Western Gunfighters #5 featuring Red Wolf

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Western Gunfighters #5 featuring Red Wolf

Post  Nik Havert on Fri Jun 21, 2013 2:50 pm

"I got a new gun, injun!"

Red Wolf heard Deputy Gordon's voice from inside the Dawn Star Saloon before he burst through the swinging doors. It gave him time to shove "Shakespeare" Greg Casey to one side and dive to the other just before Gordon came out shooting.

His first shot sliced open the left arm of wanted con man Petey Akers. He and his partner, Floyd Hahn, both of whom were former partners with Casey, dove opposite directions as well.

Unfortunately for Deputy Gordon, that left him directly in front of the shotgun blast from professional gunman Billy Mallory. The slug hit Gordon square in the chest and dropped him back onto one of the still-swinging saloon doors, snapping it from the hinges.

Billy Mallory was shocked that he'd just shot a man wearing a deputy's star on his belt, and that gave Shakespeare Casey the time to scramble back into the saloon before Mallory could aim the second shot from his double-barrel twelve gauge. The second shot splintered the other saloon door.

Mallory's partner, Johnny "Apple" White, drew on Red Wolf and Floyd Hahn. He fanned the hammer with the apple in his other hand. He was proud of the technique. It kept the hammer lubricated and his free hand from getting cut up from slapping the hammer. The first two shots hit the wall of the saloon as Red Wolf and Hahn ran down the worn floorboards of the walk outside.

Red Wolf dropped his coup stick, the fighting staff he carried as a totem of Owayodata, and grabbed Hahn by the back of his coat. He yanked Hahn into the line of fire. White's third and fourth shots hit Hahn in the stomach. Red Wolf yanked his tomahawk from his belt and threw it toward White.

The hatchet missed the gunman by three feet to his right. White barely had to slip to his left to avoid it.

White smiled his perfect grin as he cocked his revolver. "You missed me, injun." He leveled his gun at Red Wolf, who held the groaning Hahn in front of him as a shield.

Red Wolf looked over Hahn's right shoulder. "I wasn't throwing it at you."

White looked back to see Billy Mallory on his knees with Red Wolf's tomahawk wedged in his neck and collarbone. The weapon had struck him as he was loading a second shell into his shotgun. Blood ran down his shirt like water from a cracked rain barrel. He blubbered something about the blessed virgin before he fell onto his back.

White turned back, his face red as the apple in his hand, "You son of a - "

Red Wolf pulled Hahn's gun from the holster on his right hip and shot White in the chest. He spun around, apple flying one way and his pistol the other, and fell face-first to the dirt.

Red Wolf dropped Hahn, who clutched at his stomach and spat curses at him.

"The money," Red Wolf said. "Where did you hide the money from the mill? You can leave with a clear spirit, Floyd Hahn. Tell me where it is and I will return it to the mill."

"G-Go...p-piss up a rope...You...stinkin'..."

"It's Red Wolf!"

Red Wolf turned to see Sheriff Lynne's three other deputies outside the saloon. Two of them had Shakespeare Casey by the arms until they saw Red Wolf crouched by the dead body of Floyd Hahn. They threw Casey to the dirt and all three drew their guns, although the youngest of the deputies dropped his.

"Pick up your gun, Jimmy," the oldest deputy said. "Aim it at the small one if you're scared of the redskin." The deputy motioned with his gun. "Get up, Red Wolf. You're coming with us."

"We're going with him," Sheriff Lynne said as he walked up to the scene. He helped Casey to his feet.

"Your men are most uncivilized, Sheriff," Casey said.

"What do you mean, Sheriff?" The oldest deputy asked.

"What I mean, Patrick, is that Red Wolf here's been helping me track down three criminals responsible for cheating Big Mike out of the payroll for the lumber mill."

"What?" The deputies asked. Two of them worked at the mill and were stunned to hear their hard-earned money was gone.

"It is true, gentlemen," Casey said. "Floyd Hahn, the dead man there, Petey Akers, and I, the great 'Shakespeare' Casey performed the deed."

The third deputy, a man with thick hands and a scar on his left forearm, moved down the steps and pointed his pistol at Casey's head. "You dog. Do you know how damn hard it is working in that mill? How dare you take that from us?"

