Excerpt from Chapter 4 of The Broken And The Foolish
As the horses and I traveled across the state, I felt a strong desire to treat someone else the way I had been treated. I longed to inflict justice on a man who really deserved it. A bastard needed to pay his dues that day and I would be the one to collect.
Some of the worst men traveled in coaches, because they were rich enough to pay someone to cart them around. I rode around the next town to avoid running into more people and then slowed my horses at the sight of a stagecoach on the road ahead of me.
I followed it at a significant distance for the better part of an hour. To my annoyance, two riders emerged from the direction of the town and were riding toward me. I sighed loudly and willed for them to pass by me without any nonsense. Instead, the riders’ horses slowed to match the pace of mine. For someone who longed to be left alone, I sure seemed to attract people.
I met the faces of a black boy and girl. They appeared to be around my age.
The girl frowned at me after I stared at them for a little too long.
“Good day for a ride,” I said, forcing a smile.
“Where ya headed?” asked the boy.
I cleared my throat.
“What’s it to you?”
“We just be wonderin’,” said the girl.
They seemed far from predatory, but their eyes held a devious glint. It did not appear that they would be leaving me alone anytime soon. I slowed the horses to a brisk walk.
“Well, where are you headed then?” I asked.
“You’re not following that stage coach, are you?” asked the girl with a shrewd grin.
My jaw dropped open. They laughed.
“We were planning on robbing it,” said the boy, trying in vain to hide a grin.
“How about that! I’ve met two people as crazy as I am.”
“We’re not as crazy as you are,” said the girl. “Look at you, traveling all alone.”
“She’s right,” said the boy. “Ain’t no one rob a coach on his own unless you be Black Bart.”
“Who said that I was going to rob the coach?” I asked.
“Let’s stop beating around the bush when there’s money to be had,” said the girl.
I opened my mouth to protest, but the boy cut me off with another question.
“Are you a good shot?” he asked.
“My aim’s as decent as anyone’s. Mind if I join ya?”
The two strangers glanced at one another before studying me intently.
“You seem like a spoiled white girl running away from her parents, to be honest,” said the girl.
“Hardly someone who would rob a coach, right?” I asked, rolling my eyes.
“Well, she did say she’s a decent shot,” said the boy.
I eyed them.
“My parents are dead. I’m already a murderer and a horse thief. I may as well add stagecoach robbing to the list. I’m short on funds and I was planning to mug one of the male passengers once they got off the coach. I just don’t want to hurt nobody, especially not the innocent.”
“That so?” asked the girl, scrutinizing me.
I barely believed what I had done myself. My days of being a victim were long gone. I had become something else.
“If you don’t want to die young, you can’t be robbin’ people alone,” warned the boy.
“Spare me the lecture. Are you two with me or not?”
“You can join us if you agree to our rules,” said the girl.
I nodded. They seemed to have more stealing experience than I did.
“Right. Fair enough.”
“It’s more than fair.”
I pulled the red bandana from around my neck and pulled it to just below my eyes. I tied the knot tight against my head.
“Maybe ya ain’t so stupid, after all,” said the girl.
Her eyes sparkled with mischief.
“Time will tell,” I said dryly.
They covered their faces with bandanas as well.
“Like Jesse James,” I said.
“Only better,” said the girl.
“Let’s plan this out right before we ride blindly for that thing,” I said. “We need to all know what we’re doing.”
“We already had a plan,” snapped the boy, glancing at the girl.
We put our heads together for a moment to make a strategy for the best way to execute the robbery. Then they kissed one another like there was no tomorrow before we rode for the coach.
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