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Writing a book about my family

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Texas Miller:
Well, I'm a new member here, as of today. I'm working on a historic novel about my family and thought I might test out one of my chapters here and see what anyone thinks?  It involves a shootout that really happened, so thought it might be applicable here.  Tell me what you all think. If I have posted this in the wrong place, I'm sorry and I'll remove it.

Installment #1:

Smokey Joe was an auctioneer occasionally, according to the local Cheyenne newspaper, where he auctioned of supper baskets for a school house fundraiser.  He was a cowboy, as a matter of fact.  He had land, and his family had much land, and cattle in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and New Mexico. 

In August of 1901, Smokey Joe moved his family to their ranch on Current Creek a few miles outside of Cheyenne.  His hotel in town had been for sale for several months and it had finally sold.  He spent most of his time, now, working his own ranch, and continued with his restaurant in Cheyenne, while working a few other business deals on the side concerning his race horses.  He eventually also sold the restaurant, as working at both was becoming too much for his aging body.

Texas Miller:
Smokey Joe found that the ranch just wasn't enough anymore to make ends meet, so in 1908 he hired on with the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad as a Special Officer, riding from Oklahoma through the Texas Panhandle and into New Mexico, and on down to the southernmost parts of Arizona, with an occasional ride on the railroad's extension across the border into Mexico.  Smokey liked this last leg of the trip, as he was fluent in Spanish, and he liked to go to Mexico and check out the horses there, sometimes sending a nice string of horses back to his own ranch in Oklahoma.

His job was to keep an eye on the train, its property and its passengers, to keep the peace and, hopefully, lessen the chance of trouble just by his presence.  He was an imposing figure of a man, standing just over 6'2", with black hair, white blue eyes, dark skin and a pronounced, square jaw that seemed to always be set hard.  He and his family had a reputation far and wide for being quiet, sometimes unnervingly quiet, but in an instant being able to end a fight, with fists, pistol butts, or the business end of that pistol, if necessary.

Many towns sprang up out of the dirt when a railroad was built through the area, and it was no different with Duran, New Mexico.  In 1902, the Southwestern RR finished its construction and where once, decades ago, had been only scattered farms in a cactus and scorpion infested desert, populated mostly by descendants of Spanish explorers and native Indians, a town quickly arose.  They had chosen this location because it was near a good water source, the Moreno Wells, owned by the Duran brothers, Blas and Espiridon.

Once building began, the population quickly swelled, first with railroad employees, and then with those wanting to get in on the ground floor of a new and flourishing settlement.  Mining had become a going concern again and many came to try their hand at getting rich quick.  Duran became the supply point for the local farmers and ranchers, most supplies now being delivered by train instead of mule and ox freights.   

Texas Miller:
Some of the first businesses to be opened in Duran were the saloons, and with those came the inevitable bad elements - the drifters, gamblers, local toughs and the outlaws.  Duran was remote and those running from the law were drawn to towns like this to avoid any who might be on their trail.  It quickly gained a reputation as a hard town, and fights and killings were not uncommon.  There was a hole in the back of one saloon that had more than one unknown sole deposited there.

The train made regular stops in Duran, allowing passengers to rest or dine while the freight cars were unloaded, then reloaded with new cargo.  Smokey Joe had gotten on in Oklahoma for his scheduled shift of week long duty.  It was August 23rd, 1908, and the train arrived in Duran around three in the afternoon.  The passengers quickly disembarked, trying to get food and drink before being called to board again.  Joe followed the others to a local cafĂ© where he had eaten in the past, and he knew the food was good there.  After eating, he stepped across the street to one of the cleaner bars in town for a drink.  He ordered his drink and carried it to an empty table by a wall.  He sat with his back to the wall and leaned back, sipping his drink slowly, taking in the room and its occupants with those slate blue eyes, brushing his long, black mustache aside between sips.

It became immediately apparent that one man in the room had his horns out lookin' for a fight.  He was the local bartender, Marrquez, a son of nearby ranchers who fancied himself a bit of a gambler and gunfighter.  He was also known as the local bully and drunk.  He was cursing in Spanish and people were trying to ease their way out of the room without drawing attention to themselves.  When he had hit town, Smokey had been determined to rest a bit as he'd been working for hours and was dragged out.  But he could see this situation would go sour in a hurry, and he needed to put a spoke in this drunkard's wheel.


Texas Miller:
Smokey Joe threw back the rest of his drink and moaned something about, "Damned hard for a man to finish his drink around here."  He was bothered that his siesta had been interrupted. He adjusted his hat a little firmer on his head, cocked slightly to the right, and, without thinking, his hand touched the butt of his .44-40 pistol, reflex of habit.  It was in a shoulder holster that hung low beneath his vest under his left arm, grip forward.  He slowly stood up and headed for trouble.

Smokey walked quietly to the bar, working his way behind Marquez, who was waving his gun at two Mexican ranchers attempting to get out of the bar and leave town.  "No le de la espalda a mi!" (Don't turn your back on me!)  The two ranchers stopped where they were and froze in place.  The drunken gunman began yelling curses at them concerning their ancestors, and it became clear to Smokey that the three men knew each others, and the two obviously had no desire to fight.

Marques' attention was focused on frightening the two men by the door, and he didn't see Smokey come up behind him, towering over him a good eight inches.  Smokey pulled his pistol and cracked it against the back of Marques' skull, and as the man started to slump to the floor, Joe grabbed the gun out of his hand and stuck it in his own belt.   Marquez was a bit dazed but awake, and he swore at Joe with some exceptionally explicit and slurred Spanish.  Smokey holstered his own pistol, and his intention now was to drag the blowhard down to the local jail and throw him in it.  Smokey outweighed his prisoner by a good fifty pounds and, now that Marquez was unarmed, Joe thought him no further threat.

Texas Miller:
But Marquez' next move was unexpected and surprisingly agile, in the condition he was in.  Before Smokey could react, Marquez pulled a hide-a-way gun, a small derringer he kept inside his vest, and poured its two shots into Smokey at a distance of about four feet.  The first slug hit Smokey in the right shoulder, and the second in his right hip, shoving him back against the bar.

It was as if all other things had slowed to a crawl as Smokey's mind was quickly calculating his next move.  He felt no pain as the bullets ripped through his shoulder and smashed into his hip bone, causing his right leg to give, and he could do nothing to stop it as he began dropping to the floor.  His right arm would not respond in its usual lightning fast reflex, but his left hand had quickly gone to the butt of his pistol when he was first hit ... and he pulled.

Smokey had practiced this maneuver often as a young man, at the urging of his older brother, Francis Marion, who had been Sheriff of McCulloch County and had seen a lot of bad men in his day.  Smokey was cocking his pistol as it was clearing the holster and almost before it was pointed in the right direction he was workin' the trigger.  His pistol barked fire four times, pumping lead into Marquez' chest, each bullet causing the man's body to jerk.  It took only moments for the bully's final breath to come, eyes open wide in surprise.  This was the first, and the last, time Marquez would lose a gunfight.


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