The Young Outlaw - Chapter One

The young outlaw pushed his hat back on his head. He was still sheltered by the
woods at the top of the hill. His sapphire blue eyes narrowed as he surveyed the
valley below. There was a small town with a church that had a spire that rose
high into the air and neat rows of buildings on either side of a wide street
filled with wagons and people. It was Saturday and he figured the farmers and
their families were coming into town just as always to pick up supplies and meet
their needs and desires.

He sighed as a long ago memory filtered into his mind, but he closed his eyes
and ruthlessly pushed the memories away. Those days were long gone for him. His
Mama and Papa were buried on a hill somewhere in California when they were
killed in a landslide as they travelled to the coast.

A lock of black curly hair blew over his right eye and he pushed it away. His
hair would have been the envy of any woman, his soft spiral curls hanging in
ringlets down to his shoulders. He reached into his pocket and pulling out a
leather thong, took off his hat and pulled his unruly curls back and tied them,
so they stopped blowing in his face.

Replacing his hat, he again looked over the small town and although his heart
longed for the peacefulness of it he knew it couldn't be for him. He was a
wanted man and he couldn't afford to linger.

The town wouldn't have much and he'd need to move on to a larger one with better
pickings. Even though there was probably a bank farmers were poor and there
wouldn't really be much and although he'd like to rob something, his conscience
wouldn't allow him to do anything to this small farming community.

He watched as a wagon pulled up to what he figured was the general store, as
several wagons had pulled up to it and people had wandered in and out of it as
he had been watching. Two men and a teen and five younger boys, some little
jumped out of the wagon, or were helped out by the older men. He smiled a rare
thing for him these days. Then he frowned as he saw the sun glint off something
metal. The sandy haired young man was a lawman he surmised as a flash of light
again came from something on his chest.

The young outlaw had made certain there was no visible shiny metal on either his
horse or his person to give him away. He didn't want to be found or noticed. He
had belonged to a gang at one point, but had had a falling-out with the leader
and had snuk away in the middle of the night. He had stolen the black horse he
was presently riding from a horse ranch he found along his travels.

He shook his head. No matter how he looked at things he was a dead man. They
hung horse thieves and he was wanted for a stage coach robbery, even though he
had not harmed anyone. He had been associated with the Rocky Mountain Boys gang
at the time and there had been the killing of the stage coach driver and two
passengers, even though he hadn't been the one to shoot them. Everyone who had
been named in the gang had been held responsible. The one saving grace he
reflected on and smiled ruefully to himself about was that he had never
deliberately killed anyone. He had shot several men and killed them in a gun
battle, but only in self defense…at least this was the way he looked at it. If
he didn't shoot first, then as far as he was concerned it was self defense even
if no one else looked at it that way.

He sighed, blinked, rubbed his eyes tiredly and nudged his horse to take a path
that skirted the small town. Just as he was ready to turn away, a movement
caught his eye with the lawman and his family. The older man had his arms around
the lawman and the lawman had a little boy in his arms. He shook his head. `To
be so cared about…what would that be like?' He asked himself then with a heavy
heart, he moved his horse out at a slow walk leaving the emotionally painful
scene behind.

The young man rode further east and came upon a larger town. It had a railroad
station and he smiled to himself. This would suit his needs much better be.
There were more people and from the way some of them were dressed, had money.
They were sure to have a bank and from what he could tell, citizens who could
afford to share their wealth with him. He watched the people milling around the
railroad station and saw a train pull in. He slipped in a bit closer and could
see a saloon and a hotel. He would be able to mingle and get a good look at
things before he made a move. He'd have to try to stay out of the way of the
local law though. He was sure there was probably a wanted poster put up
somewhere in the Sheriff's office, but hopefully with his now longer hair and
scruffy beard he would be less recognizable. If he kept his face mostly hidden
by his hat he should be able to slide into town without notice and stay that way
until he made his move.

