Main Character - Vin
"Hey Vin, I you've got a new bandana. Is that from Mrs. Potter's store?" JD asked his friend.
"Hi JD. Yeah, she had a new shipment come in yesterday. She held a couple back for me to look at, see if I wanted any." Vin answered with a smile as he touched the blue neckerchief tied loosely around his neck.
"I like the color. It is a pretty blue, looks good on you," JD stated as they walked side by side towards the livery. "You going out on patrol?"
"Yeah, I need to get on my way. I'll see you in a few hours," Vin replied as he entered the livery and JD continued on towards the jail.
Several minutes later Vin rode out of the large barn and down the road. He nodded at Chris who was sitting outside the saloon, drinking a cup of coffee in the early mornings light.
Chris dipped his head at Vin as he rode past, the big black kicking up large gobs of mud. Chris hoped Vin got back before the rain began again. The last three days had been extremely wet, it turned the road into a mud bog from all the moisture coming down. Glancing up at the grey sky he felt Vin would be soaked before he returned.
Vin rode his patrol route. He checked on the farms that dotted the area to make sure they were all right, and safe from flood water if the river rose any higher. As he rode once more towards town, he hoped he would arrive before the heavens opened up as he shot a glance at the rolling dark clouds overhead.
He was a couple of miles from town when he spotted smoke off to his left, a quarter mile away. He wondered if the campers realized it was a low area to camp. If the river did rise it would be the first place to flood, and quick. If it was a flash flood, whoever was there would never escape from the place.
With a sigh he turned Peso towards the direction where the smoke seemed to be coming from. It began to drizzle, and by the time he reached the trees it was raining. Following a path through the woods the horse and his rider pushed through the rain soaked brush and trees. Peso's hoof beats were more a squishing noise than thuds.
Exiting the brushy trail, Vin spotted the camp ahead of him, and saw seven men stand up when he rode into the meadow. Under a long tarp tied onto the trees over the men's heads, Vin could see saddles and packs stacked back from the large fire sputtering in the rain, just outside the tarps protection.
Vin rode to the campsite, but didn't dismount. The hair on the back of his neck was raising and he had a bad feeling about the men. Trying to act like he was harmless, Vin smiled at the man who stepped to the edge of the tarp.
"Howdy. Just saw your campfire's smoke, and thought I'd come to warn ya'll this isn't a safe place to set up a camp." Vin said, hoping to get out of here without anything happening. His gaze landed an instant on some heavy looking saddlebags, one man was standing behind, his hand's cradled a rifle that was pointed towards him. He quickly turned his gaze away.
"What'd you mean?" A large man asked.
"With all this rain, the river sometimes raises real fast. If a flash flood hits, this meadow goes under water very fast. It could catch ya before you have a chance to safely get out of here."
"Oh, thanks, we were talking about leaving. Step down, and have a cup of coffee? Pot just finished cooking. You look like you could use a cup in this weather," the man offered.
Vin saw the rifle edge up, and from near the horses another man was pointing his rifle at him. With a thought, 'Damn, now what?' Vin nodded. "Would appreciate a cup then I'll get out of your hair." He dismounted, careful to hold his hand away from his gun.
"You from this area?" The man asked as he poured Vin a cup of coffee and handed it to the young man.
"Is the town of Four Corners nearby?"
"Yes, about half hour ride to the east. You all headed there?" Vin asked sipping the hot brew as he stood near the fire.
"Got some friends living near there. Thought since we were passing through this area we would stop and visit with them for awhile. We're heading for Eagle Bend."
"Some of the roads are flooded over that way, you might have to go cross country or …" Vin slumped forward unconscious when a man hit him over the head with his rifle butt. The leader caught him then dumped him on the ground.
"Tie him up, blindfold him. Break camp, let's get out of here. I think he's one of those seven peace keepers we heard about. Move it, I want us gone when he wakes up."
Within fifteen minutes the camp was broke down, fire out, horses tacked up. When the black horse of the tied up rider stayed out of their reach, they left him alone. With a last glance at the man in buckskin lying on the ground they rode out.