"Don't," Red Wolf said. "He has helped me track these men here to Flagstaff. He has promised to return the money."

The scarred deputy decocked his pistol. "Damn right he will."

"Where's Gordon?" Lynne asked.

Everyone looked at the doorway of the saloon. Lynne saw Gordon's body on the floor. He tilted his hat back and wiped his face.

"What the hell happened?" Lynne asked. "Four dead men outside the saloon, one of them in our crew, and you three in it?"

Casey told the story while Red Wolf picked up his coup stick and then examined the ground.

"Well, I don't know who the guy with shotgun is, but from what you're telling me the other one is Johnny 'Apple' White. He's a hired gun. Red Wolf, what are you lookin' for?"

Red Wolf stopped by Mallory's body and yanked his tomahawk free. It came loose with a sucking sound that made Casey and the youngest deputy gag.

"That," Red Wolf said as he pointed at a spot on the ground. "Akers' blood."

He took off without a word, now hot on the trail of the wounded man.

"You want us to go after him, Sheriff?" Patrick asked.

"I'll go after him. Stay here with Casey and explain what happened to the local law when they show up."

Lynne followed Red Wolf's silhouette down the street, around a corner, and along two alleys before he caught up with the Cheyenne warrior standing at the alley opening and looking at a boarding house.

"Akers is in there," Red Wolf said.

"You sure?" Lynne asked between deep breaths.

Red Wolf tackled him, knocking what little air he had in his lungs out, and rolled him behind a parked wagon as the shots rang out. Red Wolf, whom Owayodata had blessed with the senses of a wolf, had spotted the rifle barrel emerge through the second floor window of the boarding house. The wagon's heavy beams took most of the impact of the three shots.
 
"I am sure," Red Wolf said.

"Akers!" Lynne yelled from behind the wagon. "Give it up! The local lawmen will have the house surrounded soon. You're done for unless you come out holdin' nothin' but the money you took from the mill!"

"I got hostages!" Akers yelled from the house. "You hitch two horses to that wagon and bring it over here! You got ten minutes until I start killing people!"

"Keep him talking," Red Wolf said and then ran back down the alley. A shot from Akers' rifle went well over his head.

"Come on, Akers!" Lynne yelled. "You're a con man, not a killer! You haven't done anything you'd hang for yet!"

Red Wolf weaved down four alleys to get to the back of the boarding house. Many people stood outside at a safe distance and watched the back door until the strong Cheyenne stood among them.

"How many are with him?" Red Wolf asked.

"Just one," a gray-haired man said as he tried to make out which part of the Cheyenne's face was wolf and which part was man. "Jenny Theroux. She got sweet on him while he and his friend were here. The rest of us all ran out when the shootin' started."

"Stay here," Red Wolf said. He moved through the back door as quiet as a shadow.

Akers yelled from his room as he and Jenny stuffed the mill money into two pillowcases. "You better bring that wagon, lawman!"

He stopped for a moment to brace the rifle back on the windowsill and fire a shot into the street to keep the officers jumpy. They'd found a couple horses to hitch to the wagon, but they were taking their time about it.

"They'll have the wagon over here in a minute," Akers said. "I'll lead you out with the money. You throw it in the wagon, and we get in. You drive while I hold the rifle on you. Once we get out of town, we ditch the wagon and take the horses into the mountains. I know a place we can hole up for a couple days, and then we head to Mexico."

"You think it'll work?" Jenny asked, envisioning a life of splendor on the Mexican coast.

"As long as we stick to the plan and stick together, honey."

She nodded. She'd stick to the plan, and to the money, but to him was up for debate.

Red Wolf kicked in the door. Jenny screamed and dropped to the floor. Red Wolf threw his coup stick like a spear, but Akers spun from the window and swatted it from the air with his rifle. Red Wolf grabbed the rifle and the two men struggled for it. Red Wolf spotted the tied bandana on Akers' wounded left arm. He decreased his grip on the rifle, letting Akers think he was overpowering him.

Red Wolf let go with one hand and slugged Akers in his wound. The man screamed and his other hand let go of the rifle in sympathetic reflex. Red Wolf cracked him across the jaw with the butt of the rifle and then kicked him in the chest, out the window, onto the porch roof, and down hard to the street below.

