Dave P. Fisher                        
Author & Western Humorist

Double Diamond Books                      
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Monthly Feature
             Code of the Bush
The mob enforcers, out to force Duke Donnelly into giving up his gold claim to their company, kidnap his daughter, Mandy. Duke gives chase.




Two days passed and Duke saw no sign of the white Coloma pickup. That didn’t mean they hadn’t been sneaking around, maybe checking out the place at night, it just meant he hadn’t caught them at it. None of the Stuarts had seen them either.

Duke knew they had no intention of giving up. They planned to pull something and whatever it was he intended to be ready to counter it. He didn’t fear for himself or his property. He didn’t want any of his expensive equipment damaged or destroyed, but it could be repaired or replaced, who he feared was for Mandy. Suspecting what he did she was the obvious target.

They kept an eye on the creek as it rose and fell with each wave of new melting ice and snow. It was still too high and fast to begin using the dredge and enough snow and frozen ground remained on the banks to make shoveling gravel into the gravel processor impractical. They would have to wait for the proper water level.

They had walked out to uncover the mining machines and check them over, making them ready for use. Duke explained to Kyle how the machines worked. Kyle was anxious to start working at gold mining. He had read several books on the Gold Rush and was excited to actually find gold.

Kyle had hardly ceased from his excited chatter about every detail of every fish he had caught with Coy. Duke appreciated the boy’s excitement and patiently listened to the telling over and again. There was nothing lazy about the young man as he pitched in at every opportunity to help.

Seeing the change in Kyle’s spirits was enough to convince Duke that he had made the right choice in keeping the boy with them. The courts, police, and social services wouldn’t agree, but they saw everything in black and white. He saw the world in living color, a world made up of flesh and blood. There was no way he was sending Kyle back to try and survive or be shuttled from home to home because some social worker said so.

As they were walking back to the house Mandy asked, “Will you take us over to Diane’s? I haven’t talked to her in a while.”

Duke grinned at her, “Girl talk, huh?”

Mandy laughed, “Something like that.”

“How about Coy?”

“Oh, I’m sure as soon as he sees Kyle they’ll be off to the lake,” Mandy smiled at Kyle.

Kyle laughed. “We had a lot of fun.”

Duke agreed to take them. When they reached the house he told them to climb into the pickup. He was wearing the Eagle, only taking it off in the evening when he settled into the house for the night, yet keeping it close at hand. Kyle noticed the change in the guns, but he understood that Duke needed to be ready to defend himself, or them. if those mob guys came back around.

They drove down their road and onto the main road. They crossed over an overrun of the creek and continued on to the Stuart’s house. Pulling into the drive, Duke drove up to the big log house and stopped.

Vic was in the process of framing a new cabin for his clients. He left off his work and walked to the pickup to meet Duke. Mandy climbed out of the pickup as Diane hurried out of the house to meet her. The two girls immediately walked off talking.

Duke looked at Vic as he walked up. “Mandy had some critical girl talk for Diane.”

Vic chuckled. “Never question feminine logic, it’ll get you killed.”

Vic looked at Kyle, “Coy says you out-fished him the other day. That’s pretty hard to do.”

“I wouldn’t have caught anything if Coy hadn’t taught me how.”

“He’s going to make a first rate guide, that’s for sure.”

“Is Coy around?” Kyle asked.

Vic jabbed his thumb over his shoulder. “Got him repairing some gear in the shed.”

Kyle walked off to find him.

Mandy and Diane were busy talking and not paying attention to their surroundings. They had absently walked down the drive and out to where it entered the main road. They were deep in conversation and failed to see the white pickup speeding toward them.

Yancey had spotted the girls first pointing them out to Hopper. They both agreed to seize the opportunity and grab the kid. Hopper stepped on the gas in a rush to catch them. Mandy was the first to look up at the sound of the truck. Her eyes flared wide as she realized her mistake. By the time the situation registered that she needed to run, the pickup slid to a halt.

Yancey jumped out and grabbed Mandy by her ponytail. Diane leapt at him in an effort to assist Mandy. He slammed a big beefy hand into Diane’s chest hurling her several feet back where she landed in a pool of icy snow melt water. She hit with a resounding splash. He clamped his hand over Mandy’s mouth and jerked her into the truck.

