The sun sends its warm rays down onto the world, onto the trees, and onto the green, green grass of my home. God is in his Heaven as I lie here in my grave. I killed a man. I killed him out of fear, fear of losing my love. But I lost her anyway when they hung me from the old oak that stands out front of the courthouse.
My name ain’t important … hell, I ain’t important to no one no more, except maybe the worms that crawl through my body and feast on my rotting flesh.
I had me some bottomland, good bottomland, only forty acres, but it was mine. I had cleared it and planted corn and sorghum in the spring of ’85. I was a man in love. Her name was Faith and she was the most beautiful woman in the world, at least to me.
I’ve never been around womenfolk all that much, so I wasn’t prepared when I first saw her. I was in town for supplies. I had just finished loading the wagon when she walked by. She looked like an angel. Her hair was a golden color—the color of sunlight. Her eyes were gray. She made my legs quaver. I fell in love.
I did not see her again until the grange meeting. I went because the topic of discussion was to be water rights. I had my water, but if someone was going to take some of it, I needed to know about it beforehand. She sat stately in the front row. Nothing much was accomplished at the meeting. Afterward, I stood outside lighting my pipe when she walked up to me. She was so beautiful.
“Hello, Mister MacDonald, my name is Faith Simpson. My people own the land next to yours. We just moved here from the East and I’ve been wanting to meet you.”
That was the beginning. Before I knew it, her family had my water and she had my heart.
On the third moon of our meeting, we were betrothed.
Then, on a cold, dark night, I made the mistake of my life. She was standing on a chair, putting up curtains in my cabin. She was getting it ready for when she would live there. Jim Peters—from a ways up on the mountain—had come down on his way to town and stopped by when he saw the light in the window.
I know now that I was mistaken, but this is what I saw as I walked up to the cabin. Through the window I saw her in his arms. Now I know that she had stumbled and Jim had caught her before she hit the floor. But I didn’t know that back then. I pulled my gun and sent Jim Peters to another world.
It was a mistake. It was my blunder, and for that I lie here alone in my grave and try to feel the warm sun on the green, green grass of my home.
Our love was a soft love because we made no demands on one another; our lovemaking was soft and sweet. She was soft and gentle, and she gave me her soft and gentle love.
I’ve been on the dodge for two days now. There are men looking for me—who want to kill me.
It’s a long story, but anyway you look at it I am slated to die. The only thing that matters right now is that I get to Julie. I have to fade away, and I need her to go with me.
I was doing work for these guys and something went wrong. What went wrong is not important now. Just know they want me dead. However, my saving grace is that they do not know about Julie … yet.
I’m on my way to Julie … and I will be with her. We will live our lives together or I will be killed trying to reach her. They know my car, and men have been sent out to find me.
Julie lives off of Pico near the Sunset Strip. I drive by her apartment and see her car, she’s home.
I park a block away, and before getting out of my car, I slide the 9mm into my back pocket. Just as a precaution. My plan is to tell her to pack for an overnight trip. I’ll buy her whatever she needs or wants once we get to where we are going … if we get to where we are going.
I scan the neighborhood as I approach her building. All is clear.
She is happy to see me and I con her into thinking I am going to take her to the mountains for a two-day romantic holiday.
She has packed a bag that I am carrying and we are on the street when all hell breaks loose. The first bullet whizzes by my ear, the second hits me in the shoulder and spins me halfway around.
The first thing I do is push Julie to the ground, and then I pull my 9mm. There are three of them. The first is an easy target. He is only yards away; a bullet to his right eye takes care of him. The second is half hidden behind a Mercedes, it takes two shots and he is splayed on the street, his lifeblood flowing into the gutter.
The third assassin is running for his life; we are safe for now. But he fired at me when Julie was with me. He might have killed her and for that he must die. There are no pedestrians. I take my stance and take my time. When he is sighted, I squeeze the trigger. I do not wait for him to fall; I know that he is already dead.
I reach down and extend my hand to Julie lying on the pavement. When she is on her feet, I wipe the tears from her eyes and tell her that we have the rest of our lives to discuss what just happened, but right then we had to hightail it before the cops showed up. She didn’t ask any damn fool questions. Instead, she smiled at me, touched the blood seeping through my jacket, and said, “Let’s go.” That is one of the many reasons I love her.
That was three years ago. We are now living somewhere I do not care to mention. Our first child is on the way. Julie is so radiant. I found a job as a mechanic at a local repair shop and for the first time since I was a kid, I do not have to sleep with a gun under my pillow. We are very happy. Our love is no longer soft. It’s hard as granite, as hard as the earth upon which we stand. It is a hard love. A good love.
