Justice 05: With Justice For All

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: General Erotica  |  House: Booksiesilk Classic Group

Justice comes to the UK, where he helps a cheated husband.

Justice 05: With Justice For All


by Saddletramp1956

Copyright© 2023 by Saddletramp1956, All rights reserved


Derek Smith sat in the heated outdoor area of the small pub in his usual seat, nursing his beer as he thought about the current state of his life. He would liked to have been inside, but the 14-year-old smoking ban prevented that, much to his chagrin. At least he wasn't in Manchester anymore, where even this was no longer allowed, he thought.


Having completed his twice-weekly run to London, a task that took up much of his day, Derek was on his way home from work. He was able to schedule the drive south at night so he could avoid much of the traffic on the M1. Early the next morning, he would return after a few hours sleep, but it still took a lot out of him. After making the three-and-a-half hour trip back north, he turned his vehicle over to the dispatcher and headed home, stopping for a pint and a smoke on the way.


Thanks mostly to his wife of six years, Cynthia, who worked in the clerical section of the company, Derek began driving for Acme UK about five years ago, He thought about his life with Cynthia and wondered what would become of them.


He had known the feisty redhead for most of his life, and the two of them fell in love during their final year in school. While Cynthia went to university, he got a job driving for another local company. They married after she graduated, and she was recruited to work at Acme. A year later, she suggested he drive for Acme, so he put in his application.


He was offered the position at the interview and was shocked when they offered him three times what he had been making for the same work. The only thing that concerned him was the 10-year employment contract. He had never heard of such a thing, but figured that having job security for at least the next ten years was worth it. Cynthia told him the main company in the States usually had their employees sign on for life – something they had picked up from the Japanese. So he signed on.


Between what the two of them now made, they were able to buy a home in Sheffield. Granted, it was a bit small, but it was fairly new and decked out with all the modern appliances. It also had a fairly nice garden, which he liked. Better yet, it was closer to where they worked.


Having been born and raised in Manchester, it took him a bit to get used to the dialect in Sheffield, but he eventually got the hang of it. Things were going well for them and they even discussed starting a family.


That got put on hold about three months ago, however, when Cynthia announced she was being considered for something called the Executive Support Team. He had never heard of that, so he asked her about it. Her answers were, to say the very least, vague.


As the name implies, it's a team that provides support to the company's executives,” she said.


But what kind of support?” he asked.


Well, whatever the executives need to get their job done.” Realizing he wasn't going to get a straight answer from her, he dropped it. But he still had concerns. Then, about a month later, she came home and announced that she had been accepted.


Not only do I get a major rise in pay, but so do you,” she exclaimed.


Me?” he asked. “I'm glad to hear that, but why would I get a rise for your promotion?”


As compensation,” she said. “The job requires a fair bit of travel, so this is the company's way of thanking you for my time away from home.”


How much travel are you going to be doing?”


It could be extensive, depending on the projects,” she said. “In fact, I'll be in London for training for three weeks. I'm scheduled to go down this Friday.”


Three weeks? That's an awful long time,” he said.


There's a lot to learn,” she said.


Well, I do have my runs to London. Maybe I can swing by and we can see each other for a bit while I'm there,” he said. She shook her head.


I'm sorry, sweetheart, but I'm afraid that won't be possible. I've been told the training is quite rigorous, and the company doesn't want me to have any distractions,” she said.


Oh,” he said, disappointed. “What about weekends?”


The schedule is quite full,” she said. “Especially weekends.”


I see. Will you at least be able to ring me now and again?” he asked, not liking what she had told him.


I'll do what I can. I've been told that I won't be allowed to carry my mobile everywhere, but I should be able to call you once a week,” she said.


Once a week? That's it? That's crazy,” he exclaimed.


I'm sorry, dear. Those are the rules. There's nothing I can do about it,” she said.


Yes, there is,” he told her. “You can refuse the assignment.”


No, I can't do that,” she said. “I've already been accepted onto the team. If I tell them no, we could lose everything and end up on Antarctica or something.”


I don't like it,” he said. “Not one damn bit.”


I know, and I understand,” she said softly. “I don't like it either, but it'll be okay. Trust me. You do trust me, don't you?”


Yeah, I trust you,” he said, taking her in his arms. “I just don't like being away from you. You're my life and I love you, you know that?”


I know, and you're mine as well. I love you too and I'll make it up to you. Promise,” she said.


Those were the hardest three weeks of his life. Cynthia did contact him – one time each week for a five-minute chat – hardly long enough to say anything of any merit. Yes, he liked seeing the extra money in his pay, but that hardly made up for the empty bed he slept in every night.


Nor did it make up for the lonely weekends. Bored and despondent, he went to Meadowhall, a massive shopping center just north of the city center, and window-shopped for a bit, stopping long enough to grab a burrito at a restaurant in the Lower Oasis Dining Quarter.


Cynthia finally returned home after her three week stint in London. She seemed invigorated by the experience, but he also noticed some changes. For starters, her pubic area was completely shaved, something she had never done before. She practically jumped on his face that night in bed, grinding her wet, shaved crotch on him as he ate her out.


He also noticed a difference when he entered her. She seemed more lubricated than before, but there was something else – she didn't feel quite as tight as she did before her three-week trip. She rode him hard that night, almost as if she was out to fuck him to death. After he came inside her, she got on all fours and for the first time ever, offered her ass to him.


Fuck my ass, baby,” she moaned. “Make me yours.” He thought she was already his, but he wasn't about to deny her. She produced a tube of lube, which he happily used at her direction. He was afraid he might hurt her with his somewhat larger-than-average cock, so he took it slow and easy. But she wanted none of that.


Do me, hard and fast,” she said. “Fuck me good and hard.” He couldn't help but wonder what happened to make her this way, but he didn't complain and did as she asked until he filled her with his seed.


What got into you?” he asked as they lay in each other's arms afterward.


Are you complaining?” she asked with a sly smile.


Not at all. I've just never seen you like this before,” he said.


I've missed you so much,” she said. “And I wanted my return to be special for you.”


It's certainly that,” he said. For the next couple weeks, Cynthia seemed to be gone more than she was home. He had no idea what she was doing, and she volunteered nothing of substance. Then one day, she came home and informed him they were invited to an executive dinner that night at the home of Graeme Barton, the CEO of Acme UK.


I'm invited as well?” he asked, somewhat surprised to hear the CEO would invite a lorry driver to an executive function.


Of course,” she said. “I hope you don't mind, but I took the liberty of renting a dinner jacket for you.”


You rented a dinner jacket?” he asked.


Of course. I've been buying clothes for you for six years now. I think I know all your measurements,” she said, palming his crotch with a wicked smile. “Now, why don't you go take a shower and start getting ready. We need to be there at 6:30.” He smiled back.


On my way,” he said. He showered, dressed in the dinner jacket she rented for him and gasped when he saw the tiny black dress she wore. It was backless and the front was held up by a strap that went around her neck. It was quite short, revealing her beautiful long legs.


You look good enough to eat,” he said. “Why don't we stay home and I'll just eat you instead.” She smiled at that.


Down, boy,” she said. “Maybe later, if you're really good.” They left and drove to Graeme's large home. He was amazed at the sheer size of the place. Handing the keys to a valet, he escorted Cynthia inside, where they were met by a large muscular man, also dressed in a dinner jacket. Derek recognized him straight away as Graeme Barton.


Mr. Smith,” he said with a warm smile. “I'm so glad you and your lovely wife could join us tonight,” he told Derek as they shook hands. “Please, come in and make yourself at home.”


Thank you, Mr. Barton,” Derek said. “It's a pleasure to meet you, sir.”


Oh please, call me Graeme,” the CEO said. They entered the large room, where several executives had already gathered with what Derek assumed were their spouses. A somewhat tall, attractive woman appearing to be in her mid-30s walked up to them.


Cynthia, it's so good to see you again, darling,” she said with a smile. “And this must be your husband,” she said, turning to Derek. “I've heard so much about you. It's a pleasure to finally make your acquaintance,” she added, extending her hand. He took her hand and shook it.


Derek, this is Jan Stein,” Cynthia said. “She's the head of the Executive Support Team and one of my mentors in London.”


It's a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Stein,” he said with a smile.


Please, call me Jan,” she said, returning his smile. “Oh, I believe dinner is being served,” she said, looking off to the side. Derek and Cynthia saw the others going into another room and followed them. Sitting down at their assigned places, they enjoyed the food that had been set in front of them. When the meal was finished, everyone stood.


I think it's time we all got to know the newest member of the Executive Support Team a little better,” Graeme announced to the group. Everyone smiled and began leaving the room. Cynthia turned to leave and Derek turned to join her, but Graeme held him back.


