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 The Long Road Back - Part Three - Bushwhacked - 3400 words

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Cal

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20160627
PostThe Long Road Back - Part Three - Bushwhacked - 3400 words

Bit more action in this one -  Calx

---oooOOOooo---

The Long Road Back
(Haff & Wong seven)
By Cal

---oooOOOooo---

Part Three
Bushwhacked

The Bounty Hunter looked at the remnants of a campfire. Four riders had stopped here, but they’d split, two East, two West.  His left hand reached under the Mexican blanket and took a silver dollar out of his shirt pocket.  Squinting against the rising sun, his eyes followed the Eastwood trail.

He chewed on the stub cigar at the corner of his mouth.  

He didn’t have any way of knowing which of the trails was made by Heyes and Curry, but, having spent nearly a week in their company, one thing he was sure of, they would still be travelling together.

The coin was sent spinning into the air.

---oooOOOooo---

Lom had made good time to Louvides.  

The Sherriff there had assured him that although the town posse had only tracked the Devils Hole Gang for a few days following the jail break, the bounty hunter that had bought Heyes and Curry in, was still on their trail. Only three days ago, the sheriff had received a telegram, asking him to acquire warrants for other criminals, in case the trail the Bounty Hunter followed, went cold, and he’d have to switch to other quarry.  

After the briefest of stops, just long enough for some food and to send a telegram to Harker in Porterville, a grim-faced Trevors continued on his way towards the last known location of said bounty hunter.


---oooOOOooo---

“How did it go, Heyes” asked Kid, staring down to the street from behind the gossamer thin, shabby Hotel curtains.  He was on edge, his right hand never far from the butt of his Colt.  

The heat was certainly on for the capture or death of Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry.  Newspapers screamed headlines about Heyes ordering Kid Curry to execute passengers during recent train robberies perpetrated by the Devils Hole Gang. The public felt they’d been duped into believing the two notorious outlaws had been some kind of heroes.  Their disappointment was terrible, and The Kid had felt the difference weighing on him.  It was easy to believe that everyone was baying for their blood.  

They daren’t be seen together.  Heyes had gone out alone, briefly, to fetch the latest newspaper.

“It’s in here. Front page.” Heyes held up the paper for Kid to see the banner headline. “Mr Wong was flawless playing the rescued Professor Tung, I could almost believe we were there and pulled off a miraculous rescue!  The press swallowed the whole story, hook, line and sinker. Practically printed it verbatim …just like we planned.”

Heyes didn’t look that pleased however.  He sighed heavily offering Kid the thin sheet.  Kid studied his cousins face, joining Heyes by the narrow beds and taking the proffered newsprint.

“You don’t think it’ll be enough …do you?” he said starting to read.

“It’ll help …but no … it’s not going to be enough. There’s been two more killings…”

Both ex-outlaws sat heavily on the beds with huge resigned sighs.  They didn’t speak anymore, each trapped in their own thoughts.  Never had the promised amnesty seemed further down the road, so distant now it seemed like a pipe dream.  The thin floral walls were closing in around them.  They both lay back on the thin pillows, keenly feeling the need to …get away …get moving again.

Kid lifted his gaze from the short article to the crazed ceiling.  “Well …that headline …might just put a crimp in that bounty hunter’s day” he opined, making a real effort to find something positive to say.  “He was so sure he had us. Almost arrogant.”

“He did have us Kid!” smiled Heyes bleakly, also staring up at the ceiling cracks.

“Yeah, but he couldn’t be …real sure.  He’d never seen us before.  Up to the time when he gagged you …I’m pretty sure you were starting to get to him …telling him that we’d been mistaken for them two despicable outlaws before …and about the Mayor’s daughter and all …you were definitely wearing his confidence thin …And now …well …he may just figure he was wrong …and if we ever come up against him again …he won’t know what to think.”

Curry looked to Heyes for confirmation.

“Huh?” Heyes eyed Curry with a rueful shake of his head.  “I guess …there must be some truth in there …somewhere, Kid.”

He tried on another weak smile to try and catch his younger cousin’s optimism but failed.  He decided to say what they were both thinking.

“Let’s leave …separately …meet Haff and Mr Wong …and get the hell out o’ here.”

Kid jumped to his feet like the lumpy mattress had suddenly acquired a new breed of electric bed bug.  

“Good call.  What’s next Heyes?” he said, rapidly gathering his belongings together.  

