Chapter 22: Two Enemies Make Four Friends
Evening in Thistlebush, Bruce Bennett’s cabin set alight with a setting sun shining on the summit of it. Shy nocturnal wildlife started to leer out of their hiding spots and began to scour around the wilderness for morning’s food. Meanwhile inside the cabin, both Bruce and Irwin listened to the grandfather clock in the room to continue to tick, and tick and tick. An exasperate atmosphere filled the room.
“How much longer are we going to stay here, Bruce?” said an impatient Irwin Withers; stiff in his chair at Thistlebush. Looking at the evening paper, Bennett is in current shock due to the current events. The headline on the paper stated, ‘TRIGGER SONS TAKE LATEST VICTIM: FORMER APPRENTICE SAMUEL ARMSTRONG’
“Who next?” Bruce Bennett said, looking slightly worried. Shrugging it off, Irwin takes the treasure more seriously and replies,
“Even so, we have no chance of getting that darn vulture! It could be anyway! And for all we know it could be in the wrong hands!”
“Don’t worry, just…”
“Just what? This is a waste of time; I’m heading back to…”
An interruption filled the air, as a knock on the door paused Irwin’s slight anger. He goes over and inspects it, and there is a sweaty face at the door. A tired Jackson Springwater with his boots slightly tattered, spurs removed, as well as a ruined jacket and ripped trousers.
“What the devil is wrong with you? Come inside and speak to us, the fire is glowing warm.” Irwin stated, and Springwater looked pleasured, but was too tired to move the muscles to smile. Slightly appalled as Jackson enters the lounge, Bruce argues as he introduces himself,
“I told you if you keep the door open too long those damn niggers will enter! You know they cause trouble!”
“Bruce, leave it. This aint the 1870s no more. Now, friend, what brings you here? This is virtually the middle of nowhere!” Speaking with shattered lungs, Springwater explains,
“I’ve been framed for murder. Originally in the slammer for fraud, I was then added to the death sentence when a murder happened inside the Serenity Saloon whilst I was still in jail! You have to believe me! The law is off its heels!” No believing a word, Bruce asks,
“Why would they suspect you? I mean, you are locked up, surely they can’t think it’s you!”
“Exactly! This law system is corrupt and disorientated. We are letting a gang of thugs control us for god’s sake! But the victim… Armstrong… he was a friend of mine.” He pauses and morbidly adds, “It was coming to him; he was better off dead.” Shocked, Irwin replies,
“What do you mean by that? And if you were in jail, why are you walking free? Surely fraud doesn’t have a short sentence, does it?”
“I found a loose cement brick. I’m a thin man, too thin in fact. I got through with ease after spending all night jimmying it away with a broken broomstick. I had no choice, they were gonna kill me the day after!” Bruce then asks a favour after some brief nodding,
“Okay… you can stay. Can you help us though? I mean, this treasure can sort out all of our problems, if you can help…” Very protective, Jackson responds with pace,
“Treasure?! What treasure? Who told you about this?”
“The whole county knows by now, have you not noticed? Do you have anything to contribute then? You seem to know a lot…”
“I do, but you have to promise to keep this to yourself, I have something of great value to the both of you.”
He reaches for his knapsack and reaches for a piece of the infamous treasure map. Bruce calmly handles it, inspects it, and is able to translate the Spanish writing on the side. Seeing only a few letters, he finds out the meaning and immediately celebrates after getting somewhere.
“Oh my golly god! It reads, ‘templo espi…’ but that’s all I need! Thank you my negro friend! You are forever welcome to join us!” As he shakes hands with Springwater, there is another knock on the door.”
“I’ll check this time, you two have done enough work today as it is!” But approaching the door, Irwin is frozen as a familiar face turns up. A man, tall with a black Stetson, in a dark overcoat it could only be one man: Lou Peterson.
“What…what, what, what… are you doing here?” Said a cowardly Irwin, shrivelling to Lou’s intimidating presence. Chuckling away, Lou says,
“What are you doing here? You aren’t Bruce! I’m here to speak with him about the treasure, if we can find Jackson we could…”
After seeing Springwater and Bruce examining the treasure map, Lou smiles deeply and struts over to the living room to greet the pair. Irwin worries and whispers to himself, “You… know him? He’s… your friend?”
“So, my friends, I can’t believe we are all under the same room, eh?” Peterson announces. Intercepting the fun, Irwin complains,
“Do you know what THIS man did to me? Nearly robbed me bone and dry, at GUNPOINT! How do you know we can trust him?”
“Just believe the young lad, he has potential.” Bruce says, and Springwater adds,
“He’s alright to me! Just leave it!” Shaking his head, Lou makes things clear,
“I did what I did, because secretly, all friends become friends after a disastrous event. Ergo, all of the county’s troubles has brought us together. The reason why the smart do something is because of a pull factor, and not free will.” Being defeated in a 3v1 debate, Irwin just gives up and lies down on one of the sofas in the room.
“So, what’s the plan? Although it’s part of a treasure map we all know where to go, yes?” Lou adds. Bruce comes up with an idea,
“It may take a while, but we are going to Mexico. The town of Gorodo is where the treasure of Pelogos is at; just around a mile from there. There is a nasty war going on so we have to keep our distance. We’ll rest up today as it’s late, but tomorrow I’ll call a stagecoach over to take us to the border.” Sarcastically, Irwin adds,
“All in a day’s work!”