The Greatest Western Writer Of The 21st Century
USA Today bestselling novelists William W. Johnstone and J.A. Johnstone unleash the saga of Falcon MacCallister—wanderer, lawman, heir to a Western family that raised him on courage, vigilance, and gunsmoke.
Fast Track To The Gallows
Higbee, Colorado, population 147, is about to become a boomtown. The visionary General Wade Garrison is building a railroad to connect Higbee to the renowned Santa Fe Rail. But a rancher named Ike Clinton has his own selfish reasons for making sure these bands of steel go nowhere—and he’ll go to any lengths to derail Garrison’s plans.
Falcon MacCallister owes a war-time debt to the General, and answers the call to aid the man in his fight with the Clinton brood. Before the last gunsmoke clears, Falcon will come face to face with the Clintons’ hired gunman, an outlaw known as the fastest gun in the West: Jefferson Tyree.
Falcon knows that the fastest way to the end of a tragedy is straight through the blood and tears—behind the light of a blazing gun...
Jefferson Tyree lay on top of a flat rock, looking back
along the trail over which they had just come. He saw the
single rider unerringly following them.
“Is he still there?” Luke Bacca asked.
“Yeah, he’s still there,” Tyree answered. Tyree was a short
man, lean as rawhide, with a thin face and a hawklike nose.
Jefferson Tyree and Luke and John Bacca were on the
run. Just over a week earlier, they had raided a ranch just
outside MacCallister, Colorado. Waiting outside the house
until sunup, they surprised the Poindexters at breakfast,
killing Sam Poindexter and his sixteen-year-old-son, Mort.
They also raped, then killed Poindexter’s wife, Edna.
They took particular pleasure in raping Poindexter’s
fifteen-year-old daughter, Cindy, leaving her alive, though
not through any act of compassion. They stabbed her,
then rode off, leaving her lying in a pool of her own
blood, thinking that she was dead.
Before they left the Poindexter ranch, they stole fifty
head of prime beef and moved them up to the railhead at
Platte Summit, where the cattle were sold at thirty dollars
a head for shipment back East.
“Who’d you say that fella was that’s trailin’ us?” Luke
“His name is MacCallister. Falcon MacCallister,” Tyree
“Damn!” John Bacca said, his face showing his fright.
“Are you sure it’s Falcon MacCallister?”
Tyree got up from the rock, knocked the dust off his
pants leg, then worked up a spit before he answered.
“Yeah,” he said. “I’m sure.”
“Son of a bitch! Why did he get involved?”
“Who is Falcon MacCallister?” Luke asked.
“You mean you ain’t never heard of him?” John asked.
“Well, that’s ’cause you been in prison for the last ten
years. But he’s—”
“Nobody,” Tyree interrupted. “He ain’t nobody.”
“The hell he ain’t nobody. They write books about
him, is all,” John Bacca replied. “I don’t think they’d be
writin’ books about nobody.”
“They ain’t real books,” Tyree said. “They’re dime
novels. Hell, they make near ’bout all that stuff up.”
“You ain’t never had one wrote about you, have you?”
“What are you, some kind of idiot?” Tyree challenged.
“Why the hell would I want books wrote about me? I
ain’t exactly in the kind of business where it’s good to
have ever’body know who you are.”
Luke pointed back down the trail. “This here MacCallister
may be nobody, but I’ll say this for the son of a
bitch. Once he gets his teeth into you, he don’t give up.
We’ve tried ever’ trick in the book to shake him off our
tail and he’s still there.”
Jefferson Tyree knew who Falcon MacCallister was,
but what he did not realize was that the Poindexters had
lived very close to Falcon MacCallister’s ranch, which
meant that Falcon had considered them friends as well
as neighbors. And though Falcon was not a lawman, nor
a bounty hunter, he’d taken a personal interest in this
case. Having himself deputized, he’d made it his personal
mission to track down the perpetrators.
“So, what are we goin’ to do about that son of a bitch?
We can’t shake him off,” John Bacca growled.
“We’re goin’ to kill ’im,” Tyree said.
“All right. How are we goin’ to do that?”
Tyree looked around. “We’re goin’ to ambush him,”
he said. He pointed to a draw that cut through the mountain
range. “Let’s go up through this draw. It’s got two
or three good places in there where we can hide. All we
got to do is let him follow us in there, then ambush him.”
“What if he don’t come in?” John asked.
“He’s after us, ain’t he? He has to come in, or figure
we went on out the other side.”
“Tyree’s right,” Luke said. “Seems to me like the thing
to do is just kill this MacCallister fella and get it over with.”
“He ain’t goin’ to be that easy to kill,” John protested.
“You think if we shoot him, the bullets will just bounce
off of him?” Tyree asked.
“Well, no, but—”
“No, but nothin’,” Tyree said, interrupting John.
“Come on, I know a perfect spot.”
The man called Falcon MacCallister stopped at the
mouth of the canyon to take a drink from his canteen as
he studied the terrain. Falcon had a weathered face and
hair the color of dried oak. But it was his eyes that
people noticed. Deeply lined from hard years, they
opened onto a soul that was stoked by experiences that
would fill the lifetimes of three men.
Falcon MacCallister had been here before, and he
knew this would be a perfect spot to set up an ambush.
The question was, had the outlaws done that, or had
they gone on through?
Pulling his long gun out of the saddle holster, Falcon
started walking into the canyon, leading his horse. The
horse’s hooves fell sharply on the stone floor and echoed
loudly back from the canyon walls. The canyon made a
forty-five-degree turn to the left just in front of him, so
he stopped. Right before he got to the turn, he slapped
his horse on the rump and sent it on through.
The canyon exploded with the sound of gunfire as the
outlaws opened up on what they thought would be their
pursuer. Instead, their bullets whizzed harmlessly over the
empty saddle of the riderless horse, raised sparks as they
hit the rocky ground, then sped off into empty space,
echoing and reechoing in a cacophony of whines and
Falcon chuckled. “I guess that answers my question,”
he said aloud.
From his position just around the corner from the turn,
Falcon located two of his ambushers. They were about a
third of the way up the north wall of the canyon, squeezed
in between the wall itself and a rock outcropping that provided
them with a natural cover. Or, so they thought.
The firing stopped and, after a few seconds of dying
echoes, the canyon grew silent.
“Tyree, do you see him? Where the hell is he?” one of
the ambushers yelled, and Falcon could hear the last two
words repeated in echo down through the canyon. “. . . is
he, is he, is he?”
Falcon studied the rock face of the wall just behind the
spot where he had located two of them; then he began
firing. His rifle boomed loudly, the thunder of the detonating
cartridges picking up resonance through the canyon
and doubling and redoubling in intensity. Falcon wasn’t
even trying to aim at the two men, but was instead taking
advantage of the position in which they had placed themselves.
He fired several rounds, knowing that the bullets
were splattering against the rock wall behind the two men,
fragmenting into whizzing, flying missiles. It had the effect
that he wanted, because the two men who had thought
they had the perfect cover were exposed. Yelling and cursing,
they began firing back at Falcon.
It took but two more shots from Falcon to silence both
For a long moment, the canyon was in silence.
“Luke, John?” Tyree called.
“They’re dead, Tyree,” Falcon replied. “Both of them.”
Tyree’s voice had come from the other side of the narrow
draw, halfway up on the opposite wall.
“How do you know they’re dead?”
“Because I killed them,” Falcon said. “Just like I aim to