71 - A Short Story - The Accidental Killer

November 2, 2020

Billy high-tailed it through the old run down house, threw open the front door, and onto the front porch. He ran down the four wood steps, wet with rain and slippery from age, and lost his footing. He sailed down the steps and into the mud on his butt. Eventually he came to a stop, jumped up, and continued to run for his horse, paying no attention to the heavy rain, lightening and thunder, all around him. It was a truly awful night for himself and the weather - what was he going to do? Where would he go?

He had nothing to his name, nothing left to even take for survival on the trail. And he wasn't about to go back into the cursed old house where is brother now lay in a pool of blood, some of his own, and some of Billy's, and some of that wretched Bobby Blackmore. Billy jumped onto his horse and tore off like the wind putting as much space as possible between himself and what he was leaving behind - mayhem, death, and everything he owned, everything he could call his own.

Storm, Billy's horse, must have heard the noise and figured out that something had gone desperately wrong because he seemed to be in as big a hurry to get away from there as Billy was. They threw mud up with every kick of Storms hooves as he tore through the storm and away from the farm. By the time this storm finished any tracks left behind would surely be washed away, at least that's what Billy was hoping for. They went for the mountains stopping only once for a few supplies and a handful of bullets, and, he expected, he would never return to home again.

But, his brother, George, was still there, what about him? How could he just leave him there? No, he had to. Tomorrow the others would return and find George and Bobby, both dead, and they would see a trail of blood leading out of the front of the house and they would know it could only be him, running from yet another disaster of his own creation, not willing to stay and face his own responsibilities. So he and Storm ran on and on, further into the mountains.

By morning they had come almost to the Mexican border. That's where we're going Storm - Mexico. Nobody'll find us there. He told his trusty horse, a buckskin Mustang, well suited to these mountains and this desert region.

He got off Storm and walked him along the trail for a while and to a very small stream, something very rare in these parts, and let his friend drink until he was full, then he drank and cooled himself off in the water. That's when he realized he still had the gun tucked into his pants waistband. He took it out and checked the cylindar and saw only 4 bullets, the other two had been used, one for his cousing (accidentally, he tells himself), and the other for Bobby (not accidentally). He paused for a moment and though of throwing it as far away as possible into the brambles then changed his mind. After all, he's about to enter Mexico, it'd be a good idea to have a gun for his own protection. Even if he has only the four bullets and no more. It would be better than nothing.

While Billy and Storm were working their way across the border and on south back at the house his parents would have, by now, discovered the bloody mess that the house had been turned into.

Billy's brother, George, was the elder of the two, and stood to inherit the family ranch, and was the favorite of their father, by a long way, the favorite. His death would devestate the old man and their mother. What Billy didn't know was just to what extent.

His Aunt Susan arrived at the house just in time to see her brother, Billy and George's father, take his own life in despair, right there in the house in front of the women. Billy didn't know these things because he disappeard south of the border.

*** ~~~ ***

"Hey, Jim, you know Karen and I have been working on our family history, right?" Michael asked his brother Jim at dinner that night.

"I heard that you guys were starting on that, why?" asked Jim.

"Oh, Karen thought it would be interesting to find out what is in our family history from way back when, whenever. I wasn't so interested at the beginning, but she said it would be a good project for us to do together." Michael said between bites of steak and potatos.

"My family history is a mess of problems, some stuff was found that they really wished they hadn't found, and they also found some interesting things that we had no idea were there. I never bothered to help with it, it was Joy's and the kids' project," Jim said, finishing his steak and grabbing another off the barbecue.

"Well, here's what we have discovered so far," and he proceeded to tell the story they had learned so far. "The story is about a guy named Billy. He had a run of bad luck that he just couldn't shake. We had no idea this was in our family history. It all started way back in the year 1832," he started and told the story. "That's all we've found so far, and the part about Billy going south, well, that is just supposed, not known for certain. But the writer of the family history supposed it to be the most likely place he would have gone, so that is what he wrote, and that is how they tell the story to this day. Can you believe that we have a murderer in our family history?"

"We're still looking for more. I have to wonder what's next for poor ol' Billy. Who knows? More accidental murders? Or maybe we have some ranch-land somewhere worth bazillions of dollars and it's still in our name, that Billy stole from someone," laughed Michael.

