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       Angel Falls, Texas The Traveler #1 THE ORIGIN, p.1
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Angel Falls, Texas The Traveler #1 THE ORIGIN




  J.C. Hulsey

  Copyright © 2014 by J.C. Hulsey.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

  For information contact:

  Cover Art & Design by uthzen artworks

  Edited by Jennifer Sell

  Published by Outlaw’s Publishing

  Third Edition April 2015

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  To my lovely wife of Fifty-Five years

  Thank You for allowing me to be your mate for all these years.

  To my first two sons William Robert and James Joseph. (Sons)

  To my second sons Joshua Dale and James Dean (Grandsons)

  And a very special Thank you to my first daughter Sophia Isabella (Great Granddaughter)

  Your voice counts.


  Angel Falls, Texas

  March 12, 1869,

  Angel Falls was named for the daughter of the town founder, who insisted she had fallen from heaven.

  She was born, as they crossed the river just below the small water falls, a little north of town, but she didn't live up to her namesake, as she was one of the most sought-after girls in town because she had a habit of not being able to say no to the adventurous young men who came calling. It wasn't long until she was sent to live with her aunt in the big city.

  Angel Falls was a fairly quiet town with very little trouble, partly because of the Sheriff, a brute of a man with a barrel chest and short legs, which, at a glance, made him look deformed. He ruled with an iron fist and was quick on the trigger but, all in all, he was a fairly decent lawman.


  Angel Falls has been my home for a little over seventeen years. I was born on June 2, 1852, in a little house on the outskirts of town to a Mr. and Mrs. Jeremiah Jenkins. They named me Jedidiah Isaiah.

  Pa owned the Livery Stable and Blacksmith shop in town. He was just a blacksmith until I turned ten, when he said I was old enough to take care of the chores around the farm, so he opened the livery stable as well.

  Pa was a big, burly Irish man, with shoulder-length curly red (almost bright orange) hair.

  He was tall, standing six foot five, and weighed about two hundred eighty-five pounds. His arms were the size of small tree trunks, and he had not an ounce of fat, since he swung the hammer and pumped the bellows day in and day out.

  I usually went to the livery stable each day after I ate lunch and finished the chores at home. Hank Crenshaw ran the livery stable after dark, and slept in the tack room beside the horse stalls.

  Pa would try to be home before seven each day. We both worked really hard taking care of the sixty-acre farm, livery stable, and blacksmith shop.

  We were one of the first families to have a windmill and, because of that, one of the first houses to have running water. Pa, being the blacksmith, designed and built it himself.

  We went every Sunday to the little white Baptist Church with the tall steeple, over on the hill east of town. Pa and me had been attending regular ever since Ma left. It was in that little church that I discovered my Savior, and how much He loved me, and how much I wanted to do what was right in His Eyes. I was baptized in Fountain Creek, the little stream just below the falls.


  On my fifteen birthday, Pa gave me an Appaloosa horse with the most beautiful leopard-spotted coat. I named her Sugar (because she loved to eat sugar). He had traded for her from some Arapaho Indians who were passing by our farm on their way back to the Reservation. That was almost three years ago. She’s the best friend I ever had, other than my ma, and then my pa after Ma run off with that slick-talking drummer when I was almost eleven. What she saw in that bum with greasy, slicked-back hair, wearing a bowler, a string tie, and button-down shoes is beyond me.

  The last thing I remember about Ma is seeing the back of her favorite blue calico dress with the pots and pans rattling on the back of the peddler’s wagon as she disappeared beyond my view. Since then, it's just been me and Pa, and we have been doing great.

  Sugar and me go riding every chance we get. We would race through vast flats of dull, light-green grass, sparse, dull-hued species of mesquite, and cactus flashing by. Passing woods of light and tender trees was sometimes so invigorating I just wanted to keep going with nowhere in mind; just wandering, me and Sugar.

  But then I would think of Pa and how hard he’d worked to be my ma and pa since she left, teaching me about the outside chores, as well as those inside the house. He never told me where he learned to cook, but his breakfast of salt pork and pan bread was beyond compare. He had learned to make it several different ways. Sometimes he made it with just flour and water, mixing it up good and pouring it into the skillet after frying up the salt pork. When it got brown on one side, he would flip it over and repeat on the other side, then he would cover it and let it bake a few minutes more. Sometimes he added a little corn meal, and he had even taken to adding some beef or bacon crumpled up in it. Sometimes he would make some extra, so that we could eat it at the livery stable that day for dinner.

  When done with my chores, I’d spend almost all my spare time out behind the barn practicing with my pistol. Pa had always assured me that most fast guns were not sharp shooters. It was usually the second shot that was the kill shot, as the first shot almost always went wild. He said always shoot straight and true, even if you are a bit slower. Even a quarter or half a second, or just a blink of your eye could mean the difference between living and dying.


  One day I went to the livery stable a little early because Pa wanted me to deliver a special tool that he had spent two days repairing for one of the elderly customers who didn’t get to town very often.