Red Wolf turned to face Jenny, who had sat up near the bed. "Are you all right?"

She couldn't take her eyes off his chiseled muscles. "Fine." She patted the bed and the money. "You wanna go to Mexico?"

*****

Lynne handed Red Wolf the stack of bounty money for Casey, Akers, and Hahn. Red Wolf looked at the money like it was something that had fallen out of the moon.

"You earned it," Lynne said as he shut the safe door in his office back in Bellemont.

"I caught Akers," Red Wolf said. "Hahn was killed by another, and Casey..." Red Wolf pointed at the actor who was munching a sandwich his jail cell. "Casey came to me."

"If you wish to part with your coin, good sir, I shall be glad to put it to good use," Casey said.

Red Wolf handed the cash to the young Deputy Mason, whose black eye was almost healed. "Give it to the woman you desire and her wounded father."

"You sure?" Mason asked.

"I have no need for money," Red Wolf said, but he pulled a ten dollar bill from the stack. "But I will keep this for a bowl of chicken soup." He shook Lynne's hand. "Will you have problems with Victor Chupp?"

"He's still steamed that the judge dropped charges on you for helping get back the payroll for more than half the town, but he'll get over it. His boy won't be the same, though."

"Good," Red Wolf said. He walked over to Casey's cell and shook his hand through the bars. "Take care of yourself Shakespeare Casey, friend of the Cheyenne."

"Don't worry about me. I've been given a reduced sentence thanks to my cooperation with the good Sheriff, and he has promised me a job once I've finished my six months."

"As a lawman?"

"Not just any," Casey said as he stood upon his bed and struck a heroic pose. "A lawman who infiltrates the darkest dens of iniquity and exposes them from within their very bosom!"

Red Wolf looked back at Lynne. "I do not understand."

"I heard the idea from a U.S. marshall once. Mr. Casey will act like his way into gangs and the like and help us catch them."

"Think of it, Red Wolf!" Casey said as he hopped down from the bed. "The ultimate role for an actor! Where the stakes for breaking character are not jeers from the audience or a rotten tomato, but one's very life!"

Red Wolf smiled. "Good luck, Casey."

"Fairwell. Owayodata knows when we shall meet again," Casey said.

Pinebark caught up with Red Wolf as he left Bellemont. He decided to camp in the mountains that night, and see where his dreams would tell him to wander next.

*****

"What do you mean he went free?"

Kenny Chupp threw a glass of bourbon across the room of his father's study, shattering it on a hung map of the state.

"I can't do anything about it," Victor Chupp told his son. "More than half the town was in that courtroom thanking that redskin and his little friend for bringing Big Mike's payroll back to them."

"But what about me? What he did to me?" Kenny stroked what used to be a handsome face but now was a warped version with a bent nose, scarred upper lip, and crooked cheekbone. "He messed up my face and..." He looked down to his belt. "He made me useless to a woman!"

"We'll finish him, boy. Don't worry about that. I just need to find him, that's all."

Kenny pointed to the map of Arizona. "Where? He could be anywhere! There's only one way to do this, pa!"

Kenny Chupp yanked a cavalry sword from the wall and pulled it from its sheath.

"I'll make him find me."

*****

The man coughed, gasped, and reached out for the man near the edge of the bed. He wore what looked like a bloody butcher's apron.

"Oh, you're awake!" The apron-clad man said with a smile.

"Where am I?" The man on the bed asked. His chest and back ached, and it was hard to talk. He pointed to the blood on the man's apron. "What did you do to me?"

"I stitched you up, son. I'm Doctor Scott. You're a lucky man. That bullet went clean through you and missed your heart. Part of your left lung's gone, though, so don't be climbing any mountains anytime soon."

The man on the bed tried to sit up. "I was shot!"

Dr. Scott pushed him back down on the bed. "Yes, you were. So, you have to lie still for a while. The Sheriff will be around in a while to ask you some questions about what happened. In the meantime, is there anything I can get you?"

The man smiled a perfect grin. "I'd like an apple."

END

Nik Havert

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Re: Western Gunfighters #5 featuring Red Wolf

Post  Paul Effin' Schultz on Sun Jun 23, 2013 11:24 am

Great work, Nik!  You're one of the finest writers I know.

Paul Effin' Schultz

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