The Return of Wildcat Kitty and the Cyclone KidFranklin D. Lincoln / Actions & Adventure / Romance & Love / Western
THE RETURN OF WILDCAT KITTY AND THE CYCLONE KID
THE RETURN OF WILDCAT KITTY AND THE CYCLONE KID
Copyright © 2013 by Franklin D. Lincoln
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
History, Legends and Memories
The shooter had been crouching in the cramped quarters of the church bell tower for over two hours, ever since he had crawled up there, under the shadow of darkness, just before dawn. From there he had a good view of the street in downtown Bisbee, the railroad tracks, where the early morning train would arrive, and a clear view of the platform surrounding the railroad station.
The sun had risen in the east behind him and sunlight flooded the street in front of him. The train had arrived on time; steam hissing from its brakes, bell clanging and whistle blowing, signaling its arrival. The shooter shifted his body, trying to get a little more relaxed and letting his circulation flow a bit easier. He eased the barrel of his rifle out onto the edge of the parapet. .He firmly braced the weapon against the sill and reached up to adjust the scope that was mounted just above the rear sight. He rotated the lens until a view came into focus. The shield of a United States Marshal’s badge filled the entire circle. He pulled back on the mechanism and the image shrank revealing the gray shirt it was pinned to. The man wearing the shirt was a young man in his early thirties. He was lean and trim, with broad shoulders and stood just under six feet tall. The gray shirt was bloused at the shoulders. A black string tie appeared from beneath his collar. He had a round boyish face. A shock of brown hair appeared beneath the black low crowned black hat with a flat brim that he wore. Around his waist was a shiny black dual holster rig, carrying black handled pistols on each hip. His name was Matt Starr.
The marshal was not his target, but if he got in the way, his death would just be collateral damage. The shooter let out a breath, lowered the rifle barrel and raised his head above his cover and scanned the entire scene before him.
The street was filled with townspeople. Excitement was in the air. Distinguished looking men in dark suits stood on the platform in front of the railroad station. Matt Starr was holding them back from the edge of the platform where passengers would be departing from the train. A large banner was spread high across the street; one end fastened to the second floor of the hotel and the other end fastened to the roof of the courthouse building. In big bold letters, it read: “BISBEE WELCOMES ITS OWN GOVERNOR STANTON, HOME”
The shooter watched expectantly as the young marshal settled the crowd down and motioned to the well-dressed dignitaries to take their places on the platform.
As Matt Starr began to turn toward the waiting train, the shooter lowered his head, focused his scope on the steps and rail of the car that the governor would be making his appearance through. The opening loomed large and clear in his scope. The cross hairs of his sights rested at about chest level of a man ascending those three steps that would lead Governor Stanton straight to Hell this day.
He had to try to contain his excitement when he saw the moving shadow inside the coach. After all, he was a professional, he told himself. He had done this type of thing many times before, so why should this time be any different? But, it was. This was a governor. The most important man he had ever assassinated. This was big. And, yes he was excited. His palms were sweaty and his rifle barrel wavered just slightly as the first glimpse of white hair appeared in the entrance way of the coach.
Governor Stanton was tall. Taller than the shooter had expected. He would have to shift his rifle barrel slightly upward. As he made his move, Matt Starr stepped into his line of vision, just momentarily, but just enough to force the shooter to readjust as the governor took another step downward. The shooter’s excitement got the best of him and he hurried the shot.
The bullet pinged off the rail near Stanton’s shoulder and almost singed his face as the spent pellet flew past him. Starr leaped forward, hurling the governor backward sprawling him flat on his back in the corridor of the coach. He covered the man with his own body and held him there for several seconds until he was sure there was no more shooting.
At one time, he had wanted to be a famous outlaw like Billy the Kid. He had bought himself fancy guns and practiced shooting at bottles and tin cans and thought he was pretty good Then with his friends, Bud Gorman, Pete Gibbons and Garth Pearson, he had decided to become a famous outlaw leader. He called himself Frankie the Kid.
He soon found that the outlaw life was not what he thought it was and he lacked the sand it took to be a real owlhoot. So now he was, once again, just plain Francis Mossman, a kid from East Sedalia, where he and his childhood friend Bud Gorman should have stayed and finished school.
Now they were just down on their luck cowboys, grubbing away for wages on whatever broken down ranch would give them a day’s pay.
Fall was fast approaching and the boys had found work on a small spread called the Circle Y. They had been rebuilding fences for a week when they learned the awful truth about being an outlaw, Once an outlaw; no matter how unsuccessful you were, you were still an outlaw and you had a price to pay the law.
It had been a quiet day like several before it. The boys were busy with the fences and didn’t notice what was happening until it was too late.
The sound of galloping hoofs broke the stillness of the afternoon air. The boys turned toward the sound, but the hoard of riders had already thundered over the ridge and were barreling down the hillside toward them. Lariats were snaking through the air. Before they knew what was happening, ropes had been pulled tight, pinning their arms to their sides. They were yanked off their feet and thrown viciously to the ground. The horsemen wheeled their mounts and rode off at a gallop dragging their catches behind them.
The whip cracked sharply, almost as loud as a gunshot behind the left ear of the lead horse. The blinder behind his eye, prevented him from seeing the source of this sudden sound, but he had heard it many times before and knew just what it meant. The dual tongues of the whip tip lashed out and clipped him behind the ears. He heard the stage driver shout “Heeaah” and the animal picked up its pace, running faster at a full gallop. Its teammate beside him had no choice but to pick up the pace and follow suit. The two teams harnessed behind them had to increase their speed along with them.
Dust churned up beneath their galloping hooves and their iron shoes clanged against the stone bed of the winding road. Leathers creaked and irons clanked against metal as singletree and yokes stressed and pulled under the massive strain of the chase.
Up on top of the big concord stage the driver, a big burly man with heavy graying beard stood high in the boot of the carriage, lashing out repeatedly with his whip urging his sixup team onward, while still handling the reins of all six horses in his big bear paw hands.
To his left in the boot, a much younger man: tall and thin with a large flat crowned hat, long flowing mustache and overalls held up by cross strapped suspenders was turned twisted in the boot, half lying across the roof of the stage coach roof, his shotgun braced against the side rail for support and firing at their pursuers.
The Leadville Stage was carrying a hundred thousand dollars in gold and it had been anticipated that outlaws may try to hold it up. Additional protection had been requested. There were two more guards stationed on the roof of the coach. Both were Pinkerton detectives wearing long body length dusters and bowler hats. They both had rifles to their shoulders and were firing at the outlaws coming fast behind them.
There were at least twenty outlaws in pursuit. They had hit them when they rounded the last bend and it had been a chase now for almost a quarter of a mile. The dust was so thick it was hard for the guards to see what they were shooting at. Equally so for the outlaws, but with so much lead flying about, it was only a matter of time before both Pinkertons caught a lead pellet and pitched off the side of the coach into the dust.
A hoard of horses plunged passed their bodies as they gained distance on the slowing coach and the faltering teams of horses.
The outlaws were just about to overtake the lumbering stagecoach, when all of a sudden, off to their left riders appeared on the top of a ridge. At first they were silhouetted against the upper half of the early morning sun as its golden sphere emanating shards of dazzling beams, blotting out the purple and reds of early dawn. There were five riders spaced at even intervals apart. Without a word to each other, they all seemed to know instinctively what to do. They drew guns and urged their horses down the incline toward the trail below.
At first the outlaws had not seen the oncoming riders. They had just about brought the stage to a halt and was circling it when the oncoming riders opened fire.
Stunned, the outlaws spun their horses around to face the oncoming threat. What they saw chilled them with fear. They began to fire furiously and indiscriminately. Their shots going wild with fear. Their horses colliding with each other as they all tried to make an escape.
Charging down the hill before them was none other than the most feared gang in the west: The Wildcat Gang. In the center and in the lead was none other than The Cyclone Kid himself. Reins were in his teeth. A six shooter was in his right hand and a Winchester was in his left He fired both alternately, cocking his Winchester one handed with a wrist action and firing again.
To his left, astride a magnificent big gray stallion, was Araphoe Brown and next to him was Chief Two Owls.
To Cyclone’s right were his grand children, Jeremy Carlin and Wildcat Kitty, a legend in the making.
They all had pistols out firing rapidly as they bore down on the surprised outlaws. They were only half way down the hill when all hell broke out behind them.
More riders appeared on the ridge above. Sunlight glinted off tin stars on vests. The sheriff’s posse! There were at least a dozen of them! Kitty spun around in her saddle until she was riding backward on her pinto. Her Stetson fell off and, held by the chin strap, draped down the back of her red and white checkered shirt. Her long auburn hair spilled out onto her shoulders. She fired repeatedly, plucking hats from several heads. The possemen began to draw rein and slow their pace. Kitty giggled and swiveled back around in the saddle, turning her attention back to the outlaws.
The Wildcats were almost upon the outlaws by now and firing had subsided. The outlaws seeing the posse, also approaching, knew they were done for. They quickly threw down their weapons and raised their hands.
The Wildcats had known there would be more outlaws holding up the stage than they could handle themselves, so they knew they would need the help of the law, just this one time. With the sheriff and his posse hot on their tail, they figured they could get them to follow them to the stage holdup just in time to foil the outlaws.
