The Shooting - Chapter 1

Author's Notes: The Rocky Mountain Boys gang is a fictitious gang and this
author has chosen to locate their camp in what today is known as the Rocky
Mountain National Park located in Grand County in the state of Colorado. The
Park is about 281 miles West of Denver. The fictitious town of Diamond Springs
is located about 135 miles from the camp to the East. Our young Outlaw walked
along Indian trails and through the mountains in a manner that made it difficult
to track him after he left the camp of the Rocky Mountain Boys Gang on foot. He
had taken a Rancher's horse that had been grazing near the road he was walking
down one day. He had worked at farms and ranches a bit along the way, but
because of him being wanted, didn't stay in any one place for very long and had
acquired tack for his horse along the way.


Chapter One

The leader of the Rocky Mountain Boys gang, Rory Hoffman, better known to the
gang members as Hawk, because of his sharp eyesight, rode along with his side
kicks, Slim, a skinny man and Bear, a mountain of a man. He had been on the
trail of his young gang member who stole away in the night after they had held
up the stagecoach for which they were wanted by the law.

Hawk thought to himself that Brett Ashton Montgomery, better known to the gang
as the Deadeye Kid wasn't going to get away with this. He had been with the gang
long enough to know too much and he was a liability that needed to be gotten rid

Slim said, "So you heard Deadeye was in these parts? It's a pretty fer piece
from our camp."

Hawk glared at Slim. "The kid thought he was slick, but no one sneaks away from
the gang and gets away with it." He growled.

Bear, glanced at Slim. "The boss is right. Once a member, always a member."

Slim nodded in agreement. He had liked the youngster, but now he was a liability
to the gang. The kid had been a crack shot though and that ability was what made
them allow him to join in the first place. He had seemed to adjust well to their
lifestyle except for an odd distaste for women. He shrugged and thought to
himself that perhaps it was that he was still pretty young and had never been
with a woman before and was just scared. He had found himself that way until
he'd had his first time with a very experienced whore who was very good at
breaking in young men who had little or no idea of what they were doing except
for perhaps the mechanics of coupling, having seen animals on the farm or ranch
doing it. He grinned.

Bear asked, "Watcha thinkin' `bout Slim? You got a grin on your face."

"My first time with a woman. She sure taught me a lot I didn't know."

Bear grinned. "Me too. I always was afraid with my size I'd crush one. When I
found out it didn't have to be that way and she showed me other ways so my size
didn't mean a lick I've been happy ever since."

Hawk, overhearing the other men's conversation said, "You two had better get
your minds off women and on the job we gotta do. We know the Kid's a dead shot
so we gotta be real careful we don't give him an opportunity to use his gun."

Both the other men nodded and Slim said, "Yeah…we don't want to be plugged full
of holes."

Bear asked, "So…the Sheriff of this Diamond Springs place is pretty tough?"

Hawk nodded. "Yeah, it's what I heard anyway. We'll see just how tough he is."
He gave an evil smile, displaying yellowed, rotted teeth with a couple missing.
He brushed the dark brown greasy hair away from his face.

Slim brushed a hand through his dirty, sandy hair. His moss green eyes exchanged
a look with Bear.

Bear, his auburn hair glinting with reddish highlights despite its matted,
greasy state returned the look, his dark blue eyes connecting with the other

Hawk glanced over at the other two his black eyes darting around to scan the
landscape as they rode for any dangers. "We should be arrivin' soon. Stick close
to me and let me do all the talkin' if there's any to be done."

Slim and Bear nodded and chorused, "Yes Boss."


