"Showdown In Sage Creek."
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COLTON BANK ROBBED, THIEVES GET
"Sheriff Daniels, who was wounded trying to stop
the robbery, stated today that five masked individuals,
thought to be part of the infamous Jarvis gang, entered
the bank just shortly after..."
Hank Tammaran raised his flat gray eyes from the
one page newspaper he was reading, to look out the
window at three horsemen who ambled passed his office.
Riders weren't uncommon, but with the fall round
up in full swing and the time being just past one in the
afternoon, it gave him reason to wonder.
"Something wrong, Hank?" Doc Bedford asked,
watching the sheriff stare after the three riders.
"Maybe, and maybe not." Hank Tammaran replied,
scratching his gray spattered bewhiskered chin.
"Uh huh." Doc replied back, looking at his friend
with a bit of concern. He knew the man, knew him well,
and answers like that didn't sit well in his mind. Still, his
old friend didn't seem overly troubled, so he let it go.
Hank Tammaran wasn't old. He was just thirty eight.
Still, he wasn't young anymore either. The job and the
rigors of living in the wild lands of Utah, had taken it's
toll on him, aging and tiring his body.
"Think maybe I'll take me a little walk." Tammaran
said casually after a slow five minutes had passed,
stretching out his long six foot frame as he stood.
"You want some company?" Doc asked. He need
not have bothered. He knew what his friend would say,
but he asked just the same, a smile on his face.
"Nope, just need a walk to settle Mableís meatloaf in
the stomach a bit more." Hank Tammaran said lazily.
"Sure, Hank, go ahead, I'll catch up with you later."
Doc Bedford replied. He was no fool. Something was up
and it had something to do with the three horsemen they
has seen riding past the office.
As soon as the sheriff headed for the door, he got
up, went to the gun-rack and took down a twin barrel
shotgun and stepped outside behind him.
"You going someplace with that?" Hank Tammaran
asked, turning and seeing his friend step out onto the
"That's right pigeon hunting! There's a good spot
just up the street a piece." Doc smiled a grim smile and
started across the street, but turned when the sheriff
"You be careful, doc, might be some curly wolves
"Same with you, Hank, keep them all in front of
"I'm not hunting like you are, just strolling and
having me a look see is all." Hank Tammaran said with a
As the two men started up the street on opposite
sides, two shots broke the afternoon quiet. "Come on!"
Hank shouted to his long time friend and started running
toward Penderís, Shady Lady Saloon.
"Right behind you, Hank." Doc called back. He was
older by ten years and heavier set, so his movements
were not as fast as the sheriff's.
Hank Tammaran reached the saloon steps as the
three men he'd seen riding in earlier, rushed out, guns in
hand. "Hold it right..." He began, but never finished. The
shots were instantaneous and the sheriff took the first
slug, came on a step, then folded up in the dusty street.
"Hank!" Doc Bedford shouted, letting loose with
one barrel of the scatterguns load, but the distance was
too far away for effect, then he himself was diving for
cover as bullets ripped the air around him.
Seconds later, the sound of horses charging away
from the saloon, mixed with sporadic gunfire, filled the
empty street. When the quiet returned once, a moment
later, Doc Bedford was up and moving. "Easy, Hank,
easy." He said arriving at his friends side.
Hank Tammaran was still alive, but the tiny pieces
of lead had done their job all too well. "Somebody help
me get him inside." He called to the assembling crowd.
Worry etched his face as he stood by and watch his
friend gently lifted and carried inside the saloon and to a
"How is he, Doc?" Rowdy Penderís asked when Doc
finally came down the steps.
Doc could only shake his head and say "Not good,"
He had been working over his friend for over three hours
and he was exhausted, both mentally and physically. "not
good at all. The bullet fragmented when it hit his ribs...
tore him up inside real bad."
"He's gonna live, ain't he, Doc?" Some one in the
same crowd that had gathered wanted to know.
"Who knows, I've done all I can for him, now..."
