Part II - Chapter 10 - When Shit Hits the Fan

The group reached the cabin and locked up the now conscious prisoners in the storm cellar, after re-sealing the door that Rachel and James had apparently kicked in earlier. Fiona volunteered to watch over the prisoners which enabled the rest of the group to return to the cabin.

As soon as they pushed open the door to the cabin, tempers flared as accusations were being fired upon Doc. Michael and Brisco pushed a bewildered and silent Doc into a chair. While they had all experienced plans go awry in the past, this time, much of the problems and now a lost Pete, seemed to center around Doc. However, Madeline tried to calm everyone down with offers of beer from the icebox but when it was clear that no one was backing down, she took out a gun and fired it in the air. Everyone looked at her in stunned silence.

“Boys, I think it’s time for you to take a walk,” Madeline stated in a stern voice as she lit her next cigarette. As Michael and Brisco attempted to protest, she held up her hand and gave them each a look that meant she was about to tend to business. When Maddie gave that look, you knew that she would obtain information faster than any Pinkerton, Marshall, or skilled torturer. That woman could draw blood from a stone if needed.

Michael silently took the beers Madeline had offered, nodded his head toward the outside, and a frustrated Brisco followed Michael out of the cabin. However, the two men did not go on a walk. Instead, Michael leaned against the house as Brisco angrily paced.

After several minutes of Brisco stewing, Michael broke the silence, “After all of these years being undercover, I finally have an out. No more of the spy life. Just heading operations and advising bureaucrats.”

“Don’t blame me for your bad decisions,” retorted Brisco sarcastically. At Michael’s surprised look, Brisco gave him an impish smile. “C’mon! The only thing worse than a spy is a political bureaucrat. You’re going to be bored out of your mind.”

“As bored as a Hollywood consultant?” retorted Brisco.

“Touché,” grinned Brisco.

“What do you do in that role, anyway? I have yet to see an accurate ‘Western’ movie.”

“It’s mostly just drinking and watching movies. They rarely actually want the truth.”

“Sounds familiar,” Michael smirked. A moment passed before Michael became serious again, “It really is time to go home. And I owe you Brisco. Truly.”

Brisco sighed as he felt this conversation was becoming more sappy than he was open to feeling right now. “Of all of the times for Doc to go silent! Right when we had James in our grasp and this whole drama so close to an end.”

“Brisco, I need you to hear me,” the urgency as Michael said this interrupted Brisco’s thoughts and he looked into Michael’s face. “You are the best man and the best friend that I have ever had. I need you to know that Brisco. You need to let go of the weight that you are carrying because that guilt is going to distract you and get you killed.”

Brisco knew that Michael was warning him to let go of his mission to save Bowler’s son but that request was out of the question. But instead of opening up another argument, Brisco changed the subject.

“So, we’re in the middle of nowhere. Where was your mom wanting us to walk?”

“What do you have against trees?” inquired Michael as stood up from against the house and began walking around the cabin towards the back of it.

“So, are you taking me out back to show me another secret tunnel or super-secret spy station with the weapons of the future that I was supposed to be selling?”

“Actually, I am about to introduce you to the newest member of your team.”

They turned the corner and behind the cabin were two cars – one that was loaded up with luggage but the other car was nearly empty. Michael led Brisco to the less filled vehicle and continued, “I found her on my way through Dodge City, she was pretty beat up but I was able to restore her as a stress relief during this job. Not only can she handle the miles but she can charge through whatever speed or trouble you throw at her.”

“A restored Dodge Charger, huh? How much do I owe you for her?”

“She’s a gift,” Michael replied. “By the way, I think Fiona packed some guns, ammunition, and a couple sticks of TNT in the back for you.”

Brisco didn’t know what to say. About Michael’s advice, about the car, or about the small armory from Fiona. There was just too much that happened in a short amount of time and his head was spinning.
“He’s finally able to talk,” came a voice. They both turned around and saw that Maddie had joined them, she had clearly worked her magic on Doc. And they had only a short time to talk and plan before U.S. Attorney Brigstone would be coming to pick up the prisoners.

- - - - - - - - -

Doc’s hands were shaking as he slowly sipped from a glass of water. Brisco couldn’t help but notice that while Doc was no longer catatonic, he was still very much shaken. Doc brought the glass down and held it unsteadily in his lap before slowly beginning.

“When the hotel manager and I left the room, I did not get a good look at the long haired guy-“

“Pete,” chimed in Brisco in an attempt to help.

“Yeah. The hotel manager directed us around the room and I stood outside the room. I heard a commotion as I circled the room and found James and the other guy, Pete, knocked out on the floor. I looked up and saw the hotel manager leading Rachel out at gunpoint so I quickly helped James wake up. I had just enough time to let him know that Rachel was in trouble before we decided that it would be best for me to lead James out at gunpoint and surprise the hotel manager or anyone else who might be waiting outside.

“As we walked towards the door, I told James that if any trouble occurred that he needed to simply think ‘home’ and the bracelet would take him home. When he asked me what I meant by “home,” I realized that with the loss of his father, his world had been so shaken that nowhere had felt like home. That at least explained why he’s been moving through time and visiting all of my programmed locations. To help guide him, I told him to focus on the feeling of ‘home’ that his mother provided the next time he felt himself leaving by bracelet.”

Doc took another unsteady breath before continuing, “We walked outside and the man was grilling Rachel. I can’t exactly remember all that was said, I just know that Rachel was shot. It was so fast. I don’t know if it was her shoulder, her heart, or what. There was blood everywhere-“

“It’s ok, Doc,” came Madeline’s soothing voice. “You’re safe now.”

“James picked up Rachel and I shouted directions to James on how to start the bracelet and to think of “home.” Within a few minutes, they were gone. Suddenly, Fiona was crashing through the hotel in the car, there were gunshots and explosions, I ran around the hotel trying to get guests out of the hotel, and then suddenly we were leaving town.”

“How does Pete fit into all of this?” asked Michael.

“I have no idea. You gotta believe me! All I know is that he was the long-haired man that I ran into which launched all of this craziness. I have no clue about how he ended up in my time, but I do know that he is the man that we sent Socrates to look for in San Francisco.”

Brisco took in Doc’s limited explanation before musing aloud, “So, I guess our next question is, how the hell did Pete Hutter land in the future? And where exactly has he been staying in San Francisco?”

Part II - Chapter 09 - The Arms' Deal

The hot and humid trip to town passed as a blur for Brisco and Doc. As Brisco stepped off the wagon in front of the hotel, he took a moment to study himself in the reflection of a window. Brisco straightened his tie and took in the rest of the suit. According to Brisco’s cover, he had to shave before leaving and wear a suit for negotiations with his “influential prospective buyer.” Brisco studied his suit for one last moment before making a mental note that he would have to appear extra paranoid from the night before so that their opponents would relax a bit more, leaving themselves open for the taking.

Brisco turned back towards the wagon to find Doc already working to unload the guns, the ammunition, the scrap metal props, and the TNT. All of the items that would enable Doc and Brisco to sell their cover stories. The rest of the real weapons would arrive with Fiona and Madeline in the car in the event there was any trouble and the local Irish mob decided to start a battle.

After all of the “merchandise” was unloaded and sitting in the dining room in preparation for the weapons sale, Brisco instructed Doc to go around to the various windows and doors of the dining room to ensure that everything was sealed. During the night, Pete and the hotel staff should have sealed up the dining hall and prepared it to stifle any noise under the guise of protecting “future weapon secrets.” By sealing off the room, it would also give the group an opportunity to pump gas into the room. The role of gassing the room was to be filled by Doc who had already volunteered for the job, wherever he was. Brisco had to admit, it was surprising that Michael would allow a stranger to gas the room. Brisco shook the thought from his mind to focus on spreading out the weapons. He ensured that the scrap metal props were towards the back of the room to ensure that they could be seen but not thoroughly investigated. He moved several tables to the center of the room and spread out the sketches and guns ensuring that the loaded guns were near him and the guns in the center of the room were unloaded.

After what felt like a half an hour or so, Brisco noticed that there was a small bar set up in the back of the room. Since it looked like the Irish group were still out and about, Brisco leaned behind the bar and helped himself to a beer. As he sat down, he winced when he felt that the beer was warm. But then thinking about the amount of work still ahead of him, he decided to press on and enjoy the beer as best as he could. Just as Brisco began to mentally review the plan for the 3rd time since sitting down, the doors swung open and the Irishmen walked in – the hotel manager, O’Banion, and Snake joined him in the dining room. As they closed the door, Brisco could the see that Playfair, failed thief from last night, was guarding the doors.

Brisco took another sip of the warm beer before nonchalantly stating, “You’re early.”

“We believe in getting business accomplished quickly,” O’Banion responded in his silky and smiling tone.

“We will start on time or not at all,” Brisco replied shortly before taking another gulp. “At this rate, I will need another 2 beers before Michael even arrives.”

“My compatriots and I were thinking that having a middleman is an extra expense that none of us want to deal with. Why don’t we begin negotiations now which will enable you to increase your fee and us to decrease our cost?”

Brisco finished off the beer, scratched his chin, and then stretched before standing. He walked across the room to grab another beer, as though the question was a preposterous musing brought up by a child asking why can’t the sky be brought closer to the earth?

“Well?” asked Snake in a more menacing tone.

“Listen, fellas, I appreciate the economical approach that you’re pitching here. I truly do. However, you have to keep in mind, Michael connects me to more people than you. If I burn Michael, I might as well blow up my supply because I’m never going to get another deal. Now you wouldn’t want that, right? Besides, I want to ensure that all of my people are safe and in sight before we begin any negotiations. So, on that note, let’s all have a seat, and have a drink or two. While I’m up, would either of you like a beer? Looks like you’re buying.”

O’Banion’s face was frozen in an icy smile, almost as forced as Michael’s during a job and sat down in a seat before motioning a decline to the drink offer. The hotel manager nervously stood behind a chair, unsure whether to sit on it, leave the room, or protect the bar from further pillaging. Brisco had no doubt that the hotel manager would stand on his head if asked by O’Banion. Snake was not so tempered in his response. He stormed out of the room but came back moments later pushing a confused Doc in front of him. Brisco looked out the closing door to see Pete joining the guard. He gave Brisco a quick wink and hat tip before turning his back as though he would be Brisco’s side of protection.

Doc was quickly pushed across the room to stand in the middle of the room. Brisco grabbed another beer and shoved it into Doc’s trembling hands. “Here you go, Doc. Celebrate! I’m about to make you rich.”

The beer had splashed out over the top of the beer bottle and Doc had to wipe off the beer before gingerly placing the beer down on a nearby table. “Thank you Mr. Finley but I prefer to celebrate after I have my compensation in hand and preferably in a safer place,” came Doc’s hoarse and whispered voice.

Brisco laughed and slapped him on the back, “Doc, ever the cautious fuck!”

“What about the charming young lady that was part of your group? The hotel manager said that she had left last night and no one has seen her since. Will she be joining us?” inquired O’Banion.

At the mention of Rachel, a protective feeling washed over Brisco which actually surprised him. “After the way you knocked out my scientist last night, do you really think that I would have her anywhere near this hotel?”

“That’s too bad. She would have been a welcome addition and a breath of fresh air and beauty for today’s meeting,” O’Banion sighed. He then surveyed Brisco’s clothing before musing, “Well, I see you are at least dressed appropriately for our meeting today.” The judgement in his eyes could not be missed as he seemed to still find Brisco’s appearance lacking compared to an invisible standard known only to O’Banion. For a moment though, his eyes flickered behind Brisco to the guns, sketches, and artillery before he focused back on Brisco. The room had an intense silence as both sides of the room measured the other, as though war was moments from breaking out over a peaceful sea.

“Vell, I muss say, I’ve nheva heard such a lout commotion,” came a sarcastic German accent. A tall man with sharp nose, thick eyebrows, and bushy mustache entered the room. His hair was parted down the middle and he wore a suit but based on the way he walked, it was clear that the man had a military background.

“I must say, Chuck, we are friends now? Ya? I can call you Chuck? Can we waylay ze formality?” his tone was both mocking and authoritative as O’Banion sat a bit straighter with the German’s entrance. “Franz, this is Chuck Finley, Chuck this is Franz von Papen.”

“Have a seat Fran,” smiled Brisco. “Have a beer.”

“Itz Franz,” came the polite correction from the German. His cheek twitched for only a moment before the German smiled and took a beer but remained standing next to Brisco. In fact, he continued to smile as he drank his beer. He smiled as he looked over Brisco. He smiled as he took mental inventory of the far side of the room. And continued to smile as he took another gulp.

Something about this German made Brisco’s skin crawl. There was a sinister nature in his smile that made Brisco want to just beat the shit out of him. “Yes, this was the man who was orchestrating the bombing of various factories. This was the man trying to create conflict between labor parties, big businesses, and the US government. This man was killing civilians – and why? For an agenda? Who’s and why? Or just for the hell of it?” Studying the lust in the German’s eyes as he eyed the artillery made Brisco sure that this sadist took pleasure in the destruction of others. At the realization, Brisco’s stomach hardened. It would take all of his strength to get through the rest of this mission.

“Your loyalty to your men and to your intermediary is commendable and unexpected. I have to ask, do you come from a big family? Or have you served in some great battle? Based on your reputation, I would have considered you more unscrupulous,” came the lilting voice of the Irishman.

During spy games such as these, the best lie is the truth. Or at least something close to the truth.

Brisco pressed on and with a smile gave the truth, “Only child. But yes, I have seen my fair share of violence. You don’t get to be so well acquainted with guns without seeing a bit of bloodshed.” Brisco looked at his pocket watch. The meeting was not set to start for another 20 minutes and Brisco did not want to continue small talk like this for the next 20 minutes. He wasn’t sure how long he could bury the hatred for Franz. “Where the hell is Mike? Can he get here earlier than the planned arrival time?”

“Based on yhour relationship vit your pocket vatch, I zink zis line of questioning is boring you. I have to ask, am I boring you as a host?”

“Let’s just say I prefer action over words, in all situations,” Brisco replied meaningfully.

“Snake here is the same way. Itchy trigger finger. I call it a disease but he assures me that it’s a form of loyalty to our cause,” O’Banion smiled as he pointed towards Snake.

“And you?” asked Brisco to Franz.

“Oh, I prefer to ask ze questions raver zan to anzer zem,” evaded the German.

“Me? I feel like any relationship is a dance. Friendships, Country-“ O’Banion’s list trailed off.

“Women?” interjected Brisco

“Of course. It’s all a dance. Getting as much as you can from the other person while giving as little of yourself as possible.”

“Doesn’t sound very patriotic.”

“It does if you zay ze right zings to ze right people,” Franz laughed, which Brisco found to be more blood chilling than the smile.

A large whine came from the outside door as it protested being pushed open. Within moments, Michael walked into the room with Playfair following behind him. Michael gave a forced laugh before beginning his Irish accent again, “I thought the meetin’ was goin to begin in twenty minutes? I only came a mite early as I was hopin’ for some whiskey or beer before we started plannin’ a little treason.”

“Ah Michael. Treason and the law, it’s simply a matter of which side of the gun you are on. But we wouldn’t dream of starting without you. I think it’s about time to send our boys on an adventure.” At that, Playfair and the hotel manager were tasked to keep the room private and placed on patrol at the front room. Doc was sent out the back, supposedly to bring in more weapons but in reality, to turn the pump at the assigned time. Brisco looked past O’Banion to Pete outside the room. To Brisco’s relief, it looked like Pete had convinced the hotel manager to go back to the front desk and allow Playfair and Pete to guard the main entrance.

When the room was only the foursome, Michael and Brisco quickly sprang into action and expertly explained the various artillery units, the guns, the ammunition, the TNT, and the sketches. As Franz and O’Banion listened to the sales pitches and inspected the various sketches, it was clear that they were not impressed. “While we are pleased at the quantity that you were able to bring into here, we are not impressed by the quality,” stated O’Banion.

“And if ve vere to be perfectly frank, the quantity izn’t even enuf for our upcomink event.”

Expecting that the mini arsenal would not be enough, Brisco made a big show about a briefcase that had been hiding under the blankets. He lifted it up and unlocked it as though the most precious cargo in the world was hiding inside of it. The room was gathered around the briefcase as though expecting some kind of invincible tiny weapon. When Brisco lifted the next set of sketched pages with the odd vehicles that Doc had designed carefully out of the box, he was sure to handle them as carefully as possible. However, when O’Banion and Franz took the sketches and looked over the pictures, they two men had very different reactions.

O’Banion seemed in a daze as he absently took the pages and began scanning through them as his anger began to become more visible turning into a white hot rage and then he exploded. “I will not be swindled! This is not what we agreed on!” O’Banion’s temper flared and he threw the pages up in the air. Brisco held in the chuckle as he had figured O’Banion would lose his temper at the lack of a futuristic weapon.

Meanwhile, Franz stepped back and didn’t even attempt to raise a gun or demand better weapons. He simply looked towards the artillery, as though he had another mission, one perhaps more nefarious. Brisco watched the smile slowly twist through the corners of Franz’s mouth. Michael and Brisco exchanged glances in an attempt to process Franz’s reaction.

“Now, now O’Banion. Zat’s no way to behave,” scolded Franz. He pointed at the mess and within moments O’Banion held back his frustration and began collecting the sketches off of the floor. “Iz zis your best veponz, artillery, and vehicles?”

Suddenly the reaction made sense to Brisco. “He is here to see what the ‘best’ Americans can offer!” The realization made Brisco’s stomach plummet. “He isn’t just here to create friction and chaos but to ensure dominance over the United States!”

Before replying, Brisco checked his pocket watch. The gas should begin filling the room soon. The gas masks were hiding in between the various weapons and within arm’s reach. Soon the mission would be over and they can take both of these pieces of shit into custody. Any minute now. Any minute.

But it didn’t happen.

“Gentlemen, I believe that my employer asked you a question?” asked O’Banion. He straightened up and pointed his gun at Brisco. Until this moment he had been trying to present himself as an equal authority figure in the room. But the more time that passed, the more he was acting like the younger brother of the neighborhood bully. All bark and no bite.

Unfortunately, there was still no gas seeping in to rescue them. If Brisco or Michael didn’t do something soon, they would both be dead.

“A deal’s a deal, we’d like our money-“ began Brisco in an attempt to stall.

O’Banion stopped short and even lowered his gun for a moment before bursting out in laughter. “Excuse me?”

“Listen, we don’t want any trouble. But a deal’s a deal.”

“We need a demonstration not pretty pictures. We need to see what we are about to purchase in action!”

“Listen, they’re too big to be brought to town inconspicuously. All of the secrecy that you want would go out the window. And if I brought you to my location, you would kill me and take the items. It makes much more sense, if I give you the pictures, you pay me my money, and I give you a map with the location of what you have paid for. It’s that simple.”

“Or you give me the pictures, I give you money, and you give me a map to a quicksand spot in the desert? Do you think I’m that stupid?” exclaimed O’Banion.

“I can’t believe that you would think that of me! Besides, I have gotten out of quicksand before and it’s not all that impossible. You see, back in the day, my friend Bowler and I met some pirates in the desert and-“

“You’re not helping,” muttered Michael under his breath.

“Or we could kill you now,” O’Banion threatened as he raised his gun to be eye level to Brisco.

“Put avay ze gun,” commanded Franz. “I have a few tool and dye companiez filled with hydraulic prezez. How much zteele do you need?”

Before Brisco or Michael could respond to the odd question, there was a shot and a woman’s scream. It only took a few moments before Brisco placed the voice, it was Rachel who screamed!

Suddenly there was a familiar sound and flash of light from outside. Brisco felt like an icy hand had grabbed his spine and his heart sank to his stomach. “I thought that James & Rachel would be in the shelter? What had happened? What caused James to leave early? Were one or both of them injured? Or worse, were they both dead?”

Brisco had barely enough time to process the questions before a Ford Model T came crashing through the wall. Brisco and Michael had just enough time to dive behind the bar before all hell broke loose. A bewildered and shouting O’Banion was pinned underneath a caved in part of the wall. O’Banion’s arms were unfortunately free and he was blindly shooting at the car, at the door, towards the bar, anything that seemed to piss him off. For all of his big talk, O’Banion was proving himself to be a man not used to violence.

Meanwhile, Michael had quickly recovered from the unexpected crash and grabbed one of the nearby loaded guns. He pumped the shotgun and began to quickly move towards his target, Franz. His prey, Franz, had already knocked over a table and positioned himself behind it. He aimed shots at Fiona who luckily had ducked shortly after crashing through the wall.

Snake had attempted to come back into the room through the hole in the wall created by Fiona’s car but found it difficult as O’Banion kept shooting wildly towards anything that moved, which included Snake. Ignoring O’Banion, Snake started shouting and motioning towards Franz, in an attempt to get the German to safety.

Brisco was still pinned behind the bar and had begun shooting towards Snake and Franz in an attempt to lay down cover fire as Michael moved closer and closer towards apprehending Franz. Just then a dainty hand threw a bottle of liquor with a lit cloth hanging out of it. Brisco had just enough time to see Fiona’s action before he threw himself onto the ground. Another explosion had gone off, luckily this one was less destruction and more smoke to disorient Snake, Franz, and O’Banion.

Brisco stood up and moved around the bar just as he glimpsed a small figure move through the smoke by climbing over the car. Just as Brisco was able to make out Fiona’s face, she began shooting across the room. Snake was down with a gut and headshot in moments. “So much for diplomacy,” Brisco thought. O’Banion was still in shock but luckily out of bullets. Pete came crashing past where Snake lay dead across the doorway. Pete had barely come into sight before Franz began shooting in Pete’s direction. Pete had just enough time to duck before Michael caught up to Franz and tackled him. Brisco quickly moved to aid Michael in cuffing the man. As Franz struggled, Michael hit the German as hard as he could to knock the enemy out. Once Franz was unconscious it was easy for Brisco and Michael to carry their prisoner outside to find Madeline waiting with the wagon Brisco had driven earlier in the day, ready to take on passengers and prisoners. She sat with the reigns across her lap, cigarette dangling from her mouth, and a shot gun loaded and ready to fire on anyone who might stand in her way.

As Brisco and Michael threw Franz into the wagon, Brisco turned to look back at the hotel to determine how far behind the rest of the group was from leaving the battle scene. Pete was the first to appear dragging a bound and gagged O’Banion.

“What the hell happened to the gas? Where’s Rachel and James?” demanded Brisco.

“Not the time,” grunted Pete as the two men threw O’Banion alongside Franz.