Sheriff Jalen Brooks smiled to himself as he was making his rounds. Living on
the edge of town sharing a home with his young outlaw was nice. He loved the
privacy they had. They were becoming closer, trusting each other more as they
grew to know each other better and better. They still had their confrontations
from time to time, but Jalen was grateful that he didn't have to put the choice
of complying or choosing prison out to Brett as often. He knew the young man
didn't like it when he did that, but he had to be reminded he was still working
his way through his past and as long as he was on probation his past would be
with him. Little by little though it moved further away as his young outlaw made
more and more positive choices. He was smart and learned quickly. He only needed
to apply himself and with Jalen's occasional prodding, which at times included
sitting on a freshly spanked bottom was getting the message that he was loved
and well cared for. Jalen smiled to himself. Brett was getting known now by the
townspeople and they genuinely liked him. The children grinned and called,
"Hello Mr. Brett!" Jalen chuckled to himself. The first time a child did that
Brett looked quite startled. Jalen supplied the youngster's name and encouraged
Brett to return the greeting which he did. Then there was Dan and Cole. They
were getting to be good friends with the other couple. Dan's saddlery was doing
very well and it kept him and Cole quite busy these days. Whenever he couldn't
find Brett he knew if he looked there first, he'd be there talking to Cole,
asking questions about his work and even trying his hand at some project or
other. There was always lots of laughter and he had seen Dan glance over at the
two and smile at them seeing them enjoy themselves. It was nice to see Dan and
Cole settling down and Jalen mused he had not felt this happy since before
Dallas Kincaid's death

Jalen looked up and smiled as he saw the object of his musings walking toward
him with Cole. "Hello Brett…Cole, what are the two of you up to today?" He asked
with a smile.

Brett exchanged a look with Cole and said, "Cole and me…we want to go ridin'
Jalen. Dan already said it was all right with him if it was all right with you."
Brett gave Jalen a winning smile.

Jalen eyed the two young men and then, satisfied with what he saw said, "All
right, but don't go too far. Neither one of you is that familiar with the
surroundin' area yet and I don't want you to get lost."

Brett got the look on his face Jalen was beginning to recognize when he wanted
to argue and Jalen cut him off before he began. "I know you've ridden from
California all the way to Colorado and then when you left the gang found your
way here, but you really didn't have to know where you were going because you
had no intention of going back so there was no need to pay attention to markers
that could guide you back there. Now it's different, you could wander for hours
before findin' your way back like what happened at Christmas time. Promise me
you won't go so far as you can't see the spire on the church steeple to guide
you back to town."

Jalen glanced up, it was a beautiful late winter day, pale blue sky, not a cloud
in it and snow still covering the ground, but not so deep anymore, with patches
of ground showing through.

Brett sighed and then nodded. "All right…I promise."

Jalen looked at Cole. "And you?"

Cole said, seeing Jalen's look, "Yes, I promise too."

Jalen nodded. "Then go ahead."

Brett gave a whoop like he was a young teen instead of a young man and glancing
at Cole; the two ran off to get their mounts.

Jalen shook his head and grinned as he watched them go.

Brett mounted Spirit and then riding over to the livery waited while Mr.
Hillyard saddled up a mount for Cole. "Cob here is real gentle and you shouldn't
have any problems with him. He's steady and don't shy easily at things some
horses might." He told Cole.

Cole nodded his head. "Thank you Mr. Hillyard."

"You're welcome son. Have fun now." Jack said with a smile as he saw the other
young man waiting for Cole. "You two stay out of mischief." Jack admonished.

Cole smiled. "Yes Sir, we will and I'll take real good care of Cob here."

Jack nodded. "See that you do. I'll see you later."


Jalen glanced over at the livery as he made his rounds and smiled as he saw
Brett and Cole on their horses. "You two remember what I told you!" The Sheriff

Brett and Cole chorused. "Don't worry Jalen…we will!" They turned their horses
toward the West end of town and the Sheriff watched until they rode out of


Brett relished this rare treat of being able to go somewhere on his own without
Jalen and with his friend Cole. He made certain to keep the church spire in
sight as his partner had instructed as they rode the trails and enjoyed this
pretty late winter day. They noticed white rabbits and saw trails in the snow of
other small creatures.

Cole said, "Too bad I didn't bring the rifle, bet we could have brought back
somethin' for Gabe to cook."