Mr. Smith,” he said quietly. “Or may I call you Derek?”


Derek is fine, sir,” he said.


Derek, then. Why don't you join me in my study for a moment.” Derek looked up and saw Cynthia looking back at him. She nodded her head and turned to continue where she was going. Confused, Derek turned back to Graeme.


Alright,” he said. The two men went into another room and Derek closed the door when they were inside.


This won't take long, Derek,” Graeme said. “I feel that it's time to fill you in on what is happening here tonight. As you know, your wife is the newest member of the Executive Support Team.”


I already know that, Mr. Barton,” Derek said.


Do you know what it is the team does, Derek?” Graeme asked.


Cynthia said it's to provide whatever support the executives need.”


Indeed. But there's more to it than that. She will provide whatever services the executives need – or desire, if you know what I mean. And she will provide those services at any time, day or night.”


I'm not following you, sir,” Derek said.


Derek, you're a smart man. I'm sure you can figure out what services your wife will be providing. In fact, she's getting ready to... service... the executives right now. They're just waiting for my arrival. As CEO, I reserve the right to be first in line, so to speak,” he said. As Derek listened, it hit him what Cynthia was expected to do. He looked at Graeme, shocked.


Wait. You're going to have sex with my wife?” he asked.


Of course,” Graeme said. “And so are the others. When we're finished here, we'll take her with us to some of our satellite locations and introduce her to the executives there. We may decide to tour some of the facilities on the mainland.” Derek looked at him, his anger building. He clenched his fists.


You can't do that,” Derek said.


It's too late,” Graeme said. “Your wife has already consented to this.”


You mean, she knew about this from the beginning?”


Of course she knew. I know this is a bit of a shock to you, and I understand how you feel. That's why we've authorized an additional raise in your salary. The board has also agreed to pay your Council taxes for as long as your wife services us,” Graeme said.


That was only around 1,800 pounds a year. Sure, 1,800 pounds was 1,800 pounds, but looking at the opulence of Barton's mansion, it seemed a mere pittance compared to what he was expected to give up. Part of Derek's dazed mind knew he would never sell Cynthia's virtue for any amount, but looking around, the 1800 pound per annum sum was like adding insult to injury.


What if I decide to get a divorce?”


That would be most unwise, Derek,” Graeme said. “For both you and Cynthia.”


Why? Would you sack us?” Graeme snickered at that.


No, your employment contract precludes that. But I assure you that after the two of you arrive at your new posts, you would wish we sacked you. Besides, there are other considerations. A lot of bad things can happen on the M1, especially at night. And there's also the possibility that items may go missing from your load. Perhaps end up in your home, or in your mother's flat in Manchester.” The large black man looked at Graeme, shocked. “Yes, I know you visit your mother there periodically. A rather remarkable woman, if I do say so myself.”


Derek agreed with Graeme's assessment of his mother. She arrived in England as a young girl in the 1950s when her parents emigrated from the Caribbean. They worked in the mills in Lancashire and saved up enough so she could attend university, the first of their family to get a higher education. That's where she met her husband, and the two of them settled down in Manchester where they raised their family. And now, this bastard was threatening her. He felt his blood boil and his face burned with anger.


You'd stitch my mother and me up? Just so you could shag my wife?” Derek asked, ready to pound the older white man's face into pudding.


Only with great reluctance,” Graeme said. “On the other hand, you are one of our best drivers. You could very easily be promoted. Perhaps to a lead driver's position, or maybe to a shift supervisor's slot. I understand one will be opening up soon. It's up to you.” Suddenly, he smiled and changed his tone. “Look, Derek. I know how you feel. Believe me, I do. I understand how difficult this will be for you. But Jan tells me your wife was one of her most enthusiastic students. She's in very good hands. We'll take good care of her. And we'll have her back to you in a fortnight... or so.”


A... fortnight?” Derek asked.


Or so,” Graeme added. “Listen, if it's any consolation, the women of the EST are very highly regarded and treated with the utmost care. If it weren't for them, the executives wouldn't be as motivated and sharp as they are. And their husbands are also very highly regarded by the company as well. You have nothing to worry about.”


Can I at least say goodbye to her?” Derek asked.


I'm afraid that wouldn't be wise, Derek.” The door opened and three very large men in dark suits came into the room. “Listen, why don't you go with these very nice gentlemen. They'll escort you to the door. Your car is already waiting for you. Go on home, relax, have a nice hot cup of tea. Stiff upper lip and all that, you know.”


Derek thought about rushing the men, grabbing Cynthia and running out of the house with her, but after looking closer at the very large security men, he reconsidered.


Can you have her contact me every once in a while, to let me know that she's doing okay?” Derek asked.


She won't have access to her mobile most of the time. But we'll have her send a postcard or a video from time to time if you wish.”


That's very... considerate of you,” Derek said somewhat sarcastically.


It's the least we can do,” Graeme said, apparently paying no regard to Derek's sarcasm. “Now, if you don't mind, something has come up and I need to see to it. Go on now, go home. There's a good lad,” he said, dismissing Derek with a slap on the back. The large security men looked at Derek without any expression and motioned for him to walk out the door. He left the office, one guard on either side and another behind him. He got to the front door and was practically pushed into the night air. Numb, he got into his car and went home.


That was 18 days ago. Since then, he received three post cards from Cynthia and a video by email. The email was short and to the point: “I'm doing fine, no worries. I'll be home when I can get there. Luv U, Cyn.”


The video, however, was a different matter. It was more than two hours long and appeared to a compilation of her sexual exploits with the executives. He watched as Cynthia took on multiple men, sometimes two or three at a time. None of them used protection and all of them ejaculated inside her.


She seemed to love the attention they gave her and she gave back just as enthusiastically. He watched as she took on three men at once, with a cock in her shaved pussy, a cock in her ass and a cock in her mouth. When they ejaculated inside her, more men came forward for their turn.


She also seemed to develop a taste for women, and watched as she performed oral sex with Jan, who also serviced some of the executives. Derek was devastated, hurt and humiliated. How could Cynthia do this to him? He considered seeing a lawyer several times, but remembered what Graeme told him.


He continued running his routes, and took on extra time to keep from going to an empty house that no longer had any meaning to him. Then today, as he was filling his lorry with diesel in London, he was approached by three members of the Security Services – a woman with an Irish accent and two men, one of whom had a distinctive American accent. Since when did British Security Services hire Americans, he wondered.


They asked him questions about the company, questions about his job and questions about Cynthia's “work.” He answered in mostly general terms, not wanting to piss off anyone from MI5 or MI6 and not wanting to inadvertently provide too much information about the company. Becoming a target for the Security Services was the last thing he needed. Of course, he had no idea where Cynthia was or how long she would be gone.


They seemed to accept what he told them and left. Nervous, he finished filling the tank and jumped on the motorway heading north. He looked in his rear view mirror and thought he saw a vehicle following him. Nerves? Paranoia? Perhaps. But he wasn't about to take any chances and give them a reason to target him.


The drive back north was long and nerve-wracking – even more so than usual. He kept a lookout for cars following him, unusual clicks or hums on his phone, or other hints that Graeme's goons or the security people were keeping an eye on him. By now, he realized that he is very much on probation and understands that THEY want to know if he will cause... trouble.


They probably figure if he lays down and gets walked on over Cynthia's first “assignment,” that he had basically accepted being a “cuckold” for the company. Fat chance of that happening, he snorted. But what can I do?


He finally got back to the yard and turned the lorry in. His next order of business – a beer at his favorite pub. He thought he saw a car follow him, and noticed that it parked across the street from the pub. Whoever they are, let them waste their time following me, he thought.


He got out of his car, went inside where he used the loo and ordered a pint of his favorite brew. Then he went outside where he could enjoy a smoke in peace.


He was brought back to reality by the sound of a man's voice.


'Scuse me, pardner. Mind if I join ye?” the man asked. He looked up to see a tall, lanky man in western clothing, complete with a floor-length duster and a beat-up western hat. He looked like a character straight out of an old American western movie. Gobsmacked, he had a difficult time forming a response for a few moments.


Yeah, sure. It's a free country,” he said, wondering why the man chose this table, since most of the others were empty. The man sat down, placing a pint of beer on the table.


Mind if I... smoke?” the man asked in a thick Texas accent.


Not at all,” Derek said, trying to get used to the man's strange accent. He had heard Texas accents before in the movies, but that was nothing compared to actually hearing it come out of someone's mouth. He couldn't help but wonder if the man carried a six-gun as well. Or two. The man pulled out a pack of cigarettes, took one for himself, then offered one to Derek. He looked at the pack and saw it was simply marked, “JOP.”