The young outlaw rode in obtrusively into town. There was a livery and the usual
general store, specialty shops, saddlry, black smith, sheriff's office etc. He
rode up to the Diamond Dust saloon and tied Spirit to the hitching rail. He
pulled the black hat he wore a bit lower over his bright blue eyes and strolled
through the swinging doors and approached the bartender. "Whiskey." He said, in
a gruff voice, putting a silver dollar on the bar. "A glass and the bottle good

Gabe Fairmont looked up at the young man, sizing him up. He looked to be barely
of age, but seemed quiet enough and didn't seem to be looking for trouble, so he
turned for a clean glass and the bottle setting them on the bar in front of his
customer. "Hi there, stranger in town? Stayin' or just passin' through?" Gabe
asked in a friendly manner.

The young outlaw said in a steely voice, "Passin' through." As he picked up his
glass and bottle, he gave the bartender a look that conveyed no further
conversation would be welcome. He headed for a dark corner table where he sat
with his back to the wall and would be able to see everyone who came and went.
His gaze swept the room. He saw in the opposite corner a few men engaged in a
poker game. Gambling didn't interest him.

Gabe watched the young man surreptitiously. He looked dangerous and sad at the
same time. He smiled to himself as he wiped down the bar, thinking of their
Sheriff and the young man who had just entered his saloon. He wondered what
Sheriff Jalen Christopher Brooks would make of him once he met him. Gabe knew
the Sheriff was a quiet, somewhat lonely man. He was polite enough to all the
towns' people and always refused the advances of the local female population,
especially when their Mama's tried to play match maker. He had heard the man say
several times it would not be fair to the young lady as he would seldom be home
and his job was so dangerous. Gabe had mentioned to the Sheriff a few times he
could use a deputy, but the man just smiled and said he'd let him know when that
day came. Gabe secretly hoped this would be the day. The boy looked as though he
could handle a gun and might be the answer to a deputy for the sheriff.

The young man poured himself a drink from the bottle. He savored the whiskey. It
for once was good, not watered down or with the bite of whatever those who cut
their liquor used, but the real thing and the young outlaw was grateful. As the
liquor warmed his cold insides and relaxed him he continued to observe his
surroundings. He made note of those who came and went, who spoke to the bar
tender and were regulars or lived nearby and who might be, like himself just
passing through, either on horseback, by stage, or on the train and just
killing a couple of hours waiting to continue with their journey to where ever
it was they were going.

The doors of the Diamond Dust saloon swung open and a well built man about six
foot three entered. His shoulders were broad, his hips narrow and he exuded an
air of confidence the young man recognized. Someone in authority and who
expected obedience immediately or he'd just take care of you as easily as though
you might be a child. The man was powerful. The young outlaw could see it in the
man's every move and was a bit startled to see bright emerald green eyes trained
on him as the Sheriff brushed a lock of sandy hair away from his eyes in a
familiar gesture to the townspeople who knew him.

"Hello there Sheriff Brooks…what can I get for you today?" Gabe asked.


Jalen, momentarily distracted by a scruffy looking young man sitting in a dark
corner of the saloon said automatically, "A beer please Gabe."

Gabe poured the sheriff a glass of beer and put it in front of him. "How's
things sheriff?"
"Quiet right now." Jalen reported. Then he asked Gabe, "Who's the young man
sitting at that table over there? He indicated the darkened corner.

Gabe shrugged. "Some youngster drifting through town apparently. Ordered a
bottle of whiskey and then moved over there. He ain't doin' nothin' to cause no
trouble sheriff."

Jalen nodded. "All right, but he looks sort of familiar. I'm going to have to
check him out. Hopefully he's like you said a drifter."

Gabe said, "Maybe he don't need to drift any longer if he's worth keepin'

Jalen gave the other man a look. "Maybe." He said noncommittally.

Gabe chuckled. "He's young enough and dangerous enough lookin' to be your new
deputy, sheriff." He teased.

