Chapter 1

Eddy had never been in a saloon, before, but he had been advised to check here, because the bartender was the most likely to know where the jobs were. Fortunately, he looked older than his 16 years, so he didn't attract too much attention when he first leaned on the bar. The bartender walked up and asked, "What'll it be, son?"

"Please, may I have a root beer and some information?"

"One root beer coming up. OK, what do you want to know?"

"I just came in on that wagon train and I need a job. I was told that you would probably know better than anyone else where I could find something. I'm a hard worker and I'll take most anything, long as it's honest work."

Just as Eddy was saying that, a big man, well over 6 feet tall and weighing in at 250 pounds or more, came up and grabbed him by the shoulder. He pulled Eddy away from the bar and growled, "Sonny boy, make way for a man. You're taking up my place at the bar."

Eddy staggered back and nearly fell. He regained his balance and hit the man as hard as he could right in the gut, just below the rib cage. The tough wasn't expecting any resistance to his bullying, so he was not prepared for the blow. The man gasped for breath and bent over, holding his belly with his arms as he tried to breath. Eddy grabbed him by the hair and pulled his head a little farther down and slammed the bully in the nose with his knee. He released the bully's hair and the man fell to the floor. Eddy grabbed the man by his feet and dragged him out the door onto the street where he left the bully still trying to catch his breath.

Eddy walked back into the saloon and the bartender saluted him with applause. "That's the first time I ever saw anybody take out Big Jake! Son, I know just the job for you! The marshal is looking for a deputy and the pay is pretty good. You go see him and tell him that Jim Hanson sent you. He should check with me if he has any doubts."

"Thank you, sir. How much for the root beer?"

"That's on the house! The show you just put on was worth every penny, and then some."

Eddy thanked the bartender and drank his root beer. He left for the marshal's office as soon as he finished.

Eddy walked into the town jail and asked, "Sir, are you the marshal?"

"Yeah, son, I am. What can I do for you?"

"Jim Hanson said I should see you about the deputy marshal job. He said that you should talk to him if you had any doubts."

"He did, huh? How old are you, son?"

"I'll be 17 next month. I'm married and I've got a kid due in a few months. I was a guard for Mr. Jasper Samuelson's wagon train that just came in."

"You know Andrew Jones?"

"Yes, sir. He was my boss on the train. I hired on to replace a guard what was killed by some Bushwhackers back in Missouri. He offered me a permanent job, but I told him that I couldn't leave my wife and kid."

"You're awful young, but you got so many good references that you're hired. Hold up you right hand and repeat after me, "I, state your name, do solemnly swear to uphold the laws of the State of California and the City of Sacramento and to obey the commands of my rightful superiors, so help me God."

Eddy swore and the marshal handed him a badge. "Glad to have you Deputy Johnson." He held out his hand and said, "My name's Michael O'Malley. You can call me Mike, but I'd appreciate you calling me Marshal O'Malley when we're on official business."

"Sure thing, Mike. My friends all call me Eddy. I don't have a gun; do I need one?"

Mike laughed and said, "You sure as hell do need a gun! The city will lend you one. What do you prefer?"

"Well, I'm used to a shotgun. Do you have one of those?"

"I've got just the thing for you. It's a sawed off 10-gauge double barrel. What do you think?"

"Yes, sir, that sounds good. Where is it?"

"Right behind you in the gun rack. Here's the key. Pull it out, and the ammunition is in the cabinet just below. The same key fits both locks.

"You forgot to ask how much you get paid. The pay is $75 a month, payable on the last day of the month. The pay is so high because Sacramento is an expensive place to live. We'll pro rate you for this month, starting today. Take the rest of the day to get set up and come back here at 7:00 PM. As the new man, you'll work the night shift. I'll make the first round with you to show you the ropes. I'll tell you what else you need to know, then. Go on and I'll see you tonight."

Eddy went back to where they had parked the wagon and looked for Martha, his wife. "Well, I got a job. The pay sounds good, $75 a month, but I hear that prices are high in Sacramento. I'm a deputy marshal, now, so don't go breaking any laws."

"Oh, Eddy, I'm so proud of you! Ma and I have been talking to some people and I think that we found a house big enough for all of us. It's kind of expensive, $7 a month, but I think we can afford it with you making so much money. Can we go look at it, now?"

"Sure. Where is it?"

"It's a block that way. Ma and I were just going to see it when you came back."

"OK. Let's leave the boys here to keep an eye on our things and the three of us can go take a look. We'll need to hurry a bit, because I have to work tonight, starting at 7:00 o'clock. I'll get a sandwich somewhere, so don't worry about me for supper, tonight."

"Ma, come on. Eddy is here and he wants to see the house."

"OK, I'm ready."

Eddy told the boys to watch things until they got back. The three of them walked to the house and Martha unlocked the door. The went in and Mary, Martha's mother, sniffed derisively. "This place sure needs airing out, and it's so dusty you can't hardly see the floor!"

