They came before any of them really had time to react. The horses sounded heavily as they approached the brook. Jonnie yelled at the boys to get out of the water and Ruth went to go hide nearby. He watched as they scrambled to get their clothes back on as he mounted his horse and drew his guns. His heart was racing with not just fear but excitement. He had never been in a situation like this and the possibilities of getting out of it were all he could think of. He knew that his father would have stood his ground, pulled out his gun and made sure every damn Indian fell with a bullet to the forehead. That was exactly what he intended to do.
They were getting closer, he could almost feel them drawing near. His boys came up beside him on their horses and he threw a glance to where Ruth had gone to hide. Harshly he swallowed and nudged his horse forward prepared to meet them before they got here. He looked over at Babyface who had a wide smile on his face, ever eager with his guns steady in his hands. Their hair was dripping wet, their clothes sloppily thrown on but there was heavy determination in their eyes and that Jonnie knew was what got a man the world.
The Indians made their noises that sang of battle and Jonnie felt a bit of tightening in his stomach. He wanted to blame it on lack of substantial food but he knew it had everything to do with the fact that he had never been in a fight before. He had shot his guns before sure, on targets out on the farm, his father steadying his arm and his mama interrupting practice with the call for dinner. But this was different, he knew that, and he also told himself that no man could be prepared for something like this. All it came down to was pure and golden luck.
The Indians tore through the trees, their weapons held up above their head and their song loud on their lips. Jonnies horse reared with fear but he made it stand strong. He wasn’t gonna leave this fight.
“Y’ready?” Babyface asked him before he rode forward, his gun going off quick.
And that was it. Jonnie rode off after him blindly and the two other men followed. The Indians tore at their arms with their blades, blood spurted from the clean wounds. Bullets flew towards the Indians knocking some of them off their horses and killing others on sight.
Jonnies horse collided with one of the Indians knocking them both to the ground. He got up quick, reloading as fast as he could. The Indian looked across at him, his own gun in his hand- no doubt stolen from a previous fight. Jonnie made to smile but before the emotion broke its way onto his face the Indian fired. He wasn’t a good shot but the bullet still skimmed Jonnies arm. He hissed in pain, his hand covering the blood leaking there. The Indian stared at the gun, the sun glinting off his face paint, and he threw it down. It made a loud clunk and Jonnie made to cock his own gun but he came after him, knocking him to the ground. He pushed at the heavy man, his hand struggling to get him off. The Indian drew a knife from his boot and moved it dangerously close to his neck. He gathered as much strength as he could and fought against it. His exertion nearly stifled him but eventually he overcame him. The Indian fell to the ground his knife going somewhere and Jonnie rose to his feet. He lifted his gun again, aimed it at the Indian and smiled when he pulled the trigger. His confidence wavered however when he saw the mans head split open, the bullet commanding blood out of him. He felt a turn in his stomach but swallowed it down and returned his attention to the fight.
He shot some more, grabbing the knife as well and cut away at whatever body flew at him.
“Yeah! You get outta here!” Babyface replaced his gun in its holster as he shouted after the Indians who were riding off.
Jonnie put his gun back and hid the knife at the back of his pants. He looked around at the bodies on the ground. Ten maybe fifteen. And then he looked at his own boys and smiled. They had blood on them, their hands protecting fresh cuts but other than that everything seemed alright. Until Babyface staggered and fell to his knees.
“Babyface what’s wrong?” Jonnie called out as he rushed to his side, ignoring the sting of the cut on his arm. He dropped to his friends side and looked up at Blue and Holt who were now approaching.
Babyface laughed a little in a hiss and shook his head. “It’s alright. Just a little scratch.” He said, exhaling a shaky breath.
“Ruth!” Jonnie yelled out, unsure what she could do.
There was a rustle of skirts as she came out, her face worried and tears staining her cheeks. She dropped to her knees on the other side of Babyface and looked him over. A gasp escaped her lips as she lifted his hand from off his leg and saw the source of his pain. A bullet was lodged there, blood spurted out and when Ruth lightly touched it Babyface hoarsely gasped.
“What do we do?” Jonnie asked, his panic getting the best of him.
“You have any alcohol?” She asked, her eyes unsure and worried as she lowered them again to Jonnie.
Jonnie understood what Ruth meant and with a drop in his stomach he rushed off to where their belongings were. He came back with a couple of bottles and held them out.
“Let him drink.” Ruth softly ordered as she tenderly pushed Babyface’s hat back.
Jonnie let Babyface take sip after sip of the whiskey and then let him lay his head back down, his eyes closing on the pain. His breath was hoarse and when he opened his eyes again he smiled a little.
“Ain’t no fuss Ruth, I can handle it.” He said despite the obvious pain in his leg.
She smiled weakly and then took the knife at Babyface’s side. She inhaled sharply, her fear over what she was doing apparent.
“Y’know what you’re doing?” Holt asked from behind her.
“Do any of you?” She questioned receiving no answer.
She lowered the knifes tip and pressed it near the wound. She tried to ignore Babyface’s sudden cry as she pushed it further and managed to take the bullet out. He let out a gasp of strained pain. Ruth dropped the bullet to the ground and immediately cradled him up in her arms.
“Tourniquet his wound!” She ordered thankful that Jonnie began to treat the leg. “You alright, Babyface?” She asked softly, smoothing his sweat drenched hair back.
He smiled faintly and lifted his tired hand up to her face. “Amos.” He said before his eyes closed.
She looked up to Jonnie who had finished tightening his belt around Babyface’s leg.
“That’s his real name.” He said with a small shake of his head.
Ruth smiled a little and held Babyface close to him. Jonnie heavily sighed and stood to his feet. Although he was glad that Babyface was alright he could still feel a heavy fear inside. The Indians wouldn’t have just left like that, there had to be something else that was happening. He hated the thought of it but it had to be thought of. And he knew that he had to take the lead because this was his mission and he had to make sure that they were all alive to see it to the end.