Prologue:  When A Man Dies
©Nesciri April 2000
Disclaimer:  This is a work of fiction based upon characters created and owned by Ed Spielman and Ogiens/Kane Productions.  Neither the author nor the webmistress claim any ownership of the characters except original characters and no money is being made from this work.  This work belongs to the author and may not be used or posted without the author's express permission.

"I want you to do this last thing for me, Foster." The man's voice was barely audible and Foster leaned towards the bed.

"What do you want?" he asked slowly as he watched the man fight for breath. He hadn't long to go and although Foster held no high feelings for the sick man it was his brother and he would carry out any last wish the man could have. It still amazed him that they were born to the same parents, so different had their lives turned out to be. He had loathed his older brother's way of
marrying a rich man's daughter, not for love, but for her money. As far as he knew, it had been a miserable marriage and the
couple only had one child, a boy, spoiled rotten by his mother and ignored by his father, as least that what he had think when he last saw him, more than twelve years ago. The boy must be around 18-20 now, he pondered. Foster had left his family and
severed all tied with his brother in search for a better life. He wasn't sure he had found it, but he was certain of one thing - he
had lived an honest life, contrary to his brother. He had only came here out of a sense of loyalty - a family tie. And seeing his
brother on his deathbed had softened him somewhat, but still he was unable to see through his brother's crimes and offences.

"I know I've done some awful things in my time," his brother continued. "I wish I could make 'em right, but I can't. Only you
can do that."

Foster squirmed where he sat.

"I can't do anything like that."

"But you will try. I know you, brother, you'll always do what's right, no matter how much you loath me."

Foster sighed.

"What is it?" he asked silently, well aware that he would do exactly what his brother wished.

"There are three people that I feel I have seriously wronged."

Foster sniffed at the words.

"Only three?" he couldn't help remarking.

"Only three that matters. It's my son. No matter how I felt about his mother, he's still my son and should have had my attention."

"You married his mother for her money, and stopped caring for her when she gave birth to the boy. It's a bit late to play the
good father, don't you think?"

"Don't mock me, brother, I'm well aware that I have wronged both of them. Now, she is already with the Lord, God bless her
soul, but I can still do something for my son."


"Wait, let me finish. The second person, is my second child."

"Second child? I didn't know you had another child---"

"Nobody knows. Her mother was an actress, more beautiful than anything I've ever laid my eyes on. When she got pregnant I
abandoned her. I couldn't be burdened with her, not in my position. Can you imagine what an illegitimate child would had done
to me?"

"Given' you some humanity?"

"The third person --" the man in the bed coughed -- "is a young woman. I met her on one of my travels. She's a sweet creature
and she fell for all of my lies. I promised her marriage and she left her family for me. What I forgot to tell her what that I was
already married and that I had no intention of ever marrying her." The man shook his head slowly. "But we had some great
times, I'll tell you. Finally I couldn't keep up the lies when she started to ask about the whole marriage thing. So I told her,
promised that I would leave my wife - she wouldn't believe me and she left. Damndest part of it all, that time I really meant it."

Foster sighed and opened his mouth to comment on his brother's stories, when his brother continued.

"I want you to find them. As you know, I've build up a considerate fortune. Take whatever you need for expenses and when
you've found them, there'll be a considerate amount for you as well."

"I don't want you money, you know that."

"I know. But if you change your mind, they're there. When you've found them, you'll have to decide whom of them that is most
worthy of the inheritance. Whoever you choose, get it all."

"And the others?"


"I can't do that. What if all or none them are worthy? What do you mean by worthy anyway?"

"It's up to you. I know you will choose well. You've always had that moral, little brother. Judge them by your standards. If all of them should fail - then everything goes to a cause."

"A cause? What cause?"

"Let me tell you another story - a story about murder."


Foster Stevens looked down at then newly made grave.

"Rest in peace," he mumbled as he replaced his hat on his head. There hadn't been too many at the funeral. His brother had few friends and those that showed up was clearly more interested in his money than in the man himself. But they had been greatly
disappointed, he pondered. He had been to the lawyer as the will was read and he could tell by the surly faces that there were
many that would gladly see him fail to fulfil his promise to his brother. There was her brother's new wife, a young woman,
whom clearly not had married out of love. And then there was her brother, a man who fancied him a gentleman, dressing well
beyond his income, if he even had one. And then there were his brothers associates, or partners in crime as Foster preferred to
call them. He had been pleased when he had been able to leave the lawyers office, with the last known addresses of the people he was told to find in his pocket. Luckily for him, they all seemed to have settled somewhat close, if they hadn't moved again.
He was a bit puzzled to realise that they all lived out west. All of them around Kansas and Missouri. Well, he was in luck, since
an old friend of his was working as a marshal in one of the towns along the Pony Express Route. A small, insignificant town
called Rock Creek, a perfect place to start his investigations. And he couldn't wait to see his old friend Teaspoon again.

Chapter 1

Feedback to Nesciri
Back to Tavern Tales