Coyote Trail

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Chapter 12: Bad Men with Guns

After fleeing from the scene of the shoot out that night, the Spencer brothers headed straight south. After a full day of hard riding, the men and their horses were spent and that night, they made a cold camp and rested.

They were moving again well before sunrise and just after daybreak, they entered the town of Sorocco. There, they held up in a room at the Waefferly Hotel and while the others waited, Daniel went out to find a local doctor to attend to his kid brother’s wound.

The kid had lost a lot of blood and the long, hard ride had taken a toll on him. He lay stretched out on the bed where he slept while Joseph kept a lookout at the window. He watched as the town awakened and the townspeople began moving about in their daily activities on the street below.

After a while there was a knock on the door and he stepped over to it with his gun drawn and ready.

“Daniel?”

“Open up!” replied his brother’s voice.

Joseph holstered his gun and opened the door.

Daniel entered the room with the doctor; a nervous little man with wire rimmed spectacles, carrying his traditional black bag. Dr. Elias Laye knew who it was he was dealing with and he knew they were dangerous men that might decide to kill him if he didn’t cooperate.

“Get to work Doc.” Daniel ordered. “Remember, you’re not goin’ anyplace ’till we’re done with you and if we ain’t happy with your services, the only place you’ll go is to meet your maker!”

The doctor, with nervous, shaking hands, proceeded to examine his young patient’s wound. Daniel assumed Joe’s former position at the window and gazed out on the street below.

Wheels started turning in his head.

He and his brothers had made too many mistakes lately! The incident that took place with the half-breeds shouldn’t have happened. Still, the deed had been done. Nothing could change that. Again, it had been trouble brought about by Luke and the twisted sickness in him!

The outlaw breathed a deep sigh.

He had been letting his guard down on the kid lately. Like when they’d all been drinking in Santa Fe, to celebrate their first job together with the Coyotes.

He shook his head.

He should have known better! When the kid drank, he got mean and when David drank, he got stupid, really stupid. He got stupid enough to let his brother convince him to turn on the Coyotes and take their share of the stagecoach money! The kid had a way of talking his dumb brother into doing whatever he wanted him to.

David and the kid kept it to themselves when the gang rode out of Santa Fe. They waited until after they had made camp for the night.

That’s when the conspirators struck!

Before he or Joe realized what was happening, Luke and David simply stepped up behind the half-breeds and pistol-whipped ’em over the head! It all happened in a matter of seconds and within those few seconds, Luke turned into a crazy man!

He leapt upon the two unconscious men and started punching, scratching and biting like some crazed animal! Being all worked up but too stupid to know what else to do, David joined right in. It took Daniel and Joe both, to pull them off of the half-breeds and to subdue Luke.

“Let me finish ’em off!” Luke raged. “Let’s kill ’em!”

In anger and disgust, Daniel backhanded the kid across the face. “You sick bastard! What in the hell did you do that for?” he raged. “There’s something wrong with you boy, somethin’ it’ll take a bullet or a rope to cure!”

It was the truth!

Luke was the problem; he had always been the problem and it was something that Daniel was just about fed up with.

Most men kill out of hate, greed, vengeance, or even now an’ then out of necessity. Every so often, along comes one that kills only because he loves to kill. He gets pleasure out of it, gets all worked up over it. Inside of a man like that, it’s like a burning hunger. You can see it in his eyes.

It was as plain as day in his little brother.

Maybe it was the beatings that Pa used to give him that turned him rotten and then again; he was most likely born with it in him. Maybe it was because Pa saw it, that he tried so hard to beat it out of him. No matter, the older the kid got, the worse he became.

When the kid wanted to ride with his brothers, Daniel had been against it, knowing the trouble it would bring. Still, he could no more deny the kid from joining up than he could deny kinship! So, the kid rode along and was trouble from the start.

You never knew when he was going to pull his gun and shoot some kid’s dog or some farmer’s cow for no reason. He’d shoot someone through the hand or the foot simply to inflict pain, because he derived some kind of sick gratification from it. He couldn’t even lay with a woman without inflicting pain on her! Daniel tried his best to control him, and was hated for it.

Finally one day in Red Holler, the kid shot down a whore and a rancher in cold blood! They made for Mexico and hid out there for a long time. But the kid continued to be a problem! Finally, the local bandits and the Mexican Army both, ran them out!

