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|The Incident At The Rupert Hotel (standard:westerns, 5123 words)|
|Author: G.H. Hadden||Added: Nov 12 2007||Views/Reads: 2132/1280||Story 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 Click here to read the rest of this story (459 more lines)
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