Outlaw// Chapter One {A Preview}

1:10 PM


I finished my story "Outlaw". After editing it over, and over, and over, I can finally say, "the end" and actually mean it.
I really enjoyed having it edited by one of my awesome friends and then re-editing the minor mistakes and I enjoyed just writing a story. It's a western. It's from the 1800s. It's something I can call my own.
So yeah, I know I've shared a story preview but not a whole chapter, so here it is. Please comment on your thoughts - I'd love to know what you think!



Chapter One
                 Young Outlaw
                

Samuel pressed his back against the bank’s outside wall and fingered the gun in the holster at his side; his eyes darted across the street where his brother Zach set casually in a chair by the saloon. His chin was tucked down on his chest and his Stetson pulled low over his eyes, but Samuel knew his brother was alert and waiting for Troy’s signal. There was never a moment that went by that Zach was not keen and alert with his surroundings.
Samuel’s heart started thumping loudly as he watched Troy walk out of the saloon and give his signal to Samuel which was a nod of the chin to Zach.
“Don’t fool around boy,” Troy had told Samuel before the separated in Houston a few days back, “We are counting you ya now, ya hear?” Samuel had nodded and proudly puffed out his chest as Troy handed him a gun holster and pistol.  Zach had taught him to shoot when Samuel was only nine years old, and he had been a quick learner.
Now as Samuel crept out the shadows and into the bright afternoon sun, he still felt proud that Troy has actually recognized him has a responsible fifeteen year old and not some runny-nosed kid.
As casually as he could without appearing suspicious, Samuel opened the heavy white door of the bank and walked inside. His footsteps echoed on the wooden floor boards as Samuel tried to keep his wits about him but he was as jumpy as a jack rabbit.  
A banker with a receding hairline and thin wire glasses looked up at the sound of the door opening. He closed the ledger he had been writing in and smiled. “Hello young man. What can I do for you today?” Samuel shrugged casually and glanced over his shoulder and out the window to see Troy running down the street and coming towards the bank.
Samuel’s heart thumped loudly in his ears as he walked closer to the man and in one fluid motion, pulled out the pistol and held it up. “Keep your hands up and stay right where ya are.” His voice sounded shaky even to his own ears but he tried to keep it gruff like he’d heard Zach do the dozen other times they’d robbed banks and stagecoaches.
The man didn’t appear ruffled though, and smiled warmly as if Samuel was just playing a game like most boys do. “Stop playing around Son. I’ve got work to do.”  
Samuel almost felt sorry for the man, but motioned with his gun over to the wall. “Get over there or you’ll be wishing you had.”  
Just then the door flew open banging against the wall with a loud crash. Troy, with Zach not too far behind, ran in and slammed the door shut behind them, pulling down the green blinds on the window. Troy had a cigar hanging out the side of his mouth as he smiled at Samuel. “Well Sammy boy, it appears that ya didn’t need our help, but I be takin’ over and you help Zach with the cash. It won’t be too long for people start figuring out what we’re doing.”
Samuel nodded, glad be to being getting rid of the heavy weapon and slid it into his holster. He felt almost sick from the last few moments and drew in a deep breath. Bending down, he helped Zach grab the bills out of the drawers and stuff them into a leather satchel.  His hands shook, and he tried to draw in steady breaths as he worked.
Zach glanced over at Samuel. “Ya better git the gun of yours back out just in case…”His voice trailed off and he sucked in a breath as he opened a safe with the end of his knife. He cursed loudly as the blade broke the lock and the knife’s handle smashed his hand against the metal box.
Just as he had finished speaking, the door flew open and Samuel, without realizing what he was doing, jerked his pistol out of the holster and fired. Mayhem broke out as the smoke cleared, and the banker let out a yell for help, taking a chance to try and grab the gun from Samuel. With a twist of his arm, Samuel had the gun free and was dashing for the door behind Zach and Troy, his boots thumping loudly on the wooden porch.  The satchel had somehow ended up in his hands and he swung the strap over his shoulder as he ran, his long strides keeping up with Troy’s and Zach’s.
“Get on the horses and ride!” yelled Troy, “We’ll meet up with the others at the New Mexican border, so be heading west.” Samuel jumped onto his horse and urged him into a full gallop. His hands grasped the reigns and he kicked the mare’s sides, urging her on faster. As they road toward the town, heading into the woods, Samuel tried to think about everything that had just taken place in that split second. The person he had shot had been a young man several years older than him, he knew that much. The look in that the boy’s eyes- Samuel shook his head but couldn’t rid of the haunting thought. He swiped a hand across his brow and let the wind that rushed by him, cool his hot face.
He knew one thing for sure though- that what had just taken place would be something he would regret for the rest of his life.
                                        ~~~       
Sixteen-year-old Moses groaned and slowly opened his eyes. His father sat worriedly in a chair beside his bed and smiled when he saw that his son was coming to. “How are you doing, Son?” He brushed a callused hand through Moses’ light blond hair which looked almost white in the light of the lamp and called out the bedroom door, “Moses is awake, Doctor!” Doctor Gates, who was the only doctor in that part of Texas, rushed into the room and bent down over Moses.
