Coyote Trail

All Rights Reserved ©

Chapter 6: My first hold-up

Hank had been surprised at how well the Coyotes behaved themselves at Ellie’s table. Clay and Edgar had been totally non-threatening and respectful. Still, he worried about the possibility that they would make their move sometime during the night.

Anxious over what they’d do next, Hank didn’t sleep much at all that night and was awake well before daybreak. Neither Digger nor Miguel had returned to sleep in their bunks. Too bad, he thought, their presence would‘ve been a deterrent to trouble; their absence would be a green light for the Coyotes.

Would they take horses? What else would they decide they needed? Guns? If that’s what they decided to do, how would they go about it? And how in the world would he stop them?

Hank rose and dressed as quietly as he could manage.

It wasn’t long before the two outlaws began to stir and awaken. Clayton yawned and stretched while Edgar got up and without speaking, went outside to urinate. Not knowing what to expect from them, Duggan braced himself for the inevitable confrontation.

Edgar returned and went about gathering his things together.

“G’morning.” Hank offered. “Did you guys sleep well?”

Edgar ignored him completely and Clayton grunted something unintelligible as he climbed down from his upper bunk. Neither of them said a word but were ready to move out in a matter of minutes. When the three stepped from the bunkhouse out into the brisk dawn of the new day, Clayton laid a hand on Hank’s shoulder.

“Old Man Coyote led you to us so that you could save our hides. My brother and I have agreed to honor your wish that we take nothing from this place.” He announced. “We’ll get whatever we need when we get to the town.”

The half-breed turned and started off.

The man’s words had been totally unexpected and Duggan was stunned for a moment but he recovered quickly and breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe these guys aren’t so bad after all?

As dawn broke in the eastern sky, the Coyote Bandits struck off on foot. The two brothers kept up a swift and steady pace and Hank found himself having a hard time trying to keep up with them! It was just after noon when they came up on Red Holler and Duggan was exhausted. Concealed in a bush thicket along the creek, they rested and surveyed the town before them.

Red Holler wasn’t much of a town and how it got its name was anybody’s guess. The road ran straight through the center of it and continued south hugging the creek. There was a general store, a small hotel and a telegraph office on the creek side. A blacksmith, livery, saloon and stagecoach office graced the other side. The only other road teed off from the main road in the middle of town and ran northeast towards Santa Fe. Along this was situated only a handful of small houses and a little church.

Only a few dozen people actually called Red Holler home. They did without such conveniences as a bank, a dentist, a post office or a lawman. The closest ones were either in Santa Fe to the east or in Sorrocco to the south. Both were a couple of day’s ride. The stagecoaches that stopped over from out of Santa Fe on their way south or west provided most of the little town’s financial stimulus.

Edgar turned to his brother and said, “Clay, you go see about some horses at the livery.” Then he turned to Hank. “You can come with me!”

The two brothers got up and started off. Edgar turned and looked back at Hank. “You comin’?” he asked.

Hank hesitated for a moment, then got up and rather reluctantly, followed along behind them.

Not a good idea, he thought.

Some little voice inside his head told him that this was the time to bid them both good luck and goodbye! The little voice told him to turn around and go sit by the creek under a tree! Maybe he should take a little nap and give them time to do whatever they were planning to do. Then later, after they had gone, he could stroll right into town without ever being associated with them!

After all, he had his own problems to figure out!

Still, his legs kept walking as he gazed in wonder at the false-fronted buildings before him. There were boardwalks, hitching posts and a dusty dirt street. He felt like he was walking onto a Hollywood movie set and he half expected to see cameras and floodlights at any moment! Maybe even Clint Eastwood or John Wayne!

Before he knew it he was stepping onto the boardwalk in front of the general store. Edgar nodded to Clay, who nodded in return and started walking towards the livery on the other side of the street.

Edgar turned to Hank. “You stick with me.”

“Wait a minute.” Hank protested. “I don’t think I want to get involved in this.” He stepped back and away from the outlaw. “Maybe we just ought to split up? You boys can go your way and I’ll go mine!”

Edgar got up real close and muttered.

“You ain’t got much of a choice.”

“You’re planning on rippin’ off this place, aren’t you?”

The outlaw looked puzzled.

“Doin’ what?” he asked.

“Rip off, steal, hold up this place for the supplies you’ll need!”

Edgar shook his head and let out a sigh. “Look mister, I ain’t got time to stand here and argue with you.”

“Listen, you and Clay are outlaws. That’s what you do!” Hank insisted. “I’m not. See? I have enough problems without becoming associated with you guys. I don’t want to have the law after me!”

Time was wasting and Edgar was starting to lose patience.

“I got news for you.” he said, “You’re already associated with us! There are bounty hunters on our trail and they’ll know they’re trackin’ three men! Those people back there must have recognized us and they’ll surely talk!”

The outlaw placed his arm around Hank’s shoulder.

“Now, I’ve been both respectful and patient so far because you saved our hides! But now it’s like this; you’re either gonna be with us on this or you’re not and if you’re not . . . then I just might have to kill you.”

The statement shocked Hank for a moment. It was just enough time for Edgar to open the door, grab hold of Hank’s arm and pull him along into the store!

Again, Hank felt as if he’d stepped onto a movie set. Or into a museum! He stood there in awe as his eyes scanned a vast array of 19th century era goods on display. It sure was a far cry from Wall-Mart! For a moment he forgot all about why they were there in the first place.

