyone because he was here on one mission and one mission only: to kill his arch-enemy Doc Emmett the criminal. Period.
He went into his corner room and locked it behind him. He took a quick glance around. There was a small round table in the corner with scratches all over it, a smelly creaky bed barely large enough for one person, and a square window off to the side. The room was just large enough for one person, and like most saloons in the day, the bathroom was outside in a small dirty wooden cubicle littered with flies.
Gonzalez threw his pack on the bed and walked up to the tiny window. He had requested this specific room so he could keep an eye on the main street below and a large well-guarded compound with a mansion, which was owned by the Doc, off in the distance. He pulled out a cigarette along with his silver lighter covered in a layer of aluminum casing, and lit it as he peered for a long moment at the compound with a flame of pure hatred in his eyes. Darkness was on the horizon as the light was on the verge of being extinguished. He quickly finished his cigarette before flicking it out the window.
Satisfied, he went back to the bed. He unrolled his pack on the bed. It filled up almost half of the bed. In it were situated different guns, ammunition, and a couple of explosives. He also had some basic medical supplies, including gauze pads and rubbing alcohol for bullet wounds. The rifles were not assembled to save room in his pack so he started on the arduous process of piecing together the various components. He had a brand new Winchester Model 1876, which he had rarely used, in his possession along with the Henry Lever Action rifle. The latter of which he had acquired from his army days, and his commander had let him keep it after he left the Army.
Gonzalez was a sharpshooter with the Henry Lever Action. Although he was known for mastery of his pistols, he was just as good with the Henry Lever, which he used only to kill. Bounties usually paid more to bring in the captives alive rather than dead so he almost never killed. Besides, he did not like killing on any of his ordinary missions unless if he truly had to. Unfortunately, this current mission was anything but ordinary.
Next, he pulled out his Colt 45 dual pistols from his holster. He slid the loader out, removed the bullets and carefully took apart the pistol piece-by-piece. Once all the pieces were removed, he lubricated and cleaned them off entirely with a tiny smooth red cloth dipped in metal cleaning solvent. Although it was time-consuming, it was a ritual of his to clean up and lubricate all of his weapons before each mission. It also kept him occupied from thinking too much of the mission. The rifles were much tougher to clean than either of his pistols, but luckily, he rarely cleaned the rifles as he did not have to use them much. He never brought his rifle cleaning kit with him as it was too bulky and unnecessary.
After both pistols were cleaned off, it was time to move to the next step: creating more ammo. He had 50 ready bullets in his possession with extra materials ready to assemble 100 extra bullets in his bag. He pulled out his small manual portable machine press, lead bullets, casings, gun powder, and primers.
He gently picked up the first metal casing for the bullet and placed it into the small machine press and pushed down hard to ensure the proper shape was met. Second, he inserted the primer necessary for igniting the gun powder. When shooting, the bullet gets violently struck, which heats the primer through chemical reaction, and that in turn ignites the gun powder. Next, he dumped in small amount of gun powder he had measured out. The lead bullet went on top as he finally sealed it into place with his machine press. He did it for the remainder of the bullets.
By the time he was finished, there was a sharp knock on the door.
Gonzalez drew his pistol out, loaded it with bullets, cocked it ready to fire. Another knock on the door. This time the knock was harder with an angry grunt on the other side.
Gonzalez slowly walked to the door, put his ear to it, listening for any signs of danger. Hearing nothing, he crouched and very quickly pulled the door open.
Across the hall was a man standing leaning against the opposite wall with a huge smirk on his face. With a pistol drawn was none other than his best friend Jim Cooper, who had arrived with the cavalry ahead of time!
“One of these days, I’m going to kill you, jackass,” said Gonzalez with a smile creaking up before he quickly looked away. He did not want Cooper, the troll, to get any satisfaction over busting his chops.
“Yeah, I would beat the crap out of you before you could try. Just like old times, brother. Hahaha” laughed Cooper heartily. As kids, they used to get into fist fights often. Cooper always won as he was bigger and stronger. Once Gonzalez learned how to shoot, the game was over. Gonzalez was the best with guns. Cooper knew he stood no chance in an actual gun fight. Gonzalez often had Cooper throw a coin up in the air from 15 feet away. Gonzalez would shoot the coin almost every time.
