The logs took their time to light despite the kindling. It was a struggle, but eventually the fire started crackling. The sound gathered my family around the fireplace and we all waited in our blankets for the heat to warm us. Those miserable faces kept me from looking anyone in the eye. I was far too concerned with returning to my lookout.
Taking my rifle off of the chair I walked over to the front door and to a chorus of moans I opened it to the white storm. I shut it as soon as possible, for my benefit and not there. Of all the people I could be running with as my family it had to be the sorry mess of complainers and boozers.
Still, I didn’t mind being the leader. I sat on the porch, angling myself to be almost camouflaged with the stacks of wood that filled one side. I believed that if anyone were to scout our home out I would spot them before they would spot me.
However, it being winter and us being up north it would be difficult for them to even make it up this far. Still, that being said, we were wanted fugitives with a combined bounty that would put even the priest of the most holy church on our tail to claim the reward money. So instead of chancing it, I was out here in the cold watch for those greedy types or wannabe bounty hunters.
While my eyes drifted into a thousand yard stare I began to wonder if it was nearing the end of the day yet. Afterall, it would be more likely that a lawman would strike at night and not during the day. It was all about catching us unawares, but it would rely on the idea that the knew we here all along.
As the day went on however I failed notice my seat and blanket become far more comfortable. My eyes slowly closed as I rested them and my mind. Soon, I found sleep clawing at my mind till it was an unconscious pulp. I drifted into a dark dream I would forget when I woke up and when I did I saw that night had fallen and there were two others from the crew drinking on the porch with me.
They joked about how bad of a lookout I was, but I took the insult and jokes quietly. The last thing we wanted was a commotion, but these drunkards were liable to cause a scene on their own.
“You two best get inside,” I told them. “Douse any lights and close the curtains.”
“We know the drill, boss,” one replied and the two stumbled back inside.
As they marched inside I walked over to the door and rather subtly locked the front door. With that done I waited on the porch till midnight. Now was not the time to be caught in the act, so I ensured that all the curtains were closed. With all that done, I walked up the path, rifle in hand and stopped at the caravan path.
With that, I raised my rifle above my head and figures stepped out from the foliage.
“You’ve done your part?” one asked.
“I did that, law man,” I told him. “I would burn the building to the ground if I were you. They are all too drunk too even wake up.”
“We do things our way,” the figure replied. “Get on your horse and get out of here. You will find the money in the pouch. Count it if you like, just don’t waste our time.”
“Oh, I won’t,” I told him. “I trust you fellas enough to pay your share, now, allow to bring a counter offer.”
There was a chorus of clicking guns all around our and out from the woods marched my gang who surrounded the sheriff and his posse. All of them stumbled for a moment, but were outnumbered and outgunned in that moment.
“Did you really believe I would sell them out for some petty cash?” I asked them. “I mean, we robbed ten times that amount when we hit that bank last month!”
The sheriff was silent.
“No last words? Fine then. Boys!”
All guns were clocked and twitchy fingers pulled triggers. Bangs and flashes went off and the sheriff’s posses fell to the ground, some still alive and in deep amounts of pain. My boys opened up on them, putting them out of their misery.
“Now, let me get this clear with you, sheriff,” I began. “We’re not the greedy types, which is why we’re going to send you back with the money that you’re offering. However, we are the cold types which on a cold morning such as this is saying something!”
I laughed with my crew and I could see even in this darkness the dismay painted across the sheriff’s face.
“I want you, and listen to this part clearly,” I continued. “I want you to march yourself over to that perty mayor of yours and tell her that we don’t need you people chasing us anymore. You have my word that we’re done with crime, I mean, we have all the money we could ever need, but we needs stores without our faces painted on them to spend it in. Clear our names and let us disappear into memory, will ya? It would mean a lot and it will save that charming town of yours from being visited by us once again.”
The sheriff didn’t say anything, but the shots fired at his feet sent him to my horse. It was a pitiful sight to see a law man who has been chasing us so long run like a scared child. A few minutes later and the sheriff was long gone.
“Still think we should have kept the money,” one murmured amongst the crew.
“Now, don’t be like that,” I told him. “We plenty of money, as long as you don’t lose your share in a cards game again!”
The crew laughed and spirits were lifted. Still, I reckon there were some ill feelings about my decision to let the sheriff live. We will see if they hold in the time to come.