Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Chapter 3 – Forgiveness

Riding Tom’s horse was uncomfortable, but it did help speed up the search for his son.  John allowed the steed free reign as it trekked towards to what he had hoped to be one of the Beverly Brother’s lairs.  John knew the horse would eventually find its way back to familiar territory, and surely that would be the perfect opportunity for John.

Night crept in on the heels of a growing summer storm, giving him an uneasy feeling. He would need to seek shelter soon, before darkness and the storm overtook him.  Up ahead, he could make out the shadowy shape of a building forming on the horizon. The silhouette looked familiar, but he couldn’t place it.

As the thunder grumbled overhead, the shape of the building became clear. It was the old abandoned mission.  For years it had stood, welcoming strangers and offering a safe refuge from whatever unpleasantness the desert dished out.

John sighed in relief as he reached the entrance.  He slid off the horse and tied it to the post nearest the door.  He scanned the area looking for anything or anyone that might mean him harm but the winds from the brewing storm kicked up so much dust it was impossible to tell.  Unable to detect a threat, John turned around and headed into the mission.

The interior was dark, but the smell of fresh lilies filled the air putting him on his guard.  With each flash of lightning he could make out the benches and the cross hanging over the nave.  Thunder rumbled over head drawing his attention to the roof.  Not a single hole in the roof or a broken window. It was as if the building was still being used.

John turned from the door and made his way inside. From the corner of his eye, he caught a shadow moving through the darkness. Hand on his gun, he stepped further into the room and leaned against a pillar for cover.

“Who’s there? Show yourself!”

Silence filled the building.  He knew his eyes were not playing tricks on him, and his belief was confirmed when the shadow moved again, this time swooping from one side of the room to the other.

John figured it might be a barn owl.  He waited behind the pillar for the owl’s screech, but was greeted with more silence.  Peering around the pillar once more, he waited for the shadow to move again.  He found himself leaning further from the pillar as he listened for movement, but there were no sounds.  No footsteps, no animal cries, nothing.  Surely the heat hadn’t gotten to him already.

Standing up straight, John turned back to the door to find himself face to face with a priest.

“Can I help you?” the priest asked.

“I could have killed you.  Why didn’t you answer when I asked who was out there?”

“I’m sorry, I have trouble hearing. It’s the weirdest thing, one moment I hear like a young’un, and the next 
I’m deafer than a mule.” The priest said as he lit a candle by the door. “What brings you here?”

“I was taking shelter from the storm.”

“Storm you say? Turns out you are not the only one claiming to hide from a storm.”

“There is someone else here?”

“Why yes, he rode in right before sunset.  Since you both seem to be gun men, I remind you that you are in a house of God and should respect it.  That means no shooting and no fighting.”

“Not a problem,” John said.

They walked to the front of the mission, the priest lighting more candles along the way.  As the light filled the building, John could see the care put into its construction. It was more than a refuge from the tortures of the desert. It was also a place where people could worship and seek God’s comfort.

As they made their way into another room, John saw the stranger the priest had mentioned. He was sitting in a chair with his back to them. He had obviously been out in the desert for days. Dust clung to his sweaty skin, and the rusty desert sands had stained his clothes with a reddish hue.

“Gentlemen, I expect you both to be on your best behavior.” the priest said.

The stranger stood up and turned around. It was Bob Collins.  Bob was the Beverly Brother’s number one man.  He could kill a man and holster his gun before his victim’s lifeless body hit the floor. John quickly placed his hand on his gun as he stared into Bob’s eyes waiting for him to make the first move. 

“You boys gave me your word that you would respect this place, so kindly take your hand from your side and SIT!”

Wary of his nemesis’’ skill, John positioned himself in a seat where he could keep an eye on Bob. John was not as quick on the draw as he used to be, and he knew he wouldn’t stand a chance against someone like Bob. One wrong move and the man would quickly end his life.

“I see you two know each other.” The priest said attempting to ease the tension.

“This man is known for his careless acts of gunning down innocent men,” John said.

“Not anymore.”

“What do you mean ‘not anymore?”

“After the Beverly Brother’s did what they did to you and your kin, I knew something wasn’t right.  I can’t do those things to children.  That is where I draw the line. Sam Beverly told me if I didn’t like it to leave, so I did.”

“I don’t believe you.  I have seen the results of your actions.”

“Yes, against men who tried to draw against me. Believe me, sheriff, I would not have killed those men if I didn’t feel it was my life or theirs.”

“See, he is a changed man,” the priest said. “All can change.”

