The Run.

Discussion in 'Writers Forum' started by scratcho, Jun 25, 2013.

  1. scratcho

    scratcho Lifetime Supporter Lifetime Supporter

    Even though the big gray could lie down at his command, this was no time to think about that trick.
    Hell no.
    This was a broad,flat land and no amount of subterfuge on his and the grays part would be a good idea to try out here with no cover ,save some sparse little patches of thistle here and there. That trick had worked in the foothills of the Sierras on several occasions when some serious and dangerous road agents had taken a liking to the gray and had intended to have him. He was more than willing to let the bastards have any game he had taken,but not the gray.

    Besides,they'da killed him anyway,even though he was just 16 years old. The four men that now chased him across the plain,for no particular reason that he could discern except maybe the usual, would never catch the gray. He was known as the fastest horse in the valley. The big fellow had proven as much on many a Sunday gathering of the homesteaders in these parts after the church meetings.
    But a few of his pursuers shots had nearly hit him dead on,one of which pinged off his saddlehorn. Another had just clipped his left ear,slicing a small piece off the lobe,which was now bleeding profusely.The men were at least a half mile back and fading fast,but that didn't mean they meant to give up,by any means. He figured if he could get to the river or at least to one of the many sloughs that resulted from the yearly snow melt, he might be able to make a stand.

    Dad had warned him about riding alone into town or anywhere else these days because of the underhanded thieves and murderers that had recently shown up and were trying to take whatever they could from the honest folks just trying to scratch out a living hereabouts.

    In fact,what he had said was-"son,there's some serious hombres a'raiding some of the folks around here and by god--it looks like we're a'gonna haf ta kill 'em to stop 'em." Dad figured that they were some of the dregs of the civil war that didn't have any other way to get anything of any value other than by bushwackin' or hornswogglin' those that had built up a little something for themselves and their families in this hardbitten land.

    To be continued.---------------------Joel:sunny:
    1 person likes this.
  2. scratcho

    scratcho Lifetime Supporter Lifetime Supporter

    I tried to make paragraphs by pushing the space bar. I now see that that doesn't get it.
  3. odonII

    odonII O

    Try the 'Enter' button (the large oblong button on the right :p
  4. scratcho

    scratcho Lifetime Supporter Lifetime Supporter

    I know--it's just that I had a bunch written before I started to think--"hey this is too dense." So I tried it that way--looked good as I did it but-------- From here on out,I'll do it the proper way. Thanks.
  5. Lynnbrown

    Lynnbrown Firecracker

    I'm ready for the next installment! :)
  6. scratcho

    scratcho Lifetime Supporter Lifetime Supporter


    --as he cleared the first of the cottonwoods and got deeper into the grove ,he knew a decision was at hand as to exactly how to handle what surely must be some of the itinerant road agents his dad had warned him about. They were coming up on the grove at a pretty good pace,but were still far enough back that when he decided his course of action--run the gray on home and draw them into the homestead and hope his dad and Jim,the hired hand had some weapons near them, --or hide in the grove somewhere and take his chances. Taking on three armed men and hoping he could handle that--the odds were not good. Whatever he decided,he knew it had to be damn quick and damned effective too if he wanted to have a chance to survive this day. Why in hell hadn't he listened to his dad,he thought fleetingly. No time--no time to think of that now.

    He dismounted on the run ,withdrawing the deer rifle from it's scabbard and then slapped the gray hard on his left flank twice,which was the signal he had taught him from a young colt that meant-- get home now. He rolled in the detritus of the overhead trees a couple of times throwing leaves and twigs here and there, due to the speed of his dismount. He was on his feet and running a split second after as the gray pounded on through the thickening copse of cottonwoods. He knew the gray would be safe now and when those at the homestead saw the gray pounding up into the yard without him--they'd be coming this way immediately.

    He ran east toward the place where he had spent so much time when younger prowling around looking for skunks to tease ,knocking down wasp nests or fishing in the various spots in the slough. The slough held carp and his favorite ,the big fat, ubiquitous bass that his mom liked so much. He decided to try and make his stand in that area he knew well. It was the place of the deepest water where he and Becky,the neighbor girl he had known pretty near all his life ,sometimes snuk off from the prying eyes of the adults to skinny dip in the turgid waters of the slough.
    He turned as he ran and saw the first of the outlaws enter the grove exactly where he had entered and the two others were hard on his tail. They were in a line and coming on fast with their pistols drawn and definately had some bad intent as to how to deal with this fool of a boy that dared to run from them. Damnit-he knew he couldn't make the swimming hole where the he knew the best hidey-hole would afford him the maximum protection,so he did what he could and slowed himself down to pick a decent tree with which to conceal himself. Not the best, but it is what it is,he told himself. "Do what you have to do ,boy",as his dad had told him on countless occasions throughout his life when some seemingly impossible situation arose. It was a damn good lesson from his dad,a hard man that knew what it was like to survive a wagon trek from Missouri with road agents, savage indians and enough endless desert to try a mans soul and fry him up like a side of bacon if he wasn't careful.
    He picked a fairly wide and sturdy tree with a large old cottonwood log directly behind it, and an arm of the slough behind that gave him some protection if one of them damn bushwhackers happened to work around behind him and try to pin him down with some crossfire. If they were smart,that's what they'd try and do. He settled down and jacked a shell into the chamber of his big Winchester and checked to make sure his six shot Colt had a full compliment of shells in the cylinder. His ear had stopped bleeding now,but still stung a little. He'd had worse.