Brett grinned. "Dan or you ain't learned to do that yet?"

Cole laughed. "We're goin' to try again." He had shared with his friend the
fiasco Dan had made out of attempting to make chicken noodle soup.

The younger man grinned. "Well I've been watchin' both Jalen and Mrs. Hawkins
when they cook."

Cole said, "It's not as easy as it looks…ask Dan." He grinned

The young outlaw chuckled.


Jalen made his usual rounds and stopped at the Diamond Dust for a beer and Gabe
smiled at him as he served it. "It's really nice to see those young ones off
enjoyin' themselves. They're good for each other even if they do have a knack of
getting' into mischief."

The Sheriff grinned. "That they do, but it's all part of growin' up."

Gabe nodded. "Oh yes, Dan and me, we had our share of foolish things and paid
the price as well."

Jalen nodded. "As he finished his beer he said, "Well, I'm off to finish my
rounds. I'll stop in on that older brother of yours and make sure he's stayin'
out of trouble too."

Gabe laughed. "All right. We'll see you later Sheriff."

Jalen smiled and left the saloon and made his way to the saddlery. He poked his
head inside. "Dan?"

Dan came out of his workroom and grinned. "Hello Sheriff…to what do I owe this
visit?" He asked.

Jalen gave Dan a teasing grin. "Your little brother told me I had to check on
you and make sure his big brother wasn't getting' into any trouble."

Dan laughed. "No…just workin' if that's getting' into trouble, then I'm up to my
neck in it."

Jalen laughed as well. "I'm glad business is good."

Dan smiled. "So am I. I hope our young partners are enjoying themselves and
stayin' out of trouble."

The Sheriff said, "We can only hope."

Dan chuckled. "True. Would you like to see my latest project?"

Jalen nodded. "Sure."

Dan brought his friend back to the work room and showed him the saddle he was
working on and the Sheriff admired it.


Hawk called a halt to their journey a little outside of town. "I think we should
hole up until dark. Then we can slip into town and get the lay of the land and
check out the Sheriff."

Slim and Bear nodded. "Sounds like a good plan boss. Then we can keep our eyes
peeled for the kid too."

Hawk gave an evil grin. "It would be good to be able to just kill him off and
not have to deal with anythin' else. We'll need to try to get him by himself in
a dark alley somewhere, knock him out or off there and then we can bring him out
here and take care of him. Bury him where no one will ever find him."

The other two nodded. "No evidence." Slim said.

Hawk nodded in agreement, his black eyes scanning the area for a good place to
make a nearby hide out. He saw what seemed to have been a road at one time, but
was now overgrown. "Let's check this out…there my be somethin' here we can
use…this looks like an old road and it should lead somewhere." He told the

They rode along and came upon an old dilapidated shack on what appeared to be an
abandoned piece of land all overgrown with weeds and saplings in the woods a
little way off the main road. He figured it had been someone trying to homestead
but had failed dismally at it. The ground around it was rock hard and stony,
where it peeked through the remaining snow, not good for much of anything except
to grow trees. Growing crops would have been hard.

The men built a small campfire outside the shack and brought up some water from
a nearby stream and made themselves comfortable along with their horses which
they were able to take to the stream to drink and then tethered them near the
shack. They settled down to wait for dark.


Brett smiled at Cole as he gazed up at the position of the sun and realized it
was mid afternoon. "We'd better head back soon. I promised Jalen earlier, before
we came to town that I'd take care of the chores before it got dark."

Cole grinned. Okay, I hate to go back, but I understand. It's been a great day.
I'm hopin' we can have more of these."

Brett nodded and then pulled Spirit up short. His mount pranced a bit, but he
didn't seem to notice as he stared at something that had caught his eye on the
side of the road outlined in the snow.

Cole brought his mount up short as well, but Cob didn't mind too much. "What's
wrong?" He asked seeing his friend's face pale.

