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#71 Jess Harper Won't Back Down

# 71 Jess Harper Won’t Back Down!

By
Patty Wilkinson
(Some adult themes, violence and strong language)


Chapter One

Well I won’t back down, no I won’t back down”

Sheriff Mort Cory looked down at the bruised, battered body of his good friend Jess Harper and said quietly, “I guess that was always his problem, he just wouldn’t back down.”
He cast a glance across the bed to where Slim Sherman stood, his blond head bowed, hiding the pain in his eyes.
After a moment he glanced up at the Sheriff, “He won’t back down Mort, not wouldn’t, he isn’t dead yet you know.”
Mort shook his head sadly, but said nothing for a while.
“I blame myself, I shouldn’t have left him alone in town deputizing for me,” he finally managed, “I had heard on the grape vine that the Lewis gang were possibly somewhere in the area, maybe I should have insisted Jess accompany the prisoner to Denver and stayed in town myself.”
“Oh come on Mort, we could spend forever saying what if. What if Lon, your deputy hadn’t got sick that day, what if I’d ridden into town for supplies earlier? Jess always said, always says, ‘thinkin’ on the ‘what ifs’ of life could drive a man plumb crazy.’”
“So how is he really?” Mort asked.
“Doc Sam seems to think there’s a slight improvement since we brought him home from town, he’s holding his own anyway and Miss Daisy’s nursing him real good.”
Mort threw the patient on the bed a quizzical look, “What does she make of that?” He asked the ghost of a smile on his rugged features.
Slim regarded Jess’s huge wolf cross sheepdog Blue, lying on the bed, his head on his master’s chest. The dog looked up, showing the whites of his eyes and his tail beat back and forth for a moment, knowing he was being discussed.
Slim leaned down and caressed the animal’s head affectionately, “I guess she doesn’t mind. Anything that helps my pard get well again is OK as far as she’s concerned,” he said his eyes suddenly bleak.Read More »

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#70 The Lonely Trail

The Lonely Trail

By Patty Wilkinson

(Some strong Language, Violence and Adult Themes)

Thanks to QD Jess for lovely screen cap

Dedicated to the women folk of Laramie Wyoming

Chapter 1

After a long hard ride Jess Harper reined in his mount and looked down from the rise to the Sherman Ranch and Relay station spread out below him. He had been away over a week delivering the mustangs. Now he relaxed in the saddle, tipping his hat back and running a hand across his weary face, before gazing down again at the place he called home.
Then he stiffened and narrowed his eyes, something wasn’t right. It was nearly dusk and yet there was no lamp light to be seen spilling out of the ranch house windows. No smoke issuing forth from the cook stove chimney, spiraling lazily up into the chilly evening sky either. Then he heard the sound of the chickens still scratching around, although they should have been locked up long before now and could also hear the distant sound of a dog barking. But otherwise there was no sound or sign of human habitation at all.
Suddenly feeling a spasm of anxiety in his gut he kneed Traveller down the rise and into the yard, before throwing himself from the saddle, rushing into the house and calling out…
But as soon as he entered his worst fears were confirmed, the house was cold and dark, the remains of a dying fire in the grate, the lamps unlit and the place deserted. In spite of the evidence around him he called out again, before marching into the empty kitchen.
He retraced his steps and lit the lamps now peering around him, an expression of worry in his deep blue eyes.
“What the Hell,” he muttered as he advanced upon the table and saw the remains of a half-eaten, congealed meal. The table set for three and he remembered it was a Saturday so young Mike, the rancher’s ward, would have been home for the noontide meal.
“Mike, hey, Tiger you here?” he yelled…but there was nothing but eerie silence closing in around him.
His mouth was dry and he felt his pulses begin to race, where the hell were they all? Slim, Mike and dear old Daisy, their beloved housekeeper?Read More »

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#69 Oblivion

Oblivion

By Patty Wilkinson

(Some strong language, violence and adult themes)