"Oh, Mother, give it a chance! Let's look at the whole house before you find too much wrong with it."

The house had three bedrooms, a sitting room, and a large kitchen. The outhouse was outside the back door. There was room for a garden and the kitchen had all the modern conveniences: a full-sized stove and a water pump with a sink. There were several cabinets and a pantry. Martha was satisfied and Mary agreed that "the place is tolerable." They decided to take the house, so they went back by way of the landlord to pay the first month's rent.

Jeb and Josh, Martha's brothers, drove the wagon to the house while Eddy, Martha, and Mary strolled back to it. The wagon was put in the back yard and the oxen were allowed to graze where the garden would be. The males started unloading the wagon into a shed on the property while the women started cleaning the house. Eddy breathed a sigh of relief when it was time for him to report to the marshal.

Eddy showed up at the jail at 7:00 PM on the dot, and the marshal was pleased to see him. "Your shift runs from 7:00 PM to 7:00 AM. You make two rounds through the business district, one when you first come in and another about midnight. Change that midnight time around a bit so that crooks can't know exactly when you might come by. You can sleep on that cot when you are in the office. There's an alarm clock that you can use to wake you for your rounds. Let's go and I'll show you the route I take, though it's good to change that around some to confuse the thieves.

"Turn the knob and shake the door of every shop you pass to make sure that it's actually locked. Those are the people what pay your wages, so you want to take good care of them. If you ever need help, just fire your shotgun; you'll be surrounded by people before you know it.

"If you meet any drunks wandering the streets, put them in a cell for the night, but if you find any sleeping it off in the back alleys, just leave them alone. Common sense goes a long way on this job.

"Now, see how I work this door. If it ain't locked, it going to come open. And if it ain't locked, expect trouble!" They went down the street checking doors. The marshal did the first few and then had Eddy do the rest.

They stopped in at the saloon where Eddy had his adventure with Big Jake and Mike said, "Howdy, Jim. As you can see, I took Eddy on at your suggestion. Tell me what it was that made you so all fired sure that he would make a good deputy?"

"Well, when I saw how easy it was for him to take out Big Jake Smithson, I figured that he was the man for you."

"I'll be damned! Big Jake? What'd Eddy do?"

"He poked Big Jake in the belly and kneed him in the nose when he bent over. Slickest thing I ever saw! Then he dragged big Jake out and dumped him in the street. I figured you could use somebody like that!" Jim laughed and winked at Eddy.

"Come on, Mr. Hanson. You know I was mad and not thinking. I was just lucky."

"Son, Mike and I have had enough trouble with Big Jake to be impressed that somebody could do that to him, lucky or not. Big Jake is a mean one, so watch your back. And call me Jim."

"OK, Jim, and thanks for steering me to this job."

"Don't mention it, son. Glad it worked out. Now, I've got some customers to look after. I'll see you men later."

They finished the round and Mike went home for the first night in over a year. Eddy set the alarm for midnight and lay down on the cot, but he was too excited by his new responsibilities to get to sleep right away.

The alarm went off and Eddy jumped up, looking for his shotgun. He was sure that it was an Indian attack that woke him. After a moment, he laughed at himself. He pulled on his boots and picked up his shotgun in preparation for making his round. Eddy locked the jail door and went off down the street, checking every door he passed.

Eddy had been warned to be cautious whenever he passed the mouth of an alley, so he wasn't caught completely unawares as a big hand reached out and grabbed his left arm. "I'll teach you to sucker punch me, you little son of a bitch!"

Without giving the matter a second thought, Eddy swung the shotgun around and clipped the attacker on the side of the head with the barrels. He then kicked as hard as he could where he thought the man's balls should be. This brought a scream of pure agony and the sound of a body falling to the ground. Eddy was not pulled down because the man had released his hold on Eddy's arm at the first blow.

Still not knowing why he was attacked, Eddy pulled the man out into the street and saw by the light of the moon that it was Big Jake. He dragged the moaning man to a hitching post and pulled his arms over his head and handcuffed him around the post. He then took Big Jake's gun from its holster and tossed it aside. He loosened Big Jake's belt and pulled his pants down to his ankles. After a moments reflection, Eddy picked up Big Jake's pistol and stuck it in his pocket. Big Jake could get it back by coming by the jail. Eddy felt that he had goofed off enough and he needed to complete his rounds.

The next morning, the alarm went off at 7:00 AM and Eddy got up. He was pulling on his boots when Mike came in the door, laughing so hard he could hardly make it to his desk. "Was... Was... Was that your doing down in the next block?"

"You mean, Big Jake? Yeah, that was me. He tried to jump me last night and I got lucky, again. I figured that he was too heavy to drag all the way back here, so I figured he would keep where he was. I'll go release him, now, on my way home. By the way, that's his gun on the desk. He may be around to claim it sometime today. I'll see you tonight, unless you need me afore then."