"What happens now if Jarvis and his gang show up
here in Sage Creek?" Another man interrupted and
another echoed the question.
"It's already taken care of." Rowdy Penderís said,
momentarily quieting the crowd. "Doc, had me send a
wire to the U.S. Marshals office and their going to send
Bud Kealton from over Vegas way..."
"Vegas!" One man gasped.
"Hell, Kealton won't get here for three maybe four
days at best." Another man complained.
"If you're so worried about us being lawless, Barber,
why don't you just fill in till Kealton gets here." Doc
asked, pushing his way through the crowd until he could
stare into the eyes of Duncan Barber.
"Not me!" Barber replied, lowering his eyes from
those of Doc Bedford. "I got a wife and kids to think of."
"Hank Tammaran has a wife and kids too." Doc said
"Yes, but he gets..." Someone else began only to be
"We don't pay him near enough for what he has to
do to protect the like's of you."
"That ain't fair, Doc, and you know it!" Another
man called out, trying to defend their attitude and fears.
Doc Bedford turned away from the crowd and
started back up the stairs to where Hank Tammaran lay
fighting for his life, but stopped at Rowdy Penderís
"There's going to be a lot of sleepless nights and
restless days till Kealton gets here." Penderís said, with
equal disgust toward the way the small crowd acted.
"It's worse than that." Turning back to face Penderís,
Doc eyed the man really for the first time. "Kealton will
only stay a day or two, a week maybe if he finds
something he can work on..."
Doc Bedford paused, stepping up a step, so he could
be seen by all in the room. "Quiet!" He called then.
"Quiet down a minute. I wasn't going to tell you this, but
I guess you got a right to know..." He let his words sink
in, let the murmur die, before going on.
"All of you better get this straight. Hank Tammaran
won't be drawing his gun in defense of this town
anymore. That second slug hit his elbow... I done what I
could, but his arm is going to be useless for the most part
after and if, he recovers." The words stunned the crowd
into a shocked silence. They stared at Doc, at each other,
then the room erupted into a confusion of voices.
All through the remainder of the day and into the
early evening, Doc stayed near the bed in the small room
as Hank Tammaran lingered between life and death. he
felt helpless not being able to do more for the man, yet he
knew he had done all that he could. It was up to Hank
himself now. Hank and the man above, if there was such
A knock at the door sounded just before seven.
"Doc, I'm going to get something to eat. You want me to bring you something back when I come?" Rowdy
Penderís asked, opening the door slightly and poking his
head into the room.
"No, but thanks, Rowdy." Doc said softly. "Mable
went home to get something for herself and the little
ones, she said she'd bring me back when she came."
"All right, Doc, just thought I'd ask."
"What the hell happened in the saloon before Hank
got shot?" Doc asked looking older than his forty eight
"I don't know for sure, Doc, I was in my office when
the first shot sounded, when I came out, one of them
threw a shot at me, then..."
"Then Hank got shot." Doc added, finishing Penderís
sentence for him.
"Yeah!" Was all Rowdy Penderís could say as he
closed the door behind him.
He walked into the dining room a few minutes later,
his mind going back over the scene earlier in the day.
Like always, he stood just inside the door a moment,
letting his eyes grow accustom to the light change, then
swept the room to see who was there. Besides Anna
Philips, the chief cook and bottle washer, there was no
one except the four men sitting at the far table near the
Rowdy Penderís strained his eyes, but he didn't
recognize any of them until he moved further into the
room. Then he felt his heart skip a beat and his step
"Howdy, Clay," Penderís began, moving up to the
table where the four men sat. "been a long time and a lot
of country." His voice softened, yet it took on a hardness
at the same time. "When you and your boys are finished
eating, head out of town and don't come back."
Clay Jarvis lifted his light green eyes from his beef
steak to look up at Rowdy Penderís. As his chair slid back
and as he placed his knife and fork down on the table, a
smiled appeared, but only for a split second as
recognition came to him.
"Sorry, Major, me and my men got a little job to do
first." He said, the smile showing, then sliding away.
