Davidson the Tracker
Most residents in the town of Millsboro were still asleep as the sun broke the horizon. Down the center of main street walked a lone slender man. The man’s name was Davidson. With long strides, he was heading towards the Woodchuck Stables and Saloon. Slung over his left shoulder was his saddle bags and in his right hand was his rifle. An, 1874 .50 caliber breach loading Sharps rifle. The rifle had a tarnished brass William Malcolm Scope mounted on top. Holstered on his right hip was a Le Mat revolver. The Le Mat was chambered in .42 caliber center fire with a secondary .20 gauge short shotgun barrel under the primary.
Davidson stopped several feet in front of the saloon’s steps. Reaching into a pant pocket he took out a half smoked cigarette and a match. Striking the match on the heel of his left boot he lit the cigarette. The cigarette hung from his lips as his eyes scanned over the Woodchuck. The roof tops, the windows and then down to the doors and the surrounding street. After one long drag on his cigarette Davidson put it out on his boot. He placed what remained of the cigarette back into his pocket. Un-holstering his Le Mat revolver Davidson set the hammer to half cock then adjusted the firing pin to fire the shotgun barrel first. He then re-holstered his revolver.
Davidson resumed his walk. He headed past the doors of the saloon and around the right corner of the building. Coming up to a gate, he opened its rusty latch and walked around to the back of the building. Rounding a corner to his left, the stables came into view. The stables, while operational, were in a general state of disrepair. Standing in front of the main barn he saw Zane. F. Straub. Standing next to Zane was a young potbellied man. Both Zane and the man had their horses saddled and their pistols holstered. The saddles bags on the men’s horses were fat with supplies.
Davidson waved towards Zane.
“Perfect, the boy got my message to you,” said Zane.
“Yup,” Davidson replied.
Davidson took a handkerchief out of his back pocket and wiped his forehead.
“My friend you are looking skinny, back to the whiskey dinners?” Zane asked Davidson.
“Bourbon,” Davidson answered.
“I was very pleased when I found out you were in town,” Zane said to Davidson.
“You need a buddy?” Davidson asked with a smile.
“I do not want to seem rude, but may we skip over any additional banter?” Zane asked Davidson.
Davidson gave a slight nod of his head.
Zane looked at the potbellied man then back at Davidson. “Myself and my partner Huck, we have a job proposal for you.”
Huck stared at Davidson and crossed his arms.
“Alright,” Said Davidson.
“Ha,” Huck shook his head and spit into the dirt.
“Feel it best to advise you I have Kit saddling up your horse,” Zane said to Davidson.
“Covering my stable?” Davidson asked with a smirk.
“Well now, you be so lucky,” Said Huck.
“We only have a lick of time to spare, then we need to be on the trail.” Zane shot a quick look at Huck then at Davidson. “Take the job and we are heading out from here.”
Davidson nodded at Huck. “Who’s he?”
“Me?” Huck asked pointing at himself. “Well I am a dangerous man, that is who I am,” Huck said puffing out his chest.
“Dangerous,” Davidson grinned.
Zane and Davidson looked at each other and laughed.
“Now Dave my friend, Huck may still reek with the blind confidence of youth,” Zane said slapping Huck on the back. “But he has cut his teeth in this line of work.”
Huck smiled at Davidson with his yellow teeth as he patted the butt of his revolver.
“The job?” Davidson asked Zane.
“Well now, hold on…,” Huck tried to cut into the conversation. However, Zane held up his hands in protest.
“You will get your turn Huck,” Zane slowly lowered his hands. “We need your help tracking the Dickson Brothers and Jasper Collins,” Zane said to Davidson.
“What they into?” asked Davidson.
“The trio were camped just outside of town last night. Have a young boy with them. Story is the boy knows the location of a secret gold claim. Or perhaps a treasure stash. Either way, gold.”
“Hmm, interesting,” Davidson said to himself.
“He didn’t stutter,” Huck said with a snort.
Davidson glared at Huck then looked back at Zane.
“How did you learn this?” Davidson asked Zane.
“The younger brother, Darryl. Came into town for supplies. He loves to tell a good story,” Zane answered.
“Just told you the whole scheme?” asked Davidson.
“Oh no, he told Smiley Wilson, who told Douglas, who I overheard telling Debbie the whore.”
“Zig zags,” said Davidson.
“Rare moment our lives move in straight lines,” replied Zane.
“Peculiar,” said Davidson.
“How is that?” Zane asked.
“Remember that spit fire Minnie?”
“Minnie? From down in Florida?” Zane scratched his head. “Why yes. I watched her deck a fellow one time. Poor man teared up and everything.”
