11th February 1857, Jefferson City, Missouri
Doctor Jensen looked at Frank Waterman in puzzlement at the metal thing on his stump. “And what, pray tell, is that wicked monstrosity?”
Waterman held up the bale hook now attached in a brace to his stump, admiring it. “It’s a hook.”
Jensen shook his head. “Obviously. But why do you have one attached to your arm.”
“So I can rip Morgan Fogg’s face off!” barked Waterman as he waved it angrily. Jensen sighed and poured a splash of gin into his tea as he looked at the trio of misfits standing in his surgery.
“All three of you owe me money,” said the doctor as he blew the steam off the beverage. “So you’re going to run an errand down to St Louis for me. If you are successful, your debts are paid in full and I will in the future, aid you with all my medical knowl…”
“You chopped off MY HAND!” yelled Waterman stepping towards the doctor and shoving the hook in his face. Jensen grabbed the metal and roughly moved it aside.
“TO SAVE YOUR LIFE, YOU UNGRATEFUL COW POKE!” Jensen bellowed moving nose to nose with the wanted man. The pair stared at each other before the Klaus the large German took his new friend by the shoulders and moved him backwards. Jensen regained his composure. “Have it your way. Pay your debts you owe me and never darken my doorway again!”
Waterman fumbled for his pistol as he tried to use the hook to draw his gun, his brain still adjusting to the lost appendage and from the withdrawal of the morphine. The German held Waterman’s arm firmly.
“Eazy mein friend,” Klaus said. “You will have to learn to uze your ozer hand. Doez he have any more morphine?”
“You wait your damned turn!” snapped Ellison. “You two have been chowing it down like pigs at a trough.”
“To answer your question, no I am currently out of morphine,” Jensen replied as he sipped his tea.
“Zen you are useless!” The German took out his hatchet and buried it deep into Jensen’s skull with a sickening chock spraying blood into the air. Jensen looked up at the fatal blow in disbelief, his injured brain trying to process what had just happened before he neatly collapsed on the floor.
“HOLY MOTHER OF JESUS!” shrieked Ellison as blood hit him in the face.
“What the hell did you do that for?” yelled Waterman wiping flecks off his face.
The German shrugged and pulled the hatchet out. “He no longer haz morphine.” Ellison started for the door when the large hand of Klaus caught his collar. “And vhere are you going?”
Ellison gulped nervously.
<Ma'ė nahqui! Ma'ė nahqui! Ma'ė nahqui! Ma'ė nahqui! Ma'ė nahqui!>
Morgan’s eyes fluttered as he slowly regained consciousness. He tried to sit up when a hand rested on his forehead and gently pushed him back down. The woman looking down on him smiled; she looked familiar.
“W-where am I?” asked Morgan groggily.
She replied but though the tone seemed familiar he didn’t understand the response. Slowly she lifted a cup to his lips. Morgan lapped it up like a thirsty dog and soon felt better. He looked around his surroundings to see he was in a tent. It reminded him of his childhood.
“How long have I…?” Morgan’s question was cut off by a compress placed on his forehead, water trickling down his face.
“Where’s my horse?” he asked as he tried to sit up. The woman started to speak when Morgan held up his hand. “Hold your horses. Let me get my head right.” He sat up through a wave of pain from his arm, got himself settled and looked the woman in the eye. “Say that again, please.”
Morgan recalled the language of his father. “Red…Bear…that’s what my father use to call me.”
The woman nodded. Slowly she continued speaking and like riding a horse it soon came back to Morgan.
11th February 1857, Columbia, Missouri
Black Snake Betty stepped off the train in Columbia. As she walked the platform to collect her trunk she paused at the dozen or so Negroes chained neck to belly to each other waiting like cattle to board the train. A man in white breeches and blue jacket holding a long, smooth stick kept an eye on them. Betty shook her head as she passed.
“You got a problem you dumb %$#?” asked the man tapping the stick in his palm defiantly.
Betty looked him straight in the eye. “I’m looking at it.” The man raised the stick threateningly but Betty held her gaze and her ground. “You don’t scare me.”
The whistle blew and the train slowly shunted off. The slave owner spat in her direction as he turned away. Betty crossed the platform and grabbed him the scruff of the neck and the belt, hoisted him then frog marched him to the platform edge. The train belched steam and in that cover of cloud she tossed him between two carriages. There was a bloodcurdling scream and a sickening squelch followed by more screaming. The train guard blew a whistle and the people on the platform erupted in a panic at the man who’d fallen onto the tracks. Betty wiped her hands and walked away.
“Sometimes you just have to stop taking their $#!+!” She said as she passed the slaves and dropped a set of keys on the ground.
Morgan looked at the woman and slowly, like dawn breaking, it hit him. “<Honiahaka! Aunty!>”
He flung himself around his father’s sister, ignoring the pain in his broken arm. It’d been over sixteen years since he’s last seen her.
“<How? I though…>” Morgan was flustered and full of questions but Honiahaka pressed her fingers to his lips.
“<You need rest. Come morning we will talk.>” She smiled and put him back to bed like she’d done when he was but a boy. “<Welcome Red Bear,>” she breathed into his ear and Morgan laid back down to sleep.
Sherriff Jonas Ross hoisted his belt making his belly wobbled as he looked at the dead doctor with the split head.
“Damn Injuns!” spat Ross. “Should’ve poisoned’em all instead of just moving’em along.”
Frank Waterman nodded. “No good dirty reds. We found him and came got you.”
Ellison Quimby nodded in agreement, worried he was nodding too much or possibly not enough. Klaus the German stood behind with a firm, reassuring hand on Ellison’s shoulder.
“Thanks for letting me know,” said Jonas holding his hand out to shake Waterman’s but stopping as he looked at the hook. “I’ll…round up a posse. Seems he’s wanted in Leavenworth too.”
“Vas?” said The German.
Goodman unrolled a wanted poster from his pocket. “Came in today. Seems Morgan Fogg is bad news.”
Waterman smiled wryly at The German and Ellison. Looks like they’d just gotten away with murder.
12th February, Cedar Creek, Missouri
The coyote sniffed and cautiously looked around as it slunk up on the corpse. Checking again for predators it nibbled the open wound on the arm before taking a larger piece of it. The wolf man shot up catching the scavenger by the throat, snapping its neck like a twig before feasting on it. The mangy morsel was devoured in seconds and he howled in pain and delight. He’d never been hurt like that before. His body ached from the silver and aconite each working in conjunction to slow his healing factor yet pump up his metabolism that pushed the peyote through his system. His brain bounced around his skull like a spider on a skillet. His chest ached from the wad of metal embedded in his sternum.
Slowly he got to his feet. He looked around in a panic as it was daylight and he rarely if ever was in wolf form while the sun was out. He looked at his injured chest and wondered if he transformed would die. Like peeling off a scab, he cautiously shifted his form to human and when complete screamed in agony and collapsed on the floor. He writhed in pain like maggots were in his skin.
After an hour of torment it subsided and he got to his feet. Glancing around he saw his escaped dinner’s hat lying on the ground along with a lot of his gear. He picked up the hat and looked at the name stitched into the brim: M Fogg.
“Fogg!” he cursed as he ripped the name out of the hat.
To be continued...