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What happens next?

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The Trinity Kid:
Hey there y'all.

SO, I figured I'd take a swing at this.  I'll start this, and y'all keep goin' with it.  Here we go:

Buck Grimes awoke with a start.  Exactly what had wakened him, he didn't know, but his grip closed involuntarily on the butt of his Colt.  In the days merely one year following the Civil War, one could never really be too cautious, especially when alone on the plains.

     Buck topped out at four inches over six feet with his boots off, and tipped the scales at just over two hundred pounds.  To anybody looking, it would be quite obvious that none of that weight was fat: his arms bulged beneath his shirt, connecting to a muscular torso.  With his short black hair and intensely blue eyes, he was an imposing figure.  His tan duster added to the effect, especially when it billowed in the wind.  However, there was nothing to distinguish him from any other cowboy in Texas.  His dress was standard, consisting of a blue tartan shirt, tan pants with the cuffs rolled up slightly, riding boots, a black Stetson, and a bright red bandana knotted tightly about his throat.  His Army Colt was slung on his right hip, perhaps a little lower than the average cowhand, but not so much as to get in the way of cattle work.

    Despite his cowhand appearance, Buck was not a cowboy.  Should anybody get ahold of his right boot, they would find a pocket sewn in, containing a badge.  No matter what the Yankee carpetbaggers said, the Texas Rangers were still around, and kicking.  And while he couldn't make a regular arrest, none of the men he apprehended cared to point that out to him, especially not over the barrel of his forty-four.

    There it was!  A rustling in the bushes to the left of Buck's small camp.  To his well trained ear, he could tell it was the steps of a man, not an animal.  However, he would have preferred it to be an animal.  Men usually were trying to kill him.

   Then Buck heard another, more sinister sound:  the sound of a revolver coming to to full cock...



He flipped over in a roll away from the coals left from his hatful of fire and heard the deep bellow of a gun.  His blanket fell free as he rolled over again and he scrabbled off deeper into the shadows of the brush and grass.  He wasn’t wounded, but he didn’t want to move and give anyone a second chance.

He heard the sound of boots running toward his camp and a scratchy voice called out, “Did ya get him?”

“Naw, he rolled off inta the bresh,” a voice replied from dangerously close by.  “That boy’s slipperier than a greased eel.”
“Well, is he gone?” 

“I didn’t hear him leave, but he was barefooted.  He may have just snuck on off.”
“Check his gear then,” a small, skinny figure stepped up to the coals of Buck’s fire and threw on a handful of sticks.  Buck just held fast in the brush.  He could see, between the tuft grass and a knot of white sage, the camp-robber was a waif-like rag-picker.  His coat and hat might’ve been pilfered from some farmer’s scarecrow.  His ragged pants were ill-fitting and barely held up with a piece of rope through which was thrust, like a baton of imperial rank, a long, hand-carved, wooden spoon.  He carried a big Enfield musket with no more grace than he would’ve lugged a weathered fencepost.  All-in-all, everything about the little man looked awkward.
“I don’t know, Chigger,”  a second, more cautious voice said.  “I recon I woulda heared him.”
“You wouldn’t hear the clarion call of Gabriel’s trumpet,” the man called Chigger accused.  “C’mon an get some vittles.”  He tossed Buck’s sheet iron skillet onto the growing blaze then tipped open the lid and smelled the coffee pot Buck had left at the edge of the fire and cackled.  “Coffee!  He has real coffee, not chicory nor burn’t cornmeal an molasses!”
“Coffee?”  A much larger man, though no better dressed, stepped out into the halo of the fire.  “I ain’t had no real coffee since we skedaddled from the Army.” 

The bigger man laughed as he rooted through Buck’s gear.  “This feller was purty well set-up.”  When he turned a boot to measure its sole against his own foot, something fell out with a weighty ‘thunk’.
“Say, whatcha got there?”  Chigger asked.

“They’s a pocket in this boot,”  the big man reported. 

“Well what was he hidin’?  It sounded like a double-eagle.” 

The other man picked up the shiny badge from the dirt and wiped it off with a calloused thumb. He crouched to the light of the fire, his rifle across his knees and read, “Koa Texas r--r--ay--nn--grrr--.”
“Whatchewsay?”  Chigger demanded and leaned over to look at what he’d found. 

