"Is that a house?" Dewey asked as he viewed the horizon from the cliff.
"I believe so, but it doesn't matter. Let's keep going." Joel answered, looking at the house. He turned his horse and began to trot along the cliff edge.
"Now hold on one secon.." Dewey was inturrupted as he caught up to Joel.
"Dammit Dewey! Are you going to do this everytime you see a house? We've already agreed, we're not going to hit another house until we're out of this state." Joel asserted. "And we're near Austin, lawmen are everywhere in these parts."
"No! Damn you Joel! Don't you yell at me you sum' bitch." Dewey answered as he held his pistol and trotted along side Joel. "Look, alls I'm saying is that we haven't eaten decently in days, the last house we hit was damn near a state away and we haven't had a break since. I say we take a night, and relax in a nice warm house. It's almost nightfall Joel, let's see if they have some beds." Dewey tried to convince his tired companion.
Joel stopped trotting and fell slightly behind Dewey, drew his gun, and pointed it toward Dewey.
"We could do that Dewey, I would love to do that. But unfortunately I'm on the run with a murdurous maniac who slaughter everyone in the last house we hit for no reason. And now everyone and their grandmas is looking for us and knows our little hustle. We lost everything we've picked up because of you!" Joel cocked the hammer on his revolver.
"It wasn't for no reason Joel! That little bitch figured us out and she was going to tell the laws Joel!" Dewey yelled as he put his hands up in surrender.
"That girl was barely a teen! I doubt she could even ride a horse Dewey!" Joel shouted. "I've been doing this for a lot longer than you have and I've never had to shoot anyone, no matter how bad things got! Once we're out of this state I'm done with you Dewey, we're going our seperate ways, until then I'm going to keep an eye on you and make sure you don't get caught by any lawmen and sell me out."
"Fine Joel, just put your gun down. How's about this. We ride down to that house, pitch our little spheal, and just sleep there until morning. No robbin', no killin', just a little lyin' and a lot of sleepin'. How's that sound Joel? A nice bed? And hell they might even feed us." Dewey was still fixated on the house.
Joel let out a large sigh. "Hmmm, I don't know.... I would like a nice bed...." Joel paused in thought. "But if you move wrong or put any one of the people in that house in danger, I will shoot you myself Dewey." Joel put his gun back in his holster, turned his horse, and started galloping toward the house.
"Well alright then." Dewey said smiling to himself.
As the two approached the house they realized how nice the house actually was. They couldn't help but be impressed by the farm and landscape that surrounded the house. The forest was cleared to make a few acres of grass fields where the house was built. There were stables full of prize horses and a people working in the garden. The house was somewhat small but still beautiful, and radiated the charming feeling of coziness. It was simply a one story wooden cabin and clearly built by master craftsmen. As they approached the front door, the two men looked at each other, dismounted their horses and calmly walked up and knocked. As they waited for someone to answer they patted the dirt off their dirty clothes. After a moment the door opened.
A slightly older man with grey hair and a well shaved grey beard answered the door. He was wearing a nice suit and slippers. He looked at the two men surprised.
"How can I help you gentlemen?"
Joel stepped foward. "Hi, my name is Robert Johnson, and this here is my associate Tim Morrison. We're gold prospectors who just passed through Luisiana and are heading west. We just saw some interesting geological formations and we are wondering if you own any of the land in this surrounding area?"
"I do, almost everything in eyeshot is mine." The man answered.
"Well, we have reason to believe there may be large gold deposits very close to here, maybe even under our feet now." Joel explained. "And if you would be so inclined, we would love to find it for you. For a small fee of course, but we can work out the details. So, if my intuition does right by me, which it very often does, you are looking at making a whole lot of money." Joel finished.
The man looked at the two with raised eyebrows, peering at them with fiery eyes that seemed to gaze deep into their shallow souls.
"Gold prospectors aye? Delightful, go ahead and come in." The man opened his door wide making room for the two, who obliged and entered the house.
The house was filled with beautiful funiture and had large windows that let in the evening sunlight. A fire burned elegantly in a fire place warming the house to a perfectly delicate temperature that warmed everyone who entered to an almost profound comfort. A young girl was cleaning around the already immaculate house. The man walked the two over to a large table where they all set down.
"Welcome to my home, I am Colonel James Fammin. This here is one of my daughters, Susy Fammin." The girl cleaning paused and did a slight curtsy. "Susy, would you go and fetch the boys and bring them here."
"Yessir." Susy answered and made her way outside.
"And you were Robert and Tim, was it?" the Colonel asked as he acknowledged his two guest.
Joel looked dumstruck. "Y..Yessir, sorry did you say your name was Colonel Fammin? The Colonel Fammin? Who struck down the Mexian army in San Antonio?"
"So your familiar with the Battle of Snake Run?" the Colonel asked. "Yes that would be me."
"It's... It's an honor sir! You and your regiment saved my family! I would have lost my family if that battle was lost, that whole territroy would have been ransacked and taken over by the Mexicans, but you held them off. I'm convinced without you we would have lost the war. Thank you sir, we are in your dept." Joel said as he shook the Colonels hand.
"Well it's my pleasure. If there's one thing I love it's a good battle and I would do it all again for the sake of our great nation and its people, like your family."
Dewey stood up and looked out the window, watching Susy make a long walk toward the edge of the cleared land toward what looked like another house.
"Well sir, I think we shouldn't bother you anymore tonight. Tim lets get on our way."
"Now hold on," the Colonel said, "I thought we were going to talk gold? You are gold prospectors are you not? Or was it oil?"
Dewey was fixated on the view outside of the window. "How many boys do you have Colonal?" Dewey asked.
Joel got up and looked out the window to see a troop of six large soldiers walking their horses toward the house accompanied by Susy.