Just as Pete passed into the wagon, Brisco spotted Fiona. She was loaded up with most of the weapons and was in the process of tossing lit sticks of dynamite into the hotel behind her. As she rushed to meet the group, she explained that she and Doc had ensured that all guests had been evacuated and the only people remaining were part of the Irish mob. Doc awkwardly followed Fiona from a distance, he attempted to balance the rest of the weapons but it was more weight than the kid must be used to as he struggled to keep them together or off the ground.

Michael and Brisco ran to help ease Doc’s load and just as the group piled into the wagon, Madeline hit the reins and sent the team of horses flying out of the city. Just as the horses’ hooves hit the town border, the explosion went off destroying the hotel dining room and the small surrounding area.

“Fiona always was good at targeted explosions,” thought Brisco as he turned from watching the explosion to look at the group. In an attempt to begin to decompress, Brisco started to mentally assess the mission and the group. As he looked at Doc, it was surprising to see him staring open mouthed at Pete as though he had seen a ghost. Pete looked back at Doc with a look of derision unmatched by anything Brisco had seen before. Pete’s eyes fluttered to Brisco before he rolled up his sleeve revealing a bracelet similar to the one Brisco had briefly seen on James’ arm. Pete gave Brisco a wink before pushing a few buttons and with the familiar light and noise, Pete was gone.

Part II - Chapter 08 - James Kendrick & Madeline Weston

Before Brisco said a word, Pete stuck out his hand and said, “Chuck Finley, I presume. I’m Kendrick. While I would love get to know you better and to pontificate the meaning of life. I believe there is a matter upstairs that demands our immediate attention.”

As if to confirm the statement, a loud thump shook the floor above. Clearly, Brisco’s rooms upstairs were being tossed and potentially ransacked. Brisco buried the desire to demand an immediate explanation of Pete Hutter and followed Pete’s lead. Along the way, anxiety began to build inside of Brisco. “Of all the people in the world, Pete Hutter is going to help me maintain my cover? Doc and Brisco were as good as dead.”

“Who is upstairs?” inquired Pete in a low voice.

Brisco had to choose his words carefully to not undermine his cover, “Just a scientist.”

Pete nodded his acknowledgement as the two men entered the hallway, Brisco and Pete saw two unknown Irishmen kick in the scientist’s room. The group had already destroyed Rachel’s room as her clothes and personal items were strewn around the room and into the hallway. Brisco silently motioned to Hutter directions for the two to sneak up on the Irishmen. Brisco had to gingerly step over unmentionable items as he snuck up behind one of the Irishmen with Pete quietly getting into position to attack the other Irishman.

“Where are the weapons?” Brisco’s Irishman yelled at Doc as Brisco moved into position behind him.

Just past the man, Brisco could see a baffled and blurry-eyed Doc bolted out of bed. Still in a sleepy state, he tried to talk but words failed him. All that came out was a hoarse conglomeration of nonsensical sounds. Brisco was momentarily relieved that Doc had apparently lost his voice which would keep Brisco’s cover intact. Brisco was now almost directly behind his man so he kicked the man’s knees out from under him. The startled man attempted to get back up but Brisco landed a punch into the man’s kidney before Brisco dealt the final blow, taking both elbows down in a swift motion which quickly knocked the man out cold in moments.

The other man was too quick for Pete to catch and before anyone could stop him, managed to punch Doc square across the jaw. Within moments, Doc fell to the floor and passed out. Pete grabbed the knocked out Irishman’s gun and pointed it at the stranger in Doc’s room.

“Now that wasn’t real smart of you to break into a scientist’s room and knock him out,” came the all too familiar mocking voice of Pete, “You just lost your only leverage. Obviously, you don’t play chess. Maybe you should stick to checkers because you are all offense but no strategy.”

Brisco rolled his eyes. He had not missed Pete’s speeches over the years, but he had to agree with Pete. The man raised his gun and Brisco watched him slowly do the math. Two men with two guns each vs. just one gun. Seeing the battle was lost, the man narrowed his eyes and looked up at Brisco.

“How dare you Yanks try to profit instead of support our cause! You have no honor! There is a fight coming and you dare to-“

“How dare you break into my employees’ rooms!” Rage began to fill Brisco’s whole being and he was shaking at the thought that Doc could have been killed. The one man who could help Brisco save James. “Do you think that I would be dumb enough to bring the weapons anywhere near town before I got paid? Kendrick was right you are stupid!”

“At least we believe in a higher calling – like freedom and-”

“I believe in nothing but the almighty dollar. And I don’t need you or your cause! In fact, I am about to call this deal off!” The anger was now erupting and he looked over to see Pete trying to hide a laugh.

“Anything you want to add?” demanded Brisco.

“Nossir! Looks like you’ve managed to say everything needed,” Pete stated with hands lifted in surrender.

At that Brisco picked the man up and threw him out of the room. “In fact, deal's off! That’s the message you can tell your employers!”

“No need to cancel the deal or to pass on a message,” came the cheerful voice of O’Banion. He had silently moved up the stairs and was standing next to Snake and the hotel manager. “Message received. Come Playfair, we’ll attend to Lonergan.”

Brisco shoved the thief with a martyr complex down the hall towards O’Banion. As the man named Playfair slowly moved down the hallway, his head seemed to lower further with each step in shamed defeat. O’Banion gave a nod to Snake and the hotel manager. They took the silent direction and moved past Pete and Brisco to pick up the unconscious man named Lonergan on the floor. The hotel manager looked at the unconscious man’s gun in Pete’s hand.

“That’s my friend’s gun.”


“Well, it’s his” came the weak response from the hotel manager, a little less confident as he looked into Pete’s eyes.

“It’s a Beautiful Colt 45. Almost as beautiful as my piece. In fact, it’s about time, it had a mate. In essence, I would say, it was his. Past tense is key,” Pete’s voice was weighted with a threat and the all too familiar smile was spread across his face. Pete then turned both guns onto the hotel manager.

The hotel manager calculated the risk in continuing to ask for his colleague’s gun back but decided the better of it and backed off. It seemed the gun was not worth his life. And with that, the hotel manager and Snake carried their ally the rest of the way down the hall towards the departing group of Irishmen. O’Banion was the last to leave the hallway but just before he turned to leave, he gave a mock apologetic smile. “Our apologies for the confusion. Let’s all get a good night’s rest before deciding if we want to call off the deal.”

At that Brisco and Pete were left alone in the hallway. Pete began carelessly and quickly throwing any item on the floor into Rachel’s room while Brisco went to check on Doc. He was still unconscious so Brisco packed every scrap of paper that was laying about Doc’s room into Doc’s bag. When finished, Brisco looked to see that Doc’s room was still a mess but it didn’t look like there was anything from the future or about James in the room.

When Brisco checked on Pete’s progress and the state of Rachel’s room, it looked like she had luckily taken all of her weapons with her. The good news is that all of the weapons Brisco and Rachel brought would now be safe under the care of the trigger-happy Fiona. Satisfied that the only items in all three rooms were clothes and items without significance, Brisco strapped on Doc’s bag before picking up Doc and throwing him over his shoulder and heading into Pete’s direction downstairs.

- - - - - - - - -

Pete discreetly explained that he would keep guard over the rooms while Doc and Brisco met up with Michael to hammer out the rest of the plan. They had to almost mime their communications to ensure that the hotel manager and staff would not hear them. Unfortunately, charades was never Pete’s stronghold as Brisco had unfortunately learned during a mission in Mexico. It would have been hilarious if it wasn’t so frustrating.

According to Pete’s hand motions, Brisco should guide both horses east out of town and Michael would meet them just outside of town and show them where to go. At least, that’s what Brisco interpreted the hand motions to mean. But as Brisco rode out of town, he began to doubt the directions. Or maybe it was just doubt in the messenger. Brisco’s mind began to race with “what if’s,” including maybe Brisco had interpreted the motions correctly but Pete was leading him into a trap. Brisco began to look for any large boulders ahead, perhaps one painted with a starry night sky. Then he heard the sound of someone on horseback riding quickly towards them. Brisco hit the back of Doc’s horse to help Doc get away. He heard a faint moan and Brisco realized that Doc was finally starting to wake. If Doc had a voice, Brisco was sure that Doc would be shouting curses at the world. But luckily the worst that he could do was breathe heavily, which would not be heard over the horse’s hooves.

Moments like this, Brisco missed Comet. However, the thought was fleeting as Brisco had now turned the horse around and was riding toward the sound of the unknown rider. Brisco raised his gun ready to fight or shoot the stranger when he heard the familiar code, “Lightning.”

“Michael! Well, thank God for that,” thought Brisco before giving the corresponding code word, “Flash.” Brisco put his gun away and took deep breaths to allow the adrenaline to cool down as Michael rode into sight.

“Didn’t you have the scientist with you?” asked Michael.

At that Brisco groaned, kicking himself inwardly, and took off riding in the night towards where he had sent Doc. Luckily, Doc had already managed to stop the horse and was sitting awkwardly waiting for the group to catch up.

“What now?” asked Brisco. Doc sheepishly pointed up the road. He had come to a fork in the road and no one had told him where to go from here. It was clear that Doc did not want to be lost as much as Brisco did not want to lose Doc. When Michael caught up with the duo, he silently nudged his Mustang horse right and the two followed him. It was a quiet ride as the trio moved up the road and through a prairie before finally arriving at a cabin that was set in the middle of nowhere. There was a darkness billowing out of the chimney, meaning that someone had a fire going on inside along with lighted windows piercing the darkness as the small group stopped in front of the house.

“Home sweet home,” came the sarcastic yet wistful comment from Michael. The three tied up the horses and walked inside. Michael opened the door to the smell of food being cooked and two women working away. Fiona was instantly recognizable sitting at a table taking inventory of guns, ammunition, TNT, and the like. The other woman was Madeline, Michael’s mother.

“Is that your mom again?” asked Brisco, shocked to see Michael’s mother, a civilian, a part of the operation.

“Not my original idea but after years of me doing international work, she decided to make the trek to live nearby. Unfortunately, with the recent uncertainty and militarization overseas, most of my team have been reassigned. Once this mission is completed, we’ll be moving on too.”

Fiona lifted a gun to show off her hand to Brisco. “Don’t you just love it?”

“A .45 ACP – it’s a hunny,” Brisco stated as he inspected her hand before adding, “And the rock your wearing doesn’t seem too bad either.”

“I’m most excited about adding to the rest of my collection when we move to D.C. A girl can never have too many guns.”

A snort came from Madeline in the other room. Clearly, she was hoping for actual grandchildren and not a slew of guns to be “added to the family.” Whatever she was thinking, she packed it away as she lit a cigarette. She checked the food one last time and decided that it had reached a point of no longer needing her full attention, so she crossed the room and gave Brisco a big hug. “Do you want a beer?”

“When have I ever turned down a beer?” grinned Brisco.

Madeline laughed in agreement as she pulled a beer and yogurt out of the icebox. At the sound of Madeline and Brisco’s chuckles, the room changed from nervous tension to one of old friends realizing that it had been too long since they had seen each other. Fiona grinned and gave Brisco a hug shortly before Michael broke into a smile and shook Brisco’s hand.

“Your timing could not have been more perfect,” said Michael appreciatively. Madeline grinned at both men and handed Brisco his beer and Michael a yogurt and spoon.

“Everyone this is Doc, Doc this is-“

Doc angrily rummaged through the bag Brisco had packed and managed to find some paper and a pen and was furiously scribbling out giant letters. He quickly turned the paper around with the acronym W.T.F.?

“Everyone this is Doc,” Brisco sighed in exasperation before turning to his companion. “Doc, I don’t speak your science acronyms,” Brisco tiredly replied before taking a big gulp of beer. Doc rolled his eyes, turned the paper over and began writing in giant letters again.

“Hey, Maddie, maybe Doc should get a beer too?” asked Brisco, hoping a beer would take off some of Doc’s edginess.

Madeline nodded and went back to the icebox while Brisco turned back to look at Doc. By now, Doc had finished whatever he had been writing. Doc turned the paper around and emphatically pointed at the message in all capital letters.


“You write your mother with that pen?” asked Madeline incredulously as she handed Doc a beer.

Doc looked at her in aggravation but took the beer. After finishing the first gulp, it looked like he had decided on a retort but before he could whisper it, something caught his eye. Whatever it was, caused Doc to set the beer down and do a double take as he looked around the room. “Wait! I know this house!” whispered a hoarse Doc. He opened his bag again and began emptying various papers across the table.

“Yep, that’s Doc,” shrugged Brisco.

“So, to business,” stated Michael switch back into master spy mode.

“Yeah, we have a lot of things that we need to hammer out first. Such as, what am I supposedly selling? Where is it? How much is it? What’s our real target? How much time do we have?” listed Brisco in rapid fire before pausing to ask, “Not to mention, we’re working with Pete Hutter, the criminal?”

Doc banged on the table as he pointed from one map and picture to another. The group momentarily startled, continued with the discussion.

“Pete?” inquired Madeline.

“Kendrick,” explained Fiona as Madeline nodded understanding.

“That didn’t come up when you were at the hotel, did it? That could have put the mission at risk!” exclaimed Mike.

“We didn’t have time for introductions with the Irish gang and hotel manager ransacking our rooms, attempting to kidnap a scientist, and looking for weapons that I don’t actually have,” retorted Brisco.

“I promised them weapons of the future. One big item that will change the future of warfare and several small items,” Michael explained nonchalantly and in between bites of yogurt. After a pause, Mike laughed before musing, “By the way, wasn’t the coming thing your quest in the past?”

Brisco rolled his eyes and was about to respond in sarcasm when an extremely excited Doc began pounding his fist on the table. As if the pounding was not enough, he began making a weird squeaking noise as if he was trying to shout something, but his voice had been replaced by a mouse instead of his own.

Madeline gave him a look that only mothers can give which can somehow always bring silence, even during the most brutal of temper tantrums. Doc immediately responded by sitting down and looking pleading up at Madeline as if to beg assistance.

“Either your boy has a mouse in his throat or he wants your attention and I suggest you give it to him,” stated an understanding Madeline before she patted his hand and went back into the kitchen to finish the meal.

Brisco, Michael, and Fiona obeyed Madeline and focused on Doc who looked like a child trying to behave but bursting with good news. To Brisco, this was the most excited, even joyful, that he had ever seen Doc in their short acquaintance. Doc pointed at a map that he had been carrying with a sketch. He then began to write the word James on the map.

“James is coming here?” asked Brisco incredulously.

Doc responded by emphatically nodding his head.

“That seems far-fetched, nearly impossible, and highly coincidental…” objected Brisco.

Doc opened his mouth but when only squeaks came out, he frustratedly wrote out on a piece of paper, ““TOO MUCH TO EXPLAIN IN A NOTE BUT SIMPLY, I PROGRAMMED THE BRACELET TO VISIT KEY PLACES & TIMES IN HISTORY.”

“Bracelet?” called Madeline.

Brisco sighed and said, “It’s a long story.”

Madeline called out, “Then it’s the perfect time to tell it. I just finished dinner. Boys can you help me move the food to the table?”

Within moments, the fivesome were seated around the table with beers in hand and food on their plates. Between bites of food, Brisco caught the group up on James’ disappearance, the bracelet, and that Doc was here to help them rescue James and return the boy to his mother.

- - - - - - - - -

After catching Michael and the rest of the group up on Brisco’s adventures thus far and the bit of understanding that Brisco had about James and the bracelet, the group sat in a moment of silence processing how their journeys led them to cross paths.

Michael was the first to break the silence, “So, James is coming here?”

Doc nodded.

“And he’s protected by any harm from the bracelet?” asked Fiona.

Doc nodded but a bit more cautiously as he tried to determine where Michael and Fiona were going.

“And, do you feel that this place is safe and abandoned enough for him to be protected for a few hours?” Michael asked.

“Where are you going with this Mike?” asked Brisco, his suspicions raised.

Michael held his hands up in surrender. “Nothing to get upset about or to ruffle any feathers,” he quickly stated. In the moment of silence, Michael looked between Fiona and Madeline.

“Not to undermine your mission here but it sounds like James will be arriving here, as in this cabin…” began Madeline.

“And this is the safest place around,” interjected Fiona. “It’s far from town, no one know where it is…”

Madeline continued, “We can make sure that food is here and leave the girl,” she paused to point at the corner where Brisco assumed the sleeping Rachel laid, “to keep him company and to protect him when he arrives.”

Brisco considered all that they were saying. Based on the bit that he put together of the mission at hand, there was less time with Mike’s mission, and it would affect the fate of the nation, rather than the life of one person. Brisco shook his head, he could not make the decision between nation and his best friend’s son.

Madeline reached over and patted Brisco’s hand before empathetically stating, “If Doc can determine that the boy will safely land here and that he will be here long enough for us to complete Michael’s last mission in Miami, will you help us?”

Brisco looked up at Madeline but she lifted her chin to point at Michael and Fiona. As Brisco studied the couple, they tried to avoid his gaze and stare over at the fireplace. Even in the shadows, Brisco could tell that they were worn out. If this mission didn’t end soon, it might drain the last of life from each of them. They needed to leave the spy world behind, and they couldn’t do that until their last mission ended.

Brisco sighed before stating, “If Doc can prove it, we’ll help with your last mission.”

- - - - - - - - -

After many desperate mimed and written protests from Doc, Madeline finally was able to persuade him to calm down enough to listen to why this mission was so important. When she patted the boy’s shoulder, she noticed that he would flinch as though the interaction unnerved him. As she studied the boy, it became clear to her that he had never experienced a maternal influence in his life. She switched the young man from beer to hot tea and studied how worn the boy looked. He seemed to be wasting away in front of the group, as though the simple act of sitting around a table talking to the others was draining his energy. He looked like he was slowly dying.

“It’s not enough to know who the Irish gang members are, we need to find out who their benefactor is and who is giving them their targets,” explained Michael.

“My countrymen seem truly devoted to the independence of Ireland but-“ Fiona stopped midsentence.

“But it seems like there is a darker force pulling the strings in an effort to thwart British and American governments,” theorized Brisco, the pieces seemed to be fitting together.

“What better way to cause distraction in a government than to spawn a rebellion from its people?” asked Michael. “Think about it, the Irish Catholics challenge the British Empire while the labored and forgotten masses are fighting in America.”

“Who do you think it is?” inquired Brisco, curiosity peaked.

“I’ve got a few theories,” began a cautious Michael before changing the subject. “Honestly, the most important thing is to catch the persons behind the anarchists and give them the boot… it’s not determining if I’m right or wrong.”

Madeline looked between Doc slowly sipping his tea while absorbing the information and the sleeping Rachel in the corner. These kids and James should stay out of this fight, there would be plenty of more adventures down the road for each of them.

“Once Doc proves that James will be safe, why don’t we leave Doc and Rachel here to wait for James. We don’t really need all of us? Aren’t Brisco and Kendrick enough?” asked Madeline with worry in her voice.

“Unfortunately, Doc, you’re involved. And if you’re a scientist then we’ll need your help designing the weapon. We’ll need the weapons to be detailed enough to give us time to identify the key players, dispose of the ancillary characters, and abduct the instigators,” said Michael.

“Or at least fascinating faux weapon with all kinds of do-dad’s that I can talk about as part of the sales presentation,” said Brisco.

“Exactly,” agreed Fiona.

Doc sighed. This adventure was becoming more complicated by the minute. Now there was this additional scheme. What made this moment all the more disappointing was that Doc had actually studied this event and had hoped to witness it occurring. Instead, his presence had moved it off kilter and quite possibly would lead to this mission’s failure. Originally, Brisco was supposed to be in Hollywood far away from this adventure and Michael’s boss, Jesse, was supposed to play the part of the seller in the mission. Instead, Brisco was involved and if the mission was not a success, the destruction of America and possibly the entire Allied Force of the Great War would be their new future, his new past.

Doc set his tea down and ran his fingers through his mess of curly blonde hair. He let out a slow breath and closed his eyes. It was clear that he was over his head but he needed to do whatever was possible to protect the outcome of this event. Doc slowly nodded to show his acquiescence and explained via written diagrams that James should arrive in a nearby cellar, he would not only be safe away from Miami, but tucked away in a storm cellar. Based on the time charts, he would not be leaving again until the day’s end which would be hours after the mission was supposed to be completed.

As Brisco and Michael picked up Rachel to place her into the storm cellar and to move out the rest of the guns hidden away down there, Doc pulled out some sheets of paper and began drawing a variety of sketches. Doc realized that he did not want to alter history any further by giving them actual inventions not available yet but he still needed the ideas to look futuristic and dangerous. Doc made several designs, the first set were field artillery that were already invented, or just about to be, which he knew would not adversely affect coming events. He gave the sketches and instructions to Madeline so that she could provide everything to Michael, Brisco, and Fiona to build out of scrap metal.

Once that was completed, he began on his “futuristic” designs which were more of sketches of current vehicles, clothing, and weaponry and adding a steampunk flavor to it. Doc began with the easiest designs, the clothing which included jackets, pants suits, and hats with various cogs and wheels. He then began to sketch various Ford T Models but wings to let it fly and an inflatable boat underneath it. He also drew versions that could expel smoke out the back and had mini canons installed in the front. All of the vehicles were inspired by movies he’d seen in his research, specifically “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and “The Great Race.” For a moment Doc was worried that Brisco would bring the sketches to Hollywood but then decided that these designs falling into cinematic hands early would not be a detriment to future events. However, as Doc rubbed his eyes, he realized that he was humming the theme song for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. “If only this were as simple as Dick Van Dyke singing a song and the world simply resolving itself into a happy ending.”

As Madeline brought Doc another cup of tea, Doc tried to avoid her eyes. “How had Karina avoided Brisco and Bowler noticing how our bodies are no longer strong enough to be in this oxygen rich environment? That the more time we spend out in this world experiencing everything as it should be, that our bodies get more and more strained?” thought Doc. As Doc briefly peered outside, Brisco, Michael, and Fiona did seem oblivious. They were each taking turns moving the pieces into place and finding surreptitious and quick ways to bind the scraps together in an effort to fool people looking at the items. It seemed that the only person who noticed Doc’s health issues was Madeline.

As Doc finished one sketch and began to work on the next, he glanced up for a moment. Madeline had stopped hurrying about the kitchen and had sat opposite him. She had lit a cigarette but it dangled, forgotten, from her hand. She smiled at him as though she had adopted him and signaled that she knew he was hiding something. Doc gave his most impish grin and winked at her as if to say that there was nothing to worry about. As Doc began working on his next idea, he became so engrossed in the sketch that he did not register her kind pat on his shoulder as she left the small house to find Michael.

- - - - - - - - -

“Michael, someone needs your help!” Madeline sternly whispered.

Brisco, Michael, and Fiona had found a stopping point in their tasks and were excitedly reviewing their upcoming roles in the sale and kidnap later in the day. At Madeline’s interruption, they all stopped to stare at her.