    The men must have dismounted now and were trying to move steathily through the underbrush and under the cottonwoods. From what he could rightfully hear,they were moving off at a slight angle from his position behind the tree toward the east of him and must not have seen him settle in where he was waiting. He thought--"never know though. These men may have been through the war and were pulling some kind of trick to make him think he was one up on 'em when he wasn't."

    He realized then that the men knew exactly where he was. They were coming through the brush and were darting from tree to tree right towards his postion,not even bothering to be quiet now. "Well,hell. Looks like I'ma gonna take fire from all three and if'n they spread out,it's a gonna be right tough".

    He could see them plainly now and one moved over to the left and the other two made a dash for some trees over to the right. They must have gotten mixed up ,because as soon as one of them got behind a big tree,the other man ran and ended up behind the selfsame tree,which wasn't real smart. "I reckon",he thought," them fellers ain't dumb,they're a'gonna work this out and they're a'gonna have me in a bind here in a bit".
    BOOM!! BOOM!! "what the hell--that sounds like a spread gun", he said out loud. The two men behind the one tree fairly flew out from behind it ,arms akimbo,firearms flying and hit the ground and did not move a lick. "why them fellers look like they took a load 'a buckshot. They look shore'nuff dead too,"he said out loud to himself.
    The other man had seen his compadres killed as dead as dead could be and took off running like someone had painted his ass with turpintine!! He held as still as he could trying to figure out what in the hell--when Becky up and said '" Joshua--are you OK.?"
    "well,I'll be damned--Becky--I'm over here. Where's that other fella?" "He's halfway to town by now--you don't haf ta worry 'bout that sumbitch"!she said.

    They closed upon one another and hugged ferociously until their hearts began to slow down some. They kissed and then after a bit,he said" how in the hell did you know I were in a pickle and what was you-all doin out here?" "I was digging worms fer Pa --he's a'going up to the mountains tomorrow and needed me to fetch him some worms fer trout fishin". "Damn good thing you was,honey--I was fixing to get fucked by them god-damned thievin' road agent bastards that wanted the gray". "I know,Joshua--I seen you ridin' up in here like you was on fire and lookin for water to staunch it. Now I couldn't let no fool road agents hurt my man,now could I?. And speakin 'a getting fucked--I'm 14 now. Ain't it 'bout time you and me--well you know?" she giggled.

    "Caint. 'speck Pa'll be here soon,since the gray's at our place by now,but----" Becky stopped him and replied with a sly grin--"OK. But tomorrow we swim". Joshua grinned back at her and said--"Yes. Tomorrow we swim."
  7. Lynnbrown

    Lynnbrown Firecracker

    Excellent! :2thumbsup:
  8. scratcho

    scratcho Lifetime Supporter Lifetime Supporter


    They moved cautiously in the direction of the downed men that lay still near the base of the tree,behind which the men had mistakenly tried to hide and plot their next move against the boy. Josh had the Winchester slung over his shoulder and the Colt pointed at the men,but he was sure neither would be necesary at this point, as he knew what Beckys shotgun was capable of,especially since she always had it loaded with double ought,unless she was hunting for the pheasant or quail that were plentiful on the flat lands.

    They edged up on the men and saw that they sure enough were dead and Josh reckoned that they had gotten that way before they hit the ground and hadn't even known what hit them. Josh felt a little sick when he looked down at what was left of their faces,which was not much,but Becky looked at them with little concern for the damage she had done to them. She figured that it was a fitting end to such men as these;the kind that had no qualms about killing anyone and everyone that got in the way of their lust for other peoples possesions. Josh knew Becky was a tough one,alright. At 14 she had run the plow behind the work horses day after day,helped her ma dig a large and plentiful garden,shingled the roof on the barn just like her dad had taught her when they shingled the house and had even cut the large cedar up in the sierras,hauled the mill ends down to the valley and cut them to shingle size herself. If it was a rough life for women on the frontier--and it was--it didn't seem that way to Becky. She was always capable of doing what was necessary to get the chores of frontier life done with nary a complaint.

    Josh knew that he was damn lucky that she loved him in her special way and no one else. She had made that clear when she 10 and he was 12 and nothing had changed about that. She was a big, friendly girl that stood nearly 6 feet tall and had a soft heart for the animals she took care of around the homestead and also for most people she met,given that they proved to be of the friendly type. But he knew,as most folks around these parts did--you did not want to cause Becky Pearson to get riled up in any way,shape or form. The last smartass that grabbed Beckys behind when she was walking down the boarded walk in front of Gibsons hardware in town,found himself waking up forty minutes later with a busted jaw,wondering what in the hell happened to him. News traveled and soon she was treated with the utmost respect wherever she happened to be. The smart-asses gave her a wide birth with a tip of the hat.

    Josh was no pushover either ,for that matter. At 16 ,he was 6 feet four inches and 195 pounds of sinew and long muscle and had wrestled with his pa and anyone else that wanted to grapple and had only lost a couple of matches to grown men that out weighed him by fifty or so pounds. And barely lost. Peacefull of manner was what he was and didn't get stirred up nearly as quick as Becky did and in fact had to use his wiles and steady demeaner to calm her down on occasion when she had determined a transgression of her person had taken place,real or imagined. Thing about Becky was --she could and had done serious damage in short order if she felt it was necessary. When it came to each other though--no love was seen as greater than the love they had for one another. Everyone knew it and respected that that was a fact of life around these parts. They had talked of their future together many times as they lay back on the bank of the hidden little spot they shared next to the swimming hole deep in the slough that seemed only they knew existed. They had been coming here ever since each had learned to mount and ride their horses and had done so mostly without clothing,but had decided that it was right and just that they and they alone could see each other that way, but that they would indeed wait to consumate their relationship. They did so mainly to keep from getting their parents all het up with probable dire consequences unknown if she were to come up with child.

    They could hear horses pounding up on the other side of the cottonwood stand ,which was expected when the big gray came into the barnyard where Joshes pa and Jim were most likely taking care of some chore or other,setting off the alarm. Josh pretty well figured he was going to get an ass -scorching from his pa over having gone clear to town instead of coming to the grove to meet Becky as he had told him that that was what he was up to. As the horses got closer ,Josh could see glimpses of them through openings in the underbrush dappled by spears of light from above. ------------------"Becky--that ain't pa and those ain't his horses"! They quickly hunkered down to wait and see just who in hell was coming through the trees this time------"you loaded, Beck"" Josh whispered. "Oh yeah",she whispered back.

    To be cont.
  9. Lynnbrown

    Lynnbrown Firecracker

    Oh my...I like this. :2thumbsup:
  10. scratcho

    scratcho Lifetime Supporter Lifetime Supporter


    The unknown riders, of which there seemed to four or five ,according to the thrashing racket they were making , were coming on fast and they were not bothering to keep the noise of their impending arrival quiet at all. By the noises of branches snapping and bending ,horses stumbling and righting themselves and men now shouting and cussing at one another, their headlong crashing sounded as though they were being chased by the devil himself. As the riders neared the now hidden pair through the brush, it was determined by them that the direction the riders were taking would bring them somewhat to the east of their position. It was possible that they could remain hidden to whoever the hell these crazy fools were, where they were actually going and more importantly,why they were riding through with such urgency.

    Becky and Josh lay each to an end of a 12 foot downed log and were able to peek around the ends of it while pointing their guns at the spot where they figured the riders were about to appear. It was fairly good cover and decent firing positions if such were needed. They could hear insects scuttling around the log and crawling on their clothing,but paid them no heed. Josh was glad Becky was there with the big spread gun that had the thirty four inch barrels that her grampa had given at the age of nine. Knocked her right on her ass the first time she fired it-she thought both triggers were to be pulled at the same time. Now she could pull both with no trouble at all and had done so. Becky said to josh-"I'm a'gonna shoot me some fuckers,Josh--just because I don't like the way they're tearing everything up"! "Hold up,Beck. Let's see who they are. Maybe they're our people". "Hell,Josh,you know our people got more respect than to go tearing through here like that". A big flock of Crows were circling in flight ,scolding everything moving after having been startled from their resting places in the cool glade of the cottonwoods. Their squawking added to the overall noise considerably.

    Sure enough,four riders plunged through a small arm of brackish water which snaked out from the main body of the slough,kicking up mud, dead branches and green slime that had lain in the water for possibly years. It was a hellish sight as the men stropped their mounts with small quirts and kicked them viciously with their spurs as they passed close to the log where Josh and Becky lay hidden, not twenty yards to their left. Josh knew Becky was upset about this whole situation and that that usually meant something real serious was about to take place and someone would pay, also usually more than they could afford. He was much relieved when Becky did not let loose with another bucket-load of double-aught and instead watched the riders hurtle on by their position and head towards the flat land and out of the cottonwood grove.

    They stood up,brushed the leaves and twigs off themselves and stood silent for a bit. Each was trying to figure out what they had just seen happen,for the men they had seen bustin' through what they considered almost a sacred place to them,were not familiar and they knew just about everyone for miles around by name or by reputation.

    "God-dammit,now it's time to worry,Josh. Where's your pa and Jim?" Those men come from that way,Josh. I mean your place and my place." "Dammit,Beck let's go--I got me a bad feelin' about this. You got Mamie at picket in yon meadow?", Josh said,referring to Beckys little Mustang that she had staked out earlier. "Yeah,I do,less'n them damn fools scared her enough that she pulled loose and run off'.Let's go,honey".