Seeing the oncoming posse riding in to take charge, The Wildcats waved tauntingly to the sheriff, spurred their horses and rode off, seeking new adventures and justice in the west. Such was the Legend of The Wildcat Gang and its leaders, Wildcat Kitty and the Cyclone Kid.
Little hands closed the magazine. The paper cover said “Beadle’s Dime Novels” Below it was a picture of cowboys on horses and a stagecoach. An additional title said “Featuring The Cyclone Kid and The Leadville Stagecoach Robbery by Ned Zane.”
“Golly, I’d sure like to grow up to be like Wildcat Kitty,” Little Cathy said. She was a little girl of ten years old. She had blonde, curly hair, blue eyes and the freckles were almost gone from around her little pug nose. She was still gazing longingly at the worn cover of the old book.
“Oh, she’s nothin’ but a girl. Everybody knows girls can’t do nothin’.” Her brother Jimmy taunted, grabbing for the book. Cathy pulled it away and tucked it into the rear pocket of her bib overalls.
“Can to,” Cathy retorted. “How about how she rode backward shootin’ at the sheriff?”
“Aw that’s just a story,” Jimmy said. He was twelve years old and liked acting like the older and smarter brother. “Everyone knows you can’t do that. Besides, The Cyclone Kid is the real hero of the story.”
“Well, so is Wildcat Kitty.”
The two youngsters were seated on the floor of the hayloft in the front part of the barn. The patter of hard rain drilled on the roof and it was cozy in there. The children often climbed up there to play on rainy days.
“The title says The Cyclone Kid. So there, smarty.”
“Doesn’t mean she’s not a hero too,” Cathy pouted.
“She can’t be a hero,” Jimmy sneered. “She’s a girl.”
“She can be a heroine then.”
“She still can’t do the things that are in that book,” Jimmy sneered.
“If she can’t. Then, neither can Cyclone. I’ll betcha no one can ride a horse with reins in their teeth and shoot a rifle one handed. Come on. Who’s exaggerating now?”
“Ah, shut up and give me the book back.”
“No. Not until you’re nice to me.”
“I ain’t never gonna be nice to you. Besides, I’m gonna tell Grandpa that you been in his trunk and you took that book from it.”
Over in the corner of the loft was a large ornate trunk with fancy lettering on the side. At the moment the lid was standing open and several clothing items were draped over the outside edges where the children had left them a bit disheveled when they rummaged through the contents. They weren’t looking for anything in particular, they were just curious. They had been told to leave Grandpa’s trunk alone. It was no business of theirs. The trunk has sat there untouched for many years and had acquired layers of dust, cobwebs and hayseed that had drifted in from the three bay areas that comprised the rest of the barn for hay storage. The loft had never been used for any such purpose. Only for general storage of items kept for whatever reason or no reason at all. This was what made it an ideal play area on rainy days and often on days that were not rainy at all, but just a refuge for little ones to play and imagine themselves in another realm.
Cathy and Jimmy hadn’t found much that interested them; just some old suits, textbooks, newspaper clippings, and some dime novels about The Cyclone Kid. The pictures on the cover of these paper novels were alluring and the children were immediately intrigued. They pulled one out and crawled under the large window that filled the peak of the barn front. Enough light would filter through, even on a rainy day, that they could see to read the pages. The print was large and the reading level was simple enough for them.
Occasionally, they would be able to look out the window to see if anyone was coming. They wouldn’t want to get caught having been in Grandpa’s trunk.
From here, they had a clear view of the barnyard. The tractor and hay wagon sat idle, hitched together in the driveway; rain pelting down on its load of bundled corn stalks. It was late August and rain was prevalent in the Midwest. The men folk would not be able to work the fields today so Cathy’s and Jimmy’s dad, uncle and two older boy cousins would probably be working in the granary, across the barnyard, shucking corn.
Across the road was a white frame house. A 1934 Packard sat in the driveway. The children’s mother, aunt and her daughter took care of the house and meals. Grandpa hardly ever worked with the men anymore. He spent most of his time with Grandma who had been ailing for quite some time.
“You took it, too,” Cathy came back. “You’ll be in just as much trouble as me, if Grandpa finds out. We’d better put the book back and close the trunk up.” She got up and scampered over to the corner. She put the book back where it was. Flipped the clothes back in, dropped the lid and turned the latch.
“We’d better not do this again,” Cathy almost whispered as she said it. It was almost conspiratorial.
“Well…..” Jimmy started. “Cyclone was an exciting guy. Maybe once in a while, we could sneak another look.”
“Forget about Cyclone. I’ll make you a deal. You forget about Cyclone and I’ll forget about Wildcat Kitty. Besides, they’re not real. They couldn’t do those things anyhow.”
“I betcha he coulda held up that Leadville stage better’n any body.”
The Leadville stage was just a dot on the horizon, practically blotted out by the half sphere of the rising morning sun behind it. The winding ribbon of road before it was half shadowed in purple from the shadows of mountains on each side of the valley. Dew glistened on the scrub grass alongside the trail. There was still an early morning chill in the air.
Two riders sat in their saddles, keeping their mounts under control, waiting and watching as the dot grew larger, beginning to take shape and eventually showing a trail of dust behind it.
One rider was a big man. He wore a tall gray, sweat stained crowned and broad brimmed sombrero, a long gray duster, a polka dot bandana and sat a big chestnut mare. He was slumped over in the saddle, his shoulders bent and pinched together. His head was bowed and his eyelids were half closed. He wheezed as he breathed rhythmically. This was the legendary Cyclone Kid. He was waiting to stop the Leadville stage.
The other rider was smaller in stature. Sitting astride a paint horse and wearing a bright red and white checked shirt. Tufts of auburn hair spilled out beneath the black Stetson pushed back on her head. “Are you all right, Grandpa?” Kitty Carlin asked. Kitty Carlin had become known as the outlaw, Wildcat Kitty.
Cy Carlin didn’t respond. He merely snorted. Maybe a half snore.
“Grandpa,” Kitty repeated. “Are you all right?” She reached out and shook his shoulder.
He jerked awake, though he was only dozing and only half drifted off. “Yeah. Yeah. Sure, girl. What d’ya think?”
“I think you were going to sleep,” Kitty chuckled.
“Well, if you think so, sweetie,” Cyclone said. He pulled himself erect in the saddle. His face brightened and he smiled at his grand -daughter. “Then, I guess, maybe I was.”
“Stage is coming now, Grampa,” Kitty said, lifting her chin and pointing down the trail. It was completely visible now. The teams were moving along at a moderate pace. There was a driver only. No guard on this run. “You’d better get ready, Grandpa. It’ll be here in another minute or two.”
“You know, Kitty, it’s gettin’ tougher and tougher for your old Grandpa to get ready anymore. This waitin’ along lonely trails to stop stagecoaches is gettin’ tiresome. I’m tellin’ ya right now, I think your old Grandpa is getting’ too old for this nonsense.”
“And I’m getting tired of hearing you complaining. It’s too late now. Here’s the stage.” Kitty gigged her paint out into the middle of the trail. Cyclone groaned and rode out beside her. He raised his arm holding his big bear like palm upward, signaling the stage driver to halt.
The driver immediately pulled back on the reins and shoved his boot against the brake. The horses reared and snorted, pulling against the leathers and the frozen wheels slid in the rutted trail. Dust billed up from coach and flailing horses hooves. “Whoa! Whoa!” The driver called to his team. He was leaning as far back as he could. His body was almost stretched straight. He was thin as a rail anyways. The curved handles of his long gray mustache was the only semblance of shape he had to him. His battered hat sat low over what was left of his gray streaked hair.
As the coach came to a halt and the driver straightened himself in the boot, he said, “Hiya Cy.” He nodded to Kitty. “Hello, Sugar. You sure get purtier ever time I see you” Then back to Cy. “Shoulda been lookin’ for ya about now. Caught me goin’ a little fast. Stopped off a few minutes for a little nip. Needed to make up a little time.”
“This won’t take long, Hank. Just toss it down as usual,” Cyclone said.
Hank reached beneath his feet and retrieved a canvas bag. He hefted it. “Not as much as usual,” he said and tossed it down on the ground.
“That’s all right.” Cy said as Kitty hopped off her pony to pick up the bag. She also handed a large thick, sealed brown envelope to Hank. He glanced at it and smiled. It was addressed to Reverend Peter Thomas, Leadville Community Church. He stuffed it into the mail bag.
“Hope to see you again next month, Cy,” Hank said, lifting the leathers and releasing the brake. The stage wheels started to roll forward.
“Maybe,” Cyclone grunted.
“Been good seein’ ya, these past coupla months,” Hank said. “Pop has some other reglars he trusts, but I sure do like seein’ you around. Been a sweet deal ever since Pop Dawson moved in. Leadville stage ain’t never been held up, except in those dime novels they write about you. Course everybody knows they ain’t true. Hell, I cain’t read ‘em anyhow.” He slapped the reins and moved his teams on.
Kitty had mounted her pinto by the time Hank rounded the next bend. He waved to them without turning to look back.
Kitty opened the canvas bag, Inside was packaged mail addressed to Robert Locke, General Delivery, Leadville, Colorado. As far as she knew, no such mail would ever be delivered as addressed.
Such was the real life story of The Cyclone Kid and The Leadville stage.