Young Matt Bodine and Sam Two Wolves became blood brothers on the day the rancher's son saved the halfbreed's life, forging a bond no one could ever break. As years passed, a legend grew of the breed and the white man who rode togetherand who could jerk killing iron with the best of them...
Death In Snake Creek
Snake Creek is a shabby little Texas town ruled by a mean-tempered outlaw who fancies himself a kingKing Petty. He and his gang do what they want, when they want, and right now what Petty wants is the pretty wife of a farmer he just shot in cold blood. But Sam Two Wolves just can't stand by and watch as this King Petty drags the widow down the street, and before long he and Matt find themselves in the fight of their lives. It's a fight they never meant to startbut they sure as hell are going to finish it.
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BLOOD BOND #9 DEATH IN SNAKE CREEK
By WILLIAM W. JOHNSTONE
Kensington Publishing Corp.Copyright © 1994 William W. Johnstone
All right reserved.
Chapter OneKing Petty had no particular place to be and was in no particular hurry to get there. For all practical purposes, he ruled the town of Snake Creek, Texas, and the entire surrounding area. The few men who had dared to defy him had been buried a long time ago. The ones left alive were scared to death of him, including Richard Holt, the town marshal. There was not a man or woman alive who would argue with anything that Petty wanted.
He was involved in a variety of illegal operations, including cattle rustling, that gave him all the money he needed. His men could handle most of that work on their own. He had all the free booze and women he wanted at the saloons in town. Most days, he didn't even have to ask. All he had to do was step through the batwing doors and he found a drink in his hand and a woman on his lap. At twenty-three, he faced no major challenges, no major problems, and he barely knew what to do with himself. He almost wished for the days when men would face him in the street for an old-fashioned shoot-out, just for something different.
Though the morning was bright and full of promise, Petty paid little attention to the weather. He rode aimlessly through the countryside, passing the occasional homestead and scowling. He hadcontempt for the homesteaders as being weak and inferior, trying to make a poor living out of the hard ground, but otherwise the sodbusters meant nothing to him since they had nothing he wanted. In his mind, even the women weren't pretty. Once in a while he or his men would beat up a farmer or two in town, just for sport; but most of the time the homesteaders cut a wide path around him, and Petty let them go their own way.
Petty reached the top of a small hill and looked down across a field being plowed by a farmer and his team. His young son was working with him, helping to clear brush. Though it was only early morning, the two had already broken a heavy sweat, soaking their shirts. In the distance was a modest farmhouse. The outlaw laughed at the flowers that made a tiny splotch of color by the door. He spat and said with a sneer, "Sodbusters."
Normally, he would have just kept riding, but something told him to keep his place and continue to view the scene. Petty held the horse steady as he watched, though he became impatient easily. He was about ready to ride away, when the door to the cabin opened. A young woman stepped out, paused with her face raised to the sun.
The woman caught Petty's eye. She was as shapely as some of the saloon beauties that he was familiar with, but wore a simple dress that made her more appealing. Her long hair was tied up on her head. Petty's eyes followed her as she walked to the well near the house, pulled out the bucket, and started toward the field where the farmer was plowing.
The morning suddenly seemed a lot more interesting.
Petty rode slowly, following the woman. The farmer took the bucket. He and the boy each took a drink and wiped their mouths on their sleeves. The man kissed the woman and motioned to the boy. She picked up the bucket and started back to the cabin, followed by her son.
The outlaw let the woman and boy walk out of sight before he nudged his horse forward to where the farmer had already started his plowing again. The man was concentrating so much on his work that he didn't even notice Petty until the horse was almost in the field.
"Hello, stranger," the farmer said. "Can I help you?" "Maybe. Maybe not." The farmer was a little older than Petty, but not by much. He wasn't wearing a gun, and no gun was in sight. Petty shifted in his saddle to put his own revolver within easy reach. The farmer apparently didn't suspect trouble. He remained standing, hands still on the plow. Petty continued, "You own this place?"
