"I straightened myself out, brushing my hair back before putting my hat back on, and entered the sheriff’s office."
“You okay?” He exhaled and shook his head. I walked over to him, and asked him to unbutton the shirt that I gave him. He did what I told him and shakily undid each button. The bandages that were pristinely white when I had taken them out of my bag were now stained a fresh red and older brown color. We both stared down at the bandages, and looked up at each other. He looked worried and scared, and though I didn’t notice before, I saw that he was sweating a little more than normal. I put my hand on his shoulder briefly before standing up from my crouched position and walked towards the carriage. I climbed into the small wooden transport and rummaged around the cluttered cabin to find what I was looking for. Sure enough, I found an unopened bottle of whiskey and fresh bandages.
I jumped out of the carriage and walked back to Frank who was rubbing his head strenuously. I crouched down next to him, and said,
“Frank, we’re gonna take your bandages off.” He looked up at me, his face genuinely scared and hurt, breathing hard and panicked through his nose. I delicately peeled back the old bandages layer by layer until I revealed the horrible wound. The skin surrounding it was red and a little swollen, and parts were starting to yellow. Stunned at the terrible sight, I didn’t realize that Frank was looking at the same thing. His eyes were wide and alarmed, and I quickly told him,
“Try not to look. It won’t do you any good.” I put the back of my hand on the uninjured part of his forehead and acknowledged the intense heat rising off of it. This confirmed what I had thought. His stomach laceration was infected. Frank forced himself to look away, but was still a little flustered. His chest was rising and falling fast, and I heard the occasional whimper. It must have been painful. I twisted open the bottle of whiskey I retrieved from the carriage and said to Frank,
“This is going to hurt, I’m not gonna lie, but it’s gonna help you so try to stay still.” Frank looked at the bottle of whiskey in my hand, released a shaky breath, and said,
“You mind if I have a sip first?” I smirked and gave him the bottle. He took a swig and puffed his cheeks out in a breath.
“Okay…” he muttered, handing the bottle back to me. I gave him an apologetic look and poured the clear brown liquid over the cut. Instantly, Frank started to scream. I couldn’t imagine how excruciating the pain was. I saw that he tried to hold himself down despite the absolute agony he must have been experiencing, and gritted his teeth, seething. After a while, his breaths calmed, and I started to wrap the new bandages around him. I put my hand on his shoulder again, and told him,
“Hopefully that cleaned it so it won’t get infected any further, I’m going to load the bodies on the horses instead of the carriage. You can ride in there.” Frank nodded and started to button his shirt slowly. “Can you walk?” I asked. Frank nodded, a little unsure. I told him to sit tight while I finished readying the bodies.
Minutes later, I heaved the last one, Smitty Bacall himself, onto my horse. Both Fritz and Frank’s horse, whose name was Tony, had two bodies each. The other two were attached to the carriage to pull it, and I tied Fritz and Tony a bar beside the riding seat so they could keep up and be lead without my help. Before I went to get Frank, I climbed into the cabin of the carriage again and found a bag of oats and a bucket, which I filled with water from the stream. I gave each horse a long drink and a few handfuls of oats and finally, I walked over to Frank.
“You ready?” I asked. He nodded and took the hand I held out to him to help him up.
Slowly, I pulled him up, trying not to add any additional pain to his current . He groaned, and I put his arm around my shoulder to assist him. Finally, we reached the carriage. I laid out a blanket and pillow that I found before and let him lie down on it.
“It’ll be a few hours before we get to the sheriff’s,” I said. There, we would be compensated for out capture of the disreputable bodies. He nodded. “I filled some canteens with water. There’s some next to you.” I jumped off the carriage and went around the side to climb up on the seat to steer the horses. Using the reins, I snapped them quickly to sign for the horses to start walking. Gradually, we made our way down the mountain.
Several hours later, we reached a small cabin on the outskirts of a nearby town: the sheriff’s office. I leaped off of the carriage to check on Frank. Peeking inside, I saw that he was completely passed out on the blanket, and told myself that it would probably be best to let him sleep and heal. I got the bag of oats out again gave each horse a handful, patting and brushing their manes a little. Unlike many horse owners, I treated mine respectfully. A living thing that exhausted themselves for the sake of someone else deserved to be rewarded in my eyes. I straightened myself out, brushing my hair back before putting my hat back on, and entered the sheriff’s office. As soon as I took a step inside, I heard,
“Gerard! You’re back!” I grinned. Sheriff Toro had always been kind to me, even thought I had never been a very successful bounty hunter. He stood up from his desk on the far side of the main room to greet me. He was several inches taller than me, and for some reason, always wore sunglasses, even if he was inside. He was always properly dressed, no matter the occasion, and was indisputably the best sheriff for miles around. “You need some food, do you?” he asked. Occasionally, he gave me money for food when I didn’t have enough to spare. I shook my head. “You get a kill, then?” I answered yes, and lead him outside. He walked over to my horse, and lifted the head one of the bodies, Smitty Bacall. He looked at his blood caked face, and took his sunglasses off to get a better look. He then looked at each of the other body’s faces. Finally, he stood straight up and put his sunglasses back on.