"Not in my town, Sergeant." Penderís said flatly.
Both men had served together during the Civil War
years. Penderís as a Southern cavalry Major, Jarvis as one
of his finest men. "You and..."
"I didn't see your name on this town when we rode
in, and I don't see no star on your shirt front..." The
speaker was a young man with cruel eyes and a jeering
smile. "Fact is, I heard told this town was run by an old
coot who got himself shot today by a..."
"No ones talking to you, Boy," Penderís said leaning
into the grinning youths face. "you interrupt me again, I'll
slap that smile off your face. And..." The youth's hand
froze in place as he felt the cold steel of Rowdy Penderís
pistol jam into his ribs. "you go for that gun, I'll blow
your worthless guts clean out of you."
"He ain't bluffing, Walker, put your hands back up
on the table where he can see them." Clay Jarvis said
mildly. "That goes for the rest of you as well. I rode with
the Major, and I haven't see many faster or more accurate
with a shooting iron."
"We can take him, Clay, there's four of us to his
one." The speaker spoke boldly, yet there was a trace of
doubt in his eyes.
"Sure, Bud, but the kid would be dead and so would
I, and before anyone of us could get off a shot. Ain't that
right, Major?" Clay Jarvis smiled, standing up slowly.
"We're going, Major, but we'll be back." He added
placing his flat back hat onto his sandy blond head.
"Don't try and stop us, Major, I'd hate to have to kill
"Why wait then?" Rowdy Penderís stepped back
several paces and holstered his pistol. "Kill me now, if
you think you can, Clay."
"No, Major, we'll be going, just remember what I
"When we come back, if Clay don't kill you, I'm
going too." The youthful Walker sneered, getting up from
his half eaten meal and following Clay Jarvis and the
others out of the dining room.
Rowdy Penderís stood watching the youth close the
door. He half expected the Kid to make a try for his gun,
but the door closed and he breathed a sigh of relief. Still,
it wasn't over with yet...
"What was all that about?" Anna Philips asked
"Just a difference of opinion." Rowdy Penderís said
turning around to face the woman. "You still got some
grub left?" He asked.
"For you, of course."
When he had finished picking at his meal, Rowdy
Penderís got up and headed back to his saloon. He needed
a drink, needed one badly. He had come close to having
had to shoot it out with Clay Jarvis and his gang and
while it was true, he would have killed the Kid and put
lead into some of the others, he...
Penderís shuddered inwardly at the thought. With
Clay Jarvis's devil take care attitude, anything could have
happened. The man had no fear of dying and he had no
respect for any other living thing.
"Whew!" His sigh, was loud in the stillness of the
night and he could feel the sweat on his back.
Half way across the street, Rowdy Penderís stopped
dead in his tracks and a cold shiver ran up his spine. It
occurred to him at that moment, that there had been only
three of Jarvis's men at the dinner table. Where was the
Breed? He had almost forgot the most deadly member of
the Jarvis gang.
The Breed was a cold blood killer, a hater of white
men, but worst yet, a sadistic monster who preyed on the
white women who had spawned him.
Hurriedly Rowdy Penderís crossed the street, up the
steps to the boardwalk and into the saloon. "Is Doc still
here?" He asked his bartender, Dan Miller.
"Seen him awhile ago, but..."
"Go get him!"
"Is something wrong?" Dan Miller asked.
"Never mind," Penderís said, taking a bottle off the
shelf behind the bar and moving toward the stairs. "I'll
get him myself."
"Doc?" Rowdy called softly as he poked his head
into the room where Hank Tammaran lay.
"Can I see you outside a moment?" Penderís asked
seeing Mable Tammaran sitting near the bed where her
"What is it?" Doc asked looking up.
"Outside, no need to bother Mrs. Tammaran."
Penderís said quietly, his eyes told Doc everything else he
needed to know. Something was wrong!
"I'll be right back, Mable." Doc said, touching her
shoulder gently. When he had closed the door, and
followed Penderís down the stairs and into his office, he
repeated his initial question. "What is it, Rowdy?"
