An excerpt from the collected journals of Corporal J. T. Callahan, Texas Ranger Brigade
Thursday, June 25, 1868 – Halfmoon Reef Lighthouse, Victoria County, Texas
-I very nearly lost my hat today. I’ve been writin’ about how peaceful it was visitin’ bear’s own people, the sqaw, and the little ‘uns – a much needed rest after sortin’ the counterfeit ring that had very little interest in money, so o’ course, somethin’ had ta happen ta make me upset.
-I had no sooner than had a chat with the Port Lavaca sherriff when the mail caught up with me. The U. S. Mail. An unsigned (but paid for, thanks for the small favors) letter with noi return address. Needless ta say, I picked up my hat, gave the postman a dollar, and set ta readin’ this mysterious missive.
-Now, I have seen some strange things out there, but a letter tellin’ me that someone I care about but never mention ta anyone ’round these parts is in trouble is dead strange. Stranger still, the letter comes from the North – not a place where I gots too many friends (nor she, neither.)
-But, if Annie’s even potentially in trouble, I can’t very well leave Belle to handle it on her own, and if her brother gets involved, the undertaker in the big red stick’s gonna be mighty happy. Best ta give ’em a hand, I reckon.
Friday, June 26, 1868 – Farrell’s Company HQ, Houston, Texas
-I dropped in with the boys ta let ‘em know I was headed East, and had ta sit through a long talk about the Cajuns and their special kinda guilt and hand-wavin’. I took up Louisiana as a post for the next quarter, got warned it was a busy place, and grabbed all tha’ bounty posters I thought would fit in tha’ back o’ this journal. Ambrose especially liked the night off, ‘specially considerin’ she knew she was gettin’ two in a row comin’.
Sunday, June 28, 1868 – Hotel Monteleone, Naw’lins, Louisiana
-Managed ta sleep a few hours on tha train from Houston to Naw’lins. Set up in a new place askin’ two weeks’ pay a night. Place is fulla folk guzzlin’ away gin fizzes mixed up by a miss Ramos. Coincidentally, I heard about some o’ the less law-abidin’ folk, won me some money at Faro, and sorted out a disagreement ‘tween a coupla dandies an’ a tin horn with too much dinero. Tween the pickpockets an’ the tourists, local sherriff’s got his hands full, anyhow. About as good a present as I might expect.
Tuesday, June 30, 1868 – Gore Plantation, 50 Miles East of Naw’lins, Louisiana
-Stopped off to rest Ambrose and get her an adequate meal and ended up havin’ ta work all night. There was gerdinin’ ta be done, and not enough hands ta do it, so I lent a hand. Furrow’s plowed with new green ready to sprout, now.
Tuesday, June 30, 1868 – Oak Alley Plantation, 92 Miles North and East of Naw’lins, Louisiana
-Got some shut-eye yesterday, and remembered Dr. Sawyer’s house. Bought some coffee and bacon from the vintner’s here at the plantation, and mapped out a route to Baton Rouge that would avoid most of the wetlands that infest these parts.
Monday, July 6, 1868 – Arlington, 116 Miles North and East of Naw’lins, Louisiana
-Gettin’ back ta the journal after some time away. Had ta put down rumors that a pistolaro done got back up and came inta town sayin’ he was his own twin brother. Situation sorted – and the bodies burnt.
Tuesday, July 7, 1868 – Tha’ Laughin’ Corpse ‘Tavern’ – Baton Rouge, Louisiana
-Jus’ about tha time I gets ta thinkin’ that this is gonna be an easy run, a sorta vacation from catchin’ desperadoes an’ worse, I get my idea proven dead wrong. Annie’s not jus’ in mortal peril – she’s missin’ as of this very mornin’. Well, shoot. Next time, I’ll fly to Lousiana.
-That’s not the only oddity of the day. Belle and Wicked were mindin’ thier store, as expected. But the Padre droppin’ in off a black coach was a stroke o’ sky-fire. Seems he got a telegram sayin’ that Belle might need his help. Odd.
-Couldn’t sleep – was thinkin’ about all the dead Bears. Stayed up playin’ Jacks n’ Bones till Belle woke up hollerin’, then switched ta Faro fer old minin’ scrip. Ain’t worth a damn nohow.
