Happy Friday! This is something that came while I was trying to write on my novel… I’ve never written Western before so, keep that in mind. But I did have fun with it. Hope you enjoy.
“I take it you know me.” His thumbs looped in his pockets, he leaned against the railing, ignoring the gun trained at his chest.
“Yer not welcome here.”
“That there was a dead giveaway.” He nodded at the gun, starting to shake from being held so long. “No need for it though. Just here to talk.”
“When have ya wanted to talk?” The voice still sounded rough, as if it wasn’t used much. He tried to distinguish just who he was talking to but the shadows and grime made it hard to tell.
“Never. But we’ve got ourselves a situation. One that bullets won’t fix.” He paused, watching the barrel steady, as if the holder adjusted their hold. “Well, bullets betwixt us won’t help. I figure we team up against them thieves so’s we keep our lives – and land.”
Finally the barrel lowered. He let out a bit of the breath he hadn’t been aware he’d been holding. The Shoman clan was known to be trigger-happy, shooting a man just for being alive. To come right up to the door like this was just asking to be shot. But he’d learned a long time ago that risks had to be taken sometimes.
Out of the shadows, a weathered hat and matted beard appeared for a stream of tobacco to shoot past him into the dirt below. “Ya want me ta trust you? A Hayden?”
It was said as a dirty word and Garrett Hayden clenched his jaw and fists, aching to take the old man down a peg or two. The hair on the back of his neck rose and instinct had him taking cover behind the wood pile to his right. He turned as he rolled, reaching for his pistol.
“Hayden! Yer a dead man, comin’ on our land!” Garrett scanned the line of trees for the back-shooter, keeping an eye on the old timer still on the porch. This time the voice was higher-pitched, but colder.
“Ya see, son, we aren’t the type ta trust a Hayden.” The old timer sat on a three-legged stool with his rifle across his lap and lit his pipe.
“I ain’t your son, pappy. I also ain’t asking you to trust me. Just to hear me out.” Garrett felt the sweat run down his back as he squatted, careful not sit too low and connect with his spurs. He made sure his voice carried across the clearing to the still-hidden shooter in the trees.
“Talk then!” Once again the voice squeaked on the end of the word and Garrett couldn’t help the chuckle that parted his lips.
“Don’t let Mack hear ya laugh – ya won’t be around long enough ta talk.” This time the old-timer’s voice was quiet, meant only for Garrett’s ears. Squinting at him, Garrett tried to remember hearing about a ‘Mack’ in all his tangles with this low-down family. Giving up on placing him, Garrett shifted.
“I ain’t talking like this. Either you come out or – ”
“Aw, Mack just come on and bring those rabbits. I’m half starved.”
“But, Pappy, Hayden’s – ”
“MACK!” Even Garrett jumped at the suddenness of Pappy’s yell. If he hadn’t seen Mack appear from behind a huge trunk, he wouldn’t have believed it.
“Mack’s as quiet as an Indian in them woods.” Once again Pappy’s voice was quiet and Garrett slowly stood, sizing up Mack holding a rifle in one hand and three rabbits in the other. The teen eyed him just as warily, taking in his height and the width of his shoulders with a twitch of his mouth.
“Hayden.” Once again the sneer was in the word but coming from a kid was more than Garrett could take.
“It’s Garrett.” He snapped.
Pappy nodded and kept smoking his pipe,”Garrett, ya’v got a plan to keep them varmints off our land?”
Garrett sighed and wondered if this was worth it. Getting looked at as if he were some filthy no-good was getting tiring. What he’d like to do was leave them to their own, and if they got killed, what problem was that for him? Even as he thought it, he cleared his throat.
“As I see it, they’re gonna sweep through here with nary a thought to killing us. That is, if we don’t band together.”
“We’ll barricade in our house then, take em out one at a time.” Mack’s confidence brought Pappy’s chin up a little.
Garrett eyed the shack that looked like it’d been decaying for years. “Your house wouldn’t survive.” Before either could react, he continued, “Neither would mine. We’ve gotta meet ’em where they are. Catch ’em off guard.”
Pappy puffed on his pipe, his eyes squinting into the trees. “When?”
Pappy nodded once and pulled a pipe from a bucket behind him, offering it to Garrett. “Mack, call the boys in and cook them rabbits. We’re goin’ hunting tonight.”
The gleam in the old timer’s eye gave Garrett hope that they’d come through this alive.
But as men started trickling in, he knew he had to ask the question burning in his gut before too many got there. “You up for this?” When Pappy started, Garrett held his hand up. “That shakin’ don’t stop just cause you put a gun in your hand.”
Pappy sighed and tapped his pipe in his palm. “Notice that, did ya?”
“I tend to notice the barrel that’s shakin’ in my direction.”
“Don’t tell the boys.”
“It’s not mine to tell. Can you shoot straight?” Garrett kept his relaxed pose, careful not to twitch even his thumb in the direction of his gun. At Pappy’ nod, he was glad that the old timer hadn’t gotten hot around the collar about being found out. He was dangerously outnumbered, alone against the whole clan. As if Pappy had heard his thoughts, he asked the question Garrett had dreaded.
“Where’s the rest of yer clan?”
Pappy slowly nodded, “The boys won’t know. Not from me.”
“‘Preciate that, Pappy.”
By this time, more than a dozen men had appeared from the woods and gathered around the fire, alternating between harassing Mack and sending Garrett hate-filled glances.
“It’s gonna be a long night.” He puffed on his pipe, wondering if he’d end up dead by morning.
“That it is, son. Let’s hope yer plan works.”