    When they got to the small meadow that always had some nice grass for their horses to feed on or just snuffle around on while they swam,they saw that sure enough Mamie had pulled loose from her picket. Fortunately,she had not run off in fright,but was standing in some shade on the edge of the meadow waiting for Becky to show up. Pretty hard to scare a broke horse when sometimes you were shootin' right over the top of 'em at whatever needed shootin'. Becky had caught her and broke her herself at the age of eight,with some help from her pa and she was one good little horse.

    Becky took a jump off a downed ,aging piece of a cottonwood log and settled on Mamies back and Josh jumped up behind her and put his arms around her middle,touching her breast with a teasing little squeeze and in response ,Becky laid her head on his shoulder for a few seconds. Those little affirmations of their closeness often happened and needed no verbal response from either of them. They just knew and the moment passed quickly and intimately.

    Mamie started off without any prompting from Becky and soon they were approaching the edge of the grove and daylight soon began to intrude into their field of vision more as they began to reach the open flats. As soon as they were clear of the last of the trees,they could see it. A few miles away to south,a tall column of thick,dark smoke was almost motionless in the sky but shimmered some in the heat. " Oh god,Josh--oh god". Becky kicked Mamie into an immediate full on run,which she knew was dangerous because of the colonies of ground squirrels hereabouts,but getting home was more important now than worrying about squirrels or anything else. She had come bareback today which she often did when going to the grove,but she wished she had put the saddle on now. Joshs place and her place were a few miles apart,but from where they were riding there was no telling whose place was alight or if both places were. She turned in the saddle as Mamie hurled herself across the flatland and said loudly" We shoulda killed them motherfuckers,Josh--we shoulda killed 'em". Josh hollered back in her ear "I agree honey and if'n they burned us out-we're gonna do more that that'!

    to be cont.
  11. Lynnbrown

    Lynnbrown Firecracker

    Oh my God...I hope Josh and Becky's people are all right.
  12. scratcho

    scratcho Lifetime Supporter Lifetime Supporter

    As they approached the Hays family homestead,which was the place Josh had been born and raised,they were able to see that every building on the farm was still intact except the small tool shed where Pa kept the hand tools. He saw that it was burned to the ground,the tools blackened and burned ,but still usable if new handles were put on the ones that needed them. The clapboard siding on the main house had been penetrated by dozens of bullets, the windows were shot out and a firebrand lay in the dust in front of the porch. He took all this in even before they were within 30 yards of the house. His Pa had drilled into him over and over again to really SEE and not just look. The details are what would save you grief ,if proper attention was paid. As the little horse slid to a stop close by the porch,Josh was already moving through the cloud of dust she had kicked up ,with the Colt in his hand intending to shoot the next person he saw ,if that person happened to be other than a member of the Hays family. Throwing caution to the wind ,he kicked the front door hard enough to splinter it and knock it right off its hinges and came on in crouching down with the Colt up and ready. He intended to send someone to hell if that was what was needed this day. Becky was right behind him with the big shotgun swinging back and forth to check the corners of the room to make sure that they weren't going to get back-shot. "Josh--we're in the back-don't shoot. Pa's been hit and Jim is dead". Ma's voice. Josh tried to tamp down the rush of adrenelin that had caused him,foolishly at that,to come riding right up to the front of the house and then run up into the shot- up room without knowing who had control of the place,who was alive,who was dead or anything else about the situation. He just knew this was his familys place and by god ,he was going to take control, regardless of his personal safety! This was a mistake he would need to learn from.

    He moved to the back of the house still holding his Colt up just in case there was someone holding his Ma and Pa back in there and was trying to pull him in on a flim-flam to get a shot at him. He ducked into the room at the ready and saw that his Ma was sitting on the edge of her and Pa's bed with some rags held to Pa's shoulder and so he lowered the Colt and asked "Is it bad,Ma"? what in hell happened here,Ma? Is Pa dead"? "No,Pa ain't dead,son--I had to give him the last of the shine to put him under,so's I could get a couple 'a pieces 'a lead outen his shoulder. Are you kids alright? I feared you was gonna run into them bastards that shot us up ifn you was down to the grove." "We run into 'em alright. In fact we run into two batches 'a trouble. First batch come from the north ,but Becky took care of 'em pretty good. In fact we got to go back up to the grove to bury a couple 'a bushwhackers less'n they start stinkin' up the place. If they was on the flat,I'd leave 'em for the buzzards,but they're layin' too close to me and Beckys swimmin' hole." Second batch 'a trouble ,we hid and was ready to take care 'a that too,but we let 'em ride on through. They was in a hellacious hurry,they was. I reckon now they was the same bushwhackers that came through here and shot you-all up. "Yup-you-all better take care a that buryin' and soon",Ma said ignoring for now,the second batch of trouble Josh had referred to,with a flash of a sly grin. Joshes face reddened a little at that and wondered just what his ma knew about the swimming hole and what he and Becky had been doing there for so many years. The moment passed as Ma grinned at Becky a little and looked back to tend to Pa. Becky propped the shotgun up against the wall and backed out of the room to go and take care of her little horse. She wondered a bit too why Joshes Ma tendered her the little grin concening the swimming hole,but put it out of her mind as she looked off toward her and her folks place to the south. She could tell it wasn't her place that was showing the now familiar ,rising plume of smoke. It looked like the Pryor place off to the west and so determined, took her horse some hay over to the water trough where she had gone,but not too much hay after the run she had just made. She intended to give her a good currying as soon as this mess with the burnin' and shootin' was cleared up. She knew they had to get moving south soon to see what had happened to the other families they knew.

