tHE mOON'S cOVER

tHE mOON'S cOVER A sequel to the short story 'A Ranger Rides To Town'

pROLOGUE

The two guards hassled Sheriff Hadley into the carriage, then, without a word, climbed onto the front and started their journey to Nacodoches. Behind them, the townsfolk watched as a once-trustworthy person rode away to prison.

After the carriage was out of sight, the crowd began to disperse, some heading to the saloon for a morning drink or heading home for a late breakfast.

Among them was Ranger Chick Bodry. He had solved the puzzling mystery of who had robbed the bank. Three people were dead, including the famous bank robber Nevada Pierce. The three dead, one wounded crew of robbers had been double-crossed by the fifth member. Sheriff Hadley was indeed the fifth man, who was tricked by the Ranger and apprehended.

Chick Bodry sighed. In exactly a week, Hadley's trial would take place and he would be put to prison. In two days, Bodry planned, he would leave and head into Nacodoches and put Hadley away for good.

But until then, the hotel would be his home.

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tHAT nIGHT…

The two deputies came out of the saloon, their stomachs full and their heads half-sober. Hadley, who was handcuffed with a rope to the carriage, inwardly smiled. They were green, not even aware that Hadley knew the strategies of both sides of the law.

They were in a town about fifty miles from the beginning of their journey, a small town with, Hadley estimated, about two or three officers of the law. The law, Hadley snorted.

Greenhorns thought Hadley. An insult. Greenhorns guard me. Hadley's thoughts were interrupted by one of the deputies saying, "…we're spendin' da' night her…" The other untied him as the deputy kept talking. "Try anything and we have a right to shoot."

When he was untied, Hadley stood up and felt an immediate pain in his chest. He was shot the day before. The shot was obviously just to bring him down, not to kill him. The bullet had gone right through his right side, grazing his ribs and popping out the other side of his back. The doctor said that it would heal in about a month, maybe two.

All because of Bodry. The Ranger.

The deputy helped him start walking. Hadley then faked a fall, dust from the road flying into the air as he hit the ground. Hadley started flapping up dust everywhere, blinding the deputies. He heard one step nearby him and Hadley tripped him, leaned over, grabbed the six-shooter from the holster and fired in the direction of the still-standing deputy.

The shot echoes through the town but Hadley heard the man crumple to the ground. Too much dust was in the air to see. Hadley then started flapping up dust everywhere, blinding the deputies. He heard one step nearby him and Hadley tripped the coughing deputy, leaned over, grabbed the six-shooter and fired in the direction of the still-standing deputy.

The shot echoed throughout the town they were in. As if in reply, people from the saloon and nearby buildings came outside, a lot of "what the's?!" and "drunk cowboys!" phrases coming from the folk.

Hadley shot the second deputy, grabbed the other pistol from the stunned deputy and got to his feet. Pain had completely engulfed his chest but ignored it, climbing into the carriage and whipping the horses into a sprint down the road away from town.

Now people were shouting and Hadley grimaced. His escape wasn't going as well as he had planned. He steered the horses off the road and down a trail, navigating by the moon's reflective light…

cHAPTER 1

Bodry woke up the next morning to good ol' homemade cooking. A few minutes later, as Bodry was getting up, Mary Jane called, "Breakfast in a couple minutes."

Mary Jane Hayes, daughter of the banker, who was murdered during the bank robbery, which was now three days ago. Mary Jane let Bodry sleep in her house, a sort of 'thank you' for helping the town and bank.

"Just a minute," came another voice somewhere inside the house. It was a rough voice, while gentle at the same time. It belonged to Jim Cain. He was an assistant at the bank and beloved friend of Mr. Hayes, the dead banker. Jim was also courting Mary Jane and had agreed to Bodry spending the night.

Bodry pinned the Ranger badge onto his shirt and exited the guestroom in search of the kitchen. "Over here Mr. Bodry," called Mary Jane. Bodry turned and walked into the kitchen, seeing the table set for four. Mary Jane gestured to Bodry's place and he sat down.

"Good morning Ms. Hayes," Chick Bodry said politely. She smiled and replied in a motherly voice, "I told you once and I won't tell you again, the name is Mary Jane." Then she switched tunes and said, "Did you sleep well last night?"

"Just fine. In fact, that bed is probably the best one in the country." Bodry smiled.

Jim Cain came into the room, wearing a banker's outfit. He looked strange in the outfit; his past certainly did not reflect it. Mary Jane paused her cooking and walked over to Jim, giving him a big hug. "Mornin' to ya'," Cain said to Bodry.

"And you," Bodry replied. Trying to start conversation, Bodry asked, "So you have the bank now that…that, uh…Mr. Hayes is—," Cain cut him off quickly, a glare in his eyes.

"Technically no." There was a hint of guarded territory in his voice. Bodry had crossed the line. Unintentionally of course. Cain continued, "The will says it goes to Mary Jane so she owns it but I'm gonna manage it. It opens in a few minutes so I'm gonna have to finish my breakfast fast."

