The Rangers and the Sheriff’s Deputies kept the news crews back. The only one trying to get around them was Ned Blount.
Parents hugged their sons. Questions were asked and answered. Fathers shook our hands. And Mothers hugged us all. The boys turned red. Jean, Donna, and Antonia were there for the boys. Who were a little overwhelmed.
“Folks before we go. I have to say something,” I said to the families. “Alan and Jamie did a very good job with the boys hike.”
“If Jamie hadn’t broken his leg. They would of been fine. But keeping the boys with them was the right thing.”
“Had people reread their plan. It said ‘They may deviate from their planned route. We saw something to investigate.’ “
“Marshal Hickok,” said one of the boys. I turned to face them.
“Yes sir?” I asked him.
“Will you come back to visit us?” he asked just a little scared.
“Yeah!” the other boys yelled.
“I will,” I told them with a smile.
“Now the news people want to asked some questions,” I told the parents. “If you do not want to answer questions. You don’t have to.”
“I will see that no one is bothered,” Sheriff Montoya told them. “Marshal Hickok and I have to answer some questions. Not you.”
We tied the horses to the ball field fence we had the first night. Loosening their cinches and walked down to talk to the reporters.
“Good afternoon,” I said addressing the news crews. “For those who don’t know me. I am Marshal William Hickok.”
“I am going to introduce those who helped with the search.”
“Then I will make a short statement. Followed by Sheriff Montoya if he would.”
“Then we will answer a few questions,” I told the reporters.
“Why only a few questions?” Blount asked a little perturbed.
“Because we are tired. And would like to get home before sunset,” I told him. Blount didn’t like it.
“Now the people who assisted with the search were. First is my friend and expert tracker John Dougi. Next is Marshal Bob Driscoll. His sons Charlie and Daniel. With their friend and Sheriff Montoya’s grandson. Angel Montoya.” I paused deliberately.
“Of course Sheriff Montoya. And my friend Dante Green.”
“I would like to thank them all for volunteering. We also encountered the black bear that has been attacking people. He has been put down.”
“Sheriff Montoya,” I said finishing.
“Thank you,” Sheriff Montoya said stepping up. “Thank you to all for coming out to help with the search.” As he hugged Angel and Miguel.
“My grandson ladies and gentlemen.”
“Now I have talked to the parents,” he said getting the reporters attention. “They have asked that you not bother them.”
“They just want to take their sons home.”
“Wait! We have a right to ask them questions,” Ned Blount demanded rather curtly.
“Mr. Blount. Your right doesn’t supersede theirs,” I told Blount firmly.
“Now we need to tend to our mounts,” I told them all. “So first question Paula.”
I pointed at the reporter I owed the favor to. She smiled.
“Who was the main tracker? You or John Dougi?” she asked.
“John was,” I said with a smile. ”So as you know John Dougi is a full blooded Jicarilla Apache. A top notch hunting guide and a master tracker.”
“Well aren’t you a tracker?” Blount asked.
“Yes I am a tracker. But John is far better than me,” I told him. Now we need to get going.”
“Just one more question Marshal Hickok?” Blount asked laying a trap.
“Okay,” I said waiting for it to be sprung.
“Mr. Green, Dante. What's your relationship to Marshal Hickok again?” Blount asked.
That was why he was here. He had a hint at what was between me and Dante. I looked at Dante.
“We are friends sir,” Dante replied. “My father is in law enforcement and that is how we met.”
“Is that all?” Blount asked springing the trap.
“Isn’t that enough?” Dante asked him back.
“Folks we are done,” I told them. “Further questions can be submitted to the US Marshal’s office.”
“I may hold a press conference later,” I told them. Then we headed for the horses. Followed by the Cub Scouts and the Alan Bryant.
“So where are you boys going?” Charlie asked the Cub Scouts.
“You helped us,” one boy told him. “We’re going to help you.”
“Yeah!” Rang out from the others.
