Complications: The Deputies Book 1



Harvey Palmer was a simple man who had spent his entire thirty-four years of life avoiding complications; that was all about to change, which was quite probably the last thing he wanted. He wasn't by customary definition an especially good man, but he wasn't a bad man, either--except in the sense that he was a bad man to tangle with--he just wasn't exactly what anyone might call a goody two-shoes, either. Consequently, when Harvey came upon four masked riders holding up the afternoon stage to Ellsworth, he reined his horse out of sight behind a nearby tangle of alders and sat back to watch: it never occurred to him to try to stop the robbery, as he figured that it wasn’t any of his business. When the gunmen had relieved the stage company of its strongbox and mail sack, and the driver, guard, and three passengers of their valuables, they cut the six-horse hitch loose from the traces and rode off, yelling and driving the horses in front of them. Complications began to arise when they inadvertently rode straight toward Harvey.

The first robber spotted Harvey and immediately fired a shot at him. It was obvious to Harvey that the masked bandit wasn’t very smart; a man sitting on a stopped horse is a whole lot more likely to hit a moving target than a rider on a galloping horse is to hit a sitting target. To make matters worse, two of the other three outlaws began firing their pistols as well--and when bullets come a man's way, his first instinct is to shoot back. Harvey pulled out his Colt, took careful aim, and quickly dispatched the two closest riders. They rolled from their saddles, dropping their guns as well as the strongbox and mail sack, directly in front of the third gunman, whose horse stumbled over their crumpled forms. The robber was thrown from his saddle, landing hard and knocking himself out cold on a rock right at the feet of Harvey's big dun horse. The fourth rider veered sharply and escaped into the trees along a nearby creek bed.

It wasn’t long before the stage driver and express rider retrieved their guns and came running to the site of the gun battle. Harvey stepped off of his horse and checked the two men he had shot. Since both of them were dead, he picked up their guns and the unconscious third robber's pistol. He was sitting calmly on the trunk of a fallen alder tree when the coachmen arrived on the scene.

"Mister, I gotta thank you for stoppin' those fellers! They just robbed us!” the driver panted. Of course, that was pretty obvious to somebody who had just witnessed the whole thing. Harvey told them that no thanks were needed, then stood and watched as the stage men picked up the dropped sacks of money and mail.

"Mind if I keep their guns? I could sell 'em for some ridin' around money," he suggested. “Unless you want 'em for evidence.”

"No, no, you go ahead and keep 'em, mister. You earned that much an' more!" the driver exclaimed. Harvey rolled the guns up in his blankets, tied the bundle behind the cantle of his saddle and mounted his horse. He nodded at the two men and as he turned to ride away,  the stage driver called after him, "Wait a minute, mister. You might have some reward money comin', an' I don't even know your name."

Harvey turned in the saddle and spoke softly. "Name's Harvey Palmer. I'll be in Ellsworth for a few days, and I'll let the folks at your office know where I'm stayin'."


Two days later, Harvey sat in the corner of the Alhambra Saloon in Ellsworth, enjoying the company of a lady of questionable morals and what was left of a bottle of Oh Be Joyful. Two rough-looking men with low-slung guns slammed through the saloon's batwing doors and approached his table; the buck-toothed redhead on the left asked Harvey if he was the one who had killed two stage robbers a few days before. When he cautiously admitted that he was, Harvey suddenly found himself being drawn on by both men. The saloon girl screamed and threw herself off Harvey’s lap right into the buck-toothed gunhand, who shoved her violently to the side. As he did, his body twisted half away from Harvey, and he stumbled over the sobbing woman, falling headlong to the floor. His gun skittered across the boards and came to rest under a nearby table. Harvey took advantage of the confusion and rolled off his chair, pulling his own gun as he went, and shot the second gunslinger through the throat. The first gunman, still tangled with the woman on the floor, heard the shot and felt the sprinkle of blood on his face; he frantically hollered, ”I   ain't got not gun!” and threw up his hands, certain he’d be the  next to die.

              With the capture of two desperados, and now this third killing in three days, Harvey Palmer had unintentionally managed to shoot his way into western folklore. He became an instant hero when he saved the money and mail from the stage robbery--the legend grew further when he killed the gunman in the Alhambra Saloon. It also made Harvey an instant target for anyone trying to build a reputation with a gun. Every young buck with a fast gun would be on Harvey's trail, looking to try his luck. If that weren't enough, the reward of $750 he received from the stage company for the holdup men he killed made Harvey a man of means and notoriety; unfortunately, that meant that he was also facing what to him was sure to be a life of unwelcome complications.