Here’s the follow-up to the Everything’s Jake story.
It’s two hours before dawn, moonlight shafts in through the open window. In a darkened corner, deep in the shadows, sits a woman. She has been sitting there for hours. She looks toward the bed. Lying on the bed is a man, a big man. The woman is crying, the man is snoring, and they are waiting. The man does not know that he is waiting … but he is.
What a mess I’ve made of things, thinks the woman. She recalls back five years when she was just a seventeen-year-old girl in Two Mule, Kansas. Back then her favorite saying was, “This may be Two Mule, but it’s a one-horse town as far as I’m concerned.”
Then the big man came to town; he was handsome in a rugged sort of way. Jeanie took one look at him and knew that he was her ticket to freedom. At that thought, Jeanie has to laugh. Freedom! I haven’t had a free day since I left home. But she did not know what was in store for her then. At the time, all she wanted was to get away, and Mac was only too happy to oblige her.
He told her he would take her to Chicago, maybe even New York. But when they left, in the middle of the night, they headed west. He told her he needed a grubstake and was going to do a little panning for gold. But Mac did his panning with a knife.
They would wander into a gold camp, set up his tent, and Mac would pretend to pan during the day, always out of sight of the others. What he did was mostly drink and sleep. However, at night as the men sat around the fire, he would ascertain the man with the biggest poke, as he listened to their talk.
After two or three days, when he had picked out his target, he would creep into the man’s tent as he slept, slit his throat, and take his dust. Then he and Jeanie would hightail it out there. When you traveled with Mac Conway, you were always leaving places in the middle of the night. And tonight, thought Jeanie, as she sat in her corner, will be no different. Mac, you’ll be leaving in the night, but not with me … not this time.
It wasn’t long before Jeanie cottoned to what Mac was doing. That didn’t bother her too much, but what stuck in her craw was the fact that Mac had no intention of taking her to Chicago or anywhere else but two-bit tank towns. That’s when she first ran away from him.
As he lay passed out, dead drunk, she had lifted his purse and what dust she could find. Her big mistake—if you don’t count her not killing him outright—was leaving his horse.
He had caught up with her pretty fast and gave her a good beating to teach her not to do anything like that again. He said, as he beat her, “You belong to me and if you ever leave me again, I’ll kill ya!” It was then that Jeanie knew she would need the help of a man if she was going to escape Mac.
It was fourteen months before she found the right man; at least he seemed right at the time. Jake was full of talk of all the places he’d been. He said he was passing through town on his way to California where he was going to buy a ranch and raise cattle.
Once she had Jake picked out, she worked on him when Mac wasn’t around.
“You’re not afraid of him, are you?”
“No, of course not.”
“Then you’re the man for me. We can be one hundred miles gone before he even misses me. And don’t worry; he’ll be glad to be quit of me.”
However, after they left and word got around that Mac was looking for them, Jake started to go to pieces. He was always looking over his shoulder and saying things like, “How far back you reckon Mac is?” Or, “I don’t think we’d better stay here more than a day. Mac could be close by.” It was enough to drive a person crazy, thought Jeanie as she sat in her chair, in the corner, in the dark.
After eight months of Jake jumping at every bump in the night and loud noise during the day, she’d had enough of his frightened ways and started to play the piano player, no pun intended. Well … perhaps some pun intended.
The beautiful thing about Señor Piano Player was that he didn’t know of Mac, but Mac soon found out about him. When Mac finally caught up with her and the piano player, he didn’t beat her, he did not kill her, he simply told her she was responsible for the death of two men. He took great joy in telling her how Jake Tapper had died. So, two men were now dead and she was still with Mac.
If she was to get away, she would have to take care of things herself.
It was now a month later and they were in a new town. Mac came in every night roaring drunk. Some nights he would ravage her; other nights he’d just pass out. That is what gave her the idea.
She could have lifted his gun out of the holster as he slept. It was always hanging from the bedpost at night. And she could have pulled back the hammer, placed the barrel in his ear, and squeezed the trigger. But, that is not a woman’s way. And besides, she would most likely be hung for murder if she did it that way.
That afternoon, she had gone to McGuire’s Emporium and bought a bottle of laudanum, which is also known as tincture of opium. Before she left, she asked Mr. McGuire how much was safe to take.
“One tablespoon is alright, two if you are in a lot of pain.”
“How much is dangerous?”
“It depends on body weight.”