“Ma, we’re in the process of saving ourselves, the nation, and James… who could we have possibly missed?” inquired an incredulous Michael.


“What?” scoffed Brisco. “He’s just an indoor scientist, just not used to being outdoors.”

“I’m telling you, there is something more than that wrong with that boy!” insisted Madeline.

“Look Madey,” began Brisco before considering the rest of his words. He began again, “Look, Madey, I know that he doesn’t look like he’s fairing well. Part of it is like a person from a flat part of the world going to the top of a mountain, there’s an altitude sickness-“

“That’s not it-“ interrupted a frustrated Madeline.

Brisco held up his hand to pause her. “Look, I know that’s not the whole story. I don’t claim that it is. I am hoping that once we get James tomorrow that he’ll be able to go home and to fully recuperate with doctors of his own time. But right now, he wants to pretend that it’s not keeping him from today’s mission and I’m not about to rob him of his pride.”

“Ma- I think Brisco’s right. We need to respect how he wants to be treated.”

Madeline opened her mouth to protest but then changed her mind. She took another deep inhale of her cigarette before flicking it into the darkness. “It’ll be light soon. You all should get at least an hour or two of sleep before heading out. I’ll work on getting food together for James and for Rachel.”

At that, Madeline moved back into the house, slamming the door behind her. The trio outside took one last look at their makeshift artillery and decided that they would be good enough for the show in a few hours. The small group silently went inside to attempt to nap before the stressful day would begin.

- - - - - - - - -

“When he gets frustrated about the weapons quality, I bring out the sketches of the other design,” Brisco stated to confirm the plan one last time over breakfast. Brisco forced himself to drink the coffee and eggs but found that it was hard to drink or eat after a sleepless night.

Michael nodded to confirm as Fiona pointed her strip of bacon at the group before inquiring, “At that point, do we shoot them?”

“Fiona-“sighed Madeline as she rolled her eyes. She had a freshly brewed pot of coffee and went around the small table refilling everyone’s mugs.

“I am just teasing,” Fiona stated as innocently as possible while not fooling anyone in the room. She rolled her eyes and said in a disappointed tone, “At that point, we gas the room.”

“Exactly. Our target is O’Banion and whomever he works for. Washington is hoping to be able to interrogate both men to obtain as much information as possible. He may be able to help us resolve numerous conflicts on our own soil,” directed Michael, for what felt like the tenth time over breakfast.

“Then we shoot them,” muttered Fiona. Michael opened his mouth as if to add or correct her but closed it and began busying himself by looking for a yogurt in the icebox.

“Who is picking the leaders up again?” asked Brisco, hoping it was someone that he could trust to carry out justice.

“US Attorney Brigstone. Think you worked with him back in the day.”

“He’s not my favorite individual but he’ll do.”

“You mean they’ll serve the death penalty?” a hopeful Fiona asked.

Michael paused to scoop out another mouthful of yogurt before continuing his summary of the day’s agenda, “And then we’ll head straight back here and work on getting James home and the bracelet removed,” The group then turned their attention to Doc. He seemed content to eat his breakfast and drink his tea and only looked up when he realized that all eyes were watching him.

“And you back to your timeline,” exclaimed Brisco as he patted Doc on the back. Brisco gave a forced laugh as he stated, “I have to say, you future time travelers manage to make my life hell every time you visit!”

Doc responded with a half-smile before turning his attention back onto his food.

“Well,” mused Madeline, “that you know of.”

Brisco looked at her in disbelief before incredulously demanding, “What does that mean?”

“Well,” began Madeline thoughtfully as she lit another cigarette, “None of the rest of us had any idea of time travelers or that time travel was even possible before today. It stands to reason that not all of them are conspicuous and that there may be some more covert operatives from the future that have come and gone without causing a ruckus.” She suddenly looked at Doc realizing that he might have taken offense before apologizing, “No offense or disrespect, Doc.”

“Let’s run through the plan again before you two leave to meet up with Pete,” commanded Michael in an effort to change the subject.

“Again?” squeaked the shocked and hoarse Doc.

“Yes, again,” replied a calm Michael. “When you’re a spy, your team is counting on you to know your role inside and out.”

Part II - Chapter 07 - Remembering How to be a Spy

The previous day's train ride

Brisco was unsure what to expect when he arrived in Miami. While it was true that Brisco was part of the burn notice process, it was only known to a small group of people that it was done to root out spies from foreign countries.

In the past decade there had been numerous advancements. Not only had technology evolved at a rapid pace and across the western world but social classes were becoming pictures of a dying age with the rise of a “middle class.” However, despite the positive changes in the world, there were many military and economic advisors to the president who felt like the European elite and royal families were finding new ways to express dominance over the other. Watching the royals amass wealth, new technology, and military advancements, had made many presidential analysts worry that the royal greed would grow beyond nationalism. That a large war was on the verge of sparking, one spanning across countries and implementing larger armies and new weapons. Brisco felt that if it did occur, it would be unlike any other war in history.

To make matters worse, there was a growing concern that the war would not remain on the other side of the globe. Reports were coming in that the labor disputes may not just be anarchists but perhaps operatives of foreign countries looking to sabotage the political and economic systems of the United States. Unfortunately, there was yet to be any solid proof, just rumors. Between the rumors and what foreign analysts were predicting about the rising tension in Europe, the president decided that the signs were troubling enough and assigned Michael to go undercover.

Michael could pick his team while under cover and as Brisco was part of the scheme to accuse and to shame Michael, Brisco could not join this mission. Besides which, it was going to be a long process, at least 7 years.

Brisco had wired ahead to Michael’s handler, Jesse, in order to get in touch with Michael for some help. Jesse would let Brisco know if they had the “all clear” to head into Miami. Although with or without Jesse’s blessing, Brisco had already determined that his small trio was going into Miami as he felt that he owed it to Bowler. Brisco continued to think through an outline of a plan and responded in monosyllables to Doc’s ongoing inane questions. Just as Brisco was sure that a demand for a response was about to occur, Brisco was saved by the click of someone opening the train compartment door. Brisco raised his hand to shush the group. While it was clear that Brisco’s counterparts did not want the conversation to end, the room was quick to quiet down to ensure that confidential information would not be revealed.

A waiter came in and began to pass out saucers and cups stating that Brisco had ordered coffee. Just as Brisco was about to state that he had not ordered coffee and would not be paying for it, a coffee cup was placed into his hands. He looked down at the cup and there was a small sheet of paper inside with two words. “Chuck Finley,” Brisco’s old code name. So, it appeared that he was not only welcome to Miami but would be playing a part while in town. At that, he took the coffee carafe and poured it into his cup making the tiny sheet of paper rise to the top. Brisco took a long sip and swallowed the sheet of paper.

Knowing his behavior appeared unexpected and rude to the occupants of the small train compartment, Brisco covered his behavior by innocently asking, “What? Did you want coffee?”

After arriving in Miami, Brisco kept an eye out for a contact to provide a message about the mission at hand. “What trouble did Mikey get into? How would Brisco fit into the plan – as despised informant or as a new character? How would Brisco be able to balance spy craft and a rescue mission? Is it even be possible to do both?”

Brisco shook the anxious thoughts from his mind. If he didn’t pay attention, he could miss the contact. As if on cue, Brisco spotted her, Fiona. While most people would be difficult to identify in a dark veil and dress at night, Fiona could still be identified by her thin form and short stature. She was walking in the opposite direction so it made it easy for Brisco to trip into her path. In a matter of seconds, Brisco was able to apologize and muttered something about the moonlight as he feigned an apologetic handshake. Fiona did not reply but returned the handshake to surreptitiously palm a message to Brisco. She waved him away as though she were too important to be bothered by a town visitor and Brisco tipped his hat as she pushed past him. Brisco was able to then sneak the note into his coat pocket as his traveling companions continued towards the hotel, unaware of the secret information transaction. Brisco hadn’t missed a beat during the brief encounter but within moments, Brisco began thinking, “I certainly don’t miss all of this cloak and dagger bullshit.”

Only a minute later, Brisco heard the sound of Doc asking a question but the question was too soft to make out.

“What’s up Doc?”

Doc cleared his throat. “All of this travel is making my throat hurt. Do you know if our hotel rooms will have kettles in the room or at least, room service available for ordering tea?”

Brisco rolled his eyes and exclaimed, “Believe it or not, I don’t know. I have never been to this town before, so I have never seen this hotel or what services they offer. It’s not like I can pull up photographs, a list of amenities, and guest reviews out of thin air before a visit to a new town in order to decide on the perfect hotel.”

“Sometimes, I hate this time period” an increasingly hoarse Doc moaned.

They walked into the hotel and Brisco grabbed the guestbook before Rachel or Doc could reach the hotel desk. Brisco used his old alias “Chuck Finley” for the reservation and paid extra to ensure that the only name in relation to the rooms would be Brisco’s alias. Best to not involve Doc or Rachel, thought Brisco. They would need to be available to rescue James in case Mikey’s mission took longer than Brisco anticipated. In fact, Brisco could not get a better clue of what to expect until he got to his room and could read the paper away from curious eyes. The hotel manager read the name and looked up with recognition and anticipation. Brisco tipped his hat, unsure if the look of recognition meant that the hotel manager was on Mikey’s side or with the anarchists. The paper felt as though it was beginning to burn a hole through Brisco’s jacket and he shooed his traveling companions upstairs towards their rooms. Brisco gave his friends their keys as he assigned rooms to Doc and Rachel, the 3 rooms were side-by-side and Brisco took the middle one so that he could keep both individuals within earshot. He told them goodnight as he watched them enter their respective rooms. As excitement and impatience grew in Brisco’s stomach, he could almost swear that Rachel was intentionally moving slowly to drag out time before going into her room. When Brisco finally watched both doors close and lock, Brisco felt safe enough to enter his own room. As soon as Brisco entered his room, he threw his bag down and dug out the piece of paper.

C.F. – Weapons Sale Begins Tonight at 10. Meeting at Saloon Across Street. Hotel Staff Unfriendly.

Brisco looked at the clock on the wall and noted it was only 9:30 pm. Brisco paused as he listened to the rooms on either side of his room but both were silent. If Rachel’s room was silent, it would mean that she was either passed out asleep without changing clothes or she was listening on the other side of the wall. Based on her curiosity and slow movements, Brisco guessed the latter. Doc’s room was also silent but based on the sore throat and Doc’s normal state of attire, he might very well be asleep in his clothes.

Brisco lit a match and burned the note before taking off his shoes and laying down in the bed to stare up at the ceiling and consider what clues he had gleaned thus far about this mission. The fact that the train waiter and Fiona did not introduce themselves to Rachel and Doc and that neither individual were mentioned in the note, it was clear that the locals did not want Brisco’s companions involved in whatever scheme which was underway. That gave Brisco a bit of relief. Rachel and Doc could stay out of any harm’s way, rescue James, and hopefully keep James out of any trouble.

Hotel staff unfriendly,” did give Brisco some concern. There would be eyes and ears in the hotel so any communication about American agenda or about technology from the future would be catastrophic to discuss. It also meant that they might be in danger if Brisco left the hotel. The thought of danger left Brisco’s mind almost as quickly as it arrived as he thought of Rachel. He had watched her beat up so many men on Hollywood sets that it not only made Brisco smile but helped put his mind at ease. Rachel would be able to keep Doc safe while keeping an eye out for James’ arrival.

As Brisco began to think again about what the mission might be, old missions that he worked with Michael and Fiona came to mind. In the past, Mikey would say things like, “As a spy, it’s critical to know your team. If you know your people inside and out, you can work together in emergency situations without a lot of background, such as key individuals, targets, or mission updates.” It was hard to believe that it had been 8 years since the two had worked together. That was enough time for skills to rust or information about old spy buddies to fade. Brisco hoped they had not forgotten key elements of their friendship and knowledge of each other, otherwise the likelihood of surviving the mission would radically decrease.

“Of course, I could be worrying about nothing,” came the logical thought to Brisco’s mind. If the deal was supposed to occur at 10 pm, maybe Brisco would just play a small part and move on. Be the face of a traveling salesman for a couple hours and then Michael and Fiona could help Brisco locate and rescue James.

Brisco looked at the clock. 9:50 pm. Maybe if he arrived early, he could get a better idea of what to expect during the Miami stay before the weapons sale. Besides it had been twenty minutes and still not a sound from either Rachel or Doc’s room. Clearly the girl and the scientist had gone to sleep. Brisco quickly put his shoes back on, washed his face in the basin, grabbed his gun and quickly left the room. Brisco moved to stand in front of Rachel’s door for a moment, debating to tell her that he was going out and to ask her to guard Doc. But after an internal debate, Brisco decided to let the actress sleep rather than risk her following him to the saloon. Mind made up, Brisco descended the stairs and out the hotel door to find the saloon.

- - - - - - - - -

Brisco entered the saloon and immediately spotted the impeccably dressed Mikey who was sitting at a table for 4. As a spy, Mike had picked a table where he had the best vantage point of the entire area between the mirror behind the bar to the angle that he sat his chair. In fact, he could probably even get a view of the outside through the bar’s window. Michael, always calculating and always on the defense.

Brisco sat down as Michael poured a drink for him from the whiskey bottle on the table. As Brisco sipped his drink, Michael began to speak in an Irish accent, “There’s not much that I’ll be sayin to ya before our meetin.”

Brisco sighed. Not only would he not get details before the meeting but this was clearly involve the Irish Citizen Army, ICA for short, f Irish accents were involved. Brisco knew that there had been uprisings with the Irish Transport & General Workers Union recently and it seemed that Ireland had an increased restlessness and were renewing their efforts to become independent of the British Empire. If the ICA were looking for weapons, it could be the sign of more factory bombs or other anarchist behavior which the government was working to hide from public awareness. It could also be an indicator of international weapons trade to Irish nationals working to be freed from the British Empire. Either way, this group would be truly dangerous.

Brisco and Michael began to talk of mundane items such as travel and the weather since Michael made it clear that he would not be explaining anything until later. But it helped Brisco get an idea of the role that he was about to play. Based on the lack of a handshake and the only greeting being a curt nod from Michael, Brisco would be playing an acquaintance and not a long-time friend. Additionally, Brisco was recruited to play a shady character based on Michael’s coldness towards Brisco. Brisco had already pieced together that Michael was posing as an Irishman, based on the lilt. However, the lack of signals from Michael about Brisco’s lexicon and accent, meant that Brisco would be an American.

By the time the remaining two chairs were filled by the men Michael was expecting, Brisco felt that he had enough background of his story to muddle through this meeting. As Michael poured drinks for the other two men, Brisco could study the added table members. The two men who joined the small party were both Irishmen, with bowler hats and wore their handguns proudly. They were not dressed as well as Michael, but both were wearing suits. Both men were clean shaven with dark bushy eyebrows to go with their brown hair. The only things that really stood out to Brisco was that the main man who was speaking had a narrow and pointed nose with a round face while the other man had more of a fat nose with a narrow and well-defined face.

Brisco was able to make speedy observations about the Irish men in a manner of moments and had barely missed the initial small-chat between Michael and the newcomers. Brisco was able to make one last observation before the business meeting officially began. Based on their lack of handshakes, Brisco realized that the character he was playing had an ill reputation that had preceded the introduction.

“So, this is the chap, eh? I thought he’d be dressed more as a dandy,” one of the men stated as his eyes critiqued Brisco’s clothes.

“Last I checked, you’re here to look at my merchandise not to say ‘yes’ to how I dress,” retorted Brisco.

“You found enough time to drop off your girl and young man at the hotel,” said the second man as Brisco continued to enjoy his whiskey. Clearly, this man wanted it understood that his people were everywhere, including in the hotel.

Brisco leaned back in his chair and gave his most charming and at ease smile. “Employees,” stated Brisco. “As a spy, when your opponent is determined to unnerve you by acting like they know more than you, it’s best to do the exact opposite. Show them that you are at ease with the world and have nothing to hide.” To that end, Brisco slouched further in his chair to make himself more comfortable and took another gulp of his drink. “Am I drinking alone here?” Brisco asked the group.

“Trusted employees?” asked Michael. He was staring down at his glass of whiskey, which he had hardly touched. The question clearly had a double meaning.

“I think what my overly cautious friend, Michael, is trying to ask is, will we be doing business with all three of you or just you?”

“Time to up the ante in this game,” thought Brisco before he said aloud, “Considering you have exchanged pleasantries amongst yourselves and didn’t bother to give me your names and have been watching me and my people during our short time in town, I’d say that I am the one who should be cautious. In fact, I still have not decided if I would like to do business with you. How do I know that you aren’t cops? Besides, I may not be loyal to a cause but I do have an obligation to my men and will not allow any unnecessary harm come to them,” Brisco finished the statement by crossing his arms across his chest in defiance. He was taking a chance of destroying Mike’s mission by not immediately agreeing to this deal, but he did not like the idea of a threat on Rachel or Doc’s lives. Brisco had people relying on him for safety and he could not risk their safety without knowing more about what the hell was going on.

Brisco looked over at Michael who had the smallest hint of an amused smile, but it was gone before anyone else could spot it. “There’s the Mikey I know,” thought Brisco. Brisco was relieved to see that Mike had not been lost in his undercover identity. Additionally, Brisco’s confidence increased as the craft of being a spy was coming back to Brisco much quicker than anticipated.

“I can respect that,” the first man stated. “We are all brothers in arms and it’s up to us to protect the men fighting on either side of us,” the man nodded in agreement. “Name’s Dean O’Banion and my associate is Snake Kinney.”

While they still refused to shake hands with Brisco, names had been provided and curt nods of heads which at least ensured that they had more skin in the game. “Now what?” thought Brisco as he finished his drink.

Luckily, Michael stepped in, “So, without further eloquence, let’s begin at the beginning. O’Banion and Burns are planning an upcoming event and they need you to provide the entertainment.”

“And that’s it?” asked Brisco, more stating the question than asking.

“Of course, there would be payment for services rendered and a finder’s fee to our mutual acquaintance,” explained O’Banion as he nodded to Michael. Michael lifted his glass in acknowledgement and finished its contents.

“As a reminder, I provide the equipment but I don’t entertain,” Brisco stated firmly. Brisco knew that he wanted as small a part as possible in this rouse as there was already too much on his plate.

O’Banion smiled, “Naturally.”

Brisco leaned forward and rubbed his hands together as though he were calculating time, equipment, and cost, “When would you need everything?”

“Yesterday,” Snake replied. His voice seemed unnaturally absent from any emotion and the coolness felt more like a snake, than a man. “Probably how he got his nickname,” thought Brisco.

O’Banion chimed in with a more positive and uplifting tone as though the four were old friends discussing an upcoming picnic, “What my associate means is that our event has a moving target date but we are hoping to complete our goal as swiftly and as efficiently as possible.”

“When you last telegraphed me, you said that you would be bringing everything necessary today, that we would have a demonstration by tomorrow, but that you would only finalize deals with the head of an organization,” Michael stated in a chastising tone.

“So, that must be it, realized Brisco, this purchase is an effort to bring out the wizard from behind the curtain.”

“That part is still true,” Brisco replied as he rubbed his chin before changing into an impish smile, “I need to look into the eyes and shake hands when I make a deal like this, especially with the amount of money that I am losing on this deal,” Brisco complained in an effort to lean further into the part of a repulsively selfish merchant. “I mean the amount we were talking is fine but it’s not as much as I would normally receive for such an event-“

“It’s enough,” O’Banion interrupted. It seemed at the mention of funds, all good humor was erased from O’Banion’s face. “Besides, we are paying in the blood of our brothers not just in the cash that lines your greedy pockets.” O’Banion took a deep breath, looked down in his lap, and suddenly looked back up at the group, face as composed into a smile as possible. But even with the smile on O’Banion’s face, there was a hardness behind his eyes as though Brisco had crossed a line.

After a few more moments of small talk, O’Banion stood from the table before announcing, “Gentlemen, I think it’s time to call it a night. We have a long day tomorrow of demonstrations, and apparently, negotiations.”

The rest of the table stood and walked with O’Banion as he led the small party towards the back door. As Brisco finished the last of his whiskey, he saw that Michael was momentarily distracted by something. When Brisco turned to look in a similar direction, all he found was the small bar window peering out into an empty space between buildings. Brisco was forced to let the curious moment go to keep up the performance as a shady weapons dealer. Within moments, the foursome stood outside the back door which faced into an unlit alley. The Irishmen shook Michael’s hand and curtly nodded at Brisco before walking down the dark and deserted alleyway.

Michael pretended to light a cigarette and offered one to Brisco. Neither of them smoked but they needed an extra couple minutes to talk discreetly.

“It’s good to see you Brisco,” Michael said. His voice so low that Brisco could just barely hear it.

“We have a hell of a lot to catch up on,” mused Brisco.

“Unfortunately, the first item of business is the girl that came to town with you-“


“Yeah, she followed you to the saloon.”

“Shit! I was afraid she would nose her way into this. I was hoping she would be asleep while I met you here.”

“The good news is that we might be able to use your team to help us finish the mission.”


“Finally,” sighed Michael. There was a heaviness in his voice as though this mission took more out of him than any previous assignment. Michael looked at Brisco before continuing, “The President says that he wants me back in Washington. He thinks my experience will make me a strong strategist and operations man, especially if a war breaks out overseas.”

“God forbid,” muttered Brisco.

“God forbid,” agreed Michael. “Brisco, I gotta know. Is your group an asset or a potential liability to wrapping up this assignment?”

Brisco paused to reflect on his counterparts before responding, “Rachel is a good shot but feels that she needs to prove something most days,”

“Another Fiona, you mean?” chuckled Michael as Brisco nodded his head in agreement.

“And the other guy is a scientist. A complete civilian. He can’t even handle a hotel that won’t wait on him hand and foot. It’s like it’s his first time out of a lab, much less, outdoors.”

Michael considered the descriptions for a moment before musing aloud, “A scientist might actually come in handy for your cover. Slightly off subject, but I have an old acquaintance of yours in town.”

Something about the way Michael said “acquaintance” made Brisco uneasy. Before Brisco could query further, they heard a slight commotion around the side of the building. Upon turning the corner to stand between the bar and the next building, Brisco and Michael found Rachel knocked out and on the ground. Standing over the actress’ body was Fiona, scrounging for weapons.

“Fi was that really necessary?” asked Brisco feeling conflicted emotions of irritation and amusement of the situation.

“I don’t have patience for amateurs,” was Fiona’s quick reply.

“I don’t have the patience for anything to go wrong; not when we’re this close,” grumbled Michael as he ran his fingers through his hair.

Unfortunately, Michael had spoken too soon. Something caught Michael’s eye and he pushed Brisco further down the passage between the buildings and towards the hotel.

