by SoDak7

Vin, Chris, Ezra

"I kin do this Chris, trust me," Vin said, as he bent down on one knee to look into his friend’s bruised face.

"Ain’t ‘bout trust Vin," Chris said softly, looking into the blue eyes. "I don’t like it, it’s too dangerous."

"Gotta be me cowboy, hell, ‘tween you and Ezra, you’re only ‘bout one whole man," the tracker said, with a slight grin. Interestin’ combination wouldn’t ya say?" he added, trying to get the gunslinger to lighten up some and see his point of view.

Larabee just snorted, muttered "damn" and then looked over at the gambler. Yeah, the man was a sight. Sitting on the dirt floor of the nearly caved-in old barn, Ezra looked nothing like the dapper dandy that he was. No hat, red jacket ripped and torn, his usually pristine white shirt was not only filthy with dirt but had some blood spatters on it from the wound on his head, one eye swollen shut and the pants were dirtied and ripped too. Guess that’s the way one would look when he’s been dragged behind a horse for a few hundred yards. His head hanging low, it was hard to tell if he was unconscious or had just given into fatigue and was resting some.

Hell, he wasn’t in much better shape. Had a bullet wound to his left arm and multiple bruises that he’d gotten when tumbling down a rocky hillside. His right knee was paining him, no doubt twisted some and probably swollen, but hell if he was going to look. Right ankle wasn’t in much better shape. He had suffered a bruise to his jaw line that made talking abit tough too, but then he’d taken a beating also just because their captors didn’t seem to have a sense of humor when he’d told them to "go to hell." Looking at Vin, the gunslinger knew, in truth, that the Texan was the only one who seemed the "most whole."

"I don’t like it Vin," he told his best friend again, "but guess we don’t have a choice." He squinted at the tracker, noticing the slight grin on the younger man’s face. "You know what you’re getting yourself inta don’t ya? They’re gonna be comin after you on horses and if…if this doesn’t work Vin…" he cut himself off with a shake of his head and a downward glance. "Damn it Vin," the words coming out softly, full of concern and fear for his friend.

"It’ll work Chris. By the time they realize I’m gone I’ll be up and over the ridge and then by the time they pick their way over that ridge with their horses, I’ll be pretty much past the flats and on the way back ta town. Could be the boys will be out lookin’ fer us and I’ll meet them even before that and…"

"What about that Neanderthal Indian tracker they have?" came the question from the slouching lump of clothing that was Ezra. "Perhaps ‘it’ might have other ideas about letting you get away to bring back help."

"He’s a Cherokee," was all Vin said, as if that explained a hell of a lot.

As painful as it was to do, the gambler turned his head and squinted at the buckskin clad tracker. "You really are out of your mind, you know that, don’t you? I mean, perhaps if we just waited here for a little while, say, six months, possibly our compatriots will find us and take us to that place we call home." The conman tried for a snort of laughter, but it mostly came out as a groan and then a coughing spell started that he had trouble stopping.

Vin moved over to his friend, patting him softly on the back, mumbling something to him trying to help stop the coughs and to get the breathing back to normal.

"Thank you, Mr. Tanner. You are a wonderment."

Vin looked over to Chris and mouthed the word "wonderment" to him and watched as the gunslinger shrugged his good shoulder and shook his head.

Larabee then noticed that the tracker stood up and went to a place near the back of the dilapidated old barn and came back with two wicked looking pieces of wood, giving one to Ezra and the other to him, kneeling down next to him but talking to them both.

"When they come in ta give you food or water, you…," Vin started to say, as he heard another snort/groan come from the conman, "… keep these hidden. Try not ta aggravate them too much cowboy, need you ta be able ta get out of here," he said, softly, sincerely, looking at Chris, "and when they send out their posse after me, which I figure will be at least three, counting the Cherokee, then you and Ezra should be able ta overtake the other three. And then, " he said, making sure to make direct eye contact with Larabee, you head ta the north and over that ridge. There’s what’s called Twin Rock; looks like one big rock, but it’s just two of ’em butted up close together and you’ll be able ta see that when you get close to it. You go through the pass between them two rocks and about ten miles past that you’ll be in Kojay’s territory. You just head ta his camp. You hearin’ me cowboy?" Vin asked, making sure Chris was understanding exactly what he was telling him. He waited for the murmured "yeah" and the nod of the blond head before he was satisfied that his instructions had been heard and understood.