So we let the boys help by carrying saddlebags and bedrolls to my trailer. Alan loaded the trailer as they brought them to him. Then they lead our extra horses to the stock trailer.
“Marshal Hickok?” another boy asked. “Would you teach us to track?”
“What do you think John?” I asked him.
“We could,” John said with a smile. “Just let me know when.”
“Looks like we can,” I told them to cheers. “Miguel if you would talk to Angel. We can set it up for later this summer.”
“We have some mustangs to get broke in for riding,” Angel told them.
“I can do what you ask Marshal,”Miguel said getting pats on the back from the other Cub Scouts.
Fathers shook our hands again. And Mothers gave us hugs with thank you’s.
“Sheriff Montoya, I said with my arm around Dante. “Are you going to back Javier’s run for the Sheriff's job?”
“Of course. It’s his time,” Gilberto told me.
A cheer went up from the parents as I shook both his hand and Javier’s. Then Javier hugged his father. Then Miguel and Angel joined in.
“Come on Angel,” Donna called her son. As she hugged Gilberto.
We all loaded up. Daniel and Angel rode with us and Donna. Antonia asked to ride with the Driscolls. Several of us were smiling. And Charlie just rolled his eyes.
After a few hours we were almost home. Cary and his son beat us back to the ranch. When we got there Tommy and Sebastian were unloading the horses. Andrew and Jimmy were helping.
I had a check ready for Cary. Which he didn’t want. Until I told him I had told his boss about it. His wife, so he knew better.
The boys put away their saddles and saddlebags. Then headed down to look at the Mustangs. Angel was watching a palomino colt closely. When Charlie remembered he had left something in his saddlebags.
“Come on Charlie,” I told him. “I’ll walk down with you to the stable to get it.”
“Dante, Bob you two are in charge,” I called out.
“What about the palomino?” Dante asked me before we got to far.
“What did we decide last night?” I asked with a smile. “Oh yeah. He’s Angel’s.”
Angel launched himself at Dante. Nearly taking him off his feet.
“Thank you!” Angel yelled. As Charlie and I headed for the stable.
“That was nice,” Charlie said. “All he could do was talk about him after we found the Boy Scouts.”
“Well thank you Charlie,” I said as we turned into the stable. “Besides. We heard you boys making plans for Angel to get him.”
I flipped the lights on. As the shadows were grewing dark inside the stable.
“Which saddlebags are yours?” I asked him with a smile.
“The buckskin ones that were dad's old ones,” Charlie told me.
“So what did you find for Alice?” I asked him as he smiled back at me. But then I heard the click of a revolver hammer.
As I drew my right hand Colt. I shoved Charlie out of the way with my left hand. The other revolver barked, and I figured it to be a .22 magnum. There was a twang that didn’t immediately register.
I saw the shooter and I fired twice. As a second shot rang out from her pistol. I hit her dead center. Her! Keeping to cover I realize who it was. And she was down.
“Charlie! Billy!” yelled Bob from just outside. “Are you two all right?” I heard a groan from behind me.
“Charlie!” I yelled as I turned.
Bob rushed in, pistol in hand. Charlie was holding his upper left arm. I whipped out my phone as the others came in. And I called 911.
I identified myself. What had happened. With what was needed. Then I handed my phone to Dante. As I asked Tommy for the first aid kit mounted to the wall.
It looked like the shot had hit Charlie in the upper left arm. I covered the wound with a clotting agent and 4x4 gauze. Then I looked toward the shooter.
“I need to check her,” I told them after seeing to Charlie. “Are you okay Jean?”
“Tell me she’s dead and I will be,” Jean growled in answer.
Then I saw Sharon’s dead eyes stared up at the loft. I checked for a pulse and found none. Then I checked her line of fire.
“Tommy, Sebastian,” I said getting their attention. “Go check the horses please. Each and everyone of them.”
