Silhouette of an Indian firing an arrow imposed over a picture of the forest.

Clyde Killed a Helpless Apache

At the shot, Esther May screamed and turned away.

C.J.’s breath left as suddenly as a belly punch. He glanced from the murdered Apache to Clyde Stinger, now leaning his rifle against a pine tree.

“ARE YOU CRAZY? You don’t just kill a man.”

“You’re right, boy. But you kill any creature that wants to kill you first. Every critter that lives in this country that ain’t a white man will bite you if you’re in range.” He pointed at the dead man. “His kind is particularly poisonous. That’s why there’s a bounty on ‘em.”


C.J. turned to Esther May for support, but she slumped to the ground behind a tree, her back to the men. If she was trying to control her stomach, he understood. His was attempting to upchuck its contents and wouldn’t be able to tolerate a scalping.

He needed a diversion. “That wasn’t smart, shooting like that. Any Indians in the country would have heard it.”

Clyde straightened, pulled the bottom of his homespun shirt down and reached for his knife. “Ain’t no Indians around here. I’ve been tracking you by your clattering noise. Indians would’ve been all over you by now.”

Clyde’s Wrong

An arrow hit Clyde in his upper-left chest.

Where had that come from? One minute the trapper was dressed normal, the next he had an arrow sticking out of him. C.J. didn’t see it fly in. It hit Clyde with a soft thump, no louder than swatting a fly.

Clyde roared, grabbed the arrow and pulled. He held only the shaft in his hand, the arrowhead stayed lodged in his chest. His shirt turned red with a growing stain of blood.

Another arrow went into his breastbone with a deep thud. He staggered a step backward with a grunt.

C.J. followed Clyde’s eyes as they looked past the wood sticking out of his torso toward an Indian. Clyde opened his mouth but collapsed without a sound. Bloody bubbles appeared on his lips and at his nostrils from his last gasp.

Turn Of Events

The Indian approached, his mocassined feet silent, his bowstring flexed with another missile.

C.J. felt the native’s dark eyes flicker over him and Esther May. He couldn’t see the black orb’s track but knew that the Indian had located and accounted for the two of them.

C.J.’s muscles froze and so did time. He could not move and watched the events unfold with heart-tearing sluggishness.

The Apache’s eyes focused on C.J. The bow swung in his direction. The taut string released to propel the arrow.

C.J. saw the killing shaft in minute detail flying through the air toward him. MOVE—MOVE—MOVE.

In exquisite awareness, C.J. knew that the arrow would strike him even as he leaned sideways. As time crawled, his racing mind noted the wet warmth spreading down his legs.


Clear through. The arrow struck C.J.’s right side, belly button high, and protruded five inches out his back. Somehow, he was on the ground sitting in a damp spot.

Stupid. Could he die looking more stupid?

The Apache’s laugh choked short as Esther May flung herself at him, growling like an animal, her hands tearing at his throat.

In a second he had her face down in the dirt. He produced a rawhide string from behind his belt and tied her hands behind her back. He stood and kicked her in the ribs. A puff of dust blew away from in front of her mouth as her lungs suffered the blow. Another string tied her feet.

The warrior left Esther May groaning and went to straddle the trapper’s body. The Indian spread his arms, threw his head back and emitted a series of high yelping screams. With a circular flash of his blade, he took Clyde’s scalp.

Facing the dead Indian, he held up the grisly trophy. “Look now, shik’is. I have Stinger’s scalp, his gun, and his knife. It is a good day.”

C.J.’s wounded. It looks like the end of the trail for him. Will Esther May survive? Leave a comment now.

The warrior used an interesting word, shik’is. There is a fascinating difference in the way things are identified in different languages. Check out some of the changes here.

To read the series, click on September 2017, in the Archive list and start with Tales Old Roy Told.

Writing Fiction is published on Wednesdays.

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