July 8th 1900, under a morning sky and through rolling bluffs, a powerful locomotive makes its way along a winding railway billowing dark smoke. Over a high cliff and in a sea of impoverished settlements, the town of Moffat sets as a king’s palace among the common. The train mightily chugs toward Moffat. Inside a passenger’s car, Tom Horn sits calmly, death dressed in black; he has an aged face and thick graying Vandyke beard. The fifth of twelve children, Horn reminisces about his early life, born to Thomas S. Horn, Sr. and Mary Ann Maricha in rural northeastern Scotland County, Missouri, on the family farm of six hundred acres, divided by the South Wyaconda River, between the towns of Granger and Etna.
A quaint patch of real estate, where the sunsets just pop on most nights, but they could never hold him from his true calling. Although his official title is Range Detective, he essentially functions as a killer for hire. Some might call him an outlaw, or even an assassin. Yet, not in the conventional sense, he concludes. A lawman, that’s what he is, he’s spent time as a deputy U.S. Marshal and a deputy sheriff and even a Pinkerton agent. An instrument of Satan, he chuckles at the thought. Perhaps, but that depends upon one’s perspective and reason. Those who employ him say he’s dependable, honest and very good at what he does. Yes, his skills with a gun are legendary. But, he’s done some good in the world.
At sixteen he journeyed into the American Southwest and was employed by the United State Cavalry as a civilian scout. Throughout those years, he was entrenched in the Apache Wars, even aiding in the capture of Geronimo, pursuing him into Mexican territory, where he killed his first man in a duel, a second lieutenant in the Mexican Army. It was easy, he just pointed and shot. He was relentless and present at Geronimo’s final surrender, acting as an interpreter there. Yes, he has done some good. Unfortunately, operating unrestricted as a range detective for unscrupulous cattle barons over the past ten years does create dubious distinctions and his reputation has brought some unwanted press. Still, it puts coin in his pocket and fear in the hearts of the men he hunts, a death sentence to rustlers and the devil personified to the unlawful homesteader, and he’s fine with it.
The locomotive pulls into the Moffat train station and screeches to a halt. The engine shuts down as Tom Horn steps from a passenger car and is greeted by Ora Haley, who approaches him from underneath a sign that reads: WELCOME TO MOFFAT.
“You Horn?” Haley asks.
“You got my remittance?” Horn replies.
“You get right to it don’t you.” He says.
“Actions Mr. Haley,” Horn responds. “A man lays a bounty on another’s head and shows up with the coin, that tells me he’s resolute.”
Across the street, Marshal Philbrick exits the Sheriff’s Office. Squinting, he spots Haley and Horn conversing at the train station. Samuel Harper, Moffat’s stable boy, arrives beside Philbrick seconds later.
“Is that him?” Samuel asks.
Philbrick is certain that it is.
“Looks the like…”
Wide eyed, Samuel slips away.
Haley tosses Horn a bag of gold.
“Compliments of the Two Bar Ranch Cattle Company,” he says.
“Our bargain is struck sir.” Horn says.
Haley leads Horn towards the Sheriff’s Office.
“Then, I think it’s time you met Marshal Philbrick. He’s the only law in Moffat, being that we can’t seem to keep a proper Sheriff employed- or alive.” Haley says.