“You got it Billy,” Sebastian said getting why I asked about every horse.
About then we heard a sirens off in the distance.
“Dante tell them we hear the sirens,” I told Dante. But he was hanging up. And I smiled at that.
“They told me to,” he told us. “Are you okay?”
“She missed me,” I told him as I unloaded my right hand Colt. I placed the Bullets, the empty shells and the Python on a shelf.
“Come on boys,” Donna said to Angel and Daniel. “The EMT’s need room to work.”
”But he’s my brother!” Daniel protested.
“No!” Bob said a little too harshly. “You need to listen to Donna.”
“Wait just outside boys,” I told them.
“I’m sorry,” Bob said getting up and hugging Daniel. Angel grabbed them both.
“I'm sorry dad. I understand,” Daniel told his father.
As the boys and Donna went out. Andrew lead the EMT’s in. One came to Charlie. While the second checked Sharon. But when his partner asked. He just shook his head and he came over to help with Charlie.
“Who did the first aid?” one of them asked.
“Billy did,” Dante told them as two deputies showed up.
They asked about Sharon and the EMT’s told them. They immediately called for a coroner and detectives. But were informed that they were on their way.
“Marshal Hickok. Did she say anything?” the senior deputy asked.
“Nothing,” I told him after the EMT said she was dead. “She ambushed Charlie and me.”
“That’s right,” Charlie told the deputy. “She just opened fire on both of us.”
You could see the pride in Bob’s face. Despite being shot. Charlie was making sure he was heard.
“We will need your pistols?” the deputy asked me. I pointed to the shelf.
“Pistol,” Charlie corrected him before I could. “Billy only drew one pistol.”
” He shoved me out of the way with the other.”
“Your pistol then,” the deputy said.
“It’s on the shelf,” I told him as I pointed out again.
“Why were you two in here?” the deputy asked us.
“Charlie left something in the saddlebags he used on the search and rescue in San Miguel county,” I told him. “So we came to get it.”
“Well why did you come with him?” the other deputy asked me. “Were the saddlebags hung up out of Charlie’s reach?”
“No,” I told him. “I needed to talk to Charlie about which Mustang he and his brother wanted for their own.”
“Marshal we need to get Charlie to the hospital fast,” the one EMT said. “Is there a place to land a helicopter for pick up?”
“There’s a designated helicopter pad out back of the house,” I told them, then speaking to Charlie, “Did you get hit by the ricochet?”
“No,” Charlie said. “You had fired before I got hit by her second shot.”
“I’ve called for the helicopter,” said the second EMT. “Let’s get him loaded up.”
“Deputy I have go light up the helipad,” I told the deputy. He nodded.
“Billy!” Charlie said stopping me. “Could you get the present out for me to give to Alice?”
“Sure,” I said with a smile. Then I went to the saddlebags and got out some rose quartz.
“Mom could you call her mother and see…”
“I’ll call her as soon as we know where we are going,” Jean said as she stroked her eldest hair. Tear sneaking down her cheek.
“Come on guys,” I told the EMT’s. “Let’s take Charlie up to the house.”
We made our way up and through the house. I had them wait inside our bedroom. While I went out and turned the pad lights on.
As the lights got to their brightest. We heard the helicopter. One of the EMT’s came out to guide them down. They then loaded Charlie and Jean up. And were airborne shortly after that.
Bob grabbed Daniel. And they headed for the University hospital. The deputies had checked with the detectives to clear it. Who arrived just a few minutes later.
Bob, Daniel, Angel, Antonia and Donna would give their statements later. They were quickly on their way to the Hospital.
The detectives split us up. One detective started questioning me. To be honest my mind was in several different places.
“Marshal Hickok. I understand you know the shooter?” the one detective asked me.
“Yes. She’s the wife of Marshal Ethan McCall,” I told him. “Sharon McCall.”
“Why? Why did she have a problem with you?” he asked me.