Go on, it ain't gonna bite ye,” the man said with a smile. “Mah own special blend. Worked on it for years before I finally got it right.” Derek slowly took the offered cigarette. He had never smoked an American cigarette before and wondered for a moment if it was safe. The man pulled a match out of a small box, scratched it on his jeans and held it up for Derek. After he lit his cigarette, the man lit his own and took a long draw.


Ain't nothing quite like a good beer and a smoke to end the day,” he said. He took a long swallow from the mug and set it back on the table. “Not bad. Barkeep says it's a local brew. Name's Peace, by the way. Justice O. Peace. Mah friends call me Eli,” he said, holding out a hand. Derek took it and shook the man's hand. He started to introduce himself but Justice stopped him.


Let me guess,” the cowboy said. “You be a Derek Smith, am I right?”


Yeah,” Derek said. “How did you know?” He saw the star on Justice's shirt and wondered if the man was a police officer. “Are you a policeman or something?” Justice smiled at that.


Nah. I was a lawman once. Long time ago. Rode with some of the best,” he said. “You look like a good man, Derek. Decent, honest, hard-working, put yer family first. Been driving for Acme what, five years now?”


Yeah,” Derek said. “You sure you're not with MI5 or something?” Justice laughed out loud at that.


Not even close, pardner. I work for a much... higher authority. I can tell a lot about a feller just by looking at his eyes. And you look like a man with something gainin' on him. What's gainin' on you, Derek Smith? I bet it's a woman, ain't it?” he asked. “And not just any woman.” Derek looked at him.


How'd you know that? What are you on about?” he asked, surprised. And what did he mean, something's “gaining” on him?


I seen that look hundreds of times in hundreds of men over the years,” Justice said. “It's yer wife, ain't it?” Derek looked down, embarrassed. “No need to feel shame, son. You ain't the first it's happened to, and ah reckon you won't be the last.” Derek looked at Justice before responding.


It bloody well shouldn't have happened at all,” he said angrily.


Yer right, it shouldn't,” Justice said. “But it has, hasn't it. And worse yet, the sidewinder who did it to ya bushwhacked ya, didn't he? Made it so ya couldn't even set things right.”


Yeah,” Derek said. “You see that in my eyes, too?”


Partly. I've had dealings with these snakes before. Thought we done cleared them out. Reckon we didn't,” Justice said.


You've dealt with Acme before?” Derek asked.


Yep. Darn near two years ago. Course, that was before the company broke up, sold off most of its international holdings. You wanna know the worst part?”


What's that?”


It was over the same thing you're going through right now,” Justice said.


They've done this before?” Derek asked.


Sure have,” Justice said. “Ah thought they'd have learned their lesson. Reckon they didn't. So, what do you say? You up to making things right?” Derek looked at the cowboy and saw sheer determination in his face.


Yeah,” he said. “I'm up to it.”


Good,” Justice said with a smile. “Don't you worry about a thing, pardner. We'll get yer situation under control before ye know it,” he said as he stood up. Derek looked up at him.


Why me?” he asked.


Why not you?” Justice asked. “Yer one of God's children, ain't ya?” Derek remembered how his mother used to take him and his sister to church every Sunday. He hadn't gone to church since he married Cynthia, however.


I'd like to think so,” he said. “But I haven't been to church in years.”


That don't matter none,” Justice said. “It's what's in yer heart, not where you plant yer rear end on Sunday morning. All God's children deserve justice. Don't you agree? Besides, a friend of mine asked me to do a favor.”


Who was that?” Derek asked.


Don't worry. You'll meet him soon enough,” Justice said. “Reckon I'd better get going. I'll be in touch.” He smiled as the strange man tipped his hat, then turned and walked away. Derek watched the tall man walk away before taking another sip of his beer.


A few seconds later, he thought he heard the man yell, “Hiyah” followed by the sound of hoofbeats. He looked around but didn't see anything and no one else seemed to notice the sounds. Maybe I'm hallucinating things now, he thought. What the bloody hell is going on? He finished his beer and left the pub for home.



About 170 miles south of Sheffield, in a building on the bank of the River Thames, John Smith sat at his desk going over a set of spreadsheets. He was about to call it a day, when Mike McGregor, one of his teammates, tapped on the door.


Hey, Mike,” John said. “What's up?”


You got a few minutes, mate?” Mike asked.


I was just getting ready to collect Houston and go home for the day, but I suppose so. What's up?”


You know that Acme driver we talked to earlier today?” Mike asked.


Yeah, what about him?”


Looks like he just made contact with one of your countrymen. Got the whole thing on video,” Mike said.


One of my countrymen? An American?” John asked. “Are you absolutely sure of that?”


Oh yeah,” Mike said.


Let's go take a look,” John said as he got out of his chair. He grabbed his tablet and followed Mike into another room with a large monitor on the wall. An operator sat in a chair along one wall. Roisin Callahan, the team leader, sat at a desk in front of the monitor. She looked up as Mike and John entered the room.


What have you got?” John asked.


This,” Roisin said, motioning for the operator to start the video from the beginning. After their meeting with Derek Smith earlier that day, two agents followed him back to Sheffield, then to the pub. They captured the encounter with the strange cowboy on high-def video, and managed to get audio, using a parabolic microphone.


The three of them watched the entire meeting between the two men and listened to their conversation. When the encounter was over, Roisin turned to John.


Any idea who that man is?” she asked. John shook his head.


No idea,” he said. Roisin put a video capture of the man's upper body on the monitor.


Facial recognition can't get a lock on any of his features,” she said. “We've reached out to see if anyone by that name or fitting that description entered the UK recently, but so far, there's nothing.”


What's that on his chest?” John asked.


Looks like a badge of some sort,” Roisin said.


Can we zoom in on that?” Roisin turned to the operator and the image zoomed in close to the badge. The operator made a few clicks with his mouse and the image began to come into focus. They saw a round badge with a star in the middle. The word, “Texas” was inscribed at the top and the word, “Ranger” ran along the bottom. In the middle of the star was “Co. B.”


Texas Ranger?” Mike asked. “He's a bit out of his jurisdiction, isn't he?”


I'll say,” Roisin quipped. John opened his tablet and did a quick search. When he found what he was looking for, he showed it to Roisin and Mike. “What's this?” Roisin asked.


That badge he's wearing isn't a modern Ranger badge,” John said. “That one looks to be from the late 1800s. Modern badges look like this,” he said, pointing to the image on his laptop. “Do me a favor and zoom in on his face,” he added. The operator complied and they looked at the enlarged face on the screen.


Something about this face and the name “Justice O. Peace” nagged at the back of John's mind, but he couldn't quite put the pieces together. Then he remembered something and his face went white. Mike noticed John's reaction.


You okay, mate?” he asked. “You look like you've just seen a ghost.”


Maybe I have,” John said. “Is there more to this video?”


Yes, there is,” the operator said.


Let's see it,” John said. They watched the strange man exit the pub only to vanish. No one on the sidewalk seemed to notice. The three of them looked at each other, shocked.


What the bloody hell just happened?” Mike asked.


You didn't see this before?” John asked. Mike shook his head.


No. We watched to the point where the two of them separated. We didn't go any further,” he said.


What's the time between frames in this video stream?” Roisin asked.


With this surveillance gear? About a millisecond,” the operator said.


No human can move that fast,” Mike said.


Maybe he's not human,” John said, a part of his rational mind not believing he just voiced what some of the others were thinking. “Get me some digital stills, please,” he told the operator. “As high-def as you can.” The operator nodded his head and set about capturing the best images he could, saving them as digital files.


What are you thinking?” Roisin asked.


I'd like to send these images to my boss at Alpha Sector. If there's any information to be found on this guy, they'll either have it or they can get it. With your permission, of course, Roisin,” John said. Roisin thought for a moment and looked back at the monitor. She finally nodded her head.


Do it, John,” she said. When John got the image files, he composed a quick email to his boss in the States, Regis Carlisle. Once the secure email was gone, he closed his tablet down.


Later that evening, as John and his wife, Houston, basked in the afterglow of their lovemaking, John's tablet dinged, letting him know he just received an email. He picked it up and saw it was an email from Regis, also known as “Alpha One.” The email was addressed to him, Mike and Roisin.


Plan for secure Skype briefing on subject 'Justice' to be held at 8:30 am tomorrow your time – R.”


He responded, and saw replies from both Roisin and Mike. He shut down the tablet and wondered what Regis had found.


What was that?” Houston asked.


We have a Skype briefing with Alpha One at 8:30 in the morning,” John said. “This ought to be good.”



Derek was still in a state of shock that night when he went to bed. Who was that strange man he met earlier? Really? He finally fell into a fitful sleep, and woke up when his mobile buzzed at 2:45 am. He looked and saw it was a text from Cynthia.


