Elm’s Peak: Chapter 1 – The Will

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At one point, I used to do a lot of creative writing. I enjoyed spinning worlds out of thin air. Below is one of those places I started to visit and just didn’t stay long enough to get to know. Perhaps with some encouragement, I will one day continue the tale of Elm’s Peak.

Elm’s Peak

A Tale of the American West

By Bryan Hall

> – – – <

During a time when the West was rugged and still wild…

A time when a gun was a necessity to live…

A period when our nation was expanding and exploring…

An age in which Men were Men…

There lived a man by the name of Neil Conner…

This is his story…

> – – – <

Foundation:

Hugh Conner had died at the young age of 45 in a fire that burned down his New York Mansion. This blaze also claimed the existence of his companion in life, his wife, Alice. The wealthy couple had brought only one youngster into this world, a son by the name of Neil.  He was about 20 years old at the time of their deaths. He had been away from New York, and thus his family, for the last five years. Working on various ranches in the American West learning about what it takes to run a ranch and to live the life of a cowboy. As the story opens, Neil is living near the town of Elms Peak. He has recently bought a spread of land, with the intentions of running his own cattle ranch. In the past few days he has received a dated telegram that carries the message of his parent’s tragic deaths. According to the telegram a lawyer, whom has been entrusted with carrying out the family’s will, is now on his way to meet with Neil. We catch up to our character as he is riding into the town to meet with his late parents legal representative.

> – – – <

Chapter 1 – The Will

Two horses could be seen coming towards town of Elms Peak. Their riders looked to be Neil Conner and Ross Nelson. Both men were about the same age and had reputations of being gunslingers. Rumor even had it that Conner came from an affluent family, which had disowned him at an early age and turned him out into the world. Whether this rumor was true or not, it was the gossip that has some how made its rounds about the small town. Riding into town as the sun started to climb into the morning sky, they passed the local bar, Greene’s Tavern. Jacob Greene, the taverns owner, was out on the front boardwalk sweeping when they rode past.

“Good morning Jacob!”

“Morning Neil. Morning Ross. What are you boys doing up so early?”

“Business to take care of.”

Jacob was about to ask another question when he noticed that the two men had not stopped and were a distance down the street. Continuing to ride down the dusty street they past Scott’s Hoard, which is the towns only General Store. No sign of life could be seen inside the General Store. It was well known throughout the town that the stores owner, Kevin Scott, was a drunk. Most of his time was spent sleeping off the night’s consumption of alcohol. It was almost at the end of the main street of township that they stopped and dismounted. Tying their horses to the hitching post, they walked into the Fortune Hotel. Inside Ralph Winter, the Sheriff, and his Deputy, David Stewart greeted them. Both gunmen tipped their hats and continued walking by in silence. As they passed the front desk the hotel owner, Jim Fortune sighed.

“Only one guest in the hotel must be your man.”

Mounting the stairs that led to the upper section of the hotel they slowly counted off the rooms one by one. Finally coming upon the room that had been predetermined in the telegram, Neil opened the door and went inside. Ross closed the door behind him and stood guard in the hallway. Knowing that the meeting, that was taking place today, was of the greatest importance, Neil had prearranged the security downstairs. Little did he know that the talk of all New York was about to be decided in a moment? What was to happen to the Conner estate? The telegram that Neil had received had been brief and to the point.

<Telegram>

Parents have died.

Lawyer being sent to discuss the family estate.

Fortune Hotel Room #8.

Use great caution.

“Use great caution,” echoed through his mind as he stepped into the darkened hotel room.

Running his hand over the cold steel of his Navy Colt, reassured Neil, as his eyes adjusted to the dark.

“There is no need for the weapon, Mr. Conner,” said a man sitting in the shadows.

The striking of a match filled the room suddenly with a dim light. A hand could be seen guiding the match into a lantern that was sitting on a desk. The room was suddenly lit well enough so that Neil could see whom had just spoken .

“There, so much better, now we can see each other,” smiled the lawyer as he blew out the match.

Neil surveyed the man that sat before him. The gentleman appeared to be older and was rather generously proportioned. Neil took off the gun belt that hung around his waist and laid it on the bed.

“A man can never be too careful.”

“Quite so Mr. Conner, quite so.”

“You are?”

“Mr. John Cameron, from the firm of Cameron, Jacobson, and Schmidt. I apologize for not introducing myself.”

“I have many questions Mr. Cameron. I hope that you can answer them.”

“I will answer all questions in due time. We have much to discuss so what questions would you like answered first?”

“What happened to my parents?”

“I have been dreading this question but very well then I shall tell you what I know. According to my reports, your parents were in bed sleeping when the fire started.”

The old lawyer shifted uncomfortably in his chair.

“Fire?”

Neil raised his eyebrows curiously and sat on the edge of the hotel bed.

“Nobody knows how it started, just that it did, and that your parents’ house completely burned to the ground while they were inside.”

The attorney frowned.  Neil shook his head and looked down at the wooden floor.

“I can’t believe they are dead.”

“I am sorry for your loss Mr. Conner.

A few moments of silence passed.

“The talk of all of New York has been of what is to happen to the Connor family fortune. Today I present to you the fate of this great American fortune.”

The old man pulled a file from a black briefcase sitting next to his chair.  Neil had tears welled up in his eyes, he could hardly control his emotions in front of the lawyer.  So close he had been to them, now they were gone. The attorney looked at Neil.

“First, there is the land.  All of the land your father owned belongs to you now, which is the thirty-five acres in New York. Then we have the money. All of your parents’ assets will be directly transferred to you.”

Neil leaned over and turned up the lamp.

“Exactly how much money are we talking about Mr. Cameron?”

The attorney smiled and leaned back in his chair.

“Five hundred thousand dollars.”

Neil choked. The lawyer chuckled.

“Other than that you now own your father’s steel corporation.”

Neil cleared his throat and gave a faint grin at the old man.

“Is that all then?”

Mr. Cameron laughed.

“Yes, that would be everything.”

Neil stood up and strapped his gun belt on again.

“Well then, if all is in order, I thank you for your time Mr. Cameron.”

The other man stood up and shook Neil’s hand.

“I shall be off then, here are the deeds that belong to you now.”

With that the lawyer handed some papers to Neil and walked quickly out of the hotel room. Neil sat on the bed again and thought for a moment about his parents. After a few minutes, he got up, blew out the lamp on the dresser, and quietly left the hotel room.

“Everything ok?”

Ross Nelson emerged from the shadows of the hallway.

“Yes and no, mind if we talk about it later. Theses hallways have ears.”

A door down at the end of the hall suddenly slammed shut. Neil grinned and motioned for Ross to follow him back down to the hotel lobby. Coming down the staircase into the lobby, the hotel owner, the sheriff, and the deputy greeted the two.

“Is everything all right Mr. Conner?”

“Yes Sheriff, it is.”

“Well if all is well then Stewart and I are off to get some grub.”

“Thank you for your time.”

“You’re welcome. Come on Stewart, I am hungry!”

> – – – <

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