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The Road North - the saga continues


Grizzly Dave

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It had been a long winter so far, more snow that Grizz could remember in recent years. Martha had been upset that Hawk had left without saying goodbye, but admitted deep in her heart, she knew he wouldn't. At any rate, with Hawk it was never goodbye anyway, he'd turn up sooner or later.

 

Martha has decided she wanted a spring wedding, and what Martha wanted, Martha got. Not that she was ever demanding about it, which made Grizz want all the more to see that she got what she wanted. But, this time it came with a cost, Grizz had to wait. Grizz was never good at waiting, for anything. Once he'd made up his mind, his way was to just charge ahead.

 

The judge had been elected Governor as expected, with Grizz's rousing speeches supporting his campaign greatly. After the election Grizz and Martha had kept close to the ranch. Grizz making the furniture that Martha wanted, it was good put put hand to tool and tool to wood again, he hadn't done much of that in years. Martha spent her time reading every book in Grizz's library, some of them more than once, and also getting Grizz to teach her how to shoot, how to work wood, how to work horses, pretty much anything she could think of. And she was a quick study at all of them. Grizz surprised her, a hard thing to do, at Christmas with a gunbelt and holsters he'd made and hand tooled.

 

As winter loosed it's icey clutches on the mountains, the wedding plans began in earnest. Grizz wanted it to be a fairy tale wedding for Martha, but she wanted just a simple wedding in a mountain meadow filled with wildflowers, and a few close friends. Plans were made however for a reception in Denver so that all who wanted to wish the couple well, could, and there were many who did.

 

Early in March Martha became ill. When the doctor came to the house Martha sent Grizz out of the room. Grizz paced up and down the hall for what seemed like hours to him. Eventually the doctor came out with a sad look on his face. "What?" Grizz questioned.

 

"She should tell you" was all the doctor would say.

 

Grizz rushed in and knelt beside the bed. Martha looked at Grizz and a smile came over her weak and feverish face. "I knew we'd have but a short time, but I didn't expect it to be this short"

 

Grizz was stunned, he didn't know what to say, or what to do. So he sat there, tears steaming down his face, his chest shaking.

 

Martha comforted him, stroking his hand with hers, "I should have told you..."

 

"Told me what?" Grizz asked, his voice cracking.

 

Martha recounted the story of her time in the deaf school, much of which Grizz knew, but this time she didn't leave anything out. In addition to the administrator abusing them in any way imaginable, he'd also made them work with chemicals to leach silver and gold out of raw ore. After she'd run away she'd seen a doctor who told her she was dying, but he told her she had 5 years left, that was 3 years ago. Once in Denver she'd seen another doctor, sworn him to secrecy and he'd told her the same thing, and the timeline was holding with the first prediction. But her disease had progressed faster than they had predicted.

 

"How long?" Grizz sobbed.

 

Martha raised his chin so she could look into his eyes. "A week, maybe two, but the last months with you have given me enough happyness to last anyone a lifetime"

 

A lifetime, Grizz thought to himself, two weeks wasn't much of a damn lifetime.

 

Grizz pushed away his anger, and shock, and most of his sorrow and set about to make her last days as comfortable as possible. The doctor had sent a nurse to stay with them, but Grizz insisted on doing as much as he could, it gave him purpose, and less time to think.

 

Towards the end of the next week a bad spring snow storm had set in, blanketing everything with two feet of snow. Grizz didn't care, but Martha enjoyed looking out the window at it.

 

Early one morning Grizz crept quietly into Martha's room to check on her, she was awake, it a smile on her face. In a weak and faint voice, she spoke "to every thing there is a time and a place under heaven, a time to mourn, and a time to rejoice" she said, roughly quoting the Bible. Grizz and Martha had read much of the Bible together that winter, he reading, with her sitting at his side, her hand on his neck so she could feel what his voice sounded like.

 

"You can't go in there!" they heard the nurses voice outside the door.

 

The door opened anyway, and in walked Hawk, dripping wet, with snow still on his clothes. He knelt down on the other side of the bed and took her hand.

 

"It is time" she said, "good bye Hawk."

 

"Good bye Martha" Hawk said, tears streaming down his face now too.

 

Martha turned to Grizz and squeezed his hand as hard as she could, "good bye beloved, thank you..."

 

And Martha died.

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Grizz and Hawk stayed in the room for hours, finally Hawk got up and led Grizz away.

 

When the doctor mentioned that the undertaker could make Martha a nice casket, Grizz nearly punched the man and thundered "I'll make her casket my own self, now leave!"

 

Grizz worked nearly non stop for three days making the casket, rarely stopping for sleep, food, or anything else. Hawk would bring him food, which was rarely touched. Hawk knew his pain, and wanted to help if he could, but he also knew that Grizz wasn't ready to talk about it yet.

 

The deep spring snow melted fast, as spring snow does, and left behind green grass and wild flowers springing up every where. They buried Martha on a hill overlooking the valley, full of wild flowers with a view second to none. Only those few close friends who were to come to the wedding were allowed to attend. A few others tried, and were met by Hawk at the gate and turned away.

 

When the Judge arrived, he took a small package into the house and left it on the desk in Grizz' study. Then he and his wife made the short walk up the hill to the grave side. The preacher said words over her, scripture was read including the passage in Ecclesiastes that she had quoted on her death bed. Folks had a chance to share a few words about her, and then they left. Grizz kept his best face on and went thru the pleasantries with everyone, but Hawk knew, and perhaps everyone else did to, that Grizz was devastated.

 

That night Grizz dived into a bottle, and then another until he passed out drunk. He woke up in the morning with a puppy licking his face. Where the pup had come from, nobody knew. Looking at those puppy dog eyes, Grizz pulled himself up and ate the food when Hawk brought it. After breakfast, he took himself down to the pond, the ice was melted but it was still cold. He dived in. He swam and bathed as long as he could take it, then got out thankful that Hawk had seen fit to bring some blankets down. Back in the house he ignored the buckskins he'd been wearing all winter and put on his old trail clothes.

 

Walking to his study he grabbed his gunbelt off the hook where it had stayed most of the time since Martha had come to live in the house. Before Martha had come, and before the sweat lodge with Hawk, Grizz had been a bitter tired man, and felt very much like the 'bringer of death' that his dreams told him he was. But the sweat lodge and Martha had rekindled his faith in himself, and humanity, and had brought him back to a good place. He often told people that Martha was like a breath of fresh springtime in the dead of winter, and so she had been.

 

His gunbelt on, Grizz checked the colts to make sure they were loaded, reholstered them and then sat down at his desk. Off to one side he noticed a small package, addressed to him from the judge, and marked 'confidental.'

 

Grizz opened the package and went through the contents. Inside were newspaper stories about the school for the deaf being taken down, including pictures of those involved including Obermann the headmaster. The last thing was a hand written note from the judge.

 

"Obermann escaped on his way to territorial prison, last seen heading north, possibly to Canada. I will help all I can, but you didn't get any of this from me."

 

The note wasn't signed, but Grizz knew the judges, well, now Governor hand. He crumpled up the note and threw it in the burning fireplace. Hawk and Grizz's foreman watched from the kitchen table, as Grizz sat there for nearly an hour. Then he got up, and unlocked the rifle rack, taking out his well worn buffer rifle and his most trusted 73, and started putting boxes of ammunition on the desk next to them. Grizz had always kept his 'travelin bags' as he called them packed and in the barn, saddle bags with the essentials, beans, blanket, and other such truck. He didn't have to grab much from the house.

 

Grizz grabbed up the rifles, ammo, and a few other things including the newsclippings with Obermann's picture, and headed for the door.

 

"What's up boss?" his foreman called out.

 

"goin huntin" Grizz grunted, slowing his pace only a little.

 

"Mind some company?" Hawk asked.

 

"Free country, might get bloody, do as you please" Grizz said, it was the most words he'd spoken all at one time since Martha had died.

 

"Mind the ranch" Grizz called back over his shoulder to nobody in particular as he went out the door.

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I said to Grizz, "It pleases me to ride with you, Brother." Grizz didn't look up, just kepted on riding, like a man on a mission. I reined up outside the fence near Martha's grave, tipped his hat and spurred his horse onward. I stopped by her grave too, slipped out of my saddle, walked up to her grave. I layed an eagle feather on it and told her, "Don't worry Martha, I'll watch out for him. You've got my word." I saddled up and rode to caught up with Grizz.

