I don't know how things got this way.

I've killed a friend of Grandma and then stolen his money. I've shot the Marshal in the back and then tried to kill him in his sickbed. I've gotten into fights in town over Tess, the saloon girl who laughed at me. And almost worst of all, I've been lying to Grandma, who has shown me the only love I've ever known in my twenty years of life.

I've lived with Grandma Heller since I was eight after both my folks died of the typhus. Pa was Grandma's only child, and I never thought much of anyone else's grief but my own.

Grandma is just about the toughest, most independent, strongest person, man or woman, I have ever known or heard about. I didn't think much about the four graves of her husbands out back when I was a child, and have never known any of those old men. They are only faded photographs on Grandma's dresser.

I've only had one adult man in my life, my Pa, and that ended when I had barely turned eight. Maybe that is why I turned out the way I am? Grandma is as tough as any man, and did her best raising me, but some things only another man can understand…like women.

I KNOW that Tess would have come around to choosing me over that old cowboy, if only I would have had the time to buy things for her and prove what a real man I am.

It isn't my fault that I still have the face of a boy! I've always hated this stupid stubby nose, and my round, smooth face that still doesn't need shaving more than once a week. And I hate how sometimes I catch Grandma staring at me and then telling me for the hundredth time how much I look like my father. She embarrasses me with that whenever anyone comes to the relay station for the first time. She even hurries to her room and drags out her fading photograph of Pa!

And the way Grandma is always praying aloud before every meal is so irritating. If there IS a God, then why am I being punished with this miserable life? We live miles from nowhere, and the only people out here come with the stagecoaches stopping by. I envy those people all going somewhere…anywhere! Sure, I go to Dodge whenever Grandma sends me, or if I can come up with an excuse, but she rides a tight rein on me.

Yes, we always have enough plain, "filling", as Grandma says, food, but never any extra money for a lousy beer! Grandma counts every penny, and figures me having a place to live and food to eat should be enough. She doesn't understand that I am a MAN now, with a MAN's needs!

So when I saw all of that money on that old man's desk, and I was supposed to give him every cent Grandma had, a crummy $30, for a bill payment, I guess something snapped inside of me. Nothing bad would have happened if that Gus Riley hadn't pointed a gun at me over just money! He would have shot me to protect his MONEY! And all I had done was make a few remarks about how an old man shouldn't have so much of it. That's all I did! Must've been something wrong with him. It's his own fault that he made me bump into his stove and burn my hand. I mean, any man would've reacted the same way and drawn a gun on that miserable, greedy old man!

Now the Marshal getting shot might have been a little rash, but I couldn't take a chance on him taking me to jail and ruining my life. Any man would've shot him! Yes, shooting a man in the back looks bad, but I couldn't risk that he'd turn towards me. Grandma doesn't understand that a man has to do what a man has to do! If those do-gooder stagecoach men hadn't have brought him to the relay station for Grandma to save, everything would have worked out. I know it would have!

Things have gotten so messed up. All I wanted was Tess, and I needed money for that. If only people could let me alone. But everything will be all right now, because I'm riding out, and never coming back to this rotten place in the middle of nowhere. I'll go into town, get Tess, and we'll head out, maybe to Colorado or Texas!

Wha…what's Grandma doing out here? What's she talking about, wanting me to turn myself in to that Marshal? She's making me so mad! Why can't she understand anything?! What does she think she's doing now, pointing a shotgun at me?!

I'd sure hate to shoot her, but she's an old woman, and it would be a blessing since she will be all alone after I leave. Be like putting a dying animal out of its misery. She's old and I can easily draw my gun before she can blink.

Grandma loves me. She'd never shoot me. I'm her "Andy" and I'm her own. I look like my Pa.

I'm sorry, Grandma, but…


("Kate Heller," episode one, season nine)