Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Now Playing: The Songbird of the West 
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Episode Five of The Songbird of the West

Episode Four Concluded with:

              The door to the office banged open and Deputy Curt Weldon ran inside. He was in his mid-twenties, lean, muscular, and very worried.
            Tal Streeter read the concern on his deputy’s face. “What is it?”
            “Matt Roberts just rode in from his farm. Says he spotted the stagecoach, the one bringin’ Carrie Whiting.”
            “Outlaws stopped the coach. They have it surrounded.”

Episode Five


            Carrie Whiting sat alone in the passenger section of the stagecoach. The solitude was bliss. Of course, the ride would be over soon and she would once again have to be…well…Carrie Whiting, the Songbird of the West. People would expect her to be bubbly and smiling and, of course, everyone would demand just a few minutes of your time.
            She glanced at the passing landscape and admonished herself for the self-pity. Carrie Whiting was blessed and knew it. At twenty-one she was, as several newspaper reviewers described her, “a fine figure of a woman.” Carrie had long blond hair, a beautiful face and a voice equally as beautiful. Like her appearance, the voice was a gift. Carrie had never attended a music school, or any school at all.
            The young woman closed her eyes and reflected on the fact that all of her blessings had almost landed her in a living nightmare. Bruce Patten had rescued her. She owed him. But Bruce was a complicated man. Was there some ulterior motive behind his invitation to come to Dry River? Probably.
            The Songbird of the West began to doze lightly. She had a fragment of a dream where she was singing in a rundown saloon as men viciously gunned each other down. Suddenly, the men stopped killing each other and began to aim their guns at her.
            Gunshots yanked Carrie from her dream. The stagecoach lurched forward at a faster speed. From above she could hear the shotgun returning fire. The sound of hoofbeats pounding behind the stagecoach drew closer.
            The young woman had to brace herself with both arms in order not to bounce around the rocking and swaying coach. She could hear shouts of “pull over” coming from the outlaws. The shotgun replied with curses and gunfire.
            Horsemen appeared at both sides of the coach at almost the same time. The horses moved with fast, graceful strides. For a fleeting moment, the scene looked choreographed, like one of the dance numbers Carrie performed in theaters.
            That illusion was quickly shattered by more gunfire and curses. Shouts of “okay, okay” finally came from the driver.
            As the stagecoach slowed to a halt, Carrie pressed her lips together and tried to remain calm. She would give the robbers all the money she was carrying. That would be the end of it.
            Four horsemen pulled up beside the coach. One outlaw dismounted and opened the passenger door. “I’m gonna ask you to step down, Miss Whiting.” The polite words were belied by the gun in his right hand.
            Carrie felt a new tension as she followed the instructions. Was she the reason the stagecoach had been stopped?
            Her eyes quickly scanned the four outlaws, all of whom were now on one side of the coach with guns drawn. Two were still on horseback. The other man who had dismounted was pointing a gun up toward the stagecoach driver and shotgun. All of the crooks had bandannas covering the bottom half of their faces. Their eyes gleamed with a wicked amusement.
            Another horseman approached the stagecoach. Carrie hoped this might be help. Her hope was short lived as she saw that the newcomer was masked and guiding a riderless horse.
            “Get on the horse, lady!” This time the man pointing the gun at her did not sound at all polite.
            The young woman chose defiance. “And just what will happen if I decide not to get on the horse?”
            Carrie realized immediately that she had made a terrible mistake. The gunman gave a cold laugh then turned to his companion who held a six shooter pointed at the shotgun and driver. “Let’s show Miss Carrie Whiting what happens when she doesn’t act nice.”
            “Okay, boss,” The outlaw guarding the driver and shotgun opened fire. A hail of bullets penetrated both men and they plunged from the stagecoach onto the ground.
            Carrie screamed, then angrily faced her captor. “There was no reason to do that. You cowards! You shot those men down in cold blood.”
            “If you hadn’t been so disagreeable, lady, we might have let one of them live. We planned all along to kill at least one person.”
            The singer glanced briefly at the two corpses. Her voice was a whisper. “Why? Those two men had their hands in the air. They were no threat…”
            The outlaw standing beside her continued to speak in a mock friendly manner. “Well, Miss Whiting, we’re about to begin some very important business talks regarding you. It’s mighty important that the people we talk to understand we’re serious. They can’t hang a man twice. We’re already murderers. We killed a couple of ranchers, but that ain’t enough. The law has to know we’re killers and that we got us nothin’ to lose by killing you. Get on the horse, Miss Whiting. Now!”

Tomorrow: Episode Six of The Songbird of the West: