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Siege at Goldfield
Is a short classic western story of old fashioned gun play, redemption and men willing to change, and people who fall into devoted love. Phil Running Bear, relocated himself so he could bring to life Goldfield a mining town in Central Arizona with a story that will touch everyone’s heart. The book is written in the style of Louis L’Amour, Max Brand and Zane Grey. It is a story of passion. Thomas Lassater will stop at nothing to protect his love and property. A must read!
About the Author
Phil Running Bear has lived a life that is full. Starting his life as an emancipated minor in Hollywood, California, where he worked with Gene Scherer, stuntman of the year for three years in the 80’s. He was stunt double for Lee Majors in the Fall Guy series. Then he graduated with honors from Le Cordon Bleu, San Francisco. He has been an Executive Chef and Corporate Chef for 35 years as the culinary arts were his first love. He worked in Glacier National Park and at a Posh resort at Furnace Creek in Death Valley, California. He also worked for the El Tovar Hotel at the Grand Canyon. He has worked as a General Manager for many restaurants, having been in charge of as many as 40 restaurants at one point in his life. He worked for Marriott Hotels as a Chef and took part in an employee exchange with Euro Disney where he worked six months outside of Paris in a restaurant called the Blue Bayou which is located at the beginning of the popular “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride. Phil has worked at Ajit Bhawan in Jodhpur, India, a palace built in 1600 A.D, that was converted into a high end hotel. He worked at Prince of Wales Hotel in The Waterton Glacier International Peace Park. He ran a successful online business after taking Business Management in College at the age of forty. He arrived DOA at a Las Vegas hospital where his heart was stopped for 25 minutes before being resuscitated. Phil has written over 200 songs of which many were sold to Tom Petty, Steve Perry and The Traveling Wilburys in the late 80’s. He plays guitar, harmonica, bass guitar,drums,banjo and keyboards. He has very talented children and step children that all play instruments and sing very well. Phil also enjoys writing westerns as he loves the stories by the old western author’s that did their research before writing a story. Such authors as Louis L’Amour, Max Brand and Zane Grey.
Thomas Lassater’s lips were cracked and dry. He hadn’t had water for 48 hours. Not since they took him from his ranch outside of Goldfield. Joseph Malbry and his men had dragged him on foot, led by a rope for 40 miles across the desert. When they made camp last night, he waited until early in the morning to make his escape. He was thirsty, but water would have to wait, as the river was where Malbry and his men were camped. He could get moisture from the plants. Enough water to keep him alive, but not enough for comfort. The terrain was covered with saguaro cactus, ocotillo and ironwood. Some grass was still left over from the spring a couple of months ago. It was now July and it was very hot, and in this desert, there was no shade. Not that he could stop if he wanted to, but he had to push on to Goldfield. There he could get a horse, plenty of water and most of all a gun. Malbry’s type only understood force. It was a tough country and a man was his own law out here in the West.
Lassater owned a small ranch outside of Goldfield. It was small, but it was his. He had worked hard to pay off the mortgage, but all of his effort was well worth it, especially since he had found gold rich ore on his spread. That’s what started the trouble he was in now. Malbry was a gold miner from the Sierra Nevada country. He was very successful, but his mining practices were questionable at best. He had used monitors for hydraulic mining. This method raped the land and left it decimated, completely stripped of trees and all other living plants. But he was greedy, and this was the fastest and most cost efficient way to remove the gold. And gold was all he cared for.
Now Lassater had discovered gold and Malbry would do anything to get it. He was not opposed to violence to get what he wanted. He had never let anything stand in his way. He had even given up his first love, a woman in Placerville, forsaken for gold. Now he wasn’t gonna let any tinhorn cowhand beat him out of what he wanted. Malbry had the upper edge. He had many men at his disposal. These men would do anything for a dollar, anything including murder. He was also a lifelong friend of the Governor of the state so he had political power.
Lassater was alone and outgunned, but he was of Irish German descent and that meant he was stubborn. He would do whatever it would take to hold on to his ranch and what was rightfully his. He was all alone in this fight. He had the respect and admiration of many people in town, but they would not dare stand against Malbry. He also had taken Judge Carlson’s Daughter MariAnnah out for several buggy rides and out to supper at Ma Belle’s boarding house. Although he had never committed to marriage, it seemed as though they had an understanding that that would be the end result. All the more reason for him to hold on to his ranch, to make a home for MariAnnah.
Lassater was lightning fast with a 45 colt and accurate at long range with his 1874 Sharps. His prowess with a gun would come in handy, but he was caught outside his cabin without his guns on the night they took him. There was nothing he could do. He had to wait until the odds were in his favor. To fight at that point would have only gotten him killed. He wouldn’t make the mistake of being unarmed again.
But for now he had to fight for his very survival against the desert. He was without water and food. He also had to make sure his tracks were not followed. He knew how to survive against the elements, but it would not be easy. Ten more miles ahead was Tortilla Creek. He would have plenty of good water and should be able to rig a trout trap. But he had ten hard miles to go and the desert was hot and unforgiving. He could get some water from the cactus, but the Indians had told him that many of their people would get sick from the water in cacti. Moisture within the pulp of cactus is very acidic and many cacti contain toxic alkaloids. So if it was a matter of survival, he would extract the water from the cactus. However, he wanted to try and make Tortilla Creek.
