Confessions of a Gunfighter: Tell Cotten
There are many reasons why someone would confess to the crimes they have committed. It is a voluntary declaration made to another person or persons by someone who has committed a crime in which the person admits he/she has participated. As the novel opens we meet Rondo Landon in prison. Injured and in pain yet willing to explain to those present how his life, circumstances and events led him up to this present point. Without improper influence, hoping that as a result of hearing his story from the beginning something positive might come of it. Facing a long and arduous prison term, our main character begins with his life as a young child living on a farm in Louisiana before the start of the Civil War. Without a mother to guide him and raised by his father along with his Uncle Eliot, this young man learned at an early age that life’s road would not be smooth, working the land came with certain rewards and understanding his plight difficult.
Something within this young child causes him to erupt at times and his behavior to deviate from what most would call the norm for kids of any age. When watching the town you might say bully pick on his young cousin the action he takes would result in a strong and strict punishment from his father but an unusual lesson to follow. Without any fanfare or any discussion his father presented him with a gift of a Colt gun. Learning to shoot became his passion and this weapon remained at his side at all times. But, the story is far from told and the end result nowhere near as this young child along with the two men in his life farm the land, take care of each other and then the unthinkable happens. The war is over and those like his Pa or dad who fought for the South would pay dearly for their efforts. Forced to pay heavy taxes to the North for the reparations that needed to be made to their land, the young boy and the two men left their farm and decided to head west to Texas. Offered a position with an outfit in Texas his father hoped that they would make the journey without incident. But, mistakes happen and situations often turn sour and when faced with adversity Rondo learns some hard and fast lessons. Along the way they decide to join up with a wagon train and a wonderful woman, Mrs. Day takes an interest in his Pa and in him. The friendship blooms much to the chagrin of the wagon master. The West is dangerous and traveling meant you risked being attacked or worse by the Indians. As his Pa and Mrs. Day cultivated a friendship one man would cause them to have to leave the wagon train and the end result would be more than tragic. Hearing the voice of Rondo relate the events you hear his words, understand his inner most thoughts and understand his frustrations, anger and fears as he faces life. With a damaged wagon his father and uncle set about repairing it as Rondo is sent ahead to enlist the help of anyone from the wagon train. But something alerts him and he doubles back to find both his father and uncle dead and the wagon burned. An uncontrollable anger wells up within him and the end result for one wagon master would be what most say he deserves. With the help of Mrs. Day he hopes to remain with the train but others have different ideas for this 14-year-old boy who is now on his own.
Where does he go and how we he survive? Related to readers in the first person by the main character you take each journey along with him and understand his goals, the pain and suffering he endures and only you can decide at the end if he is really guilty of all of the crimes that he has been charged with and if he deserves to spend time in prison. Is it the circumstances of his life that led him to become a robber, thief and murderer? Is he really guilty of killing a man or was it self-defense? When we meet him his cousin Yancy has finally caught up with him? So, why hear his story? Did he want to live his life as an outlaw or was ranching in his blood? Living on the farm he learned many lessons up until this point and being gifted the gun a definite plus. So, who do we blame for what happened as a result of not be able to pay the heavy taxes on his farm? Who do we blame for the death of his father and uncle? With his horse Slim, he tells how he ventures ahead, does not look back and teams up with Ben Kin rich and joins forces with this dangerous outlaw who will teach him the things his father did not: How to survive!
So at the age of fourteen he finds himself on the run with only his six-shooter and his horse Slim. When he meets up with Ben Kin rich, a notorious outlaw who offers to take him under his wing and teach him survival skills, he really has no choice. Soon Rondo finds himself working with Kin rich, and as his reputation grows he becomes one of the most wanted men in Texas! Through out the years Rondo met many men, killed the ones who presented a threat to him or those he was close to but never really found himself able to trust anyone until he a gunfighter named Lee whose words resonated through his mind many times. Telling him to trust no one including him were more than just words of wisdom. As time wore on he realized that a life of crime and killing was not what he wanted or who he wanted to be. But, circumstances would often dictate his actions and the end result for many, including Rondo was self- preservation, survival and violence. Learning to scout, shoot, kill at times without remorse until one lawman’s death would haunt him for a very long time. Gunfighters did not feel any remorse when they took a life but one as we learn more about Rondo just might have more than just a conscience but an inner fear of what he was turning out to be. Handling Ben Kinrich would prove difficult as some of the situations he put him through were more than just violent and dangerous but beneficial to his goals, not Rondo’s. All too often his moods would change, erratic behaviors that most would think would warrant some type of intervention, Ben Kinrich was more than just a dangerous man and at times Rondo wondered if his friendship was real.
As he progresses in his journey Rondo related the many Indian attacks, the fears his had and the fact that one man, Ryan Palmer would stop at nothing to destroy him. Meeting several people, getting jobs on different ranches he befriends some and protects others. His final journey and where he winds up before he turns himself in as we learn at the start of this novel, will certainly surprise you as Rondo takes matters into his own hands, speaks to the judge and his cousin Yancy London and the end result is more than just his confessions but his hope for redemption.
As the final story is told and a decision is made after hearing his words, what led him to become who he was Yancy Landon and Judge Parker make a life changing, altering decision for Rondo. What happens and his final journey you will have to read for yourself. Where he winds up and how one family just might be the answer to his prayers? Read his confession. Understand his reasoning for his actions and realize that this story brings to light what happens when one young man learns the real meaning of lies, deceit, murder, betrayal, loyalty, friendship and hope. Kids today can learn a lot from Rondo as the choices and decisions you make when you are younger often follow you in the future. After reading his confession you decide: GUILTY OR THE HANGMAN! A fast paced story with a strong main character that you just might find yourself cheering for every step of the way. Losing his father and uncle set him on a path of no return. Was he right? Did he have choice? Read this outstanding novel to find out.
Fran Lewis: Reviewer
Let’s give this book: FIVE GOLDEN BRONCOS FOR RONDO TO BREAK
Great review! Thanks a lot Fran.