Part of writing is getting to know your characters. The way that I’ve been working so far, there’s not been a lot of time to do that. I write a story, and move on – maybe coming back another time to revisit the people I have created, but usually not. So just for fun, I’m going to do some character interviews this week and see what I can find out about the folks who emerged from between the folds in my brain. To do so, I’ve got my list of characters and the fine folks over at random.org, and together I’ll be randomly choosing my subjects. If you have a request for a character interview, let me know in the comments and I can see to it that he or she jumps to the head of the queue.
Today’s interview is with a character from a story where I tried to dip into a genre I wouldn’t usually touch – a western. He appeared on day 22 in the story Sidekick. Dominic Glover just sort of popped into my head and quietly started to introduce himself to me. So now he gets to introduce himself to you….
Good evening. Thanks for coming to talk to us. I understand it wasn’t easy to get away from your work.
Well, it was on my way. I’ve got a couple’a highwaymen I’m tracking down headed to California.
So you’re a bounty hunter. What’s that like?
What’s it like? I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about that. You got no real home to call your own. Friends are few and far between. Any women you’re spending time with’re likely to be doing it for the money, not the love. It’s a lonely, rootless life.
That sounds… difficult. So why do you do it?
It’s something I’m good at, I suppose. I’ve followed men halfway across the country and back and brought ‘em to justice. I try to bring ‘em back alive, but I’ll bring ‘em dead if necessary. There ain’t a lot of law out there beyond the territories, and it’d be a good place for men to go who would take advantage of other men. I don’t see how that’ll do anyone any good.
How did you get started?
I was a Corporal in the Army of the Cumberland during the war. My younger brother Bobby and I signed up together after Lexington in ’61. We served, proudly, up till we chased Hood all the way to Nashville in ’64, which is where Bobby caught a Confederate ball right in the thigh. He lost a lot of blood right there on the field. I got his leg tied off and hauled him to a surgeon’s tent, but there wasn’t anything they could do but take the whole thing off. I stood there and watched as they worked, and by the time it was done, I knew Bobby was dead.
Maybe Mister Lincoln sent a condolence letter to our mother before he was cut down, but I don’t know. She wouldn’t see me after Bobby died. She never wanted us to go off to a war that for some reason she thought had nothing to do with her. She told us to both come home alive, or not to come home at all, and my mother wasn’t the kind of woman to make an idle threat.
Slaves, the union – she’d've given it all up to have her Bobby back. Me, she could let go. So I headed west with some fellows from my regiment and we hired ourselves out as trail guards, riding coaches, what have you.
And when did you actually become a bounty hunter?
It was in the spring of ’67 – we were riding through Dakota Territory and we came on this little coach town near the hills. Me and Emery Leggett were stopped at the one saloon they had and I saw a man sitting at a table by the window. I recognized him from descriptions I’d heard on the way – he had dark brown hair and a red beard, something you don’t see every day. If he’d been half as smart as he thought we was, he would’ve shaved that beard. I guess some men have to have their vanity.
He was reading, of all things, and didn’t notice me until I walked right up to him, hand on my revolver and said, “Jude Contrerras?”
He looks up at me and says, “Yeah?”
So I say, “I’m here to take you in. There’s a thousand dollars in it if I bring you in.”
And he just puts his book down, gives me this weird little smile and says, “If.” Then he flipped over the table, and I was in the first and probably the most exciting chase of my career. It took hours to corner this man, and in the end I dragged him, naked and screaming, all the way to the Sheriff’s office. Got my thousand dollars once the federal marshals got there, and learned that I should be a little more circumspect in the future.
I should think so. Can you tell us about Santos Osegueda?
You really should bring him in here and talk to him yourself. He’d be far more entertaining than I am, I’m sure.
Santos tried to steal a horse from me when he was twelve. I caught him, and he was this skinny, dirty kid – probably would’ve tried to eat the horse before he could sell it. There’s no money in a twelve year-old horse thief, and there was something about him that just…
He was funny. I’m not really known for my sense of humor, you understand, but before that night was over, that kid had me on my back laughing. Maybe that’s how a skinny kid gets out of gettin’ beat up by the other kids, I don’t know, but there he was – in the middle of nowhere, caught by some bounty hunter who might just shoot him or make him his girl for the night, and this boy’s makin’ jokes.
I fed him and I figured I’d drop him off in the next town I came to, but he turned out to be useful. People talked to a man riding with a kid. More than once they thought we were father and son, even though we look about as much alike as night and day. He made himself useful in a lot of little ways, and next thing’s next we’re riding out together. He learned whatever I could teach him, and there were even a couple of times where I probably would’ve gotten myself killed if it wasn’t for little Santos, saving my ass.
He turned out all right.
I never had a son, and I don’t know what happened to his father. But I guess we were as close as we could get. The proudest day of my life was probably the day he left. He told me he was heading out to California to see what he could make of himself. He wanted to get an education, you see. Do something better with his life than hunt lawbreakers, and we’d heard that there were some places out west that’d do him good. We shook on it, and I saw him off.
What happened to him?
The damn fool ended up becoming a manhunter, just like me. But that story’ll have to wait for another time. I’ve got a ways to go before sundown.
Of course, of course. Well, it’s been a pleasure talking to you. I wish you luck.