"Working on it."
"That your wife?"
The farmer placed the plow handles to the ground.
"What's it to you?"
"I don't think I like this talk. You just keep on riding."
Petty loosened the gun in his holster.
"You telling me what to do? If I were you, I'd think twice before trying to boss King Petty."
The farmer narrowed his eyes.
"I've heard of you around town. Never thought to see you out here. Would you kindly move on? I've work to do."
"There. You did it again. Trying to tell me what to do. Now you've made me mad."
The farmer took a step back, looked around him. He had no weapon and no path of escape.
"Now, listen, Petty, I have no argument with you. I meant no harm."
"By damned, now you're whining. Now you really made me mad."
He pulled his gun, aimed, and shot without another word. The bullet hit the farmer in the shoulder. He fell to the ground, blood soaking his shirt. The farmer looked down at the blood in disbelief.
"What'd you do that for?" he asked.
"I felt like it," Petty said. "I can do anything I want." His voice was conversational as he asked, "What's your name?"
"Good. I sometimes like to know the names of men I'm killing."
He shot again, this time putting the bullet between the farmer's eyes.
Lilly Brandom was now carrying the bucket of water back from the field despite her son's offer to help. Tommy was ten, almost a man, but Lilly didn't mind him being a child just a little longer. He had worked hard in the field and still had plenty of chores waiting for him when he got back to the cabin. She could handle the water on her own.
Life on the homestead was tough, but it was the only life she knew. Her husband was a good provider, and she was loyal to him. She was proud of her son. She would not complain. Life was good, and unless something terrible happened, it would continue to be good.
Lilly even whistled softly as she walked.
She stopped in shock when she heard the first shot. Tommy also froze, then started to run toward the field where he had left his father.
"No, Tommy. Don't go back."
"But Daddy may need help!"
"Go to the cabin."
"No. We need to ..."
"Do as I say. Run to the cabin and get the rifle. I'll see what's going on. Now go!"
The boy took off, running faster than he had ever gone before.
Then the second shot was fired, and Lilly felt a sinking in her heart. Jack seldom had a gun with him. He didn't like guns, and didn't want having one on him to worry about. So the shots were fired by another. Perhaps it was just somebody target shooting, she told herself. Or perhaps somebody was shooting snakes, since there were plenty in the area.
Lilly ran back toward the field, but was blocked in midstride by a young man on horseback. Beyond him she could see her husband's body on the ground in the field. She couldn't see clearly, but knew he was dead.
"Your husband had a little accident," Petty said. "Got in the way of a bullet. A shame. Looked like a worker."
"You shot him. You killed him."
"No argument there. He made me mad. And he had something I want."
"You want this land? You don't look like no farmer."
"It's you I want."
Lilly put her hand to her mouth in surprise. She felt nauseous and wanted to get away. She was as trapped in the open as if she had been locked in a room.
"What do you want with me? That you'd kill my husband for?"
Petty laughed. "Old Jack must not have been much of a lover if you have to ask me that!" He rubbed the stubble on his chin. "But I've had enough fun for one day. I'll be coming back for you, my pretty widow Brandom."
"You can't get away with this. I'll tell the marshal. He'll see you hang."
The outlaw shook his head and laughed. "You don't get to town very often, do you? Widow, you have a lot to learn. And I'll be the one to teach you. I think that'd be a lot more fun than I've had in a while with the girls in town."
"Come back here, and I'll kill you. I have a gun."
"Yes, you will be fun! Widow, I'll be back. Anytime I feel like it. As many times as I feel like it. And there's not a damned thing you or anybody else can do about it."
Petty started to trot his horse back to town and was almost out of sight when Tommy returned with the rifle. He saw the body on the ground, and the tears in his mother's eyes.
"What do we do now, Mom?" he asked.
"First thing we have to do is bury ..." Lilly said, but couldn't finish the sentence.
Tommy was ten years old, almost a man. He returned to the cabin to get a shovel. His father had taught him not to cry. He would let the hurt come out later, when he was alone.
