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The Incident At The Rupert Hotel (standard:westerns, 5123 words)
Author: G.H. HaddenAdded: Nov 12 2007Views/Reads: 2044/1221Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
KYLE!!!! Behind the bar, Bolton is suddenly sick with guilt. The Yank has a clear shot; and in saving his headstrong boss he's left the boy exposed! If Kyle ends up taking a bullet in Gunderson's stead he will NEVER forgive himself.
 



The Yank in the Black Stetson Hat 

The Incident At The Rupert Hotel 

By G. H. Hadden 

The tavern boy had done nothing at all this afternoon to deserve his
place in the saloon on this improvised surgery table; yet here he is, 
mercifully unconscious and stripped from the waste up.  Doc Abrams 
(more a vet by profession these days, but capable surgeon in a pinch) 
is finishing up with the extraction of the slugs.  There were two 
wounds in all, one in his abdomen just above the right kidney and the 
other a ricochet to the left breast.  That gut shot in the belly made a 
clean hole—-not much damage to the lower intestines and easy enough to 
remove, but the other had tore up a wide gash of flesh, fragmenting the 
bullet into three large shards when it struck and cracked his rib cage. 
 In any case, it's not the wounds but infection that worries him.  
Assisting is Frederick Bolton: clean-cut bartender and sometimes barber 
by trade, outdoorsman by habit. Though he's had no formal medical 
training he has set many a bone and pulled many a rancid tooth. He's 
also delivered a babe, extracted his share of bullets and cleansed a 
war wound or two in his thirty-five years of life; so in Doc Ferguson's 
absence he's the only one with the cool detached composure for the job 
at hand—-that is, to keep the restless boy tied down to the table and 
the bleeding under control.  Kyle's quite out of it, but he's far from 
resting easy. 

News spread fast through Little Crest when the children brought him in,
like a wild fire in July, even if it's only the third week in June.  
Now everything's on hold, and the Mounties have set off south down the 
Weyburn road, riding hard after "The Yank".  More and more, the anxious 
townsfolk are stopping by outside the Rupert Hotel to keep vigil with 
hats in hand, both out of apprehension and respect. They shoo away 
their curious children's efforts to cup their hands around their eyes 
and press their faces against the glass for a look-see inside.  Can it 
really be true?  Is that really Kyle in there?  That handsome hometown 
real-life hero pictured with a stoked up grin on page one of the Little 
Crest Gazette...shot...maybe mortally wounded...just left on the side 
of the road to die?  The eldest of the Slocan boys—-the kid who 
single-handedly relieved "The Yank In The Black Stetson Hat" of his 
gun, and almost single-handedly saved the day? 

Yes.  And deep in the crowd you see the ashen faces and the deep baleful
eyes of the three children who brought him in—-who had fought shock, 
fatigue and terror to race him to town in a wheelbarrow as fast as 
their legs could carry them.  They're exhausted now, together in a 
huddle giving each other the love and support and strength to stand.  
Nellie is the tall curly-haired tomboy who just graduated the sixth 
grade, and she anchors her two little ruffian brothers, Clive and 
Byron, who had just completed the fourth.  They mutter the prayer 
Father Moody speaks, but look like they don't believe a word they're 
saying.  They stare at some far off planet, wearing grave death masks 
all their own.  Dried blood streaks their faces like war paint.   The 
boys are shirtless and tan, stripped from the waist up for Kyle's field 
dressings.   Their short pants are bloody, as is Nellie's play dress.  
Her blouse blooms blood where she cradled and comforted Kyle like a 
nurse.  Their feet are naked and bruised and dusty.  And a bloody 
wheelbarrow is spilled over behind them, against the stairs of the 
Rupert Hotel. 

The wind lightly blows through their hair like prairie tall grass.  It's
the only bit of them left animated, and one can't help looking at them 
without thinking of those poor homeless waifs in the newspaper made 
orphans by the San Francisco earthquake.  They look so utterly lost, 
and so very, very tired.  The other children see them, but none dare 
venture near.  In the midst of their grief they seem to have a kind of 
elusive dignity, an air of survival all their own.  One can't possibly 
imagine a time when next a smile of childish mirth might cross their 
solemn lips, or their cheeks might become rosy red again with carefree 
delight. 

Indeed one might wonder if any of the children of Little Crest will ever
again play Cowboys and Indians or Buffalo Hunt on that fallow windswept 
patch of backfield near the railway trestle overlooking the Weyburn 
Road.  Before today, that was the Kite Flying Field, where barefoot 


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