“It looks like my inside man just signaled that there is a problem at the hotel,” Michael explained. Dread filled Brisco as he took off in the direction of the hotel. He looked over his shoulder for just a moment to catch a glimpse of Michael picking up Rachel and place her into a Ford Model-T as Fiona climbed into the driver’s seat.

A few minutes later, Michael caught up with Brisco quickly before directing, “I can’t look like I’m on your side so I will wait for you behind the hotel. You and Kendrick will have to go in and handle whatever is going wrong inside. If they are searching your rooms, you may have to strong arm them out to keep them from discovering that the weapon we are selling doesn’t exist. If they realize that it’s not there, I’d advise you tell them that the demonstration is tomorrow and you are not so dumb as to leave weapons unattended. Remind them that you only sell to their organization’s boss.”

Brisco nodded his head to acknowledge the plan before Michael silently moved back into the shadows to ensure that his cover was not compromised. As Brisco reached the hotel doors into the lobby a familiar voice from the shadows sent a shock through Brisco, “Hellooo Brisco!”

Brisco slowly turned around and stepped into the light to confirm his suspicion.

It was Pete Hutter!

Part II - Chapter 06 - The Irishmen in Miami

It was midday when they arrived in town. Unfortunately, there were not any horses or other transportation that they were able to spot on their run. Rachel could feel a stitch in her side so she took a couple deep breaths to push through the pain. Over the course of the run she had explained the little information that she knew – how she met Brisco in Hollywood, that he was asked by Lenore to locate James, and that they had located some kind of doctor or professor (she still wasn’t sure of his true identity and no one would explain it to her). All she really knew about “Doc” was that he was there to help solve the mystery of James’ misadventures and to help get him home. Rachel had tried to explain the little that she could understand about the scientist’s explanations thus far explained – that the bracelet would protect the wearer from any harm thus making him bulletproof. There was something off in the bracelet causing his landings to result in forcing him in enclosed and random locations instead of in clearings. The final part of the bracelet was still confusing to Rachel, the bit about the bracelet can send an individual “home.”

“It sounds to me like this Doc guy might be able to help me get back to my life.” James pulled out a pocket watch to study the time. It had been almost 3 hours since he last landed which meant that time was running out before the bracelet would propel him to a new location.

James followed Rachel’s lead as they snuck back to the hotel where the traveling trio had checked into the night before. She led James up the stairs to Doc’s room but when they knocked on the door, there was no answer. Rachel twisted the doorknob but it was locked. Rachel quickly removed a hair pin and started fidgeting with the lock. Just as she was about to unlock the door, a couple started walking down the hallway. They were laughing obnoxiously but hushed when they eyed James and Rachel. James had blocked the door lock and began laughing himself. It was a deep, booming laugh that made her feel safe.

“I keep telling you girl, you have had too much to drink. There should be 1 lock not 3 of ‘em.” He nodded at the couple as they passed by. However, they seemed satisfied that James & Rachel were inebriated as well and began to laugh as they moved down the hall. Rachel took a sigh of relief and finally opened the door.

As Rachel and James looked around, it was clear that the doctor was not in the room. “Has he been kidnapped as well?” asked James eyeing the papers and clothes strewn about the room.

Rachel rolled her eyes, “Nope. That’s just Doc. He says that there’s a method to his chaos but sometimes I feel like he lives in more madness than method.”

As they began to survey the room for evidence of Doc’s whereabouts they heard a loud commotion downstairs. Raised voices in disagreement.

“Here you go, Doc. Celebrate! I’m about to make you rich!” exclaimed a familiar voice. Rachel gasped as she realized who it belonged to. “That’s Brisco!” she whispered, more in shock than in a need to be unheard.

She ran out the door and down the hallway without thinking. Rachel had only made it to the top of the stairs when a hand grabbed hers and spun her around. “Wait! We need to be smart about this. We only have the one gun, do you have any others? Do we know who he’s talking to?”

Rachel kicked herself internally. Of course, she knew not to take off running but she couldn’t resist a familiar voice and the thought of finally having this adventure completed. Rachel led James to her room but was shocked to find her room also destroyed. Her luggage looked like it had been dumped out and items thrown about the room.

“Hotel maid’s day off?”

An embarrassed Rachel quickly grabbed a corset that had caught on a door handle and threw it into her bag along with other intimate items. “I didn’t even unlace my shoes last night, much less throw my clothes around my room.”

“Maybe the maid gets paid extra for unpacking?”

“Hardly,” responded Rachel with a raised eyebrow as she turned to look at James for a moment.

“Anything missing?”

“The important item isn’t,” Rachel replied as she finally found her derringer pistol. She had hidden it with the folds of her bag so that it would not have been found or confiscated should her luggage be searched. Clearly, her decision to surreptitiously pack the gun had been the correct call.

“That’s it?” James asked incredulously.

Rachel pointed about the room before stating, “Unfortunately, Michael and Fi took the guns I was wearing last night when they knocked me out.”

“Hopefully, two guns will be enough,” muttered James as he followed Rachel out of the room. The two silently moved down the stairs and across the lobby to the dining area where they could hear voices. A bearded man with long hair and dressed in black was guarding the door.

Seeing James and Rachel walk towards him, the man tipped his hand and with a large smile stated, “The dining area is closed for a private event. We recommend visiting any other restaurant in town and I thank you to vacate the premises immediately.”

James turned as though about to leave before quickly turning back and punched the door keeper in the gut. The man bent over in pain but merely grunted in agony as James was bringing both hands as one fist down on the back of the guard’s head. The bearded man was passed out on the floor within moments. Rachel gracefully stepped over the body as though he were a stunt man in a movie and cautiously opened the door. As she peered through the cracked door she recognized O’Banion, the man from the picture that James found at the house. Even though the man was looking in a different direction and she could only see his profile, Rachel instantly recognized the man. The other man had his back to James and Rachel so they couldn’t be identified. However, the men had their guns pointed towards the center of the room. Across the room, two figures were standing with an arsenal spread out across the tables behind them.

Rachel squinted to see who was in the middle of the room and realized it was Michael and Brisco County as she heard Brisco’s voice, “Listen, we don’t want any trouble. But a deal’s a deal.”

“We need a demonstration not pretty pictures. We need to see what we are about to purchase in action!” came a thick Irish accent.

Rachel looked over to see if James was hearing all of this information but to her horror, he was laying on the floor, knocked out. She looked up to see the hotel manager and Burns both pointing guns at her.

“I don’t take kindly to spies in my establishment,” sneered the hotel manager as he took the gun from Santa Barbara, “But I also don’t take kindly to blood in my hotel. So, you will kindly lead the way to the back alley.” When Rachel refused to move, Burns moved his pointed gun down at the knocked-out James and cocked it to signal that any attempt at heroics would cost James’ life. She had no choice but to turn towards the door.

They only walked a few steps outside before Rachel was ordered to stop. As she turned around, she noticed that only the hotel manager had followed her out. Burns had stayed inside.

“Who are you working for?” demanded the hotel manager.

“Excuse me?” asked Rachel. She had figured that an executioner would be more interested in silencing their prisoners rather than interrogating the individual.

“Who are you working for?” repeated the hotel manager.

“Hollywood,” answered Rachel truthfully. This answer did not amuse her captor so he aimed and shot at her feet. “Try again.”

“What do you want?” asked Rachel attempting to gain the upper hand.


“Well, you won’t get any.” He shot again, this time just above her head. “By hook or by crook, we will.”

“Who are you?” demanded an indignant Rachel. The more that he was playing this game of shooting near Rachel as a method of intimidation, the more that fear left her and was replaced by a volcanic ire.

“The captor of room number two.”

Rachel’s anger had reached the boiling point but before she could let loose her temper, the door opened behind her. She turned to see James slowly coming out of the door behind her. Her mouth about hit the ground as she saw the person behind James was not Burns. “It was Doc! Doc is pointing a gun at James!”

“Ah! I see that you have met Mr. Finley’s associate. Apparently, he’s mute but very handy with weapon research and development.”

Rachel turned to face her captor again, too bewildered to commit to any one emotion. “I have tired of your evasiveness girl” and he shot Rachel just below her right collar bone. With all of the injuries Rachel had sustained over the years, nothing compared to the pain of this gunshot wound. Rachel heard someone screaming in pain and did not realize that it was her own voice until Rachel saw the ground begin to rise up to meet her. The closer the ground came to her face, the darker the world seemed to become. She couldn’t tell if it was tears that made the world so dark or if her body was going into shock. When it seemed that she was inches from the ground, she felt strong arms around her and the world around suddenly becoming bright.

“Oh my God! Is this what death looks like?”

Part II - Chapter 05 - The Actress in the Storm Cellar

When Rachel awoke, she was sitting in some kind of poorly lit underground room. As her eyes adjusted she was able to note that it was a large room, with dim electric bulbs lining the area and a ladder on the far side of the room. Rachel studied the room before determining that she was in a storm shelter. The only furniture available was a small table with a wooden chair. Sitting on the clearly uncomfortable chair was a small woman, armed to the teeth. She had several pistols lined up across the table, two rifles behind her, and a judge in a state of being cleaned on the small table. She looked over the judge to stare at Rachel with a look of reproach only matched by Crystal when Rachel missed an easy target.

“Where am I?” asked Rachel as she struggled to get up. Based on the pain shooting up her arms, it was clear that her hands were tied behind her. Her head felt woozy as it protested any quick movements.

“Miami,” came the curt reply. Rachel could only roll her eyes.

“I meant specifically…?” clarified Rachel.

When the woman ignored Rachel to focus on her gun, Rachel began a slew of questions, “Why am I here? What did I do to deserve this treatment?”

Before the small woman could reply, the well-dressed man came in.

“Fi!” he exclaimed sharply as he looked at Rachel’s condition. He moved quickly across the room and untied Rachel.

“It’s time,” said the man. “Was it Rachel’s imagination or did he no longer have an Irish accent?” The rest of the conversation was stated in low whispers as the man and “Fi” loaded up the guns and climbed the rickety ladder to the doors of the storm shelter. Upon reaching the top, the man pulled the ladder up and out of the shelter while “Fi” aimed two pistols at Rachel to ensure that Rachel would not attempt to jump on the ladder for a quick escape. The last phrase that she could hear as the door was shut was from an excited female voice asking, “Are you sure that we shouldn’t just shoot them?”

Clearly this woman was some sort of sociopath who took pleasure out of violence. Between what she stated and plethora of guns and ammunition that the couple left with, it was clear that this woman was dangerous. Rachel thought back to the female captor’s partner in crime. While the man was more sympathetic, the way that he walked into a room and silently demanded attention, showed that he had a military background. When he looked at her, she could see a lifetime of war, secrets, and a hard life behind his eyes. “What trouble did she walk into?”

The doors above swung open again which caused Rachel to jump. Rachel craned her neck to look through the storm shelter doors. This time there was a mature woman in the frame. She had short white hair and a cigarette dangling out of her mouth. It was as if she was midway through a conversation and finished it by shouting over her shoulder, “Someone needs your help, Michael!”

Rachel carefully stepped further into the daylight to see if she could see any hint of what was going on outside. Beyond seeing the sunshine and a few trees, the vantage point was terrible to see anything. Rachel squinted for a better look when the woman turned her attention down to Rachel and gave a large smile. She lifted two plates of food onto a rickety roped pulley system. She expertly moved the tray down toward Rachel until the tray landed on the ground.

“Here you go, Rachel. Sorry, we can’t stay but we’ll let you out shortly.”

“How do you know my name? I have never seen you people before last night!”

“Brisco told us all about you, honey.”

At that the mature woman took matches out of her pocket and lit the cigarette that had been hanging out of her mouth since first opening the storm shelter doors. The woman took a deep inhale of smoke and exhaled slowly while studying Rachel.

“I have to say, of all the dumb and irresponsible things to do! Running around town, in the dark, following a man that you barely know to meet up with another man that you haven’t seen before. That’s not bravery, girl, that’s stupidity.”

Rachel opened her mouth to protest but before she could begin, the mature woman waved her hand as if that part of the discussion were over.

The mature woman continued to holler down at Rachel, “Now, according to the doctor and Brisco, the young man Jamie-“


She waved her hands again with a bit more impatience. Clearly details were not important to her.

“-he should be arriving in this room based on Doc’s calculations from over the past few trips. I don’t pretend to know all of these comings and goings, why it’s suddenly accurate, or fully understand this bracelet business. However, it’s the most inconvenient time as we have been working for years towards today. So, I don’t have time to babysit you or wait for this boy of yours to arrive. But we found a solution in that, you seem to be a bit of a troublemaker and we can’t let you run freely. So, you’ll wait for him here with the door locked and this pulley system out of commission.” As she finished the sentence, the woman pulled a knife out of her pocket and cut the rope. Rachel’s heart sank as the rope fell to the ground, leaving nothing but air between Rachel and the shelter doors.

The woman continued, “It shouldn’t take long but we’re leaving you some food in case y’all get hungry. So, eat up but be sure to leave some for James because Doc said that James probably hasn’t had time or ability to eat.”

“I want to talk to Brisco,” demanded Rachel in a voice braver than she felt.

“Oh honey! This is on Brisco’s orders! Brisco wants you both to stay here until we get back because he doesn’t want to chase either of y’all around town. Like I said, Michael says that our meeting should end in plenty of time before the boy goes to his next destination.” The word was emphasized as though the woman felt the whole story was a fish tale. After looking down about the room below one last time, the mature woman took another couple puffs of cigarette before her gaze honed in on Rachel. It was as if she was sizing Rachel up for something.

“You actually look a lot like your Mama. Tell her Maddie says hello and she owes me a beer next time you see her,” and with that she left the room, leaving a dumbfounded Rachel alone.

- - - - - - - - -

Rachel was too anxious to eat. James would be arriving any moment. “Or would he? Are they just lying to keep her here? What if Brisco is actually a captive in another room and they tortured him to get all of this information about Rachel?” Rachel shook the thought out of her head. The only sound Rachel had heard was the door locking and then a wagon pulling away from the building. It was clear that she was all alone. Beyond that, she knew that Brisco was too tough to break under pressure and he was not someone to easily betray a friend. “But then does that mean that Brisco is involved? After burning Michael, how could he join him in a possible anarchist plot?”

Out of boredom or absent-minded fidgeting she had found a couple small rocks to throw up at the top of the shelter. She tried to squint and see through the cracks in the wooden doors above, but it was too far above. Rachel attempted screaming a few times but when the only reply was the sound of a distant car honk, she realized that she was alone. After shouting a few more times for help, Rachel decided that there was no reason to lose her voice. She was all alone.

Rachel found herself at the small table and chair that “Fi” had left and found herself wishing that the sociopath had forgotten a weapon or two, even a dainty single-shot derringer pistol. Rachel sighed knowing that the act of wishing would be a useless task. Based on the way that Fi meticulously cleaned and hoarded her weapons, Rachel knew that the tiny woman would not misplace a single bullet, much less a gun. In fact, she probably gave them all names and slept with them nightly. For a moment Rachel smiled finding the mental picture semi-amusing but it still did not calm her frayed nerves.

Suddenly there was a bolt of light and a loud noise in the center of the room. Rachel had to shield her eyes but her heart leapt as she could see the outline of James in the room. The light faded and James stood there, still holding the gun from Santa Barbara. Despite his good looks, he looked grim and tired.

“When’s the last time that you have eaten or slept?” Rachel asked the question before she even realized that she had found her voice.

“Couldn’t tell you,” came the exhausted reply. He looked around the room to take it all in. He did a double take look as he tried to place where he’d seen Rachel before asking, “Friend of County’s, right?”

“Of sorts. Brisco and I work in the film industry together. Although, the last few days, we’ve been looking for you. The name is Rachel,” she held out her hand to shake his but his eyes continued to survey the room and landed on the food on the table.

“They left you some food but I’m afraid that we are locked in here,” Rachel quickly explained.

James quickly grabbed the food from the tray on the floor and moved quickly to the table setting the gun by his food. In what must have been a few moments, he devoured his plate. He paused only for a moment to point at the second plate.

“All yours,” Rachel replied. Being locked in a storm shelter with anarchists running amuck and Brisco potentially part of a spy ring had managed to ruin any appetite that Rachel felt.

As he came to the last few bites, he slowed down as if to process the predicament that he was facing.

He looked around the room before waving the piece of bread in his hand and observed, “Nice place you got here.” At Rachel’s weak smile and continued, “And here is-“

“Miami…or rather outside of Miami, in some kind of storm shelter, based on the fact that I yelled for help and the only thing that I heard was a distant car horn. Since then, I haven’t heard any outside noise.”

“I assume you don’t typically lock yourselves in with men that you have been chasing? Or is this part of a larger plan from that skinny-ass frazzle hair boy?”

“Hardly,” Rachel said wryly before responding, “I actually think Brisco got mixed up with something and when I tried to investigate, I got locked down here with a headache for my troubles.”

“And our hosts are-“

“An Irish couple and an old woman, or at least I think the couple is Irish. The names I caught are Michael and Fi. There is a third woman but not really sure how she is involved. She seems more like a mother figure than a member of an Irish-anarchist-labor-party-member. And I haven’t seen or heard Brisco or Doc since waking up down here.”

“That’s twice now that I seem to have missed him,” mused James.

He seemed to register Rachel’s anxiousness and he leaned back in the chair and studied her. “I think you should start at the beginning.”

“Well, I met Mr. County-“

James held up his hand. “I don’t mean your entire relationship with Brisco. As we seem to be unwilling residents of a storm shelter, let’s skip the whole adventure and go straight to the Miami bit. We can go back to the beginning later, but I would like to know why I’m locked up and why you are locked up with me.”

Rachel began again, this time beginning with their arrival into Miami, Brisco’s late night meeting with smartly dressed Irishmen, and finishing with waking up in this room.

“Today’s adventure - locked up with a good-looking actress-”

“How did you know I was an actress?” interjected a blushing Rachel.

“With a face like that, you’re not a clown or a stunt double,” reasoned James. As Rachel avoided his eyes, James began again, “So, I am locked up with an actress by an Irish gang, possibly anarchists, in the middle of nowhere… and to top it all off, my pa’s old bounty hunter partner has gotten himself into some kind of trouble.” James sighed and smiled as he looked around the room, “Well, it’s not the oddest thing to have happened to me of late.”

“Not the oddest thing-“began Rachel before James smiled mischievously and held up his arm for her t see the bracelet. Rachel wondered how she could blush anymore as she seemed to be in a constant state of red. He must think I’m a ditz! thought Rachel as she kicked herself for allowing herself to become flustered and forgetful of the odd reality that James existed in.

“Maybe there’s more to the story,” mused James. “You know, I have heard about gangs and mobs moving into Hollywood and blackmailing people into doing their dirty work.”

Rachel pondered James’ theory but shook her head as she recalled her various interactions with Brisco. She voiced her experience by stating, “I have heard of those types of situations but haven’t seen anyone unscrupulous ever hanging around Mr. County,” However, the reality set in that she really didn’t know Brisco outside of the lot. She had to relent and agree. “But then, we usually only talked on set. Do you think that’s what happened with Mr. County?”

“It’s possible,” James said as he looked up at the doors to the outside. “My pa always said that County was the best man that he ever knew and it was a pleasure to work with him. And he didn’t give his good opinion to most folks so it’s worth looking into the idea of an honorable man being forced to do the unimaginable to protect his friends. I mean, I could see someone living that journey for 7 or so seasons before that stress can start to wear on a man,” mused James.

James seemed to snap back into the present and addressed Rachel directly, “Figure we can work on getting out of here and finding out a bit more of what is going on. Then you can tell me the rest of your adventure with Mr. County on the ride back to town. Since I have not heard a horse, wagon, or even a critter outside since we began chatting, I think your assessment about being outside of a town is right.”

With that James stood and began attempting to scale the walls towards the doors of the storm shelter. Unfortunately, no matter which wall he attempted to climb or how high he stretched, every time led to James falling after only getting up a few feet.

“Have much experience in climbing?” asked an awed Rachel.

“Just a bit,” James absently responded as he brushed off a layer of dirt from his most recent fall.

“You climb like a spider!” exclaimed Rachel.

James gave her an odd look as though unable to decide if it was a complement or not. He finally responded by saying, “A spider-man, huh? Well, that would be different.”

Rachel grimaced at the thought before looking back up at the double doors. “It seems like climbing out of here is out,” Rachel called over her shoulder.

James sighed before agreeing, “Yep, seems so.” He continued to study the walls before inquiring, “Have you inspected if there is a back way out?”

“A what?”

“If these guys are as intelligent and mysterious as you say, I can’t imagine that this is the only way in or out. They would need at least a back door built in, that way they never get caught.” James studied Rachel for a moment before taking her silence as confirmation, “You take that side of the room and I’ll take this side and we’ll see if there is anything odd about the walls.”

Rachel did as James instructed but she doubted that they would find anything. However, it was not long before James called her over to inspect something. He had moved to the darkest corner of the room and as she moved to where James stood, nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary. To her surprise, the closer that she looked, the more that she realized that there was an area that seemed a bit of a darker shade than the rest of the wall. As the two began to slowly brush their hands over the wall, they were able to feel the edges of a worn-out door. Within a few moments they had located a door handle.

While it was easy to turn the handle, the door would not budge as it clearly had not been used in quite a long time. James took a few steps back and then hurled his whole weight into the door. The door shuttered and the two could hear the sound of wood protesting the attack but the door did not give way. James took another couple steps back and ran at it a second time. This time the door buckled out and Rachel could hear that it was almost about to give way. This time James did not run into the door but gave it a hard kick in the middle and the door finally relented and fell to the floor with a loud crash.

As they peered through the doorway, they were met with a stale smell and darkness. It was impossible to see their hands in front of their faces much less what was truly on the other side of the door. James grabbed his gun from the table and handed it to Rachel to keep an eye out for any danger. He then pulled out a matchbox from a pocket and began to slowly inch through the door. Just on the other side of the door was a lamp. James stomped out the first match before lighting a second and using it to light the lamp.

Rachel was reluctant to move into what seemed to be a tunnel but she also did not like the idea of missing out on whatever mission Brisco was on, he was her ticket for promotion after all. So, she steadied her nerves and kept the gun at the ready by her side. After a few moments of the two slowly moving in the dark tunnel with only the dim lamp to guide them, James reached back to hold Rachel’s free hand. When she tried to protest that she wasn’t afraid, he stated that it was only to help her guide her as he had the only light, and they were traversing uneven ground. Rachel relented and quickly realized that it was the right decision as the ground was not only off kilter, but she could feel that they were walking uphill in the dark.

