The darkness that night was overwhelming as the moon’s rays danced,
casting shadows on the barn. The riders sat at the table in the bunkhouse,
exhausted, but protectively watching Lou, asleep on Kid’s bed. After
watching Kid pace for two days, they finally got him to sit, and give the
floor a rest. Jimmy was cleaning his revolvers; Cody playing with his hat,
Ike resting from his last run; Noah would be back by nightfall, and Buck
was waiting for his ride the next morning. Rachel sat out on the porch
drinking coffee and worrying about her friend and companion. The past
two days had been gut wrenching.
Thursday, three days earlier
The pounding of the hooves on the plains spooked the horses in the
corral. Jimmy wasn’t due until sundown, but he made it by noon. Kid
jumped up on Lollipop, and prepared for the hand off. The two horses
raced as their riders made the perfect relay.
"Dust storm comin’ Kid. You’ll have to try and out run it." Jimmy yelled.
Kid nodded, threw the satchel over his saddle horn, and was off riding
into the hot and windy afternoon.
"Ride safe, Kid," Cody yelled as the Kid faded into the bright sun. "Hey
Jimmy. How was your ride?"
"I think the dust was racing us, but we beat it. Big storm comin’ in."
"I’ll take your horse."
"Thanks Cody," Jimmy said as he handed his blazing palomino off to the
Cody headed toward the barn when he noticed Lightning stealing hay
from a recuperating Katy. Kid had just left for Blue Creek, and Jimmy
and him were the only ones at the station, besides Rachel preparing
dinner in the house. Teaspoon, Buck, Ike, and Noah were all out on some
company business in St. Joe, and Lou had supposedly gone into town
to get something for Rachel. What was Lightning doing back?
"Jimmy!!! Hey Jimmy!" Cody yelled as he dropped the saddle and ran
toward the bunkhouse. Cody ripped open the door and got a mad glare
from a tired rider that had barely gotten enough energy to get atop the
"Cody, what is it? Something?" Jimmy commented as he slid his hat from
his face and looked in Cody’s direction.
"Well, uh, Lou went into town a few hours ago for Rachel. She should
have been back by now."
"She probably got caught up somewhere…or maybe someone needed
help." He answered as he readjusted himself.
"No, Jimmy, Lightning’s back, but Lou ain’t."
"What ya’ mean ‘Lou ain’t’?"
"Just what I said, didn’t ya hear? Lou ain’t back!" Cody answered a little
too defensively. Lately he’d been getting sick of everyone ignoring
everything that came out of his mouth.
Jimmy sat up quickly and slid down the side of the bunk. He grabbed his
"Cody, go saddle the horses, I’ll go tell Rachel." Cody ran to the barn
and saddled the horses. Jimmy ran up the porch steps into the house…
"Yeah, Jimmy, in here."
"Rachel, Cody says Lou went into town a few hours ago."
"Yeah, I asked her to pick up a few things. Why?"
"Well, she should have been back by now. Cody says Lightning’s back
and Lou ain’t, so we’re going after her. She might be hurt. We’ll be back
as soon as we can. When Teaspoon comes, tell him. If we ain’t back by
dark, have him send someone into town to town after Cody and me."
That was it. Jimmy ran out of the house, jumped on a fresh horse, and he
and Cody were off toward Sweetwater.
"Send someone? Teaspoon won’t be able to hold them back," Rachel
commented to herself.