Summary: Joe’s thoughts as he rides after Billy Chapin. A missing scene from The Legacy.
Word Count: 575
Two simple, little words. Their meaning, however, was anything but simple. Pain, a deep, agonizing pain followed them as they echoed within me like the tolling of a bell.
I dug my heels into Cochise’s sides, urging the pinto into a ground-eating gallop as if by increasing her speed I could out run my thoughts. It had never worked in the past, but I foolishly hoped that this time it would.
No such luck.
The words sliced into me, widening the wound in my heart, flaying the organ like a cat-o-nine-tails laid to the back of a wayward sailor.
It couldn’t be true…but it was.
Before Buck had limped into the ranch yard, before I saw the blood – so much blood – spattered across the empty saddle, I’d known that something was wrong. I’d felt it in my bones, in the very marrow of my being. Even before I’d ridden off to join my brothers back home, I had known that something wasn’t right. That was why I’d hesitated when he’d told me to go.
“I’ll be all right,” those were the last words he’d said to me. He was wrong. He wasn’t all right. He was gunned down by some trigger-happy yahoo, and nothing would ever be all right in the world again.
It was a poacher. One stinking, lousy, no good poacher. Pa should have had no problem with him. Pa…he was the strongest man I knew. He could do anything. He practically oozed confidence in every situation. Nothing seemed to rattle him. When I was a kid, he was my hero – heck, even now at the ripe old age of twenty-two, he was still my hero. And I’d dreamed of growing up to be just like him.
Pa. My pa.
I should have stayed with him. I should have ignored his order, refused to go…but I hadn’t. And now he was dead.
We’d found the killer’s campfire, a charred piece of a prison uniform, and the marks Buck’s hooves had made in the dust nearby. That was all. There was no body, no sign of a struggle, just four sets of horse tracks spreading out in two different directions: pa’s buckskin headed towards the ranch, and three others going the opposite way. There was no telling which one of the three was involved in pa’s murder.
When the riders split off, every man going their own way, Adam and Hoss had each picked a trail to follow. I was tailing the third.
Grief and guilt welled up, threatening to drowned me. Pa’d been gone before on business trips, but I’d always known that he would come back. But not this time. This time he was gone, and he wouldn’t be returning. With an effort, I pushed the feelings aside. Now wasn’t the time to mourn. Now was the time for action.
Another quick jab of my heels, and Cochise fairly flew down the road towards Colby, leaving a cloud of dust in our wake. I fingered the butt of my six-gun as anger bubbled up within my like sulfur in a hot spring. Somehow I knew I had chosen the right path. The man I was following was a cold blooded killer. He had killed my pa; I would follow him all the way to the gates of hell if I had to, and he would pay. I’d make him pay….or die trying.
Other Stories by this Author
- The Boss (by Annie K Cowgirl)
- Amy (by Annie K Cowgirl)
- Scars on the Inside (by Annie K Cowgirl)
- You’ve Got a Friend (by Annie K Cowgirl)
- You Are Not Alone (by Annie K Cowgirl)