Showdown at Snake Creek Canyon

by on September 30th, 2010
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The harsh mid-morning sun beat down on the back of Rafe McCabe’s neck as he rode towards the entrance to Snake Creek Canyon. He squinted and strained his blue-grey eyes trying to see as much as he could of the craggy peaks still far off in the distance. Adjusting his dusty tan Stetson back on his forehead, he undid his red handkerchief from around his neck and wiped the sweat from his brow with it. He reigned in his big grey mount abruptly making the horse snort, and carefully took stock of the area before dismounting. It was Indian Territory, and not all of the tribes were friendly. The many caves and cliffs on the canyon walls also provided excellent hiding places for anyone lying in wait. This was dangerous country and he didn’t want to take any chances. Although the Snake Creek ran through the canyon, it was always low due to the lack of rain this time of year. Rafe figured it was best to refill his canteen and water Pete his horse now before entering the canyon since he had no way of knowing what might lie ahead. It had been six long weeks that he had been away on important personal business and was anxious to get home, so he had decided to chance it. Checking over his supplies, he tightened Pete’s saddle and made certain all his guns were loaded. He wasn’t looking for a fight but if one should come his way, he was going to be ready for it. Mounting up Rafe pointed Pete towards the canyon and rode on in. He was wary at first and kept searching the walls with his eyes as he rode deeper into the canyon. He could hear the songs of little birds living in the crevices along the walls, feel the slight breeze whistling through the canyon and with the gentle sound of the water flowing in the creek, slowly he began to let down his guard.

He had followed the river for more than an hour without incident when suddenly a shot rang out! A bullet had whizzed past Pete’s hindquarters making the horse shy away nervously dancing about as Rafe now instantly on alert searched for the perpetrator. His mind raced along with his heart beat as he scanned the canyon walls for his would-be attacker. Hand to his gun he spun around searching for cover but none was to be found. The only safe place was a large boulder that might provide some protection if this was to be a shoot-out with the bandits. Firing back in the direction the shot had come from he quickly headed for the boulder and dismounted grabbing his rifle from the saddle. “McCabe you dirty scoundrel! I’ve been waiting for you,” a voice echoed off the walls. Rafe’s stomach leapt as in utter confusion he tried to think who would want to lie in wait for him, he had no enemies that he knew of. “Well, it’s very nice of you to wait. I would have showed up sooner but I had no idea you were coming!” Rafe shouted back with a bravado he did not feel. “You coward!” the voice responded, “Leaving town after what you did. How dare you even show your face here.” “What?” Rafe said. “After what I did?” What is this guy talking about he wondered. “Don’t play games with me McCabe! I’m here to settle a score with you.,” his attacker shouted. It was at that moment that Rafe recognized the voice, but that only added to his confusion.

It was Landon Travers the younger brother of Rafe’s girlfriend Kate who he was planning on proposing to when he made it back to town. That was why he had been away for the six weeks he was making arrangements so they could marry. He had always been on good terms with the whole Travers family. His mind spun again, what could Landon possibly have against him that would drive him to almost commit murder? “Landon!” Rafe addressed the young man by name, “I know it’s you. Show yourself and we can talk.” “What do you think I’m a fool?” came the reply, “I’ll do no such thing I know you’re the best shot in the county I have no wish to die.” “Nor do I.” said Rafe, “But at least do the honorable thing by telling me what this is about before this goes any farther. A man’s got a right to know what he’s accused of before he’s condemned.” “Honorable? What do you know about honor? I’m here to defend my sister’s honor as if you didn’t know.” “Your sister’s honor?! Is that what this is about?” shouted Rafe, “I’ve been nothing but a perfect gentleman to Kate, and you know that.” “Not Kate, you two-timing dirt bag, Lizzie!” “Lizzie?” Little Lizzie Travers was Kate and Landon’s younger sister and at only fifteen she was over ten years too young for Rafe. He had never so much as looked at the girl sideways in the whole time he’d known her. He had always suspected she had feelings for him, and had done nothing to encourage it. The only real contact he’d had with her was the night before he left at the town dance. Kate had helped organized the dance and she had been so busy with the food and other things that night so they had only danced twice. It was out of pity for Lizzie sitting all by herself that he had danced with her once too. He thought he was being nice since it had made the girl so happy. It was at the end of the evening when he was alone on the porch waiting to take Kate home that Lizzie had cornered him outside and tried to get him to kiss her. He had naturally turned her down very firmly but as nicely as he could and quickly left to find Kate. Was that what this was all about? What had Lizzie told them during the six weeks he was gone? No wonder Landon was all up in arms. It really did not look good for Rafe since he had left town right after the alleged incident.

