Apache gunhawk, p.18
Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font       Night Mode Off   Night Mode

       Apache Gunhawk, p.18

           Monogram Press
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
It was mi- morning when the Noonan’s decided to stop and rest. With the marshal in tow and no sign of any other posse on their trail, they felt easier about slowing the pace. However, Bill Noonan had kept pushing the others to go onward, though, and had not agreed to stopping, earlier where a clear spring and ample grass was available. He was irritable and said little. The thought of out and out murdering the marshal was weighing heavily on his shoulders.

  Brace Coburn, had ridden loosely in the saddle, not having to direct his mount. He had remained quiet and sullen, occasionally glancing back at the old man, bringing up the rear of the caravan. He had kept trying to place him, and it was obvious that the old man had been aware of it, for he would turn his face away sharply every time he caught the lawman looking his way.

  It was just before the rest stop that the marshal, finally, pieced it together. The man was a lot older than the last time he had seen him; much thinner and his face was now covered with beard.

  The travelers had ridden far from the valley and the farm house, now. They had been continually climbing higher and higher into the high country. It was much dryer up here, with little water and grass. The sun was, once again, beating down its burning wrath. Sweat was dripping off the horses and their riders.

  When they had finally pulled to a halt, it was in an open area amid a country side of rocks and scrub brush. The riders sought refuge from the heat in what little shade they could find near some large boulders. After they had rested and drank their allotted amount of water from the canteens, Noonan suggested they mount up and push on.

  “What about him?” Little Bill asked his father, loud enough for all to hear and pointing toward the lawman who had not been allowed to dismount.

  Noonan drew his son aside and spoke lowly. “I don’t want to be too explicit in front of the girl. She could be a potential witness. I’d prefer not to punch Coburn’s ticket with her looking on.” Again, he was not sure he wasn’t just being too squeamish to follow through with his vengeance.

  “Look, Pa,” Little Bill said. “Why don’t we send Tom and the girl on ahead. We can do the job and catch up with them later. That way she can never really be sure what happened to Coburn.”

  The elder Noonan mulled it over for a moment. Damn! The kid had a point there, he thought. There was no way he could weasel out now. The job had to be done. He grimaced and nodded with consent. “Good idea, son. Let’s do it.”

  It had been agreed that Tom and Julie would ride on ahead with Little Bill and the pack horses carrying the supplies and the bank loot. Bill Noonan had explained that he thought it best that the gang split up, just in case there was a posse on their tail. If they didn’t meet up before hand, they would all meet at Contention Wells; a small town, further north. Julie seemed to buy the explanation, but Tom was well aware that this was just a ruse to get Julie out of the way, while Marshal Coburn was being dealt with.

  Little Bill had wanted to stay and had suggested sending Charlie on ahead, but the elder Noonan thought it best that Little Bill keep an eye on the others as well as the bank loot.

  After they had gone, Bill Noonan tapped his holster, nervously, with his fingers. He grimaced and strode toward the lawman atop his horse. He started to draw the pistol slowly, and Coburn could see the reluctance on the outlaw’s face.

  “Somehow, I never thought you to be a cold-blooded murderer,” Coburn said. “I guess I was wrong.”

  “Not murder, Coburn,” he said. “Justice.”

  “Justice is waiting for you too, Noonan. At the end of a rope.”

  Noonan thought about that for a moment. He looked past the big lawman at a lightning deasd lone tree standing a short way off. Yes, he thought. That would be much better than pulling a trigger. “Thanks for the suggestion,” he half grinned wryly.

  “Sid,” he called to the old man.

  Yes, Sid! Coburn thought to himself. He was right. The old man was who he thought he was.

  “Lead Coburn’s horse over to that dead tree. We’re gonna hang him.”

  Charlie Noonan chuckled as the old man took the reins of the lawman’s horse and led him underneath the protruding arm of the tree. He took the rope from the saddle, shook out a loop and tossed it over the arm. He gave it a yank and the brittle tree branch bent slightly. It wasn’t a particularly good choice for a hanging tree, but it would have to do.

  “It’s been a long time, Sid,” the marshal said, keeping his voice low, as the old man settled the loop over his head and drew it tight about his neck.

  “You remember, then?” Sid mumbled. Coburn nodded, his eyes boring into Sid’s.

  “I remember,” the marshal answered with a sigh.

  “How come, you didn’t tell Bill?”

  “What’s going on over there,” the outlaw leader shouted with irritation. “You two having a gab fest?”

  “Just asking him if he has any last requests,” Sid answered, moving away from Coburn’s horse.

  “Well do you, lawman?” Bill asked. “Any last words?”

  Coburn stared down at Sid, glanced up to Bill, then back to Sid. There was apprehension in the old man’s eyes. He waited for Coburn to say it.

  “No,” Coburn said resolutely, staring at Sid. “I’ve got nothing to say. Get it over with.”

  Sid was a bit startled. He looked at the marshal with disbelief. Coburn had had a chance and he didn’t take it. Why not?

  Noonan took a deep breath. “All right.” He started forward; then halted. “Charlie, you do it. Slap that horse out from under him.”

  Charlie grinned and stepped behind the black. “See you in hell, Marshal,” he chuckled gleefully as he slapped Coburn’s mount on the rump.

  The horse bolted forward. The noose slipped tight around Coburn’s neck and his body catapulted out of the saddle. The rope went taut as the big marshal’s weight fell downward, his legs dangling above the ground and his body swinging back and forth while he tried to gasp for air, with the rope only cutting deeper into his throat.

  The outlaws watched in awe at what they had done, listening to the creak of the rope and watching the lawman trying to cling onto one more moment of life. The old tree bent from the weight, but continued to hold Coburn’s feet off the ground.

  Then as if lightning had struck the tree again, the brittle arm of the tree cracked and split off from the trunk. Booming thunder seeming to clap at the same time and the marshal’s body fell to the ground in a heap. He rolled, gasping for air as his fingers tore at the rope around his neck.

  Caught by surprise, the Noonan’s froze not comprehending what had happened. Then as the realization took hold, Bill and Charlie went for their guns. Sid stood catatonic.

  “I wouldn’t do that, gentlemen,” a calm voice warned from behind them. Charlie let his pistol fall back into leather as he looked past his father at the interloper.

  Bill Noonan turned slowly and as he came around, he too, let his pistol drop and raised his hands as he faced the Apache bounty hunter. Hawk’s dark eyes were piercing and menacing. Gunsmoke still trailed from the muzzle of his rifle. He had fired three successive rounds into the old tree branch and had cut it off between the tree trunk and the rope.

  “Now, I suggest you all drop your gunbelts. You two, over there,” he waved the rifle muzzle at Sid and Charlie. “Get over here with your boss after you shuck your hardware.”

  Brace Coburn was still writhing on the ground, while the outlaws were assembled. He had finally managed to sit up, still breathing hard and pulling the noose off over his head. He glared at Hawk. “You certainly took your time.”

  Hawk shrugged. “My mistake. I thought you were already a goner. I guess I should’ve waited a while longer.”

  “Funny,” Coburn rasped and pushed himself to his feet.

  He circled around Bill Noonan, looked him straight in the face and said, “My turn.” With his wrists still tied, he clasped his hands together forming one massive fist and swung them into Noonan’s midsection. The outlaw doubled over but did not f
all down.

  “Where are the others?” Hawk asked.

  Coburn said, “They went on to Contention Springs. There’s three of them. Noonan’s two pups and the girl. It looks like she’s one of them and they’ve got the bank money with them.”

  “That complicates things, a bit,” Hawk said. “Looks like that leaves us with three choices. Either we take these three in as prisoners now or we take them with us, after the others. Either way, I don’t think, its smart.”

  “You said three choices,” Coburn reminded.

  “You can take these jaspers back to Dry Springs while I go on after the others.”

  “Wait a minute,” the marshal fumed. “‘Why don’t you take the prisoners in and I go after the others?”

  “Because, I already captured these three and turned them over to the law. You. The bounty is mine and I aim to get the rest of it, by going after the others myself.”

  “That’s all it means to you, is it?” Coburn said. “The money?”

  “What else is there, Marshal?” the bounty Hunter scoffed. “Honor and duty?” he really didn’t expect an answer.

  “All right, Hawk,” Coburn acquiesced. “You win. Now, untie me and help me tie these fellas up.”


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
Turn Navi Off
Turn Navi On
Scroll Up

Other author's books:

Add comment

Add comment