Chapter 26. The Meeting Point.
I will seize fate by the throat; it shall certainly never wholly overcome me-Ludwig van Beethoven
The Meeting Point.
Jake kept his eyes and ears open as he walked with Bessie through the town. He remembered once during the war his officer had sent him on a scouting mission behind enemy lines, somehow that hadn't been as nerve wrecking as being beside Bessie knowing any moment some hooligan could jump out of somewhere with a shotgun. Bessie seemed to sense his nervousness and tried to ease it by prattling on about nonsense. Jake didn't hear a word she said, he was to busy trying to come up with some sort of plan if in case the Sheriff didn't make it on time. Jake knew he was treading hot coals, but desperate means call for desperate measures, and sometimes you just had to put your life on the line and hope fate would prove to be kind.
There, Jake caught a glimpse of a shadow, someone was following them. They had gotten out of the town by now. The houses and buildings were some distance away, the only land mark was two large boulders. One was a few feet behind them and the other a few feet ahead. They rose from the ground and signaled the end of Hopewing and the beginning of the Arizona wilderness. There was no one in sight, no 'brother', not a single soul and Jake wondered if perhaps the little lady was going to try and kill him on her own. Well before she tried to pull any sort of trick, there was one question he would like answered. Jake halted and faced Bessie, his back to one bolder, his face to the other.
"Tell me somethin'," he stated. "How come Calhoon always has someone else come and do his dirty work?"
The copper headed beauty blinked at him in shock. "What are you talkin' about, Jake?" She tried to fake ignorance.
"You know darm well what I am talkin' about," Jake retorted. "I know who you work for, I know you're Calhoon's little siren, there to seduce and destroy any man he wants you too. I fell for your trap once, Bessie, did you really thing I was going to fall for it a second time? If you're out here to drag me out here and quietly finish me off, then sorry, I ain't going down without a fight, a loud fight."
Jake reached for his gun, but before he could pull it out he heard a click behind him.
"Don't even think about it," a heavy voice stated in a thick Texan accent. Jake felt something cold pressing against his head. He berated himself for letting his guard down. Of course the only place to hide out here was behind either of the two boulders, and he had turned his back to his enemy, giving him the opportunity he was waiting for. Getting angry at his stupid mistake was pointless, so Jake let a smile creep onto his face.
"Brother or lover?" he asked Bessie.
"Neither actually," Bessie retorted. "How did you know I was workin' for Calhoon."
"Figured it out. I'm not as stupid as you all think me to be."
"Anyone who dares cross paths with Calhoon is stupid," the man behind him stated.
"When I want you opinion, mister, I'll ask for it," Jake snapped. "You might have not noticed, but I was speakin' with Bessie here. The two of us got a history together, while I have no idea who the hell you are."
"Think a couple months ago, cattle drive, rustler attack," Bessie offered.
"Ah, you're that fellow who couldn't even finish his job all the way. Or maybe you just don't know what a dead man is supposed to look like. If you really want me dead, why didn't you kill me all the way? I was breathin' when my partners found me. Don't you know a dead man ain't supposed to breath? I have to say, Calhoon seems to be a lot more forgivin' than I suspected. Both of you failed miserably and he let you live and gave you a second chance. What a nice man he is, no wonder the two of you follow him so faithfully."
"Shut up!" The gun pressed harder against Jake's head.
"Just finish him off, Jem," Bessie said. "No point in standin' out here gabblin' 'bout nothin'."
"I would pull the trigger, Bessie, 'cept I'm thinkin' Calhoon might be upset. Didn't he like want to do the job hisself this time? You know how he gets when someone takes his prey from him."
"Ah," The grin on Jake's faces widened. "the fella finally decided to face me man to man. Wonder why it took him over five years to get around to it. You don't suppose it was 'cause he was scared of me?"
"Jem, watch that tongue," Bessie snapped at her partner.
"Yeah, it may dig your grave," Jake added.
"And you keep quiet," Bessie turned towards Jake. "You're startin' to get on my nerves."
Jake's smile became patronizing. "Oh my, I'm terribly sorry, I didn't realize how frail your nerves were." Jake was hoping that if he stalled enough, the Sheriff would finally get here. "So where is Calhoon supposed to meet me? Maybe I'll just travel there and confront him, save us all time and energy."
"Calhoon's location is none of your business, Cowboy," Bessie fiercely replied.
"Uh, Bessie," Jem's voice had suddenly gotten tense. "You'll never believe this, but there is an Indian with a gun standing behind you."
Bessie turned around in surprise, Jake grabbed this chance of distraction and swung around, knocking the gun out of Jem's hand and grabbing his wrist. With his left hand Jake punched Jem's unshaven face. Jem reeled but quickly gained control of himself and attempted to free himself from Jake.
"Round two, huh?" He smirked at Jake. "Don't worry, this time I won't leave you breathin'."
Bessie had found herself looking at Tarak, who stood with a rifle in his hands. "Don't move, woman," he said, "or I shall be forced to harm you."