    Back in the house,Josh belatedly remembered that Ma had said that Jim was dead. "Jim. Good ol' Jim. Dammit to hell,somebody or a bunch 'a somebodies was going to pay for all this" Josh said out loud to himself. Jim had come out from Missouri with the Hays family after the damn Jayhawkers had burned them out several times until they just couldn't take it any more. Burned their crops,their houses, killed or stole their animals, stole all the equipment they had that was necessary to run a decent place and when they got it going once more----down from Kansas they would come again, terrorizing everyone around and repeating the same grievous tresspasses. Josh began to wonder if some 'a those troubles had followed 'em clear out west --the fact that his family had been confederate sympathizers and that some had worn the gray and died in a few of the battles against the yankees surely couldn't be the cause of this recent burning and shooting of their place--could it? He put those thoughts out of his mind and went out behind the barn where Ma had said Jim lay dead. The Hays family had owned a few slaves back in Missouri--something he sure didn't agree with ,but that was a fact-couldn't change that. He hadn't been born then,but he figured that had he been--he would have gone against his own family as far as what was the right thing to do and the right way to think concerning using his fellow humans as no more than machinery. Jim was the kindest ,hardest working black man that ever walked this earth and he and his wife and children had become as much family members of the Hays clan as he himself was. Why,he wondered does life throw so many damn mysteries around like so many leaves 'a blowin' in the wind? Good thing Jim's family was off to the west visiting some cousins and hadn't had to go through this damn mess of a situation. They'll have to be told in due time of course,but he hoped that they would decide to stay here on the homestead. They were fine people and he loved the kids almost as much as their ma did.

    Becky rounded the corner of the barn as Josh was standing next to Jim,wiping at his eyes and said-" I'm sorry Josh. I'm really sorry. I loved Jim as much as Ya'll did." She put her arm around Josh and they stood there in silence for a while, until Becky spoke. "Josh,your Pa's alright--well,I mean he's a'gonna be-your ma's alright-the gray's over in the small barn and the house can be put back to rights,so we gotta get down to my place and the Pryors to see what's going on before night fall. So, lets put Jim where he belongs, see to the animals and get on down there." "I know you're right,honey. I know you're right. What in the hell is this all about,Becky? Was them guys from the north that you shot--was they with the fuckers that came through the grove? Was it coincidence? I'm stumped Becky. I just don't know what to think." There was silence for a minute or two,but Josh knew Becky was taking her time to answer. It was her way. Finally she said " Josh,for one thing,it's time for me and you to get ourselves hitched. Now. Today. Or tomorrow if we can't get a'hold 'a the preacher today. Time to quit foolin' around. We put Jim down,we talk it out and try figure out the rest of it, then we rest a day or so. After that Josh--we're gonna stock up on some travelin' food,make sure Mamie and the Gray are up to snuff,stock up on plenty of ammunition and we're gonna take care of this situation and we're take care of it our way. I don't know where we're gonna have to go or how long it's gonna take for us to get it done---but we're gonna kill us some motherfuckers,Josh. We're gonna kill us some motherfuckers dead!! You with me honey"?

    Becky had said exactly what Josh would have said if hadn't been rendered speechless over Jim. God,he loved Becky. He loved her so much it almost hurt some time. Hitched. Yeah--hitched up-- free to love his woman like she should be loved.

    The day was getting short now and after a long hug and a few tender kisses,they started toward the barn to get the shovels.

    to be cont.
  13. Lynnbrown

    Lynnbrown Firecracker

    good night alive... I can't wait for the next installment. :2thumbsup:

    Yep, seems we have a modern Zane Grey...:D
  14. scratcho

    scratcho Lifetime Supporter Lifetime Supporter


    As they approached the Pearson place,they could see what looked like eight or ten people standing together under the large valley oak just east of the main house. They were standing there quietly and the hired hands, of which there were eight or nine the last time Josh heard, held their hats at their sides in respect to Beckys ma, which they would not have done under normal circumstances. When they were working , they'd have to be taking them off and on all day every time she appeared if that custom was to be strictly followed. Usually they'd just touch their brims and say 'mam and continue on about their business.