"Chris, look at me," Vin commanded of him and when the tired and pained hazel eyes met his, he took a deep breath and said softly, "I need you ta do this cowboy, don’t want to have ta come back trackin’ and find yer carcasses lost somewheres ‘tween here and that rock, you hear me? You head directly fer that point, keep it in yer sights at all times. There’s water there right afore you head between that pass. You jest make it that far and you’ll be fine. Alright?"

"Hear ya Vin. We’ll…we’ll be fine. We’ll make it. You just be sure you make it first so you’re around ta come and get us." He gave Vin a nod of his head and the jaw line tightened, testament to the emotions running through him. He didn’t like this plan, didn’t like it at all. Vin was going to head, on foot, to the east and over a rocky ridge, then over the flat land which would eventually lead him to Four Corners. The Texan’s thinking was that he could make better time on foot over the ridge and be through most of the flat land while the outlaw’s horses would be slowed while picking their way around and over the rocky outcroppings. This whole thing hinged on the fact they were hoping the boys would be out looking for them and hopefully would come across Vin before the gang caught up to him on their horses. Meanwhile, if…if he and Ezra didn’t take too much of a beating when asked where the tracker had gone, and he knew they would take a beating once they found out the man was gone and Vin wanted them to know where he was going so they’d follow, leading them into a trap. Then all he and Ezra had to do was somehow overpower the remaining men and escape on their own. Hopefully, there was that word again, hopefully, they would have a couple of horses to make their getaway on and head to Kojay’s camp. It wasn’t the best plan, but it was the only one they had.

"When you headin’ out?" Larabee asked quietly.

"In jest a bit. I have ta work a little more at that rotted plank back there and I should be able to squeeze through. You two jest take it easy and get some rest. I’ll let ya know afore I leave."

He glanced at both men, getting a slight head nod from Chris and a small wave of the hand from Ezra. Damn, but both men were hurting. He hoped to hell this was going to work. It had to!! It was their only chance. He gave Chris’s knee a pat, stood up and went to the back of the barn again to finish his task.

After a few minutes work Vin came back over to where his two friends were resting.

"Hey cowboy," he said softly to Chris. " I got all the boards off. Gonna be leavin’ in a few minutes. You boys take care of yerselves now okay?" he said, including the gambler, who slowly turned his head to look his way.

"We shall end endeavor to do our best Mr. Tanner and might I say, you need to do the same."

"I’ll be jest fine," the ex-bounty hunter said, as he sat down to pull off his boots and socks.

"Vin?" Chris asked, as he watched his friend.

"Boots ain’t made fer walkin’ let alone runnin’. Won’t get far if’n I have ta wear these things. Figure you boys can bring ‘em along with you. ‘Preciate it if ya’d do that."

"Good lord, but you must have been hit in the head. Do you actually propose to run barefoot all the way back to Four Corners?" asked Ezra, coming fully aware now.

"Keepin’ my socks fer when I start up the ridge. Will protect my feet somewhat. Best chance I got and I aim ta give myself all the chances I can git."

"Well, perhaps you could carry them and then..."

"Don't want nothin' in my hands whilst I's runnin', will slow me down."

"You’ll…you’ll never make it like that. Mr. Larabee, I think you should talk some sense into him."

"He knows what he’s doin’," Chris said, as he looked into the Texan’s eyes. "If it gives him the odds, then I’m all for it."

Vin gave him a nod and a small grin. "Ezra? Think ya kin bring my boots back fer me?"

"If you make that run, Mr. Tanner, and we all get back in one piece, I shall buy you a new pair of boots."

"Don’t want no new ones. These are broke in just the way I like 'em. Chris…?"

"Please, Mr. Tanner, allow me then. I will bring your footwear for you. I promise."

Vin got up, stuck his socks into his waistband along side his own wooden 'weapon' and took his boots over to the southerner. "Remember now Ez, I’m countin’ on ya."

"I won’t let you down, I shall guard them with my very life," said the gambler, taking the boots and squinting at his friend with his one good eye. "You…you be careful, Vin." We shall all have a libation on me when we are gathered together again at the saloon.

"Be lookin’ forward ta some of that good stuff of yours then Ez," the tracker said, giving the flustered emotional conman a lopsided grin. Then reaching out he shook hands with the gambler. "Later, pard."

"Yes indeed, later, my friend," he mumbled, as Vin made his way back over to Larabee.

When reaching Chris the two shared a look, nodded and then grasped each other’s forearms and held on for a moment.

"Be careful Vin."