“Five years back, last saw her,” Davidson rubbed his chin. “Swear she had a similar scheme.”
“Well now, Zane, we ain’t got time for this geek,” said Huck pointing at Davidson. “We got to catch up before the trail gets cold.”
“You a tracker?” Davidson asked Huck with a smile.
“Well more of a gun fighter,” Said Huck as he waved his hands his front of his face, before dropping his right down to butt of his pistol. “Rumor is you’re the tracker,” Huck quickly drew his revolver. “But well now,” Huck spun the iron around on his trigger finger. “There are a lot of rumors about you these days.” Finished Huck as he re-holstered his gun.
Clip, clop, clip, clop
The three men were interrupted by Kit as he brought over Davidson’s horse. The horse was an Appaloosa, with large brown and white spots.
“Fed and watered. Had time to trim her hoofs also,” Kit said to Davidson.
Davidson took the reins with his left hand.
“Settle up shortly,” Davidson said to Kit as he rubbed the nose of his Appaloosa.
“Yes, sir,” said Kit as he hurried away.
“Well now, back to these rumors,” Huck said to Davidson.
“Whats the short of it?” Davidson asked Zane ignoring Huck.
“We track them to the gold, kill them and take everything for ourselves.” answered Zane.
“They got bounties?”
“The brothers do, Jasper always manages to snake his way out of charges,” answered Zane.
“And if it’s all shit?” asked Davidson.
“We will have their horses to sell off. And anything else they may have on their person,” answered Zane.
“Well now, there will be gold,” said Huck making the shape of a coin with his fingers. “Douglas described an odd coin to the whore.”
Davidson looked at Huck. “A coin none of us have seen,” said Davidson.
“You with us?” Zane asked Davidson.
“Three ways?” asked Davidson.
“Of course,” answered Zane.
“That’s if you don’t freeze up,” said Huck.
“I piss in your boots?” Davidson asked Huck.
Huck’s eye’s narrowed as he squared up to Davidson.
“Well now, you don’t know who your talking to.” Huck said to Davidson as he stepped towards him.
“Know enough to see you’re a lunk,” said Davidson.
Zane rushed between the two men.
“Please calm down gentlemen,” Zane said pushing the men apart. “David, Huck here has a few reservations about bringing you on,” Zane said to Davidson.
“You bet your tanned hide I got a few,” said Huck.
“Let’s hear it,” Davidson said to Huck.
Huck took off his brown Cattlemen hat and ran his fingers through his hair. He looked at Zane then back at Davidson.
“Well now, heard over cards you quit your last job on account of turning yellow,” Huck started. “Heard you were working for the K&L railroad.”
“Rumors travel fast,” Davidson said with a smile.
“Told your job was shooting Lakota. Said day one you were all set up, aimed in. Little crowd gathered to see the long range shooting skills of the great Davidson,” Huck chuckled. “And well now you couldn’t pull the trigger.”
Zane looked at Davidson and saw he still had the same smile on his face.
Huck chuckled again before finishing. “Well, seems you went and got soft for them Red Skins. Was told you stood up and waved them off. Scared them Lakota away,” Huck pointed at Davidson. “Well now, if you can’t kill a savage how you gonna kill Jasper and the Dickson brothers?”
“It true you’ve cut your teeth?” Davidson asked in reply.
“Yup, just starting out. But got me two notches in my gun belt,” Huck answered.
“I was there for the event; boy can certainly pull a trigger,” said Zane.
“That stagecoach full of missionaries?” Davidson asked Zane.
“Perhaps,” Zane answered.
“Dangerous work, blindly shooting into a coach,” Davidson said with a slight laugh.
“Well now, more killing then you have done as of recent,” Huck replied to Davidson.
Davidson’s smile faded. “I say Huck, for a man in a hurry you sure have time for a pecker measuring contest.”
“Well, I say you ain’t got the grit no more.” replied Huck.
“This necessary?” Davidson asked Zane?
“My friend, we have done much work together. Why I sent you that note. But it best we do clear the air,” answered Zane.
Davidson moved to the right side of his horse and sheathed his long rifle in its leather holder. “Alright then Huck,” Said Davidson as he tightened the sheaths buckle.
“First time I killed a man was September 19th 1862, Battle of Shepherds Town.” Davidson started.
“Well, I didn’t ask for a history lesson,” laughed Huck.
“Mind your words,” Davidson spat as he scolded Huck. “You called me out so here it is.”
Davidson grabbed his saddle horn.
“Our regiment was at Botelers ford on the Potomac. Colonel Berdan was there with his sharpshooters. Two of his boys had just missed 300 yard shots at a rebel picket. Myself being a confident youth told the Colonel I could make that shot. Colonel Berdan promised me a spot in his regiment if I did.”
