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Williamson/Story Selection Five

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RESURRECTION.

Resurrection became a ghost town when the gold petered out and the miners left to seek more productive seams. Matt Martin reckoned that made it a good place to hide out and to stash his gains, ill-gotten, from being on the wrong side of the law as a bank robber and road agent. But it sure was a lonely place where the wind whistled and moaned through broken windows and doors, and made the batwings of the saloon swing and creak. Outside tumble weeds rolled down the dusty main street. A man needed company and the nearest town where there were dance hall girls was Martinsville, named after his father who’d founded the place as a church community. His father was old now and was no longer able to climb into the pulpit, but Matt’s brother Roy who was the good son who’d trod his father’s footsteps had taken his place. Mostly he kept out of Martinsville, which was no longer as his father had intended. The devil had snaked in and now there was drinkin’ and gamblin’ and whorin’. Sitting in the stirring dust of the deserted saloon, listening to the spectral voice of the wind, Matt Martin gave a derisive laugh. What did the old fool expect? Him and Roy were both dang fools if they thought they could keep people from chasin’ after the devil’s delights. The good people of Martinsville brought in a Sheriff that couldn’t be corrupted by Jake Oliver, who owned the saloon and ran the gamblin’ and the girls. Oliver had offered Matt a sizeable sum if he’d get rid of the Sheriff.


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“You know I don’t go there much,” he’d said. “Sure, I know, but it’ll be worth your while if you change your mind..” “You reckon?” “Sure. Be like a free town to you. Or maybe you like bein’ all alone in a ghost town.” In the end he didn’t say yes, but he didn’t say no. Now he thought he’d go into Martinsville. Hell was being lonesome like this. * It was Ben Brady who told Roy Martin his brother was in town, in the saloon playin’ poker. Roy went to the saloon, walked up to the table and said to Matt: “How’d you find out?” “Find out what?” “That Pa ain’t well. Ain’t well at all.” “He dyin’?” “Won’t be long. He’d like to see you.” “Last chance to save my soul, is that it?” “Last chance for him to do it. You comin’?” “He can get to heaven on his own.” “Nobody gets to heaven on their own. You know that Matt.” “He can get to heaven without me. Ain’t he got you?” “He needs you, Matt.” “No he don’t. Never did.” “That ain’t true, Matt.” “You in this game or not?” Oliver broke in. One of the girls had her arm around Matt, caressing his shoulders.


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“I’m in,” he said. “Get lost, Roy.” “Come with me, Matt.” When Matt ignored him, Roy turned and walked out. * Oliver told Matt that it was Sheriff Collins’ habit to walk the town in the evenings as part of law enforcement. Matt waited in the shadows with a Winchester. “Matt,” Roy’s voice came out of the opposite shadows. “You plannin’ to shoot the Sheriff?” “Go home, damn you.” Roy walked over to where Matt was. “Come home now, with me. See Pa before it’s too late.” “I ain’t goin’ with you.” “And I ain’t goin’ to let you shoot the Sheriff.” “How you goin’ to stop me?” Roy grabbed the Winchester and they began to wrestle as they had when they were boys. Sheriff Collins came up on them. He recognized Matt Martin from the wanted posters. “Get your hands in the air Martin,” he said. Matt and Roy broke apart. Roy had Matt’s Winchester and threw it into the shadows. Distracted by this the Sheriff was slow. Matt’s handgun barked once and the Sheriff clutched his chest before he fell. Roy grabbed for Matt’s Colt and got it. Matt took off leaving Roy standing there. Roy went over to the Sheriff and was kneeling beside him with the smoking Colt when the deputy came up behind him and thunked him on the head with the butt of his shotgun. *


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Roy Martin remained silent throughout his trial and circumstantial evidence found him guilty of killing Sheriff Collins. “Have you anything to say before I pass sentence?” the judge asked. “Yes, your honour. I thank the deputy and the court for the consideration given to me regarding the dying and the burial of my father, and for allowing my wife and family so many visiting rights. I deeply regret the death of Sheriff Collins, and I apologize to his loved ones for that. I truly did not wish him to die. His death was a tragic loss of life.” “We are at a loss to know why,” the judge said. “Why not tell us?” Roy Martin stayed silent until he was hanged. * Roy’s wife, Emma sought out Matt Martin. “He died for you,” she said. “I’m a widow because of you.” Matt said nothing, unable to meet her steady gaze. “You could have saved him.” “I should have come in and told the truth.” “You should have. Roy kept hoping you’d come in but you weren’t man enough to do that.” “It’s too late now.” “That’s right, it’s too late now.” “Why didn’t you say something? He told you everything didn’t he?” “I told them it was you, but they didn’t believe me. Just a wife trying to save her husband.” “What do you want me to do?” “Roy wants you in heaven with him.” “What about you? You must hate me.”


Williamson/Story Selection Five “No, I pity you. I’m going back to Roy’s children. Someday when they’re old enough to understand I’ll tell them how their father died trying to save your soul.” After she’d gone, he sat in gathering darkness. “God help me,” he said aloud, and began to cry.

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Williamson/Story Selection Five

6 RUBY’S LUCK.

Al Spade, a young cowpoke, worked for Davis Burns, rancher. It took a while for him to realize that Ruby Burns, the rancher’s wife, was interested in him. She’d picked him, but Al did not know that. He thought that this attractive woman, more his age than her husband’s, loved him. “The time has come,” she said one day. “You know what you have to do?” It was half statement, half question. “Sure,” Al said. “We been through it time and again. You want me to go through it again?” “I guess not. Just go and do what needs to be done.” Her full moist lips brushed his own, lightly; an erotic promise of more to come when he had done what had to be done. He rode off to gain Ruby Burns and the ranch, which would fall to her when her grizzled old man had bit the dust. * Davis Burns owned the hotel, so there was always a suite of rooms available for the rancher and his wife whenever they stayed in town. From the Burns’ Hotel, Ruby made her way to the Sheriff’s office. Rick Clancy, the Sheriff asked Mrs. Burns what he could do for her. “You look worried,” he said. “I am worried, Sheriff Clancy,” Ruby said. “I believe my husband’s life is in danger.” “How might that be?” “My husband went to Fairfax and is probably on his way home now. He is travelling alone and I fear he might be ambushed.”


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“What makes you think that?” “Because I’ve been a fool.” “Who do you think’s going to bushwack him?” “A young cowhand who thinks I’m in love with him. Of course that is just ridiculous. I love only my husband.” The Sheriff wondered why she just didn’t come right out and say who was going to bushwack her husband. He gave her a prompt. She ignored it. “It’s really all my fault,” Ruby said. “I didn’t think he’d be so foolish as to misunderstand my consideration of him. He seemed such an unfortunate young man. The other hands picked on him and played him practical jokes and laughed at him all the time. I just felt sorry for him and spoke with him more out of pity than anything else. He was an orphan, you see. He’d been unhappily raised in one of those terrible orphanages back East. They were so cruel to him there. Let me give you an example of what they did to him in that home when he was six…” “Mrs. Burns,” Sheriff Clancy broke in, exasperated. “Just tell me who he is, and where he is now. If Mr. Burns’ life is in danger we can’t waste any more time.” Ruby Burns looked hurt, then, collected herself. “You’re quite right, Sheriff Clancy. What was I thinking of? His name? Al Spade. Where he is now, I don’t know, but I suspect he might be lying in wait for my husband.” “What makes you think that?” “He came to the hotel, and the things he said to me.” “What things?” “That he loved me. That I was too young to waste my life on such an old man. That if Davis was dead, he and I could be wed and enjoy everything Davis had because everything would be


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mine then. It was horrible. I had to put him right. He went away mad swearing that he would kill Davis anyway. That’s why I’m so frightened. He’s not long gone.” “Which trail does Mr. Burns usually take when he comes from Fairfax?” “The upper.” “That’s the long one.” “He likes the view from up there. He can see everything he owns.” “If my Deputy was here I’d send him to cover the lower trail, but as there’s only me, let’s hope you’re right.” “I’m sure I am.” Sheriff Clancy rode out to save Davis Burns’ life. * Ruby returned to the hotel smiling. She reckoned she’d delayed and misguided the Sheriff long enough to give Al Spade time to kill her husband. The Sheriff would go after Spade and maybe kill him but even if he didn’t and took him prisoner, it would be her word against Spade’s. Late that evening she heard a key turn in the door to her suite of rooms, and when she looked to see who came through the door she was shocked. “Hallo, Ruby,” her husband said. Recovering. “Davis, I expected you earlier.” “I was delayed, but I’m here now. Why don’t you get ready for bed? I’ll sit here awhile.” She went into the bedroom wondering what had gone wrong. She threw herself fully clothed on the bed and fell asleep. She awoke next morning to find her husband still sitting where she had left him.


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“Sleep well?” he asked. There was a knock on the door. “Why don’t you answer it?” Davis Burns said. When she opened the door she got another shock. “Go away,” she said to Al Spade, “He’s here.” “Who is it?” called her husband. “It’s me, Mr. Burns, Al Spade.” “Come in, Spade. You’re just the man I want to see. Something I need to get straight. Why don’t you go down and breakfast, my dear, while I talk to Spade?” Ruby needing time to think went downstairs and outside in search of air. Sheriff Clancy rode into town leading two horses with a body draped over each. He stopped when he saw her. “Awful sorry, Mrs. Burns,” he said. “Seems this time your husband took the lower trail and I didn’t save his life. Got his murderer, Al Spade, though.” Ruby’s legs grew weak and she would have crumpled to the ground had it not been for her husband and Al Spade, one on each side of her. “Lucky for you, Ruby, my love,” they said together. “We’ll be here to support you for the rest of your life.” She screamed. Sheriff Clancy thought it was an expression of anguish and loss for her dead husband.


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THE CHILD.

It hadn’t been an easy journey. By the time they reached the village of Chief Heron-Who-Stands-On-One-Leg their Indian ponies were floundering in the falling snow and the three riders were all but exhausted. It was afternoon when they arrived and they were escorted by sentinels to the tepee of the Chief. They were not young men, these travellers. They were grizzled and recognizable as Shamen from different tribes. They were invited to remove their furs and to sit around the fire with Heron-Who-Stands-OnOne-Leg and his Medicine Man, Molgu. “There are only the three of you?” asked Heron who was a man of deep suspicion. “Just we three,” said one. “I am Chivan, and these are my companions Maleck and Oscolar.” “You come with peaceful intent?” “Of course,” said Chivan. “From where have you come?” “From the Mohawk River and from the land of the Huron, and from the Everglades.” “From the East, the North and the South, then,” Heron said. “Your fire has warmed us, but we are hungry,” Chivan said. Heron-Who-Stands-On-One-Leg put his wives to work and soon there was food before them. “What brought you together?” Heron asked. “And what brought you here?” “The Child,” said Chivan. “We have come seeking the child.” “What child?” asked Heron.


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“I have told you and our people of the Child, my Chief,” Molgu said. “The child who is to be chieftain of all the tribes who will lead us to victory over all our enemies and restore to us our lost land.” “You told me, Molgu that the child was only a figment of the imagination, a hope to keep our people from losing heart.” “That is what I believe,” Molgu said. “These Shamen do not think so.” Heron turned to Chivan. “Why seek him here, now?” “We have been guided by the Great Spirit to this place,” Maleck said. “His star is in the sky and he has been born somewhere near here.” “We thought you would know,” Oscolar said. “Your Medicine Man should know.” “I will need to consult the bones,” Molgu said. “Go then,” said Heron. Molgu left the tepee. “If such a child has been born and you find him, what is your intention? asked Heron-WhoStands-On-One-Leg. “We are old, and would like to see and worship our Chieftain before we die,” Maleck said. “To see our Saviour will be the greatest gift of all from the Great Spirit,” Oscolar said. “He will set us free from the corruption of ourselves and our enemies, and he will give us a new prairie and restore the buffalo,” said Chivan. “He will indeed have to be a mighty warrior, if not a miracle worker, to be able to do all that,” said Heron. An Indian came in and spoke quietly into his Chief’s ear. Heron got up, excused himself, and went out.


