Battleshed Diaries

Tuesday 11 July 2017

For A Few Models More: Hang 'Em High

The Reverend 'Truth' Foster deferentially closes his bible and slips it back under his frock coat as he concludes his prayer and nods towards Deputy Archie Roach, who's impatience with proceedings is clear as day despite his woeful attempt at feigned solemnity. The Mexican vaqueros, Teo De Herrera, twists and struggles on the dusty wooden platform, his hands tightly bound together behind his back and his neck held taut and red raw by a thick loop of coarse rope secured to the gibbet.

The Game: Dead Man's Hand
The scenario: For A Few Models More.
The Scene (1/3): Hang 'Em High
The Setup: Each side has three normal dudes with 2 Reputation each, a full deck of 23 cards with two in the hand. The Lawmen are 'Surprised' for the first turn. Scene ends when all the Lawmen are put out of action, two Banditos are out of action, the Banditos Deck runs out or cards or the Banditos exit the gaming area with Teo De Herrera.

The Banditos: Reynardo Mula (Plethora of Pistols), Evarado Barreto (Shotgun), Salvador Tavera (Repeater), Teo De Herrera (prisoner)

The Lawmen: Deputy Reverend 'Truth' Foster (Pistol), Deputy Archie Loach (Pistol), Deputy Clifford 'Long Shot' Collins (Rifle).

  Scene One: Hang 'Em High


The Mexican prisoner tries to shout and protest in Spanish and broken English but another Deputy, Clifford 'Long Shot' Collins, casually props his rifle against a sidebar and in a couple of strides grabs the rope leading from Herrera's neck.
      "Any last requests?" he drawls sardonically. As Herreras' parched lips move to speak, Collins pulls on the rope, reducing Herrera to muffled choking. His terrified, bulging eyes are partially occluded by a haze of greasy blue-grey smoke as Collins smoothly exhales from his cigar.
      "Thought not," he mutters with a wink and a crooked grin.
      "Mister Roach, if you please. Let's get this business over with," calls Reverend Foster restlessly. The scatter of silent onlookers from the town surrounding the gallows mutter their approval. Archie Roach places both hands firmly on the wooden lever which operates the trap door below Herreras' piss wet feet. Sweat runs from his forehead as Archie glances back at the priest, silently willing him to give the final command. Suddenly, a loud gunshot nearby shatters the expectant hush. Collins cries out in pain. His cigar drops from his mouth. Herrera gulps, gasping lungfuls of air as the pressure of the rope biting into his throat is released.
  The townsfolk scatter in all directions as two bandits break cover from the crowd and rush the small graveyard and gallows at the centre of town. The trio of Lawmen are taken in complete surprise. The last thing they expected was a brazen bushwhack in broad daylight. Clifford Collins staggers clumsily, barely avoiding the prisoner's bucking legs and with a bloodied thigh he lurches to retrieve his rifle. Herrera, invigorated by his sudden reprieve and the unexpected appearance of his erstwhile comrades, jeers rude encouragement and attempts to hawk at Collins but instead his drouth reduces him to mimicry.
  A haggard bandito, framing a red threadbare long coat and sporting a dense white beard under his wide-brimmed hat, is already at the base of the short wooden steps leading to the gallows platform. Gun smoke from Reynardo Mulas' duel pistols curls into the hot dry breeze.
    Reverend Foster, showing surprising briskness for a man of God, is already off the gibbet platform and half way through the graveyard when the unmistakable blast of a shotgun booms out close by. The top of a headstone in front of the Reverend explodes in a shower of dust and stone fragments as the priest jerks into a crouch behind it. His frock is coat punctured by sooty holes. He just manages to draw his pistol and glance over the broken head stone in time to see another bandito, Evarado Barretto, with his bushy chevron moustache and a sombrero stealing between the graves towards him.
  A second blast from the shotgun punches a sizable hole in the remains of the headstone, sending the Reverend sprawling into an adjacent grave and shattering a small pot of desiccated flowers. The Reverend preforms a perfunctory Sign of the Cross before he hastily scrambles to his feet as he hears the Mexican cussing as he snaps open the shotgun's smoking breech to reload.
[Left to right] Reynardo Mula, Deputy Clifford 'Long Shot' Collins and the Bandito prisoner, Teo De Herrera
[Left to right] Reynardo Mula, Deputy Clifford 'Long Shot' Collins and hanging around, the Bandito prisoner - Teo De Herrera

  Desperate to head off the bandito below, Deputy Clifford Collins grabs his rifle and ducking between the wriggling prisoner and the gallows, he limps across the platform to the top of the stairs. As he does, there's a short but distinctive thrumming sound followed almost instantly by a loud whack as splinters of wood burst from the thick vertical wooden beam framing the gap he had just negotiated between the Herrera and the gibbet frame. Both Collins and Herrera freeze whilst they search for the source of the shot. Towards nearby scrubland, the outline of another distant figure can just be seen against the bright daylight, balanced precariously on a high, narrow perch surrounding the cylindrical tank of the town's water tower. Salvador Tavera, a Mestizo armed with his trusty Spencer Repeater, had stealthily scaled the tower and now found himself with a grandstand view of the centre of town and three startled Lawmen in his sights.