I'll be home later this evening,” she wrote. “Luv U. Miss U.” He snorted as he read the message, then tossed the phone back on the nightstand without responding. Yeah, right, he thought to himself.



At the same time, about half a world away on a ranch in Texas, Amos and Danni Jones had just finished bathing their two young children and were dressing them in their pajamas for the night when they heard a knock at the door.


Would you go get that, please?” Danni asked her husband.


Sure,” Amos said, giving his pregnant wife a kiss as he got up. He went to the door and saw his grandfather standing on the porch.


Grandpa, come on in,” he said. “You know you don't ever need to knock.” Eli smiled as he hugged his grandson.


Well, I jes' like to be polite,” he said. Just then, two bundles of joy came running into the room in their pajamas, having heard the distinctive voice of their Grandpa Eli. Danni followed them into the front room.


Grampa!” they exclaimed, holding up their arms. Eli smiled as he scooped up the two young children.


Well, ah see yer getting' ready for bed. Reckon yer momma would let me tell ye a bedtime story?” Eli drawled.


Of course,” Danni said with a smile. Eli smiled back as he saw the pregnant woman.


Ah see yer about to have another young'un,” Eli said, giving Amos a wink.


Yeah,” Danni said. “You'd better talk to your grandson about that,” she added with a smile. Eli laughed and bounced the youngsters already in his arms.


Story, grampa, story, please?” the young boy, William, begged.


Of course,” Eli said as he made his way to their bedroom. “Have ah ever tol' ya about Bill McDonald? Why, he was one of the most famous Texas Ranger Captains of all time. Rode with him fer a spell. He's the one who gave me this badge, in fact,” he added, showing them the Ranger badge he always wore.


After the Brownsville Raid of 1906, it was said that he'd charge Hell with a bucket of water if he had to,” he said. The children's eyes grew wide as they listened to their grandfather.


Wow,” William said. “What happened to him, Grandpa?”


Well, he died of pneumonia in Wichita Falls in 1918. You know what they put on his gravestone?”


No, what?”


Something he once tol' me. 'No man in the wrong can stand up against a fella that's in the right and keeps on a-comin'.' Ah never forgot that. Don't you ever forget that either,” Eli said.


I won't, Grandpa,” William said. Eli nodded his head.


Now, you two close yer eyes and git to sleep, y'hear me?”


Yes, Grandpa,” the youngster said. The girl, Elizabeth, smiled and held out her arms.


I love you, Grandpa,” she said. He smiled and hugged her, giving her a kiss on her forehead.


And I love you too, sweet pea,” he said.


I love you too, Grandpa,” William echoed. Eli hugged him and kissed him on the forehead as well.


Ah love you, too, son,” he said with a smile. “Maybe next time I'll git here a bit earlier and we can all go fishin', okay?” The kids smiled and nodded their heads. Eli got up and left the room to join Amos and Danni. Amos met him with a bottle of beer and the three of them stepped onto the back porch, where the two men lit up a cigarette.


So, what's going on, Grandpa?” Amos asked.


You remember that incident with Acme about two years ago?” Eli asked.


Yeah, we remember,” Danni said.


Well, it looks like they're up to their old tricks again,” Eli told them.


I thought they broke up, sold off most of their holdings,” Danni said.


They did,” Eli said. “'Cept one of their overseas branches is still operating.” Danni and Amos exchanged glances. They never forgot that incident two years ago.


Anything I can do to help, Grandpa?” Amos asked.


Not right now, son,” Eli said. “'Sides, ah don't think them Brits would appreciate you bringing that Winchester of yers.”


That didn't stop us back then in Albania,” Amos said.


That was a different situation, son,” Eli said. He looked at Danni before continuing. “You reckon there's anything you can do? Legal-like?” Danni shook her head before speaking.


I'm afraid not, Grandpa,” she said. “I don't know anything about British law. And even if I did, I doubt anyone there would listen to anything I'd have to say.”


Ah was afraid of that,” Eli said.


I'm sorry, Grandpa, you know I'd do whatever I could to help,” she said.


Ah know, Danni,” he said.


I can ask around. Maybe someone can make some inquiries for me,” she said. Eli nodded his head.


Anything will help. Much obliged,” he said. “Now, tell me about mah newest grandchild.”



The next morning, John, his wife, Houston, Roisin, Mike and Ross Carter, Roisin's supervisor, gathered in a briefing room that included a large monitor on the wall. The secure Skype connection had been made, and the craggy face of Regis Carlisle, John and Houston's superior in the States, appeared on the screen. He peered at the group through his one good eye before speaking.


Well, about damn time you woke up,” he said with a grin.


Good morning, boss,” John said.


Good morning, Alpha One,” Ross said. “Did you have any luck with that info John sent yesterday?”


As a matter of fact, we did,” Regis said. “I take it you had no luck with the facial recognition?”


None whatsoever,” Roisin said. “There's also no record of his entry into the UK.”


I'm not surprised,” Regis said. “We had no luck with facial recognition, either. However, our team expanded their search and they came across something very... interesting.”


Interesting? How, boss?” John asked.


It seems, John, you and your team has managed to get photo evidence of a man who's supposedly been dead since about 1864,” Regis said. John and the others were shocked at that revelation.


That's impossible,” Roisin said.


Ordinarily, I'd agree with you,” Regis said. “Our team decided to match the images you gave us with archived photos. We found two matches. The first is dated in the 1860s, during the Civil War. The second is dated 1892. It seems your photo is the first time his face has been captured in more than 120 years.”


So, who is he?” Ross asked.


If what we found is accurate, his name is, or was, Elijah Jones. He served in the 8th Regiment of Indiana Cavalry. He made Sergeant shortly before he was shot dead during Sherman's March to the Sea,” Regis said. “Here's the first photo.”


An image of the man filled the screen. John remembered seeing the image once before, after reading about a new historical site opening up in Texas. There was no question the man in the photo was the same man they had seen the previous day. That's where John had seen the man's face.


You said there's another photo,” John said.


Yes, this one is dated 1892,” Regis said. The screen showed a group of men on horseback, all of whom wore a badge. A circle was drawn around one of the men.


What's this?” Mike asked.


Texas Rangers,” Regis said. “To be precise, it's Company B, Frontier Battalion, commanded by Captain William Jesse McDonald, one of the most famous Ranger captains in history. The man circled is our guy Jones. Although he used a different name, the man circled in the photo is definitely him. To the best of my knowledge, this is the last photo of him – before yours.”


How is this even possible?” Ross asked.


I wish I could answer that, Ross,” Regis said. “Let me fill you all in on something. For some time, I've heard rumors of someone like this showing up out of nowhere, then disappearing. Nothing official, mind you, but I've heard enough to catch my attention. For years, I wrote them off as wild-eyed conspiracies, ghost stories or old wives tales. Now, with this photo and video, I don't know what to think.”


Can you think of any way to possibly track this man down?” Ross asked.


As a matter of fact, I can,” Regis said. “About a year ago, the State of Texas opened a new historical site – the Jones Adobe. It's an old adobe house out in the middle of nowhere that dates back to the 1840s. The first picture I showed you is displayed there, along with parts of his wife's journal. It turns out the woman who helped make that happen is a lawyer named Danni Jones. She's married to a descendant of Elijah Jones and lives in Texas with their two children.”


Interesting,” Roisin said. “Would it be possible to read that journal you spoke of?”


Sure,” Regis said. “Since the state made that old house a landmark, the journal was published by the family at the insistence of the state historical society. You can get your own copy on Amazon if you want. There's something else you should know about Mrs. Jones.”


What's that?” Ross asked.


She's the attorney who played a major role in taking Acme Enterprises down two years ago,” Regis said.


I see,” Ross said, his interest piqued. “Well, then, it seems to me that an interview with this Mrs. Jones would be in order. Wouldn't you agree, Regis?”


I would,” Regis said. “But I am curious about something.”


What's that?” Ross asked.


What is your interest in Acme, anyway?” Regis asked.


We have reason to believe Acme played a role in the development of the compound used against John last year,” Roisin said. Regis nodded his head.


I see,” Regis said.


Roisin, I'd like for the four of you to pay a visit to this Mrs. Jones in Texas,” Ross said. “Straight away. We need to get to the bottom this.”


Yes, sir,” she said. Ross turned back to Regis.


Thank you, Regis,” he said.


You're welcome, Ross,” the one-eyed man said in response. “Keep me in the loop, Roisin.”


Of course,” she said before the connection ended.



Derek arrived home and wasn't surprised to see that Cynthia hadn't arrived. He washed up and made dinner for himself, a mutton curry recipe his mother had shown him some years before. He was halfway through his meal when he heard the door open. Looking up, he saw Cynthia walking into the house, dragging her luggage behind her. He turned back to his dinner.


