The Silent Weapon by Bob Giel by Bob Giel - Read Online

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A heroic former member of the Rough Riders plays a dangerous cat and mouse game with a would-be tyrant while bound by a vow that threatens to place him further into harm's way.

Published: Bob Giel on
ISBN: 9781507081310
List price: $2.99
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The Silent Weapon - Bob Giel

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Fourteen

Chapter One

"I don't like this, Johnny!"

Big Bert Guthrie was not one to hold back when something was on his mind.

I don't like it one bit. he hollered over the bawling of nearby cattle, as his boss and friend, Johnny Revere, returned to his side from the left flank of the herd, It ain't bad enough we ain't hardly got enough men to run these here beeves, how're we going to fight off them rustlers if they jumps us?

A tall hulk of a man with broad shoulders, squinty eyes and an impish face, Guthrie rode point with Revere, in front of a small herd of about a hundred head of Revere's prime longhorns.  Only three other men accompanied them: one on each side to keep the strays from wandering and one riding drag to keep the herd backed up tight.  These were the men with which Revere had just conferred individually.

This was an open invitation and Bert Guthrie knew it and he was not keeping quiet about it.  As foreman of the JD, it was his responsibility to see that things ran right and this was not running right, not hardly.

We don't fight them. Revere replied cryptically, I just told the other boys the same thing.

Now Guthrie was completely confounded.  Did Johnny just say what he thought he said?

You gone loco or something? he demanded, removing his big grey hat and scratching his head, Say, maybe you et some loco weed when you was in town.

Revere, his eyes scanning the surrounding countryside, chuckled.

No, I'm not loco.  It's part of a plan I worked out with Pa to get rid of these rustlers once and for all.

By not fighting them?  Sure sounds loco to me.  Or might be I'm loco.

Nobody's loco, Bert.  Pa's got the rest of the boys with him, trailing us.  We're heading the herd into the mountains toward a box canyon.  If the rustlers hold true to form, they'll drive the herd forward and they'll be right in the middle of that canyon.  That's when Pa will close in and nail them.  All we've got to do is run off when they hit us.  Just let them take the herd.

Guthrie was agitated now.

And when was you going to tell me about this?

I was getting to it.  There wasn't much time for talk when I got back from town if we were going to get this herd moving.

Uh-huh!  And what makes you think them rustlers is going to show anyhow?

Because I talked it up all over town that I sold a hundred head and we're driving them to the buyer today.  Pa's convinced the rustlers have a contact in town that they're working with.  We're aiming to get him too.

Well, I reckon you ain't loco after all.  But you're taking a awful chance with the herd if this thing goes south.  You'd lose a hundred head you can't afford to lose.

I know it but I think it's worth the chance to put these yahoos out of business.

Okay, you're the boss, Johnny, but I still don't like it.

Revere chuckled again and they continued on with the herd.

A lanky fellow with a chunky build, Revere was square jawed and had piercing blue eyes and a bold jutting chin that combined to exude an intense glare that made folks think he was staring straight through them.  Some even felt intimidated in his presence.  His manner of dress was that of a regular cowboy for that was essentially what he was.

The JD, for John and Daniel, was the largest ranch in the area and Revere was the working boss and part owner of the spread with his eighteen year old brother, Danny, and never asked any his men to do anything he would not do himself.  For all of his twenty-one years, he was a level headed business man who saw the existence of rustlers as a threat to the profits of not only his own holdings but to the survival of the neighboring ranches in Doña Ana County.  Hence this plan he had worked out with his father, Ben, the town sheriff of Lorring, which called for the use of Johnny's cattle as bait to lure the rustlers into a trap.  As the leader of the enticement portion of the plan, Revere kept his deputy's badge in his shirt pocket to keep from tipping off the interlopers should they get a close look at him.  At best, the deputy post was a part time position, employed only when Ben needed help.  And Ben needed help with this one.