“Howdy strangers!” greeted the store clerk.

He was a gaunt looking little man with a thin face and a hairline that had receded right up the top of his head.

“The name’s Doobie Acuff. What can I do for you gentlemen?”

Edgar stepped up to the counter.

“We’re in need of some firearms.” he replied.

The clerk looked at him and then glanced over at Hank. He motioned to a nearby display case.

“I got a few used handguns in there.”

Edgar stepped over and peered into the case. There was a Colt ‘Thunderer’ self cocker, a well-used Merwin-Hulbert 44-40, a couple of ‘Peacemakers’ and an old Remington derringer.

The half-breed chose the Merwin-Hulbert.

“Let me see that one.”

“It shoots straight and it’s reasonably priced.” Acuff pitched as he removed it from the case and handed it over.

The gun had an Ivory grip and was fully engraved.

“You got shells for it?” Edgar asked as he balanced it in his hand.

“Sure do mister.”

Acuff’s smile lessened considerably as he reached for a box of cartridges and placed them on the countertop. Edgar proceeded to load up the gun. He spun the cylinder, held the gun at arm’s length and sighted down the barrel.

“Feels right nice.” he said. “I like it.”

Then, turning, he raised the gun and pointed it right in the storekeeper’s face.

“Now I’d appreciate it if you’d raise your hands up high in the air!”

Acuff’s eyes went big and his face went white as his hands shot up over his head.

“I knew it!” he said, “I just knew you was gonna do this!”

“Well know this,” Edgar warned, “I’ll blow your damned head off if you give me any trouble!”

Hank stood there frozen, with his mouth hanging open as he watched what was taking place. The half-breed turned and said something to him but it went in one ear and out the other as Duggan stood there, stunned.

“Are you deaf or somethin?” Edgar said, “Get some rope and come over here and tie this man up!”

Snapping out of it, Hank realized it was too late to turn back. He was now a part of the hold-up whether he liked it or not! He looked around and spotted several coils of brand new rope. Taking out his pocketknife, he cut several yards off of one of them. His heart pumped fast and his hands shook.

“Hurry it up!” Edgar demanded.

“Hold yer horses.” Hank grumbled in protest. ”I told you I didn’t want to get involved in this!”

The half-breed turned, an angry scowl on his face.

“You are involved, you damned fool! Now do as I say!”

Hank’s body seemed to respond automatically to Edgar’s command though the voice of his conscience shouted otherwise. As he stepped behind the counter, he could see that Acuff’s face was ghostly pale, his body shook and sweat dripped down his face.

“Sorry about this mister.” Hank said, “Guess you better put your hands behind your back.”

“Tie his feet too.” Edgar ordered, “And gag him!”

Hank spoke softly to Acuff, “You better get down on the floor.”

His hands shook as he proceeded to tie the man up while Edgar helped himself to several weapons and whatever supplies he could find in a hurry. Hank heard the sound of horse hooves outside and he jumped to his feet.

“Somebody’s coming!” he shouted.

“Quit yellin’ ya damned fool.” Edgar replied, suppressing his own voice. “It’s only Clay!”

There was the sound of boot steps on the boardwalk outside and the front door opened. Edgar turned and pointed his gun at the door. . . just in case. Clay stepped into the room, carrying several saddlebags.

“I got three good horses saddled and ready to go.” He announced.

Edgar lowered the gun. “Any trouble?”

“No trouble at all.”

“And the Livery man?”

Clay smiled. “He’s sleepin’ like a baby.”

Edgar turned to Hank. “Get out there and keep a lookout!”

Again, Hank found himself responding automatically to the outlaw’s command. He stepped past Clay and out onto the boardwalk into the bright daylight. Squinting his eyes, he looked nervously up and down the street.

A Mexican woman had been sweeping the boardwalk in front of the hotel next door. She stopped and stood looking at him suspiciously.

He waved at her.

She didn’t wave back.

At the same time, a man stepped through the bat-wing doors of the Stagecoach Saloon across the street. He looked at Hank and then the three horses tied to the hitching post. Then he turned and went back inside the saloon.

Hank’s knees grew weak with fear.

“What the hell is goin’ on here?” he muttered to himself. “This whole nightmare is getting way out of control!”

A wave of anger came over him for allowing himself to be intimidated by Edgar Big Thunder. Through his cooperation, he had allowed himself to become known as an outlaw too! He had only himself to blame for allowing that to happen! He should have stayed at Ellie’s place and let them go on! He should have stayed behind back at the creek! Hell, he should have left them tied to the damned wagon wheel!

A sound distracted him from his thought and he looked up. The man from the saloon had come back outside and two men were standing in front of the stagecoach office down the street, staring at him.

Suddenly, Edgar and Clay burst through the door and onto the boardwalk!

“Come on!” Edgar shouted. “Let’s go!”

Again automatically, Hank Duggan sprang into action on Edgar’s command! Slinging the saddlebags onto the horses, the two brothers swung up into their saddles as Hank awkwardly mounted the third. The two half-breeds spun and reared up their mounts as their gunshots and war whoops pierced the air!

Instantly, the onlookers scrambled for cover and the Coyote Bandits galloped off down the street to make their getaway!

All three of them!

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.