* * *
Matt Bodine and Sam Two-Wolves rode leisurely north. The dry country they had seen farther south in Texas had now given way to grass and trees. Sam took a deep breath and said loudly, "This is more like home! There's something about a warm spring morning that makes a heart glad!"
"Yeah, if your heart gets any gladder, you'll be bursting out in song. I'm not sure the world is ready for your singing!"
"I can carry a tune with the best of them. When I was in school back East, I was even a member of the glee club!"
"You mean that everybody was filled with glee when you stopped singing?"
"No, my singing was so beautiful that it brought joy to the hearts of all that heard me. Look it up. It's in the record books. That beats your record of spending two days and nights in the San Antonio jail."
"At least they didn't arrest me for my singing!" Matt said, laughing. "It was for that fight after calling out the crooked card dealer. How was I to know he was the sheriff's brother-in-law?"
Sam shook his head. "It did take a little convincing to get them to let you go, but again I saved your butt." He paused. "Hey, I don't think you ever did properly thank me for that."
"I've listened to you gloat about it ever since that time ... as well as listening to your singing. That ought to be worth something! Just do me a favor ... don't sing while we're fishing. I'd hate to scare all the fish away!"
Sam paused, scratched his chin, and said, "Who knows? My bright voice might call the fish to us."
The two men laughed as they rode and exchanged their mock insults. The talk was good-natured, because the two men were closer than friends, closer even than brothers. Matt and Sam had not just travelled many long miles together; they were blood brothers in the Cheyenne tradition.
Sam was the son of a great and highly respected Cheyenne chief and a beautiful and educated white woman from the East. Though from different cultures, the two had fallen in love and married in a Christian ceremony. Matt, the son of a rancher, met Sam when they were both kids. The two quickly became friends, with Matt spending as much time in the Cheyenne camp as his ranch home, and Matt was adopted into the tribe as a True Human Being, according to Cheyenne belief. Matt and Sam were joined by a ritual of knife and fire.
In many ways, they appeared similar and were often mistaken for brothers. Both were young, in their early twenties, handsome and muscular, over six feet tall and weighing over two hundred pounds, though Sam's hair was black and Matt's was brown. They knew each other well after riding over thousands of miles and surviving hundreds of fights. An unfortunate result of the many shoot-outs they had survived was that they were developing a reputation as gunfighters.
The two were natural warriors. Sam's father, Medicine Horse, had been killed during the Battle of the Little Big Horn after he charged Custer, alone, unarmed except for a coup stick. Before that battle, realizing the inevitability of war, the chief had ordered Sam from the Indian encampment, to adopt the white man's ways and to forever forget his Cheyenne blood. Though Sam had kept that promise, it often was difficult as he felt himself pulled in the direction of two different cultures.
Matt and Sam had witnessed the subsequent slaughter at the Little Big Horn, though that was a secret only they shared. During the time following the death of Sam's father, Sam and Matt had decided to drift for a time in an effort to erase the terrible memory of the battle. They were often mistaken for out-of-work drifters, but were actually well-educated and wealthy. Sam Two-Wolves had attended an Eastern college, graduating with honors, and Matt had been educated at home by his mother, a schoolteacher. Sam's mother had come from a rich Eastern family, and Matt had earned his fortune through hard work, riding shotgun for gold shipments and as an army scout and investing his money in land. Matt and Sam now owned profitable cattle and horse ranches along the Wyoming-Montana border.
Ahead of them flowed a clear stream past a stand of trees. Sam shook his head, breathed deeply. "I'm not even going to let you spoil my day!" he said. "It's just good to see grass and trees again. This place looks promising."
"It does look good. And I'm looking forward to some real fishing. It's been a while since I've had a chance to lean back and drown some worms." He stepped out of his saddle and found a gentle swell near the water. "This place is for me. Once I cut a pole, I'll be in good shape."
Sam got off his horse, then started to go through his packs. "You plan to catch anything?" he asked with a straight face.
