Morning came and the three men left in an un-ceremonial quiet. They walked their horses, in quiet, up to the rim of the canyon. They mounted and rode along an old road that followed the canyon lip. It wasn't like Samson to ride in the light in such an exposed way and it disturbed Benning and Raul. Both men kept their eyes pealed for any movement, or structure, that might be a springboard to ambush.
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Hours went by in the humid heat and the bug invested air. Samson pulled up and gestured to drop down over the edge of the canyon. Raul looked down into the canyon, at this point in the river, with awe. What amount of water could cause this great cut in the earth? They dropped, maneuvering the cutbacks and dangerously narrow pathways, on horseback, and often on foot, leading their steeds for over four hours, and a mile down, to the river. The gentle flowing green of the river and the tree thick banks were indeed a relief to the men. The air was cool and stress from the heat and dangerous descent caused both Bennings to beg a rest. Samson pointed to a large Sycamore and the men dismounted and walked their horses to the shaded area that Samson indicated. They allowed the horses to drink from the river and then tied them where they could graze.
Raul took their canteens and filled them, while the old man collected wood for a fire. Samson went to his horse, pulled an odd shaped, long barreled rifle from its saddle holster and opened up a saddlebag. He pulled out another bundle, unwrapping it he held a gleaming silver telescopic gun sight, which he attached to the rifle. A small crank handle was pushed into a hole, on the right side of the shell chamber. He reached into his vest pocket removing three large shells and loaded the magazine. The Bennings both looked at him in wonder.
"Three in the breech, one in the pipe - I only need three - we've been followed by no-gooders, freejacks, and I intend to gain the bounty of their belongings, without the nuisance of the bastards being attached. Keep working like you don't know. They're too high up to bushwhack us."
Samson found a branch and broke it to a configuration that satisfied him. He sat on a rock, out in the open, and set the stick in the dirt in front of him. The long rifle barrel was set into the 'y' of the branch. Samson sat, adjusted his hat, and sighted the gun. There wasn't the loud retort, expected by the Bennings, instead a great deep whoosh emitted from the chamber exhaust. Samson cleared the chamber and ratcheted a new shell into place. He sighted again and pulled the trigger, another whoosh expelled form the rifle. Clearing the smoking chamber once more, he ratcheted in the last shell. Without any hurry he turned to the men.
"Their horses will want water so gather them as they come down."
Samson sighted the last shot and fired. He stared into the lens for a long time then rose and sauntered over to the tree and sat down. The men stared up the canyon wall with interest. There was no use asking Samson if he hit the men. That would be a given. They covered their eyes hoping for a sight of the horses. A shot rang out behind them. Both Raul and his old man hit the dirt and turned their heads up from under their arms, to see Samson walking toward them carrying a small deer over his shoulders.
"Those cartridges are filled with highly compressed hydrogen, with a minute igniter charge - Geek thing. Old man, you've seen them before. Get up off the dirt. Raul will you cook some of this up? I'm starving."
Both men stood calmly dusting themselves off. Raul did what he was asked while Samson built a fire. Benning just stared at the canyon wall.
"How high up - half mile? More?" Benning asked, mostly to himself."More than a half a freakin' mile up. I never seen such shooting. Like the hand of God just silently smites you off your horse - damn." He took off his hat, slapped a cloud of dust off his pants, took a long look at Samson and turned to help his son.
Just then he saw the three horses running down the cliff face. Benning waved them down and grabbed the reins. He led them over to drink and looked through the tack.
"Blankets, rifles, canteens, good tent, some electronic shit."
"Let me see the electronic gear!" Samson reached his arm out. Benning walked the equipment over and handed it to Samson. He walked back to the horses. A large purse hung from the Arab bred. Benning motioned his son over to look at its contents.
"Hmm! This is either Geek or Elite gear - this is a global positioning device." Samson commented.
Raul turned and grunted the question.
Samson responded."Space birds overhead, you bounce a signal off them and it tells you where you are. This one is a warm body locator. Has a carbon dioxide element." Both men had a blank look,"…breath from any man or animal - points the way. This will be handy. I don't like those damn toothy cats."
Just then a loud screech came from up the cliff face.
"They'll stay busy up there - we don't need to worry 'bout cats tonight."
"Samson there is a great deal of gold here." Benning poured some of the small ingots into his hand." I have never seen so much - maybe ten kilost. Someone really wants us dead." Benning sat next to Samson. He sat the heavy purse down on the ground in front of him.
Raul walked over and looked at the bag. Samson seemed uninterested as he fidgeted with the electronic gear.
"Who would risk traveling with this much gold – someone wants us dead –real dead." Raul muttered nervously.
"People die with that much gold at stake!" Benning whispered.
Samson looked at them both and grinned. Raul make supper, there is a few parsnips growing behind the tree there." He pointed." Boil them up. As for the gold - that’s good we may need it." He went back to the devices.
The Bennings did not move.
"Relax - everyone wants to kill me all the time - keeps you sharp. Hell - Old Man, you even tried your hand."
Benning shrugged and pocked at the sack."Yeah, you are powerful hard to kill at that!"
"Raul, what are you fretting about. You have already been dead and mostly dead, quite a bit. No big thing!"
"That's true." he said avoiding his father's questioning eyes.
"Besides there is more in the world than greedy men and toothy cats that would have us dead! Now let's get supper on. I'm starving!"
Why is doing what you love the hardest thing to do? Is it because failing what you thought defined you would be too devastating a thing from which to recover? If so, we stay where mere accident has left us.