I'm home,” she announced. “Oh my, that smells good. I'm famished.” She came toward him, her arms spread wide to hug him. He put his hand up and stopped her. She looked at him, surprised.


You reek,” he said. She recoiled at that.


I showered earlier,” she said.


I can still smell them on you,” he said in a cold, hard voice. She stepped back and looked at him, surprised. She tried to change the subject.


That curry smells wonderful. Is there enough left for me?”


I only made enough for myself,” he said. “You weren't home and I've gotten rather used to cooking for one lately. But you can have the rest of mine. I've lost my appetite.”


Let me just put my things away first,” she said, grabbing her luggage. He watched her make her way to the master bedroom and knew she would be back in less than a minute. She was, and she didn't look amused.


Why is the bedroom door locked?” she asked.


Because you no longer sleep there,” he said. “I've put your things in the second bedroom. That's where you'll stay from now on.”


What? Why?” she asked.


Simple,” he said. “I've never bedded a whore in my entire life and I'm not about to start now.” She recoiled at that.


Whore? Is that how you see me now?” she asked.


You fuck other men for money,” he said. “Isn't that the textbook definition of whore? The only real difference between you and the slags on the street is your clientele. There's no telling what's swimming around inside you right now and I'm not taking any chances.”


I'll have you know all of the executives are clean, and we're required to be tested on a regular basis. I can even show you my most recent test results if that will make you happy,” she said, indignant that her husband would think of her as a common tart on the street.


And that's supposed to make me feel better?” he asked. “You DO know there are some things that don't show up on those tests for weeks or months, don't you? And I know from the video you sent me that none of those executives used any protection whatsoever.”


You watched that?” she asked.


I did. And I almost threw up. What the hell were you thinking sending that to me?” he asked.


Jan said I should send it so you'd know that I'm being properly tended to,” she said softly. “She said all husbands enjoy seeing their wives get screwed by other men. She assured me you would enjoy it.”


She did, did she? Well, she's an idiot. I didn't enjoy it. It was all I could do to keep from destroying my computer,” he said. “Tell me something. Why are you home after all this time? Really?”


My period is starting up, and,” she began before he interrupted her.


And of course, we can't have the good executives of Acme UK screwing their whore while she's menstruating, can we?” he asked bitterly. “Get out of my sight. You make me sick to my stomach.”


Derek, please,” she began.


GO!” he shouted, pointing to the bedroom doors. Sobbing, she flew back to the second bedroom and slammed the door. He grabbed a beer from the refrigerator, opened it and sat down in his recliner to watch some television. That went well, he thought. Not...


Cynthia took a shower in the second bathroom and came back into the front room, wearing a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. She made herself a cup of tea and came into the front room, where she sat on the couch.


What are you watching?” she asked.


I don't know. Nothing, really. Why?”


Can we talk?” she asked. “Without you calling me names or yelling at me?” He turned at looked at her before answering.


I suppose,” he said. “Depends on what you have to say.”


I've missed you so much,” she said.


I can tell, from all the cards, letters, emails and phone calls,” he said sarcastically.


I'm sorry about that. I was under strict orders not to contact you very much,” she said.


And if they ordered you to jump off the top of a very high building, would you do that as well?” he asked.


You don't understand. They kept me going morning, noon, and night. I really didn't have any choice in the matter,” she said.


Yes, you did,” he told her. “There was nothing that said you had to join that team. You knew what it was all about, didn't you?”


Yes,” she said quietly.


So why did you do it?” he asked.


Money. Excitement. The chance for us to get ahead for once in our lives,” she said. “You have no idea how exciting it was meeting so many important people, knowing that I'm making a direct contribution to the advancement of the company's interests.”


Even at the cost of our own?” he asked. “We talked about starting a family, remember?”


Yes, I do,” she said.


Well, you can pretty much forget that now,” he said.


Are you going to... divorce me?” she asked sadly.


Graeme made it very clear to me that would not be a wise move,” he said. “So no, I won't be seeing a solicitor for the time being.”


Thank you for that,” she said. “I do love you, you know.”


Don't thank me. If it were up to me, you'd already be gone,” he said. “But we are finished nevertheless. I've been told not to seek a divorce. But there's nothing that says I have to accept what you are doing. And there's nothing that says I have to be more than civil to you. You are welcome to stay here if you must. But that's it. When do you plan to leave next?”


I'll be here for about four days, then I'm leaving again. I've been told we're going to Paris, Rome and other places. I'll be gone for about a month.”


A month. Do me a favor and leave your rings when you go. I'll not have you sully them any more than you already have,” he said.


And that's it, then? We're through? Just like that?” she asked as tears started falling down her face.


Just like that,” he said, turning his attention back to the television.



The next day, Derek prepared to jump in the cab of his lorry but was stopped when Jason Bruce came running out of the dispatcher's office.


Derek, hold up,” he said. “There's a big mucky-muck in Dan's office. Says he needs to see you straight away.” Derek had a pretty good idea who it was and thought about jumping in the lorry anyway. He thought better of it, and closed the door, following Jason into the office. Sure enough, Graeme Barton was in the office with Dan.


Dan, give us a few minutes alone, please,” Graeme said.


Sure,” Dan said before walking out, giving Derek a strange look. Derek entered the office and sat in the chair Graeme indicated. He closed the door and turned to Derek.


I received a disturbing phone call from a very distraught young woman,” Graeme began when he sat down. “I thought we had an understanding.”


I've kept my end, Mr. Barton,” Derek said. “I haven't seen a solicitor and I haven't filed or threatened divorce.”


Cynthia tells me you called her a whore. Refused to let her touch you, kicked her out of your marital bed, forced her to sleep in the second bedroom and basically compared her to a slag,” Graeme said.


If the shoe fits, Mr. Barton,” Derek said. Graeme slammed an open hand down on Dan's desk, his face red with anger. Derek looked up at him, his anger rising.


Dammit, Derek. Your wife is crucial to our operation,” Graeme said. “Cynthia is your wife! She deserves to be treated right.”


You're right, Mr. Barton. She's my WIFE, at least on paper. But she's not my woman anymore. She's yours. I don't share. I was never given any consideration in this. You recruited her. She accepted the position. With no input from me,” Derek said. “You say she deserves to be treated right, but what about me? What about our marriage? Do you honestly expect me to just accept what you're doing to her?”


It's part of the job, Derek,” Graeme said. “We all have to make sacrifices for the good of the whole.”


Spare me, Mr. Barton,” Derek said. “You take her to God-only-knows where, have her screw God-only knows how many men, refuse to let her contact me, then drop her off at my doorstep when she goes on the fucking rag and expect me to nursemaid her just so you can do it again. And you expect me to be happy about it. Not bloody likely.”


I understand you're upset, Derek, I really do,” Graeme said. “But it's vital she have a loving and accepting home where she can get rested. She needs your support. And so does the company. I'll do what I can to make sure she stays in touch with you and I'll see what we can do about her schedule. But you need to do your part as well.”


Don't expect me to let her in my bed as long as you're using her,” Derek said. “I've got five years left on my term. I won't be renewing my contract, and I will divorce her when my time is up.”


Is that your final word on the subject?” Graeme asked.


It is,” Derek said.


Very well,” Graeme said. “Just so you know. I expect you to be on your best behavior with Cynthia from now on. No more names. No more disrespect. If I have to address it again, I won't be so understanding.” Derek stood up and looked down at Graeme.


Now, if you'll excuse me, Mr. Barton, I have a tight schedule,” Derek said.


Go on, Derek,” Graeme said, nodding his head. He watched the black man walk out of the building and go to his vehicle. Then he pulled out his mobile and made a call.



The day after that confrontation, John, Houston, Roisin and Mike pulled into the driveway that led to the Jones house in Texas. They got out of the car and heard four rapid gunshots. Walking around the side of the two-story ranch house, they saw a man with a rifle.


The man placed the butt of the rifle on his thigh and worked the lever four times, firing four shots in rapid succession. They saw four cans fly off the top of the posts where they had been sitting. The man twirled the rifle at his side as he ejected the last shell and looked at his handiwork.


Damn,” Roisin said. The man heard her and turned to face them.


Can I he'p you folks?” he asked, his rifle in one hand. John approached him first.


Are you Amos Jones?” he asked.


I'm Amos Jones,” the man said. “And who might you folks be?”


Special Agent John Smith,” John said, holding his credentials. “This is Agent Smith, Roisin Callahan and Mike McGregor, British Security Service.”


Alpha Sector,” Amos said, looking at the credentials John held. “Can't say I ever heard of you.”


That's a good thing,” John said with a smile.


And you two are British Security Services?” Amos asked, looking at Roisin and Mike.


Yes, we are,” Roisin said.


Uh huh,” Amos said. “Well, this here's Texas, not Britain. A bit outta your jurisdiction, isn't it?”