They sat in silence for most of the night but the tension between Bob and John was so thick even the priest grew uncomfortable.  The holy man shifted in his chair and stuttered in his talk no matter how many times 
John assured him he wouldn’t disrespect his rules.

When the sun peaked through the mission windows, John rose from his seat.  Exhausted he made his way out of the room followed by the priest and Bob. 

“There is forgiveness for everyone, no matter what they have done!”

John broke eye contact with Bob and looked to the priest. “This man is part of the group that took my boy.” he said.

“I’m sorry, but I recall him saying he left that.”

“All I care about is getting my boy back, and he knows where they took him.” John paused and looked to 
Bob. “Is he still alive?”

“He was when I rode out yesterday. Didn’t have a scratch on him.” Bob said.

John sighed inside holding a tough look on the outside so Bob wouldn’t think he was off his guard.  Knowing Billy was still alive ignited a spark of hope inside him. He planned to hit the trail again, but there was still one thing he needed to know. The question was: would Bob tell him? 

“You said you left the Beverly Brothers, so where are they?” John asked.

“Sheriff, you know there is a code. I can’t tell you that.”

“You said you drew the line at what they did to children. The least you could do is point me in the right direction so I can save my boy. We are still in the mission. Whatever you say here stays here, as far as I care.”

John watch Bob pause as he awaited an answer. John knew Bob would be marked for death if he helped, but John was willing to do the same if he didn’t help.

“Son, there is forgiveness in doing the right thing,” the priest said to Bob.

“I will point you in the right direction, but I can’t give you anything else.”

“That works for me.”

John stepped out of the mission and was blinded momentarily as his eyes adjusted to the morning sun.  He mounted his horse and said goodbye to the priest while Bob mad his way around the mission. As he headed away from the building, John heard the priest wish him luck in finding his son. He waved in acknowledgement and urged his horse eastward. Around the side of the building, he found Bob loosening his horse’s tethers. 

As John rode past, the faint click of a revolver being cocked reached his ears.

“Hey Sheriff,” Bob said, “I was looking for forgiveness, but your dead body will get me much more.”

Turning in his saddle, John drew his gun and fired. The bullet hit Bob in the forehead and threw his body to the ground.

“You’re forgiven.” John said as he turned away and rode on in search of his son.

Chapter 2 - The Dusty Gully

Several days had passed since John start tracking the Beverly Brothers.  Edward was right when he said their trail ended at the river, but what they missed was the torn shirt that was further up the trail. It was obvious that they had been dragging some kind of brush behind them to hide their tracks, but the torn shirt caught on the tree pointed their direction once again.

As John rode up to the tree he could tell it was his son’s shirt.  A sigh of relief passed through him. He could tell when they passed this point his son was still alive, but now that they have a few days lead on him, there was no telling what he might still find.

He followed their tracks and moved west as they headed into a gully.  As he approached the gully a gunshot echoed. His horse threw him, fell to the ground and landed on his leg.  Pain seemed to become a regular occurrence and one he could soon put aside. He struggled to get out from under the horse and take cover.

With his gun drawn he looked at every high point and any place that someone could shoot from, but nothing.  No movement, no sound, not even a puff of dust to show the shooter’s location.  He hid behind some shrubs hoping to see something.  The silence was broken as someone yelled out.

“Coming for your little one are you?”

“Who is that?” John yelled out.

“It’s Tom Johnson, sheriff!  You are not gonna get him!” Tom answered.

“Tom if you hurt him, I swear I will get all of you and HELL will follow with me!”

Tom cocked his riffle again and shot in the direction of John’s voice. He looked over the rock desperately trying to see John.  He could see his lifeless horse as it lay at the entrance, but not a single sign of John.

“What’s a matter, sheriff?  Did I get you?” Tom yelled as he continued to scan for John.

A breeze passed by and dust moved from behind a bush.  Tom aimed and shot at the bush.  He waited for the sound to confirm he shot John, but nothing.  The only sound he could hear was that of the wind as it whistled through the canyon and the snort of his horse that was tied up to some shrubs behind him.

“Where are you?  Come out and let me kill you SHERIFF! I can do this all day!” Tom yelled.

John sat behind a rise in the gully keeping his cover.  He focused on Billy and could sense in his heart that he was still alive.  He remembered on his ninth birthday when he walked up to John and said, “Pa, I want to be like you when I grow up.  I want to be a fearless sheriff too.”  As he finished he embraced John.  John felt so proud of his son.