"I just seen Clay Jarvis over to the restaurant, but
Thatís not the worst of it. He only had three of his men
with him." Penderís said with a gush of air. "The Breed
wasn't with him and if I'm right..."
"He's free in town doing God knows what. Is that
it?" Doc finished, turning to the door. "I'll tell Mable I
have to go out for awhile, then I'll get my gun and meet
you over to Hanks office."
"I'll see if I can get some of the others to..." Penderís
"You'd be wasting your breath, Rowdy. Just give me
a minute." Doc told him, then opened the door. "If he's
here, we'll find him." He added somberly. Like Penderís,
Doc was worried. He knew about the Breed, had seen the
killers handy work and had been sickened by it.
"God, help us, if we don't"
"Yeah, I know."
Rowdy Penderís sat in his office for several minutes
after Doc left him. His stomach felt queasy and his hand
had a noticeable tremble to it when he lifted his glass of
whiskey to his lips. "Get a hold of yourself." He said half
aloud. It was one thing to be brave when you had no
other choice, like when he was talking to Jarvis and the
Kid butted in, but this seemed different to him somehow.
Was it, he wondered? Was hunting a crazed killer in
the dark really any different than facing a gun crazy kid
sitting at a table?
The thought was unsettling. It questioned his nerve.
He had seen and done a lot of killing during the war
years, but like so many others, near the end of it, he had
grown tired of the slaughter. When the war ended, he had
put up his guns and came west. Now he had to pick them
up again. "Why? No one else seemed to give a damn
about having their town robbed and shot to hell. Why
should I?" He asked getting up at last and going to the
door and stepping out.
"Leaving for the night, Rowdy?" Dan Miller asked
as he headed for the door.
"Got some things to take care," He said turning to
look at his bar keep. "lock up for me if I don't get back,
The walk wasnít far, yet it seemed to take forever to
reach the sheriff office. Was it the night? The fact that a
cold blooded maniac was on the loose, or was it, he was
"Where you figure to start?" Doc Bedford asked
when he finally reached the office and stepped inside.
"Lets try the livery first. If not there, then over to
Polly's parlor house."
"Jesus! He wouldn't..." Doc Bedford started. He
didn't want to think about the possibilities. "We'd of
heard screams or gunshots, wouldn't we?"
"He'd use his knife on them if he could." Penderís
said stepping out and away from the building. "Let's go,
maybe we'll get lucky."
The livery barn was up the street a full block away.
Both men could see the pitch black hole where the doors
stood open and it gave them both chills. For all they
knew, the Breed might be watching their approach,
waiting for the distance to shorten enough for a sure
Doc Bedford carried the scattergun he had used
earlier when he tried to help the sheriff. Penderís carried
only his pistol, but he knew how to use it and in close
quarters, it would be easier to handle than a long rifle.
The black hole of the open doors loomed larger.
"Should be a light on." Doc commented, as they stopped
at the last of the boardwalk businesses. His nerves were
on edge, his throat dry and his palms sweaty. This wasn't
a job for him...
The remainder of the way, some twenty odd yards,
was barren of cover. They would be sitting ducks for
anyone waiting in the barn with a rifle.
"Take the right, Doc," Penderís said quietly, using
his hands as well to indicate where he wanted Doc to go.
"and go slow and easy. We don't want to announce our
arrival if we don't have too."
Doc Bedford wiped the sweat off his brow and
swallowed his response. What the hell am I doing here,
he wondered yet again as he moved across the street and
started toward the barn once more. I'm a doctor, not a
hunter of men, he told himself. Other men shoot each
other, I just put them back together..."
With each foot, each step of the remaining distance,
the knot in his stomach grew tighter. His was the better
avenue of approach due to the slight angling of the barn,
The night exploded with a single gun shot and an
orange wink, then all hell broke loose. Rowdy Penderís
had felt the danger before it actually came. Taking a step
to his left, he had started running for the barn, when the
shot whistled passed his ear. A second and third shot
followed as he rolled, got up, ran, rolled again, got up
and ran once more to the edge of the barn.