They're part of a joint task force working in collaboration with the U.S. Government,” John said. “Is your wife Danni Jones?”


Yes, she's my wife,” Amos said. “Why? Are we in some kinda trouble?”


No, not at all,” John said. “We'd just like to talk to you and your wife for a few minutes about something that came up. Would that be alright?” Amos eyed them all for a few moments before answering.


I reckon so,” he finally said. “Come on inside. Getting a bit warm out here anyway.” He motioned for them to go in the house.


I don't believe I've ever seen anyone shoot like that,” Mike said. Amos laughed.


I reckon not,” he said.


If you don't mind my asking, what kind of a rifle is that, anyway?” Mike asked.


Winchester. Model 1892 44-40. With a modified lever,” Amos said. “A gift from my grandfather.”


You're grandfather?” Mike asked. “Did he teach you to shoot like that?”


Yup,” Amos said. “Maybe one day, I'll get to hand it down to my grandson. That's the way it is in these parts.” Amos opened the door and motioned for them to go inside. Roisin was struck by how much Amos looked like the man they saw in Sheffield. He took his hat off and hung it on a hook by the door, then placed the rifle in a gun cabinet, locking it afterward.


Danni, we got visitors,” Amos shouted. They all saw the pregnant woman coming out of the kitchen.


Special Agent John Smith,” John said. “This is Agent Smith, Roisin Callahan and Mike McGregor, British Security Services.”


MI5 or 6?” Danni asked.


Does it really matter?” Roisin asked, surprised that a Texas housewife might actually know the difference.


I suppose not,” Danni said. “Smith? Are you two married?” Danni asked, looking at John and Houston. They looked at each other and Danni could tell they were. “Isn't that a bit unusual? If not a direct violation of federal guidelines?”


Special circumstances,” Houston said.


I see,” she said. “Well, I just finished up a pitcher of ice-cold lemonade. Would you folks like some?”


My Danni makes the best fresh-squeezed lemonade this side of the Pecos,” Amos said. “Kids and I can't get enough of it.”


As long as it's cold,” Roisin said, wiping rivulets of sweat working their way down her face. She couldn't believe people actually lived in this heat. Amos laughed.


Welcome to Texas, ma'am,” he said with a sideways smile. “Have a seat, please.” They sat down, but not before Mike spied a partial pack of cigarettes on the fireplace mantel. “JOP” was marked on the white packet. He held it up for the others to see.


Do you smoke, Mr. Jones?” he asked.


Now and then,” Amos said. “Is that an issue?”


No, not really. I've just never seen this brand before,” Mike said.


My grandfather rolled those himself,” Amos said. “So, what can we do for you folks?” he asked after Danni came back with a tray of glasses. Houston pulled a photo from a folder and handed it to Amos.


What can you tell us about this man?” she asked. Amos looked at the picture and showed it to Danni. John and Houston observed them carefully. They could see the unspoken communication that took place between the couple as they looked at the picture – the tiny flickers of expression that a subject betrays in the instant after seeing something was key to telling a lie from the truth, or recognition from clueless.


It was flashing red lights to John's instincts that both of the people before him had not the slightest trace of any discernible reaction. Their coolness spoke volumes of their strength of character. He was getting vibes, BIG vibes; not bad, but big. Roisin and Mike detected the same thing as they watched the couple.


Where was this taken?” Amos finally asked.


Sheffield,” Roisin said. “It's a city in northern England,” she added when he looked up at her.


Northern England,” Amos repeated. “Well, right off, I'd say this fella could use a new hat. Wouldn't you agree, dear?”


I would say so,” Danni said. That didn't seem to sit too well with their guests.


Mr. Jones,” John said. “We already know who this man is. Or rather, was.” Amos and Danni looked up, startled. “We know that he's really Elijah Jones, formerly of the 8Regiment of Indiana Cavalry. He's the same man in that photograph right over there,” he added, pointing to the black and white framed photo on one corner table – a copy of the photo used at the old adobe house.


Well, I admit the resemblance is uncanny,” Amos said. “But you seriously don't expect me to believe a man who was shot dead in 1864 by Confederate soldiers is walking around northern England drinking beer, do you? I've heard some doozies before but that one takes the cake.”


Mr. Jones, that photo has been examined by experts in two countries,” Roisin said. “We also have this man on audio.”


You have the voice of a dead man on audio?” Amos said. “Really, now I've heard it all. Maybe you guys ought to start a television show or something.”


Mr. Jones, please, let me remind you that failure to cooperate with federal investigators could see you charged with a crime,” John said. Amos looked at Danni, who nodded her head slightly. “We heard this man talk about dealing with Acme once before.”


About two years ago, an Acme compound in Albania was attacked,” Mike said. “Before he died, the lone survivor of that attack described a man very similar to the one in this photo. He also described a younger man, firing a rifle very much like you were when we pulled up.”


Shortly after that incident, Acme sold off most of its overseas holdings,” John said. “But not before agreeing to a very large settlement with you, Mrs. Jones, and one Mike Bradley.”


Everything about those transactions was legal and above board,” Danni said.


We know,” John said. “We just find it interesting that this man referenced Acme, given your history with them.”


So, what do you want from us?” Amos said.


We want to know what this man is doing in northern England, and why is he interested in Acme,” Roisin said.


Then perhaps you should ask me directly, to mah face, instead of hassling mah grandkids,” a disembodied voice said from above them. Startled, they all looked up to see where the voice came from. As they looked, the room darkened and the temperature dropped several degrees. Shadows began to move and finally coalesced in the room directly in front of John and Houston.


They looked up into the face of a larger-than-life western character, his eyes glowing as if on fire. The eyes seemed to cool down and before them stood Eli. John stood up.


Elijah Jones, I presume,” he said. The man nodded his head slowly, never taking his eyes off John. Houston, Roisin and Mike sat transfixed, not sure what to make of this development.


Reckon so,” Eli said. “You have a question for me. Ask it.”


Alright, Mr. Jones,” John said. “What is your interest with Acme UK?”


Justice,” Eli said.


I... don't understand,” John said after a few moments. “For what?”


For taking something that didn't belong to them. For tearing apart something God himself put together,” Eli said.


What authority are you operating under?” Roisin asked. Eli looked at her and his eyes flashed briefly.


The highest authority, ma'am,” he said. “The same one that spoke light into existence. The same one that saw your father's sperm fertilize your mother's egg. The same one that knew you even before you were formed in your mother's womb.”


Are you some kind of an angel?” Mike asked.


No,” Eli said.


A ghost, maybe?” Roisin asked.


Hardly,” Eli said.


So, why are you concerned about Derek Smith?” Mike asked.


Because I asked him to,” another voice said. They looked and saw the form of another man appear next to Eli. This man was a bit shorter, stocky, black, with gray hair and a gray goatee, wearing a suit that dated to the early 20century.


And who are you?” John asked.


William Carney of Massachusetts, at your service, sir,” the man said with a slight smile. “Formerly Sgt. William Carney of the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry Regiment,” he added. As they looked, the man changed in front of their eyes. He was now much younger, much thinner, his hair a jet black. He wore the distinctive dark blue uniform of a Union soldier, his broad chevrons prominently displayed on his sleeves. A medal adorned his chest.


Sgt. Carney was the first of his kind to receive the Medal of Honor,” Eli said. “He nearly died during his unit's charge against Fort Wagner in 1863, but he held the colors up and they never touched the ground, despite his wounds.”


His kind? What do you mean?” John asked.


What you call African-Americans,” Eli said. “You know, only 88 African-Americans have ever received that medal out of the nearly 3,500 awarded. Hardly fair, given what they've contributed, the blood they've shed for this country. Don't you agree?”


What is Derek Smith to you?” Mike asked. The black man appeared as he did before, the young soldier gone.


Derek's ancestors and mine were related,” he said. “They were split up in the early 1800s, before your country abolished slavery in 1833. That happened a lot in those days. My ancestors were taken to Virginia, where I was born in 1840 – as a slave. Derek's remained in the Caribbean until the 1950s. My family was eventually granted freedom and moved to Massachusetts.”


Does Derek know any of this?” Mike asked. William shook his head.


Not to my knowledge,” he said.


So you see, I very well couldn't refuse a request of a Medal of Honor recipient,” Eli said. “The problem now is that Derek's life is in danger. You see, Acme hasn't learned a thing. They expect him to be a willing cuckold while they use his wife as a whore for their executives. He refuses to submit. And unless something is done, he could end up dead.”


So, now that you know, what are you going to do?” William asked.


It's not that easy, I'm afraid,” Roisin said. “There's procedures to be followed. The right authorities need to be called. We can't just go in with guns blazing.”