Jalen chuckled. "You never give up do you Gabe?"

Gabe shook his head. "Nope, I'm not a bartender for nothin'."

Jalen grinned, and then paid the tab and left the Diamond Dust to finish his


Once the sheriff left, the young outlaw breathed easier. He didn't want the law
to be getting' a good look at him. He continued to drink his whisky, which was
beginning to have an effect on him and watched the comings and goings of the


Sheriff Jalen Christopher Brooks couldn't get the image of those bright blue
eyes and soft dark curls out of his mind. `He just may be the one…' He said to
himself, then shook himself hard mentally and scolded himself. Don't be such an
old fool. You only just saw him…you know nothing about him.

The sheriff went on about his rounds and then stepped into his office. He
glanced around and one of the wanted posters jumped out at him. `Damn!' He
thought to himself…the `damn kid is an outlaw!' He went over and untacked the
wanted poster to read it more carefully:

Wanted $500 reward for the capture and conviction of Brett Ashton Montgomery age
twenty-one, a member of the Rocky Mountain Boys Gang. Wanted for being an
accessory to a stage coach robbery and murder. This man should be approached
with caution as he is armed and dangerous.

Jalen shook his head. He wondered how such a young person could have ended up in
such a mess in his short life. Unfortunately, the young man was a fugitive from
justice and in his town. He would have to arrest him and hold him over for

Jalen sighed. It was just his luck to come across a young man who attracted him,
only to discover he was a young outlaw. He sighed and placed the wanted poster
on his desk and began to plan the young man's arrest.


Brett, not used to drinking quite so much good whisky was sitting bleary eyed
and with his head buzzing.

A young lady, one of the saloon girls who only came down into the Diamond Dust
at night to please the patrons and to earn a few drinks and if they were lucky
some coin of their own sidled up to Brett.
"Hi there honey, I'm Dawn and I can promise you a good time from now until dawn
if you buy me a few drinks and then later we can do some even more pleasant

Brett looked at her, not quite understanding her meaning and when he did roughly
pushed her away from him. "Get away from me. I want nothin' to do with your
kind." He said gruffly.

Dawn, used to the roughness of most cowboys left him alone, but couldn't help
feeling a bit hurt at the use of "her kind" ringing in her ears.


Gabe frowned as he watched Dawn approach the young man who had been drinking in
the corner of the saloon most of the afternoon and evening. He glanced up at the
girl. "You all right honey? He didn't hurt you did he?" Gabe, unlike many saloon
owners didn't like seeing his girls hurt.

Dawn shook her head. "No, he was just rude." She told Gabe.

The bartender nodded. "All right Dawn, as long as he didn't do anythin' to hurt
you." He watched the girl move on to another patron. He always kept his eye on
his girls when they were working in the Diamond Dust.


Jalen pushed himself away from his desk and decided to get a bite to eat and
then head to the Diamond Dust. When he arrived the place was crowded and smoky.
He noticed the young man still at the corner table. He approached Gabe. "He give
you any trouble?" indicating the scruffy young man.
Gabe shook his head. "No, he was rude to Dawn, but that's all."

Jalen's green eyes narrowed as he listened and then he said, "Time to get that
boy out of here. He's a wanted man." He told Gabe.

Gabe's eyes widened. "He is?"

Jalen nodded. "Yes, and he seems drunk enough to not give me any trouble
arrestin' him."

Gabe nodded and watched Jalen approach the young outlaw's table.


"Time to find a place to sleep it off young man." He said in a stern voice as he
approached Brett. "Come along with me."

Brett looked at the Sheriff. "I didn't do nothin'. I've been just sittin' here
mindin' my own business drinkin' my whiskey."

This time Jalen grasped him tightly around the upper arm and asked, "You comin'
along quietly or am I goin' to have to carry you out over my shoulder? You're
under arrest for bein' an accomplice to stage coach robbery and murder." He told
him quietly.