“She objected to Dante and Me,” I told him. “He asked me to marry him and I said yes.”
“She’s had a problem with us since,” I told him. “But she missed me.”
“No. Looks like she nearly got you both,” he told me. I wondered what he was talking about.
“Check your hat brim and crown,” the detective said seeing I was l puzzled.
When I pulled my hat off there was a ploop. As something fell in the dirt of the stable floor.
The ricochet bullet had hit my hat. The brim and the crown were torn. So I felt my scalp, but felt no blood.
“Is my scalp okay?” I asked as I showed them my scalp. Dante picked up the mangled bullet.
“It’s fine,” Dante said hugging me. “It's fine.”
“Now I have to buy you a new hat,” Dante said. He smiled at me. And we started laughing. It was nervous laughter.
“You two are ridiculous,” Jimmy said laughing himself.
“Well we need to go tell Marshal McCall about his wife,” the senior detective said. “Can you give us the address to Marshal McCall’s home.”
So I called Ethan to see where he was. It turned out Sharon had given him the house back. After she had a meltdown in family court. She had accused the Judge of being a pervert and condoneing perversion.
So Ethan had the kids. I decided I should tell Ethan what had happened. So I told Dante and the detectives I was going. I told Dante he needed to get some sleep.
“I’ll get the Wrangler,” Dante told me. “I’ll drive while you call Linzie.”
I just shook my head and smiled. He was right of course. I needed to call Linzie and let her know.
I called Linzie and told her everything. That Charlie and I were ambushed in the stable. That it was Sharon McCall and that I had to kill her. She listened with few words til.
“Put me on speaker Marshal Hickok,” she ordered me. Much to my surprise.
“You’re on speaker director,” I told her. To be a little honest. I was a little snarky.
“Dante are you with him?” she asked already knowing the answer.
“Yes director. I am,” Dante told her.
“Good,” she said sounding relieved that Dante was there.
“Dante you take care of him,” she told him. “He’s not as stoic as he acts.”
“You love him as hard as you can. And you hold him gently.”
“That is the plan Linzie,” Dante told her. “That’s why I’m driving.”
“When you stop Billy. You give that youngman a kiss for me,” she told me.
“Will do director,” I said leaning over to kiss his cheek. As we stopped at Ethan’s.
“Billy. Ethan just stepped out,” Dante told me.
“Hickok,” Linzie said getting my attention before I got out. “You call me if you need to. And you keep me informed.”
“Will do boss,” I said hanging up.
Ethan was waiting on the front porch. I looked to also see three faces in the window. I pointed as I got out.
“They know something is up,” Ethan said as I sat down on the steps. Ethan joined me.
“After you called. I checked my gun cabinet,” he said with a long face. “Sharon took a .22 magnum I use to use as back up.”
“She took a shot at you. Didn’t she?” Ethan asked. “And she’s dead.”
“Charlie Driscoll was with me,” I told him. His sad demeanor changed to horror.
“Was he hurt?” Ethan asked.
“He’s at the University Hospital,” I told him. “He’s having surgery as we speak.”
The three McCall children had come outside. They heard what I had told Ethan. Then Katie the eldest asked the question I was dreading.
“Marshal Hickok. Did you have to kill our mom?” she asked me. Her brothers looked ready to cry.
I looked at Ethan who nodded. But I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to tell them. But I knew I had to.
“Unfortunately yes Katie,” I told them. “She fired first. And Charlie Driscoll was with me.”
“Did she suffer much?” Kevin McCall asked. Ethan’s middle child.
“No,” I told him. “No she did not.”
Kevin walked over and hugged me. Followed by Peter and Katie.
“Can we go see Charlie?” Peter asked me.
“I think that would be fine,” I told them all. So they followed us to the University Hospital. While the detective went back to the ranch.
It was going to be a long night. Charlie was still in surgery as far as we knew. And I wasn't exactly sure how Bob and Jean were going to react to Ethan.