    Becky was greatly relieved to see that the entire contingent of those who belonged there on the 'stead were present and that every building on and around the main house was standing and whole with 'nought but minimal damage. A few holes in the siding and one window was blown in was all she could see right off. The lace curtains that her gramma had made back in Missouri that had been so carefully packed and brought west, were gently moving in and out of the empty frame with the gentle breeze that touched their faces as it passed over them on its way south.

    "We shoulda come lookin' for you two Becky," Pa said, "but we weren't sure if we'd seen the last a' them riders. I'm sorry sweetheart--Josh. Are your folks alright Josh? And where were you two when they come through? What happened down to your place,Josh? More and more questions flew at them like birds panicked out of their nesting places by a hawk on the hunt.

    "Hold up,Pa", Becky firmly said, as she considered where to start. When Becky said hold up in THAT particular tone of voice, there wasn't anything for anyone to do, including her pa, but to hold up. Everyone was quiet now and they knew that Becky was measuring her response before laying the recent events out in the manner in which she wished to do. That was her way and they all knew it. A minute or two passed and then she started.

    "First off, me and Josh don't expect to be looked after by anyone at any time when troubles come around and there ain't no call to feel bad about not comin' down to look fer us. We're good and I believe we're a'gonna stay that way no matter what comes. Here it is:'Ol Jim's dead and buried", she continued, which drew exclamations of grief from all, "We kilt a couple 'o them bushwhackers, Joshes Pa was hit in the shoulder, their tool shed was burnt down, but the two of 'em held them bastards off with scatter guns full 'a double- aught". Some of the hands and Beckys pa started to say something , but the look she gave them out from under the brim of her hat, immediately brought silence to the bunch of 'em. Josh dipped his head ,looked at the ground and smiled to himself over the power of this young woman of his. "Dammit to hell,he thought--I ain't never seen nothing like it". His next thought was "what in the hell's gonna happen when we get ourselves hitched and I try to bed that woman"? That somewhat disturbing but equally pleasant thought went away when next Becky spoke.

    " Now how 'bout the pryors. What happened over there? We saw the smoke."

    Beckys Pa said "they's burnt completely out and every one of 'em was shot down when they had to come a'runnin' out of the house after those sonsabitches threw a brand on the roof. They caught 'em a'sleepin' early. Didn't stand a chance. The little ones was over to their cousins house near the lake and they're all right , but they sure don't have no direct kin no more. I reckon they'll be a'stayin' over there hereafter. Lonnie and Jack stayed over to the pryors when the rest of boys came back, to put 'em under and I'm gonna send Joseph and Ed over to your place Josh, in case they's any more 'a them back-shootin' ---and just then the two hands came into the yard from the pryors looking deadly serious, dismounted and joined the rest of them under the big tree. They touched the brims of their hats and said,"Mrs Pearson--Becky."

    Beckys Pa said--"And"? Jack said quietly "it was as bad as you-all might imagine. Even the twin girls. Shot down. We got 'em all put down, but turns out one of 'em was a stranger that we put down, so someone got one of 'em. Shot his horse and then shot him a'trying to mount up on another ones horse, but he didn't make it. Shot him right in the face. Good shot, it was. Odd thing was, is when we took his iron and went through his pockets, there was a list of some sort. It has about twenty names on it and seeing as it was on fairly thin paper,I damned near made some fixings up out of it,'till I noticed them names on it".

    Becky spoke then and said, "Jack,gimmie that list. Let's see what names is on it." Nobody spoke against Becky taking the list, so she looked at it and started reading it aloud. "Pryor,Pearson,Hays, Craft, Bailey,Lancaster"---and continued until twenty names had been read out to the group. " Why these is all from Missouri. In fact, most of the names on this here list including us, came out here together in one group in the wagons. The rest of 'em is spread out to the north of us clean up to gold country. We got to figger out what in hell these names on this list mean, 'specially after all this mess of killin' and burnin',other than the fact that we all know each other. These others has got be in danger is how I figger it." Her Pa nodded and waited for her to continue.

    A couple of the hands were thinking that this was a pretty odd situation when a 6 foot tall, 14 year old gal was the one doin' all the talkin' an' figurin. They were the last hands hired and they had not been witness to this gal breaking horses,practicing the shooting of various guns,continually lifting metal objects around the homestead and running for miles just because she loved to. She had been doing it since she was a very young, small and enthusiastic child. The rest of 'em had been on the Pearson stead for some odd years and knew Becky. And that was all they needed to know. "Let's eat,Ma. You-all boys come on in the house. We're gonna figger this shit out here and now. Ma flinched a little at her language, but she had learned years before that Becky said what she meant any way she felt like sayin' it and that's the way it had always been. " Oh, by the way Pa-Ma---me and Josh is getting hitched. Did I mention that"?

    To be cont:
  15. Lynnbrown

    Lynnbrown Firecracker

    OK now, Becky is one cool, tough customer. :D
  16. scratcho

    scratcho Lifetime Supporter Lifetime Supporter

    I would appreciate some comments, positive or negative on this story. I have some ideas on keeping it going ,but so far Lynn is the one person commenting. Which of course I appreciate. Comments publicly or private messages would be fine. Thanks.

