|Gravel & Wine
Author: Lipstick Zombie PM
He left her alone. He promised they would be together forever but he lied. Now, two years later, he finds himself falling in love all over again. But she has changed since last they met, and the small town is overtaken by a powerful man who doesn't take kindly to new comers. This is an action packed western with a twist ending you can't miss.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Adventure - Chapters: 5 - Words: 9,904 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 05-01-13 - Published: 08-21-12 - id: 3052285
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The air smelled of sawdust and dirt as we road into the sleepy town of Mason. People go about their everyday lives without even looking up at us. It's like we're invisible. If they knew what we were up to they would be so calm. It almost makes me feel bad seeing all the people, they would never think a robbery would happen in their town. As we approached the bank I give the men the signal to pull up their bandanas, we pull them up over our noses to hid our face. We dismount and walk into the bank.
There aren't many people inside, there's a woman with her husband, her mind wonders to something far from where she is. Her husband's eyes are locked on us as we walk in. He's a tall well built man, probably a farmer. If it came down to a fight none of us could take him on our own. I pull Jim aside.
"Keep an eye on him." I say in a voice just loud enough for Jim to hear. He nods and walked over to the man and pulls his gun. This pulls the woman from her thoughts and she gasps clutching he husbands arm.
I smile under my bandana as Charlie and Sam draw their guns. I walk up to the teller and lean against the table. His eyes fill with fear and I can hear his shaky hands filling his gun one bullet at a time. I shake my head and sigh. I shot him in the arm and he dropped his gun.
"Now why the hell did yah make me go an' do that?" I question. I keep my gun loosely pointed at the man. "Now, unless you want a matchin' one in the other arm, I suggest you give me the money." I say as I hand him a burlap sack.
He fills it right away. I smile with arrogance knowing I had won. It's important to look confident. One second of weakness is all it takes to give someone the confidence to stand up to you. But there are no heroes here. Minus the bullet in the teller's arm, this was an easy run. The hard part would be getting out of the town safely. Local sheriffs aren't too keen on having their banks robbed. I suddenly hear a gunshot and turn around. Jim is on the floor bleeding badly from his shoulder and the tall man stood above him with his gun now pointed at me. His wife hides behind him trying to make the situation seem better in her mind. I point my gun at the man. His eyes are cold but still he hesitates to shoot me. This man isn't a killer. He shot Jim in the shoulder at close range, if he wanted Jim dead he would be.
After a moment I shoot him in the chest. He falls to the ground and his wife drops to her knees. I take a moment to asses the situation.
Why the fuck did you shoot him? A voice in my head asks me.
My eyes dart around the room as if searching for an answer, but they find nothing. I catch enough reality to realize that the gunshot would draw in the sheriff.
We have to get out now!
I look at Jim, he was now lying in a small pool of blood. He could die if we don't get him help soon. So many thoughts rushing into my head but I need to focus. I pull myself together.
"Sam. Get Jimmy outta here!" I say. Sam helps Jim to his feet and they head outside. I start to run out then realize Charlie standing over the dead man. He watched the wife cry over the man's limp body.
"Dammit Charlie let's go!" I call out in frustration. He follows me out and onto the horses. We ride off without running into the sheriff. Jim sits on his horse like it's the only thing keeping him upright. His head sways and his eyes start to roll into his head, leaving nothing but white in their place.
Just a little further Jimmy, I think.
He looks bad. We need to stop and find a way to slow the bleeding but we're not far enough from the town. He just needs to hold on a few more miles. I crack the rains on my horse and speed to the front of the pack. The men follow, we need to get farther from the town, and fast.
I think back to when we were kids. Jim was my best friend and we went to war together. We didn't know how bad the battles would be until we were there. We just thought war would be better than twiddling our thumbs back at home, but it was hell. Jim and I were never shot though. Someone out there was looking out for us. Jim survived the bloodiest war in our history and now he could die from a damn shoulder wound.
By the time we stop the sun is going down. Charlie and Sam set up camp while I help Jim. I lay him on the grass and I rip up a blanket for bandages. I take off his jacket and shirt to see the wound better. It doesn't look like the bullet is still there but I can't be sure. I wrap the bandage strips around the wound and the blood soaks through almost instantly. It wasn't the best patch job, but it will have to do until we get him to a doctor. I hear him laugh and look at him.
"What the hell you laughin' at?" I ask.
"I made it though the war with out gettin' shot and some bastard shoots me in the shoulder." He says still laughing. His laughter slowly fades as he looks up at the sky. "Am I gonna die?" he asks simply.
That's not a question I know how to answer. I know his chances aren't good. The closest town is Woodbury, and I swore I would never go back there. I looked at him and sighed.
"No." I say.
He could see I was lying and shakes his head.
"Woodbury's the closest town." he looks a me again. "I know you don't want to go back there but-"
"Jimmy, of course we're going there. I ain't gonna let you die because of me."
I hate to say it but it's true, I have to go back. And it's been four years it's probably safe to go back.
Jim nods and looks back to the clouds. I can't stay here and look at him anymore. I get up and join the others. Charlie has already set the fire and Sam laid out the blankets. They sat by the fire and watched the glow. Sam took a long swig from his whisky bottle and I knew he would be drunk in an hour. I've never trusted him. He was just some drunk we picked up along the way. I've almost killed him more times than I can count but it would be useless. He's the best shot I've ever seen and he is handy with a knife. The only reason he's alive is because I can't kill him.
