A Gunslinger’s Bloody Mission – Extended Epilogue

Three Years Later

“Come on, Greg,” Buck called out to the little tow-headed boy playing in the dirt. “I heard Mama calling us for lunch.”

The little boy looked up at Buck and shook his head.

“Wolf, bring Greg here,” Buck ordered.

The big wolf-dog walked over, grabbed the shirt collar of the little boy, and dragged him toward Buck. 

“No, I want to play!” Greg shouted as Wolf dragged him across the grass.

“Wolf had better not hurt Greg,” April shouted, standing in the doorway with their infant in her arms.

“Wolf ain’t going to hurt him. That’s how a wolf or dog drags their puppies from place to place,” Buck said, but he walked over to meet Wolf. The wolf-dog let go of Greg’s collar.

Buck lifted Greg into his arms. “When Papa tells you to come, you’ve got to do what you are told, or I’ll send Wolf after you.”

“Yes, Papa,” Greg said.

“Look, it’s Pawnee, riding like mad,” April said, nodding her head toward the wagon trail that Buck and Pawnee had blazed, leading to Stayton. “I hope the baby isn’t coming early. Monica isn’t due for another three months or so.” 

Buck turned to greet Pawnee. “Is something wrong with Monica?” he called out as the half-breed reined Surefoot to a stop a few yards away.

“No, she’s fine. But I’ve got bad news. A man named O’Leary was in the general store this morning while I was jawing with Joseph after buying seed. He asked Robert, the owner, if he knew the directions to the McCain homestead. I shook my head at Robert, and he told him he didn’t know anyone by the name of McCain,” Pawnee explained. “Joseph asked me who the man was. I told him that the man meant to kill me and you, and then I rode here to warn you.”

April let out a gasp and shook her head.

“Well, I can’t say that I haven’t expected Charley’s father to show up,” Buck said with a nod. “Did he give a name?”

“Finn O’Leary,” Pawnee said. “He’s a tall bear of a man with thick black hair and a beard. He doesn’t wear a shoulder holster as his men do; he’s got a regular gun belt and carried a big Walker Colt. The way he moves, I think he has a quickness that I’ve seen in very few men, Buck. This man is trouble.”

“Hmm, so are we,” Buck said.

“And when I walked out of the store, I spotted over a dozen men wearing the same bowler hat as Finn O’Leary,” Pawnee said.

“I had expected him to arrive with more men,” Buck said as he put Greg on the ground. He turned to look at April. “Keep them safe.”

She nodded. “I know you have to go, but you had better come back to us, Buck Blackman.” She wiped her cheeks with the back of her hand. “You promise to come back?”

“Forty mules couldn’t keep me away,” he said and smiled.

April managed a faint smile even as her eyes glistened with fresh tears.

“Wolf, stay!” Buck ordered as he turned to leave. Pawnee walked Surefoot alongside Buck as he headed for the corral with a shed to shelter Midnight and the two Conestoga horses he used for plowing.

When Buck reached the gate, he glanced back at the two-room log cabin where April stood in the doorway with June in her arms and holding Greg’s hand. Buck let out a sigh as he turned back and opened the gate.

“Don’t worry, Buck. We dealt with Charley and we can deal with his father,” Pawnee said.

“I’m rusty with a big iron,” Buck said as he slipped the bridle onto Midnight.

“Yup, we’ve been plowing and tending our sheep instead of engaging in gunplay since we settled in the valley,” Pawnee said. He patted the handle of his Navy Colt. “I mean, we still pack our pistols, but I can’t remember the last time I had to use one.”

“Did you bring your Sharps?” Buck asked.

“I always carry it. A habit, I guess,” Pawnee said, reaching down to pat the stock of the Sharps sticking out of its scabbard.

“Good, we might need it,” Buck said as he placed his saddle on Midnight.

“I don’t know if it’ll be much use in town,” Pawnee said as he watched Buck mount Midnight a few minutes later.

“Hmm, the sound might scare them enough to give them pause when you fire it. Let’s get to town,” he said before galloping Midnight down the wagon trail toward Stayton.

Buck pulled up as they reached the edge of town. “We should stop by and jaw with Sheriff Jenkins first. It’ll be better if the law backs us up when we confront O’Leary.”

“He ain’t going to be friendly toward us. Like most of the folks in town, he doesn’t like Monica marrying an Injun,” Pawnee said.