They made their way back up north, until they met up with the Big Thunder brothers in Durango. A few days later, they hit the stage and headed for Santa Fe. That’s where they learned that Ransom and his posse was after them!

The doctor interrupted Daniel’s thoughts.

“Excuse me sir,” the man said in a meek voice. “The wound isn’t serious though it will be painful for awhile. I’ve tended to it, cleaned and bandaged it.”

The frightened man cleared his throat.

“I would recommend that the young man rest for a few days.”

Daniel could see that the man was sweating, trembling with fear.

“We’re leavin’ in an hour” he replied. “It’s a long ride to the Mexican border! He’ll just have to make do.”

He resumed his gaze out of the window. If the man thought they were headed for Mexico, then that’s what he would tell the Sheriff, or Ransom when he showed up.

Taking a handkerchief from his coat pocket, Dr. Laye nervously blotted the sweat from his face.

“Of course, it’s your decision sir, but I strongly advise against it.”

Joseph stepped up behind the good doctor and tapped him on the shoulder. The doctor turned and met a swift right hook to the jaw! The force sent him reeling backwards to fall unconscious on the floor.

Luke giggled with delight.

Daniel’s eyes turned from the street outside, to the doctor at his feet and then to his brother.

“We need to talk.” Joe declared.

“I’m listenin’.”

“We got to go back. We can’t let ‘em get away with killin’ David!”

“If we do, we risk runnin’ headlong into Ransom.” Daniel replied.

Joseph threw his hands up in the air.

“We’re lookin’ at a showdown no matter which way we go!” he countered. “Wouldn’t be expectin’ us to turn and come back at ’em.”

Luke sat up on the edge of the bed.

“I might be shot but I can ride, an’ I can shoot too!” he said. “I say we hunt ‘em down an’ kill all of ’em!”

“You son of a bitch!” Daniel’s eyes flared and he pointed his finger at the kid. “It’s because of you that David’s dead, you damned fool! If you weren’t my brother, I’d have killed you myself, long ago!”

The kid got to his feet defiantly.

“You promised Ma that you’d look after us an’ keep us all together!” he countered. “It’s up to you to see to it that them who killed David pays for it!”

Anger boiling inside him, Daniel stood glaring at Luke but said nothing. His gun hand shook slightly and a little voice in his head said to him; one bullet, one shot and you’re free of this devil, once and for all!

Joe knew full well that the kid was pushing his older brother too far. Stepping in between the two of them, he turned to Daniel.

“Hold on now brother. We’ve got enough problems without us goin’ at each other. We’re gonna have to quit arguin’ and stick together here.”

Daniel stood poised like a rattler ready to strike. But as he looked into Joe’s eyes, he felt the rage break and slip away, the gun hand stopped shaking.

His brother was right. It was time for thinkin’ and not losin’ your temper. He turned and reached for his hat on the coat stand nearby.

“Get ready to ride.” he said. “The sooner we get out’a this place, the better off we’ll be.”

“What about the Coyotes?” Joe asked.

Daniel sighed in frustration.

“Now’s not the time to go runnin’ around lookin’ for ‘em!” He said. “You two fools ain’t thinkin’ right.”

“What are you talkin’ about?”

“I say you ought to worry more about Ransom an’ less about those damned half-breeds! Some day we’ll run across ‘em again an’ when we do, we’ll take care of ’em! But that day won’t ever come if we’re careless about Ransom!”

“So then what do we do?” Joe asked.

“I say we ride out’a here just like we’re headin’ for Mexico. We got to make Ransom think that’s where we’re headed! Then we swing around wide an’ double back to the north. “

“An’ let them half-breeds get away?”

Daniel’s anger flared anew.

“To hell with them!” he raged. “It’s about time we started usin’ our heads!”

He turned and stared coldly at the kid.

“And I’m the one who has the last say!” He added.

Joseph knew it would be useless to argue with his brother any further. Daniel was right. He was always right. Joe looked down at the doctor on the floor.

“What about him?” he asked.

“Tie him up an’ gag him.” Daniel replied. “When they find him an’ cut him loose, he’ll tell em’ we’re headin’ for the border!”

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