The Thirst for Gold, Part One of Three

Dawson City, Yukon, during the Klondike

October 21,1897

The horse sped by and kicked up chunks of manure that struck the front of Albin’s Mackinaw jacket. He shook a fist at the rider and blued the air with curses. His foul mood further soured as he slogged along the muck-slimed boardwalk to Heaven’s Hearth Inn. He began to contemplate the madness that had driven him to come here. All the best claims had been staked.

Hen cackles pierced his thoughts, just seconds before he heard the rattle of glass panes. The front door of The Gilded Bruin Saloon had smacked against the outside wall after being given a hard shove.

A young bull, his massive head squished into a wide-brimmed hat stumbled outside. His twiggy sidekick was slung over a granite outcrop shoulder like the strap on a haversack.

A pair of scurvy-plagued down-and-outers, one draped in a threadbare horse blanket that fell across pyramid shoulders, the other, a gargoyle with moth eaten gloves that exposed frost bitten digits, pleaded with the corned louts for a handout.

The sidekick waved a boney arm dismissively, slurred them to eternal damnation and ordered them to pull foot.

The bovine, however, whispered in his ear and gave him a wink. His partner chuckled before his mouth curved into a crescent moon.

“Can you stand, Tom?” It was a rhetorical question because Tom was dumped onto the porch before he could answer. He wobbled on new-born fawn legs and had to grab the nearest awning post.

“Ya gotta ‘nuff dust Gabe?”

Gabe nodded. “Plenty.”  He squeezed a meaty hand into his pocket and pulled out a caribou-hide poke, after opening the draw strings, his sausage fingers removed a pinch of gold flakes. “You ready for some fun!” He winked and tossed them into the filthy spittoon beside the door.

The beggars raced for the spittoon, shoving, and punching each other, they knocked it over, spilling the vile liquid over the porch. The pair landed in a heap and continued to battle with the ferocity of feral cats, alternatively clawing at the opponent’s eyes and the liquid. The philistines howled with delight.

Disgusted, Albin averted his gaze. The fires of Hell were being stoked for these two. God’s wrath would fall upon those who made a mockery of starvation. His eye caught something that confirmed the Creator’s justice and His benevolence towards Albin. Something glittered in the muck, just an inch from the porch. The fool had unwittingly dropped a significant amount of gold. The combatants were entangled, and the devils were too drunk. Temptation called for immediate action, but Job came to mind . . . patience was always rewarded.

The wait had the lifespan of a sneeze. The gasping corpses tired quickly and agreed to an even split. Both ruffians gave a final whoop and stumbled off, no doubt on the prowl for harlots.

Albin moved swiftly, scooping the gold, he placed it in his red handkerchief. The Lord certainly does work in mysterious ways. As in everything, this had happened for a reason. The gift wouldn’t be squandered, he knew what to do.

He entered the den of iniquity. At first, the patrons took little notice of the large man in the filthy coat, but as Albin wandered past the bar, even the most inebriated threw him looks of revulsion. He side-stepped a painted lady who straddled her client’s lap. She wrinkled her nose and demanded the head of whomever had let this pig inside.

Albin paid no heed to any of them. His focus remained fixed on the vault style door at the far end of the room. A solid slab of oak, it was leagues out of character with the typical match-stick construction that littered this shanty town. The most impenetrable portal in Dawson, complete with a heavy deadbolt, its only weakness was a small peephole. Behind it was the fortified lair of Dawson’s Klondike King, Karl Jackson.

The door wasn’t the only thing barring unsolicited entry. Two behemoths stood guard, both armed with Smith and Wesson revolvers. The one on the left appeared to be around thirty. He fell three inches short of Albin’s six-foot-two stature, but every square inch rippled with muscle. His hair was black as Satan’s heart, heavily coated with Macassar Oil and parted just above the left eye, one of a pair that were darker than a mine shaft. His face would have caused a swoon among the fairer sex, had those peepers been less soulless.

His back up had an extra inch of height and an equal portion of muscle. Close-cropped brown hair spiked above hazel eyes that signaled a generally docile disposition that would turn murderous if provoked or commanded to do so by Jackson. Probably mid to late thirties, but the weathered face, and the sizeable scar under the left eye suggested the accelerated aging of a hard life.

A phantom hand gripped Albin’s stomach and he questioned if this truly was God’s plan. He slowed his gait to a shuffle and prayed silently and swiftly for guidance and deliverance. The effect was immediate; a surge of confidence that removed doubt and relieved pain.

There were two powerful motives to see this ordeal through. One practical, the other was the need to lay eyes on a beast who profited from misery and death.