    (just thinking--maybe no other comments is my answer?)
  17. scratcho

    scratcho Lifetime Supporter Lifetime Supporter


    After having become sated from the food Mrs Pearson had put out, which consisted of a big iron pot of beans with plenty of pepper, some yellow squash and onions from the garden and her famous corn bread , all concerned moseyed out and sat on the front porch. Those who smoked had rolled up their fixins' as they waited for someone to start up discussing the situation while Becky and her Ma were inside taking care of cleaning up and putting things in order.

    It was dark now and the lanterns were lit and hung on hooks driven into the supporting beams of the wide porch as they sat and smoked in silence. The sky resembled a dark painting with unimaginable numbers of bright objects looking like tiny holes poked in it, shining and blinking through.

    Mr Pearson finally spoke. "Seems like what we have here is a very bad situation that may go as far back as the war, seein' as how we all are from Missouri. I don't think this is some kind of co-incidence .Well, most of us are,anyway. You new fellers is from around here,so if you decide you don't want nothin' to do with any 'a this, we'll understand. Just ride on out and take care 'a yourselves."

    The youngest of the two most recent hires spoke right up; "Mr Pearson, you hired me on and you've treated me fair and square--paid me good and paid me on time. I got no reason to go nowhere else, so you can count on me for whatever it is you need me to do." The other hand said,"That goes for me too". Simple as that.

    "alright,boys-I appreciate that, but if this is going to involve ridin' off to hunt some 'a those damn killers, I think I'd like to have you-all stay right here to see to the selling of the broke-in horses like usual and protectin' the 'stead." The hands readily agreed and that was pretty much settled. " As far as me goin', I haven't decided yet whether I should go or not. I know for sure there ain't gonna be no stoppin' Becky and Josh from going off to settle up with 'em." They nodded and smoked.

    That being said, Josh got quietly up and slipped off into the kitchen to let Becky know he was going on out to the barn to get himself some rest. He knew without it being said that since he and Beck hadn't seen a preacher yet, that that was the way it was to be. He was bone tired and this had been one hell of a day all told. After giving her a gentle kiss on her neck and bidding Ma Pearson good night, he crossed the porch and then the yard and entered the barn and climbed up into the hayloft after having tossed his bedroll up ahead of him. He settled in somewhat away from where the hands had been sleeping until the small bunk house behind the barn was completed. He untied his roll and began to settle down in the sweet smelling hay.

    Soon after, he heard the others climb up and start to settle in down the way some and he heard some quiet conversation, the subject about which peaked his interest in hearing what was going to be said. One of the hands said "you know,I still can't get over that girl 'a theirs. She sure is an odd one, 'specially with them eyes 'a hers. I ain't never seen anybody with two differant colored eyes like that-one of 'em brown and the other'n blue. It's kinda--uh--it's-- hell,I don't know the word I want. Josh heard Lonnie chuckle and say-"it's disconcerting. That's the one you want. But you get used to it. Someone back up in her family line had 'em too. Leastways,that's what her Pa said." Lonnie was a reader,alright,Josh thought to himself. Had the power 'a words. Comes in handy for all concerned. The hand said," seems like she runs this place, the way she was actin' today". "No,no,no, not at all."Lonnie said. "Mr Pearson runs the 'stead and she always does what he tells her to do. This here situation is plumb differant. Somebody tried to kill her man today and I'll tell you something-- I've only seen her like this a couple 'a other times like she was today. I'm gonna tell you about one a' them times. One time this dumb-ass rider come up into the yard from the east in a big hurry kickin' up dust and all, and needed some water for him and his horse 'cuz they'd come through some pretty dry country. Least that's what he said later-when he come to. Becky was in the yard in front of the house scatterin' some scratch for the hens when this feller rode up. One 'a her cats got scared by the commotion of him a'ridin' up,took off and spooked his horse into standin' straight up and it threw him right off hard. That feller was so mad, he pulled his iron and shot that cat right through one of it's back legs and the cat tumbled around ,picked itself up ,commenced to howlin' and run off toward the barn a'limpin. Well now Becky--she immediately come up behind that damn fool, smashed him on the back 'a the head with the scratch pan and when he went down she was on him before he knew what hit him. If several of us hadn't finally pulled her off that fool--I believe she'd a killed him. He looked bad, I'll tell 'ya. Happened quick,too. It wasn't easy gettin' her off him, either. When we got her back to normal, she found that cat, cut what remained of its leg off, sewed up the stump and kept that little feller in her room 'till it could get around."

    "sonuvabitch--I ain't never heard nothin' like that before", said one of the new hands. "Well, I'll tell 'ya one thing--this shore is the most interesting place I ever had the pleasure to work at!". The others laughed some and then the conversation sort of died down as the men started to drift off towards some well deserved sleep.