“First …we’ve got to get to Lom …and convince him those killings are nothing to do with us.  If we’re in luck …he might’ve already seen Professor Tung’s story in the paper …that’ll help back us up.”

Heyes started his packing too, but stopped mid-stuff of his saddlebags, socks in hand.  

“Maybe I can convince that deputy o’ Lom’s, to tell us where he’s at …this time …instead of just telling us he’s outta town?”  

---oooOOOooo---


Jan ‘Django’ Platt …eldest of the Platt Brothers and a recent inmate of the Porterville jailhouse under the name of Django Flatt … whistled quietly under his breath.  He couldn’t quite believe his luck.  

He’d hidden his horse and scrambled up into these rocks when he’d heard a rider on his back trail.  Down below him he saw the Porterville sheriff, the very same one that had tried to arrange him a neck tie party.  He’d know that big Texan anywhere and here he was walking his big showy appaloosa …all alone.  His fingers itched on the rifle in his hands.  He was sorely tempted.  

No.

A bullet in the back was too good for Lom Trevors. Too quick.  Django sneered, watching the sheriff walk out of range of his rifle. He wanted Trevors to know who was killing him, wanted his brothers to witness his vengeance.

Lom had sent him out of Porterville with the threat, that if he ever thought to return, next time he’d meet with a bullet, not a trial.  

Well he’d left.  

But he’d met his brothers at the ramshackle abandoned homestead he knew they’d be holed up at, and filled them in on his plans for Sheriff Lom Trevors.  His brothers, Wolf and Crease, had assured him they’d just been waiting for the hanging party to get underway, before they would’ve rode into town to the rescue, and Django had decided to believe that’s what would’ve happened.  If they were going to join the Devils Hole Gang he wanted his brothers with him to watch his back.

He watched Lom ride out of view.  He thought they would have to detour to Porterville, he never dreamed Trevors would come to him. This trail led up into the mountains. There was plenty of scope for an ambush up there.  

He watched Lom’s back trail for a while longer, long enough to be sure no one would disturb his planned bushwhack.  Then he climbed back up to his horse and pushed it to a fast gallop across the ridge, in his hurry to fetch his brothers.

---oooOOOooo---

The Bounty Hunter pushed the empty plate away, with a deep sigh.  The newspaper mocked him from the gingham table top.  

Hannibal Heyes and Jed ‘Kid’ Curry Saved My Life
Be the first to read
The amazing first-hand account of Professor J W Tung EPoDSU
Saved from certain death by the two notorious outlaws


I can hardly believe my good fortune….


He’d been gaining, he was sure his lucrative quarry couldn’t be that far ahead.  Now, not only was he unsure that he’d followed the right trail from the campfire; but he couldn’t be sure that he’d been trailing Heyes and Curry at all.

Cold resignation crossed his face and settled in the corners of his mouth.  He stood stretching his long limbs, looking out at the sun bathed street.   A small scuffle in the alley opposite caught his interest.  One of the combatants lost his hat briefly, grabbing it up and pulling it back low over his eyes before following the bigger one back down the alley and away from the busy street.  

The altercation had taken seconds, but the Bounty Hunters whole outlook had been transformed in that brief moment.  He was no longer despondent, feeling he’d wasted too much of his time on a wild goose chase.  He ripped the headline out of the front page, and stuffed it into his shirt pocket with a disdainful shake of his head, for the small fortune he felt he’d lost. Then removing a sheaf of wanted dodgers from his saddle bags, he leafed through them quickly.  Heyes and Curry went to the bottom of the pile.  The dodger at the top pronounced ‘Wanted for murder - $15,000 reward, dead or alive’.

Dead or Alive; his favourite kind.

He threw the money for the breakfast onto the table with a cold smile on his lips and set his own hat low to shield his eyes from the suns glare.  He quickly crossed the street and with only a cursory glimpse to left and right, stealthily followed his new quarry down the side alley.

---oooOOOooo---

Trevors was distracted by black thoughts of a betrayed friendship and he hadn’t noticed that he’d picked up a tail.  He re-ran the newspaper story in his head.  Four dead.  Heyes had ordered the killings, keeping his own hands clean, but it had been Kid Curry that had done the executing.  Curry was capable of that.  He should have known.  Guess Curry had decided not to wait on an amnesty anymore and Heyes …well Heyes did always like giving orders.

He should have known better than to trust that pair of... Well now he did know.