  In the graveyard, his hands slick with sweat and shaking with haste, Evarado Barreto anxiously tries to feed cartridges into his shotgun's receiver but in his urgency he drops them. As he fumbles for another from his bandolier he quickly glances toward his quarry. The Reverend is already on his feet and aiming a pistol straight at him. Evarado manages to slip a single cartridge in place and closes the breech before slowly opening his arms in feigned supplication.
  "Por favor Padre, ¡eres un hombre de Dios!"
The Reverend cocks his pistol.
  "Indeed I am, go with God my son," he replies sanctimoniously. Evarado's eyes widen with deadly prescience, jerking his shotgun up to fire one- handed, but it's too late. The Reverend squeezes his trigger. The pistol shot grazes past Evarado's head sending his sombrero spinning amongst the headstones. Evarado instinctively ducks and flinches to one side as a second round ricochets off a stone scant inches away. With the urgency of desperation, Evarado straightens up to fire his shotgun. Just as the shotgun swings towards the priest a third round from the Reverend's pistol hits the bandito square in the forehead. Evarado slumps back atop a recently dug grave, the bright, fresh flowers spilling atop his shoulders. Reverend 'Truth' Foster makes the Sign of the Cross for the second time, his smoking pistol still in hand.
The Bandito, Evarado Barreto, gunned down by the Reverend 'Truth' Foster
The Bandito, Evarado Barreto, gunned down by the Reverend 'Truth' Foster
  "Dammit Archie, git that son awf a bich in that tower!" yells Collins over his shoulder as he painfully crouches at the top of the platform stairs, blood oozing from his leg wound and warily aiming his rifle at the shadowy wooden framework below. He could hear the shuffling and wheezing of the cracked bandito that had shot him lurking somewhere close by.
  Archie Roach already has his pistol drawn. Although he'd felt inexplicably uneasy being the one chosen to pull the lever on a condemned man, he has no qualms about filling someone with lead if a hint of law provides justification. He prided himself at being pretty good at it. The young deputy swings over the edge of the gibbet platform and drops heavily to the dusty scrub below. Then he nimbly rolls onto his feet and darts the few feet to the shabby wooden boundary fence.
   A quick glance confirms that the bandito up in the tower was struggling to keep his balance on the narrow ledge whilst trying to get a bead on the deputy. Archie vaults over the fence and sprints part way round the base of the water tower, just far enough out from its silhouette to get line of sight on Salvador Tavera. He can see the bandit's hat bobbing up above, soon followed by his head and shoulders as Salvador tries to bring his repeater to bear. Archie aims with his hand cannon. The range is poor but he's pretty sure he can let drive a whole bunch of lead plumbs the bandito's way. He pulls the trigger.
He pulls again.
He can almost feel Teveras' glee as the bandito squints down his gun sight from his perch.

Collins hears the soft pop of a cork being removed from a bottle. The hidden bandito calls up something in Spanish in a scratchy, taunting voice. The faint aroma of tequila taints the dusty air. Collins' thoughts briefly flit to the flask of whiskey in his his own pocket. It reminded him of his thirst.
  "Ah don't understand that gibber but ya've gawt t' know ya're goin' t' ary swin' or be full awf holes duhrectly enough. Ary is daisy for me, ya' loco feller!" Collins leans forward to peer further into the shadowy, striated wooden foundations. He glimpses movement. He squeezes his rifle trigger, chancing a shot. The round cracks and ricochets into the maze of dim wooden struts. There's a distinctive slap and yelp from below.
  "Gawt ya!" grins Collins, as he ejects and loads another round.

At the base of the gallows, Reynardo Mula clutches his side. Blood is quickly spreading through his stale sweat stained shirt. The bandito retreats under the maze of woodwork under the gallows. Clutching his side with one bloodied hand, a pistol in the other, his second pistol stuffed under his belt. The neck of a glass bottle bulges from a pocket. Mula blinks from under the dim platform into the shimmering graveyard. Right into the path of Reverend Foster. Sunlight fractures Mulas' view. He hears a click.
  "Go with God my son."
There's a loud report as the Reverend discharges his peacemaker, placing a slug square into the bandit's chest. