The Man With The Schofields

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Westerns  |  House: Booksie Classic

A Short story about a stage coach running from Flagstaff Arizona to Sedona, and the passenger with the bone handled .44 schofields.

The sun was almost directly overhead the road as the stage coach rounded the bend approaching the station located south of flagstaff, its bright rays shone down making the buckskins sweaty flanks appear very shiney. The team of horses kicked up a pair of floppy eared jack rabbits from the side of the dirt and sender road, as they passed along, drawing closer to the lone wooden platform and bench that passed for a station.  A group of prarie dogs stood guard opposite of the ditch that ran beside the road.

It must have been 100 degrees in the open air and there wasn't much to account for shade. A single pine tree and a scraggley bunch of juniper stood across the road from the station. The road consisted of two deep ruts gouged into the earth from the passage of wagons and coaches over the long passage of time. Underneath the lone ponderosa pine tree a man wearing the outfit of a rugged drifter began to rise and brush himself off. The man wore a bone handled .44 caliber Shcofield revolver, butt forward, slung down low, on either hip. He wore a pair of dusty rattle snake skin boots that sported the large spanish styled spurrs of the mexican bandittos on each heel. The tip of his weather faded black hat covered his cold grey eyes. 

A short and stocky man with a silver streaked beard of red and a horseshoe shaped receding hairline occupied the drivers seat as the Rig glided up to the platform. He swung down from the box atop the coach and beamed at the elderly latino man and young woman who had been sitting on the bench. The man exchanged words in broken spanish with the pair, while the Guards watered the horses and stretched their legs. 

One of the guards shouted something at "Red", whom the man under the pine trees expected to be the driver, he listened for a response from Red but heard none. He also did not see the look of poor taste that ran all over the man called Red's face, at only hearing the voice of the guard named Tommy. The driver continued loading the travelers luguage, and then helped them up and into the coach. The man crossed the road and handed the driver his ticket and climbed into the rig after the young woman and her elder escourt. 

The man exchanged greetings with the man and woman, in the fashion of brief eye contact, followed by a brief and courteous nod. As he settled into the seat across from the spanish appearing companions, he hears Red conversing with a younger sounding voice he assumed to be the one named Tommy, through the window slits at his side. "Damnit man! Can't you ever help being nosey? I don't know nothing!" that would have been Red, sounding aggrivated, the drifter thought to himself. "Other than the fact that the man paid for his ticket in Flagstaff, with cash money, and he aims to take this Coach south just like the other paying customers do!" 

Now he hears Tommy begining to talk and he sounds offended, "Calm down there boss man, I was just curious, see?" The sound of a something lightly splattering unto the ground. Tommy propbably chews tobacco, the man pondered. "I just never saw him before is all, you know how i am with memorizing folks faces and what all." said the upset stage coach guard.
"yeah and I know how ya are with yer questions too. one day its gonna get ya in a world of trouble if ya arnt careful tommy." chides Red, hauling himself back up into the drivers position, now obviously done with the conversation. Smiling broadly Tommy swings up onto the bench beside him, and laying the company scatter gun in his lap, he links his fingers behind his head and began whistling as the Stage Coach starts to roll out headed south.

The road from Flagstaff to Sedona was dull and eventless for the man with the spanish style spurs. Very little talking had been taking place amungst the passengers, so there was not much to divert the mans attention. The woman, upon closer inspection, appeared to be closer to the age of fifteen or sixteen. The man looked old enough to be her grandfather, perhaps he even was. They were both dressed well, the girl in a solid and earthern colored dress. The man wore a dark suit, somewhat simple yet very elegant, and no doubt expensive. He could have been a rancher in his prime, thought the man with the Schofields. 

A few miles along the road, outside of Sedona, with the snow capped peaks near Flagstaff behind them, a fresh landslide barred the way forward, forcing them to move off of the road to get around. It was at this point that the Coach came to a sudden halt, throwing the passengers forward, that the man in the low brimmed hat realized he had dozed off in the heat and the bumpiness of the trail. Now, He heard the voices of Red and of Tommy arguing, but also new and unfamiliar voices coming from ahead of them on the road as well as the sounds of horses stamping their feet.

"Tommy you son of a ..." Red never finished, for a .45 caliber bullet from Tommies pistol caught him in the throat. From inside the Coach the passengers heard the single gun shot, followed by the sound of something heavy hitting the ground, and soon after, a thunderous explosion from the double barreled shotgun, then whooping from the newly arrived men. 

The doors of the coach flew open and too many rifle barrels to count were shoved in thier faces. An evil grin flashed upon the faces of the men who stood there, the instant they beheld the old man and the girl. When the man wearing the dual Schoffields moved his eyes towards the girl, he felt sick, at the fear that he saw there. He saw terror. True terror.