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In Molgu’s tepee the Medicine Man told Heron that according to prophecy the child was to be born at Thelem, a village of no account. “Is this believable, Molgu?” “It is something we have lost faith in, but perhaps it might be wise to believe that it is so.” “Those old men,” Heron said. “They wish to kneel before this child. That is not something I want to do. I bow my knee to none. Am I not the strongest Chief among the tribes?” Heron returned to the three seekers. “According to prophecy, the child you seek is to be born in the humble village of Thelem.” “How far is that?” Chivan asked. “Not far, and perhaps by morning it will have stopped snowing.” In the morning it had stopped snowing and the three were given directions. “And when you find this child, return and tell me where he is, for if he is all you say, then I too need to worship him.” The three went to Thelem and found a baby not long born. They marvelled at the youth of his mother and the maturity of her husband. “The Child is not yours,” Chivan said to him. “I was told in a dream that it was the child of The Great Spirit,” the man said. The three knelt before the child they believed to be their deliverer and their hearts were filled with joy. They stayed three days in Thelem before they departed. “Shall we go now and tell Heron-Who-Stands-On-One-Leg where to come and worship the Child? asked Oscolar. “I think that it may not be wise to do so,” said Maleck.


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“I think he does not intend to worship,” said Chivan. “I think he intends to kill.” They left that part of the country by a way they had not come. Heron-Who-Stands-On-One-Leg waited until the middle of the second week for the three to come back. He then sent scouts to Thelem who came back and told him that the three had gone. “They found the child,” Heron said to Molgu. “They found him and didn’t come to tell me. I want a raiding party, Molgu. He sent these warriors to Thelem with orders to kill every male child who was two years and younger. His men came back blooded like leeches, and Heron rested content in the knowledge that if a child had been born in Thelem at that time who was to become a greater chieftain than himself, then that child had not survived. From that time Heron become more and more disordered in his mind and started killing off his own sons who would succeed him, until one of them killed him. He died and he never knew that when the Shamen left Thelem they took with them, the child, his mother and her husband.


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THE MAN.

He waited a long time at the lakeside. When I beached my canoe he said: “Good catch?” “Good enough,” I said. “I, too, have a catch to make. Come and help me.” “The time is past for a good catch. Wait until tomorrow.” “My fish swim in this great land of mine. It is time to cast my net.” “Who are you?” “Massi-ah,” he said. “I am Pedro.” “Come with me.” “I have a wife and children. Who will care for them?” “The Great Spirit will provide. They shall not want.” I believed him. I went with him and found eleven others like myself. The Northern and Southern States had ended their war, during which the Indian tribes had been left much to themselves, but then the Americans began to expand and to lay rails from the West and from the East and their Iron Horses belched smoked across Indian lands and the tribes suffered loss of territory and loss of the buffalo. Indians fought the Americans but for each one they killed three took their place. The tribes wanted the prophesied leader who would drive the Americans out so that the land would be theirs again.


Williamson/Story Selection Five We began to hope that Massi-ah was that leader. He did wonderful things and he gave us the power to do these things also. He gave hope to the poor, the lame, the blind and outcasts and healed their infirmities. Such people cast off tribal allegiances and began living according to his doctrine of love, where each of us was our brother’s keeper. He told them of a future land they would inherit ruled over by the Great Spirit. His angered the chiefs of the Indian nations. He became a threat to their power when warlike braves also joined him. In Arizona, a Chief in a Roan Shirt confronted him. “If you are so powerful,” the Chief said. “Why have you not swept the Americans from our lands?” “That is not why I have come.” “They say you are the one born in Thelem and sent by the Great Spirit. The one who comes from the Great Spirit will destroy our enemies.” “I have not come to destroy but to save.” Roan Shirt laughed. “I have heard your way of salvation. I spit on it.” “It is the only way. If you live by the arrow you will die by the arrow.” “I shall die like a warrior. You say to love my enemies. When I went in peace to the camp of the miners, they tied me up and whipped me. I hate them.” “How many of your people have died since because of your hate? Your people are less than they were, but the white men increase. They will flow from the East like a great river and drown the peoples of the plains and mountains. The remnants will be

