Read an Excerpt
A TOWN CALLED FURY Judgment Day
By William W. Johnstone J. A. Johnstone
PINNACLE BOOKSCopyright © 2007 William W. Johnstone
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe town of Fury sat on a large, open plain in the southwest of the territory. The land about it was mostly flat, although slightly rolling. And it was cut, north to south, by a creek-wide and deep in winter, and barely a trickle in summer. The settlers called it Fury Creek.
They had come west from Kansas City, those first settlers, and it was there that they had run across the legendary wagon master Jedediah Fury: the man for whom they had named their town, and the man who had died at the hands of the Comanche along the way.
His son carried on his legacy, however. Jason was little more than a boy when they left Kansas City, but he had taken hold like a man, shepherding the members of the train nearly to California. And once they elected him sheriff-behind his back, while he lay wounded-he had to stay, despite the strong call of higher education back East, and the promise of a career that did not include making himself the favorite target for every Apache or bandit that happened by.
And things were about to get much, much worse.
Outside the temporary Apache camp Three hours south of Fury
Lone Wolf rode at the head of a long line of braves, each one stripped, greased, and painted: battle-ready. They were great in number. Soaring Hawk had sent all the men he could muster on Lone Wolf's promise that this time, they could not, would not fail.
And Lone Wolf was a man of his word.
They had come up the pass yesterday, ridden all through the day, and camped south and east of Fiery Hair's house. Not so close that they could be detected, but not so far away that they hadn't taken two of Fiery Hair's cattle and cooked them for an evening meal. Fiery Hair had good cattle even if he was white, and even if he was a fool.
The whites had done nothing to them. But just the fact that they existed was a thorn in Soaring Hawk's-and Lone Wolf's-side.
They would take Fiery Hair and his woman after they took the town. And they would return with many tales to tell, and many cattle and many ponies.
They would return to Soaring Hawk in honor.
Fury, Arizona Territory
Jason ducked just in time to avoid catching a slug with his face. As he scurried backward, deeper into the alley, he wiped at his cheek. His hand came away bloody and bearing ragged splinters.
"Damn it, Saul, you nearly got me!" he shouted before he jumped behind a stack of packing crates. For the fourth time, his hand slid toward his holstered gun; for the fourth time, he stopped himself before his fingers could curl around its butt. Saul might have temporarily gone peach-orchard crazy, but he didn't have to.
For a while anyway.
But if Saul took one more shot at him ...
"Saul!" A new voice. Doc? "Saul, it's Dr. Morelli!"
Jason heaved a small sigh of relief despite himself. He'd thought everybody had taken to the hills-or at least the wagons outside the wall-a while back. At least, he'd figured the smart ones had.
"Jason? Jason, are you all right?" Morelli called. He was inside the stable and across the square, so far as Jason could figure.
"Been better," Jason called back. He touched his cheek again and pulled back, fingers dripping with fresh blood. He added, "Might be bleeding to death." That part, he added for Saul's benefit.
It seemed to have no effect, though. Another shot rang out immediately, followed by Morelli's shout: "Saul! Stop it!"
As deadly as the situation might seem, Jason had more important things on his mind, and Saul's momentary descent into madness was just one more thing to take care of. After all, Saul couldn't help it, Jason supposed. A man could scarcely be expected to deal with two children being born full-term dead inside two years. If he were Saul, Jason reasoned, he'd probably shoot up a town or two as well.
The street was quiet again, and Jason ventured forward to the alley's mouth, a few tentative feet at a time. He showed his face at the corner, then stepped into full view.
No slugs sang past his ears or pierced his flesh.
Saul's wilding time was over.
Jason shouted, "Doc? I reckon he's finished."
Dr. Morelli stepped forward through the door of the livery and held up his hand to Jason, waving it. After a moment, he turned to his left and began to walk up the street while calling, "Saul? Saul, where are you, old man?"
Saul must have answered, although too softly for Jason to hear across the street, because Doc Morelli stopped, shook his head, then opened the door of the mercantile and disappeared inside.
Jason let out his breath-a part of which he hadn't known he was holding-and started back toward his office. By the time he reached the northwest corner of the square and crossed the street to the jail, he glanced back and saw Doc Morelli guiding a hunched and sobbing Saul Cohen back up to his hardware store.
Under his breath Jason muttered, "Hope Doc gives you a big dose of that sleep juice of his, Saul." He opened the door and let himself into his office. "About two days' worth."
Now, he thought as he settled down behind the desk, thumbed his hat back, and pulled open the top drawer. Back to the important stuff.
Along about eleven thirty, redheaded Megan MacDonald, sister of the town's young banker, Matt, rode through the stockade gate into Fury and made her way up the street to the sheriff's office. She seemed, to anyone watching, to be riding with a purpose-her freckled face was set with a furrowed brow, her legs were stiff in the stirrups, and she sat the saddle as if someone had sewn an iron rod into the back of her dress.
