They stayed where they were for a couple of days, Jonnie ignoring the warning he had gotten from someone somewhere. He kept the note with him, nearly burning his chest through with its weight in his coat. He was afraid, sure, but that didn’t mean he was going to abandon everything he had planned. He could survive looking over his shoulder, a lot of men did so. He just had to find a way to get his boys outta here and find what they were looking for. He wasn’t sure who had put that note there. Hell, he wasn’t even sure what they were exactly looking for. He continued nonetheless, he was after all a man now.
Over the couple of days Babyface seemed to get better which showed them all a sign that they would be leaving soon. Jonnie was glad for that and Ruth seemed to beam with it. She had been spending her days taking care of his ailment and now that it was effective she was more than ecstatic. Jonnie often heard them talking throughout the night, Ruth trying to distract Babyface from his pain. It pleased Jonnie that things were going so well with his injury but Jonnie had been the first to see her, why did he lose her attention- as if he had ever had it. But this didn’t matter now, things had to go on and a girl was the last thing he needed to cause a rift in the group.
Holt and Blue had decided to stay, prompted it seemed by being called cowards. They were men of their word, they wouldn’t jump ship. Jonnie was glad he hadn’t gotten mixed with any good for nothings. He was glad this was the group he was a part of.
The morning cracked with sudden light and drifting clouds. It was a clear sky and the breeze was gentle as it whispered along the river. Jonnie finished his cup of water, licking his lips of the remnants of the cool liquid. He wondered if his father had ever been out this way hunting for something that seemed unreachable. Somehow it almost scared him that he was the only man that had possibly dared to come out this far. What could really be in those ruins that could keep men away for so long? To quench a mans natural curiosity seemed almost impossible. And yet here he was, ignorant, young, naïve, stupid. It didn’t matter he was attempting something that had never been done before. He was breaking away from his usual life and discovering the fearful unknown.
“You look like one of ‘em dreamers.” Babyfaces voice was in high spirits as he came to stand beside Jonnie, an identical cup in his hands.
Jonnie looked at him and gave a small smile. “Never had the patience to be dreamer.”
Babyface nodded, sipped some water and then looked out to where Jonnie’s eyes were fixed. “We ain’t going back are we?”
“Good. Didn’t want this mess here to rob us of our mission.” He gestured down to his bandaged leg.
“How is it?” Jonnie asked, looking at the blood that had slightly seeped through to the bandages surface.
“I’m good enough to ride.”
Jonnie smiled, noticing how much Babyface was going crazy being immobile. “Y’sure? What’s Ruth think about that?”
He laughed and tugged his hat down further on his head. “She knows…she don’t say much about it but hell Jonnie I’m good enough. Men get maimed in war and keep on fighting, why can’t I ride a little?”
“Well if you insist….Amos.” Jonnie had to laugh. Babyface had never liked to be called by his real name.
Babyface narrowed his eyes and then smiled a little. “What can I say Jonnie? You always do come up with the greatest finds and that Ruth ain’t an exception.”
Jonnie watched as Babyface made to leave but then he cleared his throat to get his attention again. “Can I show you something?” He pulled the note from his coat and handed it over to him.
Babyface read it and then shot his eyes back to Jonnie. “You found this?”
Jonnie nodded recounting then how he had found it. “Y’think this was one of them Indians?”
“This isn’t from no Indian..this handwriting is Western…” He displayed the note before Jonnie to show him. “What about the blade you found with it?”
Jonnie pulled the knife from his boot and handed it over to him. “Looks like one of the Indians knives.”
Babyface nodded a bit of worry suddenly filling his blue eyes. “Whatever the hell this is from and whoever the hell sent it, it don’t matter. We gotta get outta here.”
“Y’ain’t scared are you?”Jonnie asked, taking the note from his friend.
“Me? Scared? Not at all but I’ve got to watch over you.” He let out a laugh and then quite seriously went to go tell the others that they were heading out.
Jonnie looked down at the writing on the note and instantly realized that it was the sort of writing that an educated man would write. He tucked the note back into his coat and went on to get his horse. He could tell himself all day that he wasn’t scared but damn it he knew better.