"Yeah, you better go release him now. He's causing a big problem. He's attracting such a crowd laughing at him that he's blocking the street. Take care, and I'll see you tonight."

When Eddy got to him, Big Jake started cussing at Eddy. Eddy stood there for a minute, letting the noise flow over and past him. Big Jake finally ran down, probably from a sore throat. "Big Jake, If you will calm down and shut up for a minute, I'll release you. You can pick up your gun from the marshal's office.

Eddy put his shotgun on half cock and set it down where he could get to it in a hurry before releasing Big Jake's hands. Big Jake tried to stand up and pull up his pants too quickly after lying down all night. When he did that, Big Jake fainted! He was out for only a few seconds, and when he came to, he shouted, "WHY'D YOU DO THAT, YOU BASTARD?"

"I didn't do anything. Ask these witnesses."

At the mention of witnesses, Big Jake shut up. He carefully bent down and pulled up his pants, trying not to make any sudden moves. He glared at Eddy and growled, "I'll get even with you, you bastard!"

"You better stay away from me. I'm getting tired of you. Next time, I may just decide to shoot you and be done with you."

Big Jake blanched at that and staggered off. Eddy nodded and smiled at the audience and headed home.

When he got home, Eddy found that the women had made considerable progress in getting the house cleaned and prepared for furniture. The boys had already brought in the cooking utensils, etc. for the kitchen, but there was still a lot of stuff in the shed. It was amazing how much they had put in their wagon. Thank God that Jasper had insisted on four oxen!

Eddy was sitting down to breakfast when the boys burst in. Jeb shouted to Mary and Martha, "DID YOU HEAR WHAT EDDY DID LAST NIGHT? IT'S ALL OVER TOWN!"

Mary turned to Jeb and said, "Calm down! We're all in the same room, you don't have to shout. Now, tell us what Eddy did."

"He chained Big Jake Smithson, the town's biggest bully, to a hitching post and pulled his pants down. He left him there all night. The whole town is laughing about it. Everybody hates Big Jake, so Eddy's made a lot of friends!"

The two women laughed, and Mary said, "That is a good joke to play on a bully. I just hope it doesn't go beyond that."

Josh said, "It probably won't. Big Jake was last seen riding out of town toward Oakland. Everybody hopes he won't come back. Eddy's the hero of the day!"

Eddy said, "Let's try to take advantage of this good feeling. I just had an idea. You boys are pretty good at handling the oxen; maybe we can turn that to our advantage, too. Jeb, you and Josh go around town and ask about any heavy hauling jobs that might be out for the asking. Particularly, check down by the river. There are some big ships down there and there may be some really big loads that horses, or even mules, can't handle. Maybe we could go into the freight business. Mention my name if you get any guff about being too young to be in business."

"Hey, that's a great idea, Eddy. Come on, Josh, let's see what we can find."

They burst out the door and Martha said, "If enthusiasm is enough, they will find hauling jobs all over the place. But they may have trouble convincing some older men to take them seriously. I hope your name is enough to swing their opinion."

"Let's change the subject. Have you ladies given any thought about how we'll find furniture for our house?"

Martha waxed enthusiastic. "Oh, yes, we have. We were told about a store that sells used furniture. We should be able to find bedsteads, chairs, and tables there within our price range. Let's go look this afternoon."

"OK, but I've got some work to do on the privy sometime today. And we need firewood. There's lots for me to do while you ladies finish work on cleaning the house and such."

The rest of the morning was spent on mundane chores, and the boys burst back in just in time for lunch. Josh exclaimed, "We found a hauling job, but Eddy's got to come verify that he's behind us. There's a ship just in with a big load of mining equipment. The only other people in town with the oxen to pull the load are tied up with another job that's taken them out of town. Let's go right after lunch and I bet we get the job!"

After lunch, the whole family went to the waterfront with the boys. Eddy talked to the owner of the mining equipment and they worked out an agreement. Over all, the job would take nearly a month to complete, since they had to haul the machinery about 20 miles in four trips. With a bonus for early delivery, they could make as much as $300 for this one job. They were all very excited and Eddy promised that the boys would have the wagon and oxen there the next morning for the first load.

Following that, they trooped off to look for furniture. The boys begged off, insisting that they had to make sure that the wagon and oxen were in good shape and ready for the next morning. One thing they did was find some red paint and very neatly letter on the sides of the wagon: "Johnson and Goodalls, Heavy Haulage." This was to be a surprise for Eddy.

The "adults" found the store they were looking for and picked out three bedsteads, three dressers, and five rocking chairs. They already had a table and chairs for the kitchen. The paid $12 for the lot and Mary complained all the way home about how expensive everything was in California.

Jeb and Josh hitched the oxen to the wagon and picked up the furniture for their first hauling job. Eddy gave them 25 cents each for the job to spend on themselves.

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Story tagged with:
Historical / Violent /