"Watch the front, Doc!" He yelled, watching out the
corner of his eyes as Doc raced the final distance to the
barn without drawing a shot.
"You all right?" Doc called, gasping for breath.
Penderís didn't answer, instead he spun away from the
front of the barn and started down along it's side toward
the back door. If he was right, the Breed would be
heading for it and he planned on being there to greet him.
"Not this time, you Son of a Bitch!" Penderís hissed
angrily to himself as he rounded the far corner and stopped.
Memories of a long time passed flooded his thoughts. He
could see the bright smile, the long brown hair and deep
blue eyes, the soft gentle curves of the only woman he'd
The vision evaporated suddenly as out front, Doc's
shotgun roared into the night. "He's coming your way!"
Doc shouted an instant later.
Rowdy Penderís pistol came level as the back door
flew open. "Not this time, Breed!" He said aloud and his
pistol clicked off rounds like a well oiled clock ticked off
"Rowdy?" Doc called, when the silence returned.
Others had come out dressed in their night clothes, but
Doc ignored their questions about what was happening.
"Penderís?" He shouted. He was getting concerned and
ready to go looking, when Rowdy Penderís finally
rounded the corner.
"You hit?" Doc asked see him stagger a bit and
hurrying to his side. "Yes damn it, you're hit. Where?"
He asked reaching out to steady the man.
"What happened to the Breed?" Doc Bedford asked.
"He get away?"
"Then we'll do it in the barn" Doc Bedford said, his
arm around Penderís waist. It took him a minute to find
the lantern, but once lit, he turned to Penderís wound. It
was only a graze under the arm pit of his right shoulder,
yet it had bled a lot and Doc knew it smarted like all hell.
Still, there was little he could do until they got back to
his office. "Wont kill you." He said at last.
"Mother of Jesus!" Both men turned to look at the
speaker and the small crowd gathered near the livery
mans small office.
"Doc, better have a look, but I doubt you can do
anything for him." Recognizing the voice as that of his
bar tender, Rowdy Penderís got up and followed Doc
Bedford to the tiny office.
The livery man lay bound to his cot, a gag had been
forced into his mouth, then he had been butcher, cut up
like a piece of meat. Rowdy Penderís turned away,
sickened by the grizzly sight, but more so by the
memories. His wife Angela had looked the same way
after the Breed finished with her.
"He's dead." Doc said stating the obvious. "Dan,
how about you and a couple of others taking him and the
other one out back, over to Ungermanís place."
"Sure, Doc, no problem." Dan Miller said,
motioning to a couple of others. "You better take Rowdy
back to your place and patch him up, he don't look so
Over a stiff shot of brandy, Doc Bedford and Rowdy
Penderís went over what still lay ahead. Clay Jarvis and
his men would return, there was no doubt about that, the
only question was how many men he would have with
him. Jarvis was a man possessed and once he made up
his mind to do something, there was no stopping him.
"So what do we do?" Doc asked. Penderís had told
him the whole story, the war years, and the murder of his
wife by the Breed.
"We wait, then we do what we have too." Penderís
"We're in this alone... you know that don't you?"
"Wouldn't want it any other way, unless Hank was
along for the ride." Penderís said getting up. There was
still several hours till daybreak and he planned on using
them to catch a little sleep. "Night, Doc, see ya in the
"Yeah, I suspect so." Doc replied getting up to his
own feet. Like Penderís, he was tired, yet he doubted he
would get much sleep this night. He still had to check on
Hank and then maybe...
Clay Jarvis, the young Walker at his side, rode into
town shortly before nine. His other two men had arrived
earlier in the morning and they sat in the eatery waiting
"Where's the Breed?" Jarvis asked, stepping down in
front of the hitching rack in front of the eatery, as the two
men came out to meet him.
"Don't know, Clay." Bud Armstrong said, going
through the motions of rolling and lighting a cigarette.
