"God i'm down here on my knees cuz it's the last place left to fall. Begging for another chance if there's any chance at all, that you might still be listening, loving and forgiving guys like me. I've spent my whole life getting it all wrong, but I sure could use your help cause from now on, I wanna be a good man, a do like i should man. I wanna be the kind of man the mirror likes to see. I wanna be a strong man and admit that I was wrong man. God, i'm asking you to come change me, into the man I wanna be. If there's anyway for her and me to make another start, could you see what you could do to put some love back in her heart? Cause it's gonna take a miracle after all i've done, to really make her see... That I wanna be a stay man. I wanna be a brave man. I wanna be the kind of man that she sees in her dreams." Chris Young "The Man I Wanna Be."
"Come on boys! We got another Mexican rancher trying to set up a homestead. Let's clear 'em out. One hundred dollars promised to every man who comes with me!" Lee Bryce called as he mounted his horse and looked around at all the men. Thomas, as Lee's right hand man, was expected to ride along and he was already mounting his horse. He was close to finding out who was pulling the strings with Lee, it wouldn't take too much longer and he'd be able to report back to Captain Wynter.
So many things he'd been a part of the last two months since talking to Brody. People had been killed. Families destroyed. All in the name of justice according to the rangers. Thomas found that it was easier to deal with the pain now. His heart was too broken for any new hurt to faze it.
Thomas had built a reputation in the gang as being a cold and emotionless man who did what had to be done when he needed to. He liked that image. The men didn't try to laugh or joke with him. He didn't have to pretend to be their friend. He was just there and they basically ignored him.
"How long a ride is it, boss?" Beebee asked as they rode. Lee looked back at the younger man.
"For one hundred dollars are you really going to complain about the ride?" he demanded and Beebee shook his head sending his long greasy hair flying around his shoulders.
"Hell no. I was just wondering is all."
"A couple hours." Lee replied. He looked over at Thomas.
"You seem quieter than usual today, Tommy." he said. Thomas shrugged.
"How can you tell?" Belcher asked with a laugh. "The man never does say more than two words a day."
"But he's damn good with a gun!" Beebee cut in. Thomas just kept his eyes focused straight ahead. He was on his way to another family that didn't deserve what was coming to them. Poor people just trying to make a life for themselves here in Texas. He quickly hardened his heart and turned his emotions off before he did or said anything to give himself away. He wasn't allowed to be soft. He had to be just as cut throat and evil as the men he was riding with.
It was easy for him to lose himself when he was riding hard like this. The pounding of hooves, the dust filling the air, the grunts and snorts of the horses. It was easy to turn off his mind to all that was wrong in his life and time passed quickly.
The homestead came into sight and Thomas saw several girls out playing a game of jump rope while a woman hung clothes out on a line and a man walked a horse around the corral. Thomas pulled his gun as the other gang members did and when the shots started his bullets were among them, though he was careful to aim high enough to avoid hitting what he was shooting at.
Whoops of glee filled the air from the gang members as screams of fear and pain came from the rancher and his family. They were helpless to stop their own deaths from coming… Thomas watched in a state of numb horror as the man, the woman and even the children fell lifeless to the ground, their blood soaking into the Texas earth.
Beebee lit a torch and threw it into the house while several other gang members did the same to the small barn and woodshed. The smell of smoke, blood and death filled the air.
"Shit, there's one more." Belcher exclaimed and Thomas looked toward the house to see a young boy, probably nine or ten coming out of the house, dragging a rifle that was longer than he was tall. Thomas looked at that boy and all he could see was Nathan.
"Leave him be, he's just a kid." he said harshly.
"Boss said to kill 'em all." Belcher argued. Thomas realized that he, Belcher and Beebee were the only men left. Everyone else had already rode back out.