The rustlers had been operating for the past six months, sporadically hitting herds being moved to market or being shifted to different ranges.  Ben had attempted several times to track the stolen cattle but had no luck at it.  When cattle began disappearing after certain conversations had been conducted in town, Ben started to think there was a connection between whoever overheard these interchanges and the rustling operation.  So Johnny concocted a scheme to trap the outlaws but also to uncover the identity of the mole.  His offer of a small herd to be used as a lure clinched the plot.  After making sure that as many people in town as possible had heard his boast of having sold a hundred head at top dollar and making it clear that the herd was moving to its buyer this day, Johnny requested Guthrie and a few hands to gather and start the cattle moving while Ben assembled the rest of the JD hands as a posse and followed the herd at a safe distance.

Sure, they were sitting ducks, as Guthrie was quick to point out, but Johnny made certain that, when the outlaws attacked, he would lead the drovers away from the cattle into hiding to protect them.  His intention was to then join up with his father for the final convergence on the rustlers.  It was somewhat risky but it was worth it to eliminate this scourge and get the area back to normal business.

Alonzo Cypher, mustached and bearded, signaled a halt to the ten men riding behind him.  They were located about a mile west of the Revere herd and heading right toward it.

I see them. he called as the group drew rein.

As they gathered around him, he pointed directly forward at the rising dust.  They acknowledged sight of it.

Let's go. he ordered, snapping the reins across his horse's rump and starting into a gallop.

The men duplicated his movement, heading straight for the cattle whose hooves were kicking up the telltale dust which attracted them.  At a quarter mile out, their side arms were lifted from their holsters and held at the ready.  Cypher led the outlaws directly at the herd.  A couple of the men started whooping and others fired their weapons indiscriminately.

Revere and Guthrie, at the head of the herd, pulled to the left and, as Revere signaled to his punchers to follow, broke into a gallop and aimed straight for an outcropping of boulders about an eighth of a mile away.  At the same time, frightened by the noise and activity around them, the cattle broke and scattered in all directions.

Cypher waved his men to spread out and attempt to retrieve the herd, paying no attention to the fleeing cowboys.  The rustlers dispersed in pursuit of the cattle which were now stampeding.  Cypher and two others raced toward the lead steers in an effort to outrun them.

Turn them! Cypher shouted.

The trio gained the ground in front of the herd and forced the first few animals to turn back into the bulk of the herd.  The other men continued the action until the entire herd was circled into itself, causing the cattle to block themselves into a crush.  The men kept them moving into an ever tighter sphere.  When the steers had exhausted themselves and began settling down, the rustlers drove them in the direction in which they had been originally headed.

Dismounted and watching from a safe position behind some boulders, Revere smiled in the knowledge that the plan was working.  Guthrie, on the other hand, was grumbling something unintelligible because this was not the way he handled rustlers.  As the herd began to disappear into the horizon, Revere glanced to his right at a new dust cloud that became visible along the same route.  That would be Pa and the boys, he thought, closer than he expected.  He hoped the outlaws would not spot them but assured himself they would be too busy with the herd to be concerned with anything else.

Mount up. he ordered.

The hands quickly remounted and followed Revere back into the open and into a gallop in the direction of the approaching posse.

Sheriff Ben Revere led the JD crew in a fast trot, endeavoring to keep the herd in sight but avoiding detection by the rustlers.  His open calf length duster coat flapped in the wind as he rode but still did a fair job of keeping the trail dust off his dark suit.  Staying focused on the dust cloud in the distance which he knew was the herd, and having perceived the gunfire a few minutes before, he surmised that phase one of the plan had taken place.  Concentrating as he was on the objective, he almost missed the five riders approaching his group quickly.  Realizing then that it was Johnny and the drovers, he signaled to his party to slow down and eventually pulled rein in a spot from which he could continue to sight the herd.

Johnny directed his workers straight to the posse and called a halt in front of them.

How'd it go? Ben asked.

They're not too bright. Johnny replied, They started shooting and stampeded the herd but they managed to turn them.  Paid no attention to us.

That's good.  I didn't want anybody hurt.

We're good.

Looks like they're heading for the canyon. Ben observed, Let's get up there and get them hemmed in.