In other words, nothing,” William said. “Seems nothing ever really changes, does it?” Eli's face changed, and he briefly looked up to the ceiling. He glanced down at William before speaking.


We've got to go, now,” he said. The two of them vanished from the room, leaving the four visitors stunned. Amos and Danni didn't seem to be too surprised by anything that had happened.


What the bloody hell just happened?” Roisin asked. Amos laughed.


Welcome to my world,” he said. John, Houston, Mike and Roisin slowly sat down, their minds slowly absorbing the events of the last few minutes. How in the hell am I going to report this, John asked himself. After a few minutes of awkward silence, Roisin's mobile buzzed.


Callahan,” she said when she answered the call. “What? When? Are you sure about that? Alright, we're just finishing up here in Texas. We'll be on the first flight back.” She ended the call and looked at the others.


That was Ross,” she said. “There's just been a major accident on the M1, south of Sheffield. A lorry seems to have lost control and went down an embankment. An Acme lorry.”


Who was the driver?” Mike asked.


Derek Smith was the one who signed it out, but...”


But what?” John asked.


There was no one in it,” she said.



Derek opened his eyes and looked around the room, trying to figure out where he was. The last thing he remembered was trying to keep his lorry on the road, but nothing he did seemed to help. Before the vehicle went over the embankment, though, something grabbed him and he became unconscious.


He tried to make out his surroundings, but nothing made any sense to him. Was this some kind of hospital? If it was, it certainly looked as if it was designed with a retro decor. The bed he was in was comfortable enough, but the walls had some kind of old wallpaper design he had never seen before.


The room almost looked like something he might see in an old movie. There was a kerosene lantern on the table next to him and he saw nothing electronic in the room whatsoever – no television, radio, nothing. Not even a light switch on the wall. Then it hit him.


I'm dead,” he said to no one in particular. “Maybe this is heaven.” The door opened and he saw the strange cowboy poke his head into the room. He walked in when he saw Derek was awake, and there was another man with him – a black man with gray hair and old-style clothing.


Well, ah see yer finally awake,” Eli said.


Where am I?” Derek asked.


Hard Rock, Texas, circa 1855,” Eli said.


1855?” Derek asked, shocked. “How did I get here?”


We brought ya,” Eli said. “Don't worry, no one will find ya here. Yer safe as a bug in a rug here. By the way, this here's a friend of mine. The one ah tol' ya about. Name's William Carney. William, this is Derek.” William extended a hand and Derek shook it as he looked in the older man's face, somewhat perplexed. Something about him seemed familiar, but he couldn't place it.


It's a pleasure to meet you, William,” Derek said. “You look... familiar to me for some reason.”


Ah see you've noticed the family resemblance,” Eli said. “William here is what you might call a long-lost cousin. William, would you mind too much looking after Derek here while I go back and tidy things up?”


Not at all, Eli,” William said. “And... thank you, my friend.” Eli smiled as he shook William's hand.


It's my pleasure. And thank YOU,” Eli said.


Uh, excuse me, but is there a loo around here somewhere?” Derek asked.


A what?” William asked.


A loo. I really need to take a piss. Bad,” Derek said. Eli and William looked at each other and smiled. “What's so funny?” Derek asked.


I'll let William explain it to ya,” Eli said. “See ya around, pardner.”



The day after the accident, Graeme Barton watched the news and smiled. His boys had come through just as he asked them to. The lorry had exploded in flames after the driver lost control and burned so bad that no remains could be identified. And now, the troublesome lorry driver wouldn't bother them anymore.


His widow would collect Derek's insurance, but due to her... issues... wouldn't be able to put any of the money to use. Which was why he had her sign a document giving him control of her assets. Of course, she signed it after he had already given her the drug, but that was immaterial to him.


He laughed as he poured himself a glass of whiskey. His celebration didn't last very long, however. When he turned back to his desk, he found himself facing a tall, lanky man dressed like a cowboy out of an old American western.


Who are you? How did you get in here?” he demanded. Remembering the old Webley Mk VI revolver in his desk drawer, he slowly opened the drawer and pulled it out. The cowboy smiled as he held the pistol up.


Justice,” the cowboy said.


What?” Graeme asked.


Justice. That's who ah am. Justice O. Peace. And ah'm here ta take you in,” the cowboy said.


Stop right there or I'll shoot,” Graeme said. The cowboy laughed.


Go ahead. Ah'm already dead. Besides, haven't you heard? Ain't no man in the wrong can stand up to a feller in the right that keeps on a-comin'.”


What?” Graeme asked.


Go ahead. Shoot.” Eli took a step toward him and he pulled the trigger. He saw the bullet tear through the man's shirt and strike the opposite wall, but the cowboy still stood there with a grim smile on his face. His eyes wide with fear, he pulled the trigger two more times with the same result.


Reckon ah'm gonna have ta get me a new shirt now,” Eli said as he came closer to Graeme. By now, Graeme's hand was shaking and he couldn't keep the pistol trained on Eli. Eli grabbed his hand and looked down to see that Graeme had pissed his pants.


Drop it,” Eli heard from behind him. He glanced back and saw Roisin and Mike come through the door, their weapons drawn. When they saw Eli, they lowered their pistols and came forward. Mike pulled out a set of handcuffs and slapped them on Graeme.


How did you get here?” Roisin asked. Eli smiled.


Trade secret,” he said. They saw the bullet holes in the back of his shirt and looked at him, confused.


Are you okay?” Mike asked.


Reckon ah am. But ah'm gonna have ta get me a new shirt,” Eli said. “Lizzy's gonna be pretty upset. This was her favorite.”


Lizzy?” Roisin asked.


Mah wife,” Eli said. “She stitched this shirt up for me herself years ago.”


Ah,” Roisin said. Just then, Houston ran into the room.


I think we found Cynthia Smith,” she said.


Is she okay?” Roisin asked. Houston shook her head.


She looks like they used the same stuff on her they used against John,” Houston said. Roisin turned back to Graeme.


Where's the antidote?” she asked. He said nothing, so she shook him and put her face close to his. “Where's the feckin' antidote?” she screamed. He glanced at his desk and she went to it, opening the drawers until she found a syringe with something in it.


Is this the antidote?” she asked, holding up the syringe. He nodded his head. “It better be, or I'm going to let this Yank feed you to the dogs. Literally. Understand me?” He nodded his head and Roisin took off with Houston close by. Eli held Graeme by the collar and looked him in the eye.


You'd better hope that woman lives,” he said. He glanced at Mike.


Don't worry. We got him,” he said. “He's not going anywhere.” Eli nodded his head, then turned to find Roisin and Houston. He found them in another room of the mansion, standing next to a bed. On the bed was a young, white, red-haired woman. She was naked and strapped to the bedposts. Her eyes were wide and she was moaning something he couldn't understand.


What's wrong with her?” he asked.


She's been given a very potent psychotropic compound,” Roisin said.


What's that?” Eli asked.


It's a drug that attacks the nervous system,” she said. “If she's on it for any length of time, she could have permanent brain damage. We've been working on a counteragent for this ever since we first saw it last year.” As they watched for any reaction to what Graeme said was the antidote, John came into the room with a uniformed police officer and two medics.


Roisin explained what Cynthia had been hit with, and gave them the syringe with the antidote. The medics checked her vitals and loaded her on a gurney for transport to the hospital. Two more uniformed police officers took Graeme away.


You got here pretty quick,” John said. “Where's Derek?”


He's somewhere safe,” Eli said as Roisin and Mike came into the room. “We got him out before the lorry crashed and exploded. I'll go ahead and bring him back if you say there's no more danger.”


I'd give it another day or two, just so we can make sure,” Roisin said. “Graeme had help sabotaging that lorry and I wouldn't be surprised if Cynthia had a hand in it as well. Call it a gut feeling.”


Alright. What about Graeme? What happens to him now?” Eli asked.


He'll be tried for his crimes, and if he's found guilty, will be sent to prison for a very, very long time,” Roisin said. Eli nodded his head.


Ah hope so,” he said.


As for you,” Roisin added, “I think we may have been a bit... premature... in our initial assessment, despite the very uncanny resemblance to a couple of old photographs. Of course, there's no way a U.S. Civil War veteran could possibly be alive and walking around these days, let alone drinking a beer in Sheffield. Right?”


Well, that makes sense to me,” Eli said.


I'm sure both our superiors will be relieved to hear that,” she said. “Don't you agree, John?”


Yeah, I agree. We have enough to deal with as it is,” he said.


And I'm glad to hear that,” Eli said, his accent dropping for a moment.


So, are we friends now?” Roisin asked.


Ah reckon so,” Eli said, holding out his hand. Roisin accepted it as did John.


Do you think you'd be available to maybe help us out from time to time?” she asked.