"I will, cowboy. See ya soon as possible." And with that said, the man disappeared to the back of the barn.

The two remaining men heard a little scrape of wood and then nothing. Vin had gotten out okay and they held their breath hoping they wouldn’t hear any gunshots. After a few minutes and all was still silent, both men gave a collective sigh.

"Seems our Mr. Tanner has made his getaway."

"Seems so."

"Well then, might I suggest we try and relax so that we will be rested in order to do what needs to be done to get out of this nightmarish mess we've gotten into? We wouldn’t want to disappoint our comrade and not be where he expects us to be, would we?"

When there came no answer from the man in black, Ezra assumed the man had either dropped off into a much needed rest or else was quietly thinking and more than likely, worrying about his best friend, who had just left. It was a friendship that he envied and wished he could be a part of, even if in some small way. True, all the men were friends and he knew without a doubt they’d back him to the death, but the friendships were on different levels. The one that Chris and Vin had was of the highest level. Theirs was one you just didn’t see everyday let alone become a part of. He was, as he knew the other men to be, in awe of it. But truth be told, he was happy right where he was, actually. He gave a quiet little snort, smug in the fact that he was getting more than he thought he ever would from anyone. Imagine falling into bed, so to speak, with six men that he could actually count on to back him, to look for him when he was lost, to care for him when he was hurt, to even reprimand him when he went astray. And yet, if he did go astray, they were the most forgiving of men he’d ever met. Well, there was a couple that he’d had to work hard to get back into their good graces, but by and large they were a merciful lot. His mother, bless her heart, figured he must have lowered his standards some by staying in the dusty back water town and making friends with a couple of gunslingers, a wanted man, a defrocked preacher, a black healer man and a young wet-behind-the-ears Bostonian but even she had to admit that whenever visiting, she was captivated by the moral standards of these hardened men, just as he was. If anything, he was made a better man just by knowing them and he was certainly learning things by staying with them, things he found he liked learning about himself and what he was capable of. And if he were permitted a moment of self gratification, he’d say they were better off with him also. He just sort of fit right in with this motley little crew of peacekeepers extraordinaire. As he was musing to himself, the barn door opened and a canteen was flung inside landing a far piece from either man.

Even though injured, Larabee moved with catlike swiftness and agility as he scooped up the thrown canteen. Seeing then why Chris had moved so quickly, for the cap was off and the precious life saving liquid was spilling out, he watched as the man in black proceeded to limp over to him and offer him a drink.

"You first, Mr. Larabee. After all, you did save the vessel from empting it’s contents."

"Whatever you say, Ezra," Chris said, as he tipped the almost empty canteen to his lips. Taking a mouthful of water he swished it around and then swallowed, offering what was left to Ezra again.

Ezra did the same as Chris, realizing that their captors must have thrown the almost empty canteen in, thinking they’d never reach it in time to get any water at all, a very rude gesture on their part, he thought. Guess they underestimated the sheer will power of one Mr. Larabee. And with that one act, Ezra knew without a doubt that they would indeed do what needed to be done and would end up right where Vin expected them to be. If Mr… if Chris was going to do his damnest to get to Kojay’s camp alive well then, by god, so would he.

"Tasted good. I feel replenished and ready for whatever might arise. How ‘bout you, Mr. Larabee? Think we can handle them?"

"Oh, we’ll handle them alright," he heard the gunslinger say, in a deadly whisper and felt a shiver go up his spine. "They won’t know what hit ‘em."

+ + + + + + +

After leaving the barn, Vin made a beeline for the ridge. Knowing that it was a moonless night made his getaway even easier. The outlaws were in the house never suspecting any trouble from their captives, no doubt thinking their injuries would keep them quiet for a few hours. He loved it when the bad guys thought like that. But he also knew it’d make them powerful angry when they found out he was gone and he knew Ezra and Chris would pay for that anger. He just hoped they played their cards smart and didn’t aggravate the men any more than necessary. He would expect Ezra to play the game but he wasn’t so sure about Chris. The man had a volatile temper and at times acted before he thought and he sure as hell wasn’t a man to give up anything. They’d learned that when he was in that hellhole of a place called Jericho. It was like poking a rattler with a stick and damned if Larabee wouldn’t bite every time. There was no give there, although he had to admit when he was around, his friend seemed abit more settled and would actually listen to him at times. At least, hear what he had to say. Without him there now, he was worried about what might happen. He could only hope that Ezra would keep him in line. That thought brought a chuckle from him as he ran, keeping up a good pace. He knew he wasn’t in the best of shape anymore. Too much ridin’ on a horse and sittin’ around in a saloon would do that to a man, but he was gonna give it everythin’ he had. He figured he’d run as much as he could, then walk to get his breath back and then run again. He needed to get as far away as possible, as quickly as possible, because he knew that the Cherokee would come for him. He didn’t want to say anything around the boys, but he knew that the tracker would hunt him down even to the point of running his own horse into the ground and then come after him on foot. There was no way around getting past the Indian, except to kill him. Quickly touching the pointed piece of wood protruding from his waistband, he reassured himself that it was still there. Not the best choice of weapon, but it was all he had.