 

We rode on in silence for the most of the day. Moss grows on the north side of trees, the Sioux taught me. That being true, we where heading north. Always north. This was Yankee land and I was growing uneasy by the mile. I saw enemy behind each tree and I was worryed. But I was more worryed about Grizz. He still hasn't said a word all day, and I saw him brush a tear away a time or two.

 

We made camp just south of the Canadian border. The fire was going well and we ate well. Grizz pulled out the bottle of whiskey from his saddle bag and took a long very hard pull on it. "Grizz, if we're still hunting men, like I think we are, you need to be sober till time comes when we got our prey." Grizz wiped his mouth with the back of his big hand and said, "Don't matter none.....I aint gonna get him, not today or tomarrow, or no time. I lost the best thing in my life Hawk....and yur still preaching bout being sober ! Well, da hell wif you !"

 

I walked over to the drunkin' Grizz, grabbed the bottle out of his hand, pouring the contents on the fire. The fire roared large to life, and I shouted, "You think you lost something near and dear to you Grizz ?! So did I ! The only women to treat me like a human being besides my Rose was you're Martha ! I was half way through Nebraska when I felt the cold hand of death wrap around me like never before. I rode hard, three horses to death getting back to you're ranch !

 

Riding through a spring snow storm, white out, hoping like hell I was going the right way." Grizz muttered something and tryed to stand. I shoved him back down and shouted at him, " I've heard and seen you're side of this story, now you damn shore will hear mine ! When the door of her room opened I saw death standing over her head. Death standing at her feet, she can be saved, maybe. Standing at her head, it's too late. I held back my tears Grizz....I held'em back while I watch them men lower her into the cold ground, and I held them back while Mother Earth accepted her and the coffin you made her."

 

"But I can not hold'em back any longer ! You're one tuff somabitch Grizz, not crying like that. But I can tell, it's tearing you up inside. You lost a wife. I lost a true friend. One I can not replace. I will not lose you Grizz. You hear me, I will not lose you too ! " Tears of sorrow where streaming down my face again and I could not help it. No one, not even Rose, has seen me cry like this. I cry for Grizz's loss, and I cry for my losses. For I did not cry at Roes's funeral.

 

Grizz looked at me as if I was a wild evil spirit and begain to shake, uncontrollabley. I must have been one terrifing sight, in front of that roaring fire, pouring my inner most feelings out to another man. Who, was drunk as a skunk. He looked at his shaking hands and muttered, "I need coffee !"

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Grizz enjoyed whiskey and beer, that he surely did. Most of his adult life he'd drank quite a lot of it, sometimes so he could pass un-noticed in a Saloon, sometimes to be sociable, sometimes because there was no clean water, and sometimes just because he wanted to. But, he almost never drank enough to be drunk. Over the years he'd built up a tolerance that allowed him to drink a fair amount and still be in control. In his time with Martha at the ranch however, he'd not drank much at all. They'd enjoy a glass of wine together, or maybe a whiskey or brandy, but seldom more than one. He'd lost his tolerance and could no longer drink as he was accustomed to. Since Martha's death, whiskey had helped to dull the pain, and keep him from thinking, and it was all too easy to fall down that road. He'd pulled himself out of the bottle at the start of this trip, and Hawk had just pulled him out again. Grizz promised himself not to get lost there again.

 

The next morning breaking camp, Grizz pulled two bottles of whiskey out of his saddle bags and gave them to Hawk. "Hang on to them, for medicinal purposes of course."

 

Hawk stowed them away and they set off. Every town was the same, people didn't know Obermann, they hadn't seen him, and they didn't seem to appreciate outsiders roaming around with guns, though they were outwardly polite about it all. The last few towns Grizz had even sought out and asked help from the local constables of the mounted police. His Marshals badge carried a little weight, but not much. They knew nothing of Obermann either.

 

Feeling they were on the right track, but growing frustrated, Grizz wired his old friend the Judge, er Governor, he still had trouble remembering to call him that, and inquired if there was any new information. Grizz included the next town up the line as where to send the reply to. The Govenors reply gave little to go on, he gave Grizz the names of a couple of towns where Obermann might have contacts, but that was little to go on.

 

Grizz and Hawk tried not to give out too many details when talking to the locals, lest they attract too much attention to themselves. Even if they'd told the whole story of why they were hunting this man, it was doubtful any of them would do anything about him if he had shown up after Grizz and Hawk left. Besides, Grizz wanted to dole out justice to Obermann himself.

 

One night sitting around the fire in camp, Hawk drinking, and Grizz not, a constable with the mounted police called out and came into the camp. Benton, as he'd introduced himself, said he was out on patrol, he covered a wide area and welcomed someone to talk to. Grizz and Hawk gave Benton the watered down version of what they were doing there. After those formalities were out of the way, they talked of life on the trail, the past, the future, and about anything that the conversation led them to.

 

As the evening wore on, something inside Grizz told him they could trust Benton, so he told him the whole story, as painful as it was, leaving out only that Martha had been his wife, or would have been. Benton had to admit he'd heard of the case, his garrison had received a bulletin, but with only a name, bits and pieces of the story, and a vague description to go on, not much had been done. He also had to admit that his superiors had sent him to find Hawk and Grizz, having received reports of two Americans riding around with 'lots of guns' and asking a lot of questions. By the time it was time to turn in, Benton had volunteered to check out a few towns along his patrol route, and meet back up with Hawk and Grizz up the trail. Having seen the picture, and heard the tale, well, most all of it anyway, at least now he knew who and what he was looking for.

 

Next morning after Benton rode off, Grizz seemed to be in a good mood, first time since Martha's death.

 

"Why you so chipper?" Hawk asked as they rode.

 

"Just startin to feel like we're gonna get that snake after all" Grizz said, "I was beginning to have my doubts."

 

"And what you gonna do when you find him?" Hawk asked.

 

Grizz laughed "Maybe make him breath acid fumes, maybe. Whatever I do, he'll die slow and I'll enjoy every minute of it."

 

Hawk drew in a ragged breath and kept quiet. He'd never known Grizz to find enjoyment in killing, oh, satisfaction of justice delivered maybe, but never enjoyment.

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I'd never known Grizz to like killing. In fact, he'd do most anything to avoid killing. But this time, he seemed to look forward to caughting Obermann and not dispencing justits, but this was a rekoning. I would only step in if asked.

 

As we rode into the sight of the next town I asked Grizz, "You really trust dat mountie feller, do ya ? I rekon I don't. Some thin' bout him rubbs me da wrong way. Can't quite put my finger on it just yet. Da Spirits will let me know." "You and you're "spirits" , Grizz said almost chuckling. "I swear Hawk, sometimes........" "Sometimes what Grizz ? You went into the sweat lodge.....you had a vision....and you made it out alive. No small feat for a white man. Have ya forgott about dat ?"

 

"I know what I know, Hawk. I know those peyote buttons cause me to see things. I know I am tired and cold. And I know when...not if, but when I find Obermann, I will kill him very slowly. That's what I know, Hawk " I rode on quite, not saying a word. Grizz was a proud man, and he would not admit to being wrong or filled with hate, for no one, not even me. We've rode together for near 12 years and you think you know someone perty good. This is a side of Grizz I had not seen. And to tell the truth, I worryed about keeping my promise to Martha bout keeping Grizz safe. All I knew is that promise was going to be a full time job. And I may end up getting a bullet for me trouble.

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With the whiskey no longer dulling his pain and hate, Grizz was being consumed by it. The hate at least had a focus, and lessened the pain, or at least replaced it, so Grizz didn't fight it.

 

Who was Hawk to talk like that to him anyway? Wasn't it Hawk who had always gone off on some vendetta or revenge killing and Grizz the one to try to talk sense to him? And now that Grizz was the one on a mission of revenge Hawk was trying to hold him back? Grizz urged his horse on faster, the pace slowing his thinking a little bit.

 

As the night closed in they stopped by a creek. Hawk started to make camp, Grizz just stood by his horse brooding. Hawk went about his chores pretending not to notice.