“What would happen if I drank half the bottle?”
“You would go to sleep and die.”
“Thank you, Mr. McGuire.”
“Good day, Jeanie. Say hello to Mac for me.”
Like everyone else in town, McGuire was fearful of Mac Conway.
Jeanie returned to the hotel, and before heading upstairs, stopped at the bar to buy a bottle of Mac’s favorite whiskey.
When she was alone in the confines of her room, she poured half the contents of the whiskey bottle into the wash basin. She then uncorked the laudanum and poured all of it into the bottle. Laudanum has a bitter taste. Jeanie was hoping Mac’s inebriation and the whiskey would mask the taste.
That night, Mac slammed opened the door when he returned, he was drunk as usual. As he reached for her, she said, “Hello, lover. Let’s have a drink first.”
Jeanie knew that Mac never declined an invitation for libation. She went to the table and poured a portion of the doctored liquid into a glass. Mac, as she knew he would, grabbed the bottle from her and took a healthy swallow. Well … it would have been a healthy swallow if not for the laudanum.
She was able to keep away from him until the bottle was empty, then she guided him to the bed where he sat for a moment, his head hung low, before he fell backwards and passed out.
That had been hours ago. Now Jeanie sat and waited—waited for the son-of-a-bitch to die. Just before sunrise, the snoring stopped. She hesitated for only a moment before going over to the bed. She had to know.
Yes, he was dead.
Before leaving the room, she went through his pockets and took anything of value. Then she went out to meet the rising sun.
She passed him every day. He was young, well built … and he was handsome. Just her type. She had tried everything to attract his attention. She had dressed provocatively, she had loitered, she had even taken a pratfall hoping he would come to her rescue, but some busybody stuck his big nose into her business by helping her up from the sidewalk where she lay waiting for Mr. Right to come to her aid.
In desperation, she came up with a plan. It centered on his profession. She would make some work for him and be there when he arrived. Then let him ignore her!
The plan was daring. A few blocks from where she saw him every day was an abandoned building; she would simply set fire to it and wait for her dream man to come to her.
You see, he was a firefighter. She walked past the firehouse daily, and that is where she saw the love of her life talking to his mates—paying her no mind.
The fire had spread fast and became larger than she had envisioned. But she stayed in place, awaiting her dream man. Finally he came. Now she could show herself at the window.
There he was—just below her—only a few feet away. His arms were reaching out to her and he was telling her to jump.
You bet I’ll jump, big boy—catch me!
In mid-air and halfway to his waiting arms, she thought, There must be an easier way to meet a man.
It’s 3:07 a.m. and I am thinking of you, my love. I am also thinking, How did I ever get myself into a mess like this? I am hiding in a culvert—a cement pipe—under a farm road I found myself on; I am a hunted man. Still, my thoughts are of you. The water flows around my ankles, and it is cold. For the moment, I’ve thrown the hounds off the scent. I hear their barking and baying retreating in the distance.
Perhaps, my love, I should start at the beginning.
Do you remember the last time we saw each other? It was a week past, at the church social. You wore your pink gingham dress. You know, the one I like so much, the one with the purple and yellow flowers on it. And you had on the sunbonnet I bought you for your birthday. You sure were a pretty picture. Well, that’s where all the trouble started.
I reckon you wondered what happened to me that night. I mean, why I never came back when I went to get you some punch. You remember that fella that came up to us and asked you to dance and I sent him on his way, telling him you were spoken for? That was Jess Baker; he lives up by Big Gap. Him and his family been croppin’ up there since Ol’ Dan’l Boone was in Congress, before that even. The Baker boys are a mean lot; they don’t take kindly to a slight, real or otherwise. And Jess’ uncle is deputy sheriff up in that neck of the woods.
Well, my love, this is what transpired. I was standing in line at the punch bowl when Jess comes up to me and says, “Thar’s a fella outside running down your woman. If she was my woman, I’d let no man talk the way he’s a talkin’. I’d have to do somethin’.”
I should have let it go, but what Jess was sayin’ just got my dander up. So I asked him to point the fella out to me. He agreed to do so, and together we walked out into the night. As soon as we got outside, Jess says, “He’s over this a way,” and led me ’round the corner of the church. And, my love, that is the last thing I remember until I woke up tied to a hitchin’ post.
Standing over me was Jess, his brother John, and their uncle, the one I told you about—the deputy sheriff. His name is Samuel. They must have thrown a bucket of water in my face to bring me ’round, because the drops were still falling from my hair onto my face.