Finally reaching the start of the mountainous ridge, he sat a moment and put his socks on over his already bruised and slightly bleeding feet. Now would come the hardest part but he was up for it. His driving force was making sure he got to Four Corners in order to get help for Chris and Ezra. He needed to keep focused on that and not his injuries and then he’d do just fine. With pictures of his two injured friends in mind, he began his climb.

+ + + + + + +

Sometime after drinking the water, whether it was ten minutes or a hour, the injured peacekeepers weren’t sure, four of the outlaws entered the barn. Noticing the third captive wasn’t to be found, the leader of the gang started in on Chris and Ezra.

"Where is he? Where is that long-haired half-breed?" he snarled at Larabee, grabbing hold of his shirt front.

Chris just grinned at him and told him since he was so smart, he should figure it out himself, which earned him a fist to his wounded arm. As the man in black groaned and grabbed at his injured arm, he heard the gambler speak up.

"The man is right you know, shouldn’t take even an imbecile such as yourself to figure this one out. I mean…"

Ezra’s speech was cut short as the outlaw leader squatted down in front of him.

"What did you just call me?"

"An imbecile," the conman told him, looking directly at the man. "It means stupid or fool…ish," he finished saying, as the man took his chin in hand and turned his head to and fro.

"You have one good black eye, how’d you’d like another?" the outlaw taunted.

"Well, you know what they say? If one of something is good, then two should…" and that’s all the further he got, as the man punched him hard on the "good" side of his face and his vision began to dim and a sick feeling started to come over him.

"Damn smart mouths, all of ‘em," the gang leader said, as he stood up. "They won’t think they’s so smart once we get Ned back and start puttin' bullets in these self righteous bastards," he growled, talking to his men.

"Hey look Clete," one of the men said, handing Vin’s boots to the leader. "Reckon that half-breed took off without his boots. Why the hell would he do that? Talk about being stupid," he said, giving the gambler a kick to his legs.

"Don’t know, don’t care," the man called Clete said, throwing the boots towards Ezra, one hitting him in the shoulder and the other landing off somewhere in the barn. "I’m thinkin’ the man is headed to Four Corners and the rest of his friends. If he gets to them or they are out lookin’ for these, and he nodded at the two peacekeepers, and they get to him, then our plan to get Ned is in serious trouble. We’ve got to find him. Chero…," the man turned and started to yell but noticed the Indian was already out the door, headed to his horse.

"Jed, see where he’s goin’ and then get our horses ready. We’ll leave Jenkins, Hawkins and Frisco here just in case Tanner comes back and tries somethin’. Damn lawmen and damn that Pete for gettin’ hisself caught. Shit, but brothers are a pain in the ass. Let’s go," he said, to the remaining man. "Let’s get us some half-breed blood," he said, with a leer and a kick to Larabee. "Then we’ll see how high and mighty you think you are when we come back here with his carcass and maybe more if'n we catch up with your friends too," he said, with a sickening laugh as the two men walked out of the barn, shutting the door and cloaking the room in total darkness again.

+ + + + + + +

"Ezra? Ezra, are you okay? Ezra!

"I’m here, Mr. Larabee. You need’nt shout," he said, as he held his pounding head in his hands.

"Weren‘t ‘spose to aggravate ‘em remember?"

"I thought perhaps that only applied to you and besides, why should you always get to have all the... fun," he said, as a groan escaped from his lips. Hearing a shuffling noise he looked up to see the gunslinger slowly making his way over to him. Looking at Larabee’s bleeding arm he said, "I think we both failed in the aggravation department. You too, seem to be a little worse off than you were previously."

"Yeah, well, at least I can see."

"True," the gambler said, squinting out of his puffy new sore eye. "I can still see enough to be able to smite the offenders when and if the need arises."

"Oh, there’ll definitely be a "when" and I don’t think it’ll be too long now," Chris said, as they heard the pounding of horses hooves leaving the area.

