Saturday, March 13, 2010
Cheyenne, and the Invite to the Porch!
The old man showed signs of fatigue, as he stepped down from his old roan horse. Resting his right hand on the saddle horn, he allowed his tired legs a long overdue stretch.
Slapping the days dust from his clothes, he narrowed his eyes against the midday sun, he could just make out the faint dust cloud in the distance.
With his left hand he reached into his battered saddle bags.
Two long weeks had passed since he`d had a bath, and he couldn’t quite decide who smelt the worst, him or the horse. Raising his old army field glasses to his eyes, he scanned the horizon.
The dust cloud was beginning to fade, but he wasn’t worried, he`d pick up there trail easy. Wiping his eyes, he caught the bead of sweat rolling down his forehead, he rubbed the dust from his army field glasses, and placed them carefully back in the saddle bags.
He was thirsty, but water had been scarce, his canteen was still fairly full, so he allowed himself a drink. The water was warm and slightly stale, but it washed the dust from his teeth. He was putting the canteen back, when he changed his mind. Removing his sweat stained hat, he poured some water over his grey hair and let the warm liquid run down his dust engrained neck. It felt good. Cheyenne then poured some into his hat, and gave the horse a drink.
It was time to move on. He knew it was only a matter of time now, mounting the roan, he slipped his feet into the stirrups, and kissed the horse into a mile eating lope.
He was no stranger to this trail, he had ridden it, back in `65 just after the end of the war, but that was sixteen years ago.
He rode on and as he did so, he glanced at the dusty earth for sign, the unshod pony tracks were the same as they had always been right from the start, only now they were closer together, they were slowing down.
He began to think of how tired he was, and if he was, they were also.
It was dusk when he finally allowed the roan to stop, he was within` spittin` distance of his prey.
Stripping off the saddle and blanket, he let the reins fall to the ground. The mare sighed at the loss of weight. He lit no fire, and chewed on a strip of jerked beef.
The soft warm smell of a cook fire, wafted across the night air. But he was already engrossed in his next move. Cleaning and checking his Henry rifle had become second nature to him, finally he levered a round into the chamber. It was an old habit, grown out of bitter experience, and he wasn’t about to change now.
He knew it was going to be quick, it always was. He reckoned it was some three hundred yards to their cook fire, maybe a little less, but certainly not more.
As the old man began to crawl towards his targets, his elbows and knees protested at the hard earth and stones. He crawled on, daring to look at regular intervals, checking that nothing ahead of him would cause his targets to hear him coming.
The three shabbily dressed riders, were camped in a shallow depression, all three were calm as you please, totally oblivious to their impending doom.
The sweat was on Cheyenne`s brow, he was aching all over, and his anger was welling, in his chest. He stopped and rolled over onto his back, exhaling slowly. His mind shouted at him to shoot now! But years of warfare, had taught him patience.
Lying there, he felt the comforting shape of his Henry, and with his left hand, he withdrew the Navy Colt from its holster. He felt much calmer now. He cocked the hammer on the Henry, likewise on the Colt.
Closing his eyes, he tried to keep the images from invading his brain, he could see it as if it was yesterday. The torn flesh, blood, the limp bodies, left like rag dolls, strewn across the dusty ground in front of the ranch.
He forced the painful memories from his thoughts, and as they receded, he made a decision. He wasn’t going to lie in wait and shoot them down where they lay, no.
He was standing up before he knew it, he would deliver the sentence that the court had passed on the men that had slaughtered his family.
“Hey you!” His voice echoed, in the night air, all three men turned towards his voice, at the same time they reached for their weapons, the old mans Henry barked first, and began to vent his anger, on the men in front of him.
The noise of each round exploded into the night air, each one cleansing his soul. His first two rounds hit the man they called Caleb in the chest and shoulder, the hit to the shoulder causing him to pirouette, and collapse to the ground. His third shot caught the second man in the neck, it was plain to see that the artery was severed, as the thick oxygen rich blood arced from the wound, leaving a trail of steam in the cold night air.
The remaining man fell to his knees, pleading for life and crying, the tears rolling down his dirty face. He looked at the face of the old man, there was no forgiveness, they say that you only see the bullet that kills you. He would never know, or care. The Colt exploded, and flame and smoke erupting from the barrel, it was over. A dark hole appeared in the forehead of the pleading man, while the back of his head disappeared in a red mist, shards of white bone sprayed into the dark night.
Cheyenne, stood still, a trickle of warm blood dripped off his left wrist, he knew he had been hit, but he didn’t care.
Sentence had been passed, justice had been done. He had done what the courts could not, he had finished what he had set out to do.
How long he had stood there he didn’t know, but the cold night air was eating into his weary bones. He was standing over the bodies of dead men, but he felt good. His Henry rifle hung heavy in his hand, he could feel the weight of it now, he thrust the Colt into its holster and swung round, cradling the rifle in his arms.
Cheyenne, walked back to his old roan, he thought about burying the dead, then thought, “what the hell, even buzzards got to eat!”
Picking up the reins, he mounted, and sitting deep in the saddle, he headed West, he had a date, with a bottle of Single Malt, a smelly dawg, and a Porch.
“Hope Valance has got a bath?” he muttered