|Western Fiction posted December 31, 2009||Chapters:||...32 33 -34- 35|
Cindy gets revenge.
A chapter in the book THE TOUGH BREED
Dancing With A Wildcat
Note: The Prolgue is a guide for this story.
The Peralt Land scandal led to violence pitting settlers against new arrivals that had fallen for the farce.
Slim and Panhandle started their search away from the boulder. They used torches which gave off more light than the lantern. After a few minutes, Slim uttered a curse. “Someone snuck up behind her. There was a fight. There are some specks of blood on the rocks over here.”
“Someone tied a horse back here!” Panhandle called out.
Leland and Tea studied the ground until they reached Panhandle. “These are Amanda’s tracks. He is leading her somehow and there are specks of blood on the rocks,” Tea observed.
Slim looked at Leland. “Those are not the horse tracks of the shooter. He’s mounted his horse and led the other. The tracks lead off toward the East.”
The men returned to their horses.
Leland looked around and chose his messengers. “Miguel, go tell the colonel, but don’t tell Cookie. Riley, ride into town and tell Rebel. The rest of us will break up into groups. Coffee, Tea and I will be the middle group. Slim, you take one group and Panhandle, you take the other. Search on either side of us and keep your eyes open in case he tries to change direction.”
Slade watched the K-Bar riders’ activity from his previous campsite. When he saw the lanterns and torches, he cursed.
I’ll have to get out of here, fast. The rope around Amanda’s neck was fastened to his saddle horn.
Slade checked on Cindy, who was still unconscious and lying over her saddle; her hands and feet were tied. A rope under the horse connected them to keep her from falling off. He mounted and rode as fast as he could in the darkness. The slivers of moonlight wasn’t much help, but he was familiar with the trail.
Rebel and Cal rode into the livery. They began to take care of their horses.
Luke hurried to them. “I know who shot the colonel and Cookie.”
Rebel stopped what he was doing and turned to the young man. “Who?”
Luke pulled the pieces of the damaged horseshoe from his pocket and handed them to Rebel. “Hold these, I’ll be right back.” He hurried to a stall and brought Slade’s horse out into the lantern light. “Take a look at the left rear hoof.”
Cal finished unsaddling the two horses and put them into stalls. He walked over to Rebel, who was looking at the rear left hoof of the horse.
Luke held a lantern high to give him better light.
The sheriff released the horse’s leg and stood under the light to examine the two pieces of the broken shoe. “Who brought the horse in?”
“Clay Slade. He rode it in lamed. I recognized the indentation and told him the horse had to rest a couple of days before I could shoe it. I loaned him a livery horse. While he went out back to rope one, I took the saddlebags off. One flap was loose and part of the shoe fell out when I pulled them off the horse. I found the other part and hid them in the hay. After Slade left, I put them in my pocket and his horse in a stall. I’ve been waiting for you ever since.”
“Do you know where Slade is?”
“About four hours ago, he rode out of town toward the old stage road. He wasn’t on the livery horse. I found it tied to the hitching rail behind the Scarlet Slipper.”
The three men stopped when they heard the sound of a running horse.
Riley jumped off his horse and hurried into the livery. “Someone has kidnapped Cindy!”
Luke ran out to get Riley’s mount. He led it in and began unsaddling it.
Rebel glared at Riley. “The Hell, you say. What happened?”
“Cindy never returned to the ranch. Right after you two left, Leland talked with Tea and they both raced toward the creek. Coffee hurried into the bunk house and told us Cindy was missing. He had us gather lanterns and make up some torches.”
Cal raised his hand and motion for Riley to slow down.
The young cowhand caught his breath. “They were checking out the creek bed when Leland found part of Cindy’s clothes. He sent Miguel to the ranch and me to tell you.”
Rebel’s faced turned a dark red. “That lying son-of-a-bitch! I should have shot him when I had the chance.”
“Pull in your spurs!” Cal said. “Get all the information before you run off like a hound with a scalded butt!”
