In the late 1800's Judge Parker sent federal marshalls into Oklahoma territory hunting outlaw gangs.
Jeremiah Lick (fictional character) was one of these marshalls. He was a half-breed born and educated in San Francisco. A Caucasian father and Comanche mother. His father worked for the railroad and married his Comanche concubine and took her back to California with him.
Comanche Jeremiah Lick
“Well, I'll be damned.” Frank Reed said as he let his chair fall forward onto the boardwalk in front of his shop. The gunsmith was surprised to see the bounty hunter returning so soon. He was leading a string of five horses, two with bodies tied over the saddles and one horse carrying an injured man. The others were loaded pack horses. The wounded man slumped over the saddle and cursed with every step of the horse.
The deputy dismounted his roan at the constable's office and hitched the lead pack horse to the post, then withdrew some papers from his saddle bag. As he turned toward the constable's office as the wounded man cried out.
“Pongame un medico—usted mestzo hijo de puta,” the wounded man said.
“There's no doctor here, Ramon. Nearest doctor is in Ark City, couple of days away. I doubt you'll make it that long.”
“Gut shootin’ bastardo Comanche—acabar conmigo.”
Jeremiah walked back to the wounded man's horse and patted Ramon's horse on the neck. “I didn't shoot you Ramon. Your little brother, Carlos saved me the trouble. Besides, a little suffering will do you good and give you some time to make peace with your maker.”
“Chinga tu madre—usted comedor de perros.” The Mejicano hacked and spit in the bounty hunter's face.
Jeremiah stepped back and wiped away the spittle with his bandanna, then like a rattler's strike, he yanked Ramon's head back by the hair and a knife flashed in his hand, he slowly drew a bloody line across the man's forehead.
“Leave my mother out of your filthy mouth, unless you don't care about dying with your hair on.”
“Whoa there, son.” The constable said as he stepped from his office. “Don't be makin' no mess here in front of my office with women and children looking on.”
“Yes sir, sorry. He was cursing my mother.”
“Yeah, I heard and don't blame you none, but you can't be doing that sort of thing here in the middle of town.”
Lick wiped the knife blade on the mejicano's pant leg. “I thought about tying him to a tree and peeling his hide before I brought him in. I guess I'm getting a little soft in my old age.”
“Besa mi culo, homicida.” Ramon coughed the words at Jeremiah, blood running down his chin.
“I need to unload these horses anyway and get them to the livery, so I'll get out of your way,” Lick smiled, drew his knife across the rope holding Ramon's legs together under the horse, then gave the hombre a shove.
Ramon hit the ground hard and rolled over on his back. “Maldito hijo de puta.”
“That's for not stopping that bullet, you skinny bastard,” Lick raised his arm and pointed to blood on the underside of his arm. He moved toward the mejicano and threatened to kick him.
“Por favor...no mas, no mas,” Ramon cried, rolling away.
“You're wounded,” the Constable said, pointing to the blood under Jeremiah’s arm.
“Lucky, it's just a scratch,” he said. “Carlos' bullet went though Ramon and grazed me. I hope it don’t get infected from the rotten bastard. Here's the posters and my letter from the judge.”
“Uh-huh,” the Constable said, reaching for the papers. “This will likely take a few days...probably a week or more, afore I can pay you.”
“That's fine, I'm in no hurry. I'll be waiting for Carlos to show up anyway.”
“Think he will? Stupid if he does!” the Constable said, shaking his head.
“Probably, if he has any self respect at all. Soon as he gets to mulling over me killing his brothers, he'll likely be wanting to settle up.”
“Could be, never can tell about those kind. What about Ramon, I can put him in a cell, but he's not going to be very comfortable.”
“Here's a couple dollars, get him some laudanum if the store has it. Much as he wants. He probably won't last through the day, though.”
“Probably not, undertakers gonna be busy for a day or two making caskets. Most business the creepy bastard's had in a coons age.”
“Tell him to make four, he'll need all of them.”
“One for Carlos?”
“Yeah... or for me.”
Earlier that day the half breed deputy stopped by Reed's gun shop.
“Haven't seen you in while Jeremiah, been hiding out?”
“No sir, I've been out in Santa Rosa, resting up a bit.”
Frank smiled, “When you going to settle down with that little senorita?”
“Rosa? Her mama, doesn't like me very much. I'm working on it though. Maybe someday, but the old lady's a real crotchety sort. I guess I made a poor first impression, she calls me 'El Diablo Rojo'.”
“How longs it been? Nearly a year, I'd say. I figgered you'd have mamacita sweet talked by now,” Reed said, looking up at the young man's shoulder length black hair and the sun bleached orange cast that was barely visible in the shade.
“What brings you out to these parts?” Reed said.
“Judge got a tip on the Chavez brothers. Says they may be hiding out in the caves down on Sand creek. I don't know if they are still there or not, been a couple of months.”
“Yeah, I think they are, Ramon was in town about a week ago... didn't see the other three. He stopped by here and bought a couple boxes of shells and I did a little work on his Colt.
