Book One: (Samuel)
George Maledon held the reputation as “the prince of hangmen”.
He was once asked if he was haunted by the ghost of his victims?
Mr. Maledon cheerily replied: “No, because I reckon I hanged them too!”
Adrenaline floods Jeremiah’s veins, countering a little voice inside his head which asks: Why me? He sucks in a breath, slides in a key to turn the tumblers of a locker box, and cautiously withdraws a gun. Cold steel bathes him with a memento from his family tree. Hearing approaching voices causes the young man to quickly hide the weapon on his person. Jeremiah is shocked by how much hardness of the rimfire’s surface comforts him. He thinks about Jesse James, how the Ruffian must have felt, and a similar gut-level instinct causes the modern gun wielder to hasten his departure, after reaching inside his pocket for several slugs.
Another man enters the locker room where Jeremiah stands, looks him in the eye, and brazenly announces, “Have a Happy New Year!”
Jeremiah thinks…What a fruit puff!
After the stranger leaves, Jeremiah chuckles, then says, “Grandfather would have popped you between your probing eyes!”
Grandfather’s Kin checks the hasp of the lock in the hole, calmly exhales, and walks away in a stupor. Jeremiah starts his journey down to distant tennis courts on one side and cattails and swamp on the other, finding a nervous stride slowly gain in momentum. At 4:33 according to modern wristwatch, the footbridge beckons the gunfighter’s crossing.
Jeremiah steps onto the bridge and gazes down at the frail, playful calm of ducks, while adjusting a cowboy hat Georgia insisted on buying him. To an observer, the man’s face reflects sudden age or intuitive awareness of a family spell. His hands tremble as he loads J J. Ducks squawk at 4:42, as if enticing encroaching dusk to light the horizon like hot sand. Jeremiah thinks about his gunfighter grandpa, who in 1889 attempted to rob Baileys Resort and failed horribly. Or so the story went. (In all likelihood) Cledus Beaumont bled to death on the grounds. Legend and myth had it Cledus Beaumont was shot and vacated at 5:58p.m. Christmas Day. Several generations of Beaumont and resort help often passed down stories to add to the plethora of guesses as to what truly happened that day. The old rimfire he totes symbolizes a solid piece of Bailey’s History, one Jeremiah feels through the piece’s polished gun handle, as he walks past the tennis courts and into the reedy banks of a contributory stream.
During the trek, he anticipates a rodent or a beast rustling cattails or taking him on. Georgia looks out a resort window and wonders what secret Jeremiah withheld from her for so long? She sees the hazy form of her lover, resembling a slight dot in the distance. Her temple begins to itch, and she starts to daydream about life ahead—for (both of) them. The daze continues, until something more than the sound of a gunshot illuminates the somber night, and a light reflects from the window with a charge so intense it forces her to look away. Women’s intuition sinks teeth into the feeling Jeremiah hadn’t listened. All Georgia ascertains is the old gun exploded in her honey’s hand.
“Why didn’t I stop him!” Georgia shrieks.
Quickly, she hurries down several flights of stairs; all the while imagining what she will find once she reaches her beloved. Tears stream down her enticing, yet placid cheeks.
As she approaches the swamp on foot, Georgia realizes several others have beaten her to Jeremiah. A returning man mentions a helicopter. In the dark, deep recesses of the swamp, a man crouches—hidden by dense reeds and foliage. He is dirty and incredibly hungry, but he also fears discovery. Eyes as intense as a fox hash foreign surroundings. Sounds of an approaching helicopter confuse the man and force him into the water, where he holds his breath to hide from strange chopping noises. Worried…The foreigner reaches for his gun…only to discover J J is gone.
A playful and sultry promise of a woman’s Puerto Rican smile entices Jeremiah to fire the rimfire at precisely 4:57. He thinks the gun may have exploded in his face; a logical assessment in being blinded by an extreme light. Two bullets come from a translucent maelstrom before him, causing his perception to drastically change. He feels the slugging impact strike him, followed by instant piercing pain running up his fleshly sheathe. Jeremiah drops to his knees, unaware an ancient gunfighter follows in their wake, or of taking bullets meant for his great great-great grandfather. Not even recognizing a future relative, Cledus Beaumont ignores the wounded man underneath him and doesn’t risk thorough examination of the felled shooter. Survival instinct takes over, as the intruder’s eyes search for a quick place to hide—farther down the bank.
When time fingers him, Cledus knows he will make for better cover and do his best to avoid capture. The rip closes behind the desperado, and a sonic boom echoes a reply to the fired weapon. Smoking Jay Jay lands on the bank, where the piece beckons an accomplice to pluck her up again.
Georgia pushes her way through several nosy onlookers. She rushes over to raise her convulsing fiancée to both of her heaving breasts. The field of reeds surrounding them lay still and provides few answers, as the woman cradles her beau comfortingly.
A helicopter breaks the silence. It only takes seconds for the glass bird to land, nearby. While all eyes are distracted by the wounded man, and first sign of pitch dark descends, Cledus Beaumont traverses a sage brush covered hill like a graceful stallion barely cutting stride. Georgia collapses to her knees, and cradles her fiancées head, almost suffocating in the intensity.
A small crowd gathers, and several gossipers whisper about a possible suicide?
One minute I’m engaged to be married, the next minute I’m fearing for my significant other’s life! Georgia looks towards the gun on the bank, still withholding its own story. She sobs… “Where did the bright light come from? What the hell is going on here?”
A middle-aged policewoman pulls the other woman away from the victim. The uniformed woman helps wrap a blanket around her, while taking the grieving charge’s unsolicited psychobabble. Paramedics quickly find evidence of the wounded man’s feint breath and pulse. Within minutes, several first respond medics load the wounded man into the helicopter. The pilot re-dawns his headgear, flicks a few switches, then takes a fleeting glance back at the added cargo.
The copter rises and faces towards Reno, Nevada. Georgia looks for something. She notices an old tattered and stained card, as if it calls her name from a dense thicket at the edge of the bank. Like a magician, she slips the card into a coat pocket. A silent prayer follows, as Georgia’s senses recall hot tub buoyancy intertwined with love. The young woman remembers feeling an intense tingling sensation, when they both sat in a Bailey’s Hot Tub, right before their lips locked. All of this was completely overshadowed by the discovery of an old wide-brimmed hat, resort help noticed floating in the covered hot tub—the following morning. Three days before Georgia started to bellow, ‘Please, God! Don’t take my missing ribs!’
The grieving woman is unaware the land holds historical ties to a notorious man named Rufus B. Anderson; a convicted killer subject to an impromptu necktie party in 1868. This western character posed a tough hombre; a man whose body withstood the buoyant pull of gravity, and whose rugged spirit survived more than one drop into a hanging rope’s death grip.