"Who the hell are you?" Bessie asked, aware of the fight going on between Jake and Jem trying to decide what would be the best courage of action.
"My identity is no buisness of yours," Tarak calmly answered, walking up closer to her. "I know who you are, and I know you are up to no good."
"Abel, just do it now!" Bessie made up her mind and suddenly called out. Tarak, realizing there was a third member hiding somewhere, dropped his rifle and in the blink of an eye grabbed Bessie's arm and twisted it behind her, a knife at her throat. Jake and Jem where fighting full time by now and didn't notice anything around them as they rolled about on the ground in a death match.
"Hurt Jake, and I will kill her," Tarak threatened to the Asop he couldn't see.
"Don't worry about me, kill him!" Bessie screamed. A few seconds passed and nothing happened.
"Just do it Asop, do it!" Bessie was almost pleading now. "Forget about me, just do it, do it for Calhoon."
A loud shot rang out. Tarak looked widely at Jake, half expecting him to be dead. But no, Jake and Jem and had paused their fight at the noise, and both of them seemed to be unharmed. A figure walked out from behind the bolder closer to the town, leading a horse by the reins with one hand and dragging a figure with the other.
"Alright, break it up!" Sam's voice rang out. He dropped the wounded man on the ground and pointed his shot gun at Jem. "You, get up now. Jake, get off of him." Jake roughly lifted Jem off the ground, twisting his hands behind his back.
"What happened to Asop?" Bessie screamed. "Did you kill him?"
"Not quite," Sam reassured. "He's alive, but wounded and out cold. Should have thought twice before attemptin' to shoot Jake here. An' you," Sam turned towards Jake. "Might have specified which edge of town you are going to. I had no idea which direction go head in an' made a lucky guess, which thankfully proved to be lucky indeed."
Bessie struggled to free herself from Tarak. "You planned this?" She hissed at Jake.
Jake looked Bessie square in the face. "You're travelin' with your brother to California, you stopped by here and you want me to just dump everythin' and come with you? Honestly, you thought I would buy that? What sort of a dumb ass would I have to be."
Bessie grit her teeth in anger as she gazed at Jake with hatred. "You have no idea how much trouble you caused for me personally. You nearly broke everythin' I had with Asop. The poor man almost went insane with jealousy when I was courtin' you, and how you went and got him killed. Not to mention I nearly got myself killed when you disappeared and Calhoon blamed me. I hate you Jacob Wade, I hate you."
"Well, you're in good company," Jake snapped back. "Cause so does Rachel, and the two of you can just go hatin' me together. And guess what? I don't care!"
"Right folks," Sam cut in. "Puttin' all these personal feelings aside, you three are under arrest an' I'm takin' you into custody.
"Since when do you have the power to arrest people?" Jake asked.
"Since I became a deputy," Sam flashed his badge with a smile. "An' I even got a pair handcuffs for free, courtesy of Sheriff Grant. I'll snap them on you, mister," he walked up to Jem, who was being held by Jake. "An' you, Missy," he turned to Bessie. "Will have to manage with some rope." Pulling a cord from his pocket, Sam proceeded to tie Bessie's hands behind her back.
"Where is Calhoon?" Jake demanded of Bessie. "You said he was comin' after me."
"I ain't tellin' you nothin'," Bessie retorted, turning away from Jake.
"Jake," Tarak spoke up. "It was good fortune that brought me when I did, or you would have been a lost man, but now that we have these three, there is little time. I traveled here to tell you I have seen the man you described to me."
"You've seen Calhoon?" Hope mixed with dread in Jake's eyes. At last it seemed the outlaw was in their hands, but would they be able to outsmart him. "Where?"
"I saw him riding out of the town, he stopped man by the road and asked directions for the Circle 4."
Jake felt the blood in his veins turn cold. "The Circle 4?" He asked in a voice that was strangely not his own.
"Yes," Tarak nodded. "He distinctly said Circle 4."
"Dannie!" The word flashed through Jake's mind. The blood thirsty gunslinger was heading straight for her.
"Well what are we still doin' here?" Jake snapped. Scrambling for Jem's gun, that was lying in the sand, he hit Jem with the hilt as hard as he could. Jem slumped senseless to the ground.
"That's so you have less work keepin' an eye on them," he explained his actions to a bewildered Sam. "When the Sheriff finally gets here tell him to get to the Circle 4 as quickly as possible. Oh and sorry, but I need your horse."
Before Sam had time to protest, Jake had run up and mounted Sam's steed. Tarak led Bessie to Sam and thrust her into his arms. Retrieving his rifle, he ran up and mounted his own horse, which was standing not far off.
"You're leavin' me all alone with three outlaws?" Sam grumbled.
"The Sheriff will be here any minute," Jake called over his shoulder as he and Tarak urged their horses into a gallop. It was a long ride to the Circle 4 and Jake hoped against hope they would overtake Calhoon before he got to the ranch.
Drama, drama! :D