Hooper stomped on the gas spinning the pickup into a U-turn and floored it straight back down the road.

Diane climbed out of the frigid water stunned and terrified. She began screaming for help as loud as she could while scrambling out of the water. She ran for the house shouting, “They took Mandy. They took Mandy.”

Duke and Vic were still talking when they heard Diane’s first scream. Both men turned and ran toward her. They met her as she screamed hysterically about the men taking Mandy.

Without hesitation Duke ran back to his pickup and jumped in. Turning the key the truck roared to life. Vic jumped in the passenger seat and closed the door as Duke tore out of the yard and down the drive. He hit the main road hard turning onto it headed west. He stomped on the gas as he cursed viciously. The pickup roared slinging mud up the sides and out the back.

Without looking at Vic Duke snarled, “I’m going to kill them both. You’d better be ready for it and don’t try and stop me.”

Both side windows were open. Between the rushing wind and sound of the tires on the splashing road Vic had to shout back. “Who wants to stop you?”

“If they hurt her,” Duke growled. “If they hurt my girl.”

On a straight stretch of road he could see the Coloma pickup’s tires throwing water and mud up behind it. They had a good half mile lead. Duke held the accelerator flat to the floor as the pickup held its speed.

Unaccustomed to the spring conditions of the road, Hopper was having trouble staying on it. The mud and slush kept pulling him toward the edge of the road. “Come on!” Yancey screamed at him, “I thought you were a driver!” He had his hands full as Mandy continued to fight and squirm against his restraining hands.

Yancey laughed with malice, “We’ll calm you down little girl.”

Hopper looked at the rearview mirror and swore.

“What?” Yancey shouted at him.


Yancey turned to look out the rear window. He swore as he saw the pickup gaining on them. “Come on gramma, drive!”

A wide expanse of overflow water rolled over the road. Hopper panicked and slowed the pickup down before he hit the water.

“What are slowing down for? Go!”

Duke saw the Coloma pickup slow before it hit the water. He didn’t let up on the accelerator as he caught up to the pickup and roared through the overflow, throwing water up into Yancey’s open window soaking him.

Duke kept up the pace until he was ahead of them. He slammed his foot down on the brake pedal spinning the pickup sideways across the road so his open window was facing the oncoming pickup. Jerking the Eagle out of the holster he held it out the window with a two hand grip. Three booming reports rocked back through the cab as the Coloma pickup cleared the overflow.

The grill blew out of the Coloma pickup as the punctured hot radiator exploded sending a shower of water and antifreeze into the air. The heavy bullets ripped through the radiator and into the engine block causing a spray of oil to mix with the water. The pickup ground to a dead stop behind a sheer cloud of steam.

Duke bailed out of his pickup at the same instant Yancey jumped out. The big thug was holding Mandy with his left arm around her shoulders, in his right he held the bore of a .45 automatic to the side of her head. Duke stopped, took a bladed stance, and pointed the Eagle at Yancey in a two handed grip.

Water dripped off Yancey as he screamed at Duke, “Give us your truck or I kill the kid.”

“You kill her,” Duke shouted, “and you won’t have anything to hide behind and I’ll blow a big hole in you.”

“I mean it,” Yancey bellowed. He dragged Mandy to the front of the disabled pickup.

Mandy’s eyes were wide with terror as she stared at her father.

Duke held his stance, the Eagle locked in the two handed grip aimed at Yancey’s chest just above Mandy’s head. “Let her go, Yancey. It’s the only way you can get out of this.”

“Five seconds Donnelly and I pull the trigger. Give me your truck!”

“No. Mandy, drop!”

Mandy was terrified and her thinking jumbled up. She didn’t know what to do, but at the word ‘drop’ her subconscious mind kicked in remembering her father’s instructions. She twisted her head sideways and went limp letting her weight drop straight down.

“What the . . .” Yancey began to say as the girl slid to the ground and out from under his arm. For a full second he stood confused.

Duke pulled the trigger.


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