|The Ballad of Wood Hite
Author: Uncommon Pen PM
Wood Hite, Jesse James' own cousin, was murdered. By whom? None other than Robert Ford.Rated: Fiction T - English - Western/Angst - Bob F. & Jesse J. - Chapters: 10 - Words: 11,707 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 3 - Updated: 06-14-10 - Published: 05-19-10 - Status: Complete - id: 5983574
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Weightless... Dreamy... Bob could feel nothing.
Robert Ford floated through the door and glided to the jail cells. There were three men in jail, each in separate cells. Ignoring the other two, Bob stood in front of Jesse James' cell and looked down at the key-ring in his hands and tried to find the right key.
Jesse James had been asleep on the cot in his cell, but he woke up when he heard the keys jingling together.
"Mornin' all ready?" Jesse grunted, rolling over and sitting up. He placed his feet on the cold floor and squinted up at Bob.
"Bobby?" He said, surprised.
Bob's heart fluttered at the sound of Jesse's voice. He raised his eyes and gave Jesse a weak smile.
"Howdy, Jesse." He said softly.
Jesse looked at the men in the cells beside him, then he peered around Bobby with a puzzled expression.
"Where's the sheriff?" He asked.
Bob swallowed, his mouth suddenly dry. He fumbled with the keys, his hands shaking.
"I killed him," He said at last. He stuck a key in the lock on the cell door, but it was the wrong key. He selected another key and tried it.
"I didn't think you were such a killer, Bob." Jesse said in a low voice, as if disappointed to know the truth.
"I do what I have to," Bob replied quickly.
He found the right key and turned the lock. Jesse stood up and went to the door as Bob opened it for him.
"I appreciate this, kid." Jesse said gravely, placing a hand on Robert's shoulder.
"It's nothin', really." Bob muttered, suddenly shy.
Jesse walked past Bob and went to the sheriff's desk. He found his guns and wrapped the belt around his waist.
"I guess it's a good thing you came by," Jesse said, turning to Bob as he tightened his gun belt. "They were plannin' on hanging me in the morning."
Robert didn't know what to say. He didn't want to admit it was his fault Jesse wound up in jail in the first place, that he was the one who was slinking around his house last night. Instead of speaking, he just gave Jesse an uneasy smile.
Jesse stared at Bob for a moment.
"Anybody else with you?" He asked.
"Nah," Bob grinned. "I suppose I'm the only one that really cares about you." He tried to make it sound like a joke, but he blushed as he realized how much he wanted it to be true.
Jesse laughed. "Haha! Yeah, yeah..." Suddenly Jesse frowned. "Ain't Charley with you?"
"I don't know where he is," Bob said hotly. "Me and him weren't on very good terms when I left Martha's."
"Because I killed Wood. He thinks you..." Robert broke off. He looked around. "Don't you think we oughta be going?"
"What does he think?" Jesse took a step towards Bob.
"Uh..." Bob shifted uncomfortably. "Nothin', he's an idiot. We should go, Jesse." He glanced at the windows. Even though the sun was setting, it seemed too quiet outside. It was making him nervous.
"Fine." Jesse looked at the cells. The other two men were sleeping peacefully. Jesse grabbed his hat from his cell and dusted it off as he walked over to Bob.
Jesse put on his hat. "Lead the way, Bobby." He commanded.
Bob got the gun out of his pants and opened the door. He stepped out quickly and looked around, sweeping the gun in all directions. The world was turning black with night. The streets were empty. Frogs and crickets hummed and cried back and forth to each other, but other than that, all was silent. Robert Ford glanced over at Jesse, who nodded wordlessly, so Bob began to run. They ran through alleys and fields, staying low and in the shadows, but no one saw them. Bob took Jesse to the wood-shed.
"I've been stayin' here for awhile," He told Jesse officially. "It's off the main road, and kind of hidden by the trees some, so no one should look here for us anytime soon."
"Us," Jesse chuckled and shook his head.
"I have to get my horse, then we can leave." Bob told Jesse excitedly, then ran off into the darkness.
Robert was relieved to find his horse grazing peacefully by an old, abandoned barn. He mounted up quickly and galloped back to Jesse. Jesse was just leaning against the wood-shed, gazing at the sky as the sun slipped away and the moon took its place. Bob slipped off of his horse and walked it over to Jesse.
"They followed you." Jesse said emotionlessly.
"What?" Bob cried, looking over his shoulder.
"Yep." Jesse sighed. "At first I thought I was seein' things, but, sure enough, their badges were glowing in the moonlight."
Bob looked at Jesse helplessly. "What do we do?"
Jesse looked over at Bob. "Let me take the horse." He said.
Robert handed him the reigns, and Jesse mounted up. He looked down at Bob, studying him, as he got himself situated. He sighed and turned away, as if not seeing what he had hoped for. "You need to distract them for me." He said at last.
Robert Ford felt his blood run cold, and his heart sunk into his stomach. Then, he realized he shouldn't be nervous. Jesse was trusting him with his life. This was Jesse's way of saying he forgave Bob for killing his cousin. He should be honored! Bob nodded.
"What should I do?" He asked determinedly, staring up at Jesse with fierce resolve.
Jesse took off his hat and dropped it down on Bob's head.
"Just hide behind the shed, and shoot them when they try to chase me."
Bob checked his stolen gun. "I only have five bullets left," He said regrettably.
"Here," Jesse unbuckled his gun belt and held it out for Bob. "Take it. Kill them all."
Bob took the belt in awe. "But what about you?" He asked. "Wait, you take the sheriff's gun just in case."
"Fine," Jesse sighed and took the gun. He watched as Bob buckled the belt around his waist. Bob looked up at Jesse and straightened his hat sheepishly.
"Why'd you give me your hat?" He asked.
"Looks better on you," Jesse answered instantly.
Robert Ford's heart swelled with pride. His eyes glistened and he smiled at Jesse James.
"Thanks," He said softly.
Jesse looked away. "I should go. Stay behind that shed until they start coming after me." He tapped his heels into the horse's sides.
"Wait!" Bob burst out. "Where are we going to meet?" He asked desperately.
"I'll find you," Jesse answered dismissively, avoiding his eyes.
Before Bob could say anything else, Jesse James rode away.
Robert licked his lips and pulled out both of Jesse's guns. He cocked them and ducked behind the wood-shed, waiting for shouts and gun-shots. But everything was quiet. Confused, Bob stepped out into the open and looked around.
Then he saw them. The badges did, indeed, sparkle in the moonlight. The polished nickle of the guns sparkled, too. Whispers filled the air: That's Jesse, that's Jesse James, they said, but Bob didn't hear anything. All around him, guns cocked and aimed.
Robert Ford wasn't afraid. The police wanted Jesse James, not him. Bob knew one thing for certain: He was going to protect Jesse with everything he had. Nobody was going to touch Jesse James. Nobody!
Before Bob could fire his guns, the sheriffs fired theirs. Bullets ripped into Bob and flew out the other side, jerking him from all sides like a marionette puppet. Pain, anguishing pain, followed by dull numbness. The hat flew from his head and was instantly torn to shreds in mid-air. As shots continued to ring out, echoing in his mind, Robert Ford fell onto his back, stared up at the moon, and thanked God for Jesse James.