 

Finally, Grizz dug in his saddle bags and found the coffee, took a pinch of it, and a pinch of chewing tobacco and mixed them in his hand before stuffing them in his mouth. Getting the wad settled in his cheek, he spat on the ground. "Stop if ya want, I'm going on." And he swung back up in the saddle and rode off.

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I had to let Grizz go. He would come to his sences soon and would realize that a rekonin' without a sound plan would be worthless. Besides, this mountie was riding some where up ahead. He asked way too many questions for me. But I was worryed for Grizz. Many times, I went off half cocked, and Grizz was right there, and never questioned me. Now, I have questioned him and it felt bad. Real bad.

 

I kept the fire low and smokless cause I needed to see out into the darkness. I sat just outside the light with my 1860 Henry laid across my lap. I sat like that for what seened like hours. That's when I spotted a lone rider trailing Grizz in the moon light. I watched intently what he was doing. He was looking around our camp, even rode into the camp. I kept moving all the while, moving in his horse's hoof prints. I had to warn Grizz and fast, yet not let this feller know I'm there. One thing Grizz had taught me, too well I think, is to ask questions, then kill.

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The coffee chew had an almost immediate effect, as Grizz knew it would. His mind was buzzing, and his senses seemed to sharpen. The ground was flat as he rode on into the night, he knew he could look back and see Hawks fire, but he chose not to. He told himself he didn't because it would dull his night vision, but there were other reasons that probably played a bigger part.

 

He'd left the pack horse with Hawk, but took a slow pace, his horse was about played out from long days riding. Silently he cussed himself for not bringing along another saddle horse to switch off with.

 

As he rode, Grizz had the feeling he was being watched. In his mind he caught glimpses of someone following him, but the glimpses weren't from the perspective of where Grizz was, more like a birds eye view from above. Hawks dang spirits again Grizz grumbled silently. Still, if he was being followed, he needed to find out who it was, and what they wanted.

 

Up ahead was a small hill that blocked the view from what was beyond. Grizz picked up his pace slightly, but not enough to cause alarm. When he dropped over the hill he kicked his horse to a gallop and looked for cover, but there was none. Damn. grizz couldn't see very far in the dark, and there was no cover to be seen, and not enough time to find it if there was some, even if his horse wasn't played out. He had two, maybe three minutes tops before the rider who was following would be able to see him.

 

Grizz reined up and dropped out of the saddle, quickly un-buckling his gunbelt, he hung it on the saddle horn leaving his left colt in full view, pulling the right colt and stuffing it in his pants belt. Putting the horse between himself and the trail, Grizz was half bent down checking his horses hooves when the rider came riding up.

 

"Pick up a stone did he?" the rider called out.

 

"Shore did" Grizz said, using his friendly cheerful voice normally reserved for putting on airs with folks are parties that he'd not have wasted his time talking with otherwise.

 

Grizz went about making a show of working on the horses hooves, waiting for the rider to make his move, if he was going to make one. Grizz heard the distinctive sound of a pistol cocking and looked up to see the barrel of a 45 pointed at him. "Mighty careless of you to take yer gunbelt off like that Marshal Grizz" the rider sneered.

 

"Reckon so" Grizz said "what's this about, you seem to know me but I don't reccolect who you are."

 

Seemingly having the drop on Grizz, the man was happy to talk. "Lost 8 years of my life thanks to you" the man said. "Name is Bates, Arizona, 8 years ago, you remember me now Marshal?"

 

Grizz did remember, Bates was a teenager at the time, a bully and a thief. "Can't expect me to remember every piece of trash I put in prison" Grizz told him. that made Bates mad. "Well old man, you might not remember me, but I'm the last thing you're gonna see on this earth."

 

"I reckon not" Grizz said matter of factly. Grizz could have made a play at any time, he had his pistol at the ready, and a knife in a sheath sewn into his saddle under the flap, but he wanted more information out of this fool first.

 

"If yer waiting on that half breed buddy of yours, don't, he was asleep at the fire and my pard is back there slitting his throat as we speak. Didn't look like you two were very friendly anyway the way you rode off."

 

Grizz smiled. "I wish him luck, that old broken down half breed was slowing me down anyway."

 

Bates smiled at that.

 

"So you tracked me all the way up here just for pay back did ya sonny?" Grizz asked.

 

Bates shook his head 'no.' "I reckon it don't do no harm tellin ya, you'll be dead directly. Obermann is my uncle, I helped him escape. He knew you'd be coming for him, saw the clippings in the news about you and that half wit woman of yours."

 

Grizz's face got red as a beet, it was taking every bit of restraint he had to keep from killing Bates right then, right there, but he needed more information. "Her name was Martha" Grizz spat out through clenched teeth.

 

Bates laughed, "Martha was it, half wit fits her better"

 

"So Obermann is in these parts is he? If he was a man he'd face me his own self" Grizz growled the hatred dripping from his voice.

 

"Naw, he's a fair piece north yet" Bates said, "he just sent me and my pard down here so yer killin couldn't be connected with him."

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I made my bed roll, and let the fire die down just a bit. Then I ran off low, sat cross legged on the cold snow covered ground, with my 1860 Henry rifle cross my lap. I didn't have to wait long, for just on the edge of light and darkness stood a figure, bowie knife in his hand. I expected he wanted to do me harm with that knife and I saw it confrimed as he crept into camp and plunged the bowie into what was, to him, my back. He then rolled "me" over and I saw all the color drain from his face when he figured out he had been sit up.

 

He then heard a zing and felted the arrow strike him in the center of his chest. Breaking off the shaft and spitting on it, I let another arrow fly before he could toss that broken off shaft. As he lay in the snow bleeding to death, I took out my scalping kinfe and as I layed it into his fore head I look him in the eye and said, "Not to my brother !" and I started to slice. He cryed out and I put my hand over his mouth to quite him down. Then all life left him but I kepted on cutting. I was enraged now.

 

I had a bird's eye veiw of Grizz with another feller who and the drop on him. "Thank you Brother Redtail." I said as I started to put the sneak on this feller what had the drop on Grizz. From where I lay in the snow, I saw Grizz was shaking, and I knew it was from anger, not fear. I crept behind this bad feller as Grizz kepted him talking. When he'd finished talking, I tossed the scalp of his friend in front of him on the snow. He looked down and without thinking and in shock, he spun around and I de-cappiated him in one swift cut.

 

Grizz looked at me and he was still mad. "Now it has become personal. Grizz, Martha and Hawk....one family !" For the first time in a while I saw Grizz smile at me, nodding his head in aproval.

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Seeing the smile on Grizz' face was a boost to Hawk. Finally things were come back under control. "What you do if I hadn't come along?" He asked Grizz.

 

Grizz smiled, then laughed, then Grizz raised his right hand up into view, with a cocked colt in it, and with a jerk of his left arm and flick of his wrist threw a knife into the corpse at Hawks feet.

 

Hawk smiled, impressed. "When you learn to do that so well?"

 

"Over the winter" Grizz said, "Martha wanted to learn, so I taught her what I knew, she worked on it an hour or so, then she taught me how to do it right." It was the first time he'd really talked of Martha since she'd died, other than to be polite, or swear vengeance against those who'd wronged her years before. The pain and anger were still there, but being out, doing the job he'd done for so long, was helping to put things into perspective, well, maybe just starting to put things into perspective.

 

"We need to lose these two fellers somewhere, so they won't be found by the mounties, I don't want Obermann or whatever he's calling himself now getting wind that we made it past them." Grizz said, "Damn, should have got that fool to tell me what name he's going by now."

 

Hawk kicked the head towards Grizz "don't think he'll say now. Can't believe the fool let you stay behind yer horse that whole time."

 

Grizz laughed, "He was an idiot 8 years ago when I sent him to prison, and I reckon he didn't get no smarter since then."

 

It took a couple hours working in the moonlight, but they got the bodies buried in a shallow grave a ways off the trail, and covered all sign where they'd been killed.

 

Back by the fire they debated what to do with the horses. At first they thought maybe just let them go, but no, they might hightail back to where Obermann was, and he'd know something was up. They could just string them along and use them for remounts, but what if someone recognized the horses and asked how they'd come by them.

 

Without reaching a conclusion, the effects of the coffee chew long since burned off along with the adrenaline of the confrontation, Grizz fell asleep soundly, and without dreams. It was the first dream free sleep he's had since Martha had died.

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I smiled when I saw and heard Grizz sleeping. First time he has slept since the death of Martha. I had not slept a wink at all but kept reaching back into my saddle bag a grabbibg was the white men call "Jew-Jew Beans." I do not know what Mexicans call them, but the Apache call them that name, cause they take all wearyness away. And I just loaded up again.

 

Didn't want to make camp where we bush wacked ole Bates and didn't want to back track to the old camp. "Never back track" GrandFather taught me. "It will not do you no good to see it again." And he was right. I knew Grizz was safe in his saddle asleep and soring loadly, so I grabbed his horse by the halter and lead the string of horses away from the little hill and was heading for a raise in the land scape.

 

I got there with the rurmudea, and made camp. I had a fire going, low and smokeless, and had some coffee going, a few jacks on the spilt, and a fox skinned out, ready to go on the spit. Grizz awoke, and looked around confused. "Move you while you was gittin' yur beauty sleep. I see it didn't take !" I said. "Ha, ha, very funny ! Hand me up a cup of coffee. Need to git my bearings." I handed Grizz up a cup, and he slipped it slowly. "Be bout 15 miles from the next town. Got a moutie office, Saloon, dry goods store, hotel, and livery. Oh, almost forgit, dey got a church !" I chuckled a bit.

 

I got the worst look from Grizz. "Aint no way !" he said, sipping his coffee. "Remember what happened last time." I chuckled alittle more and as I sipped my coffee, I pointed to the jacks on the spit. "You got one for ya. Need dat extra spit fer dat fox I got." As Grizz stepped down and groaned and stretched, he said, "How do ya know those things about the next town anyway ?" Oh, I done did a little snoppin' fer ya while you where workin' on dat beauty sleep you was gittin'." as I threaded the fox onto the spit, not even looking up at him.

 

"Wait a minute....You took off to the town, alone, and left me in the saddle asleep, is that what yur telling me ?" I put the fox on the spit and said, again without looking up at Grizz, "Perty much ! You aint slept since we buryed Martha. You needed it." Grizz walked right in front of me and said, "You aint sleeped none neither, Hawk !" I put my hand on my hip and said, "Brother, do I look like I need sleep ?" Grizz looked me over and said surpisinly, "No, You don't."

 

"Ok, dat settled it den. No more talk about it. We could things to do. I can stay here with the rurmudea. If some white men come along, I've stolen them. That should git me and the horses into town. Folks may see the two horses there and think I bushwacked'em fore dey caught up to ya. Now, you got a better plan, let's hear it then."

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Grizz stretched and scratched his beard. Normally it would have been a lot longer at the end of winter as he'd have let it grow, but Martha liked it short like when she'd met him. Grizz had been trying to change his appearance then to avoid being recognized, which had worked to varying degrees.

 

Looking around, he got his bearings. Hawk had made camp well off the main trail, good water, reasonable graze for the animals, and enough out of sight someone would have to be looking to find them there.

 

Grizz grabbed a leg off one of the sizzling rabbits on the spit and gnawed at it hungrily. It wasn't Martha's home cooking, but rabbit cooked over a campfire sure tasted mighty good. "That Bates feller, Obermann's nephew, made it sound like Obermann was a bit farther away than just the next town. Could be he was lyin, but I don't think so, he was sure he had the drop on me"

 

Hawk looked up, "so?"

 

"Well, the way I figure it, that mountie Benton should be catchin up to us soon, I'd like to see what he has to say."

 

"Could be he'll just shoot us, I don't trust him."

 

Grizz grabbed another rabbit leg. "Well, maybe we can trust him, maybe not, but I still want to see what he has to say, and if'n we meet up with him in town, he ain't gonna shoot us outright."

 

"What about them two fellers hosses and gear den?" Hawk asked.

 

"Well I reckon we leave them right here, lay it out like they set up camp, I reckon an Apache like you can make it look like only two horses came in, and none went out."

 

Hawk threw down the stick he'd been poking the fire with, "you know I can white man. But then what?"

 

"This place is out of the way enough nobody will wander in, and if they do, they'll find an empty camp, two horses and nothing else. We'll ride into town and see if we can find ol' Benton."

 

"We need dem hosses though, ours is about played out." Hawk argued.

 

"We can just buy some in town" Grizz said, patting his saddle bags. "I always keep plenty of gold and money in my travelin bags"

 

Hawk wasn't convinced, but it was Grizz's play, he was just along to keep his promise to Martha, to keep Grizz safe, and oh what the hell, he didn't have anything better to do nohow. Besides, he wanted to see Obermann dead too, Martha might have been Grizz's woman, but she'd shown Hawk kindness few ever had. Hawk was a bit troubled by what sort of welcome he'd get as a half breed. The Canadians were said to be more tolerant to indians, but those they'd met so far had met them both with a bit of. well, it wasn't hostility, but they sure weren't welcoming. It could have been the fact that between Hawk and Grizz they had enough guns to start a small war, but it could have been something else too.

 

That settled, they sat down to eat.

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I finished eatting and set about to make the camp look days old. I had to change things round and the fire was the last thing. I had to let the fire die out and stir the dust around. Then I had to cover our tracks, and to unsaddle one of the horses we left behind, making the saddle look as if someone had used it to sleep on.

 

As we rode into town, it looked as if we where there to take over. We where heeled to the nines, and I had a little something in my saddle bag Grizz didn't know about....yet. I let Grizz do most of the talking, which, was normal. He did most of the talking, while me, I did most of the shooting. I was, after all, Grizz's trusty side kick. I did anything Grizz wanted. I cook hunt, skin, cook, tan hides, but most importantly, I could shoot and slit throats. That was what I was good at.

 

We wasn't in town no more than five mintues, before Brodie found us. "Gentleman, what brings you to my town ?" he asked Grizz. And Grizz repiled, "Well Mountie Brodie, fancy finding you here." And Brodie said, "I would ask you gentleman to depoist you're firearms over in my office......." I sang out, "Now that will be after the fight." and pulled the hammer back on my 1860 Henry. Grizz cut a look at me, "Hawk..." "Nope, He wants my guns, we'll fight for'em !"

 

"Now now, Gentlemen, calm down, Let's talk this over at my office. I will not take you're gun, You have my word." Brodie said, looking up at me. I looked him dead in the eye and said, "I talk no white man's word expect his !" Grizz looked up at me as if I was playing it too hard. Well, it was hard playing a preacher and then a hard ass. "Hawk...back off just a bit. I'll have words with this peace officer here, we'll get a drink and be on our way." I nodded and kept my eyes on Brodie. Something about this very white man didn't set well with me. And I knew Grizz felt it to. I stayed with the horses, watching people watch me, so I thought I'd play it up for them.

 

Brodie had a bench out side his office, so I climbed up and sat cross legged and started to chant.

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Grizz and Brodie went into the office and back into a small private room at the back. It turned out that Brodie was the older brother of Benton, the mountie Grizz and Hawk had met on the trail.

 

"Now officially," Brodie said in hushed tones, "we've been ordered to assist you in any way possible, and to ride with you to ensure that all the laws of Canada are upheld"

 

Grizz's eyes sprang up and shoulders tensed. Before he could speak, Brodie continued. "Now settle down, let me finish, un-officially," Brodie looked around to make sure they weren't being listened in on, "we are to assist you in any way we can and leave you alone."

 

"That's better" Grizz growled.

 

"Sorry about asking for your guns outside" Brodie said a bit sheepishly, "force of habit, by the way, if you wouldn't mind having your badge in plain view when you leave, I'd appreciate it, folks here love to talk and they don't bother to make sure of their facts"

 

Grizz laughed, "That seems to happen everywhere."

 

Brodie quickly spelled out what he knew, Benton would meet them up the trail about a days ride, he had information about a school for the deaf that had been recently started up further north that he wanted to check out before meeting back up with Grizz. Brodie showed Grizz on the map where Benton was to meet them, Grizz looked the map over carefully, looking for any spots of possible ambush, but there were none.

 

"Take the map" Brodie offered, we have others. Oh, one more thing, for appearances sake, I will need to ride with you out of town for a ways, that will keep the townsfolk from their talk"

 

Grizz rolled his eyes, "Hawk ain't gonna like that, but I reckon that'll be fine."

 

As they walked out of the office they were met by another mountie, this one in formal uniform. From the way Brodie acted, it must have been his commanding officer. Putting on his best formal attitude that he normally reserved for fancy partys and political function, Grizz stuck out his hand smiling, "Good day to you sir, I'm Grizz.."

 

"I'm well aware of who you are, and why you're here" the officer said pompously, not bothering to take Grizz's hand, and almost imperceptibly rolling his eyes to his right. Off to his right sat an older man, in formal dress, who Grizz figured for the mayor of the town, or maybe even of more local importance. Grizz pulled his hand back and nodded ever so slighly. "I'm familiar with your wild west brand of justice, and I will not tolerate it here, marshal or not." the officer said bruskly. Grizz straightened up, choosing his words carefully, "The time for frontier justice is over, I certainly agree, rest assured we are only here to take a suspect into custody and see to it he receives a fair trial."

 

Grizz was good at this sort of thing, telling folks what they wanted to hear, in a manner that made them feel at ease, and from all appearances the man seated to the right was buying into it, he seemed relieved and nodded to the commanding officer as he got up and walked out of the office. After the man was gone the commander turned to Grizz with a sheepish smile, "sorry about that..."

 

Grizz held up a hand to interupt, "No problem, we all have our bosses...and those who think they are."

 

The commander smiled more broadly, "How true that is" looking around before looking back to Grizz and speaking in a hushed voice "just try to keep a low profile."

 

Grizz grinned and held out his hand which was accepted with a hearty handshake. "I'll do my best, no promises though." It was agreed that they'd meet Brodie in half an hour and he'd take them where they could buy fresh horses, and then they'd ride out of town together.

 

When Grizz got out to the porch, Hawk was outwardly looking quite bored, but Grizz could tell he was ready to get the heck out of there. "Lets get a bottle, and some supplies and hit the trail" Grizz told him. Hawk nodded and they walked off towards the general store. On the way Grizz leaned in close "now I know you ain't gonna like this, but Brodie is gonna ride out of town with us, just far enough to satisfy the nosy townfolks."

 

Hawk stopped. "I ain't needin no babysitter" he said, and started walking again.

 

Grizz leaned in again "if he makes a play I'll shoot him myself, don't worry."

 

Hawk said nothing and just kept walking.

 

Inside the store they laid out supplies they needed on the counter, tobacco, salt, flour, jerky, and a few other odds and ends. As Grizz was looking around at the far end of the store, he noticed that Hawk was having quite a conversation with the store lady who seemed taken by his looks, perhaps she'd never seen a half breed before. Grizz went back to the front and laid a few more items on the counter, along with a poke of gold and coins. "I'll go over and get a bottle and meet you out front."

 

"Take your time amigo" Hawk said in a cheerful voice.

 

Amigo, Hawk was up to something Grizz thought as he walked across the street. They'd used 'amigo' as a sign word in the past to signal the other of one thing or another. As they'd not used it in some time, Grizz couldn't tell for sure what Hawk was saying by it, but it didn't really matter.

 

Grizz bought two bottles of whiskey, and a jug of rootbeer and got them stowed on the pack horse and waited out front of the general store, Hawk sure was talking his time.

 

Hawk came strolling out looking like the cat that just ate the prize canary. "What?" Grizz demanded. Hawk smiled. "Later Amigo, you got a line on fresh horses?"

 

Brodie rode up just then "Follow me"

 

They made their way to the livery at the edge of town, and to Grizz's surprise, the stock was good and reasonably priced. They picked out and bought a saddle horse for Grizz, one for Hawk, and two pack horses that could be used for saddle if need be. After consulting with Brodie and the map, they decided to leave their horses here to rest up, the new ones would be good for quite a ways, and there were ample towns ahead to buy others if need be.

 

All the gear stowed and saddles on the new horses they rode out of town, Brodie in the lead, then Grizz, and Hawk bringing up the rear, before he rode up next to Grizz.

 

They'd made in about two miles out of town when Brodie stopped. Hawks eyes darted around looking for signs of an ambush, but none were there.

 

"Give Benton my regards" Brodie said, extending his hand, Grizz shook it, Hawk did not. And with that Brodie rode off.

 

Grizz and Hawk rode a few more miles in silence before Hawk seemed comfortable that they were not being followed, or worse escorted.

 

"I found out some good stuff from that store lady" Hawk grinned. "Bet I found out more from her than you did from them mounties"

 

"I don't know, I found out a lot from them, seems there's a new deaf school that just started up a few days ride north of here..."

 

Hawk was a bit disappointed, he'd found out the same thing, but he also had information about it that the mounties hadn't known.

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As diappointedas I was that Grizz had the same news as me, I had a bit extra. "Seems dat der is alot of talk going on bout a big man, bald, and a south paw runnin' dat school. And seems he pulls students out, girls and women mostly to work somewhar. If dis man is who I figure he is, this mite be a trap layin' out in da open. "

 

"Now this is news Hawk ! How did you get that young lady to tell you that ?" Grizz asked. "Just eattin' you up dat I know more den you, aint it Amigo ?" Grizz sit bolt up straight up as Hawk rode up to him. "Gonna drop back...." I said in a whisper. "Somebody's followin' !" I smiled at Grizz, handed off the lead rope to the pack horses and drifted back.

 

I sat there just off the trail and looked around. Flat ground as far as the eye could see, so ambush was impossible. So I decided to ride up on the trail and wait. If someone was following our backtrail, they would have to happen on me. I cocked the hammer on my Henry and waited. Then I remember what I over heard Bordie tell Grizz in town. "Keep a low profile !" I high tailed it back to Grizz by swinging wide of Grizz and riding back at him, facing him.

 

"Who was it and can anyone tell who it was ?" Grizz asked. I said, "Don't know. Low proflie, remember ? Spect him or her will caught up soon nuff." Grizz raised an eyebrow, looking at me and said, Damn you're injun hearing !" And I watched Grizz as he slipped the hammer thong off both colts. I had already did so on my Dragoons. We rode on for the rest of the day, made camp, yet who ever was following failed to show themselfs.

 

We made camp, and made a faily decent sized fire, had some bacon, beans and coffee. After the meal and small talk, I pulled out a pouch of rolling tobacco, and rolled a cigarette and passed it to Grizz. "No thanks Hawk, I smoke this ceegar. Want some whiskey ?" I looked up at him and said, "Is a hog's butt pork ?!" and took the bottle Grizz offered. After I had a pull on it, Grizz asked, "Hawk, who you think is trailing us ?" I wiped my mouth on the back of my hand, drew my dragoon and held it by my side, "Don't know Grizz, but we'll be findin' out soon. Look !" I pointed out into the darkness.

 

"What are you talkin bout Ha.........." Grizz was cut short by the winnie of a horse, just out of the camp fire's light. "Hello the camp....Gentlemen, may I enter ?" Me and Grizz looked at one nother and I said, "See,.....told ya !!" It was Benton. Grizz looked at me, "Damn those injun eyes Hawk !" I smiled and cocked my dragoon that was by my thigh and said to Grizz, "Saved yur bacon a few times, as I recall !"

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Tune in tomorrow for the next exciting installment!

Well?? It's 6:44 am. You're burnin daylight. :lol:

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Grizz smiled, he'd known it was Benton, for this was the appointed meeting place, or close to it.

 

"c'mon in Benton" Grizz called out.

 

Benton stepped down and tied off his horse, being cafeful to make sure Hawk could see him, Hawk as on high alert, and Benton knew it. He walked in slowly making sure to keep his hands away from his holstered sidearm and knife. "Ah yes, trust, it's a ticky thing sometimes. Grizz, if you would please take my sidearm and knife, perhaps Hawk would feel more at ease."

 

Hawk pulled one of his dragoons and covered Grizz as he got up and disarmed the mountie. Benton unbuttoned his tunic and held it up and turned around to show he had no other weapons hidden on his person. "There we go then." Benton said, "may I have a cup of coffee?"

