Michael closed the door behind him, He was torn between helping this kid and probably bringing unwanted attention to him and his past catching up to him
Leaning against the door, Michael closed his eyes as snap shots of the past bombarded his thoughts, leaving him with a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach.
Looking up he found Ben staring at him.
"Are you OK?" Ben asked him
"Yea sure, You need to tell me about the promise and Deed"
"Ben quickly looked away"
"Ben I can't help if I don't know what and why I'm doing it...I need a cause"
"Maybe I should leave" Ben said
"Your not up for it, yet"
"Look Ben I'll protect you for a few weeks, but when your able I'll need you to move on"
Ben sifted in his bed, "Michael That's all I ask for, a couple of weeks and I'll leave you be"
Michael Stared at Ben for a minute, contemplating how to say what he wanted to say without sounding to harsh.
"Ben it's not like that, it's just that I have a past I prefer not to catch up with me, I came here looking to make amen for it"
Ben looked up, "What amens?"
Michael turned with a stern look
"I prefer not to bring that bad omen into my home Ben"
Ben's shoulders fell as he made a decision
"Look Michael, I made a promise to my Ma"
Michael looked at him with those eye's that seemed to cut clean through him "What promise?"
"That I was to stake a claim to some land that she had a deed for"
"And those men that came have a problem with it?"
"Look Michael it was the only thing she had to give me, She kept the deed for years, knowing one day when I was old enough, She would give it to me, to give me a start in life"
"Sounds like a smart woman"
"Maybe" Ben said
Michael cocked his head as deep furors increased around his eyes
"I mean she was a good Mother and everything but"
"But what Ben"
"She was a Saloon girl Michael"
That shook Michael to the core as it hit home about Hedi, "Would her children think the same way about her?"
It made him want to make her a legitimate woman, but he knew that was impossible.
"And?" Michael asked
"Well you know it was hard at school, everyone would make fun of her and I had got into a lot of fights over it"
"So life was hard, grow up it's hard all over Ben, She sounds like a good Woman"
"She was Michael"
"Enough of this, you need to rest and I need to think and I do that, best on my horse, I'll be back in a awhile"
As Michael turned to open the door Ben said "I'm sorry for bringing my problems to you"
"It's not your fault, I was the one who brought you into my home"
Michael shut the door before anymore talk could start, He needed to think.
Saddling up his horse he whispered, "Lets ride Sheol"
He pranced around as if this made him happy "Michael laughed I know you would like this"
Kicking his horse into a gallop, they left the farm far behind.
Passing the Stevens farm, Michael thought back to when they first arrived in the valley.
Tom Stevens was a city boy and didn't know which end to hook a plow too, Michael grinned at thought of how he worked with the two of them that first year.
He enjoyed teaching them how to plant corn, raise chickens, cows, pigs, He had a warm feeling he was making amens for his troubled past and it warmed his soul.
He hadn't noticed the two horse men watching him from the tree line.
Grinning, Smitty watched as Michael trotted down the road towards town.
"OK Jake head to town the back way and let Big John know he is on his way"
"Yea sure" with that Jake turned his horse and raced for town, taking a trail that followed along the bottom of the ridge that over looked Michael's farm
Smitty turned his horse towards the farm, kicking it into a trot.
Michael rode into town, knowing Hedi would be working he headed for the Saloon, he had to get Hedi alone, he needed to talk.
Michael didn't like the Saloon, didn't like that some drifter might recognize him.
But his urge to touch her touch, to smell her hair, to kiss her lips made him sucked in a breath and walk through the swinging doors.
Michael felt eyes watch him as he approached the bar.
Pete the bar tender saw him sit down . Michael the usual?
Michael asked him when Hedi was going to sing
Any minute Michael, your looking a little down what's going on.
Michael let his gaze wander the full view of the room through the mirror that hung behind the bar.
Oh just life Pete, how is the misses doing? Michael asked him
Michael knew thats Pete's wife Laura was down with the flu
"She is doing alot better Michael and the remedy you gave us sure helped alot"
"I'm glad, tell her we'll stop by soon" Michael said
Michael had noticed three of the four cowboys sitting in corner of the room but that hadn't stopped them from watching him.
The sweetest voice he had ever heard started over at the piano
Drawing his attention back to Pete.
Pete did you say Laura was having another baby?
I said no such thing and strike that thought from your head Michael, it's bad luck to even think that.
Michael started laughing
That ain't funny Pete announced
From behind him, he heard some cowboy say something to Hedi.
