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> The Renegade James Chatham, Completely unrelated to AE
Desty
post Jul 20 2008, 02:08 PM
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Marcus Thames rode past a run down building that passed as a saloon in the town of Caster. He passed along the east facing wall, covered in wanted posters. One in particular caught Marcus’ eye and he road up next to it for a closer look. The poster had a crude sketch of a man that looked about twenty-six, clean shaven and unscarred. The man in the photo had a handsome face and, more importantly, underneath the picture was a series of letters. “Wanted: Dead or Alive, James Chatham, $10000 Reward”, he read, “Chatham is wanted for several counts of armed robbery and three murders. He is a known gunslinger and caution should be appropriated when encountering this outlaw.”

“Well its good know’n that pile’a dungs worth twice as much he usedta be, ain’t it Thunder?” Marcus said to his mount.

Marcus tied his horse off to the post in front of Gold Saloon and approached the doors after adjusting his gun belt. He pushed open the swinging double doors to the bar and walked in while favoring his right leg. Once inside he cringed, the smell of spilled alcohol and filth invaded his senses as he scanned the crowd. There was a group of miners playing cards and a man hunched over the bar. The bar itself looked as though it had been built in a hurry, and would probably need to be replaced after a few thousand splinters to the patrons. He immediately went to the bar, taking a seat a few spaces away on a wobbly stool and glanced across as the bartender approached him with a rag in his hand.

“Well greetin’s stranger, what can I do for you?” the bartender said.

“I’d do for a whisky, something that’ll make me forget ‘bout that damn highway.”

The bartender placed down a shot glass filling it out of a well used bottle. “Where you comin’ from stranger?”

“Well, I just left from Targus; but I started this way from up’n Ether Bay.”

“I ain’t ever heard of Ether Bay, where’s that?”

Marcus let out a chuckle, “Its back east, off the coast ‘a Virginia.”

“What on earth you doin’ out this way then son? You ain’t on no vacation if you packin’ yer own horse.”

“Why’m I out here? Well I’m trackin’ a fellow down, lookin’ to get back some semblance of respec’ back home.”

“And how’sat supposed to work out here?”

Marcus reached towards his waist which caused the man further down the bar to shift. Marcus hadn’t realized that he had been watched since he walked in, but now noticed that the man further down the bar was eyeing him every now and then. He pulled a folded piece of parchment out of his pocket and placed it on the bar, unfolding it. “I’m looking for this fella, don’t s’pose you seen him?”

The parchment was a smaller version of the wanted poster that was on the wall outside the saloon that was a little older still boasting a five thousand dollar reward for his capture alive and not interested in his capture in death. The bartender looked down at the picture on the paper and let out a slow whistle looking back up at Marcus, “Boy you sure know how to pick ‘em, I heard this fella was around town ‘bout a week ago, don’t know where he’s been since then. Can’t say I seen him myself though. What on earth you chasin’ him for?”

“Sonabitch did me over bad, hit up a bank train that had my life earnin’s on it. Bank didn’t do **** fer me after that, and told me that the only way I’d ever see that money again is if I chased this fella down. I ain’t thinkin’ they meant it literally, but I ain’t got nothin’ left to retire on after what that outlaw did. Figure I might as well do what I can ‘fore I’m left with nothin’ in my pocket. So I got me this horse, this gun,” patting his gun belt for emphasis, “and this poster and this plan. I heard this fella came through here and was hoping he’d still be around.”

“Well I’m ‘shamed to say that I can’t help you there son, but I’ll offer you a room. Only ten dollars, discount just for you.” The poker players snickered at this and Marcus took notice.

“Ten dollars ain’t no discount, and I’d rather you not take me for a fool. I do know how money works, and yer rooms ain’t worth mor’an five dollars a night. I can stay ‘cross the way for four dollars.”

The bartender eyed him and Marcus wondered if he was about to call his bluff before he said, “Fine son, I’ll let you in for seven a night, but I can’t go lower ‘an that. We got a deal?”

“Yep,” Marcus said as he downed the remainder of the whisky and hitting it against the bar for effect, “Mind fillin’ me back up?”

The bartender tipped the bottle back over before he topped the shot glass off again. “There you go. My name’s Rick, and I have a business of knowing who stays in my rooms.”

“Name’s Russell Smith. Pleasure to meet ya Rick.” Marcus muttered with a sarcastic tone.

The man down the bar set his glass down with a loud thud, “Hit me Rick, I ain’t got all day to get drunk y’know.” He let out a gruff laugh, “Well I suppose I do but that ain’t the problem here.”

The bartender, Rick, moved down and filled the man’s cup out of a different bottle than he had used for Marcus. “How ‘bout I just leave you the damn bottle Jimmy? You’re draining it quick enough.”

“Sure, sure Rick, make sure there’s ‘nother fer when I finish this’n.”

Rick checked under the bar and giving a grunt in Jimmy’s direction before heading back to a room off the back of the bar.