  I tied Sugar to the back door of the stable and started in. A big (almost as big as Pa), grotesque-looking man, with a dark red, furrowed scar that ran from just above his right eye, down along his jaw, and disappeared into his sweat-stained collar, came riding up on a worn-out Bay mare whose coat was slick with lather. We had seen a lot of men return from the war with scars, beaten down and mean, but none compared to this fellow who sent a cold chill down to the tips of my toes. He had meanness oozing out from all over him, like water on a slicker on a rainy day. His clothes reeked with a sick, sweaty, greasy smell that caused my stomach to tighten and come mighty close to losing that breakfast of salt pork and pan bread that Pa had fixed.

  As he glanced my way, I quickly averted my eyes and looked down the lonely, dusty road from where he had come. The sky had turned purplish, the wind stilled, and the dogs stopped barking like a storm was in the making.

  When the man spoke, it sounded like gravel rattling in a wooden bucket. “Needs his right shoe tightened, and be ready to ride in half an hour,” he growled.

  “This horse ain't going no place without proper rest, at least three days. He's all rode out, be a miracle if he makes it through the night,” replied Pa.

  “Did I ask for your opinion or advice? I don't think I did!” the man sneered.

  Pa was a real easy-going man, but he had this habit of always speaking his mind and saying exactly what he was feeling. As I look back, I wish Pa had been different that day, and just not said anything.

  “Well, I'm telling you any man treats an animal the way you’ve treated this horse should be whipped,” exclaimed Pa.

  “You figure on doing that little job yourself, do you?” quipped the man.

  “Just might be I will.” As Pa sidestepped to the left, Ugly threw a sledge hammer fist at Pa's head, just missing by a tad. Pa landed a haymaker to Ugly's right temple, causing him to stagger back into the work table next to the forge. As he stumbled, he grabbed a hammer lying there and, with a roundhouse swing, he connected with Pa's head, knocking him to his back on the dusty stable floor. Ugly jumped on top, straddling him, and continued to swing blow after blow into pa's face.

  I stood frozen to the dusty stable floor, unable to move as time seemed to slow to a crawl. Then just as suddenly, I realized that if I didn't do something, Pa was going to die. What I didn't realize was that Pa was already dead.

  I took my pistol from its holster and shouted for the man to stop.

  He glared up at me and laughed a belly laugh as he shouted, "Yeah! I'll stop and, when I do, you’re next!" The menacing scar that jagged along his right jaw puckered as he smirked at me, and he gave off a sinister aura when he screamed. His eyes turned black with rage as he lunged up and toward me. Confusion clouded the man's expression as the bullet entered just above his left eye, then his gaze went blank as he dropped the hammer of death and slumped to the stable floor.

  I stood and stared in awe at what I had done. I had just taken another man’s life and, even though I was quivering on the outside, I felt extremely calm on the inside. Somehow I knew that God would understand that I didn't have a choice in the matter. The man had just killed my pa, and had every intention of making me his next victim. He most certainly would have killed me if I hadn't reacted the way I did.

  I felt the forgiveness of a loving and understanding God fill me with a sweet calmness.

  Just then, Henry Plank, the telegraph operator from next door, came running in demanding to know what had happened. I tried to explain, but I was breathing too hard for him to understand. He looked first at my pa, then at the dead man, and said, "Son, you'd better head for the hills ‘cause the man you just killed is the Sheriff's baby brother and he was quite partial to him."

  I looked at Pa's bloody face and felt myself grow calm on the inside. "I'm not sorry I killed him, he killed my pa."

  "Ain't gonna make no never mind to the sheriff, he's gonna shoot first and ask questions later," exclaimed Plank. “I’ll see to your pa, you better go now.”

  Sugar was still saddled back of the livery where I was going to deliver something to a customer later that morning. I reloaded the one shot that I had used and slid my pistol slowly into my holster. I grabbed my jacket, pulled my Stetson low on my head, and checked my saddle bag which held the salt pork and pan bread Pa and me were gonna have for lunch. I checked my canteen, tightened the cinch on Sugar’s saddle, nodded to Mr. Plank, and slid easily into the saddle. I took the south road out of town and noticed the bank, the general store, and the dressmaker shop on the right. On the left was the Chuck Wagon, a combination saloon and eating house. Directly across from it was the stagecoach station. The last thing I noticed as I passed the final building of the town I had grown up in was a little cottonwood tree, standing sentinel over the town, looking as lost and lonely as I was feeling right about then.

  A shiver ran through my body and a sadness filled my heart as I thought of me and Pa sitting at the table just this morning.

  I pulled my hat down tighter, hunched up my shoulders, hunkered down into the saddle, kicked Sugar in the ribs, and took off at a gallop.

  As I came to the boundary of our small town, I tasted a salty tear as it slid down my face, and I felt a hurting in my chest as I left Pa and a place I had counted as a friend.


  I rode until almost dusk. When the light started fading and the sun was setting in the northwest, I slowed Sugar to a walk.