 

"Help yerself" Hawk said, holstering the dragoon, but clearly not much more at ease.

 

"So what did you learn up North?" Grizz asked.

 

"Well, a few things, did you talk to my brother on the way here?" Benton answered.

 

"What did you learn up North?" Grizz repeated with more insistence. Hawk smiled, Grizz was getting back to his old self. It was an old tactic, good for information gathering as well as poker. If you tip your hand, even in the least it allows your opponent to play off of your hand, if you show absolutely nothing, he has to play his cards more straight up, or gamble on a bluff that would be easy to catch him in given you know some thing about what he's holding.

 

"Very well then" Benton said, and he laid out what he'd learned. The day after the first reports of Grizz and Hawk entering the territory had come in, a Mountie named Dirk Johnson has reported information about a new deaf school opening up, way up north, out away from the closest town. He'd also reported a description of the man running it and suspicions of wrong doing. Dirk had gone back up to investigate further and no one had given it much thought until they learned why Grizz and Hawk were in Canada.

 

"Interesting, go on.." Grizz said scratching absently at his beard.

 

"First I headed up to where that new school is.." Benton went on. Reports all along the way matched what Dirk Johnson had reported, but when questioned at length, each report had originated from a shop keeper or bartender, who had heard it from Johnson. Seeing a pattern, Benton had taken off the main roads and trails and found nobody had heard anything about it. When Benton had neared where the school was, he'd run into an old mountain man acquaintance of his, who filled him in. There had been some activity at the old Miller farm, which had been abandoned years before, there was a sign that read School for the deaf" but the old man had seen no sign of children, but had seen a fair number of men with guns.

 

Grizz interrupted, "have you reported this to your superiors?"

 

"Not yet, but ..."

 

Grizz interrupted again "don't"

 

"there's more" Benton went on. His cousin was deaf, and was currently at the only established deaf school in the region, which was a hard days ride west of where the new one was. He hadn't visited for years, and had been able to go into the town leaving his uniform in camp and poke around. that school's headmaster had recently died, and the new one, who'd been spreading a lot of money around town buying influence, resembled the description of Obermann.

 

"You covered a lot of miles in a short time" Hawk said.

 

"That I did" Benton agreed sipping his coffee. "Most of that area is in my normal patrol, I keep horses every so far, and know all the folks and can borrow one if need be."

 

Hawk seemed satisfied with that answer and turned to Grizz "so what do you think?"

 

"Obviously one or both is a trap" Grizz said. "And it's gonna be damn hard to keep a low profile"

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Sorry bout not writin' folks. Me and the Sawbones had an arguement...and I won.....I think....Anyway here goes.........

 

 

I looked up at Grizz and said, "You thinkin what I'm thinkin' ?" Grizz nodded and said , "This ain't good, no matter how ya cut it, but Hawk, Amigo, Noyaka, You go to the school, I'll take the farm. We'll meet up near the school if it is a trap, meet near Miller's farm if it's there." I answered with a grunt and poured myself another cup of coffee. "Sound plan, at least only one of us will git kilt, maybe two of us ifin' ole Benton here joins us." I clearly did not trust than man. Don't think I ever would and certainly not wif my life like I trusted Grizz.

 

"Mr. Hawk...It appears that you do not trust me ?" Benton said to me. "Not as far as I can throw ya, Benton. But Grizz here do, and ifin' he do, well, I guess I do too. But I aint gonna take my eye off ya, dat's fer sure ! There,...I said my peace, y'all go on and lay out da plan." Both Grizz and Benton looked at one nother and then back to me. I made a stirring motion in the air and Grizz spoke up.

 

"I'll go to the farm, poke around and see what I can learn. You go to the school and what ever you do, DO NOT let them see you !" Grizz told me. It was obvious to me that Grizz was putting on a show now for Benton's sake. I am Apache half breed..good tracker...great cook,...outstanding horseman,....and Grizz's friend...I will not be seen.

 

Grizz gave Benton back his service weapon and his knife, and as he stepped up into the saddle, he said, "Well Gentleman, I will meet you at the school. Untill then....." and rode out into the darkness. When I was certain Benton was out of earshot, I snook out of camp and tracked him. It wasn't hard to see the out line of a man riding away in the bright moon light. I then came back into camp.

 

I said to Grizz, "Amigo and Noyaka....Got my attention and I'm to go scout out the farm and you the school, right ?" "Yup, Grizz said. "And if you see Benton at the farm, give him a good rap cross the head with you're dragoon and wait for me." "And what about Dirk, if he shows up ? What me to knock him senseless too or shoot'em ?" I asked Grizz and he said, "Shoot Dirk, but not to kill...maim a bit, but not kill'em. I got a few questions I need straight answers to !"

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Grizz and Hawk sat around the campfire well into the night, studying the map and studying on what to do. From all appearances the farm was surely a trap, or Dirk was a moron, or both. If Obermann was the new headmaster at the old deaf school, he'd surely have protection there as well. And Benton was hard to figure. He was young, bright, and from all appearances a good law officer. But, greed had turned more than it's share of young men as well as old men. On one hand it would have been wise to have him ride along, keep him in sight and at arms length, but on the other, that limited what they could do. It was unfair to leave him out in the dark like this, but if he was honest it might just keep him alive, and if he wasn't, well, he wasn't going to live to see old age.

 

Planning and tactics like this had always been one of the things Grizz loved about being a Marshal, but he also hated it. Ideally, he'd have at least a dozen trusted men that knew the lay of the land better than the enemy. He had neither. One good thing is that the landscape was turning from plains to rolling hills going into mountains. While this lent itself to being ambushed, it also gave more cover and avenue of attack or escape as well. Besides, Grizz was more at home is this sort of surrounds.

 

Grizz fussed and fumed by the fire, drawing maps in the dirt, then growling and rubbing them out with his foot and then starting again. Finally, he resorted to something Martha had taught him, when faced with a problem you were having trouble with, talk about it like you were explaining to someone who knew nothing, and often you'd find the solution. Talking more to himself than to Hawk, Grizz spoke up.

 

"Now Obermann is a greedy arrogant sadist snake. He sent his nephew and his pard out to bushwhack us. He set up a dummy deaf school and set his pet mountie about spreading tales to try to lure us in. That's two levels of planning, how many more? Surely there are others on the trail looking to do us in. Is he arrogant enough to think that the tale of the new school would keep us from inquiring about any other deaf schools? Yes, I think so, why would we look for an existing school with him new in the area? Oh, of course we would, but he probably wouldn't think that way. Both are traps of one sort or another, the farm a formal trap, the school more subtle, he'd have his guards but couldn't risk being too obvious that close to town. If we take Obermann first, his hired guns will likely scatter, but if we take out the bulk of the guns first, less to worry about....don't kill him Hawk...if we had more men, hit them both at the same time would be the way to go, but....the longer we mess around, the better prepared they will be....maybe the best thing to do is just both go to the farm, deal with it, then head to the school"

 

Hawk watched Grizz working himself up into a froth, it was amusing to watch, but Grizz's logic and observation was sound. About half way through Grizz's ramblings, Hawk slipped out of camp on foot. Grizz noticed but kept right on talking, making gestures towards Hawks bedroll and saddle as if he was there.

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While Grizz was still rambling on, I slipped out of camp, took my horse and rode bare back, to check out the school. At this time of night, there should not be any one around. I neared the deaf school and looked around. I slipped off my horse and looked up and there seems to by a slight raise, and then a hill of sorts. Good place for an ambush. No sign of anyone being there recently.

 

I moved closer to the school house as I saw a light on inside. For a school, that was odd and for this time at night, it meant trouble. I had to find out more, so I crept up to the window, ever so slowly. I peeked into the window and saw 5 men playing poker. I could not hear what they where saying, but they where drinking and laughing. I then saw cigarette smoke and knew there was a guard on watch.

 

I crepted back to the slight hill and watched. After a while another guard reliefed the one smoking and went back inside. That's when the light went out in the liitle room at the deaf school. This was a trap, no doubt.

 

I rode over to the Miller's farm. While the school was in a foot hills, almost moutain, Miller's farm was in rolling hills. I could get very closeand I knew this was differantly a trap, but a trap anyone with half a working brain could see. It was just that obvious. And I counted no less than 30 men, all of them armed to the teeth and not one farming Mother Earth. I had to get back to camp and tell Grizz what I had learned. That's when I saw Benton.

