Remus Supple wiped his mouth and looked at his three companions. “What?”
“You, um, well…” Ellison stammered. Frank was agog. They’d raided the trio of wagons just before dawn and their newest member had revealed his true self in dramatic and terrible fashion.
Klaus pointed his axe. “You turned into ein viskos wulfen tier! Vas is das??”
Remus gathered his clothes up. “Well now you know. So, what happens next is up to you?”
“You’re a human dog!” Frank cried as he tried to fathom what he’d just seen.
“Close,” Remus smiled sinisterly. “It’s a wild west out here and I’m…wild. Any problems?”
Ellison shook like a leaf as he confirmed he had not a single problem. Klaus gritted his teeth as he lowered his axe. Frank turned and vomited onto the ground.
“Didn’t think so,” Remus kicked a body near his feet. “Gather anything worthwhile, we ride in an hour.”
Remus wandered off to fix his state of partial undress. Ellison looked around in utter confusion.
“What the hell-fired horse biscuits just god damned happened!?!?”
Morgan Fogg clung to his old grey mare the way bear cubs do their mothers. If it wasn’t for the stubborn thing, he’d be a split carcass across a tree thanks to an old Indian custom of using wet leather, sunlight and nature tear people apart. The horse was okay having grazed on grasses and dew, but Morgan hadn’t had anything substantial in days. He was tired, hungry, chaffed but above all angry at his family.
Ahead he saw a ranch nestled amongst some cornfields.
“Thank you,” he muttered up at the sky to either his father's or mother's god’s to take the credit. He then repeated it into the ear of the mare. She grunted and clopped on. As they rode closer Morgan noticed three horses tied up at the back of the home and no smoke coming from the chimney.
“Should just take some corn and ride away, Morgan,” he said aloud. “But you we raised proper and not to be a thief. So, you’ll ride on down, knock on the door and ask for some water and rest from the nice farming folks inside, offer to pay’em and ride away. But guessing by them horses at the back, and that we’re in the middle of nowhere there’s at least three, if not five, sons of bitches hiding inside causing all kinds of trouble for the folks who live there. Just ride off Morgan. Not your problem. Leave it be.”
He kicked the sides of the mare and rode down.
“You’ve got a rifle and a boot knife. Chances are you’re going to get your stupid hungry face shot off because you’re a decent person who got raised by a preacher’s daughter. Take some corn, pray for forgiveness from on high and live another day, Morgan. Jesus forgives.”
Morgan stopped the horse at the porch and dismounted. “But God hates a coward. As Corinthians reads, ‘Be watchful, standeth firm in the faith, act liketh men, be strong.’ Let’s hope you’re just crazy from lack of food and...”
The door opened slightly. Morgan took his hat off and smiled. “Howdy ma’am, sorry to be bothering you, I was...”
The door slammed shut. “..hoping to have some of your corn.” Morgan put his hat back on and shook his head. From the corner of his eye he spied a figure at the window concealed in the curtain. “Just walk away, Morgan. You ain’t getting paid, not your problem.”
Morgan skipped up the stairs and rapped on the door. The door began to open. Morgan grit his teeth and kicked it open sending the woman and the man behind the door backwards. Morgan dived into the home, rolled and pulled his boot knife out. The man near the window trained his pistol on him only to get a knife through the middle of his knuckles. The man on the floor scrambled for his gun, Morgan joined him in the awkward belly race for the weapon. The pair traded blows. Morgan gained the upper hand when the man’s partner, profusely bleeding from the hand aimed his gun with his other hand at Morgan.
Morgan grabbed the man tight and rolled as the shot rang out, burying deep into the buttocks of the man who howled in pain.
“You stupid son of a whore!”
“Ah shoot, sorry Georgie!”
Morgan quickly got up and used Georgie as a shield. “I just wanted some corn. I didn’t want no trouble.”
“Shoot this red monkey, Clarence!” Georgie wheezed as Morgan rammed his knee into his groin a few times.
“You’re the Curry Brothers,” Morgan noted as he kept Georgie between him and his brother. “Should’ve guessed.”
“Move Georgie!” Clarence waved his weapon around when the lady of the house smacked his arm down with a bed warmer. Clarence slapped her vicsciouly before pumping a shot into her belly. Seizing the opportunity Morgan rushed with Georgie and slammed all three of them out the window with a crash. The melee continued on the porch in a scrappy affair. Morgan kicked Clarence off the porch towards his mare hoping the stubborn grey girl would help him out like she did with the Chinaman. The cantankerous beast looked around indignantly, snorted and resumed gnawing at her fetlock.
Morgan grabbed a shard of broken glass and rammed it into Georgie’s ear who fell down quite dead from the horrid wound. Clarence roared at the sight of his dead brother. Morgan dove off the porch and tackled him to the ground.
“You’re dead, you crossbred coyote!” Clarence jammed thumbs into Morgan’s eyes trying to touch his brain. Morgan screamed and lashed out with his teeth, clamping down hard on Clarence’s nose. Clarence released but Morgan held on like the coyote he’d just been called. The pair broke from each other; Clarence holding his face as Morgan spat a chunk of nose into the dirt.
“I just wanted some corn!” Morgan growled wiping his mouth.
“You killed my brother!” Clarence replied as he looked around for the gun. Lying equidistant between them was the 1848 Holster Pistol. Both looked at each other, the gun and then each other before lunging for it only to have the grey mare step on it.
“Get off!” Morgan yelled at it.
“Stupid ass mule!” Clarence slapped the horses leg trying to make it move. The mare reared up in anger and brought her hooves down up Clarence Curry; one on his wrist and the other on the top of his head. Clarence went limp as a cascade of blood poured from the top of his skull.
“You are the most wonderful annoying creature on the planet,” Morgan commented as he got up.
Morgan tapped the earth of the grave then made sure the cross was level. He didn’t know the woman, but she didn’t deserve any of this and this was the least he could do. He tucked his hat under his arm and bowed his head.
“Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful. The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me. Return to your rest, O my soul, For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.” Morgan recited the Psalm aloud, from all those lessons from his mother and grandfather. He looked up to the clouds sweeping across the sky and sighed.
Morgan mounted his mare that had three horses tied to it along with the bodies of the Curry Brothers. They’d fetch maybe two or three hundred, maybe less since they were dead, but a bounty was a bounty. “Come on you lot,” he said as he headed off into the sunset.