"It was a shame that such a serious and noticeable scar ruined such a handsome face like his."
By now, the sun was descending behind the cluster of trees surrounding us and I decided to collect some wood for a fire. After gathering a good amount of sticks, I set up a small pyramid with some pine needles in the middle. I struck a match and threw it in the pile of needles, which after a few seconds, quickly caught on fire and spread to the wood. In a matter of minutes, the fire was blazing, the sun was disappearing fast, and I hoped the man would awake before it was dark. I can’t say I wasn’t nervous. I didn’t know anything about this man, and I didn’t know how dangerous he was. He wasn’t armed when I had checked him, so if he had was dense enough to attack me, I’d have the advantage of actually having a firing arm. I set a small rack above the fire, and filled a pot with water from the river, placing it on the rock to warm it up. I didn’t have tea or coffee, or any sort of beverage for that matter, but I had grown to become fond of the hot, tasteless liquid, imagining it was a fragrant cup of coffee. Having nothing better to do, I watched the man. He wasn’t very tall as I had noticed before, and he didn’t seen to be very well shaven, which was understandable. Based on the severity of the sunburn, he must have been stranded out there for quite a while. Though his eyes were closed, I could tell they were big and probably captivating to the point where girls fell to his feet. It was a shame that such a serious and noticeable scar ruined such a handsome face like his.
The sun had finally disappeared, and the only light we had was the fire in between us. The light glow was illuminating his face, the light flickering and giving him an eerie, orange look. Though my intentions were to stay up all night to keep watch, my tiredness preceded me, and I fell asleep, slumped against the rough surface of a tree.
Just before the sun was completely up, I sprung awake, cursing at myself for falling asleep the night before. I had been so tired after the long trip, and hadn’t even realized how fast my eyes closed. I heaved myself off the ground and checked if the man was still on the blanket I had left him on. There was no one around. I became frantic, and held the grip of my pistol, my thumb on the hammer and finger on the trigger. I looked around the trees, hiding behind them, just incase the man had found the shotgun I had kept on Fritz. Eventually, I found him, his back facing me, about two hundred feet away from out campsite, slumped against a tree, struggling to get up with one hand over his stomach. I approached him, put my hand on his shoulder, and said,
“Hey.” He jumped up in surprise, only to double over again in pain. Using the tree to support himself, he turned around. He seemed fierce and angry, but I could see that he was scared. He knew that I could easily kill him in his weak condition, but tried not to show it. He stood, feet apart, ready for whatever he thought I was going to do. Obviously, he felt threatened by me, so I said,
“Whoa, whoa, it’s okay, I’m not gonna hurt you.” He still stood unbelieving, and his line of sight flicked back and forth from the gun that I was still gripping nervously, to my face. I hadn’t realized that I was still holding my pistol with a death-grip, loosened my hold on it, and gingerly took it out. The man tensed at the taking out of my weapon, but released my hold on it, and it fell to the ground. I put my hands over my head.
“I won’t hurt you,” I said, shaking my head. The man was a little relieved, and I knew the situation was hard on him with his injury and all, so I held my hand out to him slowly, offering it to him. After a lot of thought and hesitation, the man reached out with the hand covering his stomach to grasp it, uncovering the spotted red bandages. The stress in moving had worsened the cut and it had started to bleed through the white gauze. He took my hand and I put his arm around my shoulder, and though he recoiled slightly at my touch, he leaned on me, and we walked back to our campsite. I sat him down on the ground to lean on a tree, and went back to retrieve my gun. I was still cautious with it. The only reason why I had helped him back to the campsite was because he knew and I knew that he was too weak to harm me in anyway. If he had possession of my gun, though, the roles would be completely reversed. So, I placed it next to the fire, away from him. I didn’t want to wear it, in case it seemed like a threat to him, but I knew I couldn’t take any chances unless I was sure he could be trusted.