“Well then, maybe I'll get lucky. Speaking of pistols, I need a new set of needle files and some emery. Trigger is getting a little touchy on my Remington.”
“Do you want me to take a look at it?” Reed asked, though he doubted the young gunslinger would relinquish the pistol.
Jeremiah’s eyes widened slightly, “Ahh... no offense, Mr. Reed, but I think I can handle it.”
“I understand,” Reed said continuing, “I shouldn't have asked, but I'm a gunsmith and always at bit curious about a pistolero's reworked action. I might learn a few things.”
“I doubt it…another time maybe. Right now, I just want those files and emery, also a couple of fresh boxes of 44-40's, if you got 'em.”
“Sure,” The gunsmith reached under the counter and retrieved the ammunition. “Just got that in last week from the Frankfurt armory, should be as fresh as they get.”
“Well then, make it four.” Jeremiah said, picking up one of the boxes, breaking the seal.
Reed nodded and added the extra boxes, “I'll have to go in the back to get the files and emery.”
Jeremiah pulled his pistol and ejected all the cartridges and began reloading the pistol with the new ammunition.
“Here's the files and emery.” Reed said as he returned from the rear of the gun shop. “Anything else?”
“No...I guess that'll do, for now. What do I owe you?” Jeremiah said, holstering his pistol.
“Twenty dollars ought to cover it.”
He reached in his coat pocket and retrieved his scrotum purse and dropped a gold double-eagle on the counter. “I'll be back soon to do a little trading with you.”
Jeremiah gathered the string of horses and started toward the livery. “I'll be at the hotel, after a bit... I need to clean up a little and take care of this wound,” he untied his saddle bags and threw them over his shoulder.
He lead the horses to the livery stable and a young stable hand met him at the gate. The boy snatched his dirty hat off as Jeremiah approached.
“What kin I do for you mister Lick?”
“Well sir, I need to board Star here for a few days...can you do that?”
The boy reached for the reins, his hand trembling. “Yes suh...ah kin.”
“I want you to walk him and give him a good rub down everyday, understand?”
“Yes suh, ah will do like you say, yes suh.”
Jeremiah turned and loosened the saddle girt. He patted the high backed Frazier seat, “You know how to soap and oil a saddle?”
“Ah do suh. Ah take care of mister Reed's saddles all the time... jest ask him.”
“I will. Here's three dollars, you take care of Star and my saddle and do a good job. I mean a damn good job—understand?”
“Yes suh, mister Lick, I swear I will.”
“That's good, I'll be checking on Star and you every day, do like I want and you won't be sorry.” Jeremiah's countenance indicated displeasure if his orders were ignored. “I want to sell these other horses and gear—who owns this stable?”
“My Pa does.” The boy swelled up and grinned. “But, he lets me run it.”
“Really, so you're the boss?”
“I am, most of the time. When my Pa's not around.”'
“I see...well then, you look them over and we might do some dealing.”
“I been lookin' at 'em,” the boy walked over to the big brown Appaloosa and patted the horse on the neck. “Looks ta me like, a couple of these here horses ain't yours to sell.”
“What the hell do you mean by that?”
“I'm pretty sure they ain't, this'n here 'paloose belongs to Ethan Mitchell. He went off missing 'bout two weeks ago.” The boy raised the stirrup fender and threw it over the seat, “See here, thar's his name right thar on the jockey.”
“You mean the horse is stolen.”
“I'd say so mister Lick and that paint belongs to mister Mitchell’s hand—Luke Vinson. They found him, bad shape he was, barely live. Been drug all over with a lasso 'round his neck. Never found mister Mitchell though. Family's been worried sick.”
“So, what about the other three and the gear and saddles?” Jeremiah kept a stern face, but he was laughing inside. He couldn't wait to hear what the little horse thief had to say about the other stock.
“They all purty bad shape—way down on weight. Those bandidos didn't take no good care of 'em. All of 'em need shod. Probably take me a week or two to git'em back worth selling. I cain't give no mor'an five dollars apiece and them thar messkin' saddles ain't worth nothing 'round here...nobody wants 'em.”
Jeremiah pushed his hat back and got right down in the boy's face. “Ok then, so how do we stand?”
“Well, I figure them thar pack frames...'bout a dollar apiece, ana dollar on thet camp stuff. Thad be 'bout thirteen—rounded off. I'd say twelve be 'bout it, considerin' I got to git rid of them saddles somehow. Want me to jes' put it on account.”
Jeremiah laughed out loud,. “Would you do that for me? No charge.”
“I reckin' I kin—no charge. Shake on it?”
Jeremiah grabbed the boys hand, “What's your name boy.”
“Lester Atkins, suh.”
“Well, Lester we got a deal. Don't forget to take care of Star like I told you or it'll be hell to pay.”
“Deal's a deal, suh. I promise you won't hafta worry none.”
“OK then, here's an Eagle, you get those Mitchell horses all cleaned up, saddles and all—feed and water them good for a couple of days and then make sure they get back where they belong, with my condolences to the Mitchell family.”