I have to admit, the end of my previous entry was a bit abrupt. ‘As soon as we could get aboard’ was a bit of sophistry, y’see. We didn’t leave Purity so much as we fled it, an’ to say that we simply hopped on the auto-engine an’ made our get-away would be over-simplifyin’ matters unto prevarication.
Y’see, when we all got to the place we’d left the auto-engine, John-Boy and Benny was there, beat-up, and the auto-engine weren’t. A buncha ruffians called the Schneider’s Gang done bush-wacked our boys an’ made off with the danged thing! (God only knows why.)
Well, after the night we’d had, what with Colorado Cockroaches, Dead Men, and a Beautiful but Unconscious Schoolmarm, this was almost more than a sane man could bear. Incensed as I was, I lost my composure entirely an’ flew off in the direction of the ol’ canyons near Purity. My detractors might note that this was also the most expeditious way available to me at the time to leave town. Think of me what you will, but I was a man following auto-engine tracks with blood in my eye.
Fleeting moments later, I arrove at the precipice of a stairwell-like formation leading down into a canyon where I could see a few men an’ Mr. Hellstromme’s auto-engine, The ragged breaths of my companions behind an’ near me gave me the inklin’ that the crazy band of misfits I travel with had felt something akin to the same way I had an’ had thus followed me. While this is a sobering thought in and of itself for reflection upon at a later time, it was all the encouragement I needed then an’ there.
Throwin’ all caution to the wind, I bellowed a great Rebel Yell, and charged down the rocks into the canyon. It was a punishin’ run, but in what felt like no time at all, I was in the belly of the canyon, facin’ the three armed men I’d seen from the precipice … an’ the three armed men I hadn’t seen that had been on the other side of the auto-engine.
Brandishing the messkin-style cavalry sabre I’d picked up in Prosperity, I commanded the bandits to drop their guns an’ make ready to have themselves arrested. Of course, they laughed. They laughed a little less hard when the
Padre took a poke at one of ’em. I have to say, it impressed the Hell outta me!
I confess, the brawl that ensued is largely a colored blur in my memory. I remember puttin’ my cousin’s fencin’ lessons to good use, thick gunsmoke everywhere, strange snappin’ noises, ferriner cussin’, and alot o’ prayin’ (on my part, anyway). Things don’t start to make sense in a logical fashion again until I heard what I thought must be the Voice of God on High crackin’ thunder. There were a few thunderclaps in the space of a frenetic minute that caused men to die horribly, their heads a mess o’ blood an’ gore.
It was a real good thing there weren’t nothin’ in my gizzard afore that but devil-spit, for it woulda been real hard to hold on to anythin’ else. Men droppin’ dead in that unnatural way near-unnerved me, an’ it was all I could do to not stand there like a moon-calf jus’ watchin’. The noise of the doors on the auto-engine openin’ shook me outta my fugue, tho’, and I reacted jus’ in time to grab the Padre outta the way of a danged hand-canon wielded by a better-dressed bandit.
From our new position on the ground, the Padre and I could see what the people who’d stayed on the precipice with the rifles had been shootin’ around – big bundles of gun-cotton and powder! All of it seemed to lead up to some sort of cave … and that was all I saw of it afore the Padre lept back up to ‘talk’ to the bandits.
I could see now that we were handily out-numbered. Eight or twelve of ‘em were outta the fight, either on the ground bleedin’ in a horriffic way or runnin’ for thier lives. But there were easily about twenny more of ’em in and amongst the powder, near the cave.
To be honest, I’m not really sure what happened next – there was more than enough confusion around us, what with the thundercrack of rifle-fire, more sixguns goin’ off, the chin-ko-ren makin’ his ferriner cussin’ and his odd fisticuff style causin’ the slappin’ noises. The Padre and I were jus’ talkin’ gentlemanly with the bandito leader and his oddly-clothed companion when…
I don’ know what. Next thing I can compell myself to remember, I was diggin’ a whole lot of graves, or rather, a mass-grave for a horrible amount of meat and bone. The powder-kegs around me were asploded and some were still smoulderin’, the guy Ko-rhee-ahn was flat out unconscious nearby, an’ Wit was tellin’ me to keep an eye on “deet-RICK” (‘Dietrich’) for any suspicious behavior while he wasn’t about.
I nodded dumbly and continued my grim-but-holy task, and when I was done, went ta check on the chin-ko-ren. It’d been hours of course, and he wasn’t where I’d seen him sleepin’, but his weird not-shoe shoeprint tracks definitely showed he’d walked away. Din’ even help me with buryin’ the dead. Heathen.
Any-who, my next destination was into the cave where-all the rest of the posse had gone in order to have the Padre put a final polish on whatever blessin’ he’d started when I started diggin’ the grave (whenever that was) an’ found the shootist, Wicked, first.
By now, I was nearly apoplectic with strain, and it had started to show in the nameless saloon in Purity. Mebbe sooner, since I’d picked up spirits in Prosperity – but at the time, I’d intended to fend off the rots and suchlike with that volatile spirit, our band being somewhat prone to ‘little scraps’.
So, it showed again in the cave while I was waitin’ for the Padre with Wicked. As we sat and talked, we saw a truly queer thing – a small flame like the burn of a really long fuse started to burn its way along one of the chamber walls. The flame made its way about two-thirds of the way along the wall while the shootist and I jabbered on, finally settling on a bet as to whether or not one of the two of us could shoot the flame out.
Since he was usin’ six-guns and seemed to be in a hard way for cash, I let the shootist go first. He missed. I hope to God that boy gets in more practice afore somebody calls him on his shootist status. As for me an’ Ruth, well – you don’t need to aim a rifled shotgun much at that range. My next shave and hair-cut will be on Wicked.
That’s about all the anecdotes about leavin’ Purity, Colorado as I might care to tell, save for one. The cave, accordin’ to John-Boy, was called the Ol’ Bear Cave. Prof. Chuck said the banditios had strung up nitro (I can’t write what he called it, but everybody knows what nitro is!) in some sorta trap. Once the belongin’s of the people of Prosperity and Purity were properly out of the cave, The Boom Brothers remotely detonated the cave rendering it ‘safe’.
…hunh. I thought Dietrich had died in Prosperity…I ‘spose gettin’ ones-self blowed up with regularity has its advantages.