"Enough to fill our bellies," Matt said.
"Think there's enough fish in that stream for that?" "Enough for a start."
"Then we need some more supplies. We're out of flour and just about out of salt. There's supposed to be a town a little farther down."
"You go on in and take care of the groceries. I'm going to get a head start on supper." He ran his hand along a sapling. "This looks like it'll do."
"The old ways are still the best."
"You bet." Matt added in a conversational tone, "You're just going in for a few supplies, right? Think maybe you can stay out of trouble this time? I'd hate to interrupt my fishing to rescue you from some mischief!"
"Just save some fish for me." Sam laughed. "I plan to be back by supper."
Chapter TwoIt was all Lilly Brandom could do to keep from crying as she rode slowly into town, her son beside her on the wagon. The sun was still shining, the grass was still green, but suddenly the world had changed. She had lost her husband; her son had lost his father. Jack had already been buried, since the thought of his body being torn and mutilated by the coyotes was more than Lilly could stand. There had been no time to grieve, and the full impact of the murder still hadn't hit them. She kept thinking about the fields to be plowed, the seed to be planted, the work to be done. She kept hearing her husband's no-nonsense voice in the house they had built together.
Lilly was working now from sheer guts, keeping her emotions under control until she could report the crime to Marshal Holt. She remembered that Jack used to say something about Holt not being much of a lawman, but with Jack gone she didn't know where else to turn.
As the woman drove the wagon into Snake Creek, she thought again about how the town was almost as ugly as its name. She had never liked the town, even though the acres Jack had bought outside of town were good ones. She compromised by letting her husband do all the errands in town while she stayed on the homestead. Sometimes he would bring back the latest news; but she usually preferred to talk about other subjects, and Jack finally stopped sharing the latest gossip with her. Lilly now wished she had paid a little more attention. She wondered how many friends Jack had in town and how many knew about the man who had murdered her husband.
The town was fairly new, but the buildings-a few stores, saloons, and gaming houses-already looked old and faded. She passed them by, barely seeing them, trying to locate the jail. Lilly jumped as she passed the Black Bull Saloon and a young man stepped out. King Petty tipped his hat mockingly and leered at her. Tommy clenched his fists and started to stand. Lilly placed her hand on his arm, stopping him, as the wagon passed.
The jail was at the end of the street. The building was small and looked in even worse shape than the rest of the town. A man lounged in a chair in front of the building. His belly stuck out of an un- buttoned shirt, and his suspenders were almost off his shoulders. Apparently he hadn't shaved in days. Lilly wondered why the marshal didn't run the bum out of town or put him inside the jail where he belonged.
The woman parked the wagon and climbed down. The unkempt man opened his eyes and watched her approach. He said nothing as she brushed past him and entered the jail, her son close behind. The room was a mess, with papers scattered on the floor and the cell doors open.
Excerpted from BLOOD BOND #9 DEATH IN SNAKE CREEK by WILLIAM W. JOHNSTONE Copyright © 1994 by William W. Johnstone. Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is about 2 blood brothers named Sam Two Wolves and Matt Bodline who fine themselves in a fight for their lives. Snake Creek is a small Texas town ruled by a fierce man known as King Petty. He and his gang of ruthless outlaws do whatever they please. Petty wants to get his hands on a Beautiful young women who is married to a farmer. Sam Two Wolves and Matt Bodline just can't stand by and watch this horrible man do everything he wants. I enjoyed this book while reading because it it an action filled book with tons of fighting, love, and mysteries. The young beautiful women has feelings for Sam and his actions for how he reacted on the street against King petty. The reason I recommend this book for you is that if you enjoy western shooting books, then you will enjoy reading this book written by William W. Johnstone. This book contains shooting, violence of course, and romance. This book is an alright book, its not the greatest western book you will ever read. I'm just saying that its a start if you know what I mean. Its not a boring book unless you don't enjoy reading western books at all. I believe that its the perfect book for most of you read.
Not as good as others by this writer