Thursday, December 19, 2019
Poplar Mountain Part 57 by Dellani Oakes
Squires and his men kidnap Will and Luke, taking them back to the house.
The gears ground again and the truck bucked, hitting a rock in the road. Will ground his teeth, working harder at his bonds. Lucius sat beside him, quiet and calm. Nothing about his face betrayed his feelings, but Will could feel that his brother was coiled for action. With a slight inclination of his chin, Luke sighted Hoop, who sat with his legs dangling off the dropped tailgate.
Coughing loudly, Luke shook the rope from his hands, letting it drop to the bottom of the truck bed. Will wasn't quite loose, but he could use his feet. He pulled his knees closer, adjusting his angle so he could brace himself. Luke nodded. Will hauled back, kicking Hoop in the back, sending him flying.
Luke jumped toward Turner. The second man was so confused by his friend's sudden departure into the dark, he didn't react quickly enough. Luke's shoulder caught him in the chest and he went off the side. Will shook the ropes from his hands with a satisfied grin.
Squires heard the yelps of his men, but had to concentrate on the road. The man beside him leaned out the window, trying to draw a bead on Lucius and Willem. Luke punched his jaw as Will grabbed for his gun. He didn't get a chance to fire or even cry out, before the Henry brothers subdued him.
"Stop the truck," Lucius ordered.
Will leveled the gun at the sheriff. Instead of complying, Squires hit the gas, rocking the steering wheel from side to side, trying to dislodge the brothers. Having anticipated such a move, the men had braced themselves, though Luke lost his footing and tripped over McCleary. He landed hard on his backside, the air knocked out of him.
Shots sounded from behind them as one of the downed men fired at them. Squires yelled, swerving to the left. A bullet pinged off the back fender. Another hit the truck's mirror. Will swore and fired back.
Luke pulled him down when another bullet whizzed by, narrowly missing his brother. Sooner or later, their luck would run out. He wasn't about to tempt fate. Instead, he crawled over McCleary and pulled at the tailgate. He wanted something between him and the bullets.
The man next to Squires flopped like a wet rag doll, unconscious from Luke's blow. Squires kept going, despite the fact that the Henry boys were loose in the back. He was determined to get to their house. He had more guns than they did. Sooner or later, they'd run out of bullets. With luck, he'd be able to get away from them before they shot him. He no longer thought in terms of extortion, he was far too worried about being killed by one of the hot headed brothers.
As they neared the clearing where the Henry's home was built, Will decided to warn the women. He raised his pistol, firing into the night. He hoped his uncles and cousins wouldn't take a notion to fire back.
Inside the house, Patty stood up. "Rachel, you go in the bedroom—now."
"Why, whatever for?"
"Rachel, you got any guns in the house?" Patty asked.
Nodding, the woman handed her a squirrel rifle. "You know how to use that?"
"Yes, ma'am. One thing Will's done is teach me to shoot."
The other girl's eyes were round and scared. "No, ma'am, but I can sure use it as a club."
Rachel smiled. "You can at that." She handed Dollie the shotgun, adding a few rounds of ammunition for each. "You take the shotgun, Dollie. All you got to do is point and pull the trigger. And watch for the kick. It'll hit ya like a government mule."
Rachel went into the room with her girls and barricaded the door. The Belloits went quietly out the backdoor and hid behind the house. They couldn't see very well in the dark, but did notice shadows moving closer. It took a few seconds, but they soon recognized Wilt and one of his boys. Wilt made walking movements with his fingers, pointing to the far side of the house. He pointed to himself and Patty. He gestured to Dollie to stay with his eldest son and walk around the other way.
"We got men behind," Wilt's son, Phineas, murmured.
Dollie nodded, eyes huge. She was so scared, she was shaking. Something was wrong. She dearly wished she knew what. When Wilt and Patty ducked around the corner of the house, the furthest point from the truck, Phineas and Dollie crept to their right, going closer to the vehicle.
Squires pulled up to the house, furious. He slammed on the brakes, knocking the brothers down. Both of them tangled with McCleary, whose unconscious body sprawled across the bed of the truck. Snatching his weapon from the holster, Squires hopped from the truck. As the brothers tried to untangle themselves and stand, he slammed down the tailgate.
Grabbing Will's hair, he yanked the older brother from the truck. Pistol pressed to Will's chin, he yelled, "Get out that truck, Lucius! I'll shoot you and your brother both, if you don't!" He waved the gun at Lucius, but pressed it back to Will's jaw before he had a chance to react.
Standing slowly, Lucius held his hands up next to his head. Warily, he hopped off the back end of the truck.
© 2019 Dellani Oakes
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