Mary Jane, her eyes a little wet at the mention of her dead father, brought a pan of bacon off the stove and scooped some onto Bodry's plate, then Jim's.

Jim shifted uneasily in his chair. You see, he was uncomfortable with a Ranger eating breakfast with him. Jim had rustled some cattle across the border a few years ago, before branding became part of ranching. Jim was also one of the main suspects in the robbery, considering his past and the fact that he was the assistant banker. He was cleared after Hadley was caught of course.

Bodry sipped some coffee and studied Jim. Jim was intentionally ignoring his gaze; Bodry frowned as a thought hit him. Why's he still uncomfortable? I've solved the crime and when he rustled cattle, it wasn't technically against the law then…so…why?

The room was quiet. Mary Jane sighed as she sat down to the table and began eating. She broke the silence. "So—''

Bam, bam, bam! The bangs came from the front door, loud enough to wake the dead. "Ranger," came an excited, nervous cry. "Ranger! You need ta' come ta' da' saloon as soon as ya' can! A mes'ger is there with news. It's impo'tant!"

Bodry was on his feet and at the front door just as the man finished. "What is it," asked Bodry.

The man was a Mexican, obviously still a beginner at English. His face was covered with beads of sweat as he said, "Sheriff—I mean Meester Hadley escaped! A mes'ger knows all 'bout it!" Bodry thanked the man and he left. Bodry shut the door and turned to Mary Jane and Jim Cain who were standing behind him. Eyes wide with excitement Mary Jane, "What's happened?!"

Bodry sighed and replied, "Hadley's escaped." Bodry's eyes locked with Mary Jane's and he said, "I'm gonna have to go. Sorry 'bout this."

"It's your job," she replied, obviously not unhappy or disappointed. She turned and went back into the kitchen to clean up so she could get to the saloon for the news.

Bodry tipped his hat to Cain and stepped outside, hearing the voices of excited townspeople from the saloon. Bodry started running when gunshots and women's screams filled his ears. As he ran, he pulled out his two guns and prepared for the worst.

The Ranger reached the saloon's boardwalk and hesitated. People were talking now. Bodry stepped inside to see a man with his hands high in the air and most, if not all, of the people were looking at him. "The gun discharged…uh…sorry."

Everyone relaxed and a man spoke up. "So how'd Hadley escape? How'd he do it?"

The man whose gun had discharged into the floor replied, "One of the guards is dead and the other shot but he ain't dead…yet. When he wakes up, we oughta know everything." At that he paused, then added, "Hopefully."

The man was at average height, probably had strong arms. Bodry watched the man carefully. The messenger continued. "The Sheriff wants me to take the Ranger down to where Hadley escaped and track him down." The man turned to Bodry, who was holstering his guns. "You're suppos' ta come with me."

Bodry nodded. "Suppose I do."

With that, the townsfolk tried to pry more details but with no results. Bodry went to the bartender and asked, "So how long do you think it will take to run down to...uh…what town did Hadley escape in?"

With looking at the Ranger, he replied, "Oh, I'd say ten hours if you don't stop for meals." The bartender avoided Bodry's curious gaze. Chick Bodry recognized the man but couldn't place him…somewhere in the past? Years ago? Maybe I'm just getting old, Bodry decided.

"Ranger? We need to leave soon." It was the messenger.

Bodry turned on the stool and replied with hesitant, tired voice, "Yes; we probably should." Bodry stood and gave the saloon one last studying gaze. The townsfolk were calm, sitting at various tables, relaxing and eating eggs for breakfast.

A good day's riding was ahead of him and Bodry sighed. He told the officer where his horse was and asked if he would ready it. The deputy replied, "Sure thing Ranger. We leave in…five minutes?"

Bodry nodded agreement and the deputy left.

Cain and Mary Jane entered the saloon, scoped out Bodry and walked up to him. "Nice meeting you again Ranger," said Jim Cain. Mary Jane frowned; she didn't know about Jim Cain's rustling days but Bodry figured that he realized he should tell her again if he's going to marry her. Mary Jane smiled again and said, "Make sure you come by sometime."

Bodry smiled, tipped his hat and said goodbye. He left the saloon and found the deputy down the street, two horses standing beside him. "You ready Ranger," the officer asked when Bodry reached him.

"Yes, I suppose. Old Hadley won't be going to far if we get there tonight so we better hurry. No meals until we reach…what was the name of that town?"

"Minder. Sounds good Ranger."

"Bodry. Just Bodry. Now let's go."

Author's Note

Hey people. If you're going to review thanx. This is my first western story and it's a sequel to the first western story I read so please be kinda easy on me. I think that as the story progresses it's gonna have a lot more action and it'll get better too so if you'll spare me the 'this doesn't sound like a western' stuff for the first few chapters, I'll continue it. Thanx and please review!