"Hah, that'd be a riot, but I suppose such a place would have changed into somebody else's name sometime through the years. I wonder if it's even possible that something like that could occur?" postulated George.

"I have no idea, but if anything interesting pops up I'll certainly let you know," said Michael.

***~~~***

Billy found his way to some sleepy little pueblo in the Chihuahua Desert and went into a dark, musty cantina.

"Tequila, por favor," he said.

"Aqui, gringo," the barkeep wasn't happy to see someone from the States in his cantina.

Billy sat at the bar with a couple locals, and there were only 3 others in the place this early in the day. Billy's Spanish isn't good and he tried to ask for a room, "Hay un cuarto para la noche?" He got some blank looks, so he tried it in English, "Where can I get a room for the night?"

"There room 2 streets up at Margarita's," said one of the men at the bar.

"Gracias," replied Billy. He drank a second whiskey then left to find this place called Margarita's. It was two streets as the man said, and it wasn't anything to write home about, but it had a bed, so he paid and went upstairs to get some much needed sleep.

The next morning Billy went outside only to be welcomed by a couple of hotshots thinking they could show him who's boss. They started shooting at Billy's feet making him dance, then he pulled out his 6-shooter and pointed it at one of the men, who then raised his gun up and pointed it at Billy. Billy didn't wait, he had noticed a bottle on a railing just up from where they were standing and he shot at it, right past the head of one of the two guys who were shooting at his feet. Both the guys jumped away, looked at the smashed bottle, looked at Billy, and they both pointed their guns at him again. Billy shot one in the leg and he fell on the ground writhing in pain while his buddy tried to help him. That guy then stood up and again threatened Billy, but he wasn't going to have it, so he shot again, this time the man went down and there was no writhing, no pain, no noise.

"Shit, is he dead?" Billy asked.

"Si, senor," came the reply from the man with the shot leg. He then raised his gun in Billy's direction, and Billy shot the man, aiming for his shoulder, but hit him in the chest. He died rather quickly.

"Shit. Again? I've gotta work on my aim and stop killing people," he said to Storm as he mounted his old friend and quickly exited that town.

After many months in Mexico, working whatever job he could muster to earn enough money to live on, and killing no more people by accident or on purpose, Billy decided to ride north, but to where, he hadn't decided. He tied his few possessions to Storm and they rode away from the small rancho he'd been working on for the past couple weeks doing fence repairs. Eventually they made to the border, crossed a dry creek, and back into the mountains they crossed all those months before.

In no time they were back in the old town and looking for a place to stay for a few days while he decided what to do next. While sitting in a tavern drinking a whiskey he heard someone say his name, he didn't recognize the voice so he turned to see who it was.

"Aren't you Billy Jenkins, one of old man George Jenkins' boys?" asked the man.

Unsure if he should reply in the positive or not, he asked, "Who's askin'?" And he moved his hand towards the 6-shooter at his side. That probably wasn't the smartest thing for him to do.

The other man said, "You killed my boy, Bobby, didn't you!"

Billy drew his gun, the other man drew his gun, two shots rang out and the other man dropped like a bag of potatos, first hitting a table, flipping it over and scattering the poker game and the money that went with it, across the floor, then fell on the floor face-first, his hands still wriggling a bit, then he died.

Billy could only say, "Shit, that's not good." And he walked out of the tavern with everyone else just watching him leave. He climbed onto Storm and left town, this time going north.

"Well, Storm, buddy, I just got myself into more trouble, and it wasn't my fault! Why does this keep happening? First I killed my brother by accident, I meant to shoot that bastard Bobby, but then I shot him and killed him, too. I didn't want to kill him, Storm, I just wanted to wing him, that's all. Just a shot in the shoulder or arm, but no, I had to go and shoot in the head! Shit! Why did I have to do that? Then those guys in Mexico, more accidents, right? I didn't mean to kill them, the shots were meant to hurt them. Damn!"

Word soon got around town and out of town making it to the home of Billy's mother, the house where he killed (he claimed accidentally) his brother and that rotten George Blackmore. This made what was left of her love for her son to just about disappear from her heart.

The Sheriff put together a possee to hunt down Billy and bring him back to answer for his killings, now up to five.

