The Million Dollar Bounty

Chapter Three

By

Lee Homer

We continued to ride hard west towards Dellugo with the wind on our backs and I admit that we were making good time, but the winds were picking up which meant that another sand storm coming in from the East. I hated these vicious storms. Typically it had to happen when there was no shelter around. Like I said earlier, they could be deadly and I wasn't prepared to slow down just yet. Just up ahead, Ryan had come to a halt as he found an old shack which was covered in dust. As I rode up to inspect it for myself, I noticed that there were no lights on inside. It was as if it had been abandoned. Anyway, I gave Ryan a look as if to say we needed to go in. I could tell that he wasn't up for that but as the horizon began to fade away amongst the dust; he could see that we had no choice.

We hitched the horses and headed on inside. I found an old oil lamp on the table and it took me a while to light the damn thing. The place smelt of damp which was common in these parts. Luckily there was firewood available so I piled them up and lit us a fire. The wind howled like an enraged wolf as the windows creaked and the door rattled. Ryan had already made himself at home, with his feet up on the table, his hat over his eyes and his pipe protruding from his mouth. I sat down opposite him and tried to figure him out. His presence was still bothering me.

"Just how do you figure?" I asked him as he looked back at me with a stare. "I still don't know why you want to help me?"

"I told you." He replied. "I was there the night the Kinney family died too remember?"

"Yeah well somehow I don't believe that." I said. "I don't recall ever seeing your face and remember everyone there vividly."

"You didn't see me." Ryan smirked. "I could see the look of panic in your eyes. You completely blanked me. Now if you don't mind. I'm going to get some sleep. It's still a way towards Dellugo and you're going to need a clear head for when we catch Diego."

"You know, I've been thinking about that deal of yours." I went on as I ignored the remark. "About the splitting when this is all over. Are you sure that you mean what you say?"

"Kid, don't give me that sheriff bullshit." Ryan chuckled. "I meant what I said. I have a question for you too."

"Go ahead." I replied.

"How do I know you're a real man of the law? Anyone can carry a tin star around. It's quite possible that you killed a sheriff and took his place."

"Now why would I do a thing like that?" I replied with a glare. "I'm proud in what I do."

"Then don't ask ridiculous questions." Ryan smiled. "It works both ways."

The next morning, the storm had passed leaving a veil of silence over the area. I awoke from a very uncomfortable sleep to the smell of bacon and eggs. I rubbed my eyes and realised that Ryan was no longer in the room. I fastened my gun belt and stepped outside. I felt a sharp pain in my eyes as the morning light hit them with its bright rays. Ryan was sitting down by a makeshift campfire, cooking his meal, using logs from the shack. I sat down beside him and stretched my stiffened limbs. My night in that god awful shack was like sleeping in hell and I was sure looking forward to getting back out on the trail again.

"You want some this meat?" Ryan offered as he passed a dusted old tin of bacon, eggs and dry bread. "It's just about done and you're going to need it if we're going to make it to Dellugo by lunchtime."

"Yeah, I'll eat it." I replied as took the tin and tucked in. "Say Ryan, What do you think we'll find when we ride into town?"

"Bandits, drunks, smugglers, whores. You know the usual thing." Ryan answered as he took a swig of whiskey. "Why what do you expect we find?"

"A poisoned town that has followed the way of the assholes that we're tracking." I replied. "For all we know, we'll arrive and we'll be met a barrage of gunfire."

"That's a possibility, but have you considered the fact that we're going to arrive in town using disguises?" Ryan grinned.

"What do you mean?" I asked as I raised a brow in suspicion. "Do you have some cloths with you?"

"Yeah." Ryan chuckled as he lit a cigar. "Come and have a look at this, kid."

I got up off the ground and followed Ryan over to his horse. I remained speculative of the man's ideas as he reached into his saddle bag and pulled out some old dark green rags. They smelt awful and they looked like they bugs covered all over them. As he un-folded one of the rags, he revealed it to be an old Mexican poncho with red and white patterns.

"Put this on." He said as he threw the poncho at me. "These ponchos's will get us into Dellugo, bullet free."

"How are these going to save us?" I asked. "We need something to hide our faces too."

"They won't care about that." Ryan replied. "All they will be looking at will be our stars. When we arrive in town, stick close to me. I've been to Dellugo before and it's not a pretty place to be."

"Now you tell me." I moaned as I returned my meal.

