Arizona To Hell
I had been sitting in this God forsaken cell for what seemed like an eternity. Now, as the noose tightened around my neck, the memories of that fateful day came flooding back.
9 Months Earlier:
My wife Jenn and I, lived on a fair sized ranch in Tombstone, Arizona, the former town where Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday lived, in 1881. We moved there after the doctor advised us that a year round warm climate would be beneficial for Jenn's respiratory condition. She had suffered from pneumonia now the last two years and a third was not an option for her.
After buying this property of 1,500 acres just outside of Tombstone, we set about going to work on the old barn that needed some fixing. Our dream was to open a Dude ranch where vacationers could come and try their hand out at riding and camping on overnight trails. We wanted to bring back the old West Theme when Tombstone was just getting a start in the mid 1800's. My job was to be Trail Boss and camp cook while Jenn would look after the sleeping quarters and meals on the ranch.
Three months went by before our first clients showed up, a group of six from Chicago, who booked with us through a travel agency. We were finally in business and raring to go. Jen was having a little morning sickness however and wasn't feeling up to her usual self. It just so happens, she had gone and got pregnant on me sometime over the past month. Now ain't that just like a woman?
Well, I suppose it had to happen at some point in time as we were only in our early thirties. Better to have kids now I suppose than later on in life. I was about as giddy as a jack ass with a lucky horseshoe up his ... Uh, excuse me ladies.
Jenn was beginning to feel much better by the next day. The new folks were all saddled up with their chosen broncs and we were heading out on our first overnight trail ride. We got up early that morning and had a hot breakfast of flap jacks and coffee that kicked the day off real fine. I told Jenn not to worry too much and if any problem came up, just give me a holler on the cell phone. I volunteered Marty, one of the six paying customers, to be in charge of the food and water supplies strapped on to old Gus, our pioneer donkey. Gus was purchased from a guy in town for a real cheap price. It was his job to carry the supplies and I think he kinda liked the job, as he got to trot alongside with all the pretty mares.
This was my first time apart from Jenn in almost three years.
It was only a two day outing but it felt strange somehow being on
the trail with complete strangers and leaving Jenn back at the
ranch by herself. But that's what we agreed upon. Someone had to
be there to feed the other horses and our two Collie dogs. It's
not that Jenn minded so much. I guess I just felt bad because she
was pregnant and all.
The day ran by real fast and we already had our first lunch break hours ago. We were now coming up to our campsite that Jenn and I had set up months before. We'd be bunking here under the stars tonight. Luckily, not much rain falls during the tourist season and I felt good about that. Having to pitch tent in the rain and cold isn't all that much fun, especially for paying customers. This was a lot easier to handle and everyone was having a great time except for a few sore butts. Marty came over and told me that this was far better than working back in the big city of Chicago, with all that stress and testosterone going haywire. Camping out under the stars really does relax a person that's been cooped up in an office job for months on end.
After a pork and beans supper by the fireside, a few horror tales were told by Doug and then a couple of out of tune songs came from all of us, as did the gas and toots. But no one cared as the beer went down nice and smooth. Tucked away in our sleeping blankets and feeling pretty good about the first day, we were all sent off to dreamland.
6:00am rolls around real fast when you're having fun, but ooh -- that hangover kills. I tried calling the ranch about an hour after but there was no answer. I figured Jenn was out doing the chores in the barn. so I'd try a bit later. Besides, we were pulling up stakes and starting our trek home, this being the second day out. I guessed we'd be there by supper time but still, I couldn't get Jenn outta my mind. I should've called before I fell asleep but after all the beer, I doubt I'd be makin' much sense anyway.
After four hours, the horses were dead tired and everyone needed a pee and coffee break. Marty rounded up all the sandwiches that Jenn had made and we all just kinda flopped on the ground anywhere we could find a soft spot. There were going to be a lot of sore people when this riding stuff was all over with. But this is what these city folk pay us for, a good ol' fashion trail ride through the wilderness. It takes a while to get used to livin' in the saddle day by day, but this was only the second day. These folks were gonna be real happy to sleep in a bunk tonight with a good mattress under them. Before we packed up, I called the ranch one more time -- still no answer. Now, I was getting scared.
I told the others that I was going to ride on ahead and they could catch up with me at the ranch. The trail was easy to follow so I wasn't worried about them getting lost any time soon.
When I arrived home, there was an eerie quiet about the place. Where were the dogs and where was Jenn? I headed right for the house and tied my horse to the hitching post. The front door was open a wee bit and I pushed it open wide. What I saw still has me in shock and disbelief today.
There, lying on the floor, just a few feet inside, were my two dogs. They were soaked in blood as were the floor boards all around them. I yelled out for Jen as I started to panic. Banging open the bedroom door, my eyes fell upon my worst nightmare. There was Jen, my wife, --- lying across the bed in a pool of blood and a knife shoved deep into her chest. I ran over to her, gently lifting her head into my arms and let out a cry of anguish. I couldn't catch my breath and the tears were pouring from my eyes. I yelled out - "Jen -Jen!" But she was gone, and my life, with her.
When the others finally got back from the trail ride, they were in disbelief and tried their best to console me. My Jen and unborn child had been brutally taken from me and for what reason? There was none! I was going out of my mind and the only thing I wanted now was Revenge.
Marty called the Sheriff in Tombstone and told him what had happened. By the time he and his deputy's arrived, I was already gone. I was going to find that son of a bitch and I was going to kill him. Nobody was going to stop me.
Lying on our bedroom floor, I had picked up a small clue as to who had been here last. It was someone's gold, shiny coin with Abe Lincoln on one side and a donkey on the other. Only one fella in town that I knew of, had a coin like that - the devil who sold us 'Gus', our pack mule. His name was James Travis and I was going to kill him.
I got my revenge all right and now I go to meet my maker, without any regrets.
Let him be my judge and jury.
The trap door below my feet opened with a bang! ---
When I awoke, I saw Jen standing there in front of me, with a baby in her arms. She said to me, "Come and see our new home."