Billy Oldham's War
Chapter 8

Billy let the women stand around without their clothes for a few minutes to emphasize the importance of what he wanted them to do about being alert. Hopefully, this incident had finally gotten through to them. If it hadn't, he was going to have to split up the women and have one ride with him. He decided to mention that to have a further indignity hanging over their heads.

The women finally seemed to take Billy's warning seriously, so he breathed a little easier. At least, this incident might wake them up for a little while, but he was afraid that the women's desire to talk incessantly was going to lead to even more trouble. "I hope sincerely that this constant desire to talk will not lead ta one of ya dying!

After five minutes, he told them to get dressed. They both promised to pay attention to their jobs and less attention to gossip, but they had still not completely assuaged Billy's doubts. If he had known that the two women were talking about his sexual abilities, he might have worried even more. Ann was comparing him favorably to her former husband, and Maria wanted all of the minute details.

They did not meet any more bushwhackers that day, but Maria and Billy assured Ann that this strip of counties abounded with the breed. However, if they did not find any after a few days, they would take the ferry to the other side of the river and give those counties a try. In fact, out of curiosity, they might do that anyway.

When they camped that night, the two women cooked enough food so that they could have a decent lunch without having to stop to cook. This would save a lot of aggravation all around. They still planned to cook a hot breakfast and fix coffee. Billy said that he always functioned better after his morning coffee, and the women didn't want to take any chances.

That night, in their tent & wagon shelter, Billy had his first experience with trying to satisfy both wives on the same night. The women had agreed that Maria would go first, since she had been deprived for a few days. They kept a lantern going so that the idle woman could enjoy watching the other two at play. Once Billy had put his deposit into Maria, the three of them cuddled while Billy had time to recover. That didn't take as long as any of them expected, so Billy was able to service Ann without undue delay. All three of them thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but Billy slept the sleep of the exhausted. He knew that he was going to have to build up his stamina if he was going to do this every night.

The next morning, they got underway as quickly as possible. There was no particular reason for this haste other than Billy was anxious to test the women's promise to pay more attention to their surroundings. They kept talking, but they also kept looking around, and Billy knew that he had to be satisfied with that if he was going to stick to the current division of labor.

This time, they had to face an entirely different type of attack. About mid-morning, there was the crack of a rifle being discharged, and a bullet struck the side of the wagon just below where it would have cleared the wall around the driver's box. This was a total surprise, since they expected to be the object of rape attempts and not outright murder.

Both women dropped to the floorboards and Maria pulled out a pistol while Ann took a Mississippi rifle from the rack. She kept her head down as much as possible as she looked around for the puff of powder smoke which would locate the shooter for her. The bullet had struck her side of the wagon, so she had that much of a guide in her search.

There was another shot fired about 15 seconds after the first shot, and that told them a lot about the shooter. He had to be an experienced shooter to reload that quickly. On the other hand, he was pretty dumb about not moving his shooting position, since he was pinpointed by the smoke. Ann lined up carefully on where she figured the shooter would be based on the smoke and fired her single shot.

Either she was very lucky, or she was very good. There was a scream of pain from the site of the original shots, so she had probably hit the other shooter. Nevertheless, Ann was careful to keep her head down while she drew another rifle from the rack. The smoke from her own shot was obscuring her vision, so she was uncertain on how to proceed.

The mules had stopped as soon as they had felt the slack in the reins, so Maria took the reins in hand and urged the mules to move forward enough to clear them from the smoke. At that point, she released the tension on the reins, and the mules stopped again.

Billy had seen the powder smoke from the woods, so he knew approximately where the shooter had to be. He rode into the woods toward the shooter, but he didn't ride so fast that he was going to blunder into a trap. Once he got close to the source of the shot, he dismounted and drew his gun. Ann saw where Billy was, so she knew not to shoot in that direction. Billy dodged from tree to tree until he came upon a boy lying on the ground with a bullet through his neck. If he had been as tall as a grown man, Ann's bullet would had penetrated his chest at about his heart, so Ann had judged well about where to place her bullet. The boy was quite dead, so there was no way to find out why he had been shooting.

Billy checked him out and found that the boy was apparently starving, considering how skinny he was. Maybe he was killing for food; there certainly was no way to know at this stage since the boy was already dead. The boy had no money on him, but he was carrying a large bowie knife and a Mississippi rifle in very good condition. He also had some powder, caps, and shot, but there was no way to identify him. Billy left him where he was after taking the knife, ammunition, and the rifle.

They talked about the event for a few minutes, and Billy congratulated Ann on her accurate shot. With nothing to show for the happening, they decided to move on, but the episode continued to arise in their memories for years because it was so bizarre.

Nothing else showed up that day, so the women were back to talking continually. However, they were still looking around for danger, so Billy didn't comment. That night was a repeat of the night before in camp, so it could not be considered remarkable.

Three more days on the road and nothing showed up. They were all feeling the lack of action, so they decided to cross to the northern side of the river. The situation certainly could not be worse than it was on the southern side. They had progressed down the unfamiliar road about three miles beyond the ferry. Billy was riding beside the wagon because they figured that they were too close to the river to find trouble.

Suddenly, four men stepped out of the bushes beside the road and pointed rifles at Billy. They completely ignored the women, which had become a common mistake in the last few weeks. Billy said, "Howdy, Gentlemen, what can we do for y'all?"

One of the men said, "Ya kin start out by givin' us all yer money an' yer guns. Then we'll talk about yer women."

With this as a confirmation that the men were bushwhackers, Billy bent over in the saddle to get some protection behind his horse's neck and head. At the same time, he shouted, "SHOOT THEM!"

Both women had surreptitiously drawn and cocked Colts, so they started shooting at Billy's shouted command. Billy also drew a Colt, but the women had taken care of the four men before he had straightened up so that he could see where the four men had been standing. None of the men were still alive. Two of the men were sporting one bullet hole, and the other two had two such decorations. Billy thanked the ladies for their quick action and dismounted to check out the bushwhackers.

They were beginning to accumulate an embarrassment of riches when it came to guns. The men had three Mississippi rifles and five Colts, plus the ubiquitous bowie knives. They only had about $50, so Billy wondered if they had been the first victims of the day. He could not understand why the men did not shoot first, rather than try to hold him up. The only thing he could figure was arrogant self-assuredness. After all, what chance does one man stand against four who have the drop on him?

Billy was concerned about the men's horses, so they went looking for them. This made him believe that they were not the first victims of the morning, since there were six horses tied to bushes. In any case, he brought out the six horses and fastened them to the rear of the wagon. They continued on, but Billy decided to drop back starting now.

They came to a town about lunch time, so they sold the horses and went into a restaurant to eat. The food the women fixed was good, but it was not hot, and this was a chance for hot coffee. They ate lunch and started out the door when Billy spotted two men up in their wagon inspecting all of those guns.

"Just what the hell do y'all think ya're doin' climbin' in my wagon?"

"We was wonderin' why one man would need so many guns. Care ta offer an explanation, Stranger?"

"No, I wouldn't. But ifen y'all ain't out of my wagon right smartly quick, I just may start shootin'"

One of the men said, "Now, Mister, that ain't a friendly attitude."

At that moment, Ann shouted, "BILLY, THAT MAN'S PULLIN' A GUN!"

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Story tagged with:
Ma/Fa / mt/ft / Romantic / Historical / Humor / Violent /