When they saw I was awake, Jess grabbed me by the hair and pulled my head back so I had to look right into his mean brown eyes. He said, “Us Bakers is a queer bunch, when insulted we just gotta do somethin’ ’bout it.”
When he had had his say, the other two laughed. I knew those words, and I knew the laughter did not bode well for me. The three of them then went into the house and that is the last I saw of them until the next morning. I was left tied to the post all night.
Natural to say I didn’t get much sleep that night. When I heard the Baker boys emerging from the house in the morning, I feigned being out. But through the slits of my eyes, I saw Jess pick up the bucket, walk over to the pump and fill it with water. He walked back to the post and threw the water straight into my face. I pretended to come ’round, and he said, “We got chores to do, you stay right thar. We’ll be back presently, then we aim to have us some fun.”
As they walked away, I tried for the hundredth time to free my hands. My arms were behind me, one on either side of the post, and my hands tied at the wrist. During the night, I had rubbed the skin from my wrist. It hurt awfully to continue trying to get free, but I knew other things would hurt even worse if I was still tied and waiting for the Bakers when they returned at the end of the day.
The morning drew on; the sun beat down on me, causing a powerful thirst in me. As the noon hour approached, I heard the Bakers returning, so I once again pretended to be out in the hopes I might get another bucketful of water in the face. I was hoping that this time I might catch some in my mouth. My head was hung down, and looking through the slits of my eyes, I saw Jess’ boots stop and stand before me. Then I heard his brother John say, “Not now, Jess. We gotta eat and git back to work. ’Sides, we promised Uncle Sam not to start nothin’ till he got back.” With those words, Jess kicked at the ground, hitting my chest and chin with earth.
After they had returned to their work, I redoubled my efforts to get free. The pain in my wrists was unbearable, and my arms had gone numb. But I persevered, and along about sundown, I slipped one of the ropes. I was frantic; I knew they’d be along anytime. I managed to slip the remaining rope, and I was free. My arms were still too numb to do anything but hang limply at my sides. But I needed water bad, so I got to my knees and flung my arms around the crossbar of the hitchin’ post. And using the crook of my elbows, I hoisted myself up.
Once up, I staggered, more than walked, over to the pump and knelt before it. I grabbed the handle with both hands, put my head under the spout, and pumped that cool water onto my face and into my mouth.
When I had quenched my thirst, I stood and listened—nothing. The sun was below the horizon, but there was still a little light and I still had a few minutes before they returned, I hoped. I went into the house looking for a weapon; about then my arms were beginning to get their feeling back.
It was dark in the house and hard to see, but after a moment, my eyes adjusted to the gloom and I saw an old-fashioned single-shot rifle leaning against the bricks of the fireplace. I went straight for it, lifted it, and checked to see if there was a cartridge in the breech. There wasn’t. I looked about for a box of cartridges but saw none. I had to move, they’d be back anytime now. I took the gun. I could use it as a bluff or at least it would make a dandy club.
As I was leaving, I saw the two brothers walking up the road. I darted back into the house and made my way to the back, slipped out of an open window, and ran into the woods. I knew that the moment they saw I was gone, they’d be after me. And I knew from talk that the Baker boys could track anything … some said they had Injun blood in ’em.
As I ran into the woods, I made my first mistake—well, my second mistake, if you count leaving the church with Jess in the first place. I had never been to the Baker place, and I didn’t know if I was north or south of Big Gap. Their cabin stands at the foot of the mountain, so I knew it wasn’t east or west. Then I thought that even if I knew my way into town, Sam Baker was the law, and if he saw me, he could haul me away before I could say a word. So I decided to go up the mountain.
My only advantage was that they wouldn’t know how long of a start I had on them. For all they knew, I could have been gone for hours. Or so I thought. As I was walking deeper into the woods, I heard, “Hey you, we know you ain’t far, the earth is still wet under the pump. As soon as we et somethin’, we’ll be a comin’ for ya.”
If they were going to give me a few minutes start on them, I thought it prudent to use the time to think, and not run. What was my plan to be? You know me, my love, I’m a city boy; stalking, and tracking is foreign to me. I’ve never hunted in my life, and now I am the hunted. I needed a plan to first of all get rid of Jess and his brother, and then to get to a place of safety, anywhere but Big Gap and Sam Baker.
So, my love, this is the plan I came up with. I would go halfway up the mountain and circle around to the east and descend, and just hope I reached a place of safety before the Bakers caught up with me. It’s just too bad things didn’t work out that way.