Jimmy was wasting no time in drinking the remainder of his drink from the glass in front of him. The bottle beside the glass had only a quarter of the original contents in it and his scent carried over to Marcus making him cringe. Jimmy glanced over at Marcus and with the smell of alcohol strong on his breath asked, “So you’re after ol’ James Chatham, uh?”

“Yea, you know somethin’ ‘bout him?”

“I know a thing or two. But I don’t just tell stuff for free y’know.”

“I ain’t in the business of paying for lies. So you can just keep it to yerself.”

“I ain’t talking ‘bout no damn money, I tell you something, you tell me something. I figure it’s only fair. Whatchya say Russ?”

“It’s Russel, and I guess it wuden’t hurt if it don’t cost me anything. Whatchya wanna know?” Marcus replied.

“Why don’tchya start from the start? Who are you, and why in the blue blazes would you be on a goose chase like this?”

“Well, I usedta be a farmer over in ‘Ginia. Had a mortgage down, good twenty acres of land, good crop growin’ dirt. I settled down with a good woman, had a few boys to help with the crops and a girl that I spoiled to death. I’d almost paid off my land when it all went wrong. There was a drought, my crops stopped growin’ right, couldn’t sell em at market. They wasn’t any good to eat. Had to go to town just to buy food for my family. ‘Magine that, a farmer going into town to buy his family some food. Things were lookin’ bad and the bank was ‘bout to take my land away right ‘fore things were startin’ to get good again. I got notice that I was in my uncle’s will when he passed on, and he left enough for us to get through the rest of the drought. Problem was, the train got hit by that sonabitch Chatham and I never saw a penny of it. Bank came in, took my land; wife blamed and left me. Had to do odd jobs for a few years and got enough money to get out this way. I’m plannin’ on findin’ this Chatham fella and givin’ him a piece o’ my mind. He’ll be pushin’ up daisies by the time I’m through with ‘im. Maybe I’ll make ‘im dig his own grave ‘fore I put some lead in ‘im. Either way, I’m getting’ that reward money and getting’ my life back where it went off track.”

“Damn me, you sure sound’ like you set yerself out on a tough’un fella. How is killin’ this fella gonna fix anythin’ ‘bout what happened to ya? Seems like if yer wife were gonna leave ya like that, yer betta off without ‘er.”

“Don’t you be talkin’ bout my Louise like that you stupid –“

“Heeey fella, I ain’t meanin’ no insult. Keep it calm now son, how ‘bout you tell me whatchya got on this Chatham fella that’d bring ya all the way from Virginia to this no where town in the middle’a Tex’s.”

Marcus, still smoldering about the insult to his wife, stared into Jimmy’s eyes. He hadn’t realized they had been such a startling blue before. “Well, James Chatham ain’t no joke or tall tale. But I betchya some folks back in Virginia’d think he was. He’s been in the paper for years now, responisible for the Franklin Massacre where he got off with a hundred thousand in bank notes. He’s damn right crazy. Heard ‘e went off and took down the town of Duplin up in Oklahoma, shot up every Deputy in town and gutted the Sheriff so he could stay the night. He carries a single pistol, a Smith & Wesson five shooter. Its black gunmetal with an ivory white handle. Some think his first train jackin’ was just to pay off this pistol o’ his. I know he’s a damned pretty boy, ‘cause every time I’ve been to that’s seen this boy has two or three girls fussin’ ‘bout James Chatham. I know he was last seen headin’ this way, and it’s why I’m here. Now tell me whatchya know ‘bout ‘im.”

Jimmy refilled his glass slowly, the rest of the bottle not filling the glass. Frustrated, he called out, “’Ey Rick, where’s that damn bottle!”

Rick came back out of the door that he left through earlier, Marcus saw him reach under the counter and pull up another bottle of what he realized was a drink which was labeled Fire Water, a highly potent alcohol that was known to put more men under the table than any other.

Jimmy drained the glass in front of him before refilling the glass again. He brushed the hair off his brow before looking back at Marcus, “Well Russ, sounds like you done yer work on this Chatham fella. But yer missin’ a few key details.”

“Like?”

“Well, that sonabitch Chatham, as you call ‘im, only needs one bullet to kill a man. That’s cause those people that been chas’n ‘im don’t really know who he is. He’s always got ‘em figured out well before they got ‘im pinned. He’s already taken down a dozen men just like yerself, lookin’ to take on that bounty and be set fer the rest of their lives. Fact o’ the matter is he probably already got a bull’s eye on ya if got this far chasin’ him. He ain’t never had to fire more ‘an two shots outta his pistol before reloadin’, because ain’t nobody ever got the draw on him ‘fore. He rides a horse that they say breathes fire, fierce as he is. Hell, they say that horse done killed more people ‘an he has. I seen it myself, scary as can be that horse is.”

“Yea, but I got it on good knowledge that horse took a bullet on ‘is last train heist. Heard he set out on foot afta’ that, seein’ as no horse was good ‘nuff.”