"Because well you see boys, I've recently heard tale of two gold prospectors, who are sometimes oil prospectors, or sometimes some other lie, that have been stealing their way across the West, and only recently these two wouldbe-prospectors killed an entire family in cold bood. The news of it is all over the country, let alone the state, and now I have two prospectors in my house."
"No but sir we're coming from the East, remember? From Luisiana" Joel reminded the Colonel of his story. "And I heard about those outlaws also but we prospect for gold, not oil or for some made up lies. Gold sir."
"Now boys I appreciate the respect you showed me, and the fact that you wanted to leave me and my house in peace. But what I don't respect is you treating me like a fool. You boys are covered in West Texas dirt, you don't find that color of brown soil East of here. So I suggest you stop talking, and sit down. My men are going to arrest you when they get here and you will be taken to trial. If we find out you really are gold prospectors then you will have my sincerest of apologies, but if you're lying, and I believe you are, then the law will come down on you harder than I came down on the Mexicans at Snake Run." The Colonel finished, held a revolver down on the table, and looked at the two men.
Dewey looked at Joel, and before Joel could say anything Dewey drew his gun and fired hitting the Colonel straight in the heart.
"Dewey! You son of a bitch! That man is a war hero!" Joel shouted.
Suddenly a door opened from the other room and Dewey immediately fired, hitting a women who came to check on the sound of gunfire.
"We got to go Joel!" Dewey said as he looked at the mounted soldiers now galloping toward the house.
Joel looked at the soldiers riding toward him and at the dead Colonel. "Shit." He said to himself. Joel drew his gun and shot Dewey in the chest, killing him with the one shot.
Joel looked out the window and tried to think of a plan, but the soldiers were now dismounting with their guns drawn.
"Colonel?!" One of the men yelled to no response.
"Shit," he said to the others. "Gold Prospectors! You better pray that our Colonel is ok! If there is a scratch on that man you are going meet a fate a lot worse than the hangman! Now come on out." The soldier yelled toward the house.
"Listen fellas, I am sorry to inform you that there was an accident and our Colonel here is dead, along with a woman." Joel responded while looking at Dewey who also laid dead in the corner. "Now me and my partner here are the best shots in the South. I counted six of you and there ain't no way in hell you're takin' the two of us in a gunfight, so I suggest we all make our way and no one else gets hurt." Joel yelled outside.
There was no response. After a moment Joel peaked his head out the window to see two men approaching the house directly and the other four flanking the house, two on each side.
"Shit." Joel muttered to himself as he commited to a quick plan. He grabbed Deweys and the Colonels revolvers and emptied a few bullets into the fire place. Then he snuck around to the front door and hid in the corner. The door opened slowly, hiding Joel behind it, and very quietly two men entered. Joel clutched his gun and held his breath as the two men passed on the other side of the thin door. He knew if he exhailed the men would hear him, and there would be a gunfight. Each of their steps seemed slower and quieter than the last as he fought the growing pain caused by holding his breath. Eventually the soldiers made their way silently into the house with guns drawn. From behind the door Joel could see two more rifle wielding men enter the main living room from another hallway. If they were extremely observant they would see Joel hidden in the shadows behind the door, but luckily it was just dark enough to obscure his figure and buy a little time.
Once the men were fully inside and searching the house Joel carefully let out a small breath. Then the men started talking.
"Where is this bastard! He's a dead man!" One of the men muttered as he looked at his fallen Colonel. The men started moving quicker and more recklessly through the house, checking one each room and on each of the deceased.
When the time was right and the soldiers eyes were busy elsewhere, Joel quickly and quitely made his way through front door, slowly closing it behind him without being seen. And just as he shut the door, "BOOM!" the loud crack of gunshots started popping from inside the house. "BOOM! BOOM!" Joel flinched at the noise and ran to his horse, mounting it as quickly as he could.
"What the hell!" One of the soldiers shouted as they each found cover. "Is that coming from... the fireplace?!" "Ah hell!" Another man yelled.
"He's here! He's gettin' away!" Susy was still far from the house outside and now yelling for the soldiers. "He's outside on his horse! He's running!" She continued to shout as the men busted open the front door.
"Shit, lets go!" The soldiers each mounted their horses and started to pursue Joel while Susy continued to shout.
Joel's horse galloped at it's limit, with Joel pushing for more. He could see that he was now being pursued. The bullets in the fireplace only bought him a small amount of time and now he was in trouble. Six soldiers were in steady pursuit. He had to think fast. By now the sun had mostly set and the landscape was composed of small hills with one large ridge over looking the house. The trails were lined on both sides with thick tree lines and occasional creeks that fed into the Colorado River. And the only idea Joel could come up with was to hide once night had fallen.
"Shit." Joel could hear bullets wizz past him.
Joel rode past a bend in the trail and could see another bend up ahead. He slowly got his two feet on top of his horse who was still going full speed.
"Keep going girl," he said confidently to his horse and then jumped into the bush and thick forest on the side of the trail, disappearing into the tree line. His horse kept galloping at full speed turning the corner and vanishing beyond the bend. Suddenly the mounted soldiers turned the first corner, sped past the now hidden and deathly still Joel, and turned the second corner in hot pursuit of the now unmounted horse.
Once he could no longer hear the galloping horses Joel made his way deep into the forest to hide out for the night. After a long and dark trek, he found a nice secluded clearing next to a small creek where he created a makeshift camp and slept there under the stars and with one hand on his gun.
In the middle of the night he was awoken by the sound of train horn. He figured tomorrow he would use the train to make his escape out of the great wretched state of Texas. All he had to do avoid any more trouble.
"Piece of cake." He thought to himself before he went back to sleep....