“Yup, but at least the gypsies have accepted you into their fold,” Buck said. 

“And I’m still surprised that they have.”

“Maybe it’s because you have helped most of them raise their cabins.”

Pawnee shrugged. “I try to lend a hand where it’s needed.”

“Well, we’re still going to visit Sheriff Jenkins first,” Buck said, urging Midnight forward.

“Look at all the horses at the saloon,” Pawnee pointed out as they neared the saloon.

“Yup, I reckon O’Leary and his gang are inside getting liquored up before heading out to my homestead. I’m sure some of the town folk in the saloon or the bartender told him where to find us,” Buck said. “Since we raise sheep instead of running cattle like the ranchers around town, we ain’t held in high regard.”

Buck saw two horses tied to the hitching post in front of the jailhouse. “Looks like Sheriff Jenkins and his idiot deputy Buddy Hicks are inside.”

“Sheriff Jenkins’ deputy ain’t worth a horse’s fart, iffin you ask my opinion,” Pawnee said.

“No, he’s worth sweeping the floor and emptying the chamber pots for the drunks that the sheriff arrests,” Buck said with a chuckle.

“Yup, I reckon,” Pawnee agreed as they dismounted.

They found Sheriff Jenkins with his feet propped on his desk, reading a newspaper, while Buddy leaned against a broom, drooling like an idiot.

“Morning, sir,” Buddy called out and smiled.

Buck wondered iffin it was same to let the dimwit carry a loaded pistol as he nodded. “Hello, Buddy.”

“Sheriff’s busy. Come back another time,” Buddy said.

“Shut up and get back to sweeping,” Sheriff Jenkins said as he eyed Buck and Pawnee. “Why do I have the honor of you and your Injun friend visiting me? Iffin it’s to pass the time of day, I’m busy,” Sheriff Jenkins said and glanced back at the newspaper dismissively.

“A man named Finn O’Leary from Chicago is in town with a gang of men to kill the McCain family, Pawnee, and me,” Buck said.

“Now, why would he want to rid the world of you two and the McCains?” Sheriff Jenkins asked, not bothering to look away from the newspaper.

“His son, Charley O’Leary, followed the McCains west to force their daughter April to marry him. Even though April and I got married at Fort Caspar, he tried anyway, and Pawnee and I killed him and a slew of his men just before the wagon train reached Stayton,” Buck said.

“Hmm, it seems your chickens have come home to roost,” Jenkins said, still looking at the paper.

“I stopped by hoping you might ask him to leave town. I don’t want to have to kill him,” Buck said.

“How many men does this Finn O’Leary have with him?” Jenkins asked as he finally lowered the newspaper.

“Over twelve,” Pawnee said.

Jenkins gave Pawnee a sharp look and turned back to Buck. “Good luck confronting him.”

“Ain’t you going to help us?” Buck said.

“Nope, it seems that you brought the trouble to Stayton, and it’s yours to deal with,” the sheriff said.

The deputy drew his pistol but took a step back when Buck’s Army Colt appeared in his hand. “I can go shoot ’em if you want me to,” Deputy Hicks said as he stared at Buck’s revolver.

“Put your pistol back in your holster, you idiot,” Sheriff Jenkins shouted. “Before you get shot.”

“Sorry,” Buddy said and looked at the floor.

“Go sweep out the jail cells,” Jenkins snapped.

“Ain’t it dangerous to allow him to pack a pistol?” Buck said as he holstered his Colt.

“Hell, I don’t let him put bullets in it,” the sheriff said.

Buck shook his head. “A man packing an empty pistol is asking to get shot.”

“If that’s all the business you got with me, then I’m going to ask you all to get on your way,” Jenkins said.

“Sheriff, I’m going to send Finn O’Leary to shake hands with Satan. But iffin you attempt to arrest me afterward, you’ll be greeting him, too,” Buck said, his voice carrying a chill.

“Are you threatening me?”

“Yup, in the strongest terms,” Buck said. He nodded at Pawnee. “We’re through jawing with the sheriff.” 

He turned on his heels and walked out with Pawnee right behind him.

“Hmm, that went about as well as I thought it would,” Pawnee said.

“Well, we had to try. The sheriff ain’t helping us, but he ain’t standing in our way, either.” Buck looked down the street at all the horses tied to the hitching post in front of the saloon. “Might as well walk over to the saloon.”

