The guest blogger today is Jim Griffin with part #22 of the Story with No Name:
“Hold up a bit, you three,” Vic Sawtell called before the trio could enter the bowels of the ruined ship. He and Choo How had chased Bourbon and the Apaches only a short distance, before they disappeared into a maze of dunes. “You’ll have plenty of time to explore that wreck. Right now, we’ve got other worries.”
“Like what?” Lola demanded.
“Bourbon and his Indians, for one. They’re not gonna go far from this ship, knowin’ we’re still here. They’ll be back, and we’d better be ready for them,” Sawtell warned.
“Victor’s telling it straight,” Choo How agreed.
“Sawtell’s right,” Arnside concurred. “This ship ain’t goin’ anywhere. What’s your thoughts, Vic?”
Sawtell raised his Winchester and sent several shots just over the camels’ heads. The ungainly animals ran squalling into the desert.
“What’d you do that for?” Roden cried, still bound hand and foot.
“I’d rather walk forty miles than get on the back of one of those stinkin’ beasts again,” Sawtell replied. “Besides, if things go our way, Bourbon will provide us horses. And I’ve still got mine.”
Sawtell whistled, and his chestnut appeared from behind a dune. The gelding trotted up to Sawtell and nuzzled his hand.
“I’ll get you some water in a minute, Rojo,” Sawtell told the horse.
“You mind untying me and Hassan first?” Roden pleaded.
Sawtell and Arnside cut the two men’s bonds, then gave them short drinks from their canteens. The entire group huddled in the scant shade of the ship’s skeleton.
Arnside dug in his pocket and removed the Ranger badge he’d picked up before leaving Bartlett’s corpse.
“What’s that?” Choo How asked.
“A Texas Ranger badge that was stuck in my chest. Can’t figure it. I’’ve never been a Ranger, and neither was Silas, Roden, or anyone else tied in with this,” Arnside replied.
“I’ll take that,” Sawtell said. The blonde outlaw plucked the badge from Arnside’s hand and pinned it to his shirt.
“What’s the meanin’ of that?” Roden demanded.
“My kid brother Joe was a Ranger. This was his badge. Joe was workin’ undercover, investigatin’ a smugglin’ ring led by Bourbon down in Galveston. Somehow they figured out who he was. Joe was strung up by his wrists, slit open from crotch to breastbone, and he was left hangin’ there with his belly ripped open and his guts pulled out and danglin’ like sausages hangin’ at a butcher’s. He must’ve hung there sufferin’ for hours before he died. I vowed to track down Bourbon for that. The badge stuck in your chest was a message to me, not you, Walt. Sorry I left it there when I cut you loose, but I couldn’t pull it out without givin’ myself away. I knew once you found Deuce’s horse you’d catch up to me.”
“You didn’t actually join the Rangers?” Arnside questioned.
“I wear the badge, and I draw pay from Austin every month,” Sawtell shrugged.
“What about the treasure?” Gabe asked.
“What treasure? I’ll believe that when I see it,” Sawtell retorted. He spat in the dust. “I’m not interested in gold in any event. I just want to see Bourbon dead, and with this badge I can do it legally. None of you will believe this, but I actually like workin’ on the side of the law. I’m figurin’ on makin’ the Rangers my new career.”
Lola snuggled against Sawtell’s side. She slipped her hand inside his jeans, to begin massaging his crotch.
“Vic, what about me and you?”
Sawtell pushed her away.
“Lola, you’ve had me and every other man here, plus some that aren’t, and you still haven’t decided which one you want. Take your pick, darlin’, but whoever you choose, it ain’t gonna be me.”
“Mebbe it’ll be him she’ll want.”
Zack Roden pointed to where Emilio Escobar Bourbon had reappeared on the horizon.
Next week's instalment will be written by Paul Dellinger...