“Damn, Way, you got the whole Smitty Bacall Gang.” He exhaled, surprised. I beamed. He chuckled and said, “Let’s write you a check then.”
I drove us into town, a check in my pocket, and feeling happier than I had been in a long time. Not only had I received the biggest reward of my life, I managed to get a better partner than I could ever have imagined. I decided to treat Frank with some clothes and food as a thank you for agreeing to be involved with me once we got into town.
The town was busy with people and an occasional herd of sheep or cattle roamed through, led by a boy or young man. Ladies wearing elaborate dresses and clothing, parasols in their hand, walked through, holding shopping baskets or leading small children, trying to get them to stay together. Several men surrounded saloons or carried out business with other, and burst of laughter or shouting came from each individual group now and again. It had been a while since I had last been exposed to so many people. I went to the bank first to cash the check I was given by Sheriff Toro. Once I separated Frank’s from my money, I bought a few shirts and pants from myself and had a bigger meal than I had had in months. After I was full and content, I walked back to the carriage to wake Frank up. I climbed into the shaded cabin and crouched down at Frank’s feet. I pulled his leg a little and said,
“Frank, wake up.” He groaned and moved around slightly, uncomfortable. I leaned forward and felt his forehead again. His temperature had gone down drastically, but was still a little warm. He pulled himself off the floor, holding his stomach, and said to me groggily,
“We there?” I nodded, and stuck my hand in my vest pocket to pull out a handful of bills.
“Your bounty,” I said. He rubbed his eyes, and gratefully took the money, putting it into his pants pocket. “Let’s get some food.”
We stopped by a restaurant, where I told Frank that I would treat him, to which he reluctantly agreed after protesting against it. He ordered a steak with some mashed potatoes, but before the food came; I tried to strike up a conversation.
“Where did you learn to shoot like that?” He took a sip of water from a glass the waiter had given him upon request. His eyes were still tired and his movements were sluggish, but he seemed happy enough.
“Well, my father was the first to put a gun in my hand. I learned all the parts and mechanics of it to get a full understanding of the thing, and he taught me how it worked. After than, it kind of came naturally to me.” I glanced up at him from the scotch in my hand to let him understand that I was listening, and asked,
“And what did you do for a living?” He picked up his glass again and took long gulps of the water. It was a while before he answered,
“Was a bartender.” I chewed on my bottom lip, imagining Frank as a bartender, and then wondering why a bartender would be riding on a single horse in the middle of nowhere. I shrugged off my curiosity again, wanting to respect his privacy.
“Family?” I asked simply. Once again, like part of a pattern, he drank his water, but this time, until is was completely drained. He stared at the bottom of the glass regretfully, and shook his head in answer to my question. He seemed agitated and nervous now, and he obviously felt uncomfortable so I stopped asking questions. Instead, I brought up our next target. I took another wanted handbill out of my pocket and laid it out on the table.
“Roger Samson. Wanted Dead or alive for murder. One thousand dollars,” I read. Frank stared at the handbill, absorbing the picture printed on the paper.
“Would I be right no assume you’re a pretty good tracker as well?” He nodded, seeing that there was no need to be humble at this point. I smiled. I had snagged a better partner than I had thought. “He was last seen a few town over, Greeneville. Apparently, he has a family there.”
After Frank finished his meal, we decided together than we’d set out early tomorrow morning. Today, we would see a doctor about Frank’s stomach and whether it would affect our travels. Admittedly, I couldn’t wait until we started. This could be a great beginning.
A/N: Kind of a filler chapter :/ But everything I write is important in one way or another. Just wanted to say that yes, I know that Frank is a vegetarian, but I couldn't really think of a good meal that didn't consist of meat back then. I apologize if this took too long. I've been really busy lately, and I might post a little late for the next one too. I'm getting really paranoid and anxious about this whole Mikey thing and it's completely messing my brain up. I know it shouldn't bother me this much, but I can't help myself. Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed.
Oh, by the way, Gerard poured alcohol all over Frank's stomach because alcohol will kill bacteria and disinfect the wound. Just in case some of you didn't know :D Because it would be stupid if Gerard just poured a whole thing of alcohol over him for no reason -.-