“You gave us quite a scare, young man,” he said, laying a wet cloth on Moses’ head which made Moses groan.
“What happened to me Doc?” he asked. Moses’ leg felt like it was on fire and his head felt like it had a lump on it the size of Texas. “Feels like a train went over me and left me out in the sun besides.” Moses clenched teeth so hard he thought they’d break as the doctor unwrapped a white bandage from Moses’ right leg and inspected it before wrapping it tightly back up. The doctor snapped his black bag shut and stepped back.
“It appears you got your sense of humor back, Moses.” He raked his long fingers through his salt-and-pepper hair and sighed, “I think your Pa should be the one to tell you what happened.” Mr. Rodgers stood up shook Doctor Gate’s hand.
“Thanks Doc; Moses would’ve died if it hadn’t been for you. If only I hadn’t taken him to the bank at that certain moment…”  Mr. Rodger’s voice trailed off and he seemed to choke on his words.
“Now Mike,” Doctor Gates said, eying him carefully before continuing, “ it was no one’s fault except for the man with the gun; you know that as well as I do. Don’t blame yourself-just focus on helping your son get better.” Mr. Rodgers nodded in reluctant agreement and walked with the doctor downstairs to the door.
“Will you be back to check on Moses?” asked Mr. Rodgers.
Doctor Gates nodded. “I’ll be back tomorrow to change his bandage but it seems the bleeding has pretty much stopped. The bullet went straight through-thank God.” He squeezed Mr. Rodgers arm comfortingly. “Your son is going to be alright. Please, try not to worry. Lord willing, he will be up and about before you know it.” He tipped his hat to Mr. Rodgers and stepped outside before closing the door behind him. Mr. Rodgers rubbed a hand over his face, sighing loudly and knowing that now was the time to tell Moses what had happened.
                                                                              ~
Samuel cupped his hand together and scooped some water up from the stream before taking a drink. The sun had beat down on his head all day so dunked his head into the stream to clear away any dust that had gathered over the long ride.  “We’ll need to be riding hard boys.” Troy had ordered them four days before. “I can just feel that someone is on our trail and I don’t like it.”
It was a humid evening unlike most desert nights which were cool and clear. “What are ya doing Sammy Boy?” Troy called from beside the fire, his voice hard and rough like sandpaper. Troy’s graying, black hair hung down his shoulders, his clothes dusty and torn. Samuel wondered how old Troy really was though couldn’t tell from Troy’s hard, get moving attitude which barely let Samuel see what was really inside him.  
Samuel stood up and shook his head like a wet dog, water droplets running off his curly red hair before dripping off his chin. “Just drinking some of this here water,” he answered, swiping a hand against his dusty pant leg. “It sure is hot tonight.”
Troy nodded and leaned back comfortably against a tree trunk. The saddle bags lay at his feet with the money in hand. “That is one thing you are right about; why it’s hot enough to melt rocks out here, though I reckon that won’t last long; ya can be sure of that!”
“Troy?”
“Yeah, boy?” Troy glanced over at Samuel, giving him his full attention.
“How much money do you reckon we got?”
Troy eyed the money in his big hands. “I ain’t rightly sure but I think it comes near three hundred dollars’ worth.” He pulled the top off a bottle and took a drink, the liquid running off his beard.
Samuel glanced over at Zach who lay curled up on his bedroll, his back to them. He wondered what Zach was thinking at that moment. Ever since the shooting he had become very quiet and never saying much.
The shooting. Samuel sighed and stuffed his hands into the pockets of his pants. His mind had rested heavily on that day. Had it really only been four days since the shooting? Finally he couldn’t keep the questions locked in any longer. “Do you think that boy I shot was killed?” he asked Troy.  Samuel was afraid of Troy’s answer but it was something he had been wondering for the past days while they had been riding. Leaning forwards, he threw a stick in the fire making it suddenly jump back to life.
Troy scratched his head and looked hard at Samuel, his eyes narrowing ever so slightly into little black slits.  “What would you ask a fool thing like that, boy? It doesn’t matter anyway; it was jest some kid.”  His eyes narrowed even more as he shoved another log into the fire, “It aint’t nothing you should be worried ‘bout.”
Samuel frowned, “that “some kid” is my age,” he thought sadly. How can I live knowing I shot someone and not knowing whether they are dead or alive?
Unbuckling his gun belt and laying it beside him, he curled up on his bedroll and tried to sleep. Troy’s words kept echoing through his head, “It was just some kid.” But it wasn’t just some kid; it was a person who had a life to live same as he did.
Samuel turned over onto his side and stared lazily into the fire. Its flames flickered softly in the moonlight, and a wolf howled in the distance causing shiver to run down Samuel’s spine. Somehow he could never get use to the chilling howl of a woof. Rolling onto his back he slipped his hands behind his head and gazed up into the bright nighttime sky. Stars gazed back at him as if they were winking, daring him to dream and hope. He located the big dipper and then the little dipper his eyes, tracing their outline. Pa had taught him a lot about the stars and sky before he had died.

“I learned a lot from him,” Samuel said softly, his voice barely a whisper. He loved it out here; the freedom of the country and frontier was something Samuel relished more than anything.

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