Dakota Skies - Excerpt 1

Excerpt one

In a subdued tone, Jay related what a long, tough journey it had been from Texas to Dakota for a boy of nine. Many didn’t make it, dying from disease, bandit attack, or exhaustion. It was a far cry from the life they were used to. On the road, a man kept his money in his boots, and protected it with a gun. No, it sure as hell wasn’t a pleasant trip filled with singing and laughter. Though there was some.

Days would go by with no sunshine or bird song. At times, they got soaked to the skin. The schooner’s offered good cover but the rain sometimes made it under the canvas. It would take an age to dry out and get warm. At least, during those times, they didn’t get eaten by bugs. The wagons weren’t comfortable either. Every stone could be felt and sometimes it was easier to walk.

Jay recalled how, part way through Kansas, he’d gone down with a fever. He didn’t remember much about it. But he knew he scared the shit out of his family for a while, having them convinced they’d be burying him. Thankfully for all concerned, he battled through it.

He didn’t go into much detail, seeing how his aunt and uncle already wore expressions of sadness and concern. Instead, he scrunched his face in remembrance of the foul-smelling brew Ma Carter concocted. It frightened off any living thing that dared to venture in the direction of their wagon. Jay’s mama also became a stickler for cleanliness, even boiling all drinking water, insisting she wasn’t gonna feed her family anything that could have things still living in it. The habit stuck with them all.

Jay followed on with life at journey’s end, which wasn’t as dour as it probably seemed. It was just very different to what they’d been used to in Texas.

Once settled in Dakota, Ma Carter soon whipped family and housing into shape. She was a woman of action, and though some tasks weren’t exactly nice, she’d happily do anything in support of her husband and children. While her husband worked the claim, Ma Carter did everything else, including kicking her children’s asses when they got out of line.

Ma Carter didn’t let her children’s education slip, either. Having been pulled from school in Texas, she took care of lessons, both on the trail and when they reached Dakota. On top of that, her children had to do their chores.

A few claims, including the Carters’, were successful—good enough for the family to be comfortable. However, the words ‘gold’ and ‘trouble’ were like squabbling sisters sharing the same room. Spats between neighbors were commonplace. After a while, Pa Carter noticed regular, more organized violence, creeping in like an ugly, festering mold.

 

The town needed an effective sheriff, before crime got out of hand. After a meeting, John answered the call of the starred badge.

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