Wednesday Afternoon’, July 8, 1868 – The Maiden Becky Lou – Baton Rouge, Louisiana
-I ain’t sayin’ I’m fersaken, but I’m definately workin’ off some sins. Turns out Annie had gotten on one of the black carriges yesterday, an’ that’s why she’d gone missin’. The same black carriage that left taday at ten fer the river. So, here I am, on an accursed riverboat, steamin’ toward Naw’lins.
-It’s quiet, at least – aside from the crew, it’s only the sibs, the padre, me, an’ a paid pistolero. Fortunately, no injuns on board. Wicked checked.
-Not sure what’s ahead for us, but I’m not sure how I’m gonna git through this without the bottle.
Thursday, July 9, 1868 – The Bogs Near Naw’lins, Louisiana (Again)
-This mornin’, the ol’ posse (less the brain, the ferriner, tha buffalo gal, an’ Wit) plus the new shootist arrove in Naw’lins. In short order, we were brought by two shiny black carriages inta town to speak with the County Sherriff, Jim Powers.
-It was there that we was introduced to a covert agent whose identity I shall redact for the good of the Confederacy, and a native of Bear introduced to us as a scout.
-Seems someone had gotten inta their heads the idea that we all should be a posse ta go an’ find … trouble. So, o’ course, we agreed. Pay’s good, at least.
-First inpressions? Well, I been in on the Trail too long to think of a pistolero as anything more than trouble. This one seems quiet enough, so we’ll see. I’ll just say that the covert agent and I have different ways o’ goin’ about our business, but I don’t pay them no mind. Now, Kyle … he’s an interestin’ one. Scout? Nah. Too big, and too smart. He seems to know a thing or two about the Spirits, tho. so he can’t be completely useless.
-I rest ‘o the posse? Well, Wicked’s gonna be more trouble without Wit aroun’, but at least we have the Padre’s cool head ta balance him out. Belle’s still Hell in heels, but she was always smarter than her cardsharp brother. As for me, mamma was surely right – I ain’t got no sense.
-I’m glossin’ over a lot of that, ‘cause I jus’ seen somethin’ pretty bad, an’ the details have all kinda run away from me.
-In the wet, we came upon a carriage what seemed stuck in the mud, presumably with a broken axle. As I rode to the far side to help the feller workin’ on the wheel, I noticed the ruckus raisin’ from the interior. I noticed that Wicked was right beside me, so I felt fairly safe in tellin’ the folk inside to cut the ruckus … at the top of my lungs.
-But that’s when it all went bad…afore I could I could do much other than smell the powder, shots rang out in a thunderous din. It was begun and over in less than a quarter of a minute, burin’ which time, I sat on a lent hoss catchin’ flies in my mouth. When the exchange of artillery ended, I realized that the hand near the wheel was stone dead, and that there weren’t nothin’ at all wrong with the carriage.
—As everybody was so antsy ta git outta the bogs afore night fell, I had no time for a proper investigation. The Padre said the mad-man in the carriage had kilt the two girls inside, and that had been enough for me. While I would later wonder how the driver had ended up dead outside the wagon, there’s not much to be done about it now. The Shaman, Kyle, performed rites for the dead … and the Padre seemed to surprised to mind, so we stacked the corpses in like cordwood for ‘proper burial’ in town.
Thursday Evenin’, July 9, 1868 – A One Hoss Town in Nowhere, Middle Of, Louisiana
-Well, damn. It turns out that things are done differently out here in the bog. They ain’t got no proper undertaker, nor graveyard, nor church even. So, the only thing we really did by brinin’ the coach inta town was mebbe make some people skairt. Not my train o’ thought.
-Despite bein’ somewhat less than pious, the locals were all right. more or less. Everybody went their own way, as usual. The Padre stayed with me, or maybe I was keepin’ an eye on him, after he’d had words with the local sheriff. Dunno. Jus’ seemed right ta stay with the corpses ‘til they were seen to, anyway.
-It was many hours later while had I found my way inta a bottle o’ sasperilla that Belle had another visit from the Sandman. She woke up everybody but Kyle, her brother (naturally), and whomever’s in room number six. I’ll have ta look inra that in the mornin’, but for now, Belle needs a bottle.
Friday Mornin’, July 10, 1868 – Still Stuck in the Mud
I invited a complex man who appears to need a friend or two to join our posse. More about him later. I ain’t got much sleep, and Kyle and the stable hands need me ta help with so many hosses. I’m just glad to finally find competent help.