“That’s,”  Buck stood up and the quadruple click of his Colt rooted them to the spot, “Company ‘A’ Texas Ranger.”

(Sorry it took so long to get back to this.  There’s bad-guys to chase off and I don’t have time to write during my work cycle.  Have gun - will Travel. ;))

The big man wheeled like a cat with a scorched tail and let blast with his Enfield.  Buck’s Colt was already on-target and spoke only a moment before.  Chigger tossed his rifle down and raised his hands, his eyes scanning the darkness blindly. The camp robbers had been looking at the bright fire and their night-vision was ruined.  The brush-littered landscape around them was only a haze of darkness.  Dropping his empty rifle, the big man whipped out an old Savage revolver and began blasting into the night.  Buck’s second shot folded him up like a two-dollar shirt on a mercantile shelf and he lay there in the Texas dirt, bent double as though he’d just sat down and tipped forward, asleep. 

“Ohhh, Bull?  Bull?”  Chigger moved around his fallen partner frantically.  He obviously wanted to move him, to shake him, to seek some sign of life in the big man, but he was too terrified to lower his hands.  He would half-lower them, vent an inarticulate whine, then raise them again and look pleadingly at the threatening darkness surrounding them.  “Well, help him!”  he pleaded.  “He’s dyin’.”
Buck rose up and stepped out into the halo of firelight, leading with his Colt.  He walked up to the flinching Chigger first and patted him down.  He relieved him of the .32 in his pocket and the Green River knife that was thrust in his rope belt.  Then he saw to his partner.  He reached down and took Bull by his wild mop of hair.  Lifting the man’s lolling head, he gave him a quick look before dropping it to wilt back forward.  “He’s dead as Judas,”  he told Chigger. 

The little man lowered his hands.  There were tears in his eyes.  “I knowed it,”  he said.  “I knowed it at that second shot.  Even a big boy like Bull cain’t stomach that much lead.”

“Ask and Ye shall receive,”  Buck told him.
“Oh, I see you’re one of them ‘preachin’ Rangers’,”  the little man said with a disdainful curl of his lip. “You send a body off with a smile and a word of comfort.” 

“Not me,”  Buck hocked and spit on the corpse.  “I save the words of comfort for the deserving.  Trash like you boys, I just bury ta keep from poisonin’ the buzzards.” 
“Well that is a hell of an attitude for a servant of the public trust,”  Chigger scolded. 

“There’s a shovel by the fire,” he told the little man.  “Get to digging.” 

“H-how many graves am I diggin’?”  the little man asked. 

“Just one,”  Buck told him.  “But make it deep.” 

“So’s the coyotes don’t get him?” 

“Nope, in case it has to make do for the both of ya,”  the Ranger warned with a wave of his gun barrel toward the spade.
“Now that’s just plain cussedness,”  Chigger whined as he took up the spade and began digging.  “Bad enough to dig a grave for a big galoot like Bull without havin’ to worry about--“  he looked back at the Ranger’s pointing gun muzzle,  “about what comes after.” 

“You don’t have to worry about what comes after,”  Buck assured him. 

“I don’t?”  the little man’s dirty face broke into a smile. 

“Nope.  What comes after is whatever I decide.  Nothing for you to worry about one way or the other.  It’s just going to happen.” 

The little man’s face drooped back into a scowl.  He vented a frustrated moan and began digging.  Buck walked around, well out of reach of the spade and gave Bull’s body a thorough search.  He found a fair-sized wad of Yankee shinplasters and an oilskin parcel of papers shoved down in the man’s pocket. 

“What are you boys doing with these?”  he demanded.
“We didn’t kill nobody fer ‘em,”  the little man ceased digging to inform him.  “We just sorta found ‘em.” 

“Found ‘em where?” 

“In a feller’s pockets.” 

“And did he object, this fellow whose pockets you cleaned out?” 

“Awww, no.  On accounta him bein’ ventilated through various parts of his anatomy with a shotgun.”

“He was dead?” 

“Dead as Judas.” 