Michael watched as Hedi smiled at him and slightly shook her head "no"
Taking a breath he took another drink, letting the warm coffee settle in his stomach
This time Hedi pushed the cowboy away as he tried to kiss her
Michael started to get up, but Pete put a hand on his arm, Michael she can take care of herself.
Michael looked down at the hand that was resting on his arm and slowly looked up at Pete
Pete swallowed hard and removed his hand, trying hard not to look into those eyes that were tearing right through him
Big John saw it all, and smiled
Well our boy there seems to have a soft spot for our little singer here.
Frank smiled, "information like that could come in handy."
"Your dang right" Big John said
From over at the piano a sound like a gun shot followed by yelling. The room went quiet as a morgue
They weren't sure when Michael crossed the room, but he was there now
Michael grabbed the cowboy by the back of his neck and flung him over the table he had been sitting at, drinks, money, cards flew in ever direction.
Two other cowboys that had been sitting there with him came up off the floor cussing.
"What the Hell" was all one cowboy got out of his mouth before Michael hit him.
The Cowboy hit the ground not getting up
The other Cowboy grabbed at his iron but Michael was there, putting his hand on the gun before it left the hostler .
Looking the man dead in the eyes, within a breath from his face Michael said.."You don't want to to do that.
The Cowboy started to resist but as he looked into the eyes of death, he gulped and backed away enough to turn and head out the swinging doors, not without glancing back at Big John and Frank.
Big John nodded at him..
Michael looked over at the first cowboy he had thrown over the table and he was looking at a 44 Colt aimed at his heart.
Michael stood there, gazing right through the cowboy
The cowboy had but a wink of an eye before he would dead, but Michael wavered.
He was a changed man, he didn't want to kill anymore, he walked away from that part of his life
Final Michael broke the tension, "Son you have a choice"
"Hell I have all the Choices I need, right here in my hand" as he steadied his Colt on Michael's chest
"The way I see it, you have 10 seconds to pick your friends up and head out of town or die"
The cowboy laughed "Your telling me? I'm the one with the gun"
"You've got 8 seconds"
"Mister you don't appear to understand, I've got the gun"
"You've got 7 seconds"
The cowboy laughed but not as bravely as before, looking around for some kind of help, He found none.
Frank whispered to Big John "Shouldn't we back him up?"
"No I want to see what this guy is about, let it play out"
"Michael Please, Hedi whispered in his ear"
"Hedi your in danger, get behind me"
Michael moved her from his side to behind him
"Oh I see how this is" the Cowboy said,
Looking around the room he said, So this is his girl friend.
No one would look him in the eye, worrying that they might be brought into the mix
"Well you chicken shits are in for a treat because I'm gotta kill this sod buster"
"You got 6 seconds" Michael said
"Michael please, he didn't mean any harm" Hedi whispered to him
"He does now and he has a choice"
"You've got 5 seconds"
With a nervous laugh the cowboy said in a lowerd broken voice "I just wanted a kiss"
"You don't treat women like that" Michael boomed as he fought back the urge to kill this man in front of him.
The room was dead silent, as the time ticked past 5 second mark
Michael had hesitated twice now, in the past he would've been dead , and the cowboy sensed it.
Looking over at Big John and Frank he Stood taller, the cowboy grinned at Michael as he thumbed the hammer back.
Bursting through the swinging doors was the Sheriff and a Deputy with a double barrel shot gun pointed right at the cowboy.
"Hold on there son, no one is dying tonight unless you want want to be the first."
The cowboy looked at the Sheriff and back to the shot gun pointed at his head
what voices were in the back ground, now became completely silent.
"No sir I don't see a need for that ,we just had a misunderstanding Sheriff"
Looking over at Michael the Sheriff said, "Is that right Michael?"
"Yes Sheriff it was was but I think there needs to be apologize for Hedi"
Looking back to the Cowboy, he said "Well"
Dropping his Colt back into his holster the cowboy was more than happy to apologize and get out of the Saloon.
Frank motioned for Big John it was time to leave.
Michael noticed the two leaving and filed it back in the back of his brain.
"Sorry for the trouble Sheriff", Michael said
"I'm not sure what you were doing Michael going up against a man with a gun and your not carring"
Smiling at the Sheriff , "I was hoping you would get here in time"
Shaking his head the Sheriff said, "Well I've had enough fun for the night"
"Hedi you ready to get out of here?" Michael asked her
Smiling she said, "I was wondering when you were going to get to me"
Stepping into the street Michael heard the swinging doors behind him.
"Michael can I have a word with you"
Looking back at the Sheriff "Sure Sheriff"
"Hedi I'll be along in a few minutes"