Brett began to struggle, but with so much whisky in him he was totally
uncoordinated and the Sheriff did just as he had threatened and hefted the young
man over his shoulder and strode out of the saloon. He carried him into the jail
where he opened a cell, put him on his feet and locked him inside.
"When you sober up in the mornin' we'll talk." He informed the young man. He
went to get a bucket and put it in the cell near him. "You can use this for your
needs." He told him.

The young outlaw looked at the thing, uncomprehendingly.

Jalen shook his head and undressed the young man and helped him to the cot and
covered him with a blanket, then left and locked the door.


Hours later Brett woke and vomited into the pail at the side of the bed grateful
for the Sheriff's kind gesture. Once he was through he found a wash cloth, a
towel and a tin basin along with a tin cup and a nearby pail of fresh water. He
washed his face and rinsed out his mouth from the stale taste of vomit and
whiskey. He took a drink of water and then lay back on the cot. The young man
went through this several times and as dawn broke sat on the edge of the bed his
head aching, his stomach hurting and feeling perfectly miserable. The stench of
the pail next to him, used as well for his bodily needs made him retch once


Jalen got up, washed and dressed for the day and went to the outhouse, then came
back inside and started coffee cooking. He looked at the miserable young man in
the cell. "Not feelin' so good hmm?"

Brett gave Jalen a sour look. "Can't you tell…I'm feeling just chipper." He said

Jalen raised an eyebrow. "You don't have to get nasty. I'll get you a headache
powder and some dry toast from the café. Then we'll see if you can keep down a
cup or two of coffee and we'll talk." Wrinkling his nose at the stench now
permeating the jail, he opened the cell door, keeping a sharp eye on his
prisoner, picked up the pail and removed it, shutting and locking the cell door
after him.

The young man said sullenly, as he sat on his cot and observed the Sheriff
taking care of things, "Nothin' to talk about."

Jalen said sternly, "There's a whole lot to talk about."

The young man cringed inwardly. The Sheriff had spoken to him in a manner he had
not been spoken to in many years, not since his parents died. "Yes Sir." He
responded respectfully.

"That's better." The older man responded.

Jalen did just as he said, mixing the headache powder into a cup of water and
handing it to Brett through the bars before dumping the contents of the pail,
washing it out and replacing it in the jail cell, then heading over to the café
to get breakfast for himself and his prisoner.

Brett drank the concoction the sheriff had handed him and bit his lip nervously
while he waited for him to return. He thought about what had happened the day
before and blushed slightly at how easily the sheriff had just carried him from
the Diamond Dust. He sighed, knowing there was no help for his circumstances

Jalen returned and slid the tray with four pieces of dry toast under the door
through a slot made for this purpose. He then poured Brett a hot cup of coffee
and passed it to him through the bars cautioning him to be careful because it
was hot.


Brett wasn't sure he liked the way the sheriff was treating him. He was caring
for him, but yet keeping his distance. He peeked out of the corner of his eye as
he munched on the toast and sipped his coffee at the sheriff. He was tall and
lithe and strong as a whip. He could tell as he could see the man's muscles
ripple every time he moved. It was fascinating to the young man. He had never
felt sensations inside like this before. He wanted to touch those muscles and he
shook himself out of that reverie realizing what he was doing and feeling very
wicked about it.

After a while the sheriff pulled his chair up to the cell and began the
conversation. "Tell me what happened with the stage coach robbery." He

Brett's sapphire blue eyes widened and he was very quiet for a while, thinking
about how to tell the story. Something about this man spoke trust and so he
spilled the whole story. How the gang members had planned it and the ambush and
the aftermath. How he himself had not touched a single soul, hadn't taken
anything from anyone…his only job being to keep his rifle trained on every
person, threatening to shoot them if they didn't do as they were told.

Jalen absorbed the young man's story, and then nodded. "You have anything else
you need to tell me?" He asked.

