Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Now Playing: Hellfire
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Episode Ten concluded with:
“If Beau figures out the real reason I’m in Hellfire, he’ll warn his…shall we say, customers…and they will flee.”
Hosea Rimstead scratched his head. “But wouldn’t that be self-defeatin’? I mean, with everone leavin’, Hellfire would go out of business anyhow.”
“Only temporarily,” Hooper replied. “And Beau realizes that his clientele would eventually kill him if he allowed the law to make arrests in Hellfire. That’s why he has a gang to keep an eye on things. Lars Olsen was brought in to head up that gang.”
“How many of them are there?” Dehner asked.
The gambler fiddled with his cigar before answering. “The actual number seems to vary,--about a dozen. Still, I think we should be able to carry out a plan I have concocted. I’m sure there will be no serious problems, though we may have to send a few very hardened souls to a well-deserved perdition.”
The sun was high in the sky as the three men rode toward Hellfire. “This is downright strange,” Dehner spoke as he eyed the town slowly coming into view. “I have snuck into many towns before, but never at noontime.”
Hosea Rimstead was riding between the detective and the gambler. “It’s like Stacey said, Rance. Hellfire is a den of sin. These jaspers are like the ones the Good Book talks about. They want nothin’ to do with light. Darkness is what they’re after. Most of the town is sleeping now.”
“Making this the ideal time for our little charade!” Stacey announced in a stage whisper. “I have observed how the town operates in the daytime. There are six men who patrol the town. Two stand duty on the north end of Hellfire, where we will be entering. Those gents are our immediate concern.”
Stacey held a hand up, indicating that the procession needed to halt. “Can’t take any chances. Soon we will be within range of field glasses. As they say in the theater, ‘places, everyone.’”
Hosea pulled back and yanked a Winchester from the boot of his saddle. Rance and Stacey wrapped ropes around their wrists and kept their hands on the horns of their saddles to make it appear that the hands were bound.
Hosea spoke to his companions as the threesome continued to ride toward Hellfire. “Mighty grateful to you gents for helpin’ me get Gail outta that den of iniquity. She might need some persuadin’. She wants to come back to me, but that woman can be thick headed at times.”
“Ah, Hosea!” Stacey began to lift an arm as he spoke but quickly checked himself. “That is where you have gone wrong. You should be appealing to the lady’s heart, not her mind.”
As the gambler continued to pontificate on the mysterious depths of a woman’s heart, Dehner’s thoughts remained on the next few hours. Yes, taking Gail away from Beau Rawlins’ operation would come across to most of the town as an insult to the big man. Beau would think Stacey had humiliated him. He’d see it as the first step in Hooper’s attempt to take over Hellfire.
“Rawlins will hit back hard,” Dehner mumbled under his breath. The proprietor of Hellfire would do everything he could to kill all four people involved in Stacey’s crazy scheme.
An odd undercurrent ran through Dehner’s thoughts. There was another motive for Stacey’s actions. The gambler seemed to genuinely like Hosea and Gail, and wanted to see them reunited. Perhaps Stacey saw something in the couple: something special that he had lost long ago.
Dehner sighed. Stacey Hooper had certainly picked the worst time to be a nursemaid to the lovelorn.
The threesome became quiet as they drew near Hellfire. Waves of heat zig-zagged crazily in front of them like ghosts guarding a portal to the netherworld. Two of Beau’s henchmen, both holding rifles, stepped off the boardwalk that fronted a small saloon. One of them set down a bottle that they had been sharing. They stared at the strange horsemen that approached.
“It’s that crazy preacherman, Lou.”
“Yeah, and he’s got that gambler fella with him, don’t know who the other jasper is.” Both gunmen were tall, with large foreheads and deep set eyes. Not surprising. Lou and Sherm Proctor were brothers who spent half of their lives stealing and the other half in Hellfire.
Sherm carefully eyed the horsemen. “The third jasper is the man who outdrew Lars Olsen last night. Watch him real careful. I’ll stand on their right side, you take the left.”
Lou nodded as he raised his rifle and yelled, “Stop right there!”
Tomorrow: Episode Twelve of Hellfire