"I had a feeling you were going to say that," Ezra mumbled. "I hope our friend has made it as far as he had hoped. He seems to have the hounds of hell upon him now."

"He’ll make it," Chris said, with absolute assurance.

"I do hope you’re right, Mr. Larabee. For his sake as well as our own."

+ + + + + + +

Vin had scaled the rocky ridge and was beginning his descent down the other side. Wouldn’t be long and the sun would come up and he’d lose the advantage of darkness. But he figured he was about where he should be considering he was on foot. He didn’t know how far ahead of anyone he was, or even if anyone was trackin‘ him. Hoping that his friends were still alright and that their plan was working, he just kept going forward. Forward to his friends and to help.

Behind him and riding hard, the Cherokee tracker knew just where the man who thought as an Indian, was headed. He knew the man had lived with ‘The People’ for years, had heard that this ’Tanner’ was smart and cunning, knowing how to become one with the land. He also knew that in leaving behind his boots, his plan would be to scale the ridge on foot knowing that horses would take more time to skirt around the boulders and shrubs. He also knew the man had a good head start on them and would be going into the flats by the time the sun came up and then it would be a race to get to that town of his before getting caught.

Well, he had his own plan. The Indian pony that he rode was replaceable, he could always steal another, and he planned on riding the animal hard and fast just as far up onto the ridge as possible and when it could carry him no longer, then he’d go after this man on foot. He would catch him, and when he did, he would show him who was the better brave. The men who rode behind him would find nothing but a dead man and then they could continue on to the town and retrieve that stupid brother of his boss’s from the white man’s prison. And then perhaps he would think of going his own way. Time to leave these men behind and go back to his own people. Yes, that was what he was going to do, after he counted coup on this white man named Tanner.

+ + + + + + +

Chris and Ezra were given a little respite from their aggravated beating but before long two of the outlaws came into the barn, sending shards of bright lights into the darkened area as one came in with a lantern, the other with plates in his hands.

"Come ta feed ya pigs some slop," one of the men said, with a hearty laugh and then proceeded to drop a metal pan in front of Larabee. "Eat ya pig, eat it all up," he taunted the man in black.

Larabee looked up at the man and for a moment the gang member froze with the fear of god in him. If looks could kill, he’d a been dead for sure. Moving over to the other man, he dropped the plate in front of him also, spilling some of the contents out onto the dirt.

"Eat ya dog," he called to Ezra, giving the man a kick to the legs when there was no response.

"No offense, but I think I‘ll pass," Ezra said, keeping his head low and tightening his grip on his piece of sharpened wood.

"Oh, I take offense alright, Mr. Dandy Man," the taunting man said, getting down on his haunches to look into Ezra’s face. Grabbing his chin and forcing him to look upwards, the outlaw never knew what hit him. As Ezra brought his face up, his weapon also came up and caught the man right in the adam’s apple. As the speared man grabbed for his throat and the stick of wood, the conman reached for the man’s gun. Hearing the other outlaw’s cry of surprise and pain he knew instinctively that Larabee was taking the other man down or had done so already. Finally getting the gun out of the now dead man’s holster, he felt unnatural heat coming from his right. "Damn," he said, as he noticed the busted lantern that spewed fiery oil which was now finding it’s way to some rotted pieces of timber and no doubt would send the whole place into a raging inferno in no time flat.

"Mr. Larabee, we seem to have a problem here," he called to the gunslinger, seeing that the man was near the front doors, looking to the house, oblivious to the impending disaster about to take place.

"Chris! Fire!" the conman yelled out and finally saw Larabee turn to look and read the oath that came from his lips. Seeing the gunslinger look back to the house and fire off a couple of shots, he turned his attention to something more important; finding Vin’s boots. He picked up the one that was laying near where he had been but the other he wasn’t sure where it landed after that oafish curmudgeon tossed it somewhere. Searching around frantically with only one half opened eye, in the dark recesses of the barn, he was suddenly grabbed by the arm and whirled around.

"What the hell are you doing? We gotta get out of here, the place is going up like a tinderbox," Chris yelled at him, as the flames licked higher and the crackling of burned wood was getting louder.

"I have to find his other boot," he said, pulling away from Chris.

"We have to leave now!!" the gunslinger shouted to him, pulling at him again and beginning to cough at the thickening smoke.

"I have to find it, I gave a promise," Ezra choked out at him, wrenching free once again and landing in a sunken dirt spot, feeling his way with his hands for the wayward boot.