After fifteen minutes of slow, silent walking, they could finally start to feel a breeze. It seemed that they were coming to the end of the tunnel. Rachel could feel relief starting to rush in and as Rachel held James’ hand, it seemed like James was also starting to relax more. At the thought of finally getting to the other side, the two began to pick up the pace. Finally, they reached a door on the other side and it not only hinted at fresh air but small slits of sunlight through the cracks in the wooden door greeted their hungry eyes. To their joint relief, this door easily swung open and the couple found the sunshine both beautiful and blinding.

As their eyes adjusted, they found that they were in a small, empty cabin. The rest of the cabin lacked furnishing aside from a table, writing desk, and a pot belly stove in the corner. However, all along the far wall were a series of local maps. Each map had dates, times, and names scribbled at various circled spots. Within moments, both of them were at the wall to study it for clues. Rachel followed his gaze and found the sketch of a man with the word “Dean O’Banion” scribbled along the bottom. As she studied the face, she realized that she recognized it. Rachel excitedly exclaimed, “This is the man who met Brisco and Michael last night!”

“I’m guessing you know this man too?” inquired James.

She looked at the newspaper clipping that he was pointing to and sure enough, it was the fourth member of the table from last night. Rachel nodded slowly as she began to read the newspaper clipping, “New York Workshop Bombing, Suspect Still at Large.” Rachel’s heart sank as she continued to read the gruesome details of the event spurred on by this shady character, Snake Kinney. Before she could finish reading the article, James was out the door with one of the maps clutched in his hand. Rachel caught up to him as he studied the horizon. “It looks like we’re about two miles outside of town. How are you at talking and running?”

“With Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, I was able to shoot, ride, and recite the national anthem at the same time,” boasted Rachel. James began to run and Rachel sprinted to catch up with him.

“Talking is enough for now,” he called over his shoulder. “Because I still need to know who are you and why is Brisco following me?”

Part II - Chapter 04 - Suspicions of Cloak & Dagger

Train Ride to Miami, OK

Rachel was uncomfortable. Yes, she had been in this train compartment with Doc & Brisco for hours and, yes, she had a splitting headache. But beyond that. The moment she followed Brisco into the town corral and locked eyes with James, she felt something. And then he was gone. In that moment, she had felt a sense of loss and fear for his safety. Rachel shook the image out of her head which ended up jostling her blonde hair into her eyes. “Why can’t I be as cool, collected, and tough as Mama was in her bounty hunting days?”

Rachel thought back to the numerous stories that she had listened to from her mother over the years. Crystal Hawkes was a skilled bounty hunter who always got what she set out for and had made a name for herself in a male driven environment. She was one of the greats and made quite a substantial sum of money throughout her career. But when Crystal noticed that the frontier was getting smaller and people like Buffalo Bill Cody and others were making more money entertaining crowds with significantly less danger, Crystal saw a better world to raise her child. So, Crystal transitioned out of bounty hunting and instead worked in vaudeville for a time, impressing crowds with her ability to make seemingly impossible shots. Rachel followed in her mother’s stead and worked Wild West Shows for a time before their tour landed in Los Angeles. When it was time for the wild west show to move on, Rachel stayed. The glamor of the silver screen called to Rachel and Buffalo Bill was able to get Rachel the right auditions. She was on a track to make a name for herself in silent pictures.

Crystal was not pleased with Rachel’s decision but elected to not stand in Rachel’s way. About the last thing that Crystal said on the matter was that being the damsel in distress would grow wearisome. After years of hitting the trail and seeing men brought to justice by her mother and then spending years on the road with a wild west show, being a trophy or delicate flower would quickly become boring.

Much to Rachel’s frustration, her mother was right. In fact, Rachel was just about to throw in the towel, when Brisco got himself into… Well, whatever you might call this adventure. Rachel was supposed to bring Brisco back but the idea of adventure and being back on the road appealed to Rachel so much more than the idea of getting back to Hollywood. Somehow, this felt more like a version of the familiar. Home was too strong of a word. But, like a hometown you drive through. You no longer belonged but there is a feeling of being among old friends and being welcome to stay as long as you needed. But still, there was a small voice in the back of her head that pointed out that this adventure was taking too long. If they stayed on the road too much longer, both Brisco and Rachel would be out of a job.

And then there was James. She was not expecting him to be so handsome, much less her age. The way that Brisco kept referring to him, it sounded like he was a child who got lost from home. But James was far from a child. Rachel felt her face begin to blush and she shook her head again in an effort to refocus her mind.

Rachel looked across the compartment to Brisco and took the opportunity to study him as he watched the passing scenery outside the window lost in thought. He looked weather worn and like he had seen his share of battles, but it seemed like he was renewing his strength on this trek. He was no longer the lot drunk but a man of adventure with a lust for life. It suddenly struck Rachel that the loss of the frontier must have been a blow to Brisco as much as it was to Crystal. No more earth to discover. No more lawless towns in desperate need of vigilante justice. Out here, he was free. Young at heart. Out here, Brisco seemed in his natural element and he looked every much as dashing as newspaper clippings she had seen from before the turn of the century. He seemed like a man in his 20’s and filled with purpose on this adventure.

Rachel turned her attention to Doc and rolled her eyes in annoyance. While Rachel and Brisco seemed to enjoy the silence, Doc needed to fill it. In a matter of minutes, he would go from chewing his pencil to anxiously moving papers around in his bag to grunting as he scribbled notes. However, Rachel preferred his restless behavior compared to the slew of questions.

“So, we’re headed to Miami-“ began Doc.

“Except, it’s pronounced My-am-ah” corrected Brisco. “Miami Oklahoma. It shouldn’t take us too long by train.”

“And you have friends there?” inquired Rachel.

“A few friends out there. Years ago, when Bowler and I were working for the president, we were assigned to keep an eye out along the Mexican American border. While collecting bounties on various criminal elements, we also needed to ensure that cowboys weren’t causing international incidents or wars by stealing cattle from Mexican ranchers. Anyway, we were in Washington DC to meet with the president and ran into Michael Weston. Weston was originally assigned to Boston to keep an eye on a growing underground Irish movement. Various Irish labor party members had been coming to the States to stir up trouble with local labor movements.”

“You got in the way of labor movements?” asked Doc indignantly.

“No, I was in charge of missions along the border. Additionally, Mike wasn’t fighting against workers’ rights but the anarchists who took advantage of the anger ensued by overworked unionists and labor parties.”

Rachel laughed before saying, “I somehow can’t imagine you rubbing shoulders with spies in Washington. Haven’t you always said that spies are-”

“Bitchy little girls!”

A thought struck Rachel, “The Michael West?” asked Rachel. This story sounded familiar.

“Yes. Michael West.”

“Why is that significant?” inquired Doc.

They could hear the train whistle from far away and Brisco stood and looked out across the horizon towards the sound. “You see,” began Brisco, “Michael had a burn notice put out on him and he was blacklisted from continuing services for the country.”

Rachel suddenly remembered how she knew this story, “Weren’t you the person who turned him in?”

- - - - - - - - -

After several minutes of silence in the train compartment, Rachel could no longer hold in her questions.

You turned him in? Why? What did he do? More than that, how could you call him a friend? Won’t he be pissed and refuse to help us? Aren’t we in danger for being with you? How the hell is this plan going to work?”

Brisco held up his hand just as a waiter opened the compartment door and came in with a rolling coffee table. “I believe you ordered coffee,” the waiter chirped while opening a latch against the compartment to extend a table out from the wall. He then placed three saucers onto the table before returning to the cart to get cups, coffee urn, milk, and sugar for the small table. Brisco slid the man a tip before shutting the door.

Brisco seemed lost in thought as he stared down into his coffee cup before filling his cup with coffee. He immediately slurped down his coffee before looking at an incredulous Rachel and offended Doc.

“What? Did you want coffee?” asked Brisco.

Doc helped himself to the coffee before opening up a small book and making notes in it. He seemed to be documenting everything; the time, the clouds outside, his pulse, the speed of the train, and who knows what else.

Rachel sat patiently with an arched eyebrow.

“Listen, I can’t explain everything but this is what I can say. Michael was in Miami on a mission when he was burned. When you’re burned you have nothing. No cash, no job history, no references to help you get a stable job. So, Michael has been doing whatever work comes his way and making ends meet with whatever work he can find. I hear that he occasionally gets paid in yogurt.”

“And-“continued Rachel.

“And that’s it for now.”

At that, Brisco finished his coffee before leaning back in his seat, tipping his hat over his eyes and at least pretending to sleep. Rachel leaned back as well. It was clear that they were walking into trouble and Brisco was not willing to share all of the details of what they were walking into. She looked down at her hands to try to cool down her frustration. She eyed the coffee but realized that she did not need any coffee to stay alert; caution and warning were already filling her every sense. This was not going to be a safe harbor after all and if Brisco wasn’t talking, then Rachel needed to keep her guard up.

- - - - - - - - -

The train pulled into the Miami station around sunset. Disembarking the train as the shadows grew longer did nothing to put Rachel at ease. She held her guns close, ready to fire at the slightest sign of danger. Brisco seemed to be in no mood to hurry as they walked across town to the only hotel. A veiled woman passed by in the darkness, it was impossible to make out any distinguishing characteristic aside from the fact that the passerby was an extremely thin and small woman wearing a dress and veil. Brisco clumsily sidestepped into the veiled figure’s pathway before apologizing and tipping his hat. “It must be the moonlight,” he laughed before continuing back towards the hotel. The rest of the walk seemed to be completed with Doc peppering Brisco with silly questions and Brisco keeping responses curt and short.

Once the trio reached the hotel, Brisco requested three separate rooms. As soon as the key was in Doc’s hand, he pushed past them and almost ran to his room. Doc seemed to be the most anti-social and timid person that she had evet met. The odd almost basic questions around the world floored Rachel and his overly secretive nature made her suspicious. Rachel was relieved to see that her door was next to Brisco’s. It was clear that Brisco was up to something and she needed to stick close to find out what. As soon as she closed the door, she grabbed a glass sitting near the wash basin and mirror before turning out the lantern. She felt her way across the dark room, put the glass between her ear and the wall to listen into Brisco’s room.

She heard Brisco set his things down and do some initial rustling. She could hear him wash his face and hands in the basin before the bedsprings squeaked. She heard two soft thuds, meaning Brisco had taken his shoes off and then she heard more bedsprings squeak. Then the other room was silent. She had no idea if he was lying in bed reading, sleeping, or what. She stood there listening to the other room for ten minutes. Or was it five? She could not tell but the time seemed to drag with boredom. She leaned away from the wall and put the glass down. Rachel sighed as she realized that there would be no excitement tonight after all. Just as she was deciding to turn on the light to undress for the night, she heard the hesitant sound of bedsprings from Brisco’s room. Rachel froze as the sound of soft footsteps approached the wall. Even though she knew there was a wall preventing Brisco catching her spying on him, she held her breathe and closed her eyes as though to make herself as silent, small, and invisible.

It seemed to have worked because she then heard the footsteps move away, this time faster, while still being quiet. She heard the bedsprings squeak before firmer footsteps moved towards the door. Clearly, Brisco had put back on his shoes and was on his way outside. She heard the door open before she saw a shadow slowly pause in front of her door. They hesitated for a moment as though to confirm if her light was on or off. Then the shadow disappeared.

Rachel quickly moved towards the door, relieved that she had not undressed or removed her guns. She opened the door as quietly as possible before slowly peaking her head outside and found that Brisco had already left the hallway. Rachel quietly closed the door before pausing by Doc’s room but breathed a sigh of relief as she heard his raspy snore. She hurried down the hallway and peered around the corner to watch Brisco pass by the guest services desk and out the front door. She silently rushed after him and into the night.

Brisco was moving fast now as he headed across the street into a saloon. Rachel followed but rather than going inside, she moved around to the side of the bar where a dirty window allowed her to look inside. She saw Brisco sit down at a table across from an impeccably dressed man with blue eyes and short brown hair. The man looked grim, almost unhappy to see Brisco, as he poured a shot of whiskey for himself and for Brisco. The two looked deep in conversation but abruptly stopped when two more men joined the table. These men were wearing bowlers, though not as nice looking or as well tailored as the original man at the table. The two newcomers seemed more talkative as they helped themselves to the whiskey. One of them seemed to direct the conversation and to be in a much more jovial mood than the rest of the members at the table. Rachel wished that she could get closer to hear what they were discussing but seeing as how there were not any women in the saloon, she would merely draw attention if she had entered and right now that was the last thing that she wanted. The four men seemed to conclude their business and stood to leave. The original tailored man tossed money on the table before tipping his hat towards the bartender. For a moment, Rachel thought he might have seen her standing outside the window so she ducked. When her heart was no longer racing, she peeked back up through the window. The men were no longer in the bar area. ”Had she been seen? Were they looking for her? Was she in danger?”

She strained looking through the glass and checked from side to side before finally spotting them. They were headed towards the back door of the saloon. They seemed to be in no hurry so Rachel assumed that she had not been seen. She would have an added advantage if they were moving towards the door; maybe she could finally maybe hear what all of this was about. She moved quickly towards the back of the building and peered cautiously around the corner to just barely make out what the men were saying.

“It’s lucky for us you stopped over in town, Mr. Finley,” a thick Irish accent stated.

“Even luckier that Michael recommended you. We don’t take kindly to strangers,” said a second voice, much deeper than the first.

“Well, I owe Michael a great debt,” stated Brisco. “And I don’t like to leave myself indebted to anyone.”

“Just don’t forget. It has to be tomorrow or all of our plans will fail.”

With that, Rachel watched as the two Irishmen turned and walked into the darkness. They had barely moved out of sight before Irish drinking songs began to be belted out. It was almost as though they were working to appear like two drunk Irishmen out to drink instead of men talking a bit of treason. Rachel took a deep breath. “What was that about? What plans had Brisco agreed to?” Processing the presence of Irish men and recalling Brisco’s story about Michael, a terrible thought began to form. “What if Brisco agreed to work with the Irish Labor Movement as penance for turning in Michael?”

Brisco and Michael were still talking but they had taken their voices down considerably. Rachel could not catch a single word that was being said. She was about to turn back to the hotel when a movement out of the corner of her eye caught her attention. Rachel took a step towards the movement with the intent to investigate but instead she felt the presence of someone coming up behind her. Before Rachel could turnaround, she felt a sharp pain at the back of her head, and then complete darkness.

Part I - Chapter 03 - Psyched in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara

The adventure began with a rocky start as the train ride was filled with worries and complaints from Doc as he seemed to be afraid of everything, including doorknobs, sneezes, and sunshine. If Doc was not a necessity, Brisco would have happily exchanged Doc for Socrates, snoring, odd hotel behavior, and all. Only slightly less worrisome was a silent but determined Rachel. With every glance around the area, it was almost as if she wished something would go awry and challenge her toughness or her authority. Brisco began to mentally weigh which event would likely occur first – Doc fainting over something innocuous or Rachel picking a fight with the toughest person she could find. Either way, this was not the trail ride adventure that he remembered. Luckily, it was only an hour train ride between the two cities.

After disembarking the train, the trio walked in the general direction of the center of town. The small rescue party had only been walking for a few minutes when they ran into two men loudly bickering. The men looked as though they had almost every snack item from the local corner store precariously balanced in their arms. One man had a mischievous air about him, short hair, untucked clothing, and a farmer’s tan. The other man was well built with dark skin that seemed to shine in the daylight almost to echo his welcoming smile. Of the two, the second looked as though he was the more professional and honest of the two. You felt like you could instinctively trust him; even if he were to recommend suspicious miracle elixirs to cure all manner of ailments.

Rachel rushed to meet the two in an attempt to assert her authority and asked, “Can you point us in the direction of Santa Barbara-“

“We locals like to call this town Santa,” the black man interrupted.

“Or Barbara,” his friend chimed in.

“Barb for short.”

“Barb’s not dead.”

“Long live Barb.” At the end of this narrative, the two men gave each other a sideways glance and pointed at each other as if they were laughing at their own inside joke.

“Could they have said any stranger than that?” murmured Doc and Brisco had to agree.

“Right,” Brisco stated in an attempt to ignore the odd statements before continuing. “And you are-?”

“The name is Shawn,” began the mischievous man. He took one look at Rachel before piling his armful into the other man’s arms and tipping an imaginary hat to Rachel. He gave his most charming grin before continuing, “I am a psychic detective and this is my partner, Medulla Oblongata.”

“Or Gus for short,” his associate cheerfully offered.

“How is ‘Gus’ short for a part of the brain?” inquired Doc but Shawn ignored the question and began jerking about as though he were a fish being pulled out of water.

“The spirits want me to inquire,” began Shawn as he mustered his most serious yet charming facial expression with arched brow. He took Rachel’s hand before continuing, “How would you like your steak cooked for our dinner tonight?”

Rachel rolled her eyes as she did not have time for boys who played games and quickly removed her hand from Shawn’s grip before giving him a slight shove away, “If you really are psychic, the spirits would tell you that we are in the middle of a man hunt. We need to speak to your local sheriff immediately.”

At the mention of ‘man hunt,’ Shawn’s demeanor seemed to change from a flirtatious and confident swagger to one of caution. Gus looked at Shawn with a look of shock and confusion while Shawn ignored his friend. “We can help you get there,” Shawn stated shortly as he took one small item from Gus’ load.

As they followed Shawn down the street, Doc could no longer hold in his curiosity. “What makes you psychic? I have yet to find any scientific proof of that phenomena, but it has always intrigued me.”

Shawn abruptly stopped and turned around. He looked Doc, Rachel, and Brisco up and down before taking two steps right up into Brisco’s face. Shawn began to sniff in the air like a puppy before taking a step back and placing a finger to his right temple. “I sense that you, young lady, are putting up a wall to prevent me from seeing your aura.” He then looked at Doc and continued, “You are a scientist dealing with experiments that have gone awry.” Finally, he turned to Brisco. “And you, sir, are Brisco County Junior. That is your unfortunate name and not where you are from. You have come from Hollywood, the world of silver screens, big dreams, and broken promises,” Shawn paused for a moment as his face grew darker almost bitter before he continued, “Finally, I sense that you feel a great guilt and that you, sir, should feel every bit of your shame.”

“Shawn, maybe you should ease up a bit” mumbled Gus beneath his breath.

“I have not begun to ease…” exclaimed Shawn, much to the confusion of the listeners.

“Well, that’s by far the most specific that Spencer has EVER been with his visions,” began a newcomer to the conversation. “And if you have incurred the wrath of this excuse for a town bum, then you have my full support.”

Brisco turned to get a better look at the tall and lanky stranger, “And you are?”

“Speaking of town bums, may I introduce the bummer of all bummers, Sheriff Lassiter, or Lassie as I like to call him,” muttered Shawn.

Brisco shook the sheriff’s hand and noticed his striking blue eyes behind a tough smile. The sheriff was tall and hid most of his salt & pepper hair behind the largest hat that Brisco had ever seen.

“Sheriff, we have a private matter to discuss with you.”

“And with that, I feel that Gus and I should continue on with our quest for more snacks!” exclaimed Shawn in a goofy tone. Gus and Shawn turned only to have Gus drop most of his items.

“Shawn!” scolded Gus but Shawn began to speed walk away, leaving Doc to help Gus pick up the items and carefully balance the load back into Gus’ arms before Gus followed in Shawn’s direction. Doc, Rachel, and Brisco had barely entered the sheriff’s office before Rachel huffed into a nearby chair.

“How can you handle those two? Wouldn’t you find dealing with them irritating?” exclaimed Rachel.

“Oh no, it absolutely annoys me! I find it childish and often distracting but he occasionally guesses or siphons the correct answer,” stated Sheriff Lassiter as he waved his hand in mild irritation, “Additionally, his father was one of the best lawmen in the area, so I feel I owe his father. But I do have to say, it is odd to have Shawn walk away from a possible case. Normally, he would be knocking us over to be hired on the case, on ANY case. But, I will take this as a welcome reprieve.”

At this moment, Doc looked at his watch and exclaimed, “I cannot believe I let the psychic distract me. We are running out of time!” Doc immediately began pulling papers and maps from his bag and began unloading them about the desk. Within seconds every square inch of the sheriff’s desk was covered by something owned by the doctor.

“Please come in and take over my desk,” stated Sheriff Lassiter wryly.

“At any moment, James is going to appear near the town hall, accounting for the variance of distance,” Doc was calculating aloud but no one was truly sure if the words were for the group or to himself. “If I add in another couple of meters…” Doc then began to draw a circle around his map, his red pen leaking ink onto his hand and on several other pieces of paper. Completely oblivious to the mess, Doc continued, “Can you help us locate this building and block off the entire area from public access within the next hour?”

“You want me to block off town hall, the local mercantile, and the town corral in the next hour?” asked Sheriff Lassiter. He looked like he was about to toss the group out before Brisco took Lassiter aside. As Brisco explained who he was and who they were attempting to rescue, without explaining any of the futuristic science, Lassiter seemed to acquiesce a bit. The promise to go shooting with the sheriff before leaving town ended up being the final bargaining chip as Lassiter was quite proud of his marksmanship and enjoyed bragging about which famous lawmen and outlaws that he could best in a shooting match. “One more obstacle completed,” thought Brisco.

However, as the group crowded around the table to formulate a plan, Brisco had an uneasy feeling continue to build in his stomach. “Why was Shawn, a stranger, so angry at me? Why had a nosey self-proclaimed psychic detective suddenly not be interested in a missing person case? Did the psychic actually know more than he was letting on?”

Brisco tried to shake these questions off. After all, it had been years since he last worked in the field. It must be some weird paranoia brought on by lack of practice.

“It had to be.”

- - - - - - - - -

Gus followed Shawn towards the town corral which was up the road from the sheriff’s office. After several minutes of calling Shawn’s name, Shawn finally relented and relieved half of Gus’ load. As they awkwardly walked into the stables, Gus began a complicated whistle. At the sound of the tune, James emerged from the shadows. Unbeknownst to Brisco, the three boys had grown up together and considered each other family. So much so, that they often referred to each other’s parents as “uncles or aunts.”

“About time!” exclaimed James. “You left me in an abandoned stable instead of taking me to your place? I could have been enjoying home cooked food and a much better smelling location!”

“Home cooked food would be available at my parents’ house in Hard Rock but since we’re here and both of us are living in boarding houses, we couldn’t sneak you in and out easily like you said you needed. Besides, Shawn’s place is messier and smellier than this place,” commented Gus.

“Hey! I take offense to that!” countered Shawn

“Regarding the time delay, blame it on Shawn’s slight detour to flirt,” Gus continued, despite a glare from Shawn. Gus smirked back before finishing his story, “We went around town scrounging for different items to help get that odd bracelet off your wrist.” As Gus reviewed their errands completed on James’ behalf, he worked on unloading various items onto a nearby table.