Kurt ‘Crease’ Platt, the youngest of the Platt brothers and many would say the least squeamish when it came to violence, kept the tall Texan in his sites.  He hung back just enough to ensure he didn’t give himself away with the sounds of his own horse’s harness and hoof beats.  Django had threatened to shoot him, if he gave the game away.  He knew where his brothers were to set the ambush.  He just had to trail the sheriff until he passed Indian rocks, then make sure there was no escape when the trap was sprung.  

Simple.

He just hoped his two idiot older brothers could stay civil with each other long enough to work the bushwhack up ahead.  Soon as Django got this out of his system, sooner they could be on their way to join Weaver at Devils Hole.

---oooOOOooo---

Django watched the steady appaloosa’s approach with satisfaction.  This would show his brothers that he was a force to be reckoned with. A man not to be crossed. He wanted Weaver to see him for the natural leader he was, and for that he’d need Wolf and Crease to be line. Minding him.

He waited till Trevors was between the high sides of the narrow canyon and Crease was off his horse and well hidden behind Trevors high up in the rocks.  Then he signalled across to Wolf on the other side of the canyon to get ready.  

‘He’d better not have a bottle up there with him’ thought Django.  ‘Wolf could have blown this whole stakeout if I hadn’t have dragged him out of that saloon when I did.’ He took careful aim with his rifle, pointing it right at the big sheriff’s mid-section.  

“That’s far enough Trevors!”

Having got Trevors attention, Jan Platt stood up, the rifles aim never wavering.

“I’m a might disappointed in yer…I didn’t think you’d make this so easy for me” he sneered.  “My brothers an’ me …we were hoping for a little more sport…”

Lom sat quietly on the horse, now fully alert to the danger he was in.  

“Weren’t we boys?”

The jackal laughter, both up to his right and from behind him, to his left, told Lom where the other two brothers were.  He cursed Heyes and Curry, especially Curry, for having him so mad and distracted he’d walked into an ambush, literally.

“What do you want Django?” He called calmly.  “Seems to me you got away with murder …once already.  Don’t you think it’s pushing your luck to try it again so soon?”

“Well now …I don’t see me no witnesses Sheriff …Do you boys?” Jan crowed.  “This here’s a real nice quiet stretch of road.  Why a man could die up here and nobody would find his body fer days.  Don’t suppose there’d be much left t’ find neither… What do you say Wolf?  Do you think my friend …Sheriff …Lom …Trevors here looks a might trail worn to you?  I think he could do with restin’ up for a spell.”

Wolf stood up with a big nasty grin on his face, also pointing a rifle, but the muzzle waved about with the unsteady sway of the near drunk outlaw holding it.

“Damn straight Djan! Let’s have us some fun…” he leered.

“Seems to me you been riding that horse too long Sheriff …why don’t you just step down and take it easy for a while” continued Django.  “We might even come and ride along with you …keep you company …like you done fer me in that jail cell … might even try help you along a little bit…” he sneered, brandishing both his rifle and a long loop of rope. “See how far we can help you along …before you quit screaming.”

More jackal laughter from the brothers Platt.

“I said step down!”

Lom considered his option.  There were precious few.

Carefully, he swung down from the saddle, putting the big appaloosa between himself and the two older brothers ahead.  He knew he’d only get this one chance to try and disarm the brother behind him and somehow get to cover … wasn’t much of a chance at that ... but it was all he had.  

Warily, he looked back at Crease, who was stood up in full view …

‘Fool, with his quarry still armed!’ thought Lom.

No more delay…

Lom spun, reaching for his side arm and fired back at the man behind him, his horse dancing at the ends of its reins, raising plenty of dust.  Crease’s return fire went high as his left arm exploded in crimson.  He fell backwards out of view, but Lom had seen his rifle fly into the air.  

The two elder brothers were slow to see the play and dive back to the cover of the rocks, shouldering their rifles. Lom ran for cover; the appaloosa bolting.  

The only rocks big enough to give any chance of cover were just too far away.  Lom began to weave as the first shots skimmed his boots.  Even in this dark moment, surely the last moment Lom would know on this Earth, he found the time to blame Kid Curry for him meeting with such a futile death.

Another rifle cracked from behind, but to his right.

One of the Platts, Wolf, fell immediately, a round dark well appearing between his eyes.  The other, Django, desperately searching for this new assailant, began swinging his rifle barrel between Lom and the rim wildly firing without aiming.  

