The Whispering Widow, legal aide, notary to the public, fledgling monster hunter. Pinkertons best not apply.
Well. Life is certainly going to be different now.
The sawbones that fixed me up thinks the writing of my story will help heal my wounds. I am humoring him, as he and his wife have been incredibly kind to me, a near dead total stranger dropped on their doorstep in the middle of the night, but I fail to see how putting pen to paper will bring Ian back to me. “Where do I start?” I asked him. “At the beginning, child. At the beginning.” was his reply, along with the gift of this beautiful new pen and bound journal.
Ian Chapman, Texas Ranger, husband, friend. Hunted, ambushed and hanged by cold blooded killers masquerading as official government agents. Pinkertons. Pinkertons who thought Ian had… well… I’m not sure exactly what they thought he had, or knew. We were together until the end. It was rough at times, but I loved the freedom of traveling, the challenge of setting up a new home where we found ourselves staying for a time. I loved Ian and the parts of his life he shared with me, but there were many things he would not, could not share. What the Pinkertons sought was one of those things. I watched as they tortured and interrogated him, hog tied and ignored, fighting the ropes and the filthy gag until I could fight no more. When they were done, they hanged us. Yes, us. Together. Side by side on our horses just like we had spent many hours of the last three years.
Being hung, from a tree branch off the back of a horse is not an ideal way to die. It is not quick. It is not painless. It is excruciating, and timeless. Your weight pulling your neck longer and longer, your last breath stuck inside your body, that next gulp of air you desperately need unable to enter. I managed to reach Ian’s hand and hold tight before I passed out. After that I remember nothing. Thankfully. According to Dill, who has an incredible knack for showing up right when you need him (a little late in this instance perhaps), I was propped awkwardly on the back of a very still, very patient Laredo when he arrived on the scene. Why Ian’s stallion came back is no mystery. Laredo and Ian were a fast and firm team that worked together like two human men instead of one man and one horse. Why Laredo saved me instead of Ian I can speculate on but will never know.
Dill cared for me as best he could, we (by we I mean Dill dug the grave, wrapped Ian in his blankets, lay him in the ground, built a stone cairn to mark the spot while I lay in my own blankets, watching every move, silently crying through a pain filled haze)buried Ian, then headed to the nearest settlement. Dill left me in the care of the local doctor and left. I was devastated to be alone again, but I knew where Dill had gone. Hoped he returned safely. Prayed for his success and the death of some Pinkertons.
The bruises are gone now, but the scarring on my neck and vocal chords will ever remain. Speaking is a trial in agony and a horrific assault on the ears. It is embarrassing and mortifying and I don’t know how I will communicate, but learn I must. Judge Hale, an old friend of my father’s, is coming on the next coach to collect me. I am going to go to work for him as his legal aide. It is work I know. With a man I both know and trust.
For Ian I go forward. For Ian I will find a way. For Ian.