Rebel took a deep breath. “A few days ago, Riley and I caught Slade bothering Cindy while she was washing sheets and bandages. We got the drop on him and made him finish Cindy’s job. Later that night, someone took a pot shot at me and missed because I moved my head.”
Cal pushed his hat back. “Was that the creek we cross to and from the K-Bar?”
Rebel nodded. “We were less than two hundred yards from the bend and the place used for bathing.”
Cal shook his head. “Coming back, we must have got to the creek right after someone nabbed her.”
Rebel brought his anger under control. “Slade made sure he was seen leaving town heading for the stagecoach road. There’s a trail one mile south of the crossroad. He could have doubled back. It crosses the mountain and comes out by the creek.”
“Then, it was dumb luck that Cindy was at the creek and Slade spotted her.”
Rebel nodded. “It was her bad luck. We are going to have to find Slade fast. Leland is too close to town to carry out his own justice.”
Riley stared at Rebel. “You wouldn’t hang him for killing the snake who kidnapped his wife?”
“It would be up to Langley if he hangs, or not. I would have to arrest him,” Rebel informed him.
Cal answered for the sheriff, “Times are changing son. This is a matter for the Law.”
“We need some things before we head out.”
Slade rode around the distant bobbing lights. He gained some time by choosing rocky areas. Soon, he was off the side of the mountain and on the main trail to Hogan’s Hell Hole. He gambled no one would be on the trail at night, so he forced the horses into a ground-eating trot. It’ll take them a few hours to realize I’m off the mountain. I know exactly where I want to go. He was about a mile from town when he turned west. He glanced at Cindy lying over the saddle, bouncing. I’m going to have to get that devil horse secured so I can tie her better.
Slade rode out as fast as he could. He slowed down when he came across the meandering creek. Grinning, he followed it back toward the place he had captured Cindy. He planned to go part of the way. When he found the tributary he wanted, he followed it up the rocky mountain side.
Slade and his prisoner arrived at the small canyon just as the sun was peeking over the eastern mountains. He entered and rode until he came to the small pond fed by a waterfall. After securing the two horses to a stout branch of an oak tree, he relieved himself.
He hobbled his mount and released it to graze. Amanda proved to be a little more difficult. He tightened her rope giving her very little room to kick or bite, and turned his attention to Cindy who was lying unconscious on the rocky ground.
Slade pulled off her boots and untied her feet. He unfastened her jeans and pulled them off. He tied the ends of the ropes to her ankle, leaving her room to hobble in her remaining garment, a pair of ankle-length bloomers.
He ignored the jeans' urine scent and threw them over his shoulder. It wasn’t difficult to drag his captive to the pond. Slade untied her hands and half-lifted and half-threw her into the icy water.
Cindy came to the surface a short time later, combating dizziness and a headache. She heard laughter and located Slade on the bank holding her jeans. “Leland will make you pay, you bastard!”
“He got to find us first. Get out of the water!”
“Give me my jeans!”
Slade pulled his Bowie and sliced them in two at the crotch and dropped the two halves into the water. He used a stick to make sure they were soaked. When he was satisfied, he used the same stick to fish them out and looked at Cindy.
“You should’ve had extra clothing in your saddlebags.” He held the remnants in his left hand. “I need these. Last time I’m telling you. Get out of the water!” Slade reached down and picked up the piece of rope used to tie her wrists.
He threw the wet jean legs over his shoulder; waved his Bowie knife at her and started walking toward the horse. “Don’t worry I’ll kill that devil mare quietly.”
“You wouldn’t dare!”
Slade turned, pointing the Bowie at Cindy. “I don’t need your horse. I just need you.”
Cindy tried to rush out of the water, but her hobbled ankles caused her to fall.
Slade bellowed with laughter. “Come slowly.” He watched as she walked toward him. Her light garment clung to her like a second skin. Slade felt a stirring in his loins. When she drew closer, he ordered, “Turn around and put your hands behind your back.”
Cindy stood defiantly. She folded her arms across her bare breasts. “What if I refuse?”
