A Sneak Peek!
Clear Creek, in the Oregon Territory November 30th, 1858
Bowen Drake had a gift. Unfortunately, he didn’t want it.
Not that it was a bad gift mind you. It was in fact a very good gift, great, some would say. But so far it hadn’t served Bowen in the manner which he’d hoped, and thus for years he wandered about as a lost soul looking for someplace to belong. However, and again most unfortunately, he looked in all the wrong places, on purpose.
What drives a man to want to be bad you ask? Well, it could be the fact he and his father didn’t get along well anymore. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact Bowen blamed his father, a prominent doctor in Philadelphia, for the death of his mother. After all, if Franklin Drake hadn’t been out treating and saving everyone and their grandmother from influenza in the winter of forty-eight, then perhaps Bowen’s mother, (who, you guessed it, died of influenza in the winter of forty-eight) would still be alive. But no, Doc Drake was never home to treat his own wife. Instead he was out treating everyone else’s.
But Mrs. Drake’s death wasn’t only hard on Bowen, it was hard on Mr. Drake too. He took to drinking to cope with the loss while Bowen took to leaving. There would be no son to follow in his father’s footsteps as doctor, no one to carry on the family’s vocation of healing. And though Bowen Drake was greatly gifted in the area, divinely so some would say, he wanted nothing to do with it.
To Bowen Drake doctoring was nothing but a joke upheld by hypocrites of the worst sort, namely his own father. How could the man preach to others to turn away from the evils of drink only to destroy his own body with it every night? How could he prescribe that cleanliness was next to Godliness when he himself stunk to high heaven for lack of bathing? How could he admonish others to take care with what they had when he had squandered everything he had since Bowen’s mother died?
No, doctoring wasn’t for Bowen and never would be. Instead, he decided his father needed a good dose of his own medicine and thought that if he did the opposite of everything his father wanted him to do, it might shock him into reality and make him get a grip. That is, a grip on the life he had before the death of Mary Drake, beloved wife and mother.
So after Harvard, Bowen took to drinking just like his father, decided his sensitive stomach wouldn’t last so he gave it up but let his father think he hadn’t. Instead of finding a nice respectable girl to marry, Bowen thought womanizing would do the trick. Unfortunately, each time he tried, the woman would leave Bowen before he had any sort of a chance to break her heart, wind up with someone perfect for her, get married, and lived happily ever after. All the women Bowen got involved with naturally thanked him for his superb matchmaking skills of which he admittedly had none. He just happened to mention a gentleman he knew, drop a name and like magic they would show up in town. His dalliances with women never worked the way he wanted them to and somehow turned into something too wonderful for him, or rather them to imagine.
This of course, would never do.
Bowen decided he was going to have to try harder to be bad and so sought the company of the acutely undesirable. Surely that would be enough to get back at his father for letting his mother die! Unfortunately however, Bowen’s gift for good followed him.
While heading west he joined an outlaw gang. Within two weeks of joining half of their lot came down with a bad case of “the guilts” and began to turn themselves in! The other half were none too happy to have to disband in order to save their hides from their blabber mouthed ex-partners and so blamed Bowen for their plight. Sadly, this left him with no place to go. Depressed and alone it didn’t stop there.
He joined another gang and while trying to rob a train, saved a baby instead. This did nothing to improve his already damaged “rough and tough” image in the outlaw world, so Bowen had to find another gang to hook up with. He did, and within a month managed to get the entire gang arrested during a stagecoach robbery in which he appeared to have saved the stagecoach drivers and passengers, (one of which was the niece of the owner of the stage line) and got an honorary mention in the local gazette to boot. This sad turn of events only served to bring Bowen even lower and he was beginning to think perhaps he should seek a solo career when it came to pursuing a life of crime.
That, however, didn’t go over well either. He tried to rob a bank by first setting a wagon on fire to use as a distraction. However, due to a shift of wind the local gambling house caught on fire and Bowen wound up on the fire brigade along with everyone else in town. The gambling house was destroyed which was a darn shame for the gamblers, but the Ladies Society for Godly Living rejoiced that their prayers had been answered and their husbands were now home at night.
And so, this brings us to the present where we find one Bowen James Drake a frustrated, depressed, bad-boy-wanna-be with no place to go and no gang to belong to.
After all, what gang wanted a man with such a bad reputation for being good? But the worst of it was the fact his father was elated whenever he found out about Bowen’s heroic exploits, let everyone in Philadelphia society know about them, then got stinking drunk to celebrate. This, of course, brought Bowen even lower.
So, he left. Left to go as far west as he could to get away from his hypocritical father and the horrendous loss of his mother. And though Bowen had his special gift, one in which seemed to enable folks to get "well" in a manner of speaking, he could care less whether he himself lived or died. For even though things always worked out for the better where others were concerned when in his company, they never seemed to work out for him.
He still hated his father for letting his mother die.
He still thought his father a horrible hypocrite.
He still didn’t want anything to do with doctoring as a life long vocation.
And he still, just once, would like to see something go wrong with everything around him just to let himself know he was “normal” because at this point Bowen was beginning to feel like a freak of nature. He even actually began to pray for it to come about. Obviously no one told Bowen the old saying, watch what you pray for …