“True ‘nuff, his beast died off. But it took a certain man to train a monster like that horse was. But see now, Jess Chatham ain’t all bad. I know fer a fact that he used to be a fella like yerself. He had a cattle ranch down south’a these parts. Big’n too. Group’a rustlers came an’ cut his fence, took all the cattle. He ran outta money. Bank didn’t look too kindly on him missin’ payment and kicked ‘im off his own land. Wife left ‘im and he had nothin’ left. Took to bein’t he hero, figurin’ it would bring his wife back. He hunted those rustlers down to Franklin and took care of the lot’a them. They were in league with the Sheriff there y’see. After that ain’t nobody look kindly on ‘im, they thought ‘im just a murderer. Everywhere he went, anybody that knew him wanted that bounty; and eventually he lived up to that reputation o’ his. Revenge is a dangerous path sonny. Once you done have that vengeance, you ain’t got nothin’ left to live for.”

Marcus’ glass had been refilled when he wasn’t watching and he drank the shot down all at once as he thought about what Jimmy was saying, “I’ve got a wife and kids that I can go back to, she’ll take me back when I got that reward.”

“Same figurin’ ol’ Chatham had, after hittin’ all those trains he went back to his gal in Mertins. He had a fortune and a half, an’ she wanted nothin’ to do with no killer. He offered to buy ‘er whateva’ she wanted and she turned ‘im down. Ain’t too late for you fella, you could still get outta this. Go back to the coast, get yer gal the old fashioned way again. It could save you a life’a misery.”

His eyes lit up with a touch of anger, annoyed at the comment. “I done chose my path and I ain’t plannin’ on turnin’ off it. This fella Chatham is gonna pay for what all he done wrong, and I’ll be the one to do it.” Marcus said, the tone of his voice sounding as though he was trying to convince more than just Jimmy.

“Well thassa shame really. But if you really gonna chase this fella down I’d get to findin’ a fella by the name Marcus Thames.”

Marcus cringed suddenly hearing his name. “Who’s he? Some sorta compatriot of Chatham?”

“Nah, he’s just like you. I hear he’s been on this fella’s trail for years now, chasin’ any clue he finds all over the west. His story sounds a lot like yours. Hell, his girl’s name’s even Louise.”

Marcus again cringed inwardly, thinking back to all the people he’d told that story too over the years, he’d change his own name but he’d never thought to change hers. “Well whatchya know ‘bout him that’ll help me find ‘im then?”

“Well, last I knew he’d been headin’ right ‘ere, to the town of Caster. Also heard that he bum’d his right knee last town he was in. Seems ‘e got into a scuffle with some of ol’ Chatham’s gang. He roughed ‘em up, but they did ‘im the same justice.” Jimmy said as his hand slowly left the handle of his glass.

Marcus didn’t notice, too intent upon keeping his identity safe and suddenly more aware of his throbbing knee. He started to turn away towards the stairs that lead to the rooms, “Well if that ain’t damn’d, I’ll be sure to meet ‘im then. I should probably be getting’ up to my room, check it for rats.”

Jimmy grabbed Marcus’s wrist as he stood up. The strong smell of that Fire Water coming out of his breath stung Marcus’ nostril as he said, “Hold up fella, I remembered a few more things about James Chatham that I’m sure you’ll wanna hear.”

“Well, sure. Anythin’ is good on that sonabitch.” Marcus said, his hand straying to his gun holster as realization started to take over. He had gained a lot more information over the years than what he told Jimmy.

“Yep, these facts ‘bout ol’ Chatham might just help settle yer mind, mebe even make yer talkin’ with Marcus easier,” Jimmy said, pausing afterwards, expecting Marcus to make a reply stating his thanks.

“Well, that’d be good I s’pose. Time is a precious commodity after all.”

“That it is fella. Well, this guy Chatham, he has blue eyes. Not just any blue though, the kinda blue that just paralyzes you when you look into ‘im. Ain’t no lady ever been able to turn down them eyes.”

Marcus slowly fumbled with the clasp over his gun holster, trying to pull his other hand from the hold of Jimmy. “That would explain his womanizin’”.

Jimmy tightened his grip on Marcus’ wrist and stood up to face him, “He drinks Fire Water. He likes drinkin’ the stuff ‘fore he kills a man. Makes him feel less guilty ‘bout it. And one other thing –”

Marcus glanced over at the bottle on the table, finally undoing the clasp on the holster and pulling his gun out when he saw a flash of black and then he saw straight down the chamber of a gunmetal black Smith & Wesson five shooter. The next moment he fell to the floor, a pool of crimson blood slowly surrounding his head.

James Chatham stood there looking down at Marcus’ body as it gave its death throes, the smell of gunpowder and iron filled the air. The men at the poker table scattered out the door as he stood over Marcus’ lifeless corpse glancing at the hand that was wrapped around the stock of his six shooter. “Ain’t nobody eva’ gonna get the draw on ol’ James Chatham but I’m sure y’already knew that, didn’t ya Marcus?”

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lioness
post Jul 23 2008, 01:35 PM
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good story. bout time you wrote another.had to laugh at the name chatham lol.i'm from chatham county (IMG:style_emoticons/default/rolleyes.gif)
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