“Then you’ll get a second beating and wake up to a dead horse.”
Cindy glared at him and realized he was serious. She kept from flinching when she saw the crazed look in his eyes and turned, putting her hands behind her back.
Rebel, Cal, and Riley spent most of the night following Slade’s tracks. When they found the campsite, Rebel noticed tracks from Leland and his riders.
The three had the advantage of being on the side of the mountain and soon spotted an occasional flicker of light. They went in the direction of the lights and caught up with them on the main trail at dawn. It took the riders an hour to find where Slade left the trail.
Tea looked over the mountainous area. “Too bad we can’t send someone up higher. Now that its daylight, Slade is covering his tracks better.”
Cal looked over at Rebel. “The only way to follow with any speed is to use the 'Picken's Crawl.'”
Rebel chuckled; he remembered spreading a group of rangers out in a line. “It worked then, maybe it will work now.”
Slade busied himself putting pads of jeans on his horse hoof.
Cindy was tied to a tree branch, hanging with her feet inches from the ground. “That’s not going to fool Coffee, or Tea. Leland told me they could track a sand flea through a desert storm.”
Slade covered the last hoof before answering her. “I’m going to let you down and untie you. I need you to put pads on your horse. Try anything and I’ll cut its throat.” He grabbed the waistband of her bloomers and cut them off of her. He looked at her nudity and grinned.
Slade squeezed her right breast. “I bet you’d be a real wildcat in bed. I always wanted to dance with a wild cat. Maybe I will.”
Cindy gave Slade a murderous glare and rubbed her hands together. “If you tried, I’ll scratch you so bad there would only be ribbons of meat left of you.”
Slade walked on to Amanda and grabbed her mane. He smiled at Cindy and placed the Bowie against the horse’s neck. “Get busy. When we get away from here, I’ll risk your claws.”
Cindy quickly covered Amanda’s front feet while planning.
She deliberately rubbed against Slade when she finished the right front hoof. The naked woman tickled Amanda under her chin.
The mare whinnied and tried to toss her head.
Slade was on the right side of the horse and had to tighten his grip on the mane.
Cindy patted Slade’s butt as she eased past him. “It seems like you’re surrounded by wild cats.”
She ignored his stares and coarse comments as she went to cover the left rear hoof. She aggravated Amanda by gouging the mare’s sensitive underbelly.
Slade did not see Cindy’s actions. Amanda kept all of his attention. He cursed at the animal.
Cindy discretely gathered large rocks and placed them near the right rear hoof. She finished with the left hoof and settled by the right hoof. When Slade gave the horse all of his attention, she stroked Amanda and poked her mare in the rectum.
“You damn horse, settle down!” Slade screamed and pressed his knife toward Amanda’s throat.
Cindy picked up a fist-size rock, stood and threw it as hard as she could at Slade’s head.
Slade released his hold on Amanda and started to turn.
In rapid procession, Cindy hit him in the head two more times with her larger rocks.
Slade crumbled to the ground.
Amanda stomped on his left shoulder as Cindy picked up the largest rock she could find and smashed it against his temple. She hurried to release Amanda and settled her down. When the horse calmed down, Cindy kicked Slade’s testicles. He didn’t react and she removed his shirt. She picked up his Bowie knife.
The group of riders were following the creek when Leland spotted a lone rider riding away from them. He used his spy glass and urged Sidewinder to a gallop. When he got near the rider, he reined his horse in.
Cindy was wearing only a man’s shirt, her gun belt and boots. She nodded at Leland and continued toward the K-Bar.
Her husband caught up with her, again. He noticed her hands were bloodied. “Where is Slade?”
“I left him where he needed to be. He wanted to dance with a wild cat.”
In the middle of the night, a cougar caught the scent of blood. It followed the scent until it found stronger ones; the scent of man and fear. The cougar looked at the man hanging upside down in a tree, hands and feet tied. The man was trying to get free. The wild cat growled softly before he began playing with its dinner.
The Peralt Land scandal led to violence pitting settlers against new arrivals that had fallen for the farce.
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