I sit next to Charlie and he looks at me with that innocent face of his. I knew what was coming. Charlie's always been a little different than most people. No matter how hard I tried to teach him, he never learned to read. Back in the war I had to read all his letters from home. His girl wrote him almost everyday, then one day the letters just stopped. A few months past by without hearing from her then she sent her last letter. She had married a doctor and moved up north. I never read Charlie that letter, I just told him she didn't want him to get distracted from the war. But somehow I know that he knew the truth. Charlie was never a smart kid, but he can tell when you lie to him.
"You killed that man Rick." Charlie says simply.
I take a deep breath, and exhale to collect my thoughts.
"I know I killed him Charlie."
I want the conversation to end there but of course it doesn't.
"His wife was there Rick."
His face fell and I look away.
I don't know why but this made me angry. He was making me feel bad for something that needed to be done.
"Dammit Charlie I know what I did! You need to let it go!"
I didn't even realize I said it until after the words escaped my mouth. It was like one minute I was taking to my brother then the next I was watching some crazy person yell at him. I sigh and look at the ground as if it could get me out of this.
"Charlie I'm sorry, I didn't mean it."
I can tell he forgives me because he smiles and looks back to the fire. That's the good thing about Charlie, he doesn't hold a grudge.
Out of the corner of my eye I see Sam chuckle. I look up at him as he takes another swig out of the bottle.
"You know what town's up ahead Ricky?"
His words are slurred. And he mocks me.
Don't start this dammit! I think.
He stands up and throws his empty bottle into the darkness. A faint shatter it heard in the distance.
"Woodbury, if I remember correctly." He says as he pretends not to be sure.
I fight every muscle in my body not to stand up and kill him. He waits for a response but I wont give him the satisfaction.
"There was a nice girl there too, what was her name?" He says with a drunken hiss.
It's like he wants me to start something. If Charlie weren't here Sam would be dead and no one would miss him.
Sam stands over me as if he were looking at an insect, a dangerous insect that must be squashed quickly. His smirk faded into a scowl.
"Andrea, wasn't it?" he says knowing full well who he was speaking of.
I clench my fist in anger. Andrea Pierce was an angel. She was the perfect southern belle with the innocence and perfection of a child. That's what she was really, she was fifteen the last time I saw her. Her father was a plantation owner living in Woodbury, he bought out half the railroad last I heard. He never liked me being with his daughter. Can't say I blame him, I wouldn't want my daughter in love with a man ten years older than her. She was always tough as nails though. Nothing ever made her cry, no matter what happened. The only time I ever saw her cry was when I left her. She loved me more than I knew, but I always pushed her away because of her father. One day she asked me if I loved her and I told her no, to this day I regret it. That one word crumbled her heart and I just stood there and let it happen. I should have told her how I felt about her, maybe I wouldn't have left, or at least I would have taken her with me. I know if I go back to Woodbury I'll see her again, I don't know if I can handle that.
Hearing her sweet name coming from Sam's booze soaked mouth flips a switch inside me.
I take my knife from my pocket and stand up. Without hesitation I put the blade against Sam's neck. His smirk shows no sign of fear.
"If you so much as think her name again, I'll slit your throat till your fucking head falls off!" I exclaim. I can feel Sam's pulse against the blade yet he still shows no fear.
"You wouldn't." he says simply.
He's right. I'm not going to kill him now. As much as I want to I can't just slit his throat and have that be the end of it. Charlie would hate me and I would probably hate myself. I lift the blade off his neck and a small red scratch remained. He locks eyes with me, and for a moment I see him reach for his gun. But he turns and walks back to his blanket. I sit back down and see Charlie laying down pretending to be asleep. I feel a pang of guilt run through me like boiling water.
I lie on my back for awhile. The stars fill the night air like small gleams of hope in a dark world. Andrea always said that the stars were the angles looking down on us, making sure we were safe and happy. Sometimes I want to believe her, pretend there really is someone watching out for me. But then I think of all the shit this world has put me through and I know there is nothing. Nothing would let a country go to a horrible war, or have Charlie's heart be stomped on so many times, or let Jim get shot. And God only knows what Andrea has been through in her short life. I don't see how people can find comfort in a God that would allow such horrible things. I don't know if there truly is a God, but if there is, he's got one hell of a twisted sense of humor.
I and worry about Jim. He probably passed out from the pain and blood loss, and that black nothingness would constitute for his sleep tonight. Woodbury is far, five miles or so. If we leave early we would get there by noon. I don't know if I feel relived or scared that we're so close. We need to get Jim to a doctor as soon as possible but if I go back to Woodbury I might see her again. I try to clear my head and get some sleep but I know it's going to be a long night of worry.
I between the short bursts of sleep I get, short dreams fill my mind. They are so vivid and real that I can almost feel the warmth of the summer sun as Andrea and I walk along the lake. Her green eyes sparkle in the light and her golden hair is loosely braded down her slender back. I realize now that this is a memory, a brief reminder that there once was something for me to live for.