Stories: Alias Smith and Jones

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 November 2010

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Penski

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Join date : 2013-09-26

20170105
PostNovember 2010

Horse(s)

Running from a posse, one of the horses turns lame. Will they escape?




The dark bay gelding and chestnut mare were blowing heavily from the exertion of reaching the top of the ridge. Their flanks heaved from the run, lather covered their necks and they wereat the point of exhaustion. The riders were not much better—trail worn and starving. From their elevated vantage point, they could see the relentless posse in a tight-knit circle with gesturing and head shaking among them.

"Think they’re givin’ up?" Curry asked before taking a sparing drink from his canteen. The water was almost gone and he wasn’t sure when or where they would be able to fill them again.

Heyes stared down at the group. "I think they’re talking about it. It’s been two days."

"May as well get some more distance between us while we can. Stay on the ridge or go down the other side?"

Looking around at the choices, Heyes commented, "I think we should stay up here, as long as we can’t be seen from below. We can keep an eye on them to see if they’re really turning back or not."

"After you." Curry swept his hand indicating Heyes should lead.

They rode a couple hundred yards when the dark bay tripped, fell on his knees and a low guttural scream pierced the air. Kid flew over the head of the horse, landing hard on the rocky ground.

Heyes heard the commotion behind him and quickly twisted in the saddle. He quickly reined his startled mare and jumped off. "Kid…" He ran to his side. "Are you okay?"

Curry slowly rolled over onto his back grimacing. He dabbed at a scratch on his face that was beginning to bleed. He slowly opened his eyes. "Just winded. What happened?"

"I dunno. Your horse must’ve stepped wrong or in a hole."

"How is he?"

Heyes turned toward the gelding. "He’s not good."

The Kid propped himself up with his elbows and saw his horse lying down on the ground and trying to get up; its right foreleg at an awkward angle. "No…"

He quickly scrambled to his feet and went to the bay’s side. Softly rubbing its nose, Kid talked soothingly to him. "What did you do, boy? Step in a hole? Just stay down and let me check your leg. I’ll be careful." He slowly bent down and felt the leg.

"Broken?" Heyes asked as he tried to calm his skittish mare.

"Yeah…damn!" The Kid rubbed the neck of his gelding with his left hand while he touched the grip of his gun with his right hand.

Heyes checked the posse’s position. "Do you really think that’s a good idea? We may have finally gotten away from them."

Curry looked at his partner in unbelief. "What…and not shoot him outta his misery? After he’s outrun how many posses and saved my life, you want me to just leave him to die a slow death so the buzzards can get him?"

Heyes took off his hat and ran his fingers through his hair. "Yeah…no…you’re right. We can’t just leave him. It’s just that the posse…and my mare’s tired and I don’t know if she’s up to carrying both of us."

"Tell you what. You leave and I’ll take care of my horse—make sure he doesn’t suffer. I can stay hidden from a posse and you can circle around when it’s safe to pick me up."

"I’m not leaving you!"

"And I’m not gonna let my gelding just lay here in agony."

Heyes looked down the valley and saw the posse beginning to leave the area.

The bay snorted as he tried standing again. His chestnut companion snorted back several times, becoming more agitated. Heyes held on to the reins tight. "Whoa, girl!"

"Hey…hey…just stay down, boy. Not goin’ anywhere with that leg," the Kid calmly talked to his horse as he continued to pet him.

Dark brown eyes full of pain looked into the blue ones of his rider.

"Are they gone? He can’t take much more, Heyes." The Kid kept his focus on his four-legged friend. "Soon…it’ll be over with soon," he said in a soothing tone.

Heyes watched the group of men slowly ride away.

"Heyes…"

"Just another minute. They’re taking their time leaving. Any way it’s gonna be a gamble if they hear or not."

Curry checked his gun quickly. "In a minute you won’t be hurtin’ no more. And no more posses to run from, either. You’ve been a good friend. I’m gonna miss you!"

The bay let out a soft whiney.

"Okay, I’m guessing they’re outta range." Heyes continued to watch the valley.

The Kid stroked his gelding with one hand and held his gun with the other. "Bye, buddy," he whispered. He sighed as he pulled the trigger.

The mare neighed loudly and tried backing away from Heyes and the noise of the gun.

Curry went around the back of his gelding and removed his saddlebags. He joined Heyes as they watched the posse stop and turn around. Several men pointed to the top of the ridge near their location.

"We better get outta here!"

The Kid secured his bags to the mare as Heyes mounted her. He kicked his feet out of the stirrups so his partner could swing up behind him.

Risking one more glance back at the posse, they could easily see that a discussion was taking place among the riders. Several were gesturing up to where Heyes and the Kid watched, others pointing back down the trail…Heyes didn’t wait to see what they were going to do. He quickly reined his mare onto the trail that would lead them down the other side of the ridge.
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