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Slaughter of Eagles
By William W. Johnstone J. A. Johnstone
PINNACLE BOOKSCopyright © 2010 William W. Johnstone
All right reserved.
Chapter OneFrom the MacCallister Eagle:
Statue of Jamie Ian MacCallister To Be Dedicated July 4th
The noted artist and sculptor Frederic Remington has, for some time now, been busy creating a life-size bronze statue of our founder, the late Colonel James Ian MacCallister. The work was commissioned by the MacCallister City Council and will be paid for by the city of MacCallister and the state of Colorado.
Governor Frederick Pitkin will be present for the dedication, and will be the featured speaker. Colonel MacCallister's children will be guests for the occasion, and will occupy positions of honor upon the stage with the governor. It is not mere coincidence that the dedication is to be held on the Fourth of July, for Colonel Jamie Ian MacCallister embodied all that was noble about our country and our country's founders. Festivities for the event are now being planned.
Falcon MacCallister read the article as he waited for his lunch to be served at City Pig Restaurant. The youngest son of the legendary Jamie Ian MacCallister, Falcon was the biggest of all his siblings. He had his father's size, with wide shoulders, full chest, and powerful arms. And, of all his siblings, he had come the closest to matching his father in reputation.
However, he did have two siblings, the twins Andrew and Rosanna who, in their own field, were just as well known. Andrew and Rosanna MacCallister were, according to a recent article in the New York Times, the "Toast of New York Theater." They had performed for every president from U. S. Grant to Chester Arthur, missing only James Garfield because assassination had limited his term to seven months. They had also performed for the Queen of England and the King of Sweden.
But they would not be present for the dedication of their father's statue.
That very morning, Falcon had a letter from Andrew and Rosanna, explaining they would be unable to attend because they would be closing one play on the fourth, and opening a new play one week later. Falcon had visited them in New York a few times, had gotten a glimpse of their world, and though he wished they could come for the dedication, he understood why they couldn't. He was going to have to explain it to his other siblings, and he knew they would not be quite as understanding.
"Hello, Falcon, it's good to see you."
Falcon looked up from his paper and saw the Reverend and Mrs. Powell. He stood.
"Brother Charles, Sister Claudia," Falcon said, greeting his old friends with a smile. "How good to see you."
"Please, please, keep your seat," Reverend Powell said. "It's a wonderful thing, isn't it? I mean our town getting a statue of your father."
"Yes," Falcon said. "When I learned what the city council had in mind, I have to admit, I was very pleased."
"I have been asked to give the invocation," Reverend Powell said. He chuckled. "I told them, I'm retired now. They would be better off asking young Reverend Pyron."
"I asked that you give the convocation," Falcon said.
Reverend Powell smiled. "I thought, perhaps, you did. Though I'm sure there are others who are imminently more qualified."
"Nonsense," Falcon said. "Who better than you? You and my father were very close friends, and, like my father, you were one of the founders of the valley."
"I confess, Falcon, that I am both honored and pleased to have been asked to do the invocation. I am very much looking forward to it."
"Won't you join me for lunch?" Falcon invited.
"Claudia?" the reverend deferred to his wife.
"We would be pleased to join you," she said.
Falcon called the waiter over to take their order. "Delay my order until theirs is ready," he said.
"Yes, sir, Mr. MacCallister."
"Now," Falcon said as the waiter left. "Tell me what is going on in your life."
"We are about to be great-grandparents," Claudia said. "Any day now."
"Think of it, Falcon. That makes four generations of Powells. What have we loosed on this unsuspecting world," the Reverend teased.
The Dumey ranch, Jackson County, Missouri
As Falcon and the Reverend and Mrs. Powell enjoyed their lunch, 750 miles east, at a small ranch in Jackson County, Missouri, young Christine Dumey had come out to the barn to summon her brother, Donnie, to lunch.
"Hey, Christine, look at me!" young Donnie shouted at his sister. "I'm going to swing from this loft over to the other one."
"Donnie, don't you do that! You'll fall!" Christine warned, but, laughing at his older sister's concern, Donnie grabbed hold of a hanging rope, then took several running steps before leaping off into space. The rope carried him across and he landed on a pile of loose hay.
"Ha!" Donnie said as he got up and brushed away several bits of straw. "You thought I couldn't do it."
"You are lucky you didn't break your neck," Christine scolded.
"Ah, you are always such a 'fraidy cat," Donnie said.
"Mama said we need to wash up for dinner," Christine called up to him. Donnie was eleven, towheaded and freckle-faced. At thirteen, Christine was beginning to look more like a young woman than a little girl.
"I'll be right down," Donnie said. He walked over to the edge of the loft and looked out the big window, toward the main house. He saw three horses tied up at the hitching post. "Hey, Christine, who's here?" he asked. He grabbed onto another rope, then slid easily down to the ground.
"What do you mean, who is here?"
"There are three strange horses tied up at the hitching rail."
"I don't know. There was nobody here when I came out to get you. Maybe it's somebody wantin' to buy some livestock."
