A picture of the head a cowboy sitting on a smooth round white stone.

Two Gunmen in Little Bethany

The Creek

A creek is not a river. But, a creek is like a river.

Big cities are built on rivers. For a small town, the creek is your river.

There was a creek in Little Bethany. It divided the town in half.

The Eastside was the territory of the Roy family. Their large mansion sat at the edge of town. Denton Roy was in the lumber business and owned most of the buildings. The made the Roy side of the creek the side of commerce.

The Westside was almost entirely Parton territory. Their sprawling ranch touched every remaining acre of Little Bethany. So, the Parton side of the creek was cattle country.

Children of both families played in the creek. The women did the wash. The men fished and drank whiskey, smashing the empty bottles against wet stones and firing their pistols at helpless turtles.

Or they used to do those things before the fighting began.

Big cities are built on rivers. For a small town, the creek is your river.

There was a creek in Little Bethany. It divided the town in half.

A picture of the head a cowboy sitting on a smooth round white stone.
Art by Champagne Punch

The Trouble

When young Peter Roy snuck bride-to-be Hannah Turner out the back of the wedding tent, the war started. Old Matthew Parton, the scorned groom, his brother Arthur and the whole Parton clan swore vengeance on the Roys. Five years on each side had eight dead.
The blood feud put the town of Little Bethany in a deep economic recession. Very little got built. Almost nothing was traded. Only the Undertaker, the hardware store owner, with his stock of firearms and cartridges, and the Methodist Church saw steady business.

The Methodist Church of Little Bethany remained the only public space free of conflict. The saloon, the bank, and the once-thriving hotel were fair game for gunfights. Sundays at the church were off-limits, even though it was strictly Roy territory. The Partons were Episcopalian. Still, they weren’t going to launch an attack on a Sunday morning at Roys exited morning service. Even against Methodists.

Except, of course, for that Sunday.

Aaron Lease was charging into town.

Aaron Lease didn’t give a wipe or a wiggle about a sanctuary, or sacred spaces. The only thing Aaron cared about was killing Henry Roy.

Aaron Lease didn’t give a wipe or a wiggle about a sanctuary, or sacred spaces. The only thing Aaron cared about was killing Henry Roy.

The Killer, Aaron Lease

Aaron Lease was tall. His hair was a blonde color so brassy it seemed silver. His legs ran long and muscular; his chest broad and thick. He stood with shoulders rolled back, chin tucked in. The wide brim of his soft grey felt hat cast a shadow over cloudy eyes.

Aaron wore two six-shooters on his hips and kept a Henry rifle tucked in the left side of his saddle. On the right side of the leather, he carried a Confederate officer’s sword and scabbard. The sword was said to be a gift from Col. Lavar Nathan, renowned former Texas Ranger, and the then Lt. Governor of the state. Col. Nathan was known to be Aaron’s daddy. Aaron’s momma, an outcast cousin of the Parton clan, lived in relative comfort in neighboring Fort Prosper. Legend had it Col. Nathan sent her a monthly allowance. Along with the sword, he gifted his bastard his silver pistols.

Many believed that the Lt. Governor kept the boy out of prison and clear of prosecution. Others said that no lawman in the state was dumb enough to go against the young killer. Aaron Lease was widely recognized to be the deadliest gunman in Texas. And though he’d killed one Roy, Henry and Peter’s older brother Tanner, shot clean through the eye and skull, Aaron Lease had no love for the Parton clan and paid little attention to the family feud.

That changed when Henry Roy shot Phillip Parton dead in the Little Bethany Post Office and Train Depot.

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