Friday, May 4, 2012
Now Playing: Hellfire
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Episode Eight concluded with:
Later, it would occur to Rance Dehner that what happened next may have looked funny if there had been a bystander around to watch. The four outlaws dismounted and began to move slowly toward the shack. As they did so, Stacey,Rance and Hosea moved from the shadow of the trees into the moonlight and advanced quietly toward the backs of the owlhoots.
“Freeze and drop your guns, gentlemen!” Stacey shouted. “Failure to comply will result in immediate death.”
The outlaws did what they were told. Although they couldn’t see him, there was no mistaking the voice of Stacey Hooper. One of the jaspers spoke, his voice trembling, “You gonna shoot us down like dogs?”
Stacey Hooper’s laugh conveyed a genuine sense of fun. “I believe we can avoid such vulgarity. No gentlemen, I believe this occasion calls for a touch of whimsy.”
Hosea Rimstead and Stacey Hooper entered the dirty ranch house with easy familiarity. Rance Dehner scanned the well- built house that was empty of everything except dust, bugs and rodents.
Stacey picked up on his friend’s somber mood. “The West is a place where dreams often come to die.”
“A lot of people die with the dreams,” Dehner added.
Dehner’s statement seemed to spook Hosea. “You don’t think those three jaspers we left tied up back at the line shack will die, do you?”
“No.” Rance replied quickly. “They’ll get out of their ropes sooner or later. We turned their horses loose, but left them one canteen. If they use it wisely, it will provide enough water for the walk back into Hellfire.”
Hosea turned to Stacey. “Hope you don’t mind my objectin’ to your idea about takin’ away their boots. That just didn’t strike me as bein’ Christian.”
“Not at all, Hosea!” Stacey responded cheerfully. “I appreciated the theological insight.”
Rance looked about the deserted house, noticing patches of disturbed dust. “Have you fellows been using this place as a sort of hide out?”
“Indeed,” Stacey said. “Beau Rawlins owns both of the town’s hotels and his tolerance for Hosea and myself is becoming increasingly thin.”
“Why did you come to Hellfire, Stacey?”
The gambler side stepped the question. “What do you know about that charming small town, Rance?”
Dehner looked at a portion of moonlit floor where a spider was attacking a small insect. “Hellfire was started about two years ago, the product of Beau Rawlins’ warped mind. Criminals on the run pay Rawlins in order to stay in Hellfire. Rawlins provides them with amenities that they couldn’t find a mile or so south in Mexico.”
“Yeah,” Hosea added, “but if the law does show, some folks take a ride south before they can be arrested.”
Dehner heard a scampering sound on the floor and caught sight of a rat running along a baseboard. He wondered, casually, if rats attacked spiders. The detective turned his attention back to his companions and repeated his question. “Why are you in Hellfire, Stacey?”
Hooper held his chin high, “I am here on an assignment for the Texas Rangers!”
Monday: Episode Ten of Hellfire