THE LONG TREK
The miles came and went, passing slowly. A man deprived of water has no energy, so travel on foot is quite cumbersome. Lassater suddenly saw the tracks of a javelina. He would need a spear of some type to hunt the animal. Though some people think javelina are a type of wild pig, they are actually members of the peccary family, a group of hoofed mammals originating from South America. Javelina are common in much of central and southern Arizona, including the outskirts of the Phoenix area, most of Tucson, and occasionally as far north as Flagstaff. Lassater had been taught several things like these by his father who was a very learned man. Getting his education from books, he was very intelligent and he passed his knowledge on to Thomas. Not only his book knowledge, but his knowledge of the land and of surviving. This knowledge had to be taught by example, by doing. And that is how Lassater learned from his father, by doing.
By chance, Malbry’s men did not check Lassater’s boots. If they had, they would have found his Bowie knife. So luckily, or if by fate, he still had it in his possession. He found just the right branch of an ironwood bush and meticulously whittled a sharp point on the stick. It was a rough spear, but it would work if he could get close enough to his prey. He followed the tracks carefully and quietly. He came upon a stand of boulders and heard the javelina on the other side. Slowly he edged around the boulders, barely sighting the animal; he lunged in and drove the spear through the chest area near the lungs. The animal fought for only a moment, as the stick had pierced his lungs. After killing his prey, he carefully butchered the animal. He could carry enough meat to survive on and eat when he arrived at Tortilla Creek. He had walked about nine miles from the river when he could see the sparkling water of the creek in the distance.
Thomas was all in when he reached Tortilla Creek. He felt like a horse that had been rode hard and put away wet. He was spent. First thing he did was drink of the fresh creek water. There is no better feeling than your first drink after going without for a long period of time. He put his face down in the cool water and held it under for several seconds. He was instantly refreshed, now to address his hunger. He gathered limbs and sticks for a fire. Finding a piece of hard flint, he started a fire. He cooked some of the meat, reserving some for the next day. He ate until he was full. Then he felt bone tired and lay down. He was almost instantly asleep.
MOTHER AND DAD
Waking at dawns first light, Lassater was deep in thought. He thought back of his mother and father. His mother was a German immigrant and his father Irish-English. His mother was a lovely woman of about 5’8” tall. She spoke with a heavy German accent, but her English was very good. His father had taught her the language. When they met she spoke Dutch, which fortunately he knew very well. They would speak in German until he taught her English. He met her in a small German settlement in Kansas, where she was living with her father. Her mother had died from cholera on the voyage a year earlier from Germany. Thomas’s father was passing through with some cattle he had recently purchased. He was headed for his ranch outside of Dodge City. He saw her outside of the mercantile. He heard her speaking Dutch to the store keeper. She was asking for help to carry her purchases to her wagon. He interrupted in Dutch and asked if he could help. She graciously accepted. He continued in Dutch, “My name is Benjamin Lassater. What is your name?”
“Mary Weber,” she replied.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mary.” He helped her carry her goods to her father’s wagon which was tethered near the saloon. Just as he was helping her up on the wagon, two men staggered out of the saloon. Both were very drunk. One of them walked directly into Mary and grabbed ahold of her arm. “Mister, you best take your hands off her!” Benjamin said abruptly.
“Mind your own business! This lil’ gal is coming with us!” A smashing blow caught the man in the ribs and a jabbing left caught his jaw. He heard bells ringing in his head and staggered back. The other man moved in connecting a right to Benjamin’s cheek. Benjamin winced slightly, but then hit the man in the solar plexus. He fell to the ground gasping for air. The first man lunged at him, swinging wildly. Benjamin feinted to the right and caught his boot as he passed by, knocking him to the ground. The men had had enough. “Okay, Mister, you made your point, we’ve had it!”
“I suggest you two clear out!” It seemed to be over as soon as it started.
Benjamin asked, “Are you okay, Mary?”
“Yes, I…I think so. Thank you, Benjamin. I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t helped me! Why don’t you come with me and have some coffee at our cabin? I would like you to meet my father.” From that moment on they both knew that something deep inside of them had been stirred. It was love at first sight. Benjamin met her father and asked if he could court his daughter. Her father said “Yes.” So he delivered the cattle to his ranch and left the hands in charge. He went back to Mary and courted her. They were married soon after. He took her to his ranch and she settled in. They were happy together, and Thomas was born 9 months after their wedding.
Thomas grew up learning the ways of a cowboy. His father taught him to rope cattle, how to ride a cutting horse and how to use a gun proficiently. He also taught him about the land, how to respect it and how to survive off the land. When he was 15, the Indians had come while he was out hunting. He came home and found his mother and father dead and all the buildings burnt down. All the cattle had been driven off as well. Thomas had nothing to keep him there and the old place reminded him of his parents and it was too hard to remember them constantly, so he set out on the trail. At 15 he was a fully developed man. Lean in the waist and broad in the shoulders. He worked as a cowboy driving herds to market, doing the job of a full grown man. The other trail hands had accepted him, as he had proven himself many times. However, when the cowboy’s went to town and to the saloons, gambling halls and houses of ill repute, Thomas stayed behind. He was a lot like his father in that way.
Thomas worked hard for 10 years, saving almost all of his wages. When he was 25, he left for California to buy a place of his own. When he arrived in the Arizona territory, he was impressed with the landscape and the loneliness of the open desert. So he decided to settle there. He heard of a new gold strike town called Goldfield. So he headed there to find a place. Goldfield was set on small hill between the Superstition Mountains and the goldfield mountains. It had grown to a bustling population of 1,500 and boasted three saloons, a general store, boarding house, blacksmith shop, a school, brewery and a butcher shop. Thomas found a spread of 100 acres just 10 miles south of town. 10 miles seemed like a hundred as it was quiet and desolate. Just the way he liked it.