“I never touched Lizzie. You can ask her yourself when we get back to town.” Rafe shouted from behind his hiding spot. “I already did and we are gonna settle this here!” “Alright suit yourself! But I have no intention of making this a shoot-out! You want a fight then come down here and fight me like a man without weapons!” The last thing Rafe wanted was to get shot right before his wedding or even to ride into town with the body of the love of his life’s brother tied over the back of his horse. What a fine homecoming that would be, there would be no wedding after that for sure. “Alright that’s how you want it. I’m on my way down but you gotta throw your weapon down first!” Rafe stood up slowly from behind the boulder. “I trusting you Landon, don’t double-cross me now.” “I won’t and just to make sure you don’t double-cross me Jacob is here to cover me.” He had brought along his younger brother too it seemed. Landon started down the side of the slope empty handed and Rafe walked out from behind the boulder and laid his gun on the ground. Jacob came down too, gun in hand and watched them from a distance. The two men met by the edge of the creek and sized each other up. Rafe was a full five inches taller and a good deal broader than the eighteen-year-old Landon. Rafe knew he could easily end this now with a quick punch to his opponent’s jaw but not wanting to humiliate the boy who was trying to defend his sister’s honor however mistaken he was about it, he let Landon have the first punch. The young man was better at this than Rafe thought and as a result, his fist connected with Rafe’s chin making him bite his tongue. The tangy taste of blood filled Rafe’s mouth as he countered with a punch of his own that caught Landon in the mid-section. “Oof!” The air whooshed out of him making Landon momentarily dizzy. Mad that he’d been hit so easily Landon swung out at Rafe with blind rage and missed. Rafe danced around him with the skill of one who had been in many fights before and quickly got in several jabs before Landon managed to connect his fist to Rafe’s ear. Rafe winced in pain and pulled away before any other blows could make it home. Wanting to end it quickly now Rafe charged forward backing Landon closer to the water’s edge. With one last big swing of his fist, Rafe pelted Landon in the jaw and sent him sprawling into the muddy water of the Snake Creek. Landon looked so funny flopping around in the water that Rafe just had to laugh. Suddenly angry at seeing his brother knocked into the water Jacob threw down his gun and rushed at Rafe propelling both of them into the water alongside Landon. Kicking Jacob off of him Rafe flipped the boy backwards into the deeper water and started to dunk him. Landon now jumped on Rafe’s back and pulled him under. The three of them continued their struggle for the better part of an hour until exhausted and dripping wet they hauled themselves out of the creek bed. Panting from the exertion Landon said “I yield you win. Although I don’t think I did Lizzie any justice.” Equally, tired and soaking wet Rafe sat down between the two boys and clapping them on the backs said “I’m glad to hear it. You two are just being good brothers so no hard feelings. Now maybe if you are willing the three of us can ride back into to town have a drink and then we’ll have a good long talk with your little sister and see if we can’t clear this whole thing up. Besides I have some unfinished business with your other sister and I am anxious to get to it.” Landon and Jacob’s eyes got wide as they looked at Rafe. “Well then I guess we need to get on with It.” replied Landon. Rafe stood up, collected his hat and his gun, whistled for Pete, and mounted up. The three of them made quite an interesting sight as they rode dripping wet into town.

The End


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