Throughout the day, we didn’t talk much at all, and he mostly rested while I sat or collected more wood for the fire. With the time that I had, I decided what I would do with the man. By tomorrow, if he didn’t strain himself any further, I’d take him to the nearest town and drop him off there and maybe give him some money if I had some to spare, though I probably didn’t. For breakfast, I gave him my meal of stale bread, which wasn’t much at all, but he was grateful anyway for the food. I had very little food left, and I didn’t want to waste it, so we skipped lunch. The day dragged on, and we avoided each other most of the day, though I kept close watch on his actions. Soon, the sun was starting to set. He had mostly rested on the blanket I had laid out for him, and was now wearing a shirt that I gave to him for the time being. I fed the fire some more wood and placed a pot on the little rack above it. After opening a jar of beans, I poured it into the pot to warm them up. It was the last can, and all we had left was a few pieces of bread and some dehydrated beef. We wouldn’t last if we didn’t go to civilization. By the time the beans were warmed up, the man had already woken and was sitting across from me, the fire in between us. I had a single bowl, which I filled with the beans, and gave to him along with a small, dented spoon. I gave him more than half of the share, and he seemed to acknowledge that, so he thanked me appreciatively. I poured my share back into the jar they had come from, and used a bent fork to eat them. The fire crackled in the silence and I heard the faint cry of a coyote in the distance. The man only paid attention to his food, ravenously scooping them into his mouth.
I glanced up, and saw that what I had assumed earlier was correct. I couldn’t see that well with only the fire to give us light, but the dancing light illuminated his eyes, which I noticed were a dark hazel color and complemented his light brown hair. They were big and charming, and I was sure that my theory of women falling at his feet was certainly correct. He finished the little food that I had given him, and regretfully looked at his bowl, but didn’t ask for more, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to give him more anyway. Slowly, I ate my dinner, savoring the last of the beans. Just as I swallowed the last of the dinner, from across the fire, I heard,
“What’s your name?” He had mumbled a little bit throughout the day, but never spoke clearly until now. His voice was little high, but not suggesting any femininity.
“Gerard,” I said.
"I'm Frank," he said and started to rub his ear nervously. “Thanks for saving me out there… I would have died.” I shook my head, grinning a little.
“No thanks necessary. I couldn’t have left you out there to die.” Just as the words left my mouth, I realized how idiotic I sounded as a bounty hunter. Someone with a job like mine should not have any mercy if their job was to hunt and kill, but I convinced myself that if the person was innocent, it was a completely different situation. As of now, he was innocent to me.
“Why were you out in the middle of nowhere anyway?” he asked. I chuckled, and said,
“That really seems like a question I should be asking you. Well, I’m a bounty hunter.” Once I said those words, he seemed surprised and a little bit scared. Seeing this, I said, “Oh, no. Don’t worry. I’m not gonna hurt you. Anyway, I’m not all that good anyway. I’m not that good of a gunman and I’ve barely caught anyone.” He relaxed a little, but still seemed a little tense. “And you?” I asked.
“Huh?” he said, a little distracted.
“What were you doing out there?”
“Oh, some bandits robbed me and took my horse. I tried fighting them, but, well…” He gestured to his head and stomach. I nodded. He didn’t answer my question and he clearly didn’t want to, so I shook it off, wanting to respect his privacy, and said,
“Hopefully, you’ll be better by tomorrow. I hate to say it, but I really can’t afford to take care of you. I don’t get enough to eat as it is and I only have Fritz,” I said, pointing to the single horse several feet away. I looked at the map, and the closest town is just along the northern part of the mountains. It won’t take that long, and I’ll allow you to ride Fritz.” Frank agreed, saying that he felt a little better than before. Once I had cleaned up our campsite and readied our supplies for our trip the next morning, I put out the fire and made myself comfortable in the thin bedroll I had used for years on the road. Before I fell asleep, a little part of me wanted to adopt Frank into my solitary life, but I knew that that was beyond what I was capable of. Frank was obviously a man that could take care of himself and I couldn’t take care of him, no matter how lonely I was on the road.
A/N: I told you it'd be longer ;D So, what did you think? I know this chapter wasn't very eventful, but I think the next one will! I might not update for a while because I have midterm exams this week and I won't be able to write much, so I'm sorry :(
Also, I've decided that I won't be using the "Wild West" slang for the benefit of the readers, so it'll mostly be in more recent dialogue.
Please Rate & Review and thank you for reading! Hope you liked it!