“And more importantly – we bring snacks!” announced Shawn he lifted his arms as triumphantly as he could while puffing out his chest. James ignored the ham behavior by quickly moving to the table and eating the nearest bread roll that he could find.

“Thank God! I can’t remember the last time I ate.”

“See? I told you it would be worth it!” Shawn said in a sing-song tone.

I thought you would be back ages ago,” James muttered between mouthfuls.

“Well, it wasn’t just flirting. We also ran into an old friend of Uncle Bowler’s, Brisco County Jr.. Took a bit of time to give him the slip” explained Gus.

“Honestly, I’m starting to care less about who finds me at the moment as long as I can eat and get this stupid bracelet off,” James stated between mouthfuls.

“Really?!?” exclaimed Shawn indignantly. “All of the times that he was supposed to come before your dad died or even when he died? You suddenly are okay with seeing him?”

James sighed. “I appreciate y’all looking out for me. I really do. But some things are more complicated than you realize. And no, I don’t hate him.”

“Don’t worry, I have enough hate for the both of us,” Shawn vehemently muttered.

“Let’s change the subject,” James said in a positive voice to redirect the tone of the room, “Let’s talk about removing this bracelet.”

“Good idea!” exclaimed Gus. He immediately unrolled a leather satchel and began spreading out the tools from inside. James noticed that Gus had attempted to bring any type of tool available which included a set of shears, wire cutters, blacksmith’s hammer, and a gun.

James whistled before laughing, “Well, one of these ought to work!”

Twenty minutes later and nothing had worked. In fact, the shears, wire cutters, and hammer had been damaged in the process of trying to break open the bracelet. Gus and Shawn wiped the sweat off their faces and heaved heavy sighs. There was a moment of silence between the three friends. An unspoken shiver of fear went down each of their spines, “What if they could not remove the bracelet? What if this would be the last time that the 3 childhood friends would be together?”

“What time is it?” asked James

“You’ve been in town for almost 2 hours.”

“Last town was roughly 3 hours. So, we probably have another hour.” Silence began to fill the room again.

“Have you tried just pushing random buttons?” inquired Gus.

James rolled his eyes, “That’s what started this whole problem! Why should I try it again? What if I push random buttons and only my head moves and the rest of me stays here? What if it goes back to moving me every ten minutes instead of every few hours? What if it has me appear inside of a wall or underwater which kills me? Unless there is someone who knows what each button does, I am going to stay away from button pushing.” James looked at his feet before beginning, “Amputation might be-“

“Hell no! We’re not doing that!” exclaimed Shawn as he picked up the gun. “Besides, we haven’t tried everything yet.” Shawn held the gun but noticed that his hand was trembling. “Gus, I can’t do it. You try.”

Gus picked up the gun but also realized that his hands were also shaking too much. “Nope. Nu-uh. Not going to do it.” Gus tossed the gun aside in disgust.

“What did you do that for?” an exasperated James exclaimed. Just as Gus and Shawn were about to bicker, a door slammed open with a man and woman blocking the entrance to the street. Both of them were wearing black leather, large black hats, and each carried a shotgun. The woman was younger with a heart shaped face, sadistic dark eyes, and dark curly hair. The man was older, probably her father. He was pale and drawn and his face lacked all emotion.

There was just enough time for Shawn to get a good look at the couple before shouting “Hit the floor!” The three friends flattened themselves to the floor as quickly as possible. Shawn knocked over the table of snacks and Shawn motioned for James and Gus to hide behind the table. James took a quick peek up at the couple but the couple began firing the rifles over their heads. James quickly covered his face as he belly crawled to hide with Shawn and Gus.

“Who are these people?” shouted James over the gunfire.

“It’s Yin and Yang, a father and daughter that we put in prison awhile back,” explained Gus.

“Guess they got out?” asked James.

“Looks like,” mused Shawn.

“Where’s the gun?” asked James. To which Gus pointed to a clearing in the middle of the room and all air escaped out of the three friends’ lungs. To get back the gun would be putting themselves right in the path of the shootists.

“Options?” whispered James.

“One of us will have to either get the gun or go for help,” whispered Shawn.

“Or both?” suggested James.

“Gus is the fastest among us,” stated Shawn. As Gus attempted to defend himself against a perceived slight against his courage when Shawn lifted a hand, “We don’t have time and I am just stating a fact.” Gus nodded before taking a deep breath to steady his nerves.

Shawn then began to count down, “Three… Two… One… Go!”

With that, Shawn crawled to the right, shouting and making as much noise as possible. At the same moment, James crawled left in an attempt to get to the gun. Gus ran towards the back door on the opposite side of the corral. Just as Gus reached the door, he heard another gunshot and looked over his shoulder to see James hit the floor. Gus did not have time to find out if James was injured or just hiding from stray bullets. Instead, he threw his whole body weight into the door and felt it swing away. Gus stumbled for a moment but regained his balance before running back towards the sheriff’s office and the infamous Brisco County Jr.

- - - - - - - - -

Brisco could barely focus during the meeting between Sherriff Lassiter and Doc. He could feel an uneasiness but could not place what was causing the electricity in the air. But something about the young men that he had met on his way into town just could not be pushed from Brisco’s mind, no matter how hard he tried to focus on the Doctor and Sheriff Lassiter’s plan. So, when gunshots erupted from outside, Brisco was out of the building and moving towards the town corral like a bolt of lightening. As Brisco moved in the direction that he saw the young men take earlier, it took a few minutes before his brain actually processed that the gun shots were actually coming from the town corral. As Brisco’s brain processed that the psychics were probably shooting or being shot at, he noticed a figure running from the town corral and in his direction.

Brisco called out, “Mufasa…or Medula…or whatever the hell your name is-“

“It’s James & Shawn – they’re both in danger and possibly shot.” And then as suddenly as the gunfire began, it stopped. It caused both Gus and Brisco to stop hurrying and turn towards the corral both out of breath and afraid of what the silence might mean. Aside from a few mutterings from local townspeople, the air was eerily silent. Brisco felt his heart plummet to his stomach. “Am I too late?”

“Where are they?” erupted Lassiter who had caught up to Brisco. Brisco could have jumped through his skin at the explosion of sound from Lassiter.

“It’s Yin and Yang,” hurriedly explained Gus

“I thought that they were given life in prison. Are you sure it’s them?” interrogated Lassiter.

“Damn sure!” exclaimed Gus.

“Apparently, they’ve escaped,” chimed in Rachel as she readied her guns.

“I’ll ask again,” asked Lassiter with grim tone, “where are they?”

Gus pointed in the direction of the town stables. The small group moved quickly and silently in that direction. When they were a few meters from the building, the group quietly spread out to encircle the small stables.

Lassiter took a deep breath and shouted, “Yin and Yang! We have you surrounded. Come out with your hands up!”

“Are we just going to blindly shoot? What if they have horses in there?” asked Rachel in a hushed voice.

“Don’t worry, it’s been closed all week for renovations,” whispered Gus.

“Still didn’t answer my question,” Rachel muttered under her breath.

Brisco could hear a muffled rustling inside the stable before the doors swung open. He saw Shawn come out with his hands above his head and a frazzled dark-haired woman behind him with a rifle aimed at Shawn’s back. She looked around at Brisco and the rest of the small party before giggling in a maniacal way.

“Is it my birthday? New weapons, Shawny boy, and the sheriff all in one day? Awww… you shouldn’t have!”

“Where’s James?” shouted Brisco, trying to mask his fear.

“What do you mean new weapons?” chimed a panicked Doc.

The woman nudged Shawn to take a few steps forward but she stayed close behind, ensuring that no one could get a clear shot at her without injuring Shawn. She looked at the group before giggling her eerie laugh.

“Just as Gus was leaving our small shootin’ hoe down, we saw the third boy move towards the gun. Daddy aimed and shot but just when the bullet would have hit the boy, it ricocheted across the room. In all the chaos, I snuck around and got Shawny here. I figured y’all won’t try nothin’ knowing that we have hostages. Me with Shawn and Daddy who’s takin’ a look at the other boy now.”

Just then a loud and frustrated yell poured out from inside the stables. The woman momentarily forgot Shawn and turned to look inside the corral. Rachel took the opportunity to begin shooting towards the woman. Shawn barely had time to belly flop onto the dirt before a bullet found a place in the woman’s hand. She let out a scream of pain as the gun fell from her hands and Sherriff Lassiter ran up and handcuffed the woman. Brisco and Rachel pushed past Shawn, Lassiter, and the woman and ran into the town stables. There was a man on his hands and knees with blood pouring from his nose and head. Just beyond the man was James, holding the shotgun by the barrel. From the looks of things, he must have managed to do some damage with the butt end of Yin’s Winchester rifle. Brisco only had a moment to think of how much James looked like his father and how proud Bowler would be of his son. But the moment was over too soon. A glow poured around James, a loud noise filled the tiny room, and after Brisco blinked, James was gone.

Left standing in the town coral staring at the place James stood, a hollow feeling filled Brisco. He had seen James and lost him, all in a matter of moments.

- - - - - - - - -

The cell door slammed as Sherriff Lassiter closed and locked it. Inside the father and daughter stood, miserable and defeated. Brisco turned away from them as they had cost him precious moments to rescue his best friend’s son from whatever gadget and trouble the Doc had unleashed. Brisco shook the sheriff’s hand and expressed his thanks for the assistance before leaving the jail. Suddenly, being in the same building with those two was still too close in Brisco’s mind.

As he walked outside going in no particular direction, Brisco passed by an alley between buildings and noticed Doc talking with Shawn and Gus. Brisco decided to detour and met up with the men to find out what they were discussing.

“Let me ensure that I have the details of the story correct. James was in town for 3 hours at the last town and how long was he here?”

“A little over 3 hours,” offered Gus.

“He must be getting better at hiding his arrivals and time in a town,” mused Doc as he scribbled into a notebook. “And he arrived in town where exactly? Near city hall?”

“Actually, in a field, about 20 feet from the saloon,” commented Shawn.

Doc pulled out a map for them to point the location before he took additional notes. “I see. And the woman mentioned something about a bullet ricocheting?”

“It was like this-” began Gus, just as Shawn interrupted.

“What is that thing on his wrist? We got all kinds of blacksmith instruments, shears, everything we could carry. Nothing could get the bracelet off his wrist. And then when he was shot at, it was like a weird glowing bubble appeared around him. The bullet hit the bubble and then went flying across the room.”

“Okay, well, thank you gentlemen. That will be all.” The doctor turned to walk away amongst the young men’s protests.

“I think you have taken quite a bit of information and it’s about time that you give a little,” stated Brisco as he blocked Doc’s pathway. Shawn and Gus closed in from behind to ensure that Doc was surrounded.

The nervous scientist ran his hands through his messy hair and shook his head. “It will mess with the time continuum if I provide any information other than what is absolutely necessary.”

“This is nothing like what Uncle Bowler used to tell us about,” exclaimed Gus.

Actually, it kind of is – odd objects, resurrections, powers, a weird guy from the future…” listed Shawn.

Brisco looked past Doc for a moment and studied the two young men. It suddenly made sense. These psychics were not just anyone. These were more than childhood friends of James, they were family to Bowler and Lenore. It seemed that destiny was beginning to weave Brisco towards James after all, even if it was just little by little.

“It sounds to me like these gentlemen already know more than they should,” began Brisco as he pushed the scientist back towards the duo, “Again, it’s time to start giving information.”

Doc sighed before nodding his head to acquiesce. “After John Bly and all of the various people that the orbs affected, we realized that we needed to add safety measures-“

“Like making your gadgets wearable instead of giant orbs?” asked Gus.

“Beyond that. What happens if you realize that someone has a tool to help you move across time and space? That kind of tech could be quite valuable to military leaders, bank robbers, lovesick poets turned homicidal, the list could go on.”

“So, you locked it to ensure someone couldn’t just rip the stupid thing off?” inquired Brisco gruffly.

“Think bigger. What if you cut off the time traveler’s arm? What if you killed the time traveler? We had to ensure that it was programmed to the wearer and that it would protect the wearer from harm. When I landed in this century, I caught fire because it must have reacted poorly to the proximity of the other bracelet. In my haste to put out the fire, I threw off the bracelet. James found it and put it on. He must have pressed some buttons which not only dropped him into all of my assigned trips in history instead of the one trip, but he must have also programmed himself as the designated wearer. Until he deprograms it and removes the bracelet, he will be untouchable.”

“Well, at least it’s protecting him,” sighed Brisco, feeling slightly more relieved to hear the news. Shawn watched Brisco with a new interest.

“I have one last question,” began Gus, “He said that he’s noticing that his time at various locations is slowly increasing in time. But he also said that he’s been appearing in weird places, like just outside of buildings or in the middle of streets. What is protecting him from arriving inside of a building? Is he protected in that scenario?”

“I was afraid of that,” muttered the scientist. Sensing that the group would not allow him to pass until he provided a more thorough answer to Gus’ question, Doc continued. “I did not leave from my platform which forced the calculations for the location parameters’ to be off target. It is trying to compensate by staying in roughly a 50 foot radius but it sounds like it is not consistently landing him in discreet or open spaced landing areas.”

“Again, what happens if he lands inside a wall? Is that possible or are there safety measures against that?” inquired Gus.

Doc looked away from the group before composing himself and hurriedly stating, “That’s why we cannot wait any longer but must get to the next town as quickly as possible.” Doc pushed past Brisco and walked quickly towards the train station to meet Rachel who Brisco hoped had successfully procured tickets for the trio. Brisco turned to follow Doc until he heard Shawn call out.

“Brisco, do you really care about James?”

The question caught Brisco off guard. He turned slowly and cleared his throat. “Of course, I do.”

“Why did you never visit? We heard about you for years but you never came. Not even to the funeral.”

Brisco paused and looked at the duo of friends before beginning. “Friendship is the most powerful gift that destiny can give you. Don’t let pride force you to forget. And if pride does creep in, remember, there’s no such thing as too long of a time to see a friend.” Brisco cleared his throat before continuing, “For me, personally, by the time I was ready to see Bowler, I was convinced that it had been too long. And then, suddenly, he was gone. Don’t make the same mistake. Don’t ever take your friendship for granted.”

Shawn swallowed hard as he looked at Gus. He then turned back to Brisco with an outstretched hand, “Good luck, Mr. County.”

“Good luck, Shawn. Good luck, Gus.” Brisco shook both men’s hands before turning to walk towards the train station. Brisco took a few steps before turning around again. “You are both welcome to continue with us if you would like-“

Shawn shook his head. “Before you joined us, Doc was saying something about home bench.”

“Home base,” corrected Gus.

“I’ve heard it both ways,” insisted Shawn.

“No, you have not!” exclaimed Gus.

“Look, the point is,” began an irritated Shawn, “I am not 100% sure what Doc was talking about, but it does sound like there is a possibility that we might represent ‘home’ as we are part of James’ family. If that’s the case, then we have to stay here and watch for him.”

Brisco nodded in agreement, tipped his hat, and continued toward the train station. Sitting on the train, Brisco looked out the window as the train slowly pulled out of the station. The train slowly passed by an odd advertisement for a fortune teller which read, “In dreams, I am with you.” That’s an odd advertisement, thought Brisco as the train began to build speed.

Brisco closed his eyes to focus on how the hell he would save James. While it eased Brisco’s mind to know that the bracelet would protect James from violence or from Bly type characters, Doc’s silence about the location parameters confirmed that James was running out of time. At any time, the bracelet could kill James, unless they could rescue James first. Sleep washed over Brisco as the image continued to flash in his mind’s eye. “In dreams, I am with you…”

I hope to God that I’ll wake up and this is all a dream, was the last thing Brisco thought before falling asleep.

Part I - Chapter 02 - Viva Ventura


Lenore, Socrates, and Brisco all made it to Ventura by train. As soon as they arrived in town, Lenore stated that she was tired and would check the group in at the local hotel before going to her room for a nap. Brisco attempted to protest as he knew that Lenore was feigning her desire to sleep. But when Lenore gave him a warning look, Brisco decided to let it go. It would be best to find Viva first to create a plan and maybe have a deputy assigned to shadow Lenore for her safety.

Socrates and Brisco had only began walking through the town for about ten minutes before Socrates blurted out, “I’m starving!”

“We passed a café on our way in.”

“That’s what I hate about travel,” muttered Socrates. “You have no idea if what you passed is the only place serving food right now, much less if there is actually something better and open on your way to your destination.”

Brisco agreed saying, “It would also be helpful to have information about the restaurants available when you visit a town. Maybe information on what locals think of the place? Maybe even a rating system that you could use to compare different places?”

“How expensive is it? Does it have a view? Is it pet friendly?” Socrates added. As Brisco smiled in agreement, Socrates teased, “Careful! You might just be thinking of a coming thing.”

Brisco said nothing but walked on, wishing that Comet was still alive to distract him from Socrates. When they finally arrived at the sheriff’s office, it looked like the jail was all locked up with no one around. In fact, the streets almost looked like an abandoned ghost town. Luckily, a man began hurrying across the street which enabled Brisco to holler for instructions to the whereabouts of Sherriff Viva. The man continued speedily moving away from the sheriff’s office as he shouted over his shoulder, making it nearly impossible to understand. About all that Brisco could put together is that there was some kind of town competition occurring.

“What could that mean?” asked a baffled Socrates.

“Well, last time I found Viva in a contest, he was winning a pie eating-“ began Brisco but Socrates was off following the stranger’s hurried direction. Brisco watched both men hurry down the street but found himself hanging back and smiling. Maybe it was the humorous way that Socrates ran. Maybe it was the thought of seeing old friends again. But maybe, just maybe, the old thrill of hunting a man down was coming back.

Brisco turned the corner and found a crowd of people sitting around the town library. People were sitting on benches, on chairs clearly dragged from every corner of the town, and a few were sitting in the middle of the street. But what made the situation so unusual, aside from the location, was that everyone was silent. It caught Brisco off guard. He studied the townsfolk but they were all enraptured by a small group of people in front of the library. Brisco looked across ahead at Socrates but it was clear Socrates was more motivated by the thought of finding food rather than noticing the odd behavior of the town.

Brisco looked around at the faces of people as he passed by. He needed to find someone that seemed at least open to explaining what the hell is going on to an outsider, or at the very least point him in the direction of the Sherriff. Finally, he spotted an elderly couple that seemed harmless enough. The man smoked his pipe while the woman sat knitting away. Both were staring ahead as if they were children watching circus performers. Brisco took a chance and knelt between the couple as they swayed in their rocking chairs.

“Ah- excuse me, uh-“ stuttered Brisco, unsure how to start his line of inquiry.

“Sshhhh!” exclaimed a nearby mother holding a child in her lap. She gave Brisco her nastiest look before turning her attention back towards the library.

Brisco tried again but a bit more softly, “Excuse me, ma’am?”

“They’re tallying the final score now,” explained the woman. She smiled and nodded in the direction that the town was facing as though it was common sense.

“What are they scoring for?”

“The trivia challenge.”

“SShhhhh!” repeated the nosey nearby mother.

“Awh, hell Valerie!” the old man erupted at the nosey mother, “They’re crunchin’ numbers! Ain’t a problem if my Else wants to talk to this man!”

“Ah, thanks,” Brisco awkwardly replied before continuing, “Could you explain a bit more? I’m not following.”

“That’s nice, son,” the woman stated in an all too sweet, almost condescending manner.

Brisco decided to give up and just ask where he could find the sheriff, to which the man replied that Viva was the judge. “Well, that at least points me in the right direction.” Brisco began to move through the crowded street and as he got closer to the library, he noticed a stage set up with 2 men standing on either side of the table with Sherriff Viva sitting in the middle with a hound dog resting at his feet. True to form, Viva had a large spread of food laid out in front of him. While normally Brisco would assume that Viva was involved in an eating contest, this time it seemed more like he was absently snacking and more focused on the men in front of him.

“Aright, the tally shows that y’all are still tied so it’s now or never. Final round, men,” yelled out Viva. He shot his gun in the air and Brisco anxiously watched to see if the men were about to eat, race, or complete some other activity. But to Brisco’s surprise, a grey-haired man from the crowd moved around the table to stand at Viva’s right. He held out a sheet of paper and began asking questions. With each question, the final contestants would attempt to ring their bell first and then respond to the question. Brisco squinted to read the name plates in front of the two contestants. One man’s name plate read “Bing” while the other’s read “Google.”

“What a let-down! All of that build up for this? A question and answer session?”

“Can I help you, sir?” a stern whisper behind Brisco asked. As Brisco turned he was surprised to find Whip Morgan, all grown up and wearing a deputy’s badge. As recognition spread across Whip’s face, he gave Brisco a bear hug and laughed.

“Sshhh!!!” several nearby people stated. Whip smiled and held a finger up to his mouth before motioning Brisco away from the crowd. Once they seemed far enough away from the crowd’s listening ears and wrathful shushing, Whip slapped Brisco across the back.

“Brisco County?!? How the hell are you?”

“I’m fine,” began Brisco. He turned his back towards the crowd and attempted to surreptitiously point his thumb over his shoulder before saying, “So, what’s going on up there?”

“We are in a Trivial Fact Challenge. The town is fanatic about it. We do it every year.”

“Wait.. A what?”

“A game where people try to answer the most questions about trivial facts. Once a year, the whole town compiles a list of facts, and the winner is the person who can state the most correct answers.”

“I see,” stated Brisco still trying to figure out the appeal. “Very fancy…”

“Mr. Jeeves and Mr. Yahoo bowed out pretty early on. It’s now just a contest between Bing & Google.”

“Those are some interesting names,” was all that Brisco could think to say. The whole situation just felt surreal. Brisco did not have much time to think on the oddity of the environment before the whole town began to cheer and celebrate. Whip smiled and excitedly shouted at Brisco to follow him back to see who the winner was. Brisco moved back towards the commotion but decided to walk around the crowd, to move up the steps to the library, and lean against one of the columns in front of the old building. From this vantage point, Brisco could see the whole town. With the contest ended, most of the crowd had already started moving towards bars, restaurants, and homes. A small crowd remained encircled around the finalists in an attempt to offer congratulations or to shake the finalists’ hands. Brisco watched as the sun was beginning to set before glancing down to see the crowd finally dispersing away from the sheriff. Brisco had always assumed that the “double takes” in Hollywood comedies were a farce until he watched Sherriff Viva visibly do a double take.

“Lawdy Miss Clawdy!” slurred Sherriff Viva as he motioned Brisco to come down. Brisco slowly descended before shaking Viva’s hand. Viva had just enough time to invite Brisco to dinner before the sound of gunshots were heard. Brisco was ready to run towards the sound, but Viva held up his hand in exasperation. “It’s prolly just Bing. I told him to hit the road with Bob, but sounds like he’s causing some kinda commotion again. Last year I found him cryin’ in the chapel after the competition.”

