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Monday, December 15, 2014

THE FOURTH MAN - Chapter 1

Today begins a new Continued story
 I am sharing Chapter one at:  “Tell Me a True Story.”
They needed a Fourth Man to Rob the Train !

The year was AD 1869

The things written here may not be in the exact chronological order because I have written them down as they came to mind.
I tried not to leave out any short comings of the family but had to include the fact we are a passionate group. One other trait from my father was we didn’t put up with any foolishness from anyone and took steps to let people know that was the case.  

Our land was practically without law so we settled issues ourselves, hopefully without making mistakes.

Lester Riley

First off I must admit I have been a bit wild, even more than boys my age. I started packing a six shooter at the age of twelve and by fourteen I could hit almost anything I aimed at.  Before that I was just a chore boy trying to get by the best I could because my folks had died.

I was limited somewhat by the cost of ammo and even though I reloaded my shells it was enough to keep me broke.

I learned to fight using the get whipped method. That is where you get whipped every time you fight.  However by the time I was eighteen I never lost any more fights. It wasn’t because I could whip everyone but because I could size up potential opponents and leave the ones I figured were too tough alone. There were other ways to deal with them without me suffering pain.

The gang of four

When I was about sixteen and in the back of the saloon I overheard two men talking about robbing a train. It seems one of the men had been badly treated by the rail company. His way to get even was to rob them and get rich at the same time.

He thought about blowing up some tracks and other acts of devilment but that would only cost them without improving his status.

As they talked they decided they would need at least four men to handle the job. One man said he knew one guy but they would still need one more. I was intrigued by the thought of doing something so daring; so simply put I volunteered to be the fourth man.

I told them to call me Les for my name was Lester but they liked the name Riley so they called me that.

The three men, Lem, Jimbo, Lazarus, and me, Riley waited until a large payroll was going through. Our plans were simple just get in and out quickly.

On the day we intended to rob the train they had to add an extra car for there was a large passenger list. We blended in separately and only got together when it was time to make our move.

I went over the baggage car and up into the engine. After making the engineer and fireman jump off the moving train, Lem disconnected the passenger cars.

Once we had control of the train it was going to be easy or so we thought.  

I stopped the engine about five miles down the track from the passenger cars while the three other men tried to get the baggage man and the guards to open the doors.

They chose to fight and after Lem blew the door open with dynamite a few shots were fired and only me and Jimbo were left standing. After we broke open the strong boxwe put the engine on a slow speed and sent it ahead down the track while we left on some horses we had hidden near where we stopped the train.

Soon after we made our getaway we separated and I was to meet up some time later with Jimbo who was taking the money with him. I showed up at the appointed place but Jimbo wasn’t there.

While emptying the safe I had managed to grab several bills and put them in my saddle bags as we left so I had plenty of money to live on while searching for Jimbo.

Time to collect my share

It was a year later that I got a lead on where he might be. I took my time checking him out to make sure he was the right man for I didn’t want to be wasting my time on the wrong guy.

He had shaved his beard off and cut his hair short. It changed his looks completely but eventually I was sure it was him.

He had bought a large ranch but was shy of having any stock save for a few horses.

As I rode in I saw out of the corner of my eye a guy with a rifle in the barn loft.

I rode up to Jimbo and said howdy Jimbo. It looked like he wanted to deny it was him but thought better of it and said “Howdy Riley.”

I said, “I guess you know why I’m here?”

He said, “I’m not sure why don’t you tell me.”

I said, “It is pretty simple; I want my half of the take.”

He said, “Don’t you mean your fourth?”

“No I mean my half for there is only two of us left.”

At this point I realized this conversation was over. I knew there was a rifle pointed directly at me and then I heard the click as he put a bullet in the chamber.

I dropped off my horse and jumped behind a watering trough and shot Jimbo as he was reaching for his gun.
The guy in the loft was shooting at the watering trough but the bullets didn’t penetrate the heavy wood and water.

I finally got a shot at him and put him down.
After it was over I thought that was dangerous but found myself unperturbed as I looked at the two of them.

No See Nothing
I went into the house where I found a Chinese cook cowering behind the stove. He was saying over and over; “No see nothing, no see nothing.”

I told him to keep it that way.

We buried the two men and the cook started calling me; “New boss man.”

After we buried the men Lo-Chen (the Chinese cook) showed me around the place and said; “Men, cows come soon.”

I didn’t get it but didn’t ask any questions about what he was trying to say. I put my horse in the corral and fed him after which I was moved in.

While looking everywhere for the money that I was sure it would be here in the house if there was any. I found a loose board in the bedroom and under it was a large sum of money. I figured He must have bought the ranch for cash but yet he still had most of the money left.

Meet the new ranch owner

After Lo-Chen fixed me some food I went through the large oak desk and found all the papers relating to the ranch. I signed the deed over to myself after practicing Jimbo’s signature all afternoon.

The next day me and Chen (I now call him Chen) went to the county seat and filed the deed. The clerk said Jimbo sold out rather quickly didn’t he? I said I wanted the ranch and paid more than it was worth so he decided to take it. That seemed to satisfy him so that was finished.

We went shopping and stocked up with all the staples we needed and some stuff Chen said we ought to have on hand.
I asked him why we needed so much stuff for just the two of us and he said; “Men, cows come.”
To Be Continued

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