An hour had passed as the sun reached full noon and baked on both of them.  It had positioned just at the point that not a single shadow could cover them from its intense heat over the dirt. John took a sip of water from his canteen, took his gun out and popped a shot in Tom’s direction.  Jumping to attention Tom shot back in the direction of the bush he thought John was at. 

“Come on Sheriff, let’s end this.  I know you can’t survive in this heat!” Tom said.

John knew he was right, sitting there would not stop him and he couldn’t get to his son.  He looked around and saw a way up to Tom.  He took some rocks and threw them at several bushes to draw Tom’s attention.

As the second bush moved Tom aimed and shot at the bush.  He cocked the rifle and shot at the other bush too.  He paused to see which would move again so he could fire the perfect shot and finish the John off.   
Another bush moved and he quickly jumped to his feet to fire at it.  As the shot echoed through the gully he saw a skunk move out into his view.

“Where are you Sheriff?” Tom yelled out.

“Right behind you!” John answered.

Tom turned to see John standing there with his gun in hand.  A look of shock played over his face as he quickly tried to position his rifle but it was too late.  John hit him knocking him to the ground and causing him to lose his rifle.

As Tom laid on his back he looked up at John and said, “How?”

“With all the noise you were making a blind man could have found you.” John answered.  “Now, where are they taking my boy?” He asked as he pointed the barrel of his six shooter toward Tom’s head.

“I don’t know.  They told me to slow you down.”

“Wrong answer!” John said as he pulled the hammer back on the gun.

“Honestly, that is all I know.  Besides you can’t shoot me.”

“Why’s that?”

“Because you’re the sheriff.”  Tom sighed.

“Wrong, I’m not the sheriff anymore!” John said as the hammer fell on the bullet.

(Chapter 2 - The Dusty Gully - Written by EW Bradfute)

Chapter 1 - Sheriff no more!

The wind blew through the grass, a peaceful whistle tickling his ears as he gazed across the field.  The dancing of the grass swayed like that of the ocean waves crashing upon one another. His thoughts came to an abrupt stop as his boy yelled out.  “Papa!” 

Opening his eyes, he found himself lying in the field with a sharp pain to his chest.  The bullet had pierced the skin and penetrated his ribs a sharp pain radiated through his body and made it difficult to move.  Cringing in pain he looked down to where his hand held his chest. Blood flowed out and painted his hand red.  His gun lay to his side. The sun’s rays splashed on his face and adjusted his focus away from his weapon.

“PAPA!” echoed through the field.  He looked around to find the source as a bullet whizzed by his ear.  Ducking for cover again, he remembered why he was in this field!  The Beverly Brothers had cornered him and his family.  They took his wife into the house but his son escaped and he’d been shot rushing to protect his child.  Panic and anger rushed through him all at once with the force of a bull hitting him in the chest.  He gathered his breath as anger took over and the fear of death became a dim light to him.

“Sheriff, your wife was so tender and sweet! Shame you won’t be with her anymore!” Bubba Beverly yelled out as the sound of the gun shot echoed.

Grabbing his gun the sheriff climbed to his feet and rushed to the house.  Gun shots echoed across the field as he hurried.  With an occasional look to his wound he cocked his gun.  As he rounded the corner one of their gang waited.  The sheriff lifted his gun and in one smooth motion he pulled the trigger.  The cloud of gun smoke surrounded him as he watched the thug’s lifeless body fall to the ground. 

He kicked in the door with his gun at the ready to drop any and all that would stand in his way.  The room was clear except for his wife’s lifeless ravaged body which lay across the table.  It was clear a single bullet took her life as his grief was quickly replaced by anger and a thirst for revenge as he heard his son call out.

“PAPA!” echoed through the thundering sounds of horses rushing past the house as the riders laughed and taunted the sheriff.

Weak from the loss of blood he staggered to the door with his gun in hand.  He quickly scanned the field, ready to end their lives as they did his wife.  Poking his head out he saw them ride across his land.  He fired his gun wildly hoping to take down any of them, but missed.  Barely able to walk he moved out the door to see them stop and reach down into the tall grass of the field.  They positioned their horses so he could see as they gathered his son.

“NO!” The sheriff yelled out.

They laughed and danced around on their horses and then rode off over the horizon with his son.  The sheriff fell to his knees as tears streamed down his face. Weak from all the action and loss of blood he fell to his face in the dirt.

Several days had passed when he woke up in the comfort of a bed.  The town doctor stood over him checking his heart beat on one side of the bed, on the other side of the bed his deputy stood looking concerned.

“John?  How do you feel?” The doctor asked.