Brett said, "Uhm…I'm not sure, but I need to get down and look at somethin' more

Cole watched Brett dismount and then stare at something in the snow at the edge
of the road. He got down from Cobb and came over to stand by his friend. "What
is it Brett?" He asked in a soft whisper.

Bret said quietly, "Hawk Rory Hoffman…the leader of the Rocky Mountain
Boys…they're comin' for me."

Cole looked at Brett askance, "Comin' for you?"

Brett nodded. "You remember me tellin' you about me bein' part of the Rocky
Mountain Boys Gang? Hawk is the leader. His horse always has that distinctive
shoe mark. They must have found out I was livin' here."

Cole squeezed Brett's shoulder. "We should go tell Jalen."

Brett shook his head. "I need to take care of this myself."

Cole shook his head. "Brett, don't be stupid. This man could take your life."

Brett thought about things for a moment and then nodded. "All right…let's go
into town and find Jalen."

The two young men finished their ride and rode into town. Brett thought he'd
check the Sheriff's office first after Cole turned Cobb into the livery to look
for Jalen to tell him what was happening.


Jalen had just left Dan's shop after making his afternoon rounds and had told
him he figured the boys would be coming back soon. Brett had promised to get
back in time to get the chores finished before it got dark. He headed back to
the Sheriff's office and smiled as he noticed the two young men's mounts appear
at the west end of town. He was glad to see them making their way back and that
Brett was being responsible and keeping his promise. He went into his office,
knowing Brett would join him as soon as the two had taken care of their horses.


Brett worried his lip nervously and glanced at Cole as he walked Spirit over to
the Sheriff's office after going with him to the livery to return Cob.

Cole gave his friend a reassuring smile. "Don't worry Brett. Jalen won't let
anythin' happen to you."

Brett sighed. "I know that, but I really hate puttin' him in a position where he
has to protect me. I can protect myself and he doesn't really have to be

Cole shook his head. "You're not thinkin' right again. Jalen loves you and he
wouldn't want to be left out. If anythin' happened to you…well it wouldn't be

Brett nodded. "But, the same goes for me. I love him too and there's no way I'd
want to lose him either. He'll tell me to stay out of it…that he'll handle
things. I don't want to stay out of it…it's my fight to fight, not his."

Cole shrugged. "Well talk to him. I can't make you do nothin' more than that."

Brett nodded. I'll do that."

When they arrived at the Sheriff's office Brett hitched Spirit to the rail and
he and Cole headed inside.


Jalen was sitting at his desk taking care of some paper work that needed to be
submitted for Brett's probation when Brett walked in with Cole.

The Sheriff smiled at the boys, as he pushed back his chair and stacked the
papers he'd been working on. "I'm glad to see you kept your promise Brett and
got back early enough to make it home and take care of the chores the way you
said you would."

Brett nodded. "Me too…Jalen?"

Jalen looked at his young outlaw and leaned forward a bit, steepling his long
sensitive fingers in front of him on the desk. "Yes Brett?"

"Hawk Rory Hoffman is hidin' outside of town." Brett told him.

Jalen sat back abruptly and raised an eyebrow. "Is that so? What makes you think
that Brett?"

The young outlaw twisted his fingers nervously and gazed into the green eyes and
said quietly, "I saw his horse's shoe imprint as we were ridin' back into town."

Jalen looked up sharply. "Where?"

"In the road near where you told me there once was an old shack where someone
must have attempted to homestead at some time."

Jalen nodded. "I'll have to check it out. Did you boys have a good ride?"

Brett's blue eyes sparked and he clenched his fists into balls. "Jalen! You're
not takin' this seriously! He's come to kill me!" Brett yelped in an agitated

Jalen shook his head and got up and with an arm around Brett's shoulders guided
him, along with Cole into the back room and closed the door. He put his arms
around his young outlaw. "Don't worry about it Brett. I told you I'd check into

"What are you goin' to do?!" The young man demanded.