 

He was trailing in the full moon's light and he didn't see the rifleman lineing up on him. I quickly slipped from my horse, dropped to my belly and adjusted my sights on my Henry. I only had one shot at this and I best not miss, or the school will be on alert and all those gun hands from Miller's farm would come swooping down on us. I pulled back the hammer, and took a deep breath. As my heart rate slowed, I asked the Creator to guide my bullet. Slower and slower my heart beat begain to drop as I put that rilfe man in my sights. Slower and slower still. And then I fired.

 

I saw the rifle man slump in his place and saw Benton riding hard that way. I could only hope I had hit what I was aiming at. As I rode up Benton was there, his service weapon clear of leather and pointed at me. "You're rifle Hawk, Drop it !" I shook my head no. "White man, you will have to kill me to get it ! I just saved yur stinkin hide, least you could be grateful." "HAWK..." Benton shouted. You can find me in camp, ifin you wish to talk, white man ! I don't think this feller will tell ya much !" Indeed, for my bullet hit the rifle man center of his chest.

 

I rode back to camp to find Grizz still muttering and geting all worked up. If he saw me leave and come back, he made no movement. I took my rifle and laid down on my bedroll. It was nice and warm as before I left out, I dug into Mother Earth and couplefeet and put some coals from the fire in the hole and covered them with Mother Earth. Just like having a bed warmer only better, this bed warm don't talk. Grizz was doing enough for both of us.

 

Benton came riding in hard a few mintues later, just to be met with two colts, a dragoon and scattergun loaded with a buck fifty in dimes.

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Benton did away with any formality this time, he swung down from his horse and walked into camp ignoring the arsenal pointed at him. "This man" he pointed to Hawk, "Just killed a man in cold blood."

 

Grizz got up and started pacing around, colts still in his hands, "Huh" Grizz said, "Hawk where was that fellers rifle pointed when ya dropped him."

 

"Right at Benton" Hawk answered with a bit of a bored tone in his voice.

 

"And if you'd waited a few minutes to see what he was up to...?" Grizz continued.

 

"Ol Benton would be fertilizer or cougar bait I expect. Saw the feller check the wind and cock the hammer before I fired." Hawk said with a yawn, turning away from the rest wrapped up in his blanket.

 

"Benton" Grizz turned his attention to the mountie, "when you found the deceased, what did you find nearby?"

 

"A rifle, saddle bags...." Benton started before Grizz interupted "and was the hammer on the rifle cocked?"

 

"It was" Benton had to admit.

 

"Dang fool thing to ride out in the open lit up by the moon like you did" Hawk muttered over his shoulder.

 

Grizz holstered his colts and smiled smugly, "Charges dropped" he said with finality.

 

One thing was sure, Obermanns men up at the farm now knew trouble was on the way, or if they hadn't heard the shot, they would know as soon as someone went to relieve that sentry.

 

"Benton, are you convinced that the farm is a trap, and the men there mean to kill me, Hawk, and you if you venture that way again?" Grizz asked.

 

"Protocol requires that I announce myself and inquire as to their intentions, if they shoot first, then I'll know." Benton answered.

 

"Protocol, bah" Hawk spat. "Protocol will git you dead" It was the same thing he'd heard from Grizz for years earlier in his life, only Grizz called it 'the law.'

 

"Very well then" Grizz said "at first light tomorrow, you ride up the main road or there about and announce yourself and inquire about their intentions."

 

"Where will you two be?" Benton asked.

 

"We'll be around." Grizz said pulling his blanket up tight and settling into his bedroll and was soon snoring.

 

Benton fixed his own bedroll and settled in and was soon asleep.

 

After about an hour, Grizz's snoring stopped. Nothing moved in camp.

 

Grizz pulled his blanket down so he could see out, and in the dim firelight he saw Hawk looking back at him. Using only his eyes and slight head movements, Grizz motioned towards the horses, both Grizz and Hawk collected saddle bags and guns, but left bedrolls and saddles and slipped over to where the horses were tied. They led them quietly out of camp a ways before swinging up to ride bareback.

 

"Damn this horse is boney" Grizz whispered. Hawk chuckled softly. They went on in silence until they were well away from camp.

 

"Hey Hawk, guess what I got in my saddlebags?" Grizz said slyly.

 

"I hope it's whiskey" Hawk answered.

 

"Better, I got some dynamite, you reckon that might even the odds up at the farm?" Grizz grinned broadly.

 

"No you don't, I checked yer bags after we left Colorado when I took all the whiskey away, sure would help though." Hawk sighed.

 

Grizz looked over at Hawk, "While you were sweet talking that shop lady I got the dynamite, you don't think I'd go into a fight with no dynamite do ya?"

 

Hawk pondered on that a while, Grizz had often used dynamite in the past, either thrown, of tied in a tree or on a building and set off with a rifle shot. It served them both well when facing superior numbers, the enemy would be shooting, watching for a charge and the roof would explode over their heads, or a tree would fall on them.

 

"I reckon not" Hawk said, holding his hand out for the saddle bags. "I can slip in and place the charges, you watch my back."

 

Grizz handed over the bags and chuckled. Not often he could pull one over on Hawk.

 

"Just remember, we let ol Bennie announce himself and get shot at before we open up." Grizz said as they rode on into the night.

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As we rode out, I said to Grizz, "How bout dis, we hit da school first, most will be outside patrolin', I shoot da last one through da door and we'll have'em over a barrel. " "Hawk, remember to let Benton call out first." Grizz said to me. "Why ?" I asked, almost mad it that suggsation. "If'in I kill da last one throught the door, it'll let them know our intentions is serious !" And Grizz said, "No Hawk. We're in a strange land, with strange fellers. Let Benton annouce himself first !" "Alright Grizz, alright ! But just one of dem fellers gits a shot off, I'm shootin back !"

 

We stopped and saddled up and I adjusted something Grizz didn't know I had. "What's that gun ya got there, Hawk ?" I pulled it out and it seemed the barrel went on forever. "Oh...dis little thing......Just a SpringField TrapDoor in 45-110 ! Was able to clip a gnats wing at 1000 yards wif it, but da old eyes aint da same no more. I just settle to hit him at 950 yards !" and I winked at Grizz. He chuckled and said, "It may just come in handy, pick'em off at long range. They'll be dead before they hear the report."

 

"Hawk, I was just wondering, you got that feller with yur 1860 Henry, right ?" Grizz asked me and I said, "Yup,..so ?" "Well, how did you figger the distance and such ?" "Well, remember once doin' that shot to a fox one time.....bout da same distance....so I set up like I did fore. " Grizz just shook his head and said, "Lawdy, that was some bully shot ! What the hell would you have done if you had missed ?" I reigned up and said to Grizz....."Never gave it much though !" and smiled. Grizz laughed a good ole belly and said , "You are one crazy injun, you know that !?" I spured my horse on and said, "Yup...prety much !"

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Grizz rode on in silence thinking that it was a good thing Benton wasn't around to question how Hawk could have seen the man cock the hammer before he shot. They tied the horses up and walked the last ways towards the farm compound. Hawk left Grizz at a good vantage point and slipped in to rig the dynamite. From all appearances, they hadn't found the dead sentry yet as all was quiet. They spotted a few live sentries on the way in, but were able to easily avoid them, or take them out. Hawk wanted to slit their throats but Grizz insisted on tying them up and gagging them, well, except that one who put up a fight, That one did get his throat cut.

 

Hawks mission to set the charges went well, which was a darn good thing, it was dark enough that Grizz was having a hard time seeing. Hawk slipped back up to where Grizz was hiding and made sure he could pick out the charges before slipping out again to find cover and another vantage point so they'd have as much of the compound covered at possible.