Some of the gunmens rifles came down and the spaniards were ordered out of the coach. At this point the girl became almost hysterical, her eyes were wild and filled with tears. The old man, who is looking ghastly pale and sickly himself, urges her out of the coach and goes to follow behind. As he is climbing down out of the coach his feet were knocked out from underneath him and he fell sprawling face first unto the hard baked earth. 

The gunmen are laughing and now the girl is screaming, there are men now down off of thier horses holding her back as she trys to get to her fallen Elder. The old man is jerked roughly to his knees, a gun is pressed against his temple. The man with the Schoffields steps down from the coach and as his entire world goes black, he hears thunder rumbling in the distant, and he feels what he percieves as multiple bees stinging him.

 


He awakens as the shadow of a bird passes over him. High up in the sky, riding the thermals, a second bird glides in a lazy arc across the sky, towards him. "Damn buzzards" the man croaked. His throat is beyond parched. He feels like he could drink an entire body of water. The man trys to rise up but swirling nasuea forces him back down. He mutters something that sounds like "Bastards shot me." pulls a rather large bone handled bowie knife from his boot, begins to probe the first bullet hole and then looses consciousness.

The man comes to with a start, the sound of crows cawing from thier nearby perch is in his ears. The stage coach is gone, as well as everyone else. His hands feel for wounds and come up with only three neatly stitched bullet holes. "What in all of hells creation?", the man thinks to himself, "Who shot me? and who in the blazes stitched me up?"

It takes him a moment to put together where he is, and what had happened. He lays there saving his strength, and thinking. He was on the Stage coach from Flagstaff to Yuma, two other passengers had been on board. A man and a woman. Shortly after passing through Sedona, the Rig had been held up. During the hold up the driver had been shot at close range by Tommy with a pistol and then finally with a 12 gauge shot gun. After the driver had been murdered, an armed group of men had abducted the other two passengers, only to gun him down under trained rifles as he himself was forced off the coach.

Wait... something was tickeling the back of his mind. Oh yes! The looks on the gunmens faces when they had oepened the coach and saw the passengers, and the look upen the man and womans faces as well. There had been something significant there. Something personal. So what had become of the grandfatherly figure and the young woman he had been traveling with? 
The man in the snake skin boots carefully rolled to one side and gingerly props himself up on one arm to survey his surroundings, before slowly climbing to his feet. Everything was all wrong. Lugauge was scattered everywhere, the suitcases had been thrown from the disappeared rig, and the tracks left by the gunmen had been replaced by what appeared to be a dosen or so unshod ponie tracks. The spaniards were no where to be seen and this both worried and relieved the man, the other passengers had perhaps not been killed, but to be abducted by an Indian war party could be an even worse fate. It was an end he would rather not think of. 

"Apachees." he spoke only to himself. "Is Cochise country afterall I suppose." The pony tracks led off to the north east. The stage coach tracks led the same direction, off of the road and over the land, surrounded with indian pony tracks. As he continued to read the signs he thought he caught the scent of wood smoke. In the distance he thought he heard a warriors fierce cry from the hills beyond, and then from much closer, the sound of a horses whiney. 

Upon further investigation the man turns up the trail left by the banditos. A single painted pony grazes on some foilage only yards away. He is bewildered. While he had lain unconscious and bleeding from bullet wounds, knife in his hand, apparently an Apachee had taken the time to stop and finish extracting the bullets, clean his wounds, pack them with some sort of compound that looked like cactus guts and sand, and then stitch him up. Perhaps the same Indian had convienantly left the unattended pony for him to find?

Sometimes Indians had a funny way. Maybe they were curious to who this man was, gunned down without a chance to fight. The Warrior mentallity is very important to the Apachee. Perhaps they were curious what this man wearing bone handled Schofields would do to the cowards that had mercilessly gunned him down? Or could they have only stopped to loot his body and then realized he was not yet dead and then helped to rejuvinate him, It would be significantly wrong in the warriors eyes to kill him off at such a disadvantage. There was no honor there. Either way, the man was not upset that his bone handled bowie was missing, he felt blessed for the trade. 

Returning to the wrecked belongings of the coach passengers the man with the Shcofields fishes out a blanket to throw over the ponies bare back. He also pulls on a pair of boots that must belong to the old man who was abducted from the coach. The man manages a grim smile. The boots fit. Climbing onto the horses back, the man grips the beast with the muscles in his legs and heels the painted pony forrowed, they turn south on the road. 

 


The sun was a giant fireball sinking over the western horizon of Williams Arizona when the man on the painted pony pulled up at the hitchpost infront of the Saloon. He slid off the paint pony, slapping its rear, the beast running off down the street. Glancing at a fine Sorrel that was tied to the post, he tipped his hat. Fine horseflesh, but it had led the man straight here. He would have never suspected the gang to have stopped for drinks so soon, they had come only a mere 15 miles from their crime. 

Pain wracked the mans entire body as he mounted the handful of stairs up the boardwalk infront of the saloon. He came to the top and pushed through the swinging double doors. The bar tender looked up from his place behind the counter and cooly noded as he took in the new customer, at the same time two of the rifle wielders from earlier that day recognized him and jumped up from the table they had been sitting at playing poker with 3 other men. The card table flew over, spilling cards, drinks, and money into the air as the men franticaly grabed for leather. 

He felt the warm bone handles buck in his cold hands before his slow acting brain could even start to think about drawing the weapons, he saw the men being carried backwards off their feet as the .44 slugs passed through their lungs and chests. A man at the top of the stairs to the gentlemens rooms wheeled around to bare down on him with a double barrel shot gun and the Schofields kicked again, the man falling away. Once more the Shcofields sprouted flame and a man who had been standing taking aim with his rifle against the frame of the back door, which stands open, drops his weapon and crumples half in half out of the doorway. 

One gun held steadily in front of him, the man swung the other one around, gazing down its sites, scanning the room for more of the hijackers. Fairly certain there is enough time to explain, he pulls open the inside of his shirt, revealing a silver circle with a star in the middle dangling from a chain. "Arizona Rangers." The man with the Shcofields says as he collapses back against the wall. "These men are wanted.. for stage coach robbery.. and cold blooded murder." And then his knees gave out from underneath him and the world around him was once again black and void.


Town Marshall of Williams, Rubon Nelson, had been standing across the street, caddy corner from the saloon, in front of the general store smoking a cigar and talking to a local Rancher by the name of Ray Chrismond who sometimes took on the duty of deputy, when he had ridden up the street that night. Nelson and Chrismond apparently had been quick to react to the gunshots and arriving on the scene had taken control of the situation nearly as soon as he'd blacked out. 

One more man had been shot that night and two more were aprehended by Nelson and Chrismond. The girl had been found upstairs in one of the private rooms above the saloon. She was gagged with a hankerchief and had restraints around her ankles and wrists. Her name was Katrina, and it had been her great grandfather whom had been pulled from the stage and gunned down outside of sedona.

Ortega was the old mans family name. Recently his clan had lost a fued with a cattle baron in telluride who was intent on buying most of south western colorado. The family ranch stood in a picturesqe valley among snow peaked mountains. The spread was called "The Stone Ranch". Katrina and her grandfather had been forced to retreat from the ranch while most of the Men had been down in Mexico trying to convince other family help recruit more men to come fight the cattle baron and save the family land. 

The cattle baron had sent some of his hands to take out the old man and one of his young heirs, Katrina, enroute to Mexico on the stage coach, just not within the borders of Colorado, where he hoped to be governor one day. No mention of Apachees was ever made, so the Ranger asumed it had been a random band of warriors that came across the coach and looted it for the team of horses. They must have burnt the coach shorty after heading away from the road and taking the buckskins. 

Too bad for the cattle baron that he, Mac Sheldon, a man of the law and a product of the hard western states, had been on that fatefule stage coach. If he had not? The Ortegas might have been pushed off their hamily heritage forever. He felt remorse that he had not been able to save the old man, Juan, and such was part of the burden that belongs to men like him, but at least Katrina and her brothers and cousins would have a chance with Ranch now. A chance at the life their ancestors had intended for them.

Two weeks later, the last of the perpatrators from the hijacking and killing near Sedona were captured and hung. The possee that carried out the job, consisted mostly of Katrinas brothers, cousins, and uncles. William, or Mac as the other Rangers called him, was there with Rubon Nelson and Ray Chrismond. The lawmens presence made the hangings legally recognized by the state of Arizona. 

The men felt no regret about the sort of justice they served on that day. A man was what a man made himself. If a man chose to live as a outlaw, he knew what brand of men would be persuing him. He did not feel responsible for the life these men had led, he felt responsible for the lives men like these tainted or destroyed. What was important to Mac was that the Ortegas were able to reunite and were on their way back to their prized ranch, on their way to reclaiming it once more. 

As Katrina and her relatives headed north, she looked back, shielding her eyes from the sun, she looked for the Ranger. Seeing him she waved, and turning forward in her saddle, rode away. Rubon and Chrismond said their goodbyes and parted with the hardened arizona law man, heading back towards Williams. 

As for the man with the Shcofields? He was headed for Colorado. The law was coming to Telluride.

 


Submitted: November 17, 2014

© Copyright 2021 JTQ. All rights reserved.

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