Western Short Story
Tellie Comanado and Roby Ward, half-brothers and twice removed, as they would often add, had come off the grounds off the High Calib Ranch on the outskirts of Cummings, a small, but zesty town in mid-Colorado, bound for a day and night of freedom, fun and frolic. They had enjoyed the mission several times in their 18th years, especially with some casual town girls and then again, with some of the ladies of the Comfort Hill Saloon. It was early in the day and both of them noted two riders galloping at high speed toward the lower foot hills of the Crease Mountains.
Roby, with conjecture, delivered his observation, saying, “Looks like they got run out of town before they had a day of it under their belts. I hope we have better luck than them boys.’” He had pointed off to the pair of riders hell bent on separation from some unknown pursuit, dust flowing in parts of their trail, like a storm chasing a storm.
It was a surprise and a half when they entered Cummings and the sheriff, Ben Ogilvey, pointed at them and said, “You two boys are now part of the posse to ride down two gents who just robbed the Cummings Bank a bit ago.” The excitement was ringing in his voice, at a pitch higher than normal, and he was gathering men for a posse and pointing to others not yet in the ranks, bent on doing his best at his quickest.
Roby said, “We saw a pair of riders dusting the trail off towards the mountains when we were way outside of town. They was really flying like they could climb the whole damned mountain out there right to the tippety top.” He added, “Yes, sir, right to the tippety top.”
“Well,” added the sheriff, “it’s a damned lucky thing you came along when you did. They may have had a head start, but we now know where they’re headed. Glad you two boys could join us. Line up with the rest and get sworn in. I’m sorry to break up your stay in town, but we need your help and I’m taking it. “
He turned to the posse and said, “All raise your hands as being legally sworn in, and good luck to all. Let’s go, and follow the gents from the High Calib Ranch. I trust you all know Roby and Tellie, and they give us a head start on this chase.”
They were off in a clutch of dust as two town girls saw two close friends not even getting a few minutes to talk and walk.
Out on he trail a few hours later, at a falling-stone break in a cliff face, one of the posse yelled out, ”Hey, Sheriff, they split up here, but it looks like one horse is heavier now, like the men have doubled up riding and the other horse has gone off on another trail free as a bird.”
“All right,” said the sheriff, “let’s follow the heavier tracks and see if that nag might slow down or even give way with the extra load it’s carrying. Bound to break down on this type of rocky track, tough enough with a single rider. All of you spread out and don’t miss a trick. We got some tricky gents leading us on this ride right up against the whole mountain. Looks like they probably know their way around up here and have got a place already picked out to hide out or make a stand.”
He kept shaking his head the more he looked at toward the top of the mountain, looming over all of them, tall as clouds in a reach for the heavens.
Roby pulled Tellie off to one side and said in a low whisper, “I think we got something else on hand, Tell, and we ought to keep our eyes open for boot tracks any place along the line where there are more scattered rocks from the old fall of stone than there is the ground of this here Earth.”
Tellie replied, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking, that they know where the loose horse is bound to go, like they’ve been up here before, maybe leaving some horse feed for it in a special place?”
“Exactly what I was thinking,” responded Roby. Lyle and Ely, them two right off our own spread, the pair off them, always whispering and talking low like they got the goods on just about everybody around them and are sharing it all. I wouldn’t doubt it for a minute.”
Tellie put in his bit; “Them two’s tight as winks, for sure. and spend more time together like they can’t stand any of the other hands. It all makes me think of other times we went into town and never saw them two, like they got another special place to go to visit, or to meet somebody else, and way up in here someplace that nobody knows about.”
“So,” added Toby, “we keep our eyes out for boot tracks and not for horse tracks like the posse is chasing down. Just think how slick this is, them having some place up here and thinking of robbing the bank and how to shake people or posse off their trail. Sounds just like one of them old-time stories the old-timers tell around the campfire.”
Sure enough, up came the tracks of a pair of boots in-tight against the mountain face, not easy to follow, often yards apart where stones or rocky flats were stepped on, but visible to the pair of searchers with their dogged determination.
And it was Tellie who held up his hand an hour or so later as they were approaching a huge cluster of fallen face cliff, him holding the tip of a finger under his nose signifying the smell of a distinctive odor.
Toby did not detect the odor, but had unlimited trust in his pal’s ability to do so. He nodded his appreciation.
They saw four horses tied up at a rail, and heard fun and chatter, some of it female squeals, coming from s small cabin set tight against the face of the cliff as if not another chunk of cliff face would ever fall again.
And there issued the clinks of coin being thrown with abandon inside the cabin, tinkling and clinking their metallic existence that sounded like Saturday night fever in good old Cummings, Colorado, right after the bank was robbed, and on a Saturday to boot.
The pair of lone searchers, away from the posse, agreed silently to wait until dawn to make their move. They settled into sleep, in a rut between stone mounds, against the cliff, under the stars, on a warm summer night, right next door to a pair of robbers from their own ranch.
Dawn woke them, along with more coins being flung about in a morning repeat of the evening before. The clinks and the laughter were there but hardly as boisterous this time.
Roby and Tellie readied themselves, guns drawn, as the robbers, minus any weapons, came out to stretch in the morning air, and were trussed and mounted on two joined horses, before their women were even dressed and came outside to see the surprising and nearly noiseless arrest which had taken place.
Toby advised the ladies, “We’re taking all the horses, girls, and we’ll tell the sheriff of the nearby posse whom I’m sure will authorize two young men you can ride double with back to town. Saturday has been taken care of and this is Sunday. You might even make church if they hurry.
He yanked on the tie rope, bound for Cummings.