Jalen gave Brett a look the young outlaw was beginning to recognize.
"Jalen…please…I know it's them. I saw the special shoe Hawk has made for his
horse. They're around I'm tellin' you!" Brett repeated, becoming more agitated.

The Sheriff hugged his young outlaw tighter. "Calm down Brett. I believe you,
but we can't go rushin' off half cocked."

Brett bit his lip, and then nodded. "I know you're right Jalen, but I can't help
feelin' nervous. I don't want anyone hurt because of me." He said quietly.

The Sheriff said with confidence, "No one will get hurt."

Brett said quietly, "I hope not."

Jalen squeezed the young man again and smiled. He locked green eyes with blue
and he said sternly, "I'll handle it. I won't go after them half cocked. This
will require a little plannin'."

Brett asked again with concern, what are you goin' to do?"

Jalen said, "I'm goin' to ride out to the old shack carefully and check things
out. If they're there I'll arrest them and bring them into town and lock them
up. They're wanted men Brett. It's my duty."

Brett frowned, "That sounds dangerous! You should take me with you!"

Jalen arched an eyebrow at Brett. "Who's Sheriff here?"

Brett bit his lower lip. "You are."

Jalen nodded. "Exactly."

His partner was right, but it didn't sit very well with him." You're sure
there's nothin' I can do to help? Remember I am a crack shot." The young outlaw

The Sheriff said firmly, "No, I'm the law in this town and I'll do what needs

Cole listened to the two and then nodded. "Jalen's makin' sense Brett. He's the
Sheriff and he has the experience in these things."

Brett gave his friend a look. "All right…but I still don't like it."

Jalen nodded. "So noted, but remember who's in charge in Diamond Springs and I'm
not about to let any outlaws make trouble of any kind for any of us."

The younger man nodded slowly. "All right Jalen."

The Sheriff smiled, stroking the black curls. "Don't worry, I promise nothin'
will happen to you. You just do as I tell you all right?"

Brett nodded once again. "I'll try."

Jalen grinned. "It's all I ask of you." He patted the younger man's bottom. He
looked at Cole and smiled. "I think Dan's goin' to bee lookin' for you soon."

Cole nodded. "Yes, I'd better be goin'. I'll see you later Brett."

"All right Cole." Brett said. He looked up at Jalen. "I'd better head home and
take care of those chores."

The Sheriff nodded. "All right. I'll see you later when I get back. I'm goin' on
out to check things out now."

Brett still frowned. "I still don't see why you don't take me with you."

Jalen said quietly, "Brett, you're my responsibility. These men are out to hurt
you and I can't afford to have that. I love you and care for you too much."

Brett snuggled into Jalen's arms. "All right…but I'll worry the whole time until
you get back."

Jalen grinned. "All right, but do try not to worry too much. I'm a big boy and I
know how to take care of myself. It's not like I haven't faced down gunslingers
before you know."

Brett looked at him. "You have? I didn't know that."

The Sheriff said, It's not an everyday thin', but I have faced down a couple and
both times they ended up in my jail."

Brett nodded. "All right…I'll see you later."

Jalen released his young outlaw and Brett left the Sheriff's office and mounting
Spirit, headed on home.


Hawk and the others were sitting around in their camp. Hawk said, it won't be
long now before we should be heading into town and get the lay of the land and
the bead on this Sheriff."

Slim and Bear nodded. "Sounds like a good idea Boss." They said as they passed
the whiskey bottle between them.

They had been dozing and drinking the whiskey they had brought with them in
their saddle bags ever since they had stopped about mid afternoon.

Bear said "This sheriff can't be so tough and there are more of us than there is
of him."

Slim smirked. "Bear; there are always more of us than of the Sheriff why do you
think he has a posse?"

Bear grinned lopsidedly. "Never thought of that."

Hawk just shook his head at the silliness.

The other two men continued to laugh and drank some more, waiting for the boss
to give them the word to move out.


