His name evoked stories. Stories they called legend. The old timers swore the stories were true; Black Jack was the last of the real cowboys. Jessie learned the stories as a girl. They captivated her and she always wanted more. She asked everyone who would talk to her, to tell her the stories of Black Jack. Over the years, she had collected and memorized each one.
Today she had found the last clue, the last piece of the puzzle she needed to prove the truth. Jessie put a large box and her camera in the passenger seat and climbed behind the wheel of her old red pickup. It would be a long trip. Jessie drove for miles, out into the middle of nowhere to where the court records showed an old ranch. The records said the title had transferred long ago to the last living heir. Jessie knew the heir was Black Jack.
Jessie pulled off the road and looked at the surrounding land. There was no road, no house, only rolling land. She pulled the copy of the plat from the box and studied it. The plat showed over two hundred acres, with creeks and the major roads, but nothing else. She couldn’t fail, she had to find his house. Jessie smiled and grabbed her phone. The GPS homed in on her position and she scanned the satellite image trying to correlate what she was seeing to the features marked on the plat.
There. She saw a cabin, a barn and another small structure. Jessie marked the spot on the plat. There weren’t any roads or trails which meant she was hiking the rest of the way. She pulled her pack out of the back and filled it with the contents of the box and her camera. If she hurried she would be there before dark.
The sun was setting. Jessie heard a shotgun being cocked in the woods ahead. She stopped and peered up at the ridge. There she saw a man half obscured in the trees.
“State your business,” a voice called.
“My names Jessie and I’m looking for Black Jack.” Jessie waited, but even after several moments there was no response.
“I just want to talk. They tell stories about you and I want to know if they’re true.”
The woods were still. Jessie peered into the gathering dusk. She thought he still stood in the trees but she couldn’t be sure.
The dark form of a man stepped into the clearing in front of her, the shotgun still pointed in her direction.
“Jack? Like I said, I just want to talk. It’s getting dark and my trucks parked back on the road.”
“Come on then,” the gravelly voice called. He released the firing mechanism on the shotgun, dropped the gun into the crook of his elbow and turning walked off without another word.
“Thank you, Jack. I appreciate it,” Jessie called as she half ran to catch up with him.
Jack continued in silence, pulling a cigarette from his pocket, lighting it, not missing a step.
Jessie grinned as she hurried to keep up with the old man. Tonight, she was determined to get the answers to her questions.
Keep on writing.
Jo Hawk The Writer