THE GREY ROAD
August 7, 1876
“Give me all your money and I won’t shoot anyone!” shouted David Rowman. His voice creaked like an old wagon wheel. He pointed a revolver straight at the old coachman’s head. Larry Nathans, Bob Smith, Bill Waters, Jim Mudslogger, and I carefully watched the old coach driver’s face for any signs of resistance. All of us except Jim Mudslogger wore bandanas over our faces to conceal our identities. Still, most of the state knew our names. Information has a way of getting around real quick, whether you’re okay with it or not.
To me, it didn’t seem like the driver would put up much of a fight. There was no shotgun rider, for some reason. He might have been killed in a fight with some other bandits along the way. I supposed they might have only hired a shotgun rider for coaches carrying a darned bank full of money. Or we might have just gotten lucky.
“Hurry up, you darned whiskerface. We ain’t got all day,” shouted David impatiently. Reluctantly, and with much bitterness, the driver dismounted from the coach. He slowly walked over to the passenger compartment. Hidden under a few coats was a large, buttercream-colored sack of money. It was a bank order for the Bank of Henderson, Texas. The bitter old man tossed it to Dave, but the sack hit the ground a few feet in front of Dave’s boots. I couldn’t tell if the old man had thrown it short on purpose or if it was because of his shaking nerves. As Dave bent over to take the money, the coach driver started to do something sneaky. I watched as he dug around in his coat pocket, about to pull a revolver on all of us. If I didn’t take action real quick, someone might get shot.
“Don’t try that, mister.” I said coolly. I pulled iron and aimed my revolver at his head. It clicked commandingly. The driver thought for a second, and then reluctantly took his hands out of his coat and put them back up in the air.
“Thank you.” I finished. I uncocked my revolver and jabbed it back inside my tied-down Mexican Loop holster. David now had all the money in his hands. I stood there, keeping careful watch over the driver. I didn’t like killin’ people one bit, but it had to be done if they would shoot you anyways. One at a time, we mounted our horses and rode off to safety. From a few hundred yards away, we saw the driver start the cart horses off in the opposite direction he had previously travelled. He would soon have some unfortunate news to tell his boss.
Once we had trotted away to a safer place, Dave pulled the money bag out of one of his saddlebags. He opened up the drawstring effortlessly and began to count the money inside. He separated the different denominations of bills with his fingers.
“Ten, twenty, thirty, sixty… one hundred… one hundred and twenty. We have a hundred and twenty five dollars here. I’ll give the four of y’all twenty dollars. I’ll take the other forty-five,” said Dave. Even though the deal was slightly unfair, David was the leader of the posse and he did a lot of the heavy lifting. Even though a few of us were not pleased, fighting might make it even worse. I was contented enough with my share. It would last me a few weeks at minimum. David handed me my twenty dollar bill, which was crisp like it had just come off the printing press.
“Now I ain’t got much of nothin’ planned for a while. My life is goin’ just fine without me needin’ no extra money. I got enough money to last me for a heck of a while. Maybe I’ll start somethin’ when the newspapers have cooled down a bit. So since I know where y’all live, I guess I’ll ride over and knock on the door like I told y’all before. I know you can get along without me for a bit. Right?” he said sarcastically.
“Sounds good, but when is that?” asked Jim Mudslogger.
“I ain’t sure, you darned jerk. I just told you that” replied Dave, impatiently. He quickly spun his horse around and loped off.
“See y’all later, if you ain’t dead.” he shouted from far away.
Since Jim Mudslogger and I lived close to each other, we rode off together. The others dispersed towards their respective homesteads.
“I think we made out jes’ fine,” said Jim. Jim was a bald, large man. Out of our posse, he was the least likely to win a science contest. (or even know where Europe is) I wasn’t even completely confident that he knew how to read. I had never seen him with a book. However, he was very tall and strong, and from my knowledge he had never lost a fight. I wasn’t much worse, since I had only lost one. However, just to be safe, I tried my best to stay on Jim’s good side.
“I agree. Driver didn’t put up a fight, and I sure as heck am happy there wasn’t a shotgun driver on there.” I said. After that, we rode in silence for a half hour. The moon shone as bright as a lighthouse off in the distance. It would be full in two days.
“How have you been doing?” I asked. “It’s been a while since I last seen you.”
“Good,” replied Jim blankly.
“What have you been doing? Do you have a job?” I asked.
“Yeah. I build houses. They’re all the same. Simple. Easy,” said Jim.
“How long does it take you?” I asked, absentmindedly.
“Two weeks, maybe. Sometimes three. I’m quick.”
Off in the distance, I saw the town of Henderson. It was a small, compact place. There were some rolling hills around it, but they were strangely devoid of trees. The countryside was filled with fences and cattle. At this hour, absolutely nobody was awake. My small house was only ten minutes away.
“I guess we’ll part ways. I’ll see you some other time, Jim.”
I enjoyed the solitude. Being around a dimwitted man like Jim for any good amount of time was irritating.
“I’m glad we took that money.” I thought. “Those coach companies have enough money to get them wherever they want. I ain’t cut out for hard work like ranching and farming. We didn’t even shoot nobody. Hopefully, the law won’t even figure out I did it…”