Brett feeling as though he was already a condemned man told Jalen about how he
had stolen his horse from the horse rancher.

Jalen asked if he remembered the man's name and Brett gave it to him.

"I'm going to contact the sheriff in the nearest town to this rancher and see if
he reported one of his horses stolen and where he can come to claim it. I don't
think you'll be needin' him for a while. I put him up at the livery." The
sheriff reported.

Brett nodded. "Yes Sir. Thank you."


When Brett was finished with his meal he pushed the tray back out to the Sheriff
who took it back to the café. Then Jalen stopped on the way back to send
telegrams to the sheriff near where the rancher lived and to the circuit judge
to let him know he held the young man in his jail and to find out exactly when
he'd be coming back through Diamond Springs to hold court.


Over the next several hours Jalen had received replies to his telegrams. The
rancher hadn't thought the horse was stolen, but had run away again. He said the
young man was welcome to the horse and could make payment of fifty dollars for
him and he would call the incident good.
Jalen looked over at the cell and smiled, telling his young charge about it.
"I don't have fifty dollars…I don't even have five dollars at the moment, in
fact, I don't even have a dollar to my name right now." He reported to the

Jalen told Brett, "Don't worry about it for now. You have much more important
things to think about when the circuit judge gets here in two days."

Brett sighed. "Yes Sir."


Jalen went to talk to the town lawyer Roland Harrison about the young man's
Roland listened and nodded. "I believe I would be interested in representing him
pro bono. I'll come by the jail and speak to him this afternoon."

Jalen nodded. "Thanks Roland I appreciate it. I think this is a situation of
this young man being in the wrong places at the wrong times. Perhaps with a bit
of guidance he can get back on the right road."

Roland arched an eyebrow. "Hmm…you could be right…I think you might be the right
person for the job too."

Jalen raised his eyebrows in surprise. "M-me?"

"Yes…there's a new program that's being used now called probation. It's used in
situations where a young person shouldn't really go to the state prison or be
held in jail, but is placed under a trusted member of the court such as yourself
as sheriff to be guided and assisted to stay out of trouble and improve his life
over a period of time assigned by the judge. The time given is instead of prison
and if the person messes up too many times they end up being sent to prison

Jalen nodded. He was beginning to understand the program and it made him smile.
"I think I like that concept and I'd be willing to be his guardian should he

Roland nodded. "He'd be smart to do that. You wouldn't be his guardian, but his
probation officer." Roland explained.

Jalen smiled at that. He wouldn't mind keeping an eye on the young man and help
him improve his life…he himself had had someone like that once and perhaps he
could now return the favor.


Jalen left the lawyer's office with a lighter heart than when he went in knowing
now there was hope for his recalcitrant outlaw. He smiled to himself and
wondered just when he had begun to think of the young outlaw as belonging to
him. He entered the jail and smiled at his prisoner. "Good news. I told Mr.
Roland Harrison, attorney at law about you and he's agree to represent you and
see if he can get you put on a new program called probation instead of you going
to prison or being jailed.

Brett looked at Jalen surprised. "He did and I will? What's probation?"

Jalen related to Brett the program and the fact he'd been supervising him if the
judge was willing to grant probation and if Brett was willing to accept Jalen as
his probation officer.

Brett thought about it for a while and then said, "All right. I think I might
like that. It would be a whole lot better than prison. Would I have to stay here
in jail?" He asked anxiously.

Jalen shook his head. "No, you'd come home and live with me and you'd go
everywhere with me until I thought you could handle being on your own without
getting into trouble."

Brett nodded. "All right. I'll agree if the judge grants me permission to be on
this probation."

Jalen said, "It won't be very easy, especially when you've been used to being on
your own for a long time and not answering to any authority but your own."

Brett thought about this too and then nodded. "Okay…I'd be willing to give it a

Jalen smiled. "Well I'm willing to try this as well."


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