With the knowledge that it was probably just a disgruntled loser, Brisco, Whip, Aaron, and the hound dog pushed through the crowd to investigate the gunshots. When they passed by a man with tear-stained eyes that Whip pointed out to be Bing, Brisco started to get nervous again. The closer the trio got to the center of the crowd, the easier it was for Brisco to hear that a woman was shouting. Finally, the sheriff, deputy, and former bounty hunter made it into eye of the storm to find a blonde man laying on the ground as though he had been knocked backwards. His unruly blonde curls looked especially unkempt with his disheveled clothes. He held his hands high in surrender with his wide eyes staring down the barrel of a familiar shotgun. His captor was none other than Lenore.

Lenore glanced up to see her friends before shouting, “That’s the man who stole my son!” As soon as the words were out, Whip and Aaron grabbed each arm of the stranger and hoisted him to his feet. The intent was to drag the man to the nearby cell but with all of the excitement, the stranger seemed to faint just as he was brought to his feet.

As Brisco inspected the slumped head of the stranger, he realized that the kid really was out cold and not pretending in an attempt to avoid talking with Lenore or the sheriff. Clearly, this was a man used to monotony and indoor life. Brisco sighed and thought, “how are we supposed to get answers from him now?” To Brisco’s relief, Lenore had uncocked her gun and was in the process of hiding it among the folds of her dress. She smoothed her skirt as though she had just dealt with a gust of wind instead of a rush of motherly adrenaline. “She was always able to keep calm in a crisis,” thought Brisco. He could understand why Bowler admired this woman but at the same time, could not figure out how she had so masterfully hidden the weapon before and after her encounter with the scientist.

Sheriff Viva called out to the crowd which caused Brisco to let go of his musings and focus on the task at hand. “Put your suspicious minds at ease!” he called out. “This boy will be locked up and the matter investigated. There is nothing to see or to worry about here. Move along and enjoy the rest of the party.”

At that, the town went began to move in their respective directions while Viva and Whip hauled the unconscious man towards Viva’s office. Brisco offered a hand to Lenore in case she needed steadying. At first, she shook her head in an effort to maintain the look of strength but after a couple steps, Brisco noticed that she was trembling. Brisco gently took her arm and held her steadily as they slowly followed the sheriff back to the county jail.

- - - - - - - - -

Trace awoke in a small cell. He blinked his eyes slowly while looking at the cold white ceiling above him. His head seemed to feel 3 sizes too big and his lungs seemed to have trouble with the air. The air was so much different than he expected. In fact, all of his senses seemed to have difficulty processing this past world.

Trace closed and opened his eyes again in an attempt to steady his breathing and recall how he arrived in a jail cell. And then the memory flooded back, the widow had hunted him down and had him arrested. Trace could not believe his own stupidity. For all of his IQ points, he had not calculated enough distance to keep this angered mother out of his way. Not that he could blame her for being angry. But Trace did not have time to waste. The longer that he stayed, the more people he would meet. The more people that he met, the greater the possibility of adversely affecting time. He could create time paradoxes, complicate the future, or even bring something into existence sooner than originally intended.

Trace slowly sat up and began to study his surroundings. Trace noticed that he was sitting on a flattened straw mattress in a small jail cell. Luckily, he seemed to be the only prisoner. Outside of his cell 4 men and the mother were talking in hushed tones.

“So much for being inconspicuous,” mumbled a pale man with red hair and glasses. He seemed to be inhaling the food before him and talking between mouthfuls.

“Bubba Ho-Tep, drop it!” came a shout that made Trace jump out of his skin. He watched as a hound dog dropped a piece of paper that Trace recognized was in his own handwriting. They must have searched his clothes for identification and found a couple of papers in his pockets. The commander of the dog was wearing a sheriff’s badge which shined as the man passed by Trace to gently pat the dog’s head before picking up the wet and crinkled paper.

“Uck!” grimaced the sheriff before he continued. “Bubba, you’ve gone from sniffing elderly individuals’ behinds at Shady Rest Home to destroying evidence at the jail.” The dog whined as though hurt by the sheriff’s reproach which caused the man, to scratch the dog’s ears before saying, “I can’t stay mad at you. You’re the cutest jailbird I ever did see.”

Trace was getting nervous. Luckily, the calculations on the paper were incomplete and would not make sense to the most advanced minds of this era. But still, Trace was unsure who to trust but he knew that he needed out of this cell and quickly. All he could do was put his head in his hands and wait for inspiration to strike. And then he heard it in the voice of the red headed man addressing a quiet man in the corner.


- - - - - - - - -

Brisco, Whip, and Lenore had been debating how best to approach the man upon his waking while Socrates continued to finish his dinner. Whip, ever impulsive, wanted to beat the man until he confessed what had happened to Bowler’s son. Lenore wanted to interrogate him at gun point. Brisco agreed that he wanted answers and justice, but this man seemed fragile. If the stranger was going to faint easily, how could they keep him conscious long enough to get all of the answers that they wanted? Brisco had seen all kinds of criminals in his life and this man seemed more likely to jump out of his skin in fear rather than have a master plan as a hardened criminal.

“Brisco, what are you thinking? What’s your plan?” Viva asked.

“Brisco?” the stranger from the jail cell questioned. “Brisco County Jr.?”

The room fell silent and all eyes turned to face the cell. “Who’s asking?” Brisco cautiously asked.

“Not here, Mr. County. I am willing to talk with you, but not here.”

“That’s not how this works!” exclaimed Whip through gritted teeth.

“Whatever you say to Brisco, you can say to all of us,” demanded Lenore as she moved closer to the bars.

“Just a minute,” interjected Socrates. At the stranger’s request to speak with Brisco, Socrates forgot all about dinner and moved between the bars and the small group as his attorney persona kicked in. Socrates nodded at Brisco as if to signal that he would take the communication from here. “We don’t negotiate with kidnappers. If you have something to say, you will address the group.”

“It is impossible to talk to everyone here. I’ll only talk to Mr. County,” insisted the prisoner.

“What information do you have? Can you tell us where James is?” inquired Brisco. He lifted his chin as though to mull over the situation. “What danger can this puny kid really be? We’re wasting time by making him talk to the group.”

“I am the only person who can save your son,” came Trace’s response. Even as the words came out confidently, a small voice in the back of Trace’s head wondered if he truly could rescue the kid.

“What does my son need to be saved from?” cried Lenore. Viva took a look between Brisco and Lenore and his years of being a sheriff in small towns and handling domestic disturbances, arresting miscreants, and doing his best to keep peace, kicked in. He gently escorted Lenore outside and told Whip to take her on a walk to calm her down. Lenore protested but Viva was firm and had the firecracker Whip and the terrified mother removed from the room.

“Put your hands through the bars,” commanded Viva. Trace shakily stood but did as ordered and Viva handcuffed his hands together. Assured that Brisco was safe, Viva tipped his hat to Brisco signaling that the two would be left alone. He then took Socrates out the door for some more dinner before whistling for the dog to follow.

The room had barely emptied before Brisco demanded, “You have your wish. Now tell me. What the hell is going on?”

“I can’t tell you the whole story,” Trace began but at Brisco’s angry stare Trace quickly continued, “But here is what I can tell you. I am a scientist from the future. You and a man named Lord Bowler met my colleague Karina probably 20 years ago, your time. She said that the two of you were men that she trusted with her life. Please, as dangerous as the orb technology was, I cannot begin to tell you what is at stake. Please trust me. Let me take you to the room that I have rented and I can better explain what is going on.”

“Why should I trust you?”

“Because I’m one of the few people who knows that you defeated Bly twice to ensure that Lord Bowler survived the encounter.”

- - - - - - - - -

Brisco had to surreptitiously sneak Trace out of the cell and to his hotel. Luckily, most of the townspeople were still giddy and distracted from the trivial fact contest and did not notice Brisco escorting a man at gun point. As Brisco came into Trace’s room, he noticed newspaper clippings all over the floor littered among sheets of paper with various math problems strewn around the room. Trace grinned sheepishly as he looked about the room as if seeing it for the first time as the mess it was. His smile faded however as he noticed Brisco’s unsmiling face.

“Talk Professor.”

“Um – how to begin,” stammered Trace. “I’m from the future. I believe that you have met a fellow scientist from my time, a woman named Karina.”

“You said that part already.”

“Yes, well… She was part of a failed time improvement program.”


“In that a bureaucrat from my time, Bly, went back in time and corrupted the time stream by searching for the ‘orbs’ as you call them. Anyway, after that failed experiment, we still needed information from this time stream to find a new solution.”

“Solution?” repeated Brisco.

“I can’t get into that and honestly, it’s not important to finding the son. What I can say, is that I was assigned to go back to small sections of history that would not affect my present or your future while enabling me to gather information and research.”


“Essentially, it’s anthropological mission. We needed to watch people and collect data on this time era. The information collected from the past could create a better future for human connection and for our overall existence.”

“Watchers from the future sent to observe key points in history, that science sounds a bit on the fringe for me,” mused Brisco. “What does this have to do with James?”

“James, as in… Lord Bowler’s…?”

“Son. Right. His son,” finished Brisco.

The scientist flinched before continuing, “Right, sorry. Um- as I went to take the inaugural test, another individual came up with a similar device which frankly shouldn’t exist, since this was my design – “ The scientist stopped rambling for a moment, realizing that he had gone off on an unnecessary tangent. Anyway, they weren’t calibrated to be near each other which could have created a potential cataclysmic event based on my calculations.” The scientist paused to point at the math on a handful of pages. Brisco nodded as though he could recognize which scribbles had the math the scientist was discussing in an effort to help the man continue his story. “But instead of causing a rupture in time or an explosion, it sent us both back to this time but different places. I came to Lord Bowler’s house where James put on the bracelet and disappeared. Which honestly, a guy shows up in your house, out of nowhere, and on fire, so you decide to put on a piece of technology that you have never seen before? Who does that? That’s so-” again the scientist cut off his rant, embarrassed for saying too much.

“And then instead of sticking around to explain yourself or to help Lenore, a grieving widow, or to offer a way to find her son, you stole a horse?”

“I apologize for the stolen horse, but I thought I could make it here in enough time to catch James.”

“James was here? When?”

“About 2 days ago. But his timing is off. He is spending a lot shorter of a time here than he should have and by the time I got here, he had already left. So, I stayed here to work on my calculations and to come up with a better plan. I have been tracking both James and the man with the other device.”

“How can you track them? I thought that they can disappear and reappear whenever and wherever. It’s not like they leave tracks.”

“Tracks in the dirt? No. But they do manage to catch attention by appearing and disappearing. So, I have been collecting articles from around the country and it looks like James and the other man are traveling around the area. I am not sure why both of them are locked into this time, why they are locked in only the United States, or why they don’t just take off their time traveling devices.”

Brisco processed the information for a moment before continuing, “So, how do we get ahead of these guys then?”

“I know the various places that James is going. The various places that he has appeared always seems to be within a 50 foot radius of where I programmed the bracelet to go, assuming that it was approved for future jaunts through time. I had programmed the various locations and dates for my future trips already in an effort to save time. The good news is that his time in a single location is increasing. I’m not sure why it was so short originally but it does give us a better chance of finding him and helping him reunite with his mother. Not to mention it will help me get back to my time.”

“His time is increasing?”

“When I originally came to this town, I found out that he was only here for 5 minutes, which was why I missed him. However, in following the rest of the articles, the next town was a 20 minute stay, the next town was 40 minutes, and the last town was an hour. Between the list of locations, what order they should occur in, and an increasing time in each location, we should be able to find him.”

“What about the other man? Is he following the same path as you were supposed to?” asked Brisco as he began studying the articles on the other man.

“I have no idea what his path is set as. He seems more random and he can typically stay at a place for a day or even a week. He seems more controlled and intentional which makes me think that he’s from my time, a competing scientist. Although I have never met him before which means that I have no idea what his intentions are,” Trace paused for a moment before murmuring to himself, “And without the bracelet, I can’t be in 3 places at once.”


“Well, I believe that if James can figure out how to work the bracelet, it will take him home. It is designed to respond to your feelings of panic and it should take the wearer “home” when they experience adrenaline. I had originally hoped that he would panic and his mother would stay home and I could just retrieve it. But based on the fact that you and Lenore are tracking me, he hasn’t gone home yet. The second location is San Francisco. It looks like the unknown man is most commonly spotted in the San Francisco area. I need to figure out who he is in order to discover what motivates him which will enable me to track him down and return him to my time and prevent any damage he might cause.”

“The third being the original path that you were supposed to take throughout the United States?” asked Brisco as he continued to study the walls and notes. Trace nodded.

After a moment’s pause, Brisco turned and looked Trace in his eye before stating, “There is a way to be in 3 places at once, but it means that you will have to trust more people than just me.”

- - - - - - - - -

It seemed almost obvious which party would take each mission. Lenore would head home to Hard Rock with instructions to call Brisco immediately if James appeared. Brisco and the scientist would need to determine how much time is passing for James, to determine why he has not removed the bracelet, and to attempt to reach him and help him get home.

Socrates would go to San Francisco to investigate this man from the future. Brisco didn’t agree with the scientist’s belief that the bearded man with long hair was an instigator of trouble. He was in a hospital gown which to Brisco, seemed more like a potential third victim than a danger. Based on that logic, Socrates would not be in any danger when meeting the mysterious patient. An added bonus of staying in a single location like San Francisco, Socrates could continue to check-in with Hollywood and provide mock status reports of Brisco and his location. Socrates mentioned that the studio had already begun to send angry wires to Socrates inquiring why Brisco had not checked back in with the studio within 24 hours of his departure. While the director didn’t need Brisco, the producer was surprisingly litigious.

Although Brisco agreed to travel with the scientist, he still didn’t fully trust the man. Brisco did not like that it was difficult to pry information from the strange man of the future and that he refused to provide his name. As a last resort, Brisco was forced to nickname the scientist “Doc.” To Brisco’s chagrin, the nomenclature was less out of professional courtesy and more because it seemed to irritate the young man. Of the three missions about to begin, this one seemed most dangerous and he felt the need to keep an eye on the nerdy and disheveled man of the future. Based on Doc’s notes, their first stop would be a town called Santa Barbara.

Shortly after Lenore left on a train towards Hard Rock, Socrates boarded a different train towards San Francisco. As Brisco stood on the platform, Socrates opened his window and motioned Brisco to come close.

“When I checked in with Hollywood, I received some troubling news,” Socrates whispered. “While I was able to negotiate another three days for us, it appears that they will be sending someone to track you down.”

“You make it sound like they’re calling me out like a Bly gang member,” Brisco chuckled.

“May not be that drastic but they still might sue us for breach of contract. Or utilize local police to arrest you.”

“Leave it to Hollywood to make the mundane dramatic,” snorted Brisco sarcastically.

“Remember, don’t bite the hand that feeds,” came the familiar warning from Socrates.

“Relax Soc. I’ll be back before you know it.” The train whistle blew signaling it was about to leave the station. Brisco stepped back and watched on as the train slowly moved away. Socrates offered a weak yet supportive smile to his friend before the train pulled out of sight.

As Brisco headed back to the strange scientist’s room where the Doc packed and Whip stood guard, Brisco’s thoughts were racing. Not about Hollywood but about what his next step might be when they arrived in Santa Barbara. Just as he was turning a corner he felt a sharp pain at the back of his head before the world went black.

- - - - - - - - -

When Brisco awoke, he was sitting in an abandoned alleyway with his hands tied together. The light pierced his eyes and his head hurt like hell. As his vision began to clear, Brisco noticed a figure leaning against a building opposite him. It was Rachel Hawke.

He almost did not recognize her. Gone were the dance hall gowns and fancy hair styles. Gone were the heels and fans. Her was a short woman in boots, jeans, flannel shirt, leather coat, and a gallon hat. She was holding her gun as though she were inspecting it but he could see that she was watching him above the gun. She was making her point clear; Brisco was at her mercy.

“Rachel Hawke…”

She gave a slight and sarcastic bow while grinning. “I told you that I could fight as well as any man.”

“While I never doubted you, I feel like it might not have been a fair fight in that you hit me from behind. The last woman who got the drop on me like that was a bounty hunter named Crystal…”


Brisco looked at her surprised and suddenly it made sense. “Why had he not noticed it before?” Rachel indeed looked like Crystal. The same last name. The same strength of character. And the same need to be seen as man’s equal.

“And here I thought it was a stage name.”

“Turns out, I am my mother’s daughter,” she said sweetly.

“So, why do you have me tied up? Is this an equality play? Women’s Rights’ Movement?”

“I actually am making a point. The director knew I had a background in bounty hunting, trained by my mama actually. He sent me to come find you and bring you back…”

“I was told that I had three more – “

Rachel held up her hand to silence him. “No excuses Brisco. And to be frank, I don’t have time for explanations. My actions were to prove a point. I can catch you and drag you back to Hollywood anytime I want. You aren’t as…”

“Watch it,” Brisco warned.

Rachel considered her wording for a moment. “How about ‘sober?’”

Brisco nodded to accept the adjective although he did not like being told that he was a lesser version of himself in anyway.

Rachel continued, “You aren’t as sober as you used to be? Well, let’s just say you have been gone from this life for longer than you might want to admit and you will probably want all of the help that you can get. And while I do want the whole story of what’s going on, I can only buy us so much time. I can probably get us another couple weeks and I am sure that Sophocles-“


“-is working to continue to buy you time as well. I will work with him to get our stories straight, but this is how your adventure is going to play out. I will come along with you on whatever mission you have decided to take as your last adventure. Whatever you are trying to accomplish, you can have my help to complete it faster. If you fail to include me or don’t complete your promise within the next few weeks, I will drag you back to Hollywood to face their lawyers.”

“What’s in it for you if we do succeed?”

“Consider this my audition. By dragging you back for a failed or accomplished mission, I will have new allies to push for equal screen time, equal action, and maybe even equal pay. Not only from the studio but you personally because you will have seen what I can do and can help advocate for me.”

“Is that all?” asked Brisco, uncomfortable with the thought of having another tagalong to babysit along with the scientist. However, by this point he had managed to cut the rope and tossed it up to her while standing. She had just enough time to catch it and prevent it from hitting her in the face.

“This way, sweetie,” Brisco did his best to pick one of the names Rachel’s mother truly hated. Instead of rattling Rachel, she merely walked beside him with the biggest smile possible.

“My other reason for doing this? Mama said that one of her favorite adventures was working to capture you. She said that all of the future shit was confusing as hell but she never regretted trusting you.”

With that the duo walked briskly back to the hotel to pick up the scientist.

Part I - Chapter 01 - The Western Movie Consultant

1913 – Hollywood

Brisco County Jr. stood behind a bar; his killer chin was set while the former bounty hunter was lost in thought. At over 6 feet, the bar looked surprisingly realistic for a scaled down set piece on a Hollywood lot. Brisco got a glimpse of himself in the faux bar’s mirror, he may have a few more grey hairs than his bounty hunter days, but his brown eyes and charm still enabled him to be popular in whatever setting that he visited.

Brisco turned back to the task at hand, finding the “perfect drink” before the cameras started rolling again and the actors would take over the set. To Brisco’s delight, it had not taken too much convincing to have the prop master stock the bar with actual alcohol so Brisco could work on his project in between takes. Brisco pulled out a little black book and reviewed his notes of the various concoctions he had already attempted. While he had found several great tasting drinks, he still felt that there was a better drink out there, something waiting for him to discover. As Brisco mixed the various liquids together, a figure loomed in Brisco’s peripheral vision.

“Nope,” Brisco stated as he looked up at his long-time friend, attorney, and agent, Socrates Poole.

The two friends were opposite in style and mannerisms. Socrates still managed to keep his red hair short, tailored suit perfectly fitted, and his glasses polished and clean. Meanwhile, Brisco sported pants and a shirt that were rarely ironed and his hair was usually a mess when not hiding behind his hat.

Socrates Poole sat down on one of the bar stools across from Brisco before stating, “Lenore called my office again.”

Brisco repeated, “I said, nope.”

“No, she didn’t call or no it’s not Lenore? Because I’m pretty sure that I have memorized the sound of her voice as she keeps calling me to ask for you.”

“No, I’m not taking her calls. I’m in the middle of an important project. A very important project.”

“Brisco, I can’t see you waste away your life like this. You used to be someone who spent his life searching for the ‘coming thing’ and now you are buried in looking for simply the next drink?”

“Clarification, the perfect drink.” Brisco corrected him and took a sip of his drink. As much as he loved alcohol, he had to admit, this was still not the right concoction. He referenced his black book again before crossing off “Gin & Tonic Water.” Just as he was placing it back into his pocket, two stunt men approached the bar.

“Pardon me, Mr. County?” asked the shorter of the two.

“Do you mind if we practice the upcoming stunt?” the larger and quieter man asked.

“Not at all, the bar is yours,” Brisco replied as he stood and stepped back from the bar. The larger man proceeded to throw the smaller stunt man over the bar to prepare for filming the action shot.

“That’s a pathetic attempt at a throw!” exclaimed a young female voice from behind Brisco. Without turning around, Brisco knew that it was Rachel, the lead actress. She was a stunning beauty recently discovered from a vaudeville or rodeo show, Brisco couldn’t recall. She looked about 16 or 17 with long blonde hair, usually in some updo loaded with curls. Today, it seemed that the curls could not be piled any higher on top of her head. How the curls could stay perfectly balanced defied gravity. She was a petite thing and Brisco would be surprised if she made it to 5 feet tall as she looked to be just shy of that mark. As usual, the lead actress was dressed in a dancing hall girl’s costume.

Brisco held in a laugh as he watched Rachel move them about the set as if she were the director. The first stunt man barely resembled the male lead with his lanky stance while the short and stocky stunt man looking nothing like the villain. But since it would be a quick shot, audience members would probably not notice the difference.

In an effort to move her directions along, Rachel took the first man by the collar and pushed him back to his starting mark while commanding the second one to stand by and observe her movements. Brisco found a chair behind the camera and leaned back to observe Rachel’s latest stunt. It was always amusing when Rachel was in one of her “Women-Can-Do-Anything-A-Man-Can-Do” moods. While Brisco agreed with the sentiment, it was still hilarious to watch Rachel go out of her way to prove it to everyone on the set.

“Brisco…” came the frustrated sigh from Socrates who had followed Brisco to the chairs behind the cameras. “Stop avoiding me!”

“Shut up!” whispered Brisco as he nodded toward the trio. “You’ve gotta watch this,” smiled Brisco. Socrates sighed but when he recognized Rachel, Socrates either temporarily surrendered the battle or experienced a similar sadistic amusement in these moments from Rachel.