Donnie shook his head. "We ain't got nothin' to sell right now," he said. "Papa just sold off all the pigs. Got good money for them too."
"You look a mess. Come over to the pump. I'll pump water while you wash your face and hands. I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't have pig doo on you, somewhere."
"It's on my hands," Donnie said. Laughing, he ran his hands through Christine's hair. "And now it's in your hair."
"Donnie, stop it!" Christine shouted in alarm.
"Oh, don't get so excited, I didn't really put pig shit in your hair," Donnie said.
"Don't be using words like that."
"Words like what?"
"How am I going to know, unless you tell me?" Donnie teased.
"You know exactly what I'm talking about. Hold your hands under the pump."
Donnie stuck his hands under the mouth of the pump and Christine worked the handle until a solid stream of water poured out. Then, wringing his hands to get rid of the water, Donnie and Christine walked into the house. As soon as they got inside they sensed something was wrong. Three men were standing in the kitchen, while Donnie's mother and father were sitting in chairs against the wall. Donnie's mother had cooked pork chops for dinner and one of the men was holding a pork chop in his hand. He had just taken a bite and a bit of it was hanging from his moustache. He was, by far, the biggest of the three. The other two men were not much taller than Donnie.
"Mama, Papa, what's going on?" Christine asked, the tone of her voice reflecting her concern.
"Children, these gentlemen are Egan Drumm, and Clete and Luke Mueller," Chris Dumey said.
"The Mueller brothers!" Donnie said.
One of the two small men smiled at Donnie, though the smile did nothing to ease the tension in the room.
"So, you've heard of us, have you?"
"I've heard you rob banks and trains," Donnie said.
"What do you think, Luke? We're famous."
"Shut up, Clete, you damn fool." Luke said.
"Where at's the money?" Egan Drumm asked. Using his teeth, he tore the last bit of meat from the pork chop bone, then tossed the bone onto the floor.
"What money?" Chris Dumey asked.
"Tell him what money, Luke," Drumm said.
Luke's pistol was in his holster, but he drew it and fired in the blink of an eye. The bullet hit Lillian Dumey in her left leg, and blood began to ooze down over her foot. She screamed out in pain, then doubled forward to grab the wound.
"Mama!" Christine shouted, and she ran to her mother.
"You son of a bitch!" Chris Dumey yelled angrily.
"I know you got a lot of money from selling your hogs yesterday," Drumm said. "So don't be playing dumb with me. I'm going to ask you one more time, where is the money, and if you don't answer, I'll put a bullet in her other leg."
"No, please! All right, all right, I'll tell you! Just don't hurt her anymore! The money is over there, in that vase, under the flowers.
Drumm nodded at Clete Mueller, and he walked over to the vase, picked it up, then threw it on the floor, smashing it. In the shards of broken glass, was a packet of bills, tied together with a string into one neat bundle.
"Ha!" Clete said, holding up the money. "Here it is!"
"How much is there?" Drumm asked.
Clete began to count. "Six hunnert dollars," he said after a moment.
Drumm smiled. "That's a pretty good haul," he said. "Two hunnert dollars apiece."
"That's an entire year's work," Dumey protested. "If you take that, how will I feed my family?"
"You won't have to worry about feedin' 'em," Drumm said.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean you'll all be dead." He shot Dumey down, and, laughing, Luke and Clete began shooting as well.
Some time later, Chris Dumey came to. For a moment, he wondered why he was lying on the kitchen floor, then remembered what had happened. Looking around he saw his wife, and both his children, lying lifeless on the floor with him.
There was blood everywhere. Dipping his finger into it, he began to write on the kitchen floor:
WE WAS KILT BY DRUM AND MUELLER BR ...
From there the letters trailed off and that was as far as he got before he died.
Egan Drumm and the Muellers rode hard, away from Dumey ranch, each with two hundred dollars in their pocket. They had ridden for a little better than an hour, when Clete spoke up.
"What do you boys say the next town we come to we get us a couple drinks and maybe a woman?"
"A woman, Clete?" Luke replied, laughing. "You want us to all share the same woman?"
"Well, why not? It'll be cheaper if we share one."
"I ain't sharin' a woman with nobody," Luke said. "What about you, Egan?"
"I ain't sharin' 'cause I ain't goin' into town," Drumm replied.
"Why not? We're far enough away, there ain't likely to be nobody aroun' here to know nothin' about what we just done. Fac' is, I doubt there's anyone here 'bout who has ever even heard of the Dumeys."
"That ain't it," Drumm said.
"Then what is?"
"I aim to go out on my own, now."
"Damn, Egan, you don't like us no more?" Clete asked.
"No, it ain't that," Drumm said. "It's just-well, think about it. We just kilt four people back there, and what did we get for it? Two hunnert dollars apiece. Two hunnert dollars, that's all."
"Two hunnert dollars ain't nothin' to sneeze at," Luke said. "Hell, if you was ridin' for twenty and found, it'd take you damn near a year to earn that much money."