Johnny and his men fell in with the posse and Ben led the way toward the canyon, keeping sight of the herd all the way.  As they rode, Johnny fished the badge out of his pocket and pinned it to his bibbed light blue shirt.

Pride filled Ben as he observed his son.  This entire plan was Johnny's idea: the use of the cattle as bait, the selection of the box canyon, the whole shooting match.  He was sure a chip off the old block.

Johnny was the spitting image of Ben.  It was where he got the shape of his face, his intense blue eyes and that glare that seemed to bore right through a body.  If anything, Ben was just a tad taller than Johnny and had the same broad build.  Ben's hair may have been gray and he may have stooped a little but he was still most of the man he had been at Johnny's age.  Now in his early fifties, he still asked no quarter and gave none.  He was a lawman through and through and he did his job the best way he knew how.  The Colt Peacemaker on his hip had been there for nearly thirty years and he continued to carry it with authority and use it judiciously.  But, when use was necessary, it was engaged without hesitation and with deadly accuracy.

As the posse approached the box canyon, Ben called a halt.

We'll leave the horses here.  Vern, you stay with them.  The rest of us'll climb the rocks and spread out around the canyon.  Don't make a move till I tell you.  Move out.

They dismounted and Vern collected their reins.  Ben led the way into the rocks and distributed the men around the rim of the canyon so they were surrounding the area below which was occupied by Johnny's cattle and the rustlers keeping them in check.  After strategically placing the posse members, Ben and Johnny moved to the end of one side of the rim, leaving Guthrie in charge of the men.  They waited.

Lon Cypher surveyed the situation and decided that the herd had quieted enough to tolerate movement in front of them.

Get the ropes up! he ordered.

Several of the rustlers secured ropes from their saddles and began stretching them across the opening in the canyon that contained the cattle, effectively penning them in.  When this was accomplished, Cypher examined the work and approved.

Keep them quiet. he told them, I'm heading for Lorring.

He climbed onto his horse and set out away from the vicinity.

Watching closely, Ben spotted Cypher leaving.

Give us ten minutes, he told Guthrie, then move in on them.  No shooting unless they start it.  Remember, you're all deputies.  I don't need to explain lost tempers.

Guthrie grumbled.

Aw, you know me better then that, Ben.

That's exactly why I said it.  Just round them up and keep them here.  Let's go, Johnny.

Ben led and Johnny followed back down the rocks and they hurried to their horses.  Mounting quickly, they moved out in pursuit of Cypher, staying well enough behind to prevent detection by the rustler.

At the ten minute mark, Guthrie pocketed his timepiece and rallied the JD hands.  They grouped on either side of the canyon walls and began closing in on the rustlers who paid no attention to the movement around them.  When the posse reached level ground, Guthrie hollered: Drop your guns, you shitless wonders, and get your hands high!

Confusion reigned as the rustlers reacted in varying degrees of awareness.  Some attempted to pull weapons but were either shot or disarmed; others looked around in disbelief; still others simply capitulated and followed the order.  Quickly, the JD crew surrounded the outlaws and forced them into a circle which they ringed to contain them, training side arms on them.  The several shots that were necessarily fired upset the nearby cattle and several of the hands were pressed into service quieting them expertly, while Guthrie looked over the captives.

You fuckers better get used to it. he told them, Your next stop's a six by six cell.

Cypher's ride to Lorring was swift and direct, so much so that Ben and Johnny guessed his destination and decided to take a short cut that would bring them to the town ahead of their quarry.  Their supposition was that once he reached town, he could disappear into any number of buildings before they arrived.  If they overtook him, they could secret themselves and watch where he ultimately wound up.

With only seconds to spare, Ben and Johnny entered Lorring through an alley and dismounted at the edge leading to the main street.  Cypher galloped into that street and pulled up sharply at the hitch rail in front of a saloon a few doors from their position.  As Cypher entered the establishment, they hurried up the street and deposited themselves at a side window.  They observed Cypher sitting with a well dressed black haired man with a long oval face and massive brows that all but obscured his dark eyes.

You know him? Johnny asked his father.

Yeah, Logan Bouralea. Ben answered, "Been hanging around town a