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Williamson/Story Selection Five taken and concentrated on barren reservations. Make peace with the Americans. Live with them in such a way as to return good for their evil.” But the Chief had no understanding of what he was hearing and would hear no more about humbling himself and becoming a peacemaker. We left. We went East with Massi-ah, preaching the message of the Great Spirit until we came to Washington. There we lived among the poor, crammed into a patch of land by the river. They lived in squalor, disease, and moral corruption. Black men freed by the recent war but with no prospects of work. Indians their heads intoxicated with bad whiskey. Irish and Chinese down-and-outs, crippled by the railroad, all living lives of hopeless despair. To these people Massi-ah promised greatness in the future land of the Great Spirit. Their hopes revived, their self-respect grew and they began to help and provide for each other. Their persistent demands for food and clothing, and education for their children became a thorn in the side of the authorities and this brought Massi-ah to their attention. Some leaders came to him. “Who will rule this new land you speak of?” they asked. “The Great Spirit,” Massi-ah said. “It will be a Kingdom of peace and love.” “And what about us?” “You will be his subjects if you hear my voice. The meek and the poor will come into their inheritance.” “We cannot allow that. Why should we deprive our own children?” “If you want to be children of the Great Spirit you should sell what you have and give to the poor. If you have two shirts you should give one to a man who has none.”

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Williamson/Story Selection Five “We need the poor to be poor to be what we are.” “It will not be long before you bring me before your courts,” Massi-ah said. He was right. Government agents provoked a riot in which a great deal of property was destroyed. Massi-ah was identified by one of our own and arrested. The charge was sedition against the lawful Government. False witnesses testified against him, but Massi-ah said nothing in his own defence. Neither did we, his followers. We scattered and I denied being with him. He was hanged and buried among the poor by the river. In hiding we eleven wondered what we would do and where we would go. The one who betrayed him died by his own hand. “Let’s go home,” I said. “Home? Where?” “West,” I said, sick at heart. On the way West, towards evening, a rider came down to us from a side trail on a white horse. We stopped. He reined in. Looked at us, then he said each of our names leaving mine until last. “Pedro,” he said. “You are all to meet with Massi-ah at Snake Creek in the Black Hills. He will tell you then what he wants you to do.”

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TIME TO FILL A STOCKING.

Before Christmas Coop, Wayne, and Lee robbed the Langtry Bank, and lit out for Mexico. These were grizzled men in the winter of their discontent. They crossed the Rio Grande with enough in their saddlebags for a comfortable old age. Christmas Eve they camped in a canyon, with a warming fire under the star-lit night. “Posse won’t cross after us,” Lee said. “Let’s keep the fire goin’.” “Mexicans’re havin’ a revolution,” Wayne said. “We don’t want to tangle with either side.” “What do you say, Coop?” Lee said. “Let’s keep the fire.” “We slept colder.” “When we was young. Now we’re old, and cold.” “As a kid, night like this,” Coop said. “I used to hang up a stockin’.” “Ever get anythin’ in it?” Wayne said. “I got toys and such like. Christmases were real good. Food aplenty served by house slaves, and field hands used to sing carols while we ate. War ended all that.” Wayne said, “War made you an outlaw. Chicago Stockyard Company made me one. Whole family was in hock to the company store, so I took to stealin’ to get free. Got me into prison. What about you, Lee?” “Guess it was Pa whalin’ the tar out of me. Said the Devil’d got into me and it was his duty to beat the hell out of me. So maybe it wasn’t Pa, maybe it was the Devil?” “You still hold with that?” Coop asked. “Did for a while. Easier to think the Devil was to blame and not me.”