Rain poured down on Vin, soaking him through and through. He coughed once then woke up, to blackness. He realized his eyes were covered and his hands were tied behind him. As he carefully worked to free himself, he listened for the men who'd attacked him. After listening for several minutes all he could hear was the pounding rain. He wondered what had happened, what were they doing? Soon the sound changed as he felt the ropes finally slip a little. As he struggled with the rope, the noise got louder and he suddenly felt water lapping over his boots. With a curse he struggled harder and several minutes later the rope fell from his bloody wrists. Grabbing the blindfold from his eyes he saw water was beginning to cover the meadow and inching higher up on his legs.
Shaking his head to get water out of his eyes, he grabbed his hat and pushed himself off the soggy ground. Staggering he splashed thru the water to where Peso stood under a tree. Grabbing Peso's reins he pulled himself into the saddle and kicked the horse, urging him into a canter across the quickly filling meadow to the trail leading out to the road. They slowed in the trees but once in the open Vin nudged the horse into a faster gait. He was wet, cold, and had a massive headache, and by the look of the grey sky, it was late afternoon. Touching the side of his head he found blood mixing with the rain and a lump that was growing. It hurt when touched. 'Damn' he thought, this wasn't what he needed.
Peso cantered into town. Mud was splashed as high as his chest, and it dripped off his belly in a mucky mess. He halted in front of the saloon where Chris stood waiting for them. Chris instantly grasped the slick wet reins and grabbed Vin's wet arm, helping him down. He could see blood on the side of his friends head.
"Damn guys attacked me. Knocked me out and blindfolded me with my own bandana. Now it's all muddy and bloody!" Vin replied shaking with cold.
Chris looked at Vin in surprise, then smiled, "Hey Pard, how is your head? Let's get you up to Nathan's to check you out."
"Head hurts and I'm frozen, but I'm still mad at those men."
"Come on you can tell us what happened while Nathan fixes you up," Chris grinned at the cuss words coming from his shivering friend's mouth. He was sure the younger man would be fine.
Once Nathan cleaned Vin's bloody head, he found he didn't have to put more than one stitch in to close the cut. It would be fine with a small bandage. Since it bled a lot he wasn't too worried about infection though he would keep an eye on it.
As Nathan worked, Vin filled in Chris, and the newly arrived Buck and Josiah, on what happened. Buck informed him JD had taken Peso to the stable and was caring for him. After some discussion, Josiah left to wire Eagle Bend that they might have possible bank robbers heading their way.
Nathan patted Vin's wet shoulder. "You're done Vin. You've got a mild concussion, but will be 'fine.'" he grinned, using the word Vin usually did when he had an injury. "Go get into dry clothes now or you'll end up in here with a cold or something worse. Go, get dry and get some rest. I'll come and wake you in a couple of hours. I'll check your head in the morning."
"Thanks Nathan. I'm cold, and hungry as a bear. I'll see ya guy's later," Vin rose and headed out the clinic's door. Chris nodded to Nathan and followed. Buck smiled at Nathan.
"Looks like all the excitement's over for the day. Want to join me at the saloon for dinner and a beer?"
Nathan smiled and followed Buck out the door. As they walked out the door and across the wet deck to the steps, they both paused in surprise. Vin was laying at the foot of the steep stairs, Chris squatting beside him, an arm holding Vin's shoulders up from the wet boardwalk.
The two men hurried down the stairs through the rain that hadn't let up a bit, in fact, it felt as if was coming down harder. They stopped beside Chris and Vin. Buck saw Josiah and Ezra hurrying through the rain towards them.
"What happened?" Nathan asked seeing the confused look on Vin's damp face.
"Think his wet boots were the problem. He slipped on the last couple of steps and went down before I could grab him." Chris said with a worried look on his face.
"Vin, Vin! What hurts?" Nathan called out trying to get Vin's attention.
Dazed blue eyes looked up at Nathan. "Hey Nathan, think I slipped."
"Do you hurt anywhere?"
Vin blinked, "Jest cold and wanta sleep."
Chris and Nathan exchanged a glance. "Let's get you to my room Pard," Chris told the tracker and helped him to stand.
Vin swayed a moment before catching himself and then he turned to Chris, "Can I get somethin' to eat too? I'm a little hungry."
Another quick look was exchanged with Nathan before Chris replied, "Let's get you into dry clothes. Buck can go get you something to eat and bring it to the room."