But I’m getting ahead of my story. By the time I decided on my plan of action it was full dark, so going up the mountain side was slow work. I ran into trees, hit my head on low lying branches, and tripped and fell over logs and large stones a number of times.
Just when I’m thinking that there was no way in hell that the Bakers could track me in the dark, I saw the light of a lantern below me, maybe three or four hundred yards down the mountain. At this rate, they’d be upon me in no time. So I did the unexpected, what only a man filled with fear would have done. I climbed the nearest tree and went right for the top.
You know, my love, sometimes the unexpected works. They passed right under me and continued up the mountain. I sat on my perch and watched the lantern grow dimmer and dimmer until it was out of sight. At that point, I decided it best to stay where I was until first light. Blundering around the mountain in the dark would only have brought the Baker boys and me together.
The next morning, I climbed down from the tree and set about trying to get back to you, my love. That is the thought that has sustained me throughout this week. Just so you don’t have to relive the entire week with me, I’ll just say that I got lost up on that mountain. The Bakers, with Uncle Sam’s help, brought in dogs to hunt me down.
Just know that I got lost on the damn mountain. I’ve gone a week without real food. Oh, I’ve had some grubs and some worms. Even found some berries yesterday. I’ve been licking the dew off leaves in the morning to quench my thirst. And for the whole week, the Baker boys have been one step behind me.
This morning I finally made it down the mountain. I don’t know where I am; as I’ve said, it seems to be a farm road … wait … the hounds … they’re comin’ back this way. You know, my love, there is a time when a man has to be a man. I think my time has come. Know that I love you, and I would have asked you to be my woman if this had not happened.
The baying is coming closer. I will not be hunted any longer. I will not hide any longer, my love. I will stand up and be a man, or at least die as one. Please, my love, come walk with me, give me strength. I am leaving the culvert now. I see the men in the distance. It is my intention to walk up to Jess, or one of the others, and take a stand.
They are firing their guns at me now. Bullets are passing me. The ones that are close to my ears sound just like bees flying by. Stay with me, my love. I fear not when you are with me.
A bullet has just hit me in the shoulder, but has not knocked me down. Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt. I will continue my march of freedom. I will not stop until I am dead, or they turn and walk away.
I’ve just been hit. I know not where, but I am lying on the ground. I’ve tried to get up, but I seem to have no strength. Is it because of the wound, or the lack of food?
Things are nice now, I am at peace. I’m looking up at the bluest sky I have ever seen. And the clouds are so beautiful. Look, my love, you see that one? Doesn’t it look just like a dog?
It’s getting dark on the sides. I mean my vision is like I’m looking through a tunnel of some sort. And the tunnel is getting smaller. I can’t see all of the sky. I can see only that one cloud … you know, the one that looks like a dog. Now, I can see nothing. I think I am dying, but dying with you by my side is so sweet.
’Nough said … good-bye, my love …
If anyone feels so inclined, I’d appreciate it if you’d like my Facebook page. You can click on the button on the right side of the page. Thank you.
I took John’s six-shooter out of its holster and shot the son-of-a-bitch in his right knee,blowing the kneecap all to hell and back. That wiped that snake smile from his face.
He fell out of the chair, shrieking in agony. It was music to my ears. As he lay on the floor holding his bloody knee and making all sorts of noise, I collected the cash from the desk and slowly, very slowly, counted it. Yep, it was $10,000.00 alright. By the time I finished counting, he had quieted down just enough to hear what I had to say.
With the cash in one hand and the six-shooter in the other, I left Larimer with these words: “My name is Molly Lee and I want you to remember it for the rest of your miserable life as you hobble about on your crutches. That’s M-O-L-L-Y L-E-E! And Molly Lee can take care of herself!”
Molly is about to set off on the adventure of a lifetime . . . of two lifetimes.
It’s 1861 and the Civil War has just started. Molly is an eighteen-year-old girl living on her family’s farm in Virginia when two deserters from the Southern Cause enter her life. One of them–a twenty-four-year-old Huck Finn–ends up saving her virtue, if not her life.
Molly is so enamored with Huck, she wants to run away with him. But Huck has other plans and is gone the next morning before she awakens. Thus starts a sequence of events that leads Molly into adventure after adventure; most of them not so nice. She starts off as a naive young girl. Over time, she develops into a strong, independent woman. The change is gradual. Her strengths come from the adversities she encounters along the road that is her life.
We follow the travails of Molly Lee, starting when she is eighteen and ending when she is fifty-six. Even then Life has one more surprise in store for her.