Of course,” Eli told her. “Jes' ask fer Justice. I'll be there.”


Thank you,” she said. Eli tipped his hat, then turned and walked away. A few moments later, they heard a faint, “Heyah!” followed by the sound of hoof-beats.





Eli walked into the saloon to see Derek and William at a table, playing checkers. Each of them had a mug of beer next to them on the table. They looked like they were having a good time.


Well, ah see you two are getting' along jes' fine,” Eli said.


Hey, Eli,” Derek said. “William here is kicking my arse, but yeah, we're having a great time.”


Glad to hear that,” Eli said. “Are you ready to git home yet?”


I suppose so,” Derek said. “After two days, I could use a shower and I'd love to be able to use a proper toilet for a change.” William laughed as he nodded his head.


I need to get back as well, Eli,” he said.


Yes, you do,” Eli said.


Listen, Derek, remember, you got a whole bunch of us looking out for you. Don't ever forget that,” William said.


I won't, William. And thank you,” Derek said as the two men shook hands. “It was a real honor meeting you.”


And you as well... cousin. Don't worry. I have a feeling we'll be meeting again,” William said with a smile. With that, William got up and left the saloon.


You ready?” Eli asked.


Yeah,” Derek said, a hint of sadness in his voice.


So, what did the two of you talk about for two days?” Eli asked.


William told me his life's story,” Derek said. “What it was like back then. His time in the Army, fighting at Fort Wagner. He went through Hell, didn't he?”


Yes, he did,” Eli said.


We've come a long ways, haven't we, Eli?”


Reckon so,” Eli said. “Seems to me we have a ways yet to go, though. But we're getting' there.”


Makes ya think about things, you know?” Derek asked.


What are you thinking?” Eli asked.


My mum was the first in our family to go to university. She always wanted me to have it better than she did. But here I am, just a lorry driver,” he said. “I did some thinking. I ran the numbers, and I think if I'm careful, maybe get a student loan, I just might make it through university myself.”


What do you want to do?” Eli asked.


I'd like something that would make my mum proud,” Derek said. “Maybe law. Or medicine.”


Ah think yer momma would be proud no matter what you choose, Derek. That's jes' the way they are,” he added with a smile and a wink.


What's the word on Cynthia?” Derek asked.


Well, she's come out of whatever it was Barton gave her,” Eli said. “No permanent damage from what the sawbones said. At least not yet. That could change, though.”


Huh? Sawbones?”


Sorry, doctor,” Eli said. “Anyway, the police have been interviewing her and Barton extensively since she came to. It doesn't look good.”


What do you mean?”


Seems they were in cahoots. Wanted you out of the way. Permanently. Came up with the idea of having someone sabotage your truck – sorry, lorry – so you'd end up in a fatal accident. A couple of Barton's boys at your yard messed with the front end or whatever they call it so you'd lose control and get into an accident.


Then Barton decided to incapacitate yer wife. Reckon he was afraid she might get cold feet and testify against him. And he wanted control of whatever she might get from your death. So he used some drug on her that causes brain damage. They're both being charged with attempted murder and conspiracy. Ah suppose it was just a miracle that you got out of that wreck when you did,” Eli said with a wry smile. “What are yer plans regarding yer wife?”


Oh, I'm divorcing the bitch,” Derek said. Eli nodded his head and pulled a card out of his pocket.


Here's the name of a good solicitor,” he said. “I'm told he's one of the best.”


Thank you,” Derek said. “Did you really live here once upon a time?”


Yep. Actually, about seven miles out that way,” Eli said, pointing away from the town. “Place is a historic landmark now. You ever get there, go check it out.”


I just might do that,” Derek said.


Jes' mind yer Ps and Qs if you do. Ah hear the sheriff there is a real hardass,” Eli said with a smile.


I'll keep that in mind,” Derek said. “What do you say we go grab a beer? My treat.”


Yer on, pardner,” Eli said with a smile.



Amos answered the door when he heard the knock. Opening it, he found Eli standing there with a small pack of four beer bottles, a brand he had never seen before.


Ah heard a rumor they make pretty good beer in that Sheffield place,” Eli said. “Reckon we could see if there's any truth to that rumor.”


Of course,” Amos said. “Come on in.”


Thought if you don't mind I might put mah feet up here tonight and take the kids out fishing tomorrow,” Eli said as he came in.


The kids would love that, Grandpa,” Amos said, taking the beer. He was surprised that it was already nice and cold, so he handed one to Eli, grabbed one for himself and put the rest in the refrigerator. “Let's head out back,” he said, grabbing the cigarettes off the mantel. They settled in their chairs and lit up, enjoying the beer and the cigarettes. As they relaxed, they caught up on recent events.


That actually tastes pretty good, Grandpa,” Amos said after taking a swallow of the beer.


Yes, it does,” Eli said. By then, Danni joined them on the deck.


So, tell me, Grandpa, why'd you let the Brits keep Barton and Cynthia?” Amos asked. “That's not like you.”


Well, it's like this, son,” Eli said. “I have it on pretty good authority that Barton's ticker ain't doing too well. Ah reckon he'll last maybe another couple years, but that's it. Then he'll answer to a much higher judge.”


And the woman?” Amos asked.


Well, that psycho drug Barton gave her is gonna give her a lot of trouble later on. They jes' don't know it yet. She'll spend some time behind bars, but the rest of her life is gonna be miserable.”


What about Acme?” Danni asked.


They're gonna be up to their armpits in alligators fer a long time. I doubt they'll survive. The bottom line is that justice won. It always does in the long run.”



The trial went fairly fast. Working with Roisin's team, the local police did a good job of putting the evidence against Barton and Cynthia together and the Crown Prosecutor presented an airtight case. Derek stood tall and proud in the witness box as he testified, looking the attorneys straight in the eye as he answered, even when the defense tried to belittle or goad him.


Cynthia claimed she didn't know Barton and his goons were out to kill Derek, but the prosecutor quickly and effortlessly tore that argument to shreds. Even if she didn't know the murderous intent of her lover as she claimed, the prosecutor said, she knew they sought to do great bodily harm and still refused to inform anyone, making her an accomplice.


The jury was quite impressed with the young black man and the arguments made by the prosecution. By the time it was over, no one on the defense, including Barton and Cynthia, could look Derek in the eye. They came back with guilty verdicts on all charges. The judge sentenced them both harshly, but recognized that Cynthia was also one of Barton's victims. They were led out of the courtroom and sent to prison.


Derek's divorce was a slam dunk after the trial, and Acme quickly settled with him for a very large, but undisclosed sum of money. The company found itself besieged by lawsuits and government action and was eventually forced to close.


Many other executives and managers found themselves facing charges as well. Jan Stein, Cynthia's mentor on the EST, saw the writing on the wall early on and decided this would be a good time to find employment elsewhere, using her contacts in the entertainment industry.


Well, now that you've won, what are you going to do with all that money?” Derek's mother asked when the lawsuit was finally settled.


The first thing I'm going to do is take my saintly mother to dinner,” Derek said with a smile. She had been his rock during this time and he felt that he owed her. “Then I'm going to university.” Her eyes lit up at that.


Wonderful,” she said. “And what do you intend to study, besides the young ladies?”


I think I'd like to study the law,” he said. She nodded her head.


The law! I'm impressed. You have a good head and the heart of a lion,” she said. “I think you'll do just fine. Tell me, son, have you learned anything from all this?”


Actually, mum, I have,” he said. She looked at him, surprised at his new-found confidence and tone.


What's that?” she asked.


Something a friend recently told me,” he said. “No man in the wrong can ever stand up to a bloke in the right who keeps on coming.” She nodded her head as she mulled his words. Then she broke out in a smile and her eyes twinkled.


I like that,” she said. “And I agree. Wholeheartedly. I'd like to meet this wise friend of yours.”


Maybe one day you can,” he said. “Care to join me for dinner?” he asked, offering her his arm.


Of course,” she said, smiling as she took his arm. “I'm famished.”


Fade to black...





To the best of my knowledge, there is no such place as Hard Rock, Texas, so please do not waste time Googling it.


William Carney was the first African-American to receive the Medal of Honor. After the assault on Fort Wagner in 1863, he was promoted to Sergeant for his bravery and received the medal in 1900. He died in 1908 at Boston City Hospital. I exercised a bit of artistic license regarding his family ties to Derek Smith.


William Jesse “Bill” McDonald is known as one of the “four great” Texas Ranger Captains. He died of pneumonia in January 1918. Written on his tombstone is this: “No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that's in the right and keeps on a-comin'.”


The story of how Eli Jones became Justice O. Peace can be read in my ebook, “Justice Rides,” on Amazon.













Submitted: March 13, 2023

© Copyright 2023 Saddletramp1956. All rights reserved.

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