Brett rode home. He rushed through his chores and went into the room his partner
used as an office. He knew Jalen had the pistol he had taken from Brett locked
up in the drawer of the desk. He needed his gun. He had to go help his Sheriff.
Jalen didn't know Hawk and the others like he did. They were ruthless men. Brett
picked the lock and once he opened the drawer pulled out the pistol he hadn't
had in his hand in several months. It felt good. It had good balance and he knew
it was accurate. He found the shells for the gun, but didn't bother looking for
the holster. After checking and loading the pistol he tucked it in his
waistband. He went to the barn, tacked up Spirit and headed toward the road that
led west.


After checking his revolver and rifle and being certain both were loaded and
slipping a knife into his boot, Jalen mounted Liberty and headed toward the west
end of town, taking the road that led toward the old abandoned homestead. He
rode tall and straight in the saddle, his eyes scanning and his whole body
alert. He listened intently for sounds that were not usual or the lack of sound
that would indicate someone's presence. He rode slowly and carefully. In a bit
he heard voices and laughter. He realized he was getting close to where the gang
members were holed up. He stopped, still hidden in the trees and bushes near the
abandoned homestead. He slipped quietly from the saddle and tethered Liberty to
a nearby bush. "You stay quiet boy…I'll be back." He whispered in the horse's
ear. His mount flicked his ear as though he were acknowledging the order and
Jalen patted him. The Sheriff crept up silently, watching where he stepped in
order to not step on any twigs that could snap and give him away. He finally got
close enough to peer through the thick tangle of branches to observe the gang

They were sitting around a small camp fire, drinking and talking and laughing in
a semi drunken state he guessed. He noticed the leader watched around him keenly
and took special care to not be seen before he was ready to make his move. He
silently slipped his revolver out of it's holster. He turned the barrel slowly,
easing a live round into the chamber, unlocking the safety and waited for his
chance to surprise the outlaws. He didn't have to wait long and when he got his
chance he stepped out into the open, his gun in his hand and shouted…"Hawk
Hoffman! Don't move! You and your men are under arrest!"

Hawk stared in surprise at the sudden appearance of the Sheriff. He briefly
wondered how the hell the Sheriff knew he was there, and then swore softly as he
realized that the Sheriff had been tipped off. He tried to bluster. With Slim
and Bear behind him, he said, "You got the wrong fella Sheriff. Me and my
friends are just restin' after our long ride. This looked like a good place to
stop to rest for a while."

Jalen's eyes narrowed. "Then you all won't mind takin' your weapons and tossin'
them onto the ground and kick them over to me." He said in a stern, steely

"Now Sheriff…what are you goin' to do if we don't want to?" Hawk said a bit too

Slim and Bear exchanged glances.

"You and your friends are wanted men and I'm puttin' you under arrest. I'll be
takin' you in…do as I say…now!" Jalen roared keeping his eye on them.

Hawk gave an evil smile and began to draw his weapon. "I don't think so

Jalen aimed his revolver at the outlaw and said, "I said…drop your weapons and
kick them over to me, now!"

The Sheriff and the outlaw were locked in a battle of wills now. Jalen didn't
take his eyes off the outlaw for one instant, attempting to stare him down. The
other two men had tried to move out of the line of fire and Jalen shouted, "You
two…stay right where you are if you don't want your friend here to die!"


Brett had trailed his partner and had hung back so the Sheriff wouldn't notice
his presence. Once Jalen had made his move Brett moved in closer, being careful
to not make any noise to give himself away. He watched the scene unfold from
behind the trees and bushes that hid him and bit his lip when he saw Hawk draw
on Jalen. When the other two tried to move away, still having their weapons the
young outlaw grew concerned. His partner needed help. When he saw Hawk's arm
tense slightly as though he were ready to pull the trigger he came charging out
from the wooded area. "Leave him alone Hawk! It's me you want…not him!" Brett

Jalen swore under his breath and took a quick glance at Brett.

Hawk, seeing Jalen take his eye off him began to squeeze the trigger, getting
ready to shoot.


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