She dismounted before the office, tied her horse to the rail with a quick but decisive twist of the reins, and marched to the door.
It was open, and Jason was behind the desk, practically buried in papers. Megan let the door slam behind her and stood there, her posture just as stiff as it had been all the way into town, just as stiff as it had been since she woke, once again, to the sound of angry voices.
Jason's head lifted, but the smile didn't stay on his lips for very long. "Megan. What's wrong?"
Megan pursed her lips, then spat, "As if you didn't know!"
Jason blinked a couple of times, and looked to be carefully choosing his next words before he spoke. "Megan, I've been sort of busy this morning, and I-"
But carefully chosen or not, he didn't have much time to get the thought out, because she cut him off with a toss of her head.
"Oh, no you don't, Jason Fury. We've been over and over this. And don't pretend you don't know exactly what I'm talking about. You've got to do something about Matt and Jenny!"
Jason let out a long sigh. Matt and Jenny must be at it again, as they had been almost continually of late. He shrugged his shoulders and said, "Megan, you know I predicted this from the start. But Jenny's the one who has to decide whether or not she wants out. Either she or Matt. I've told you-and I've told Jenny-that I'm not going to meddle in their business. I haven't since they got hitched, and I won't start now."
He'd told Jenny all right, told her on her wedding day. She'd made her bed, and now she'd have to lie in it. It didn't sound like she was finding it any too comfortable either.
Megan appeared to relax just a bit. At least, part of the starch seemed to go out of her spine, and she sat down in the wooden chair opposite his before her shoulders collapsed into a dejected slouch.
He leaned across the desk, toward her, and said softly, "Megan? Megan honey, I know it's hard, believe me."
He did know, probably better than anyone else. Probably even better than Megan, even though she was Matt's sister, and even though she was living in the same house with Matt and Jenny.
But he also knew that Megan didn't believe him. In fact, she pulled back from him with a jolt, spitting, "Oh, that's so easy for you to say, Jason!" She went to her feet and all the stiffness and starch, all the ramrod straightness, was back in place.
"I can see I won't make any progress here. Excuse me. I have errands."
And she left, turning on her heel and leaving a stunned Jason to suffer the echoes of a slammed door and rattling window glass.
* * *
With Saul finally down and sleeping next to his wife upstairs, Doc Morelli quietly let himself out the front door, checking to make sure the CLOSED sign was visible before he locked the door, and pocketed the key. He'd give it back tomorrow, he guessed.
He paused momentarily, then altered his direction. No, he thought. I'll just give it to the sheriff now and be done with it.
He walked up the street in time to see Megan's dramatic exit from the office, but by the time he reached the door she'd slammed out of, she had remounted and ridden past him at a fast clip. He thought she was going to speed it up into a gallop once she passed the break in the wall that opened onto the vast prairie outside of town, but instead, she reined in next to it and tied her horse. She walked around the corner and headed toward the wagons that had parked south of the wall yesterday.
As angry as Megan looks, she's going shopping? he wondered as he reached for the sheriff's office door. He surely wouldn't want to be a vendor this morning!
He pushed down the door latch and let himself in.
"Now what?" Jason snapped before his head came up and his scowl softened into a smile. "Sorry, Doc," he added, gesturing to the empty chair on the other side of his desk.
Morelli waved one hand and dug into his pocket with the other. "No, can't stay, just had a bit of business to take care of...."
His hand found the key and he stepped forward to place it on the desk. "That's to Cohen's Hardware," he said, pointing at it. "I just got Saul put to bed."
Jason nodded. "Medicated?"
Morelli's hand went to the back of his neck and his eyes closed for a moment. "Lord! It took half a bottle just to knock him off his feet. Jason, don't hold it against him. What happened this morning, I mean. You've just got to feel sorry-"
Jason stopped him with a wave of his hand. "Don't worry about it, Doc. I forgot about it already."
Morelli nodded. Jason was wise beyond his years, he thought, then said it aloud.
Jason made no remark except to say, "Go on, Doc. Get out of here. Heck, I'll go with you," he added, shoving back his chair and standing.
Morelli smiled despite himself while Jason came around the desk to join him. It was odd, especially with Morelli being Jason's senior, but at times the doctor felt oddly the junior of the two. He supposed this had something to do with Jason's having shepherded him-and all the others in the original wagon train-clear out from Indian Territory after the death of Jason's father, Jedediah.
Still, it was rather strange.
"Hungry yet?" Jason asked. He reached around Morelli to open the door.
Morelli glanced at the office clock. A quarter to twelve. "It's a little early for me," he said, stepping out onto the boardwalk. And he was thinking, Poor Jason! Jenny's gone, and you can surely tell it by his clothes. They're practically rags!