As told by Jess Harper & Slim Sherman

Chapter 1
Jess

My partner Slim Sherman and I we’re feelin’ pretty beat as we sat around the breakfast table that morning in early fall.
We’d spent the best part of the last three weeks bringing all the stock down from the high ground and checking and double checking all the home pasture fences. Now as we sat enjoying a final cup of coffee before the yard chores we were discussing the idea of a fishing trip over to the lake at the weekend.
Mrs Daisy Cooper our beloved housekeeper beamed over at us as she refilled our cups.
“Well I think you boys deserve a good break after all the hard work of these last few weeks,” she declared staunchly.
“We could take Mike,” I added, knowing that our young ward was always up for a fishing trip.
“Sounds real good to me,” Slim enthused.
I turned to him and then swivelled my eyes to Daisy, “Did ya hear that Daisy, old Hardrock there agreeing to time away from work, am I hearing right?” I asked with a grin, twirling a finger in my ear for effect.
“Oh, come on Jess I love a bit of fishing as well as the next man you know that and I reckon we’ve done all the hard work needed around here for a while. There will be plenty of time to fix that barn roof before the snow when we get home. I’ll get the Jackson boys to cover us for a couple of days.”
I just shook my head laughing, “Well that’s sure good to hear Slim.”
Then I turned to Daisy, “You won’t remember what old Slim here was like when I first moved in. It used to take a stick of dynamite to get him off of the ranch enjoying himself, now he’s nearly as ‘wild and feckless,’ as me!”
“You, wild and feckless?” Daisy asked chuckling.
“Those were old Jonesy’ s words. He was an old buddy of Slim’s Pa who lived here riding shotgun on young Andy and Slim when I first landed. He didn’t rightly approve of me see Daisy, me and my wild Texan ways, said I was leadin’ the Sherman boys astray.”
“Well you did didn’t you,” said Slim reaching across the table and landing a gentle cuff to my head.
“You know Daisy I’d rarely been in a saloon or played poker until I met this guy and look at me now.”
“Well you’ve hardly turned into a gambling drunkard Slim dear,” said Daisy smiling benignly at my pard.
“And you forgot the saloon girls I added, so if it weren’t for me you wouldn’t be dating the lovely Lily would ya?”
“Uh, yeah, well good point Hotshot I figure I owe you that one.”
We were just thinkin’ of movin’ and doin’ some work when we heard a rider coming in fast.Read More »

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#68 Love Thy Neighbor

Love Thy Neighbor – A Story for Christmas
By Patty Wilkinson

Thanks to Sally B for the screen cap

Chapter 1
Jess Harper found the man lying by the side of the Laramie Road, about a mile from the ranch and relay station.
It was a bitterly cold day just a few weeks before Christmas and Jess was hurrying home after checking on the stock over in the east pasture. The collar of his sheepskin jacket was turned up and his hat well down to try and keep the stinging wind out of his eyes.
He might well have passed by without seeing the old man. But just as he drew near the wind got up and caught the old-timer’s jacket, the material billowing out and making Traveller shy and sidestep.
Jess put a comforting hand to his horse’s neck and on peering down saw what looked to be a bundle of old rags by the road side. However, on closer inspection he was just able to make out the form of a man in the dim late afternoon light.
He jumped nimbly down from the saddle and kneeling by the grey haired, balding little man, deftly turned him over onto his back. Jess gave a little gasp of shock as he saw a deep gash to the man’s temple. His face was pale and pasty looking with a neatly clipped grey beard. At first he thought he was dead, but then moments later he groaned and his eyes flickered open.
“Take it easy,” said Jess kindly, and leaving him for a moment fetched his canteen and returning offered some water.
“Thank you, my boy, most kind,” the gentleman finally managed and he tried to sit up, failing miserably, gasping and falling back again.
“Easy,” Jess said. “What happened, did your horse throw you?”
The man shook his head a dazed look in his eyes, “I can’t remember… I think not, I seem to be on foot I believe.”
“What out here?” Jess asked looking slightly surprised, “Heck it’s no place to be afoot, in this weather too.”
The old man shook his head as if in an attempt to clear his mind, “I have a feeling I don’t ride. I have no great affinity for the animals I’m afraid,” he said casting Traveller a rather anxious glance.
“You have a feeling you don’t ride, dontcha know?” Jess asked looking decidedly puzzled now.
The old man fixed Jess with anxious brown eyes then, “To be perfectly honest with you young man I really don’t know. I also don’t know who I am, or what I’m doing here, I find myself in rather a quandary, I’m afraid.”
Jess looked down at the rather dapper little man, his clothes of good quality if somewhat threadbare and dusty now, he noted. He was kind of intrigued by his mode of speech too he sure wasn’t from around these parts he mused.
“Jess, Jess Harper,” he said offering his hand, then, “A quandary huh,” he said looking faintly amused, “I guess you’d better come home with me then and we’ll get Miss Daisy to clean you up some, maybe you’ll remember everything come the morning huh?”
“Miss Daisy you say?”
“Uh-huh, she’s our housekeeper back at the ranch. A real dab hand at treatin’ the sick and injured, ex-nurse ya see,” Jess said as he helped him to his feet.
“Well I don’t know, I don’t want to be a nuisance,” the older man said now looking up and down the road as if somehow, he could turn the clock back and be once more on his way…but to where?
“Ain’t any bother,” said Jess firmly, “and I dunno about you, but I’d kinda like to git out of this wind huh?”
“I agree on that account,” he said now smiling timidly.
“Come on then,” said Jess eager to be off, “I’ll give ya a leg up, we can ride double it ain’t too far.”Read More »