Davidson stuck his right boot into his saddles stirrup and swung his left leg up and over the saddle.
“Took my Springfield, cocked back the hammer, looked down the sights and found me a grey coat.”
Davidson adjusted his position in the saddle as if he was preparing to shoot.
“And before any fella could josh me I pressed that trigger. Never had even aimed at a man before that day,”
Davidson clapped his hands together.
“Hit the rebel. Would come to find out in the stomach,” said Davidson.
Davidson looked at Huck’s pot belly. “Gut was about the size of yours.”
Huck’s eye’s darted over to Zane then down towards the ground.
“Well…well. Killing a man up close I’d say is much different,” Huck said to Davidson without looking at him.
“That rebel wasn’t dead yet,” Davidson shook his head. “Panicked and jumped the fence. He ran down towards the river. His boys shouted for him to turn back, but he just kept running. One hand holding his belly the other keeping his hat on his head. Plopped on the fair bank of the crossing.”
Davidson rested his right arm over his left.
“Colonel ordered everyone to hold their fire. Said I had to finish the job. While I reloaded my rifle that wounded man start wailing, rolling around in the mud. Cried for his Daddy, his momma, his dog. And at that moment, I saw how myself and this man at one time were both young and innocent. Saw this winding road that lead to our meeting. Me reloading my rifle and him crying in the mud. Had no personal quarrel with that man.”
Zane and Huck stood motionless.
“Then I shot him in his head. Looked like when someone drops a melon,” said Davidson.
Davidson stared at Huck whose forehead had become covered in sweat.
“Lost count of how many children, men…women I have killed. Don’t talk much about it. But I find it best to mention the children first when I do. Know why?” Davidson asked Huck.
Huck did not answer. He just stood there. Eyes wide.
“Others like me will warm you up, mention the men first. Of course us gun hands would shoot a man. Most also in these parts can fathom a moment where a woman would get killed. But mention kids. Well that’s a blunt verbal hammer.”
“That…well, that. I mean. Well, still need to know you got it?” Huck stammered.
“Need to know?” Davidson repeated to himself.
Zane looked up at the sky and shook his head.
Huck looked at Zane then back at Davidson.
“I don’t like you,” Davidson said to Huck as his right hand moved down to the butt of his Le Mat.
Huck staggered back as he stared at the smoking .20-gauge barrel of the Le Mat revolver. His hands grabbed at his stomach as blood ran down his waist.
“Fall now,” Davidson commanded Huck as he re-holstered his Le Mat.
Huck let out a huff as he fell to his butt.
“Well…now…you…you…shot me?” said Huck.
“Satisfied?” Davidson asked Zane.
“My note said I do not care much for Huck,” Zane rubbed his temples. “I did not request for to you kill the man.”
“Wasn’t hitting the trail with him and wasn’t leaving him behind either.”
Kit came running from the barn. He stopped in his tracks when he saw Huck.
“Sorry about this,” Davidson said to Kit. “Keep his horse and all that as compensation.”
Kit just stood there, his eyes wide and his mouth hanging open.
“Now it is three versus two.” Zane said to Davidson.
“It wont be.” Davidson replied.
“How do you reason that?” asked Zane.
“Jasper is a back stabber, ask Benny,” answered Davidson
“You are presuming he will shoot the Dickson brothers?”
Davidson nodded his head yes.
“I do pray that you are correct,” Zane said as he walked over to his horse. “I have some very heavy debts floating above my head.”
“Cards?” Davidson asked.
“Yes sir, I am in great need of this score panning out.” Zane answered as he looked over at Kit. “Hey Kit, people will be moving about soon. Might want to start cleaning this all up.”
“Feed him to some pigs,” Davidson said to Kit as he looked down at Huck.
Huck had fallen to his right side. Slow breaths gurgled out of his mouth.
“Dave, I do not think Kit is up to finish what you have started,” Zane said to Davidson as he mounted his horse.
“Sorry,” Davidson said to Kit with a tip of his hat.
Davidson got down from his horse. He walked over to wear Huck lay. Looking around he spotted a shovel standing straight up a pile of manure.
“So, I must ask a question,” Zane said to Davidson.
“Why was it you did not shoot those Lakota?”
“Not cause I’m a hero,” Davidson answered as he grabbed the shovel by the handle.
Davidson walked over to wear Huck lay. He stood over Huck and raised the shovel. The shovel’s spade caste of brief shadow over Huck’s face.
“Like a melon,” said Davidson as he stared into Huck’s fading eyes.