“And you just happened to stumble upon his body?”
“Well, rightly it was all the smoke and buzzards a circlin’ about them other bodies what led us there.” 

“What ‘other bodies’?”

“Oh, them what was mixed in with the burnt wagons an’ . . .”

“Burnt wagons? Talk straight!”
“Well I am, Mister,”  the man grumbled.  “You just ain’t askin’ straight questions.  You want ta know about the feller whose pockets we found that stuff in or about the massacre in general?” 

“Massacre?”  Buck took a breath to calm the urge to lay his gun barrel across the meandering little man’s head and told him,  “Tell me about the massacre.” 

“Well, yestaday Bull an’ me was a slopin’ along over east of here . . .” 

“An we seen smoke an’ buzzards.  Well we figgerd ta go on over and see if we couldn’t help a mite.” 

“Or fill your pockets,”  Buck prompted. 

“Well it ain’t proper ta be leavin’ needfuls wastin’ about.  If folks is expired then they got no use for the goods of this world, do they?” 

“Okay, go on.”  Scavenging low-lifes irritated him, but Buck knew that he should just let the thief ramble out the story in his own time and from his own, twisted point of view.

“We found where three er four wagons had been hit by Comanch.   An’ you know, them Comanch’ll strip a train of pilgrims cleaner than a flock of buzzards cleans out a carcass.” 

“So they didn’t leave much for you, eh?” 

“Nothin’ but a couple of dead mules, some clothes what wasn’t fit fer a scarecrow, and do-dads what didn’t interest ‘em, like them papers.”  He laughed and added,  “I guess them injuns don’t know nothin’ about paper money yet.  They thought them shinplasters was worthless.” 

Buck held one of the bills up to look at it in the firelight and grumbled,  “Yeah, when I see the price of things nowadays, sometimes I think the same thing.” 

“Well anytime you want ta toss some of ‘em away, you just hand ‘em on over ta me,”  the little man cackled.  “I’d be glad ta take ‘em off your hands.” 

“Go back to digging,”  he ordered.  Buck had some serious thinking to do.  If it really was a Comanche raid, the Rangers would need to know.  They would need to collect a force and get onto their trail.  If it was white bandits, running them down would be just as imperative.  Either way, his former duties would have to wait.  He had to winnow through the massacre site to learn what they were dealing with. 

He had the thief bury his partner.  The little man was monstrously relieved when the Ranger had him stop digging with only enough room for one corpse.   The fellow tossed his big friend into the hole with as much joy as he would plant corn. 

But Buck faced the problem of sleeping then.  He didn’t trust Chigger as far as he could toss a bull.  The little thief would likely stave in his skull with a rock the moment he closed his eyes.  There wasn’t even a tree nearby to handcuff the man to. 

“Sorry,” he apologized as he took out a pair of iron handcuffs from his saddlebags.  “Had I known I was going to entertain guests, I would’ve camped nearby a tree.”  He locked a cuff around the man’s wrist. 

“That’s all right, mister, I’ll just sit quiet-like over on the far side of the fire whilst you sleep.  You won’t hear so much as a peep outta me.” 

“Of course not,”  Buck said with a smirk.  He led the man out into the moonlit darkness. 

“I mean it, mister, I won’t cause you no trouble,”  Chigger pleaded. 

“Damn right you won’t,”  Buck said.  “Sit down.” 


“Right there.  One leg on each side.” 

“But you can’t ask a body ta . . .” 


“You just ain’t human, that’s what it is.” 

“You chose the time and place.  Now live with it.” 

“How’m I supposed ta get any sleep?”  Chigger demanded as Buck waved at him to extend his arms to the front. 

“You might try imagining that you were hugging Lily Langtry all night long,”  Buck told him as he locked the hand cuff about the man’s other wrist to secure him to the tall saguaro cactus rising up between his legs. “But if I were you, I’d try and stay awake.”   

“Hey, now,” the little man whined after him as he headed back toward his bed.  “You’re not really goin’ ta leave me here huggin’ this cactus?” 

“Lily Langtry,”  Buck corrected.   

“All night?” 

“I wouldn’t want ta interrupt your sweet dreams.” 


“Good night.”           



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