It was 1870, 5 years after the beginning of the era of the Wild West had begun. This story takes place in Nevada, home of Cowboys, Indians, Gangs, Sheriffs, and ranchers. But this story isn't about them. This story is about a Rancher's son, Richard Foster.
Richie has always been described as an odd bird. Richard was 14 and he worked long hard days on his father's farm. On days like these, you could find Richie barefoot in his father's crop field,. He loved how it felt in between his toes.
Richie was always described as a scarecrow because he wore the clothes you might find on one. He wore suspenders with a white shirt underneath, a straw hat, and almost always shoeless. People recognized Richie by his fluffy Auburn hair, brown eyes, his face splattered with freckles, the slight gap between his teeth, his dimples, and finally his contagious smile.
On this particularly cool Autumn day on the farm, Richie was working in the fields. The sun had just started going down, when he took off his hat and wiped the sweat from his brow with his forearm. He took a deep breath through his nose, and smelled the distinct smell of precipitation. He smiled and put his hat back on.
"Ah there yuh are Richie, ah've been lookin' all over for ya." Richie heard a familiar voice from behind him say. Richie turned around, holding onto his hat. His father was there, covered in dirt and sweat holding an equally as dirty hoe.
Richard smiled a big toothy grin. "It's gonna rain soon pa. I just love the sound ah rain!" He said in an accent that was common in the west. His father laughed and put his hand on top of Richard's hat. "Well then, what's say we head back to the house and catch us son grub?" His dad said, crouching so he was eye-to-eye with him.
"Okay!" Richard said, finishing up what he was doing. His father smiled a proud smile. His son had become a hardworking smart kid. Richard was able to teach himself to read at a very young age with no help. This was a miracle considering being literate was very rare where they lived.
"Race ya to the house!" Said his father. They both laughed and started running to the house.
Margret Foster was in the house cooking the dinner for that night. She was almost done but there was still no sign of her boys. "Now where could those two be?" She said to herself as she began putting everything on plates.
The screen for then opened in the kitchen as her boys came in. They were panting and sweating from running to the house. "Well, look at you two! You're so sweaty and dirty, I can't see your handsome faces!" Margret joked as she giggled. Richie and his father Thomas laughed as well.
"You two go get yourselves cleaned up, suppers almost ready." Margaret said as she began preparing supper. Richard raced up the stairs to clean himself up as his father kissed his mother and hugged her from behind.
After he was done, Richard started going down the stairs, but stopped when he heard his parents talking.
"...what are we going to do? If they come here, Richie will be in danger!" His mother said. His father sighed. "I know, but we can't just leave the farm Margaret." Thomas said.
What was going on? Richie wasn't sure. "If we don't get the money together by next week, they'll come after me. If that happens, you two are gonna leave without me got it?" What was pa talking about?
Richie walked into the kitchen and his parents greeted him like nothing was previously said. They had dinner and went to bed. The entire time, Richie was trying to figure out what his dad meant.
Little did he know, he would find out sooner than he would want to.
Richie awoke to loud noises in his mom and dad's room. Curious, he decided to investigate. He put on his comfortable shoes, wrapped himself in his blanket, and started walking to his parents room. He was about to open their door when he heard voices. He stopped in front of the door and listened.
"...after this we're gonna be rich." Richie heard one man say. He heard some voices but they almost sounded like how it sounds when you yell into a pillow. He heard another man chuckled. "Yeah. Once we kill these two, we can go find that brat and take care of him too." The other man said.
Richie realized they were talking about him, and he slowly began to back away. His back bumped into something solid. He looked up and saw a man with a disgusting beard, one blind eye, and a black hat. He smiled, showing his collection of disgusting and rotted teeth.
The bearded man grabbed Richie by the shoulder and began pushing him into the bedroom. Richie fell through the door. As he began to get back up, he saw the two people talking.
One man had a goatee, an eyepatch, a toothpick, and a brown cowboy hat. The other was a short, fat man with a white beard and a bowler hat. He kept pulling out a handkerchief and wiping the sweat off his brow.
Then, Richie saw there were two people tied up and gagged: his parents. "M-mom? Dad?" Richie whimpered. Richie stood up and ran to them. We wanted to save them, even though everything in his body was screaming not to. The eyepatch man smacked Richie, causing him to fly back and hit the wall.
"Let my mom and dad go!" Richard yelled at them. The fat one and the bearded one laughed at him. "Did you hear that Gus?" The fat one said to the eyepatch one, "He said to let 'em go. He sounds serious, maybe we should!" The fat man laughed a cruel laugh and the bearded man joined in. "I'm shakin' in me boots!" The bearded man said.
"Will you two shut up?" The man named Gus said. They both shut up instantly. Gus walked up to Richie and crouched down so that they were art eye level. "What' yer name kid?" Gus asked, moving the toothpick in his mouth. "I-It's Richie." Richie said. He man looked at him for a minute.
"Listen Richie, when you get older, you'll understand the importance of money. How it's a necessity." The man began. Richard realized this man was educated based on the words he used. "Your parents...owe us a lot of money. And we have to take it. When you get older, if you feel the urge to come take vengeance, come find me." Gus finished.
He stood and walked over to Richie's parents and untied the gag on Thomas. "I will let you two talk for a moment and then we will get under way with this." Gus said.
Thomas began to speak. "Richie, your mom and I love you so much. We are so sorry we can't explain what's happening. But right now you need to run. Do you hear me? Run—" A loud bang rang out. Richie watched as his own dad's head seemingly exploded on the side. His head flung violently, blood flowing out of his nose. Blood hit Richie in the face.
