Vigilante CowboyBy: Riley Moreno
Western Cowboy Romance
Lane Hayes slowed his horse down to a trot when he reached the top of the hill and looked down. His ranch stretched out before him – serene, beautiful. The late afternoon Alabama sun was warm on his shoulders and he adjusted his Stetson and squinted up at the sky. He could see his horses in the paddock below the hill; the cows he personally bred, grazing in the meadow. He could even see the Ranch House porch. A train whistled in the distance and Lane watched it come round the bend over to his far right. It seemed to remind him that there was something important he needed to do. He turned his horse about abruptly. ‘Alright Beaumont, time to go home!’ he said, and the horse trotted away, gathering pace as it cantered down the hill.
Back at the Ranch House Lane prepared for the night, slipping his pistols into his holster and filling his pockets with more ammo. As the shadows gathered about the Ranch House, Lane felt that same familiar excitement in the pit of his belly. He saddled Beaumont, running his strong hands through his mane. He had groomed Beaumont earlier that day, until his thick black coat shone and shimmered. Beaumont was the perfect horse for his business that night, merging with the shadows; even the sound of his hooves muted by the meadowland that they rode through.
Lane positioned himself near a grove of trees, and pulled his bandana up over his face, leaving only his eyes exposed. He went over his plan once more, though he had done this often enough for his movements to almost seem rehearsed. He looked up at the sky, overrun with dark clouds, the barest hint of moonlight doing nothing to dispel the gloom, and shielding him and Beaumont from any eyes that may be scouring the landscape to spot him.
When he heard the train whistle in the distance, Lane stiffened. Beaumont too seemed practiced in the art of keeping absolutely still. Lane had his hand on his holster, ready to draw his weapons at the sound of a shot. He could see shadowy figures emerge as the train rounded the bend and sped towards them. It would slow down as it neared that section of the countryside because the terrain demanded that it did, and that would be the moment Lane was waiting for. The carriages swung to and fro as the train approached, the chugging sluggish, leisurely. Lane nudged Beaumont forward by pressing his boot gently against his belly and the horse obediently started off towards the train. Pistol shots rang out, as the train slowed down and Lane urged Beaumont to a canter, and then to a full gallop. The shadowy figures were now perceived as mounted men, masked and armed. Lane drew his pistols and fired into the air. There were five men, and on every previous occasion when Lane had fired into the air they had turned around and he had distracted them from what they were about to do. He had sometimes engaged them in an exchange of fire, deliberately not injuring them, but diverting their attention long enough to allow the train to get away. This time however, the five men seemed to know his routine, perhaps having encountered him on some previous occasion, because they paid no heed to him when he fired his pistols into the air. Instead they jumped from their horses, directly onto the train as it swung slowly past. Lane heard screams as they proceeded to hold up the passengers, and he flew off Beaumont and climbed onto the train in pursuit of the bandits.
Chivonn Byrd was travelling to Baldwin County with a dream. She wanted to be a singer and she had heard there were Bars there where she could waitress and maybe one day, she might get the opportunity to entertain an audience. Chivonn looked down at her coffee colored hands, aware of how her color limited her chances of success, but she was optimistic. She was deep in thought when she heard the shots ring out and the screams of women and shouts of other scared passengers.
There were armed bandits on the train, someone was shouting into Chivonn’s ears and she lamented the fate that had allowed such an occurrence to mar her chances of reaching Baldwin County alive.
‘Give us your money and your jewelry!’ Chivonn heard a man bark out, and a gun was thrust in her face. She cowered against the back of her seat, her lower lip trembling with fear, and held out her handbag.
‘I don’t have much,’ She whispered, beginning to slip the earrings off her earlobes, tears slipping down her cheeks because they were the only item of jewelry she owned and they had been given to her by her late grandmother.