"'k.. I am cold." Vin shivered and turned towards his wagon.
"No! You're not going to your wagon," Nathan almost yelled.
Vin stopped and looked at his black friend. "Only thing I have an' my clothes are there."
"You're staying in my room tonight. Nathan will bring you dry clothes."
Nathan patted Vin's back. "You go with Chris, Buck and I will take care of everything else."
"Thanks Nathan." Vin walked away, Chris moved with him, shooting a glance over his shoulder at the two men.
"What's wrong with Vin, Nathan? He seems confused or, I don't know. Something's not right." Buck said as they watched their two friends walk towards the boardinghouse through the rain.
With a sigh Nathan turned towards where Vin's wagon resided in the nearby alley. "He's got a mild concussion, on top of being cold and wet. I'm glad Chris is taking him to his room; Chris will take care of him, make sure he eats and rests."
"I'll go get him something from Inez, that'll fix him right up. Meet you at Chris' room," Buck jogged down the boardwalk heading to the saloon.
JD, running across the muddy road from the livery stable, met Buck on the boardwalk. The two men entered the saloon together, JD shooting questions at Buck, wanting to know what happened to Vin and if he was all right.
A half hour later Vin was bundled into Chris' bed and sound asleep. He'd had a filling meal, thanks to Inez, and was wearing a pair of dry long johns. Chris sat in a chair next to the rooms small table. A lamp on the table glowed soft light, Chris, comfortably held a book in his hand, and continued reading where he'd left off earlier. His stocking feet rested on the side of the bed. He'd promised Nathan to wake Vin every two hours and ask him questions. Nathan thought after a couple times it would be fine to let their young friend sleep without disturbing him for the rest of the night.
The next morning Chris woke with a groan. His back ached from sitting in the chair all night. He felt someone watching him, and opened his eyes to spot two bright blue eyes gazing at him from his bed. Vin smiled and stretched, pushing the blankets back as Chris stood up and moved around the room trying to work the kinks out of his back and get blood flowing in his legs.
"Getting' old Cowboy?"
"No. Just some mangy, long haired, skinny assed Texan took my bed," Chris shot back with a grin.
Vin snorted as he stood up, "Old."
Chris glared at his friend. Knowing his glare would be ignored, he sat down and pulled on his boots. He watched as Vin wandered around the room before finally dressing. He then sat down on the edge of the bed and pulled on his own boots, now mostly dry.
"How you feeling?"
"Hungry. Come on old man I'll buy ya breakfast."
"Fine. Come on I could eat a horse."
Vin paused at the door, head cocked, as if thinking, then replied, "Naw, he got me home."
Shaking his head, Chris followed Vin out the door and down the stairs. It was still raining and they hurried to the saloon where they found Buck, Josiah and Nathan sitting at their usual table, eating breakfast. Vin snatched the biscuit off Buck's plate as he passed him, before slipping into his chair. Inez appeared with two cups of coffee. With a smile at the two newcomers, Inez hurried back to the kitchen to dish up their breakfast.
As they ate they discussed what happened to Vin, and speculated over what the men were up to. They were enjoying another cup of coffee when JD came bustling through the door, a smile on his face. He went first to Vin's side and handed him a package.
"Mrs. Potter sent it over for you, said something about not ruining this one." JD replied as he watched Vin open the paper wrapped item. He drew out another blue neckerchief that was almost identical to the one now at the laundry, with his other clothes.
"I'll have ta go thank her. This is nice," Vin said as he tied it around his neck proudly.
"Oh, I almost forgot. Got a wire from Eagle Bend. Nine men passed through last night. They only stopped for a few supplies and kept going. There's no sign of them now. The Sheriff is keeping an eye out for them just in case, but he thought they were gone for good." JD told them as Inez sat a plate of food in front of him. JD quickly dug into the eggs, bacon, and biscuits with gravy, eating with gusto..
Josiah looked at the men around the table. "Now that is good news for once. We'll hope they continue on, far away from this area."
Vin silently agreed. Yesterday had been a bad day, but today, he was sure it would be a lot better. He snatched one of JD's biscuits before JD could eat it. With a grin he bit into the gravy dripping treat, ignoring the look JD shot at him. He winked at the younger man, and ate the rest of the biscuit.
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