“You wish. Where are the others?” asked Gonzalez gruffly.
“Next door. Let’s go meet them.”
“So you want us to be positioned here until the explosions go off?”
“Yes. Jack just needs to be sure the bombs are setup properly. Both of Doc’s gates must go down simultaneously.” The previous 2 days, Gonzalez was busy putting together the game plan. He had infiltrated Doc’s compound as a temporary worker. Since he was under close watch while unarmed, he was in no position to do anything except memorize the layout of the compound and its vulnerabilities.
Jack was the sneakiest of the bunch and the best with handling explosives. He was to be sent out under the protective veil of darkness to lay down the explosives while most of the Doc’s guards were sleeping. One of the bombs was supposed to be a decoy on opposite wall of the main attack.
“Why can’t I be part of the main attack wave, amigo? Let me switch with somebody” complained Matt ‘Maverick’ Dalton. Maverick was the youngest wolf in the group but also was a sharpshooter with very stable aim that was admired by everyone, especially Gonzalez. Against the wishes of co-leader Cooper, Gonzalez had recruited Maverick on the spot.
“Because you are perhaps our best long range shooter. Maverick, we all have our jobs. Shut the hell up and do your job before I break your nose” howled the normally passive Juan Carlos from across the room.
Carlos was a stocky fellow in his mid-40s but very quick for his size. He was usually a quiet fellow but people often feared his bad temper. He was truly a rough rider that you would want on your side at all times. He was once a fugitive from Mexico on the run for robbing a bank and killing a few trained police deputies for chasing him. Gonzalez had come across him during one of his bounty hunts some years back. For that hunt, both were hunters seeking same prey, which consisted of a gang of dangerous criminals, and they had decided to hunt together to split the bounty evenly. Gonzalez hired him on the condition that they never kill for fun and to work within the bounds of the law & moral principles henceforth. They only hunted murderers, rapists, and other violent criminals with large bounties.
The main attack was composed of Gonzalez, Cooper, Carlos, and Jack. Maverick was the long range designated shooter who would provide cover from a nearby elevated grassy knoll. Jack was to first light up the explosives from some distance. As soon as the first explosion went off, Maverick would begin to pick off the targets keeping watch over the courtyard. The knoll was elevated enough to see the watchtower clearly along with the entire 2nd floor and roof of the mansion.
The entire plan relied on hitting hard and hitting fast before the guards had any time to regroup. As soon as they entered the yard, Jack’s job was to kill anyone that tried to exit the guard barracks. He would keep the compound clear for a quick getaway. Maverick was to watch the front entrance from a distance while checking the mansion roof every few moments and the surrounding open fields around the compound. Every angle had to be covered.
Gonzalez, Cooper, and Carlos were to enter the mansion to search for the Doc. That was the game plan from start to finish. The only issue was Gonzalez had not seen the inside of the mansion. Once they enter, all three of them were on their own with no backup coming and no way of knowing what they were getting themselves into.
“Just like old times, eh?” chuckled Cooper.
Gonzalez raised an open hand into the air and rolled it into a fist as a sign to commence as he was slowly riding his horse towards the compound.
BOOOOOOOOOM! Instantly, there were loud screams and yells emanating from inside the courtyard as the guards went on high alert. Moments later, there was another massive explosion on the opposite side that brought down the front gate.
As Gonzalez and his 2 men began riding at full speed towards the destroyed gates, loud rifle firing started in the distance. Maverick was picking off the targets one by one from 200 feet away. The moment the second explosive went off, Maverick had killed both of the enemies on the watchtower. Confusion turned to utter chaos as the Doc’s men did not know where the attack would come from or how many would be attacking.
Jack was hiding nearby behind an indentation in the wall awaiting the cavalry with his pistols drawn. Previously before dawn, he had come out and placed 2 explosives by separate entrances. Both were tied together with a fuse, which was a long string dipped in kerosene. All he had to do was wait for Maverick to provide a signal through a bird whistle. The moment he saw them riding towards the gates, Jack sprinted into the entrance.
In any surprise attack, the first few moments after entering the field of battle are the most crucial. Shock and surprise does not last more than a few initial moments once in the enemy’s field of vision so the most damage can be done then. Opportunity comes to those that take advantage of preparation against those at the disadvantage of chaos. It often matters not how outnumbered one side is against an opposition of greater numbers. What truly matters is the planning, quick decision-making, and surprise involved. Ancient military tactician Sun Tzu once said “the position of victory is one of determination. The position of defeat is unpreparedness.” Preparation is half the game, the other half is execution.
Jack had more stable aim as he was on foot rather than on shaky horseback. He cleared out the area directly near the entrance the same moment the cavalry entered. After instantly blazing through the entrance, the 3 horsemen fanned out in different directions to take advantage of the initial surprise. Jack quickly discharged a deadly volley of fires killing three combatants off the bat then slung his pistols into its holster. He pulled out his rifle to begin taking out targets some distance away.
At the same moment, Cooper headshot a enemy soldier running towards them with a gun targeting Jack. By then, the moment of surprise had truly ended. Within 2 minutes of the second explosion, about 8 (half) of the Doc’s mercenary soldiers were dead thanks to a well coordinated surprise attack. Cooper and Carlos fanned out in opposite directions while Gonzalez rode straight through the stables at the center of the courtyard.
From the corner of his eyes, Gonzalez saw one man crouching and creeping to the edge from behind one of the large battle horses standing in the stable. His intention was to ambush the oncoming Gonzalez. In response, Gonzalez intentionally grazed the scared horse with a throwing knife near the tail. The horse began shrieking in agony, and she kicked the crouching mercenary soldier. The soldier in pain yelled profanities at the horse, but it was to no avail as he was trampled to death.
Another soldier popped out from the nearby 2nd floor balcony of the mansion. Before he took aim at Gonzalez, he was shot down from a distance with a crack shot from Maverick keeping an eye on the mansion. Gonzalez did not even look at the dead soldier while making his way to the expansive door entrance of the mansion. He had not fired a single bullet himself.
Within a minute, Cooper and Carlos arrived from the flanks giving the all-clear. The only other building they had not checked was the barracks building for the soldiers’ living space. The plan from the previous night was for Jack to watch the barracks from the cleared stables for any signs of lingering soldiers.
They quickly dismounted their horses and followed Gonzalez up the wide white marble steps. A massive stone pillar arose in front of them with a rich mahogany railing polished to shininess. Next to the railing on the right was a small square garden of flowers. Red roses, white lilies, rare purplish-yellow orchids, and a few extremely extravagant saffron flowers were all blooming in the yard. On the left side of the steps was a small pond filled with a group of goldfishes swimming and a small turtle taking a dip.
Gonzalez suddenly flicked out his pistol and shot once at the 2nd floor window overlooking the pond. “Have you gone MAD, Gonzalez?” yelled Carlos as Cooper started laughing.
Suddenly, a mercenary soldier fell out the window and into the pond. The man was dead before his right shoulder hit the small brick wall surrounding the pond, and his face temporarily slammed into the pond, splashing water everywhere, and a tiny goldfish flew out of the pond over the tiny brick wall. As the scared turtle quickly sprinted out of the water to safety, the soldier was finally alone with the fishes. The flipping goldfish was still fighting for dear life outside the water. Wordlessly, Gonzalez put the goldfish out of its misery with a quick bullet without ever looking at it. Carlos had momentarily turned pale before he snapped out of it.
Cooper flew at the door and loudly slammed into it with his broad shoulders. The door exploded open as splinters flew inwards. A soldier, who was crouching behind an overturned desk, started to shoot mindlessly towards the door. Carlos started providing cover fire. The soldier quickly ducked behind the table. Gonzalez continuously spun his left hand pistol on his index finger waiting. The soldier peeked for a quick moment. A millisecond was all Gonzalez needed to pop one bullet. As the soldier fell sideways, Gonzalez continued to spin his pistol in pure concentration.
“You SCUM! Who the hell do you think you are??” bellowed somebody from the 2nd floor balcony across the massive room. An older man in his mid-50s was standing there on the balcony looking down. Gonzalez knew instantly it was the Doc with two of his best mercenary soldiers around him.
Gonzalez reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue spotted bandanna and flicked it across the room. Doc had never seen Gonzalez’s face before as Gonzalez always wore his bandanna, including the two times they were in a shootout against one another.
Recognition came glimmering into the Doc’s eyes. “Ahh, it’s you. Huhahaha. Huhahah. So you are here to die today? Your family needs you, especially that pretty wife of yours. Huhahaha. Boy, that sweet day m and her had togeth-.” Gonzalez shot towards the Doc.
“Feisty to die today, are we not? Huhahaha. No class. I am going to have to teach you some manners today, boy, of how to treat your elders. Joseph, bring me that gatling gun here, won’t you? Huhahaha huhahaha.”
Gonzalez, Cooper, and Carlos all sprinted for cover as a gatling gun was quickly brought forth. “I GOT THIS, SONNY. MOVE ASIDE HUHAHAHA HUHAHAHA.”
Doc began to quickly rotate the hand crank. The defining characteristic of a gatling gun was the hand crank on it to make the barrels revolve in circles. The barrels would rapidly fire and eject over a thousand bullets per minute as it continuously revolved. The gatling gun was perhaps the most ferocious and feared weapon of the 1800s due to its ability to single-handedly mow down an entire line of oncoming horse-mounted cavalry of soldiers within seconds. It’s biggest weakness was it overheated quickly and was time-consuming to reload.
“Huhahaha huhahaha” laughed the Doc loudly as he ejected bullet after bullet aimed at the table the trio was taking cover behind. After about 1 full minute of constant firing, it stopped. Instantly Gonzalez stood up from his hiding spot, and headshot one of the 2 soldiers.
“Hold your horses for daddy to reload his massive gun, just hold it. Your wife and children can wait 2 minutes for their grand-daddy to have his fun. Huhahaha huhahaha.” The other soldier began to provide cover fire as Doc continued to reload.
Carlos lost his patience and stood up instantly to fire. Gonzalez started to say something, but before he could, Carlos was shot in his stomach area. A second bullet hit him in his shoulder. His knees buckled over as his entire upper body mass crumbled.
From that moment on, some deep hatred overtook Gonzalez. He stood up and shot the mercenary soldier directly in his temple. The Doc was getting ready to fire his gatling gun, but before he could, Gonzalez was across the room. Cooper, fearing for his friend, started to provide cover fire.
Gonzalez was sprinting up the stairs three steps at a time like a crazy maniacal beast.
The Doc quickly pulled out a pistol as he had no time to turn the heavy gatling gun on wheels and fired 3 bullets in quick bursts. The first bullet whizzed past Gonzalez’s head. Second one grazed Gonzalez’s right shoulder. The third one penetrated his left shoulder.
Gonzalez did not flinch for a moment in his maniacal state. He fired at the Doc over and over in every place possible even after the Doc was dead. The Doc’s last words were ‘HUHAHA’ with a huge smile under loud firing. Over and over, bullet after bullet reverberated. Gonzalez went through both pistols and was on the verge of reloading to shoot every bullet he had in his possession. Until Cooper yelled at him to stop. Gonzalez would not snap out of it until Cooper slapped him on the face from the back.
Gonzalez threw his pistols aside next to the Doc and walked out. “I quit. I am done.”
“Gonzalez, what happened?” asked Jack as Gonzalez walked past him.
“I quit. You 3 collect the bounty and split it however you want. Send my share and Carlos’ share to his family. I am finished. I quit.”
He climbed onto his horse Romeo.
Cooper came sprinting outside. “Wait up, Gonzalez. We are old friends. You don’t have to do this. That bastard deserved to die.”
“I’m afraid to turn into that who I just killed. I don’t want to kill anymore. It is best I quit before it’s too late. I tell myself I kill the bad guys for justice, but it was BS. It was for money. Before I lose myself, I am finished killing. There is much more to life and much to see and do. I must do more and be the best man I could possibly be. My days of being a soldier are over. It is time to find meaning in life. To live life to the fullest possible. We all have strengths and weaknesses, pain and comfort, good side and evil side. Nobody is perfect but all that truly matters is we live life to the fullest. I must find myself before I fall into the abyss for all of eternity.”
With those words, Gonzalez put his wide-brimmed leather hat on and rode out towards the rising sun into a new day. Gonzalez had come from nowhere and into nowhere he returned, feeling a sense of one burden lifted off his shoulder.