    Josh got himself a quiet chuckle out of Lonnie's story about Becky and one 'a her cats. He hadn't heard that one before, but he damn sure believed it. He turned on his side and adjusted the small blanket he used for a pillow and wondered what Becky was thinking about and doing. What Becky was doing at that very time, was sitting on the darkened front porch by herself taking apart and cleaning her and Joshes weapons, which she could do without even looking at them. What she was thinking about at that very time --was that she sure wished she and Josh had seen the preacher that day. It was getting more difficult to wait on what they had longed for many a day, she thought, as she remembered what Joshes manhood felt like as she had held it in her hand after a few of those hot summer swims in the slough. And how embarrased he was the first time she made him squirt. If she hadn't giggled----oh well,she thought and giggled a little at the remembrance. He soon got over that embarassment. Maybe that damn fool preacher has got himself back to town from wherever he's been. She sure hoped so.

    To be cont:
  18. Lynnbrown

    Lynnbrown Firecracker

    Oh My! :D

    Well, since its just us...;) I am realllly enjoying this more and more.

    And of course, you should know I love Becky (even more) now that I see she loves her cats.
  19. scratcho

    scratcho Lifetime Supporter Lifetime Supporter

    Josh awoke to the cackling of several of the hens below, proudly bragging about their early morning egg laying accomplishments. He thought it was fine to be proud of such fine deeds, but did it have to be proclaimed so damned early. Well, anyway he knew he was more than likely going to get the benefit of their efforts, if he knew Ma Pearson and her idea about what made a decent breakfast.

    The eastern sky was beginning to lighten a little and he knew that before long, it would create long ,cool shadows until mid day when they shrunk to nothing and it then would turn hot enough to awaken his thoughts of swimming in the slough, which he and Becky were not going to be able to do for now and for most likely some length of time. His ear was still a little sore from the shot that had grazed it, but it wasn't much of a bother since Becky had put a little turpintine on it and tied a piece of a rag around the lobe. Coulda' been a damn sight worse two inches to the left.

    The men had dressed and washed up in the trough and were lined up to get their breakfast, which was the usual large spread Ma Pearson put out for anyone lucky enough to be on the 'spread when morning came. When they finished most of what Ma had put out, they again filed out onto the porch , settling each to a place of personal comfort and everyone knew that this day would bring some serious deciding.

    "OK,Josh--start from the beginning of what took place yesterday",Pa Pearson said. "Well,first off,my Pa told me to stick close to home and don't ride off alone, what with the remains of Joaquin Murrieta's people a'raidin' and stealin' and so forth. And there's others doing the same,so we heard. And like a damn fool, I went off anyway to get something for Becky's birthday that's a'comin', and I've been thinkin' about this now--there was a couple of men in the store that I ain't seen before. As soon as I come in there, ol Mr Gibson said "why ,if it ain't Josh Hays." When he said that, I seen them strangers look up right away and then look at one another and git right out the door real quick-like. So anyway, I got me some material for Becky to sew up something for herself and come on out of the store and give a look-around to see if'n I could spot them fellers. So,I see four of 'em down the way, two of which had been in the store and they're millin' around what I reckon was their horses and lookin' right back at me. Well, that made me right nervous bein' as what Pa told me was goin' on lately, and so I got the gray and commenced headin' back to our place. I got about a half a mile outta town and I took a look back and sure enough those fellers was comin my way and none too slow, either. I kicked the gray in the haunches and off we go. Seemed like about three miles out of town, they started in shootin' at me, so I let the gray go full out. One 'a them bullets hit me in the ear and they was flyin all around me until the gray got us a good piece ahead of 'em, when they must of figured they was wasting good shells shootin' that far ahead,so they stopped shootin'.

    Josh finished up the rest of the story including the shootin' Becky did that surprised him, since he hadn't known she was in there, the one rider that took off and the one that he never did see enter the cottonwoods. Mr Pearson sat still for a while thinking. That was his way and Josh could see that that's where Becky got her way--just like her Pa. Think things out real carefull-like and then spit it right out. The men were sitting still waiting and some were smoking their hand rolled fixins.

    Josh could hear the dishes and such rattling around in the kitchen and the quiet conversation between Becky and her Ma, punctuated by an occasional laugh. He idly thought " I bet they're talkin' woman talk about me and Becky gettin' hitched", while Pa Pearson was trying to reason things out.

    The new hand suddenly exclaimed--"Oh,hell Mr Pearson--I got that dead fellers saddle bags. The one them Pryors killed. I plum forgot all about it. I'll go get it. It might have somethin' in there you need to see to help you figger out what you're a' thinkin' on. I'm sorry about that." " Don't matter,son. Just git it and we'll have a look. I'm hopefull them bags is gonna help us to see just what we're up against. We have to decide soon--real soon, what we're gonna do. Fetch Becky,would you Josh. She's a'gonna have to see what's to see and whoever's gonna move is got to move this mornin'. There's others in danger, I believe."

    To be cont.
  20. Lynnbrown

    Lynnbrown Firecracker


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