Trouble In Camp
Esther May assessed the situation: Liluye was down but groaning and moving her legs. She was alive.
The man called Carson sat against the sycamore tree with Liluye’s knife in his belly. His gun hand fell limp as if the revolver were too heavy to hold. A slackened sweaty face and spreading red spot on his shirt told the news. He was dying.
Abuela hadn’t moved. Flecks of apricot pie crust hung at the corner of her mouth. She appeared frozen, but her eyes flickered from the men to Liluye. She would try something soon and probably get shot if Esther May didn’t intervene.
Esther May rose from her knees, causing the other intruder, Rafe, to step toward her and point his gun between her eyes. “You sit right back down there, Missy, and hug that wagon wheel. Stick your hands through the spokes and keep ’em there.”
Esther May’s nervous stomachache gave way to deep anger. This was a re-enactment of the time she and her father were waylaid at camp by bad men. They murdered her dad and abused her. She had recovered, hunted down the men, and killed them—for all the good it did. Her father was still dead, and she was permanently affected.
The time to stop this was now. “I’m not going to do anything you say. You’d better get out of here and take your friend. I don’t want him dying and smelling up my camp.”
“Well, ain’t you a half-broke little filly?” Rafe said. He ran a tongue over his teeth. “I’m gonna enjoy what I came for.”
“Did you come here to be a murderer of women? Because that’s all you’re gonna be, and that’s if you survive.” The longer Esther May could keep him talking, the chances of finding a way out of this mess increased.
Rafe swung the barrel of his pistol between Liluye and Abuela. “The Indians don’t matter. Most folks hereabouts would druther I killed ’em anyway. Now, if you don’t want me to put a bullet in the old gal’s head, get that belt undone.”
Rafe had Esther May’s pistol, and she didn’t have her knife. Unarmed, there was no choice.
She slowly unbuckled her belt but didn’t stop there. Moving and twisting her hips as if she were unwinding a living encirclement, Esther May slid the strap inch by inch through the loops.
Rafe licked his lips and swallowed, his attention on Esther May’s pelvis.
As she pulled the belt from her waist, Esther May kept working it through her hands until she gripped it by the tongue.
She whipped the buckle across Rafe’s nose, and as he turned his head and raised an elbow to his eyes, Abuela jammed the pie tin at his throat like a guillotine.
He stumbled backward and fired, his revolver pointed where he had been facing.
Esther May grabbed a rock the size of a grapefruit. She swung it as hard as she could into Rafe’s temple.
Back To Town
Both saloons in Florence were open but sluggish, with only hard-core drunks present at four in the morning. No one made a fuss as Esther May rode down the street dragging two men by their heels.
She stopped at a house with a wooden sign hanging from the porch fascia. The clean white paint read DOCTOR KROKER in bold letters.
Esther May tied the gelding to the hitching post and banged on the door.
After several knocks, a lamp came on in the house, and the door opened. A man in his late twenties appeared fully dressed. He looked at Esther May and squinted into the gloom behind her.
“What’s that out there?”
“Bring them in. I’ll get my bag.”
“They’re dead. I need you to come with me. Your patient is at my camp.”
The doctor craned his neck and peered into the dim light of the street. “What about them?”
“I think they’re deserters. Let the Army have ’em. A woman needs you. She has a head injury.”
Hold On, Now
“Wait a minute,” the doctor said. “You’re that woman with the cattle and two Indians the town’s been gossiping about, aren’t you?”
“I don’t know about the gossip, but it sounds right.”
“Well, I don’t treat Apaches, men or women.”
Esther May drew in a long breath and slowly exhaled. “See how I brought these guys in, Doctor Kroker? You’re coming to treat my friend. You can drive your buggy, or I can drag you.”
Will Esther May get away with kidnapping the doctor? Don’t forget to leave us your comments.
Here’s an article of three interesting people who suffered head injuries. You will probably recognize at least one of the stories.
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