The guards had noticed him, and Albin sensed the entire patronage holding its collective breath. All were hungry for blood. The door men sized him up. How must he appear? A big man covered in horse crap with a wild look in his eyes, headed straight for them.

In unison, their hands moved to rest on their pistols. Neither displayed emotion beyond amused curiosity. The reach for the guns was purely instinctual. No morale code would prevent them from killing him, as one might a pesky rat, but shooting would be bad for business, so unless he made a grievous error, he should remain on this side of eternity.

Albin raised his hands to show that he was unarmed. The larger man nodded and relaxed his grip, but Macassar Oil repeatedly clenched and unclenched the pistol butt. His ambivalence stretched Albin’s nerves.

“Whoa there, partner. Where do you think you’re going?” Mister “docile” stepped forward and raised a hand the size of a Clydesdale hoof, the other had returned to roost on the pistol. His voice had the quality of one who gargled with stones on a daily basis.

Albin came to an abrupt halt, arms still vertical. “I’m requesting an audience with your boss.”

To be continued . . .

 

 

 

Welcome To The WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! Day Four.

Watch Write Showcase Tour

 

Rhani D'Chae

Welcome to day four! Things are going great for this blog tour, we truly have some gifted writers. I am happy to introduce another for you today, meet Rhani D’Chae. If you like what you see here, please click on her link at the bottom of this page.

EXCERPT FROM UPCOMING NOVEL, “WINTER OF THE DRILL”

By Rhani D’Chae

Decker leaned against the hood of his car, talking to JT in a low tone of voice. His face wore a pleasant expression, and a casual observer would have had no clue as to the seriousness of their conversation.

“Second floor, third from the left?”

JT nodded without turning, keeping his eyes focused on Decker’s face. “That’s what Hunt said, and it does make sense.”

“Are you sure?”

The boy closed his eyes, remembering Hunter’s words immediately after the shooting.

“I think it came from that window over there!” Hunter’s eyes zeroed in on a building across the street. “Second floor, three in, left.”

JT nodded his head, confident that he had given the correct information. “Third from the left. I’m sure.”

Decker dipped his head almost imperceptibly, flicking his eyes quickly over the row of windows on the second floor of the nondescript building. Nothing seemed to be out of place, but he had not expected to find anything. However, the address of the building, as well as the location of the window and anything of interest nearby, went into the small notebook that he always carried with him.

“Well?” JT’s voice held a touch of impatience. “Do you see anything?”

“Yes.” Decker laid one hand on JT’s shoulder. “I see a boy who needs to learn that some things take more than a minute.”

The addition of a friendly smile took most of the sting from his words, and JT responded with a smile of his own.

“Okay.” Decker rose from his perch and stepped on to the sidewalk. “I’m hungry, and you never got to the Olive Garden. Let’s find some food.”

 


From his vantage point at the front window of the Greyhound station across the street, the man known only as Rhegan, watched them head toward a small cafe. He had returned to the strip in search of street gossip but had surprisingly heard almost none. And what he did hear was not worth listening to.

As he watched the pair walk slowly along Pacific Avenue, he thought back to when he had sighted on the boy and pulled the trigger. He had aimed carefully, not wanting to kill, but even so, he was surprised to see JT back on the street so soon.

After the shooting, he had taken a few minutes to watch the fireworks, knowing that the police would not be called.

His victim had fallen hard, his panic obvious as he managed to scrabble behind the nearest parked car.

His companion had reacted with cool precision, slipping one arm behind the boy’s shoulders and speed-dialing his cell phone with the other hand.

Even from a distance, Rhegan could see that the man was scanning the street. When the steel-blue eyes passed over the window that he looked through, he felt a sudden chill, as if those eyes had looked directly into his and issued a challenge.

A few passersby stopped to offer assistance, but Rhegan could tell that the man was dismissing each with a plausible excuse, for there was none of the panic that usually accompanied a public shooting.

Within minutes a car had pulled smoothly to a stop, collecting both men before exiting at a sedate speed that would not attract attention.

Rhegan had expected the part-time bouncer to run crying to Valdez, resignation in hand. Hopefully, the news that another person had taken a hit in his name would force a desperate Valdez to sign his club, the Toybox over to Malone, at whatever terms had been typed above the signature line.

Malone had told Rhegan that desperation was the only thing that would put a pen in his rival’s hand and had given him a list of potential targets. Malone had laid out his plan of attack, and Rhegan had no problem with any of it.

But, instead of running, his first victim had returned to take care of business. Head high and shoulders straight, he walked the sidewalk that still bore spatters of his blood, not even glancing down when his boots passed over the red splotches.

He was doing what Reagan himself would have done, and the hard-eyed gunman respected that, even while he planned when and where to take the boy out for good.

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author: Rhani D’Chae