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“Your daddy was the Devil,” Wayne said. “At least we killed nobody for all our robbery. We never got life, or hung.” “We could’ve gone another road,” Coop said. “Like the road that led to fillin’ stockin’s.” “We took the roads we took,” Lee said. “What about the fire?” “Hell,” Wayne said. “Let’s keep ourselves warm.” * Next day they rode into Portales, which was under control of Federal Troops. A Captain Pinero questioned them. They said they were passing through to Vera Cruz on their way to Argentina. They’d no intention of involving themselves in Mexican affairs. They weren’t mercenaries. They’d a job with a cattleman called Mendoza. Had they enough money to reach Vera Cruz and pay their passage to Argentina? They’d just the right amount, with, perhaps, a little left over. In which case they could pay the Captain a little something, or find themselves detained. They dickered and paid the extortion, and Pinero showed them a wanted notice. They could earn a thousand pesos by bringing the bandit, Jose Morales, to the authorities dead or alive. It showed a young man with a fringe of dark hair combed down over his forehead, small eyes, a large nose, and a moustache that drooped on either side of his mouth. * They ate, and left after sundown, for they hadn’t liked the way the rat faced Captain eyed their saddlebags. They didn’t think they’d be alive in the morning if they stayed the night. “You think that Pinero’ll follow us?” Wayne said.


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“He’ll follow,” Coop said. “Us goin’ like this’ll make him sure we got somethin’ we don’t want him to get.” They smelled smoke and the stench of death and came upon the ruins of what had been a village. “There’s a light. Wait here.” When Coop came back, he said they’d better come see. In an outhouse, which still had a roof they looked through a window and saw, by candle light, an old woman, a young woman with a swaddled baby, and a man they recognized as Jose Morales. A burro shared their shelter. “How much is a thousand pesos?” Wayne asked. Coop went in. Morales scrambled for the rifle that was against the wall. “Leave it,” Coop’s sharp command halted Morales who saw the gun in Coop’s hand and the other two behind him. The infant began to cry. The woman rocked it gently in her arms. “We have nothing,” the old woman said. “This woman has just birthed a baby. Go your way and leave us in peace.” “Jose Morales,” Coop said. Fear showed in the eyes of all three. “He is not Jose Morales,” the old woman said. “Jose Morales is miles away.” “Pleased to hear it,” Coop said, taking the rifle, and putting his gun away. “Is the baby well?” “As well as can be expected for having come into the world before his time.” “There are Federal soldiers in Portales. They’ll come here,” Coop said. “Why should they come where they have killed before?” “They’ll follow us. Believe me.”


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“Take it we’re helpin’ these people, Coop?” Lee said. “Time we filled a stockin’,” Coop said. “If I was you I’d shave that moustache.” Wayne said. “Makes you look like that fella Jose Morales.” “And I’d get my family over the border. That Captain Pinero looked real mean to me,” Lee said. “I must stay with my people.” “That’s a fine sentiment, son,” Wayne said, “but these’re your people, and that child needs a chance to live.” “Jose,” his wife said, “Please do what these wise men say. We must travel to save our child.” “The burro needs rest and so do you.” “I will be fine,” she said. Coop had a word with the others. They nodded. “Our horses are fresh.” They discussed with Morales the trail that would avoid Portales. When all three were on the horses with the child bound securely to his mother, Coop said to Jose Morales, “Brother, there are gifts in my saddle bags for the child.” “And, in ours,” said Wayne and Lee. “What are your names? We cannot repay.” “Go,” Coop said. “We sure filled their stockin’,” Wayne said, watching them go. “Not quite full,” Coop said. “Tomorrow, when Pinero comes I’ll make sure it’s runnin’ over. This’ll be my Alamo. You boys don’t have to stay.”


Williamson/Story Selection Five “If you stay, we stay,” Wayne said. He looked at Lee. “Got to make sure their stockin’s filled right,” Lee said.

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Story Selection Five