"I know, I know, that's why I don't ride for twenty and found," Drumm said. "But I think I want to go out on my own, none the less. No hard feelin's."
"No hard feelin's," Luke replied.
As Luke and Clete turned their horses in the direction of the small town, Drumm continued to ride on in the same direction they had been going.
"Where do you reckon he's a'goin?" Clete asked.
"Who knows? He's got a burr in his saddle over somethin'," Luke replied. "Ahh, we don't need him. We'll find someone else to work with the next time we do a job, and when we do, it'll be a lot bigger than this one we just pulled."
"Yeah," Clete said. "We don't need him no more, no how."
Brownville, Colorado, one month later
In the Gold Digs Saloon Clete Mueller was talking with one of the bar girls. Talking was all he could do because he had already spent nearly all of the money he had gotten from the Dumeys.
Luke Mueller was playing cards with three others. Ollie Terrell was dealing the cards. He had only three fingers on his left hand. Bo Caldwell had a patch over his right eye, though a few minutes earlier he had removed the patch to scratch his eyebrow, and Luke saw there was no eye there at all, just a puff of scar tissue. The third man was Clarence Poole.
The Muellers had never met Terrell or Caldwell, but they knew Poole. They had served a little time with him in the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City.
"What the hell you dealin' for, Terrell?" Caldwell asked. "Hell, you can't even hold the cards proper."
"What do you care whether or not I can hold them proper? Hell, you got only one eye so you can't see 'em anyway," Terrell replied, and the others laughed.
"I like it when he deals. With no more fingers than he's got on that hand, that means he can't deal off the bottom of the deck," Poole said.
"You can tell he ain't a' doin' that," Caldwell said. "The onliest one of us winnin' is Luke Mueller. If I don't win somethin' soon, I'm goin' to have to get me a job some'eres."
"I've got a job for you," Luke said as he picked up the cards Terrell had just dealt.
"What kind of a job?" Caldwell asked. "'Cause I tell you true, I don't want to be shovelin' no shit out of a stall or nothin' like that."
"Believe me, it is nothin' like that," Luke answered. "It's quick, easy, and there's a lot of money in it."
"Ha!" Terrell said. "Where are you goin' to find somethin' that is quick, easy, and has a lot of money? Unless you're plannin' on robbin' a bank."
Luke looked at Terrell, but made no comment.
"What?" Terrell asked. "I'll be damned, that's it, ain't it? You're a' plannin' on robbin' a bank, ain't you?"
"Why don't you just go out into the street and shout it?" Luke asked.
Caldwell looked over at Poole. "You know this feller, Poole. Me'n Terrell don't. Is he serious?"
"You recruitin' people to ride with you?" Poole asked Luke, without responding to Caldwell's question.
"I might be," Luke replied. "That is, if I can find a few good men I can depend on."
A broad smile spread across Poole's face. "You know you can depend on me. I'm in," he said.
"What?" Caldwell asked. "You really are serious, ain't you?"
"Are you in, or out?" Luke asked.
"I'm in, hell yes," Caldwell replied.
"Me too," Terrell added, excitedly.
"What about Egan Drumm?" Poole asked.
"What about him?" Luke replied.
"Don't he ride with you and Clete? Where's he at?"
"I don't have no idea where he is," Luke said.
"So, what you're a' sayin' is that he ain't a' goin' to be a part of this," Poole said.
"That's what I'm sayin'."
"Good. I never liked that son of a bitch anyway. Don't know why you and Clete ever took to runnin' with him."
"When do we hold up this here bank?" Terrell asked.
Luke fixed a stare at Terrell, then he looked back at Poole. "Does this dumb bastard not know when to keep his mouth shut?"
"Who are you callin' a dumb bastard?" Terrell asked angrily.
"I'm callin' you a dumb bastard," Luke said coldly.
"Ollie," Caldwell said, reaching over to put his hand on Terrell's shoulder. "Don't get carried away here. You know damn well you don't want to get into a pissin' contest with Luke Mueller."
Suddenly Terrell realized how close he was getting to making a very foolish mistake, and he forced a smile. "Come to think of it," he said. "I guess I can be a dumb bastard from time to time."
Caldwell laughed to ease the tension, then the others laughed as well.
"To answer your question," Luke said. "It'll be tomorrow, over in a place called MacCallister."
MacCallister, Colorado, the next day
The Reverend Charles Powell and his wife, Claudia, were standing outside the bank when the teller, Clyde Barnes, opened the door to let them in.
"Good morning, Brother Powell, good morning, Mrs. Powell," the teller greeted. "You're here awfully early today. You must have some important business to attend to."
"More pleasure than business," Powell said. "We're going to Denver to see our new great-granddaughter, and I thought we might need a little walking around money."
"Walking around money? You mean you are going to walk to Denver? You aren't taking the train?" Barnes teased.
For a moment Powell didn't get it, then when he did, he laughed out loud.
Excerpted from Slaughter of Eagles by William W. Johnstone J. A. Johnstone Copyright © 2010 by William W. Johnstone. Excerpted by permission.
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