Billy was beginning to wonder if the gun was jinxed, "Storm, is it possible this gun is the problem? Maybe somebody put a spell on it so it can only kill and not would whoever it shoots. What do you think?" Storm didn't think much of that idea.

***~~~***

A few weeks later George was over for another barbecue with Michael and he brought up the subject, "Hey, Michael, have you guys learned anything new about your ancestors murder spree?" He laughed.

"Huh? Oh, yeah, the accidental killer. What a kick this is turning out to be. The story now has five kills, supposedly all accidental. It's crazy to think this was in my own family! How could this have been there all these years and nobody ever told the story? Nobody passed it down?" Michael asked.

"My guess is they all wanted to forget that poor ol' Billy even existed," offered George.

"No doubt, it's certainly nothing to take pride in, not like a family history that included finding oil, or gold, or something worth lots of money," said Michael as he cooked salmon on the grill. "Well, here's what we know..." and he proceeded to update his friend with all the details about Billy, now being called "The Accidental Killer" by Michael and Karen.

After dinner, and after the end of the story, George said, "Maybe you could sell this story to a movie producer?"

"Hmm, there's an idea," Michael said as they walked out to George's car. ***~~~***

Eventually word got around town and out to the farm, Billy's mother's farm, where she and the two girls still lived, and his mother was heart broken. She was crushed with the pain that her only remaining son was a killer on the run from the law. Her heart just couldn't handle to the pain, the loss, and it gave up the ghost and she died. The two sisters were left with taking care of the farm and wanting desperately for their brother to return to them. They weren't ready or able to care for a farm, they didn't know anything about mending fences, smithing horse shoes, and all the rest of the work the men did.

A few months later, after spending the winter holed up in a shack in the far reaches of the Sonoran Desert, he ventured out again, this time determined to set things straight.

"Storm, you know, as well as I do, that I have to get this all right with the law. But how? How can I do that without the law first locking me up and throwing away the key?" Storm paid no attention to his human and just whinnied in agreement, or hunger, or just because he was a horse and that's what they do. Regardless, Billy knew the time had come.

He rode to the nearest town, bought some paper and a pen and ink, and proceeded to write his story. He explained how each killing occurred and how they were accidents. He made it clear he never intended to kill anyone. His writing is very good so was riddled with errors of both grammar and spelling, but he didn't care, as long as it was understandle by the sheriff and the judge, and everybody else for that matter.

The letter was sent and delivered to the sheriff and a second copy to the judge and a third copy to the newspaper. He figured that way he should be safe from any misunderstandings. Then he waited for a couple more weeks before he ventured back to town.

On his way he passed by the farm, stopped in to see his family, well, what was left of his family, and explain what happened.

He was devestated when he learned of his father's and mother's deaths, and he blamed himself for their deaths as well.

His sisters listened, cried, and listened, and cried some more. Eventually he got through the whole story and said he would be leaving the next day to answer for his mistakes.

In the morning he mounted Storm and slowly rode the few miles into town. Almost immediately word got to the sheriff of his arrival and the sheriff rode out to meet him. They stopped at the edge of town and talked, and talked some more. The sheriff took him into the jail and told him to wait there, which he did. But he wasn't locked up in a cell so he was feeling pretty good about the possible outcome of this situation.

The sheriff returned with the judge and they talked with him for quite some time, eventually coming to the conclusion the he was telling the truth, he was truly sorry for what had happened, all the accidental killings, and especially sorry for killing his brother.

The sheriff and the judge went outside the jail to find that the street had become crowded with people wanting to bring their own justice for all the killings.

"Now listen here, people, put away your guns and other things and listen to us," the sheriff said, "We're going to send some people out to verify his stories about his killings and if what he says turns out to be true, that all the killings were accidental, then he will go free. But if any turn out to be otherwise, he will stand trial in front of the judge and a jury."

The next couple weeks Billy sat in the jail cell awaiting word from the men who were sent out to verify his stories, and his sisters visited him every day, bring him proper home cooked food every day.

In the end, the stories were confirmed as true, the killings were accidental. The judge made the announcement to the town that he was free to go and the people were to leave him be, he was an innocent man.

The jinxed gun was given to the blacksmith to be melted down, not to used for anything other than a doorstop. ***~~~***

Michael told the remaining story to George and they sat in silence, contemplating the plight of the unlucky accidental killer.