“I feel like I was trampled by a herd.” He replied.

“Well, you gave us quite a scare, but you are doing just fine.  The bullet lodged into your ribs and didn’t go any farther.” 

“Where’s my Billy?” John asked as he looked to his deputy.

“We haven’t found him yet and we lost their trail.”  Deputy Edward said.

“What do you mean you lost their trail?  You are one of the best trackers I know!”

“That’s just the thing, I tracked them into the river and it is like they just disappeared from there.”

Struggling to sit up, John grabbed Edward’s arm and sat on the side of the bed. “You get my guns, any and all bullets gathered up. Also, get my horse ready.”

“You are not going anywhere you are not fit to ride.” The doctor blurted out.

John looked him in the eyes, darkness hazed over them “Do I look like I care if I live or die?  I want my boy before they kill him too.” Edward handed him his shirt and pants at the same time.

“But you are the sheriff!”

John took the badge from his shirt and threw it across the room as it stuck in the wall. “I am the sheriff no more!”  He said as he put his clothes on. “I am getting my boy back!”

“What do you want us to do with your wife’s body and your property?” Edward asked.

“Burn it, burn it all!  They defiled everything and I don’t want her body put in the ground like that!” John exclaimed as he loaded his gun.

(Chapter 1 - Sheriff no More - Written by EW Bradfute)

Monday, July 2, 2012

July and some more changes

July and some more changes

So it is a new month and a somewhat new me.  I can feel changes happening in my body with the weight loss, the biggest being, I have more energy. It is great but my body still suffers pain in the legs and hips and I am starting to get concerned about that.  It isn't normal, is it?  At least I wouldn't think it is.

Last week, I really was bad and had some foods that I said I shouldn't, but I also went the entire week with out my thyroid medicine.  Except for Sunday, I didn't notice any changes from not taking it.  Sunday, I pushed myself to the limits and was so exhausted by 7pm that I don't know if it was the lack of medicine or just being on the go that whole time.

So, I had to dig some questions up and their answers and I thought, you know there are people who ask the same question and really would like to know.  So...

Question 1: Does eating at night make you fat?

Answer: If your overall calorie intake is appropriate for weight loss or maintenance, it may benefit you to eat something after dinner.  Late-night calories will ultimately get used the next day (and even while you sleep). To keep your energy levels up, it is better to spread your calories out during the day when your body needs fuel. Aim to eat something every two or three hours. This will stabilize blood sugar levels and help you feel full and energized all day. If you do need a late-night snack, consider keeping it to 200 calories or less.

Question 2: Does exercise make you tired?

Answer: Yes, it starts that way because I have to push myself more with my disability, but as the body gets in better shape, most people feel exercising gives them more energy than before. Regular exercise can also help fight fatigue, improve your sleep, and manage your stress.

The eating right helps a great deal too, with all that bottled up energy you find yourself being more active and doing more things.  Before you know it you have a regular routine going and a great deal of thing accomplished.

My best example is now that I am getting the energy I find it harder to stay in one place, I am moving about the house looking for things to do.  I am helping to clean the house, move things around, and even just finding a reason to get out of the house even if it is to just walk about in a store or something like that. Oh and if you go to the store and are on a budget, DO NOT take money with you.  If you don't have it on hand you are less likely tempted to spend.

I have heard it said, mind over matter, and with diets, weight-loss, finances, and so much more it is true.  If you know you have money in your pocket you are more likely to spend it, the same with food.  You have those tempting chocolate donuts sitting on the counter and each time you walk into the kitchen to get a drink you find yourself looking at them.  Your mouth waters as you reminisce on their flavor.   STOP!  If you don't see them then you are not temped, but when you see them you are tempted and we are more likely going to give into that temptation.  See, mind over matter!  We are so supperficial that if we see it, we know we can get it, then we will.  However, out of sight, out of mind! Sad but true fact!

I am just as guilty when it comes to seeing things like that.  Honestly, if I had chocolate cake donuts in front of me with a tall glass of milk I would totally consume them all. Funny part is I am not craving them, I don't really care to have them, but I would give in to temptation if they were there.

It isn't until the end of August when I stand on the scale.  If I do go down a good amount of weight I am going to be a happy camper, but should it say I didn't lose weight, I am going to lose it.  I have been trying hard and working even harder to change habits and food.  If at that point nothing changes, then I will have to seek all the doctoral help I can get.  Sad part is sometimes we have to do that.

So how are you doing so far?  Is any of this helping you?  Let me hear from you!