Lom had reached cover at last, his six-gun in hand, but he could only watch as Django became the second victim to the mystery rifleman; two rounds, one in the shoulder and the one in the neck. He fell from his rock perch, dead before his body hit the ground.

Lom studied the rim. Was this new player friend or foe? Behind both of them, Crease had managed to pull himself up onto his horse was making a desperate getaway.

Lom saw a tall dark silhouette of a man standing with his rifle raised to fire at the bolting surviving brother.  Lom raised his own gun and hollered a challenge.  The stranger froze for a fraction of a second and lost his shot.  He let the barrel of his rifle drop and turning his back on Lom, climbed out over the rim and disappeared.  

Lom stood up to inspect the contorted corpse of the man he’d known as Django Flatt.  Dead eyes stared back at him.

Lom needed his horse.  He whistled loudly, he wasn’t sure why.  That horse had never come to a whistle before.  He guessed he was in for a long walk …and that wounded bushwhacker was still out there somewhere …and the stranger…

He heard a horse coming up the canyon behind him and turned to watch a rider approach, dragging the reluctant appaloosa and two other horses in his wake.  Lom recognised the stranger that had saved his life.  

“I’m mighty obliged to you” he called.

“Just doing my job” was the strangers curt reply.  

The Bounty Hunter was off his horse and fetching Wolf’s body from the rocks.  He got the brother’s bodies tied onto their horses.  Then he gave Lom a withering look.

“They were all three wanted dead or alive, you should have let me take that shot.  Saved me the bother of trailing Crease.”

“Crease?” began Lom.

“Read it fer yerself.” Stated the stranger, handing the well-thumbed wanted dodger to the Sherriff.

Lom recognised the faces on the dodger but not the names …The Platt brothers …Jan (Django) Platt …Wolfgang (Wolf) Platt and Kurt (Crease) Platt …wanted for armed robbery and murder.  Platt, not Flatt then.  More murderers.  Lom lost any sense of guilt for ruining the escaped brothers arm. Murderers deserved what was coming to them.

“You’re a bounty hunter?” Lom asked.  

The man’s flat stare was his only answer.  He went about his business.  

“I’m looking for a bounty hunter” Lom continued undaunted.  “One that thought he had Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry in the Louvides jailhouse …’til the Devils Hole Gang dynamited it …and got them out.”

The Bounty Hunter narrowed his eyes, staring hard at the sheriff.  Lom let the silence drag.  He’d dealt with loners like this before.

“What business do you have …with such a Bounty Hunter?” the stranger asked, eventually, his teeth chewing at the customary cigar.  

“Well …if that was you …I need to know if you’re still on their trail?”

More quiet consideration.

“Yes …was me …and no …seems it wasn’t them …so I got me a new trail.”

The stranger jerked his head towards the brothers Platt.

“What do you mean, it wasn’t them?”

“Just that.”

The stranger dug in his pockets.

“Read it fer yerself.”  

He gave Lom the newspaper clipping from the diner.  Lom read: He checked the dates and the location of the Professor’s miraculous rescue, very carefully.  He blew out a long breath, frowning.  Smith and Jones were definitely in Trappers Rest a week before the Jailhouse blew in Louvides.  This hogwash was obviously one of Heyes’ schemes.  It had Heyes’ name written all over it. But why? Why did they need an alibi for that jailbreak if they’d given up on waiting for the amnesty?

Just the smallest doubt crept into Lom’s brain.

“See?” said the stranger “Heyes and Curry weren’t even in Louvides …I had me a couple of nobodies, named Smith and Jones.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure of that if I were you.  I can identify that pair of hoot owls.  If you could just show me where you left their trail …I’d be much obliged to you.”

The Bounty Hunter studied the big Texan Sheriff, saw the resolve in the set of his jaw.  Knew the veracity of his statement that he knew Heyes and Curry.  Saw the need to be on their trail.  He weighed the $5000 reward for Crease with the $20,000 bounty on Heyes and Curry and made a decision.

“Mount up Sheriff, we’ve got a long way to go before sundown.”

---oooOOOooo---

Next Part is here http://asjbuckshot.forumotion.com/t382-the-long-road-back-part-four-sharper-than-a-serpents-tooth-4200-words


Last edited by Cal on Sat 16 Jul 2016, 7:27 am; edited 2 times in total
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The Long Road Back - Part Three - Bushwhacked - 3400 words :: Comments

Good action that was easy to visualize. Very good, Cal!
 

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