The Gathering Storm


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Red Barbre pulled the cleaning rod from the breach of his Sharps rifle. The patch still showed signs of powder fouling and he prepared another to push through the barrel of the big rifle. As he soaked the new patch in the cup of soapy water he glanced at the revolver laying on the table; loaded and ready. It’s been several hours since Red lost the posse amongst the twisted rock canyons of the lower Black Range and pulled up at this lonely adobe. The Remington Pistol was assurance against the posse getting lucky. Red didn’t stay alive this long by taking any chances. Another couple of days and Red will be in Mexico. He should be there already but he never figured on the posse.

After leaving Jack and Betty, he headed south at a lope, the border four-maybe five days away. It was the second day out, just before evening that Red saw the dust on his back trail. A gathering storm had been slowly pushing up against the eastern mountains, the clouds causing the setting sun to reflect well into the distance foothills, the dust of a dozen hard ridden horses shown bright in the clear air. The paling sun would be down in less than an hour and the wind was already blowing in earnest. Red made camp betting the posse would choose to do the same. Marshal Black was a tenacious tracker but he would take it easy on the horses and the men with him. Exhausted animals and men would not be much use in a running battle and that was sure to transpire if the marshal got much closer.

Red chuckled to himself, thinking back about old Jack and that gal of his. Marshal Black must have taken quite a shining to that pair. Even though he probably only got a glimpse of Betty from the dirt of Main Street as she charged by on her horse. The marshal must have seen where the tracks split and the pair headed west. Red was sure the posse would have turned west after them. Marshal Black must be some mad about that rifleman he had posted on the roof. Hell, if he weren’t so fidgety, he would still be alive. The likeable young cowboy and his girl would certainly be easier to catch, and, less likely to shoot back than Red but the marshal made his choice knowing full well the possible consequences.

Red made a dry camp; ground hitched his horse and gave him a good rub. At first light he would ride into the canyon country and thwart any designs the posse had on catching him before he reached the border.

The morning came quiet and silvery gray with only a hint of the sun rising as a pale silhouette in the eastern sky. The wind had calmed during the night but as the morning wore on the storm that was bunching up against the mountains last night proved to be a stayer and the Black Mountains were hidden in a veil of dirty gray clouds.

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