Friday, November 9, 2007

Billy - 7

The quiet creaking of the barn door awakened Billy. He could see the furtive figure of Tad slipping silently out into the moonlight. He lay back on his blankets and thought about what might be going through the boy’s mind.

After giving him a couple of minutes to get away, Billy quietly rose and slipped on his boots. He wanted to see which way Tad went. The boy hadn't taken the mule so he had to be on foot.

Peering through the door he could see the shadowy figure slowly fading into the dark toward the river. It looked like he was headed to town. Tomorrow would be soon enough for Billy to try and locate him. There weren’t many places that Tad could hide. More than likely he would try to slip on a freight wagon heading for Dodge City. That would be the best place to try and find him.

Billy rose the next morning when he could hear the faint sounds of clattering pans in the adobe up the hill. Lucinda was up and about cooking breakfast. Soon there would be a call to come and get it but in the meantime Billy decided to slip down to the river and see if he could make certain which way Tad’s tracks led.

It took only a few minutes to see that the boy had definitely headed toward town. The crossing down stream was plenty shallow so it shouldn’t have been difficult for Tad to get over to the other side and into Tascosa. He headed up to the house for a breakfast of eggs, beans and tortillas. It sure was nice to have some good home cooking after being on the trail for the last couple of weeks.

After they had eaten, Juan asked, “How do you plan on finding him Billy?”

“Are there any freighters in town?” he asked in return.

“I think Fernandez may be there. He’s taking the last load of wool to Las Vegas. Tom Fanning is there too. He came in yesterday from south of here with a load of buffalo bones. He’ll be heading to Dodge City with them. That’s about it,” said Juan.

“It would probably be easier for him to slip in with Fernandez to Las Vegas but I have a hunch he’s headed for Dodge. I think I’ll see if I can find Fanning and have him watch out for the boy. I might even see if he’ll let me ride with him to Dodge. Is it OK if I leave that old mule with you? In fact he’s yours. Maybe you can put some meat on him.”

Finding Tom Fanning was no problem. There were five wagons loaded with the bleached white buffalo bones already hitched and lined up in front of the livery. Tom was bellering something about how long it took to shoe a mule to a mountain of a man that could only be Henry Kimball. Henry was the first white man to settle in Tascosa. He had set up shop in 1876 shortly after Romero completed his rambling adobe.

Billy walked up to Tom and said, “Hey, old man. You look like you’ve been robbing graves with all those bones.”

“Well, Billy McCall. How are you boy? I ain’t seen you since you got into that little scrape in Las Vegas a couple of years ago. What have you been up to?”

“I’ve been keeping my nose clean and my saddle polished Tom – just bouncing around a few outfits chasing cows,” replied Billy. “Can you walk over to the store with me a minute and let Henry finish his job without you yelling at him?”

“Sure, Billy. What’s up?”

The two walked down the street past McCormick’s saloon to the general store. Billy filled in Tom about Tad and asked if he’d seen the boy.

Tom said, “Yeah, I seen him. He doesn’t know I did but I seen him. He’s in that third wagon under a pile of bones. I thought I’d get up the trail a ways and then surprise him. I was gonna make sure he had a good walk back to town.”

“Tom, I think this boy is in some trouble and I want to help him. Is it all right if I tag along with you toward Dodge and we’ll flush him out tonight when we make camp?”

“Sure, Billy. Have you got your gear ready? I’d like to head out just as soon as Henry gets that mule shod.”

“Give me a few minutes here in the store Tom. I’m a little low on a couple of things but I’ll probably be ready before your mule is.”


Janie said...

Poet- I just finally had time to read all the chapters. Thus far, muy bueno, my friend! I love it!

WomanHonorThyself said...

ahhhhhhh keep em comin!