Three strangers stood on the porch smoking as Buck and Pawnee approached. One of them tossed his cigarette butt in the dirt and hurried through the swinging doors.

“He recognized us,” Buck said.

“Ain’t hard. They’re looking for an Injun and a gunslinger, and I reckon we look the part,” Pawnee said.

“Keep an eye on the two on the porch,” Buck said in a lowered voice as they climbed the steps. “Kill them if they try anything.”

Pawnee grunted.

The usually noisy saloon was quiet as an empty church when Buck stepped through the swinging door. The locals vacated their seats and headed for the door when they spotted Buck and Pawnee enter. 

The big bearded man leaning against the bar, wearing a bowler hat and a gun belt, straightened up when he spotted Buck and Pawnee. The men sitting around the tables stiffened as they turned their attention to the men at the door.

“Which one of you killed Charley?” Finn asked.

“I reckon that would be me,” Buck said.

Pawnee faced the door and backed up until his back touched Buck’s while the two men still on the porch pushed through the swinging door. Neither reached for their pistols as they walked past Pawnee and Buck to join Finn at the bar.

“Well, hell, it don’t matter none because I’m going to kill both of you and then visit your homesteads and shoot your families,” Finn said. “You never should have shot Charley.”

“Charley should have stayed in Chicago. But I guess he didn’t have enough sense to know better than to chase after a woman that despised him. Hmm, I reckon he took after his father,” Buck said, his hand hovering over the handle of his Colt.

Pawnee, who had moved to Buck’s left and faced the bar, also had his hand near his gun.

“You two are dead men walking,” Finn said. “You don’t believe that you can stand against my fifteen men and me, do you.”

The swinging door swung open. From the corner of his eye, Buck saw Henry, Joseph, and several gypsies carrying double-barreled 12-gauge shotguns.

“They ain’t alone, Finn,” Henry said.

“Well, well, if it ain’t the bricklayer. You should have done the right thing and given your daughter to my son. Good that you’re here. I won’t have to hunt you down.”

“Boss, there are seven of them, and they’re all packing shotguns,” one of the men from the porch said nervously. “I didn’t sign on to go against men toting shotguns.”

“Shut up, Glenn. You do as I damn tell you,” Finn said as he glanced at the man.

“No, boss, I told you before we left Chicago that we had no business coming west. Hell, we lost seven men to Injuns crossing the Nebraska Territories. I ain’t going to die here for you to avenge Charley’s death. He was a fool for chasing after the girl,” Glenn said. He glanced around. “Who is of the same opinion as me?”

The men at the bar and table exchanged glances.

“If you’re with me, let’s leave Finn to settle his score on his own,” Glenn said.

“You low-down yellow dog. You think I don’t know that you’re trying to take over the gang?” Finn roared as Glenn walked toward the door.

Pawnee turned to cover Glenn as he headed for the door.

Buck smiled as, one by one, all the men either pushed off from the bar or stood and walked toward the door, finally leaving Finn alone.

“I told your son that I had married April, but he was still determined to take her back to Chicago,” Buck said. “I didn’t have much choice but to send him to Satan.”

“My son is in Heaven!” Finn roared.

“I don’t think so, Finn,” Buck said. “And if you press the issue with me, you’ll know firsthand.”

With a snort, Finn reached for his Walker Colt with blazing speed; however, the Army Colt appeared instantly in Buck’s hand, his thumb cocking the hammer as he drew. He shot Finn in the heart before the gang boss could get off a shot.

A surprised look appeared in Finn’s eyes as the pistol slipped from his fingers. He stepped toward Buck only to fall face down onto the floor.

“Heck, Buck, I had forgotten how fast you are on the draw,” Henry said.

Joseph nodded. “I’m glad we didn’t have to kill any of those men.”

“Joseph,” Pawnee said, “Buck and I would be the ones in a pool of blood on the floor iffin you and the others hadn’t shown up to help.”

“You married into our community. You’re one of us now, Pawnee,” Joseph said as he slapped Pawnee on the back.

“What about Finn’s men?” Henry asked.

“Let’s go outside and see,” Buck said.

“What about the dead man?” the man behind the bar shouted.

