Victor Vlack winced as his housekeeper, and only female on his ranch, washed and dressed his elbow per Dr. Cotter’s instructions. “Ow, easy Carmelita.” Better her seeing me react to pain than my men. Vlack had no use for women in his world. Some men ruled, some men worked and some men did what they were told. His father had given him this advice when he was five. His father was a rancher who had acquired his property and position with his gun. Vlack knew little of his father’s pre-parenthood life other than what his father told him.
“Might is right,” the senior Vlack had said. “It says so in the bible, I think. Anyway this is a world of takers. The man who built this ranch owed me and paid me with the deed as he died.” No other details were offered. His father died when Victor was eighteen. The transition from teenage manager of the beef ranch was easy and natural. The elder Vlack had hired a live-in teacher for him. Lessons were in the evening. Victor rode with his father and at sixteen became the foreman. A hired gunslinger taught him to shoot fast and straight. The man was also his dad’s bodyguard. “Pay someone to protect you, son. Loyalty is something obtained for a price and leadership will always provide the money.”
Vlack never saw his father with a woman. “Your mother was a necessity to provide an heir–you. She would have been a good housekeeper had she not died when you were born. There’ll come a time in your life when you’ll need an heir. Find someone strong-willed, intelligent and teach her to obey.”
There were several times before his father died when he was schooled in sexual activity. “You should get rid of your urges and continue to pay attention to the family business. Dominate even in bed–especially in bed.” After his father died, Vlack had only been intimate with five women, each of which was promptly discarded after the sexual act. That was how Vlack thought of it–“a sexual act.” In the past three-years Vlack had projected to the future for a “Mrs. Victor Vlack”. His political advisors had told him he should have a family in place for election purposes and for when he assumed political office.
During Vlack’s travels he never found a woman or a ready-made family to qualify. He was growing concerned. His encounters with the Doctors Clinic, however, had stimulated a possibility. The head nurse, Sadie Rand, fulfilled the qualifications laid down by his father and by his future aspiration needs. She was attractive, assertive, and intelligent but obeyed Garrison and Wills one hundred percent. She had two children, one of whom could be his heir. I’ll use my new status as a patient to gain her attention. I’ll have to work on the death of her husband as being by one of my rogue hired hands and not at my bidding. Her damn meddling husband. His designs on becoming politically active were overshadowing my front-runner edge. At the Austin rallys, he was being seen as a more viable candidate than me. Now there’s no opposition and with Stanley Wills no longer outspoken, I’ve been able to buy favored status at the Capital.
“Carmelita, please that hurts.” His reverie was snapped. He pushed the matronly Mexican aside. “Tend to my lunch and send for Boda.” Carmelita’s husband was the cook for the ranch hands. He was the one who first helped him after the masked stage robber shot up his desk.
The stage robber–who the fuck was he? Boda and his men had combed the countryside looking for him. That dimwit town marshal sent out telegrams to find out if such a person was wanted. No information came of it. It had to be someone hired by the dirt farmers. Ever since the barbed wire, some of them had become vocal about the barriers to their grazing cows and blocking the water supply. Usually it was the farmers who put up the wire. They should be grateful. Cows, screw them, it was steer beef that Texas was all about. Farmers should have stayed in the Midwest.
Boda knocked and then entered.
“You had almost a week. Any word yet.” Vlack placed his left arm back in the sling.
“Parkland Rhodes–ever hear of him. He’s a bounty hunter but he’s also the fastest gun in Texas.”
“No. Why a fucking bounty hunter. I want a killer, like you.”
“Because he’s legal. During the war my men and I could get away with a lot because in war everything’s legal. We have a range war and enforcement of boundaries is legal. Rhodes can pressure the farmers with his gun.”
“I want incidents. How can he produce incidents?” Vlack stood up.
“Don’t worry. It’s his specialty. I also got three other gunslingers who aren’t so legal but there’s no one to challenge them.” Boda smiled.
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