"Dammit Ezra, it’s not that important!"

"Yes, it is. I’ve got to…," putting his hand on a piece of soft leather, he knew he'd found it. Picking it up he stumbled into Chris, giving him a shove to let him know he’d found what he was looking for.

The two men exited the building just as it fell down with a crash and a whoosh of fire, lighting up the pre-dawn sky. Falling to their knees, they sucked in fresh air to their depleted lungs.

"That…was…plain…stupid…Ezra," Chris forced out, when he could finally speak. "You almost got…got us killed in there."

"You wouldn’t…couldn’t understand, Mr.… Mr. Larabee…but it…was important. Trust me."

"Vin wouldn’t have wanted you to give up…your life for his damn boots Ezra. That I do…understand," the man in black hissed out, as he stood up and gazed over to the empty corral, the horses gone, leaving behind a busted railing when they fled.

"Damn it ta hell, horses are gone," he muttered, as he looked around hoping to find a stray.

Squinting at the dead man laying outside the door of the house, Larabee’s handiwork no doubt, Ezra attempted to get up but failed miserably, sitting back on his rear end. "Think I’ll just sit right here for a few minutes if you don’t mind. Seems the whole world is turning too quickly on it’s axis at the present moment."

Looking at the man clutching Tanner’s boots to his chest with his left arm and a pistol dangling from the right hand, Chris shook his head and said, "alright, you rest, I’ll go see if I can find a couple of horses. I won’t go far. We need to get started to that pass with or without a ride."

"Oh joy. A walk. I can almost see to do that," he said, as he squinted off to the north, eyes watering.

"Least ya got an extra pair of boots if ya need ‘em," Chris said to him, as he limped off looking for their own horses, or any horses he could find.

"Yes, I do," he said softly, holding the boots tightly to himself. "I didn’t let you down this time Mr. Tanner. Not this time."

+ + + + + + +

Dawn was breaking as he was halfway down the ridge. His feet were a mess he knew, he could feel them slipping on the blood inside his socks. But he was making good time. His ribs ached, they had been badly bruised when the outlaws captured them but he didn’t want the other two to know that. He had also wrenched his back when he had lunged for Chris to try and keep him from tumbling down that embankment. No matter, he was still the most able to make this run.

He stopped a moment to catch his breath and to let the fire in his chest subside. Catching movement out of the corner of his eye, he turned quickly to find himself face to face with the grinning Cherokee.

"What took ya so long," Vin taunted and the smile disappeared from the Indian’s face to be replaced by an angry scowl.

"It is a good day for you to die, white man."

"Don‘t plan on it today, but maybe for you it will be," Vin said, as he cautiously moved into a fighting stance.

Pulling his bowie knife, the Cherokee said, "we shall see who is the better man then."

The Indian definitely had the advantage. He was healthy and he had a real knife. Vin was injured and only had a sharp piece of wood as his weapon, but the Texan fully believed in the power of the mind. He was driven by the fact that his two friends needed him, they would only survive if he did. At least, that was his frame of mind. So there was no way in hell he was going to go down. From down deep, somewhere, came the strength to overcome his disadvantages and the Cherokee was in the fight of his life, for his life.

Vin was not going to give in or go down even when he received some nasty slashes. Not knowing the meaning of the word "quit", he finally wore the Indian outlaw down and forced him to make a mistake. A mistake that cost him his life. As the man died, Vin saw the look of surprise in the man’s eyes, but he got little satisfaction in what he had done. The man had caused more injuries to him, the fight lasted much too long and now he was in danger of not reaching his destination alive if the other outlaws were coming right behind the now-dead Cherokee.

Pulling off what was left of his shirt, he used it to dab at his wounds. Most were not bad, only a couple being somewhat deep. He didn’t have time to do anything about them though except put pressure on them and hope they would quit bleeding. Using more precious time, he did just that. Then, taking the Cherokee’s knee high moccasins, he put them on his sore and bleeding feet, and gave a sigh of relief. Even though the damage had already been done and the moccasins too soft to deter any more injury, at least his feet were covered now for the rest of his run. Tying what was left of his shirt around his middle, and shoving the dead man’s bowie knife in his waistband, he was up and running again. He was going to sleep for three days straight when this was all over. More than likely, he’d be accompanied by Chris and Ezra too. He just had to believe they were still alright--it’s what kept him going. Don’t worry cowboy, just a little more time and I’ll be there.


Comments to: