But for the Grace, of Grace

Submitted into Contest #96 in response to: Write about a character who has to rely on the hospitality of strangers.... view prompt

13 comments

Western Fiction

The fog was so thick that I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. My head and the hole in my shoulder was excruciatingly painful. I'd been shot before but not like this, never like this. Sitting in the saddle, with my one good arm and blood oozing down my face, I managed to tie myself tight. I had to get help. I could feel myself slipping, falling, losing my grip. The good book said that death rides a pale horse, or was it a pale rider on a horse and his name was death. I can’t remember anymore; it was so long ago. I have to get help, somehow, but where? The fog is so thick. Sleep. Rest. Darkness.


***


The light hurt my head as I tried to open my eyes and take in my surroundings.


“Mister. Hey mister. You awake?”


“Who…who are you? Where am I?”


“Momma he’s awake. I’m Katy, and you’re in my bed. What's your name?”


“My name's…I don’t know. My throat feels like it’s on fire, is there any water?”


“Katy, get the man a glass of water.”


“Yes momma. Mister I don't know, this is momma.”


“Katy, water. My name’s Grace. Don’t try to move, you’ll tear out my stitches. You want to tell me what you did to get yourself shot?”


“I…” The pain in my shoulder began to throb. Why can't I remember. Who am I? What have I done? My heartbeat was rapid and I couldn’t breathe.


“Easy mister. Take it easy.”


“Are you an angel? Am I dead? Why can't I remember?” That same old feeling came back and engulfed me. Sleep.


“You just need some rest.”


Darkness.


***


Two men sat by the fire deep in the pines. I couldn’t make out what they were saying, but I knew that they were the Cooper brothers. The same Cooper brothers that robbed the bank in Nacogdoches. I had been trailing them for the last week and finally caught up with them. The chase would end tonight. After dark, when they slept, I would sneak in to their camp. I thought it odd that they were so out in the open, making no attempt to conceal their location. Is this a trap? Or do they think that they are in the clear?


“Momma what's wrong with him?


“He has been shot up pretty bad honey, plus he’s got the fever.”


“Why's he moving around so much?”


“The fever's causing him to have nightmares.”


It was just before dawn as I eased my horse down and around their camp in order to remain unobserved by the fire light. I needed to find their horses, that way if something went wrong, they wouldn’t be able to flee. They had their mounts picketed in a copse of pine trees, along the Sabine River not far away. There was good grass to graze on, so I snuck in and untied their reins, allowing them to be able to run at the sound of gunfire. I crept forward until I was in the clear when I noticed it was a trap. My shoulder burned as I heard the shot fired from behind me. I turned and emptied my six guns as I stumbled my way toward where I left my horse. They were still firing blindly in the distance as I managed to gain the saddle. Something hit me hard in the head as the dew turned to a river of red and a dense fog began to cover the low-lying land.


“Ahhh.” I jumped out of bed reaching for my guns before falling back in agonizing pain.


“Damn it, Mister, you’re bleeding again. Lay still. Katy, go get those bandages I had ya make and grab my sewin kit.”


“Yes ma’am. Is he going to be alright?”


“Not if he don’t quit moving. Now do as I told ya. Mister, I don’t know what ya done, and I know that ya got your demons to fight, but if you don’t quit this tossen and turnin, they’re gonna kill you.”


“My guns…where are my guns? They’re coming after me. You’re in danger as long as I’m here. I’ll leave…”


“Your guns are hanging by the door, but you’re not going anywhere in your condition. So lay back and sleep. Try to rest.”


Darkness


***


“Momma, how is he?”


“The worst is over; his fever has broken. Now he just needs time to heal.”


“Momma?”


“Yes Katy?”


“Is Mister a good man?”


“I don’t know baby. I hope so, I think so, but I don’t know.”


“If you don’t know, why did you help him?”


“Because he needed help, and if you're able to, you should help everyone you can. In this life Katy, there are good people and bad people, people who will give you their last penny and people who will rob you blind. We help those who need it regardless, because what if one day you need help? Don’t you want someone to help you?”


“Grace?”


“Yes Mister?”


“May I have some water?”


“Of course. Katy.”


“Thank you, Katy... and Grace…I think I’m a good man."


“We'll see mister, now sleep, rest.”


Darkness


***



The fog was thick and I was bleeding badly. I was having trouble thinking. My head, something's wrong with my head. I took a spare shirt out of my saddle bags and stuffed it in and around the wound in my shoulder in order to stop the bleeding. It wasn’t working; I was getting weaker. I could hear yelling from somewhere behind me but I couldn’t make out the words. I thought their horses had probably run away due to all of the shooting, and that would buy me time. How much time? Would it even matter? I had to find help, a place to stop. When I passed by this way earlier in the year, wasn’t there was a homestead somewhere north of here. Could I make it? Would they help? I tied myself to my saddle so I wouldn’t fall and pointed my pony north. I could make it; I would make it.