"A tad early for me, too, come to think of it," Jason replied, then tipped his hat. "See you later, Doc," he said. He turned on his heel and started down the street, toward Megan MacDonald's tethered horse and the wagons lined along the wall outside the southern entrance to Fury.
Chapter TwoWest of the Santa Rita Mountains A few days east of Fury
Richard Blake, a short, stocky pilgrim with his rifle at his side and his old, worn Bible beneath his jolting seat, drove the lead wagon in the tiny train, headed west for greener pastures. His wife, Laura, sat beside him, holding their first baby, the newly born Seth. Blake felt bad about that. He had promised his wife that they'd be long settled by the time the baby came.
Laura had voiced no complaint, though, God bless her. She was a treasure. His treasure. He listened to her coo to the baby, and he smiled.
A man who had just come east from California had told him of a town not too far distant: a town called Fury. He'd said it was much smaller than Tucson, if a fellow was looking for that, and that they had most of the modern conveniences: a doctor, teachers for the children, a good well in the center of town, and so on. There was already a preacher, he'd said, but not even half the town went to hear him preach.
And after the man confided in Blake at length, Blake understood why.
So Blake was thinking that perhaps Fury was the place for him and Laura to set down some roots. He'd said nothing to either Laura or their companions, though. If Carlisle was his middle name, then Caution was his nickname.
Beside him, Laura cooed to the baby again. Blake smiled, as if she were making those burbling sounds for him. He normally rode his saddle horse, Buck, but he'd opted to drive the wagon today so as to allow Laura to devote all her time to the baby. Buck was happily tied to the rear of the wagon, following along.
The morning was clear, the horizons were empty, and the world was before him. He led the other wagons onward, westward, toward Fury.
The town had been in existence only a scant two years, built by the bare hands of pioneers where before there had only been a broad desert prairie sliced vertically by a lonely-and sporadically flowing-creek. Distant, veiled mountains rose to the south, beyond which lay Mexico. To the north, even more distant mountains lined the horizon.
Fury was the name the townsfolk had given the small settlement, in honor of the famous wagon master who had started them westward, and died before they were halfway there. If any man had deserved the honor, it had been Jedediah Fury.
Now, nearly two years since the first walls of the new buildings had risen, since Saul Cohen had begun work on what now served as the town well centering the square, and since the partially built town itself had been attacked and burned by Apaches who rode in from the south, Fury had risen from the ashes bigger and bolder than ever before.
But men had been lost to the Apaches on that day. Others had been wounded, including Jason himself, who had been appointed town sheriff while he lay injured and unable to defend himself from his "friends" in town.
Jason's life had taken a new path that day, although he could barely know the beginnings of it. He still couldn't possibly guess at the whole of it.
Since the day of the attack, the people of Fury had been busy building it back, and building it bigger and better. In the process, some people had died and others had moved on-and some had traveled south, in pursuit of a thieving gang of Mexican bandits-but enough had stayed-and been joined by new influxes of pilgrims and wanderers-that the population had nearly doubled in size, the building boom had continued, and an outer stockade-type wall now completely surrounded the town.
Those who wanted to live outside the confines of the town did so more easily than ever, since there had been no more trouble from the Apache.
Close to town anyway.
Jason had even taken care of Juan Alba and his bandidos last year. At least, he thought he had. Today the mail had come in, and Prescott had sent out word that a new Juan Alba, taking the place of the old one, was on the prowl. Juan Junior or something like that, Jason reasoned.
Like father, like son.
Jason gave up on trying to go west to San Francisco, on trying to go anywhere that held anything like a college. He figured to be stuck with sheriffing Fury, trapped forever as surely as an unlucky butterfly pinned to a display board.
And he was at least partially right.
He shoved himself away from his desk in disgust. Why wasn't he braver? Why couldn't he just tell the mayor and the citizens to go to hell? Why couldn't he just pack a satchel and leave like other people did? Well, some other people. On the whole, the town was actually growing. Some folks headed back East, some headed farther west, but miraculously, more rode into their little town than rode out.
And they stayed.
He shook his head and muttering, "Idiots," walked toward the first wagon.
He didn't make it, though. The mayor nearly broke Jason's nose when he unexpectedly walked straight into him while carrying a couple of two-by-fours. The mayor's lumber hit Jason in the forehead and shoulder and knocked him back a few feet, cursing.
"Oh!" cried Mayor Kendall, and reached out toward the staggering Jason, whose hand was clapped to his suddenly smarting head. "Jason, I'm so very sorry! You all right?"
Excerpted from A TOWN CALLED FURY Judgment Day by William W. Johnstone J. A. Johnstone Copyright © 2007 by William W. Johnstone. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.