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Gunman (part 4)

 
Joe Spivey's picture
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Lost Bride’s ‘Orphans’ event went on into the following day. Now that word had gotten around via the grapevine, there was actually a queue waiting when Lost opened up the following morning. Urgent calls went out for more donations and the subsequent steady arrival throughout the day of cars with boxes to unload just managed to keep up with the new demand. By the time they shut up shop again, just before sunset, everyone involved was exhausted.

Not everyone was as sweat drenched and oil covered, with torn clothing and scuffed knees as Baka Neko though. Lost had set her, and a couple of others, to work turning scrap parts into working bikes that they could give to the few transport-less emigrants who had signed up for the convoy but had no means of getting there except on foot. She was rather surprised, then, to be handed the key to the bike she had happily broken nails to build.

Baka was just so blown away. For a moment it looked like she was about to throw her arms around Lost and hug her. But there were all these other people around so Baka just spluttered a lot, looking like she was about to cry, before muttering something about going to sell her horse and then almost running out of the garage. Lost smiled as the door swung closed behind Baka, and she easily ignored the few smirks and giggles from some of the others.

The following morning, bright and early, Baka wobbled out of the west gate of Oilville at the back of a small convoy of bikes. Lost Bride had managed to muster nine intrepid souls willing to make the dangerous journey north, towards what they hoped would be a better life.

With Lost and Elizabeth Curtis in the lead, Dren and Sunny as outriders and Baka bringing up the rear, the convoy made good steady progress north. By the time they stopped to refuel at Spider Hill Baka’s biking skills had improved dramatically and she was happily weaving in and out and back and forth amongst the emigrants to prevent anyone straggling too much.

At Spider Hill, hot metal plinked as it cooled and the whole forecourt under the filling station’s dilapidated canopy stank of oil and exhaust fumes as the bikes queued to fill their tanks. Lost took the opportunity to call a rest and the fourteen riders lined their bikes up outside the waffle house before trooping in to add considerably to that establishments takings for the day.

Exhausts cooled and riders refreshed, the travellers left Spider Hill behind them with the sun now firmly on the left and continued north and into the most barren and inhospitable part of their journey.

One of the emigrants, a big man with a cowboy hat tied down tightly on his head and a large blue bandana covering most of his face to keep the constant flying dust from filling his lungs, seemed to be having bike trouble. Baka fell back and signed to ask if he was okay. The man nodded but Baka spent most of the rest of the journey to New Flagstaff riding alongside him and checking every few minutes that everything was alright, for all the world like a mother duck chivvying along that one little duckling that struggled to keep up.

Being left behind would mean certain death for the cowboy if his bike’s cobbled together engine decided to give up. Baka’s reassuring presence avowed that would not happen. For Baka, she seemed to blossom in the responsibility Lost had, for some reason, put on her.

Although, because of the dust in the air and the noise of the less than perfectly tuned engines, not a word was spoken between Baka and the cowboy. Baka and the man seemed to develop a rapport over the long miles that maybe suited both of their needs.

It was sunset when the head of the snake of tired bikes and even more tired riders turned onto the square in New Flagstaff and came to a halt. Around the pond, the first bonfires were being lit and vendors were packing up. The sudden silence as each of the engines breathed their last gulp of petrol vapour and spluttered or coughed to a stop left Baka thinking she had gone deaf. But the whoops and hollers as some of the new arrivals made a beeline for the pond happily convinced her otherwise.

Her back aching and with her butt almost numb from the bike’s vibrations, Baka unwrapped the scarf from her face and stood by her bike where she stretched luxuriously and felt the knots in her shoulders loosen just a touch. She was still rubbing feeling back into her denim clad buttocks when she felt a tap on her shoulder.

If you’ve ever sneaked up on and surprised a cat then you have a pretty good idea of Baka’s reaction. She jumped. She turned and a long bladed knife appeared suddenly in her hand.

Cursing himself for his tenderfoot mistake the man who had tapped her on the shoulder took a step backwards and quickly pulled down the blue bandana before holding his hands out, empty palms facing the crouching girl.

“I… I’m so sorry. I, just wanted to say thanks, for, you know…”

Baka uncoiled, sliding the knife back under her clothing. The cowboy relaxed, a little. He held out a hand.

“Hi. Scott Moreland. Thanks for staying with me out there.”

Comments

Hyle Troy's picture

((  thats the way to come north, in a group, on bikes. Not alone on a horse..  We live and learn.      in the next episode do we find out if Scott is worth a sore butt? :)

I would rather die peacefully in my sleep, like Grandad, than screaming, like his passengers

Subdane's picture

((I'm really enjoying this. Thank you for sharing. As always, excellent writing. Good flow and you managed to catch details that makes it real. 



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