“Ranger…Ranger we know you’re in there.”


I woke with a start and felt the pain in my head and shoulder. It wasn’t as bad, but they still hurt. My arm dangled at my side as I gingerly put on my shirt, still blood stained from the bullet wounds. I remembered, I remembered who I was, what happened, everything.


“Ranger, we got the woman and kid. You got ten minutes to come out before we kill them and come in and get you.”


I heard muffled screams and cries coming from outside. I walked over and somehow manage to buckle my .45 peacemaker on my hip. I'd have to make do with it remaining untied. I drew, smooth and fast, from years of practice. I opened the action to find that it had been reloaded and lowered the hammer slowly, then slid it back into its holster.


“Alright. I'm coming.”


I managed to get my left arm put in a sling made from my bandana, but I couldn’t get my boots on. Fitting, I’m going to die without my boots on. As I walked outside, the Cooper brothers stood in front of the door, one standing behind Grace and one behind Katy. Both had a hand around their captive’s mouth.


“Well, well, well. If it ain’t the Cooper brothers. I see ya'll still yellow. Hiding behind a woman’s skirt instead of facing me like a man.”


Suddenly, Katy bit the brother that was holding her in the hand causing him to let go of her. As she freed herself, I drew and put two rounds center mass dropping him where he stood. The other brother threw Grace to the ground and got off two shots at the same time. His first caught me in the leg, making me fall to the ground, while his second caught me again, in the same shoulder as before. As his shot spun me around, I fired my remaining four shots. I missed with my first two and caught another in the side for my trouble. My last two rounds struck home. One in the chest, one in the stomach. He was dead. Grace and Katy were at my side before I knew it.


“Katy, bandages, quickly. Hang on Mister. Hang on.”


“Name’s…Cooper...Dylan Cooper. I'm a Texas Ranger. They were my brothers.”


Katy and Cathy were feverishly working on me. They kept talking to me, but I could barely make out what they were saying.


“You are an angel.”


That old familiar feeling strikes again. I let my eyes close. They were heavy so very heavy. SLEEP. I was having trouble catching my breath. REST. I couldn’t hear Grace or Katy anymore.


DARKNESS


***



“Is this heaven or is this hell?”


“Neither, though you’ll certainly feel like you’ve gone thru hell for the next month or so Ranger Cooper. I don't know if you remember, but you were shot five times in three days. Twice in the same spot, but you'll live.”


As I slowly opened my eyes, I saw Grace and Katy standing at the end of the bed. Both had a smile on their faces.


“How long have I been out?”


“Close to a week.”


“...My brothers?”


“...Buried out back... Doctor said you’d be able to move around in a couple more days but to keep it slow."


“Thank you, again, Grace. You too Katy."


“We should be the one’s thanking you. You saved our lives. Now you need to sleep. To rest.”


Darkness



May 31, 2021 01:57

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13 comments

Ali Lee
21:47 Jun 06, 2021

I liked the dialogue in this and the contrast between the "reality". And the main characters memories while he was recovering. Also cool to read something with a "western" theme, bit different!

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Charlie Murphy
20:04 Jun 06, 2021

Great story!

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Carson Craig
20:13 Jun 06, 2021

Thanks Charlie

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Charlie Murphy
20:27 Jun 06, 2021

Anytime. Can you read mine?

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Carson Craig
20:57 Jun 06, 2021

Sure, will do.

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Charlie Murphy
23:10 Jun 06, 2021

Cool! Thanks!

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Amuelle Aguilar
16:51 Jun 06, 2021

Nice story. In my head, I'm imagining a wedding for Katy and Ranger Hahaha! Thanks for this short story.

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Carson Craig
18:03 Jun 06, 2021

Thank you Amuelle. Question, how old did you see the characters? Cause in my mind it was Grace and Ranger. I placed Katy at about 7-8 years old.

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Amuelle Aguilar
19:16 Jun 06, 2021

Oohh sorry I typed the wrong name. I meant Grace and Ranger. My bad. 🤣

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Alex Sultan
17:52 Jun 05, 2021

I think it's cool how you used the work darkness at each scene break. I liked this one, nice work.

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Carson Craig
20:29 Jun 05, 2021

Thanks, Alex. I tried to write the whole story entirely from first person perspective and I had a hard time separating the scenes. Then I slept, and it hit me. Darkness

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Karen Mc Dermott
12:16 Jun 05, 2021

Think this was the first story I've read that makes use of the 'Western' category! Nice job.

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Carson Craig
20:31 Jun 05, 2021

Thanks Karen. Westerns are my favorite.

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