  I surveyed the area for a place to bed down. Off to the right was a grove of cedar trees and what looked like a place that could have some water. It looked like the perfect spot to camp, so I clicked to Sugar and we angled toward it. The cedars made a sort of fort, with a tiny clearing in the middle, where there was a little mossy banked pond. The moonlight caused an orange hue across the water, and there were frogs croaking their songs. I dismounted and led Sugar to the edge of the water. She drank deeply, then huffed a little. I knelt down after Sugar drank, then filled my hand with water and lifted it to my lips. It was cool and sweet to the taste, so I knelt further down and immersed my face, washing away the dirt from the trail and drinking deeply. That pond must have been fed from an underground stream, because as I looked around I couldn’t see how the water had gotten there.

  I raised to my knees and took a look around. There was plenty of kindling to build a fire, but I decided not to because I couldn’t be sure if the sheriff and a posse were following or not. I rose, loosened the cinch on Sugar’s saddle, and reached for my saddlebags where I had something to eat. I hobbled Sugar over to the edge where there was plenty of fresh green grass. She began munching and seemed content, oblivious as to the trouble we were in. As I ate, I began remembering things about my pa and the livery stable. When I left the farm that morning, I wasn’t expecting to travel any further than a customer’s house right outside of town, so I hadn’t packed any gear other than my saddlebags with something to eat for lunch and my canteen, which was about half full. Didn’t pack a slicker or a bed roll. It felt like it was going to be a cool night, so I was really glad I’d grabbed my jacket when I left. All I had were the clothes on my back. That would be alright for tonight because I could use my saddle blanket for cover if it got too cool.

  As I looked up at the star-filled night sky, I wondered about the consequences that had brought me to this place, and my mind began racing it seemed ninety miles an hour remembering Pa.


  Running a livery stable gave Pa the opportunity to have dealings with almost every cowboy, trader, gambler, drifter, veterans (north and south), and even outlaws, any man who rode a horse or drove a wagon.

  That's how I got my saddle and my pistol, a Remington New Model Army Revolver with an eight-inch barrel. It had been a .44 caliber cap and ball, but was converted to .46 caliber metallic cartridges. The barrel was gunmetal gray with Mammoth Ivory grips, and was special ordered from Alaska. I was especially proud because of the low serial number stamped on it. Pa had traded for it from a Yankee captain on his way back to the orchards of apple trees that he hadn’t seen for three long years.

  Pa always treated every man fair and square, and traded that Yankee captain an exceptionally good roan horse, and saddle with all the gear, as the man’s horse had come up lame quite a few miles out of town and he had to shoot him. He sure hated leaving his saddle and all his gear, but he couldn’t carry it very far, as he only had one arm.

  “Lost it in the last battle at Fort Blakely in southern Alabama. I remember it well, April 9, 1865, Palm Sunday, five o’clock p.m. The war had been over almost two hours, and 700 miles to the northeast, General Lee had surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox, Virginia. But that didn’t change anything where we were, because we didn’t know until later that the war was officially over. Ironic, ain’t it, three years without so much as a scratch, and then in the last few moments of fighting, it happened. Could’ve been worse, I reckon. Yep, I’m mighty lucky. At least I can still pick apples with one good hand.”

  He was very gracious in his dealings with Pa, and said thank you probably three or four times. He said he considered his luck to still be holding when he ran into Pa.

  He halted at the edge of town, turned and waved, then continued on his way to those apple trees.

  I needed another holster because this one had a flap that all the soldiers had on their holsters. I talked Mr. Salinger, the owner of the mercantile, into trading me a holster that he’d gotten from Mr. Hollister, the undertaker, when a bank robber got killed while trying to rob the bank. Mr. Hollister sold it to Mr. Salinger to pay for the coffin, and Mr
. Salinger said he might as well let me have it because there wasn’t that many people wanting a left-handed holster.

  My saddle was traded from a down-on-his-luck Mexican Caballero named Manuel Rodriguez. He had worked for one of the oldest and largest Ranchos in Mexico, and was running from the Federales for (as he put it in his broken English) “a big mistook.” The saddle was a Gaucho Ranch Saddle, and it had lots of silver inlay engraving.

  Pa traded him a smaller saddle with gear and a few American dollars, as all he had were Pesos. He waved as he rode off with a big grin on his face.

  I was also grinning, because Pa had said the next saddle he traded for was going to belong to me. I could hardly wait to try it on Sugar.


  I woke the next morning just as the sun peeked over the horizon, casting a bright yellowish glow across the little pond where the frogs were still singing their mournful-sounding song. I think they must have croaked all night long.

  As I saddled Sugar, I had this tight feeling in my gut. It could just be hunger, it could be I was feeling a little scared, or it could be both. What was I going to do now? Just seventeen years old, and here I was running from the law.

  I finished the cold salt pork and pan bread that was left from yesterday, and found that hunger wasn’t the only tight feeling I had in my gut.

  I filled my canteen and saddled Sugar, feeling thankful and proud of what I did have, and sorry for what I didn’t and was leaving behind. I lifted myself into the saddle and headed south along the edge of the forest.

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