“I’ll have someone fetch the undertaker,” Buck heard Joseph say as he stepped through the swinging door, and to his surprise, he saw Sheriff Jenkin facing Finn’s men, now mounted on their horses.

“You fellas head back east or you can pay a fine and spend the night in jail for disturbing the peace,” Sheriff Jenkins called out.

“I ain’t going back to Chicago,” Glenn answered. “Not if I have to face those savage Indians again.”

“Hell, you can go anywhere you want to go as long as it ain’t Stayton,” Sheriff Jenkin said.

“I’m with you, Glenn,” one of the riders called out. “I’m heading to San Francisco.”

“Me too,” another man shouted.

“Yup, I ain’t going to fight my way through those Kiowas again,” another man said.

“Okay, we’ll all head for San Francisco. I’m sure there’s need for men like us there,” Finn said with a snicker.

Buck shook his head as he watched the men ride out of town heading south. 

“I’m surprised you showed up at all, Sheriff,” Buck said. “A little late, but at least you showed up.”

“Well, I wasn’t about to take a bullet for you and the Injun, but when I saw all those men leaving the saloon, I figured it was time for the law to have its say,” Jenkins said.

“Joseph, you and the other gypsies stop by the cabin on Sunday. I think it’s time we had a celebration. Henry’s going to roast a couple of spring lambs,” Buck said.

“Me? You and Pawnee have more sheep than I do,” Henry called out as Buck and Pawnee headed for their horses.

“Think of it as part of April’s dowry,” Buck replied over his shoulder.

“Dowry? I gave you a flock of sheep,” Henry shouted.

Buck laughed as he and Pawnee walked to their horses.

“For a moment there, I thought I might be heading for the happy hunting ground,” Pawnee said as they reached the horses.

“Yup, and we would have if Henry hadn’t shown up with Joseph and the other gypsies. I reckon you helping them raise their cabins paid off,” Buck said as he mounted Midnight.

“I’m in trouble, Buck!” Pawnee cried out.

“How is that?”

“I didn’t tell Monica we were heading to town to confront O’Leary. She thinks I’m in Stayton getting a bag of oats for the horses. Heck, I didn’t even buy the oats. I’ve got to stop by the feed store and load a bag on the back of Surefoot, or else she’ll scalp me for sure when I get home,” Pawnee explained as he veered toward the general store.

“Pawnee, I think the only thing in the world you’re frightened of is Monica’s wrath,” Buck said.

“Well, these gypsy women are hellcats when they get upset,” Pawnee said before Buck urged Midnight into a gallop.

Buck smiled when he heard Wolf howling as he rode up to the cabin. The door flew open and the big wolf-dog charged out ahead of April, who held Greg in one arm and June in the other.

“I kept my promise; I’m back,” Buck said as he dismounted.

“And Charley’s father?” April asked.

“Dead, and his men are heading for San Francisco. It appears they didn’t want to make the journey back to Chicago,” Buck said as he walked over and kissed April while relieving her of Greg.

“Thanks, he was getting heavy,” she said. “Come in and eat. But everything is cold.”

“Hell, your cold biscuits are better than anyone else’s straight from the oven,” Buck said as he followed his wife inside.


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52 thoughts on “A Gunslinger’s Bloody Mission – Extended Epilogue”

    1. I loved this book. I live in far east oregon. Your characters and plot were wonderful and fun as well. I’m looking forward to the other books of yours that I haven’t read yet.

    2. I loved this book. I have read quite a few of your book and I have liked them all. Keep up the good work.

    3. Thoroughly enjoyed the whole story.The battles were well thought of and explained.Keep up the good word.

    4. The best western book that I’ve read in a long time. It has Indians, beautiful young ladies and interesting handsome men, ones that fight for their safety on the wagon train to reach there’s homes. Thank you for sharing this adventure.
      10 stars for this one.

    5. I first wanted to say this was a very good book. However this book was almost word for word the same as a book I read a couple years back. I can’t remember the title of the book or author. After a couple chapters in I was contemplating whether to continue or not, I’m glad I did. There was enough differences that made it worth reading it thru. This was a Advance Reader Copy. Keep up the good work.

    6. I loved the book and the extended epilogue !!!! Now maybe I can catch up on my sleep and some housework I have neglect ed while reading non-stop !!!Thank you for the wonderful entertainment !!!!