Richie just sat there, not knowing how to react. Run. His father's last words echoed in his head. Gus stood there with a gun pointed to where Thomas's head was. RUN. He then shot Richie's mother. He walked toward Richie with the gun loading it. "Sorry kid, I was hoping you didn't have to see this." He said, aiming the gun at Richie. RUN!
Richie slid between Gus's legs, causing him to miss and shoot the bearded man in the chest. Richie kicked the back of Gus's leg and ran out of the room. Richie kept running. He ran through the door, through the field, past the crops, and into the woods. He ran for what felt like forever. He turned around and looked at his house. There was a huge gang surrounding it with horses, throwing molotovs at it. The house was burning down.
Richie fell to his knees. His parents died, and it was his fault. He couldn't even save his own parents. He started to shake. He realized he was in his thin pajamas and loafers with no socks. He was freezing. He began to cry.
The first snowflake of winter began to fall.
It had been days since Richie's house was burned down. He treated through the woods, snow pelting down as if mother nature was punishing him. Every step he took was agony. He hasn't had food or water in days. Richie knew he was going to die soon. A huge gust is wind pelted Richie with frostbite. He tried to walk against the wind. There was such heavy snowfall it made seeing his hand in front of his face impossible.
Something caught Richie's attention ahead. It was a black shadow blob. It was very far but it started getting bigger. He began to hear a horse gallop. Then two, then 5. Soon he saw a whole horde of people on horses galloping toward him. They were finally in sight and flying toward him. He closed his eyes, thinking the horses would trample him.
He heard a horse whinney then stop moving. He felt a huge puff of warm air on his face. When he opened his eyes, he was eye to nostrils with a horse. He saw someone drop next to the horse, causing Richie to back up. 'It's probably that gang come here to finish me off.' He thought, shaking now for a different reason.
The man walked up to him. Richie could only describe him as a bona fide cowboy. He had the hat, the guns, the boots, the scarves everything. Richie had always wanted to be a cowboy, though be never told his mom that. She would've had a heart attack.
The man had a cigar in his mouth. He took it out, and puffed smoke in Richie's face. Richie coughed as he tried to wave away the smoke. "What are you doin' out here in the middle of a blizzard kid? Where are your parents?" He asked.
When the man said parents, Richie began to cry. "My-my parents w-were killed. Only a few days ago." He was sobbing now. The man stared at him for a moment. His men started talking about leaving Richard in the snow. The cowboy ignored them.
He crouched down so he was eye level with Richard. "What' yer name kid?" He asked. Richie wiped his nose with his sleeve. "R-Richard Foster." He said. The man's eyes went wide. "Foster? As in your dad's Thomas Foster?" He asked. Richie couldn't answer anymore, he was too cold.
The man grabbed a blanket off of one of the horses and wrapped Richie around it. "C'mon kid, I'll give you a ride." He said. He lifted Richard onto the horse and he got on himself. They hurried out of the woods, trying to beat the storm. "My name's Butch by the way. Nice to meet ya." Butch yelled over the snow. "Nice to meet y-you too." Richie said.
Richard slept for the first time in days.
They had found an area where it was dry and set up a campfire for the night. Everyone set up tents and were sleeping, but Richie was walking around, unsure of what to do. He then looked over and saw Butch warming himself at the fire. Richie walked over and sat with him. They sat in silence for a bit.
"Thank you for saving me sir." Richie said, breaking the silence. Butch chuckled. "Cut the sir shit kid. And don't mention it." He said. There was silence. "So what happened to you kid? You look like you've been through hell." He asked. Richie then began to tell him everything. Afterwords, Butch lit a cigar and began to smoke it.
"That's a damn shame kid. I'm sorry to hear that." He said. "You said you knew my dad. What did you mean by that?" Richie asked. Butch took another smoke. "Kid what I'm about to tell you may be hard to hear but I need you to know every word is true. Understand?" Butch said.
"Yes sir." Rich said. "I told you to stop that shit." Butch said. Richie kept quiet. "I'm what you would call a bounty hunter, so I know just about every name worth knowing. And your dad? Well...his name was definitely worth knowing." He began. "Why?" Richie asked.
"Because...your dad was a cowboy." He said, shocking Richie. "And not just any cowboy, your dad was THE cowboy. He was the best gunslinger in the west. He was a hero. I met him on occasion."
"The point is that the men who killed your parents aren't a gang. I recognize the descriptions you gave me. Those guys are a group of bounty hunters called El Escorpión. Nasty guys." He said. Silence again. "Well in the morning I'll be dropping you off at the closest tow—"
"I want to get revenge. They killed my parents." Richie said. He stood in front of Butch and looked him in the eye. "I want to join your gang of bounty hunters! I want to be your pupil so I can become a bounty hunter and kill Gus." Richie exclaimed.
"No." Butch said as he stood. "What?!" Richie yelled. "I can't be carrying dead weight with us on our bounties, you'll be dead in a week kid. Rich thought for a moment. "I'm very resourceful. I can do tho vs that, based on the look of you and your crew, you can't do." Richie said. "What can you do?" Butch said. "I can read, write, hunt for food, cook and predict weather." Rich said.
Butch sat there a moment. They did need all those things. The rough half of him said this kid was dead weight...but the other half says this kid needs help. And so does Butch. "Give me till the morrow to think about it kid." Butch said as he stood and walked to his tent. "Night kid. Oh, and your blanket is catching fire." He said.
Richie looked and saw the corner of his blanket eat catching fire. He screamed and put it out. After he was done, he saw Butch was still looking at him. "See? Useful!" Rich said with a smile. Butch chuckled and shook his head, going into the tent. 'This kid better not get me killed' he thought as he fell asleep. That was the last day of Richie's normal life.