Lunch hour in the old west, at this particular hour more like someone’s readymade funeral. Under azure sky, pistol shots split the air. Two figures spill out a building to the dusty outside. The pace is urgent, spurred by danger. It’s a man and another. He six shooter in one hand, her hair in the other, gun belt round the waist. His head looks around frantic.
Another earsplitting shot, his finger remained on the trigger guard. Was the from the building’s bowels behind them.
Not respecting the limited time will get someone killed. He takes the left, pulling the girl by the head hair along, she would fall but instead stumbled, regaining her footing before hitting the ground, all in a matter of seconds before actually running with him. Across the dust strewn ground, they rush. A few hundred feet away are 12 horses tied up to a hitching rail to prevent wandering around.
Upon reaching he lets her go and holsters the sidearm – only to free his hands, her comfort didn’t reach his mind. Their stop is meant to be fleeting of course.
By chance finds a knife on a horse. Thinking on his feet, proceeds to cut the knot tying horses to the pole and send each scurrying by slapping them on the rear. Finished with under half when more shots. Two men a few hundred feet away. Girona reaches for the six shooter and in a fierce gunfight. Girl for her part meanwhile stooped, ears covered in fear and shock. He forces them to cover in a nearby ditch.
That done, felt like holstering it again, sent to running the remainder save for two. In a hurry from behind jumped up and into a saddle, grabbed the reins, kicked the horse’s flanks and sped away. Seconds later finally does look over his shoulder. He stops the animal.
His English shouting came with a Spanish accent. ‘Senorita you asleep?! Move your ass!’
The girl remained standing by her ride.
‘Woman I leave your ass to the vultures!’ She stood as before, at a loss like some prey critter.
Thinking fast again, ’Never learned to ride even a pony?’
She shook the head. Girona sped back. His voice was softer being close yet naturally carried a harsh tone. ’Up.’ instructs he. The girl climbs onto a saddle. Girona holds her steed’s reins and both horses leave a dust trail in their galloping wake, the small settlement would get ever smaller behind their backs.
Girona aka La Rata Spanish for the The Rat looks 45, rugged and mean. Sculpted by the hard living the frontier demands. This foreigner wound up in America.
De Miller. Yankee Caucasian girl the opposite, far smaller, barely 20, lean and attractive, looked fragile compared to the rugged Mexican.
The faunae are moving at say 30 miles per hour, the ground speeds by. She found enough courage to rival the fear of the beast’s back permitting speech, ‘Had to make bullets fly!’
‘Since you think Girona a guilty dog muchacha, talk it out with the amigos back there.’
Off the path is a log house. Girona steers for it, there alights and gun at the ready does a quick search with the eye. No one. The man true to outward appearance, kicked the door in and led his steed inside. De Miller wasn’t told anything – surmised it expected of her and copied him.
She shut the door.
The Mexican peered out the window, whilst keeping his body behind the wall.
His associate thought inside, This scoundrel doesn’t have the decency to ask on a girl’s wellbeing.
‘How long you want us to do the hiding rabbit routine?’
‘Find you muchacha, they find me.’
The horse smells she was taking more notice of in a confined space. Glancing at and immediately away from the equines, raised the long skirt of her dress to her face covering from below the eyes to chin.
The minutes went. Distant and so soft sounding song birds reached the ears, most prominent sound were the close at hand horses whether the stomp of a hoof against wooden floor or low vocalizations. The beasts did this rare, too much for her tastes. De Miller is struck by a sudden thought.
To speak lowered the skirt, ‘Dem are somethin’ standing day and night.’
‘Horses lie down, just have to be at the right time. Standing so long is something else. Somebody will find the answer some day.’
Befitting her social way is talky, even apparent in trying circumstances. ‘Girona, a woman needs her toilet.’
‘If the lady feels she can outrun the amigos bullets, try.’ Going outdoors raised the chance of being spotted.
Hardly a wait at all by the time the pursuers show up. De Miller is shook like a quake struck building. ‘Wait. A whole posse…for us?’
‘Would be safer if a search party muchacha. Shoot first less.’ The man appreciated difference. One tended to rescue, the other man hunting.
Be that as it may, the band did not approach, to the contrary, in the distance on the verge of moving away.Any dust trail from the two settled by now.
‘A miracle,’ she breathes.
’La chica,’ he begins, ‘People do what you expect when you play them long as me. Miracle? For those not believing in their own strength.’
‘Strength like a rat?’ he glares but no more.
The band changed direction, some horsemen slower than others and headed over.
He bangs his head in frustration upon the wall several times and curses, ‘Maldición!’ Damn in Spanish.
The hoof prints visible enough. ‘No avoiding them now,’ she says.
Girona heads to the animals and pulls a repeater rifle out a saddle bag, he tosses his six shooter, which she catches startled and he cocks the repeater. Her face remains as it was whilst he bent the animals to their knees presenting a smaller target.
His long weapon pokes through a window. De Miller thought as her heart beat faster, yet didn’t say aloud. No, I’m not ready to die today. Don’t, don’t!
Girona fires, as he fired several times, the band of twenty are surprised and quickly react by first scattering somewhat, get off their horses and return fire. Men either find cover or lie behind their prone mount.
The ones inside are living beings capable of reacting to things: wave their tails and neigh nervously. Many more bullets are incoming than outgoing. Girona maintained fire. Rounds smash into log walls, her brain clearly registered its particular sound in the middle of all the voices, animal noises and gun shots.
Birds take flight.
The gun was held in her chest, paralyzed disbelief. She hadn’t begged to join a military unit, in fact never did, much less be shot at. Fleetingly entertained the thought calling out to them. Wouldn’t shoot a woman. Would they?
And that Mexican…just shooting and shooting, not a peep of advice or consolation. On the exchange went. Her partner manged to score a few wounded so far. To get out she must risk all like him.
Reliance, determination: not qualities she exhibits in everyday life. They have to be brought out of her, tortured even. An army makes soldiers out of civilians. There’s no one to fight with except La Rata.
De Miller in a crouch rushes to his side and fires out the window. Each side shot and shot. The posse assailed by wounds and expended ammunition, retreat.
They bested the trial by fire.
Author’s note – for a year give or take more had the idea about the horse escape and the rest evolved round it as chose to pen the thing today self. My second ever western. My first dates to the 1990s, Black Gun Slinger, aim to rework.
Taking what someone observed in Terminator 1984, dialog is delivered while moving. No slowdown. Speaking of Terminator, as I wrote saw a video of its psychology and integrated some of Sarah Connor in my De Miller – my last short yesterday is Terminator: rise from ashes. Almost forgot Girona borrows from Tuco in The good the bad and the ugly. An opportunity to mix things up with a non-white.
In this short piece made the effort to have the two have differing speech and attitude, while being at odds. Catch how what caused the chase is left to imagination? The 19th century Frisco shootout pretty sure an influence reading of it years ago, hence the outnumbered facing a hail of bullets. 18 November 2019.
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