Not long after, we extinguished the fire and set off towards our destination. The sun had lit up the horizon as we rode hard through the desert dunes. As the time ticked by, we came to a ridge where we stopped for a brief minute. Dellugo was down in the valley below. When I stared down at the baron town, I began to feel a knot in my stomach. It definitely looked like a place to go an die in. I panned my head upwards to see the old fort that was sitting on top of a hill. It looked as if it was falling to pieces as holes were engraved in the walls due to cannon fire during the war. I looked over to Ryan to see that he didn't show one expression what so ever.

We headed down the valley where the entrance to town sat. I became even more hesitant as we trotted into the main street and headed up towards the hotel. I was left to hitch the horses while Ryan headed on in. I felt very uncomfortable as the many eyes of the locals were trained on me. I was very sure that if I didn't watch myself, someone was going to shoot me in the back. I could hear Ryan talking through the window and decided to peer in. He was talking to a young woman wh0 seemed to know him pretty well. I was becoming more interested in this guy. How many people did he know? He sure knew how to get around a lot.

"I didn't think you would return here, Ryan." The woman said as he held him tightly. "Everybody said you were back East. I knew it wasn't true."

"My dear, I'm afraid I've come here on serious business." Ryan replied as he gently pushed the woman aside and placed his hands on her shoulders. "You see, I'm looking for a man who is currently hiding here. He goes by the name Diego. Rumour has it he's hiding in that old fort up on the hill."

"It's true. He is a monstrous pig!" the woman screamed as she turned away from him. "He tried to assault me three times these past few days. Now I'm afraid to go out in the street."

"Well I don't want you to fear." Ryan smiled. "I'm going to bring him in. Well me and my friend outside."

"I think you're both crazy men, Ryan." The woman replied as she glanced out of the window at me. "However, I wish you two good luck. Just so you know though, his men are out on the street every day and night. They all have the ears of a hawk. They are probably aware of you right now."

"Then it's simple." Ryan said as he turned to leave. "They start on me and I'll make them wish that they were never born. Take care of yourself."

I had heard enough and decided to head over to the Saloon. I needed a drink regardless of vermin that resided in there. I took the time to spare a quick glance at the people and noticed that there were scruffy looking bandits everywhere. They were Diego's men and they looked like they were waiting for a brawl. The Saloon itself was just like the one I visited back in Coyote only there were no drunks and no prostitutes. Instead, there were bandits, cattle rustlers and a frightened bartender.

I sat up at the bar and ordered a glass of whiskey when three bandits approached me from behind. I knew they were coming from a distance as I could smell their foul body odours that were infecting my sinuses.

"Hey amigo, you're drinking my whiskey." One bandit snarled as put his dirty, toothless face front of mine. "I don't like it when you assholes drink my whiskey."

"Well it's not your whiskey now so find something else to drink or move along." I sneered as sneakily kept my revolver in view."

"Okay amigo, Stand up!" the bandit said as he began to get hysterical.

I did what the man asked as I got up off the bar stool and stood directly opposite him. I kept my hand hovered over my revolver as he took a few steps back towards the door. Everyone in the room stood aside, forming a circle around us. Everything in the room began to slow to a stop, my eyes locked with his and a cold sweat erupted on the forehead. I nervously licked my lips as the bandit began to make his move. That's when my killer skills kicked in. I rushed for my gun, raised it and fired, hitting the bandit through the chest. The bandit stumbled backwards and crashed through the window behind him with full force. I walked up to the window and observed the street as a crowd gathered around the body. In that short period, I felt big. As I returned to my drink, Ryan stepped into the Saloon with a look of disbelief on his face.

"What the hell are you doing!?" he said. "Are you trying to attract attention!?"

"Nobody ever tells me what I can drink!" I stated as knocked back the whiskey. "That Gringo learnt that lesson the hard way."

"Yeah maybe so, but we need to keep quiet from now on before we get shot on the spot." Ryan said as he huffed away. "Come on let's get moving."

We left the Saloon and returned to the horses. We had to press on as fast as we could as our time was running out. As much as I hated to admit it, Ryan was right. I was causing trouble which was why we had to move. We took the path out of the town which led to a smaller trail. We began to head up the hill towards the fort. I felt my nerves disappear as my hatred filled my body. The adrenaline was intense. I guess you could say that I was excited to bring this man to justice. However, it wasn't going to be as easy as we thought.