  1. This was a story about the real things that happened when people traveled to find new homes in the far west. I loved the side of two men of different backgrounds finding love and family.

  2. I received this book for free to give a honest opinion about this book.
    A must read!
    I couldn’t wait to start reading this book. I wasn’t expecting a very fast gunslinger, Buck Blackman to come with some funny quotes I almost spit out my food or water I was drinking.
    Then Pawnee Jones was half Indian & half Scottish. Pawnee looked full Pawnee until he opened his month & a thick accent come out. Also with funny quotes. Also glued to Bucks hip.
    I loved the enteraction of Buck & Pawnee, then came along with a family with a gorgeous blonde daughter April. On the starting of a wagon train.
    I don’t want to spoil anything for you.
    You will love this book. Actually I didn’t want the book to stop. It was that enjoyable to read. I want to tell you more but you deserve to find out for yourself.
    You will love the enteraction with Buck & April & her parents. Pawnee with Monica & her parents.

  3. Excellent western drama as American work their way across our great country in wagon trains. As they meet all the challenges of passage across the nation, the success is further complicated by gang intervention from Chicago. The developing love stories between several couples adds a softness among the harshness of the ordeal. Buck and Pawnee are strong and steadfast in their mission and represent the strong men who developed our nation. I read this book as an ARC and found it thoroughly enjoyable and recommend it for all types of readers

    1. I like the book it remind me that the movie 1883, some of the characters acted the same way, but it was a good story to read. I enjoyed it tremendously. I hope you make a second book to this book. It would be interesting to see how everything turns out in the end.

  4. Absolutely brilliant read. What an unlikely duo Buck and Pawnee were but the sense comradery and loyalty was both funny and endearing. As a Scot I appreciated Pawnee’s quick wit and dry sense of humour. What a journey they all went on, such an eclectic mix of people all with a single purpose of finding a place for new beginnings. Thoroughly good read I didn’t want it to end. Thank you for the entertainment.

  5. I said the last book of yours was the best of the lot. I was wrong. I absolutely loved this book! Lots of action, suspense and humor. How did you ever think to come up with Pawnee? A Scottish Injun! I know I have more of your stories in my library, can’t wait to read more of your stuff. Thanks Derek for a brilliant western tale.

    P.S. This is the third book I’ve read about the Oregon Trail.

  6. Great story about the hardships of settling the western froniter.
    BUCK AND pawnee were great partners in protection the wagon train. This book so far is the best that i have read that you have written. Keep the great stories coming so i have something to look forward to.

  7. Really enjoyed this book. I have quite a few of your books and have enjoyed them all. Will be buying more soon.

  8. Thank You, Mr. Derek Levine. This one of the most enjoyable and relevant books I have read. At age 78, please know that’s a lot of books. So, let’s validate. Why enjoyable? You created characters facing life circumstances that to me were so believable that I found myself there dealing with the same issues that your wonderful book’s characters had to face. And, Wow! We all came through it in great shape! Why relevant? At age 78, I am faced with answering this question, “Was it just good luck? Or, was there a helping hand?”

  9. Derek,
    Another outstanding book. I appreciate the fact that your characters follow the code of treating women as being special. I like the fact you tackle inter-racial marriage and show that people are the same race of skin color. Keep up the great work.

  10. This is my favorite so far in all of the books in this set!! It has everything in this story, adventure, hatred for Injuns, loyalty and love! Thank for the reading entertainment you provided for me, a senior who loves to read on my Kindle Fire!

  11. What can I say, I love the book and the extended epilogue just added to the story! This Author has you captured from page one until the very end! I agree with the other readers, you have to have a second book, so we can see how the family’s are doing! I have read all you book, but this one was absolutely amazing, incredible, wonderful characters that will keep you turning those pages! Don’t believe me, read it yourself and you’ll be a fan for life! 🌬📚🎭🤠🐝🎶

  12. This is the best of your books that I’ve read so far. Really enjoyed. The characters were right and used to the benefit of the story.

  13. Derek,

    Since this story was part of a 3-book collection I got to read it again. it was just as good is the first time. I guess I’d better get started of the second story “iffin” I want to read this collection and get a review out. Thanks again for being such a fantastic author.

  14. I really enjoyed your book and will read any other that you will write. You did a wonderful job of orcestrating the characters and keeping us on our toes. A great big “THANK YOU”

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