Father’s Day – Val by Olley

Word Count 627

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#2 in The Surrogate Father and Adopted Son series

Challenge June 2020:    Val’s POV. This follows on from I ain’t Jealous.  Val has taken an eleven-year-old Johnny under his wing.

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I soon cottoned on to his sass and quick mouth being his way of testing my limits.  Hardly took any time at all for me an’ the kid to reach an understanding of what passed for good manners.

I had intended to leave him with some good folks I knew in a respectable backwater outside of San Vincente. But when we got there I got waylaid into helping out an amigo who had taken on being the sheriff.  Seemed good ole Cyrus Bankwell had retired from riding shotgun for the stage line but now as sheriff needed to take a couple of no account convicted hold-up yahoos to the prison in Santa Fei.  He was going to be gone the best part of three weeks so there I was with a deputy badge and this ornery kid as my shadow. 

His face when he saw the badge! First, those eyes of his grew as big as saucers then he grinned wide enough to split his face.  Before he could sass me I waved the big bunch of keys and threatened to lock him in a cell if he as much stepped out of line.

He needed to be kept busy else he’d find all kinds of trouble, so between him helping at the livery I set him to keeping the jail tidy, I’ll give him his due he was a good worker always keen to do his best. Early on I came back from my rounds to find him sat on the floor surrounded by wanted posters. Now the boy might just have been a stray orphan when I came across him but somewhere along the way he had picked up some reading and figuring in the Mexican language so I used those posters to teach him English.  The kid was quick and smart he soon got the basics, trouble was he more interested in the misdeeds them bad fellas had got themselves into. Of an evening he’d sit there by the stove, his nimble fingers always busy plaiting a rein or cleaning tack, listening while I told him a few warning tales of how easy it can be to take what looks like an easy path only for the law or a bounty hunter to bring retribution raining down.

One evening he watched me clean my gun and I gave him some lessons on how important it is for a man to keep his gun in top condition. I showed him how to take it apart and put it back together, how it was just as important to keep the holster and belt clean and supple. He kept real still and quiet then held out his hands to take that colt of mine as if it was a delicate glass ornament, he slowly but surely disassembled and re-assembled my piece.  It kinda scared me his concentration on the task.  I kept the bullets out of his reach while I lectured him on the dangers of using a gun, he was as solemn as any priest or undertaker.  I asked him then if he had ever handled a gun before but the look that he gave me wasn’t that of an innocent kid he looked down, that long hair of his hiding his face and kept his mouth closed.

Yeah for that short time we had a good routine. Then one day, just before Cyrus was due back, he was out front of the jail sweeping up the dust when I heard a stranger ask him who he was, without a pause he replied.  “Johnny. My papi’s Val Crawford, the deputy of this town.”

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~ end ~

Continued in In A Stable All Forlorn
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