Western Fiction By Matthew Senn
“If it’s so goddamn cold in here, how come I’m sweatin’ my ass off?”
The three other men who stood with Rhys ‘Luck’ Cain in the small abandoned homestead, all gave him their fair share of looks as they watched him stand next to the small wood stove wearing a buffalo coat, fingerless gloves, a rose-colored scarf and a beaver-pelt hat atop his head.
“You’re dressed like you’re overdue for a rendezvous in Colorado, Luck,” Perkowitz said with a smirk.
“Well, I ain’t the one belly-achin’ about bein’ cold though.”
Luck smiled at the man he was speaking about, but the cold and bitter Camacho grimaced at the smiling fat man and spat on the floor. Indeed, the fire had not been much for help, but it would do until they had to leave. Chalmers pulled a scratched face pocket-watch from his jacket and checked the time while he looked across a white field where two black lines, a good ways away and barely seen, were running across it.
“We got about ten minutes. Won’t be long now.”
Perkowitz and Chalmers pulled up the collars on their coats and held their bare hands under their armpits in their jacket sleeves. Luck took off his hat and ran a hand through his sweaty, matted hair. Perkowitz sat down on a stool short one leg and checked his rifle. Camacho took one last glance at his six-shooter and spat on the ground again. Luck shook his head. Just moments ago, he had asked the man as kindly as he could to go outside and do it. Well, that and a few other things Camacho saw fit to do in the homestead they were hiding in.
Perkowitz intervened, “Why? We’re in some shit n’ squalor, who cares? ‘Sides it’s too damn cold out there.”
Camacho spat on the floor, “It’s too damn cold in here.”
Out in the wind and the winter of Wyoming, a train whistle let out its’ lone call. Perkowitz stood and came back to the window to see as well as he could in the snowstorm.
“How much time we got?”
Chalmers cleared his throat, “Few minutes, then we ride.”
“Snow should help.”
Luck stood and put his beaver pelt hat back on, “Lemme use the outhouse. Be back.”
Perkowitz and Chalmers gave a nod, while Camacho watched the old man push open the door through the snow and trudge out past the horses. The door shut and a few flakes of late March snow came blowing in just before it did.
“Which one a yas worked with the fat man before?”
“I did. Once. Back when Oklahoma was still Indian Territory,” Perkowitz answered, while never taking his eyes off the window.
“Was he called ‘Luck’ then too?”
“No. That’s how he got the nickname though.”
Luck stood before a decaying piece of wood that hung over an empty hole. He was grateful he just had to take a piss. The horses outside made a ruckus as the three others were mounting up. Luck finished as fast as he could, making sure not to make a mess of himself. Coming outside he grabbed the reins of his grey mare and cursed himself. He forgot his gun inside. Perkowitz and Chalmers were already on their way in the blowing drifts towards the tracks. The one called Camacho watched Luck as he hurried inside, “Hurry up, fat man.”
That was about the last thing Luck heard.
The train skirted across the silky white, as the three men raced in a flurry of snow, hoping it would favor them with some cover. But about fifty yards away from the train, Chalmers, who was riding out front, thought he heard a sliding door open. He tried to yell and ask Perkowitz if he heard it too, but a gust of wind had snatched his voice and taken it away from his friend’s ears.
By the time they’d reached thirty yards, Perkowitz and Chalmers saw a rush of coats moving in and around the baggage car; almost as fast and furious as the falling flakes. By ten yards, the shine and shimmer of a Gatling gun, caught in the light of the lanterns aboard, was too little too late. The whole thing ended. Whole thing’d been a setup.
Luck awoke on the floor of that homestead with a welt on the backa his head and a whole lotta different faces hanging over him. Turns out when he went to get his gun he’d slipped on some of Camacho’s already frozen chew puddles ‘n’ piss. Fell down flat on his back and knocked himself out cold. After spotting smoke from the chimney, the cavalry arrived just as Luck went on and on about how the three men they’d killed had held him there as he made his way back to Colorado. They helped him up and treated the cuts and bruises that they could. A few of the boys even threw together some money for his trouble.
Luck smiled and took it. They helped him up on his horse, and made sure he was on his way. Luck waved his goodbyes and told them to be careful for the slick spots inside.
Bio: Bio: Matthew Senn is a writer of flash western fiction. He received a writing degree from Grand Valley State University, and looks forward to pursuing his MA at Central Michigan University next fall, developing his skills in the genre and learning from other writers. His work has been featured on The Yard: Crime Blog, Dime Show Review, Open: Journal of Arts and Letters and Fishladder by GVSU.
Read More Western Stories at The Yard: Crime Blog