"We looked for him, but he's no where to be found."
"And there's something else you need to know,
Clay." Stan Jones put in. "We heard talk about a couple
of killings last night. Could be he had to light out of
"Shit!" The younger Walker groaned, jumping down
off his horse. "Damn stinking Breed! What do we do
now, call it off?" Despite the icy cold stare of Clay
Jarvis, the Kid went on raving. "I'll kill the Bastard
"Shut the hell up!" Jarvis snapped, looking the Kid
hard in the eyes. "We ain't calling nothing off. And you
leave that Breed alone, he'd eat you alive." Both menís
eyes locked together for a long moment, but at last
Walker let his gaze slide away. "Now come on," Jarvis
said turning to the others. "we got a job to do."
Slowly, then the four men walked down the street.
Jarvis and Walker, leading their mounts, the other two
strolling along the boardwalk with busy eyes. It was quiet
on the street, too quiet, but none of them men took
notice. When they reached the alley near the bank, Clay
Jarvis stopped and handed the reins to Walker.
"Bud, you're with me. Stan, you're on the porch, and
Kid, you're in the alley this trip. Keep your eyes open and
them horses ready... you got that?" Jarvis questioned.
"Yeah, I got it, but why me?" Walker complained.
"Because I just said so!" Clay Jarvis's eyes were
filled with death as he glared at the Kid. He had just
about had enough of the youngsters mouth and wild
ways. "Now get going!"
The bank appeared to be empty as the two bank
robbers stepped inside and Clay Jarvis let a thin smile
cross his lips. It would be easier than he hoped, all they
had to do was keep an eye on the teller and the fat slob
who ran the place. They'd get the money and get out
before anyone knew what happened.
"Take the teller," Jarvis said softly and he watched
Bud Armstrong move that way a second before he started
for the gate leading to the fat mans office.
"Can I help you?" Doc Bedford asked from behind
the tellers window.
Bud Armstrong grinned back, his yellow teeth
showing, as he slid his pistol from its holster, but he
never got a word out. The scattergun Doc held just below
the counter came up and filled the room with an ugly
Clay Jarvis spun on well worn heels. He needed no
one to tell him it was a trap. Instantly, he started to move,
but a voice checked his movement. "Thatís far enough,
Clay!" Pender called from behind the gate.
"No!" Jarvis shouted, turning back to where Penderís
waited with drawn pistol. "Bastard!" His word was a
scream of rage and his hand went for his gun. "You..."
Two slugs hit him in the chest even as his gun
cleared leather and Clay Jarvis crumpled to the floor.
Outside Stan Jones had leaped to his feet with the
first blast of gunfire from within. He burst through the
door in time to take the last charge of Doc Bedfordís
scattergun. Three were down and only the Kid remained
to be dealt with.
"You be careful." Doc called as Penderís stepped
over Clay Jarvis's lifeless body and headed for the door.
"They say he's fast, real fast."
"Maybe, and maybe it's all talk." Penderís called
back, stepping out onto the boardwalk. "Where you at,
Kid Walker had heard the roar of the scattergun and
the bark of pistols. He knew things had gone bad for the
others and he knew he should be fleeing out of town, yet
he couldn't get himself in motion. Every window of the
town took on the appearance of having someone waiting
with a gun for him. He was scared, really scared for the
first time in his life and he didn't know what to do.
"You wanted me last night," Said softly, stepping
into the alley. "well, I'm here now."
The Kid was fast, Penderís had to give him that, but
when the chips were down, his nerve abandoned him and
his shots went wide. "You should have stayed on the
farm." Penderís said looking down at Walkers lifeless
body. "Should have stayed..."
"It's over with." Doc said, wiping his brow as he
entered the alley. "If the saloons open, I could really use
a stiff drink."
"You and me both, Doc." Penderís said turning to
face the man. "It's not over with though. We still need to
find someone to fill Hanks boots and it's not going to me.
I'm too old for this kind of stuff."
"You cannot worry about that which you cannot control."