 

As Grizz sat and waited, he wondered what Benton would think when he woke to find an empty camp, no matter, he felt sure he'd still ride to the farm and follow through with the plan. Pulling his poncho close Grizz wondered why that mountie struck a chord in him, it was as if Benton reminded him of someone, young, idealistic, eager to see justice done and follow the letter of the law. Eventually it finally hit him, Benton reminded him of himself in his younger years. Maybe Canada and the current times would lend themselves to that sort of lawman for Benton, where it hadn't for Grizz. Oh, Grizz had done his level best, but in the lawless west of the recent past, it was kill or be killed, and announcing yourself often resulted in a hail of gunfire, men destined for the hangman's noose don't have anything to lose, and have their very life to gain and would do anything.

 

As it got lighter, Grizz looked over the compound, making sure he knew where everything was, especially the charges, he ran through his memory of where the sentires were that they'd tied up, and where the one or two they'd left alone were. Lastly he got a bead on where Hawk was. If not for Hawk pointing out where he was going, he wouldn't have been able to see him, Grizz only hoped he himself was as well hidden.

 

The sentries had all been cleared out for the main approach to the farm yard, Benton met no resistance as he rode up. Hawk and Grizz watched as he tied his horse to the fencee and took cover behind a wagon, maybe the kid wasn't as dumb as he appeared. After a few moments he called out "Royal Canadian Mounted Police, throw out your guns and come out with your hands over your heads!"

 

There was movement inside the buildings, but no shots nor anyone coming out. A voice shouted from inside the main house. "Benton, is that you? It's me Dirk, I got this under control, get out of here!"

 

Dirk outranked Benton by quite a bit. To disobey a direct order from him was unthinkable, yet, Benton held firm. "I can't do that sir, throw down your guns and come out peaceably"

 

Dirk hollared back "I was afraid you'd say that boy, now you gonna die" and with that proclamation Dirk broke out a window pane and started shooting.

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I loaded my Springfield Trapdoor and leved it that the front. I didn't have to want long, for as soon as Dirk fired the first round, the front door opened and I pulled the trigger. The force of the bullet strinking the man lefted him out of his stove pipe boots and the door quickly closed. To open it again would be to inveit death in.

 

Those men knew some one had the front door covered, evffectively keeping them pinned into one postion. Now the two sentries where running my way, and I had a treat for them. The first one caught a catus in the face from steppin on a string line I had placed earlier, just in case. While he was dealing with that, an arrow found it's way into the other's throat. He died with a look of amazement on his face. When the next sentire recoverd from his fight with the natrual plant life, he looked surpised at me, and then lost his.

 

Grizz was busy trying to convence Dirk, that when Dirk fire, he opened up a whole can of mean ole nasty worms. I saw Benton turn to see where all this lead was raining down from, but he made no movement, so I guess he knew it was going to save his bacon ! Still, he acted as if the next round my hit him in the back. I had the best angle at Benton, and I have been called alot of things in my time...some true, some not. But a back shooter was not one of them. As a matter of fact, the last man to call me that died with my fighting knife buryed in his gut !

 

I reloaded the 45-110, set it aside and grabbed my 1860 Henry. Now this rifle may be old, but sh has taken out some sassy bindtios in her time. She worked great, hit what I was aiming at, and was easy to clean. So I leveled it at the window that Grizz was aiming at, and got them from a differant angal. Them bad ole boys must have thought a posse of mounties had came up on them. Then it happened..........

 

Just as I was enjoying myself, the front door opened. Igrabbed my Springfield and fired, again, knocking that cowboy out of his boots, yet another got out. He was trying to flank Grizz, who had his hands full too. I shorely did wish he would shoot the dynimatie, to reveive the pressure some what.....what the hell was he waiting for ?????

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Grizz was watching the scene unfold, keeping an eye on Benton in particular. The young mountie had managed to grab his rifle before his horse had bolted and run off, and seemed to be uninjured. He'd found some cover, but other than that just seemed to freeze.

 

Hawk was handling anyone who came out the door of the main house, but it was unsure just yet how many men were in the 'school' building off to the side of the main house, they hadn't yet jumped into the fight. Off to his right Grizz caught a glimpse of someone running off. Grizz didn't have a good angle on him, but Hawk would, but Hawk was watching the door.

 

Finally Hawk looked over at Grizz to see why he hadn't shot the dynamite yet and Grizz was pointing wildly towards the man escaping. As soon as Hawk touched off the 45-110 Grizz set in on the dynamite. With only Grizz, Hawk, and a dazed Benton, they had to take the fight out of these fellers before they realized that their force was small, and they could escape at any time to the rear of the buildings. Griz set off all but one of the charges, choosing to leave that one as a last resort.

 

"Benton" Grizz thundered, "Tell them again!"

 

Benton looked over at Grizz a bit wild eyed, but straightened his tunic and cupped his hands to his mouth "Royal Canadian Mounted Police, throw down your guns and come out with your hands up!"

 

The door to the school building opened and guns were thrown out, 6 men filed out walking towards Benton who now seemed alert with his rifle trained on them. The door to the house had been blown off, a few guns were thrown out and three more men filed out, hands raised.

 

The last man coming out of the house was walking very close to the man in front of him, a fact not lost on Grizz and Hawk. When he got closer to Benton, Dirk pushed the man in front of him down and pulled a gun. "I kill you, you snot nosed son of a b..."

 

Dirk's speech was cut short when a round from Benton's rifle tore through his shoulder causing him to drop his gun and stumble backwards. One of the others tried to run and was rewarded with a round from Hawk's rifle. It was a tough situation, they had no way of knowing if this was all of them, but they had to control what they could see, while keeping watch out for what they couldn't.

 

"Get on the ground, face down, hands on your heads" Grizz boomed out. The men complied.

 

Benton walked over to Dirk and kicked his revolver away. "You're a disgrace to the uniform" he spat at the dying man.

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I trained my rifle on the front door of the mani building, determinded to cut into any man who stepped across that threshold. Grizz and I have fought enough battles in our time, that we knew one would have the other's back. Although he could see that extra pack, I could'nt. And I knew Grizz would datnotate it without a thought to me, if the situration called for it.

 

"You there, in da house, I aint used to repeatin' myself, Ya'll come on out ! Let me see yur big ole smiles, or I'll tell my Commander to fire on dat buildin' again and bring it down. Now, what's it gonna be !? " I shouted as I levered my Henry and aimed it at a big hole what used to be a door. "Yur a Yank...aint got no Commander here, injun !" some one yelled out. "I'm on loan to da Mounties fer a spell, and I aint no damn Yankee nether ! Come out.......NOW !" I shouted.

 

"Not surrenderin' to no damn Yank Injun !" a voice inside shouted back out. "I'm done bandin' words wif ya...come out or we'll blow ya out !"

I responded. "You aint got no Mounties out der !" the voice said. Now....don't you bet yur life on it !! " I waited for a few scounds and with no responce I shouted up to Grizz, "Captin', asmith zero point two degress north....elevation...one two five degress true...fire when ready !!" I had vagley remembered some orders I heard called out in the war, and used them. Grizz knew where the other pack was and was about to fire on it.............

 

"Ok....Ok....We're comin' out, damn Yank injun !" the voice shouted from inside what remained of the building. "Throw out yur pistolas first, den walk out wif yur rifles, breech open, above yur heads.....Do it now or a whole lot of pain is gonna come upon ya !" I told the voice. I saw first one , then two, three, four, and the last man, number five came out with a smile on his face. That's when it strike me, the man I saw running off, out of Henry range !

 

I took all the rifles from the men standing in front of what was left of the main house. "Benton...I got dis.....cover da school !" I called out. "Of course !" Benton responded. After I colleted all the weapons they had, I had them lay their rifles down on the ground and take one step back. This they did, and I took my rifle, walking up to the man wf a smile on his face, I smiled back at him and said to him, "Open yur mouth !" His smile dissappered. "I aint in da habit of askin' twiced...open yur mouth or I do it fer ya !" I said wif a smile on my face.

 

He opened his mouth and I incerted my rifle barrel into his big ole mouth and said, "I think I know da answer to dis, but lie to me and I will clear yur sinuises. Was the man I saw runnin' away Obermann ?" The big mouthed man nodded yes and I called out "He aint here !" Grizz responded, "What the hell do you mean, he aint here ?" Grizz responed by putting his colts away and pounching ole big mouth with my rifle barrel in his mouth, right in the jaw, braking his jaw along with a few rotting teeth. The man dropped like a stone in the water, and out cold.

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