“Okay, I’m going to hit you,” Rachel explained as she pushed the sleeves of her dress up and out of her way so that she could have better aim at the first stunt man. Brisco couldn’t help but notice that sweat had begun pouring down both men’s faces as they stared back at her in fear.

“Miss Rachel, ma’am,” came the timid voice of the 2nd stunt man forced to be a helpless observer. “The director said stuntmen ain’t allowed to practice with you no more on account of…”

“On account of what?”

“You have broken two stunt men’s arms.”

“Well, if they did what I said, they wouldn’t have been ill prepared and therefore injured themselves in the process of delivering a believable stunt. Now, I’ve changed my mind. I think it’s best if both of you boys line up and let me hit you!” commanded Rachel as she moved an errant sleeve back up her slender arm.

“No ma’am,” exclaimed the first stuntman as he scurried behind the second stuntman, shoving the helpless counterpart into Rachel’s path. The second man while being pushed forward, stretched his neck and face back as far as he could and scrunched his face, clearly afraid of whatever Rachel might do to him.

“Ugh! You both are such cowards!” exclaimed Rachel as she rolled her eyes. She brushed a curl of blonde hair away from her eyes momentarily as she contemplated her options. Brisco could never understand why the hairstylist insisted on having 1 curl untied and hanging in the girl’s eyes. It seemed so counter-productive but then Brisco was here to comment on the accuracy for the film. That is, if anyone asked him for input. Usually he was ignored by the director and writers, no one really wanted Brisco to enforce the reality of a world that he had helped to shape through his fight for justice. “Fine by me, I get paid by the hour, not by the fact offered,” thought Brisco.

“Fine! I’ve got another idea!” exclaimed Rachel in a loud voice that surprised her victims-to-be.

Rachel moved the second stunt man directly in front of her and turned them both so that he was in front of her facing the bar and she had her back inches away from the bar. She rolled her shoulders back and squared up in front of the stuntman before commanding, “Okay, hit me!”

“Pardon, ma’am?” came the barely audible reply from the clearly terrified stuntman.

“It’s simple! You hit me, I fall over the bar, and illustrate the best way to appeal to the audience for this stunt. And neither of you will get hurt. It’s perfect!”

The bashful stuntman did the softest pretend hit that he could muster only to watch Rachel go flying backwards and flip herself over the bar, narrowly missing the mirror hung at the back of bar. “Wouldn’t it be a better shot to have the mirror shatter and the glass bottles come crashing down?” thought Brisco as he watched the stunt. He took another sip of his drink and grimaced. At the third sip, Brisco definitely knew that he didn’t like the drink, but he would never throw out a good liquor. That would be sacrilege.

“See! That’s what you needed to do. Add more flourish.”

“Rachel Hawkes!” yelled a bald man who barely reached Rachel’s chin in height. He was on the other side of the room but with that loud crackly voice, he could be heard on the moon. Brisco instantly recognized him as the associate producer but could not recall his name. It seemed that so many starting directors and producers wanted to cut their teeth in Hollywood Westerns these days that they all seemed to blur together. When Socrates originally told Brisco about these jobs in Hollywood it seemed too good to be true. But it turned out to be everything Brisco wanted. He could drink all day, watch idiots pretend to hit each other, all while being called a “consultant.” Sure, he gave consultations when asked but he learned early on, that what was accurate was often less important than what made money.

The preferred and standard formula was very simple. Unshaven “bad guy” with crooked teeth and dark clothes kidnaps a helpless damsel in distress. Meanwhile, the “good guy” rescues said damsel from the bad buy and ultimately defeats the bad guy in some standoff, while managing to keep his garish get-up pristine. The setting sometimes changed. The period associated with the costumes changed. The standoff sometimes changed between a gunfight, a French Revolutionary duel, or even a boxing match, but in the end the overall plot was the same. Brisco looked up to see Rachel receiving a sharp lecture from the associate producer. He could see Rachel fuming, but he knew that her idealism would not catch on anytime soon. Brisco granted himself a moment or two of pity for her before allowing himself to turn his attention to back to his drink. Another sip might help him decide what to try next time.

With the lecture finally ended, Rachel moved across the set to sit on the other side of Brisco and await her cue. Socrates stood out of a dying age’s chivalry as Rachel sat down but she merely responded with a forced smile, dripping with attitude. “At least my distress will be genuine today,” muttered Rachel before huffing and crossing her arms in front of her. She could probably be a more popular beauty if she didn’t look like she was constantly chewing on lemons. Before she could speak or glare at Brisco, he turned his attention on the scene about to start as if he hung on every pantomimed gesture in front of him.

Brisco always had to hold in his laughs while watching this particular leading man. In an effort to wordlessly convey strength, he seemed to always find ways to flex his muscles or to unbutton more shirt buttons. It wouldn’t be long before he started completing each scene without a shirt at all. Brisco struggled to think of a sheriff, deputy, marshal, or even bounty hunter more vain that this actor.

After a few moments of watching antagonists pretend to chew tobacco and attempt to rile the overly vain hero, Brisco thought back to his days in San Francisco and Harvard. Being a drama minor, he was able to attend quite a few plays. Brisco appreciated the scripts of classic dramas and comedies and found this pantomimed acting to be lacking any artistic soul. For a moment, Brisco let his mind float. “What it would be like to have talking pictures? Where the actors could speak great lines of genius instead of merely miming simplistic actions? Maybe it could even me a coming…” Brisco stopped the thought with another sip of his drink. No, he would not allow his mind to wander down that path.

After a few moments of silence from Rachel, she began under her breath, “I can shoot better, ride faster, and fight bigger than our leading man over there and yet, I’m stuck over here.”

“And you’ve got a bigger dictionary for cussin’ words than I have ever heard on the trail,” laughed Brisco before he continued “Believe me. If I could help showcase your talent, I would. But as it is, I’m not a respected source here and you’re too…”


“And it’s not what the public wants.”

“You mean what Hollywood says the public wants.”

Brisco turned to Rachel in mock shock and sarcastically stated, “You mean what the public wants and what Hollywood says the public wants may not be the same?”

“Hush you too – never bite the hand that feeds,” cautioned Socrates under his breath.

Brisco and Rachel snickered at the scold but each let the commentary go and turned to watch the scene.

At just that moment, the director called “Cut.” And the leading man, Terrance, called for a make-up artist. Terrance inspected his perfectly manicured nails as the make-up artist added more make-up to his face before Terrance called out to the director. “Please remember that I cannot film any shots of violence today. I am the most handsome man in Hollywood with an upcoming picture series in the LA Times. I simply would hate to break a nail while punching another man.”

“He’s not punching correctly if he’s worried about breaking a nail,” Brisco stated under his breath so that only Rachel could hear.

“My hero,” laughed Rachel as she held her gloved hand to her forehead in a mock swoon. The director, Thomas Ince, called for her to discuss his idea for her entrance, so Rachel stood up, smoothed her dress, and quickly moved to the director to discuss his ideas.

Socrates and Brisco both stood as she left their chairs but as soon as Rachel was out of earshot, Socrates began to whisper again. “Brisco, we need to talk somewhere more private. Lenore –“

To which Brisco angrily snapped at Socrates, “I have told you time and again that I will not take her call! If she asks, I’m not here. If she calls, I am not here. If it’s a telegram then accept it and add it to the pile. I am not here!”

“Would you like to pretend that I am not here too?”

Brisco turned around in his chair to see Lenore standing at the back of the room. She was dressed all in black but her beautiful piercing brown eyes seemed to look directly into Brisco’s soul. Brisco gulped as the guilt and shame that he had been working to bury deep inside began to bubble towards the surface.

“Well, Shit!” Was all the Brisco could think.

- - - - - - - - -

“Whiskey!” Brisco exclaimed while sitting down at the bar. He could still feel his insides shuddering after running into Lenore at the set and clumsily escaping her to the first place he could think of… the nearest actual bar. One with a much larger assortment of alcohol than available on the movie set.

“Just one?” snorted the bartender.

“At the moment, just the one,” Brisco bit out.

The bartender shrugged and poured the shot of whiskey. Brisco stared at it debating how many to order.

“Hell-o Brisco.” a familiar voice trilled from out of sight. Brisco lifted his head and frowned. Without turning to see who the voice belonged to, Brisco grimaced, “Hello Pete.”

Brisco took a sideways glance at Pete Hutter. True to form, Pete still donned long hair, an unshaven face, and dark clothes.

“You wouldn’t still be searching for ‘the coming thing?’” began Pete.

At Pete’s question, Brisco flinched. But instead of immediately responding, he allowed his shoulders to relax the tension as he finished his whiskey and motioned for the bartender to start pouring the next. “Nope. I got outta that business years ago.”

Pete leaned in an whispered - “I happened to be bedizened with a Wellsian-“

Brisco cut Pete off while shrugging Pete away, “While I would love to listen to another one of your rambling monologues about existentialism in the known universe or your odd opinions about art and culture before having you screw me over for your personal interest and leave me in the lurch, I’m not interested. Not now. Not anymore. I’ve been the hero, I’ve been the champion of the people, and what has it got me? Nothing. So, either sit here and drink or get the hell out of here!”

Pete opened his mouth to say something, looked down at his feet, and then said, “I was sorry to hear about Bowler,” before nodding to the bartender to pour three more whiskeys. In a somewhat bewildering moment of sadness, Pete lifted his glass to Brisco.

“To lost friends,” Pete said as the two clinked glasses, toasted the third glass, and downed the shot of whiskey. After finishing the drink, the scheming smile crept across Pete’s face. Pete gave Brisco a wink before tipping his hat, throwing cash on the bar, and strolled out of the bar, whistling.

In the same moment, Brisco felt curious about whatever Pete was up to and a twinge of guilt for snapping at Pete. Brisco shook off both emotions. He was no longer involved in the law and if it was any other individual, Brisco would have felt sorry for snapping. But it was Pete. So, honestly, what did it matter? At that, Brisco motioned for his next whiskey.

“How goes the search for the perfect drink?’” came Socrates’ disapproving voice from the right. Brisco had not even heard the barstool scratch across the floor as Socrates sat down. “Must be getting lazy with the Hollywood life.” Brisco had finished the most recent shot but decided to stare down into his glass rather than immediately acknowledge Socrates. Socrates and Brisco had an easy paying job where they could “consult” idiots, drink all day, and flirt with beautiful actresses. “Wasn’t this what the high life was supposed to be? Why is everyone so determined to have me leave this haven? Even Soc wants to move on. Maybe he should have taken a page from Bat Masterson and changed his name to prevent dumbasses from trying to make him relive past adventures.”

Brisco broke the silence after feeling Socrates’ eyes begin to burn holes into the side of Brisco’s face. “Man’s gotta have a hobby. Besides, I know that I can create the perfect drink, just give me enough time and ingredients.”

“What happens when you find it? What purpose will you have in life then?” demanded Socrates.

Brisco laughed bitterly. “Is it search for the coming thing day? Everyone get together and let’s all ride out into the open horizon? C’mon Soc. There is ‘no coming thing’ and no ‘destiny’ in front of us. Even if I had a destiny, it ended with Bly’s death.” Brisco motioned for another drink. Not because he really wanted anymore whiskey but in an effort to move Socrates’ weekly scold to the next part of the conversation.

“Besides,” Brisco continued, “All I found was loss. Loss of love. Loss of a father. Loss of the government job. Loss of the Westerfield Club and their money. Hell, we can throw in loss of the plains and buffalo while we’re at it!”

“Loss of a friend,” chimed in Soc. “Maybe even loss of justice?”

Brisco winced.

“Honestly, Soc, I’m where I’m supposed to be. And you got me my job here, remember?”

“Don’t remind me,” sighed Socrates as he removed his glasses to pinch at a nose as though a migraine might be forming.

“Soc, I am consulting on a life that I used to live but no longer exists. We have moved beyond from prairie life to an Industrial Age. My world is dated and we’re a thing of the past. So, thank you! Thank you for my job, my life, and my chance to reminisce!” With the words hardly out, Brisco swallowed the last of the drink and motioned for another.

“I wanted to provide a temporary escape not a destination that you settle into for the rest of your life,” Soc sighed. There was a sadness in Socrates’ voice that Brisco had not heard before which shook Brisco. Brisco turned to study Socrates but about fell out of his chair when Socrates called to the bartender, “Whiskey!”

“Based on the way you dress, I would have pegged you for something with an umbrella in the drink,” asked the bartender dryly.

“And I had you pegged as a bartender who served drinks without comment, so I guess we both made a wrong assumption,” sniped Socrates. At the sarcastic response, the bartender shrugged and poured a whiskey for Socrates.

“You don’t drink whiskey! You do normally drink something with an umbrella in it. Or something in a pretty shade of pink. Or something pretty in pink with an umbrella!” exclaimed Brisco.

“I am not here to judge your reaction to Lenore so you are not allowed to judge what I drink tonight.”

As Socrates nursed his whiskey, Brisco watched incredulously. “You know there are other lawmen on the lot that you could bother? Why do you have to be glued to me as my conscious? I mean, I hear Wyatt Earp is only a few lots down from where we’re sitting. How about you bother him for a few days? You might even get a better paycheck.”

“Wyatt has his wife. You have me.”

“Ah yes, the lovely Sadie,” smiled Brisco as he feigned a far-off and dreamy look. “Do you think Wyatt would be willing to trade you for her? One celebrity wife swapped for another?” asked Brisco mischievously.

“We aren’t celebrities and I am hardly your wife,” argued Socrates.

“You nag like one-“

“And,” continued Socrates, “I am sure you would get a bullet for merely suggesting the idea,” muttered Socrates.

“Still-“ mused Brisco. “It’s a nice daydream.” Brisco again pretended to be lost in a daydream but was actually scanning the top shelf alcohol. “Maybe it was time to switch to the good stuff.”

“Did you know that they were in Alaska as part of the gold rush?” chimed in the bartender who had been listening to the conversation between friends.

“I think that I could have done that,” mused Brisco.

“Got married?”

“Led expeditions to Alaska. I think that I would have been an excellent guide in that environment.”

Socrates tried to regain control of the conversation and began with, “She says that it’s about her son. Otherwise, she would not be bothering you-“

“Sadie has a son?” Brisco asked, bewildered.

Socrates rolled his eyes and gave Brisco a sideways glance before placing his glasses back on his nose and taking another sip of his whiskey. “Bowler’s son, James Jr..”

If felt like someone punched Brisco in the gut when Socrates said Bowler’s name. Brisco had to take deep breaths to keep himself cool. Maybe it was because the comment was unexpected. Or maybe Brisco had more alcohol than he had accounted for. But whatever the reason, Brisco found himself finally opening up.

“I was so angry, Soc. So angry when Bowler left our partnership, our business, and our friendship, just to be with Lenore. The job, the partnership, the world, it just… it just wasn’t the same without him. He wasn’t just my business partner or friend. He was the man that I went on missions with and we fought for justice together. We were executed side-by-side and survived a firing squad. He stood by me to take down every man who murdered my father. He was more than a friend, he was my brother. And then suddenly he was gone.”

“I know,” came Socrates’ empathetic response.

“He didn’t even tell me that he left because he found out about James Jr.. It was just suddenly he was gone. Headed back to Hard Rock to marry Lenore.”

Socrates looked across the bar in front of him and then down at his glass. He kept his face expressionless. Socrates was aware of all of this, despite Brisco never voicing these regrets until today. But the day that the national newspaper reported Bowler’s death, Brisco went on a three-day-bender. It would have continued had Brisco not been arrested and Socrates forced to bail Brisco out of jail. “Just like Bowler to battle cancer for months but not tell anyone until he was already gone,” thought Socrates.

“I always wondered how much of what you feel is jealousy?”

“Jealousy and pride,” replied Brisco, who was slightly shocked by his own confession. “Jealous that he married the woman that he loved, had a son, and became a respected sheriff in the town his wife was mayor. It was always a battle between jealousy and pride. One of us had found a home. Neither of us really had that environment as kids.”

Outside of Brisco’s line of sight, Socrates motioned for the bartender to get Brisco a cup of coffee.

“I was going to go back, Soc. I was going to apologize. I was going to talk to him again. In person and not in a letter or over the phone. But days turned into months. Months turned into years. And now, it’s too late. He’s gone and I have never wanted the orb back in my life more than I do right now. To go back and…” Brisco’s voice broke off.

Socrates sighed as he exchanged the shot gloss in Brisco’s hand with a cup of coffee. Seeing that Brisco was too engrossed in regret to even notice the change in beverage, Socrates felt safe to continue Brisco’s thought. “To cheat death on Bowler’s behalf and survive Bly’s original fatal gunshot only to have him die by the silent hand of cancer, is cruel. Unjust even. An unfair twist of life.” With this Socrates reached his hand over and patted Brisco’s arm. “It’s time.”

Brisco did not reply but mutely sipped his coffee.

Socrates continued, “Brisco, it’s time to find out why Lenore’s here. Time to help our friend’s widow. And time to move forward again. Because for her to travel all this way, despite your years of silence, this must be one hell of an emergency.”

Brisco cleared his throat awkwardly, “Did she even stay after my clumsy exit?”

Socrates gave his friend a kind smile and said, “I told her that your driver, Uber, had arrived and if you were late, he’d increase your price or leave you stranded at the lot. But I assured her that we would all meet at my office at 6 pm.”

“How did you know that I would come around?”

“Because I knew that you would regret it for the rest of your life if you did not help Bowler’s widow.”

As Socrates ordered another cup of coffee for Brisco to take on the road and paid the bar tab, Brisco observed, “You’ve certainly come a long way Soc. You are no longer the pushover mouthpiece for a faceless organization parroting their rules and bottom lines.”

“What can I say? You and Bowler had a terrible influence on me.”

“Soc, there’s still something that puzzles me. Who the hell is Uber?”

- - - - - - - - -

“You got the flowers and telegram that I sent for the funeral, correct?” inquired a nervous Brisco. Socrates, Brisco, and Lenore were sitting in Socrates’ small office. The awkward silence ever growing in the room.

“We did. And while I would like to discuss how we would have much rather seen you than the flowers, this is not the time nor the place for that discussion.”

Brisco shifted nervously in his seat before beginning again, “Soc says it is about James? Some kind of trouble?”

Lenore shook her head as though overwhelmed and found herself fidgeting with the clasp on her purse, “I’m not even sure where to begin,” she whispered. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath before continuing, “Bowler always said that you were looking for the coming thing. That you always had your eyes forward and believed in the impossible. He said that he had seen a lot of unexplainable things while riding the trails with you and he said that he wouldn’t want to face anything unexplainable without you.”

Brisco became embarrassed and tried to hide his reddening face by taking a big gulp of the coffee. It burned his throat as it went down and all Brisco could think was, “Another round of shots sounds pretty good right now.”

“I truly believe that you are the only man who can save my son, partially because of what my husband said about you and because I think you are the only person who will believe me…” she paused for a moment as Socrates had quietly left the room and returned with a glass of water. Lenore took the glass but merely held it rather than drank it. She finally began the story, “James and I were at the house talking about what things Bowler would want to keep at the house and what we should donate in his memory a museum, when a man appeared in a glowing light.”

Brisco leaned forward. “A man and not a woman?” clarified Brisco.

“Did he have an orb?” asked Socrates.

“Was the light all around him? Was he naked?” interrupted Brisco.

Awestruck, Lenore’s only response was, “You’ve seen this before, then?”

“Maybe-“ mused Brisco. “Did he have a gold metal round thing with him? About this big and heavy,” Brisco used his hand to attempt to share the size of the orbs that he had come across in the past.

“Was there a woman with him?” asked Socrates.

“Boys, I can’t follow your questions and to be frank, they don’t make sense.”

“Our apologies,” said Socrates as he settled back into his chair and gave a look to Brisco to do the same. “Please continue.” But even from where Brisco sat, he could tell that Socrates was as excited and concerned as Brisco felt.

“As I was saying, a man appeared in a light, but no, he was wearing clothes. However, his clothes caught fire. He threw some kind of leather bracelet thing to James and ran outside to roll around in the grass and put out the fire. It was just him, no one else. I followed him outside with Bowler’s shotgun as I wasn’t sure who this crazy man was or how he appeared out of thin air. I was outside for maybe 1 or 2 minutes trying to calm this boy down. He kept asking what date and year it was and saying he was a doctor or professor or something. We were both confused and hollering at each other. Then there was another big light and when I ran inside, my boy was gone. James was gone!”

Lenore paused for a moment to choke back her tears. Socrates took the glass of water and placed it nearby, handed a handkerchief to Lenore, and tried to gently pat her on the back. As tenderness was not really a skill of this attorney, the pat ended up being more of an awkward almost slap on the back rather than a sign of empathy. Despite the sadness in the air, the sight of Socrates’ attempt at kindness made Brisco stifle a laugh. As Brisco covered his face in an attempt to look deep in thought, he could almost see a bewildered look from Lenore. As though to say, “What the hell does this lawyer think he’s doing?” Brisco erupted in coughs as this was not the time to be laughing during the poor widow’s story. It was unclear if Socrates picked up on the social faux pas, but Socrates did sit down which was enough to enable Lenore to continue her story.

“I ran back outside to get answers from the stranger but he was gone. I looked around and found that the leather bracelet tossed at James was missing so I know that the stranger and the bracelet somehow took my son.”

“Do you have any leads on the stranger or James?”

Lenore shook her head before saying, “No leads on James but I think the professor must have escaped with my neighbor’s horse because he stated that it was missing later that day.”

“Does anyone else from the town know anything or did they see anything?”

“Who am I going to tell? Who would believe me?” huffed Lenore.

Brisco and Socrates silently looked at each other.

“We are sorry for your loss but I’m not sure how I can help,” stated an unsure Brisco.

“You are used to odd things. If anyone can help me find my son, it would be you.”

Brisco thought a moment, while he was flattered by the faith in him, how in the world would he even begin the search for James? His mind began to race. If the bracelet is a mode of transportation, kind of like the orb traveling through time, then James could be anywhere, in time or space. If the professor stole a horse, then he must have only had the one bracelet. So, the best start of the search would be tracking the man who is leaving footprints and force him to help rescue James.

“Has the horse turned up anywhere?” inquired Brisco as he could feel his mind begin to turn with ideas.

“I just got a telegram from my neighbor that it was found in Ventura.”

“Seems like a good place to start,” commented Socrates.

“Who sent the telegram?” inquired Brisco. They would need all of the allies that they could get if they were tracking someone from the future.

“Actually, an old friend of ours – Sherriff Aaron Viva. He moved out to Ventura when he lost the election for sheriff to Bowler.”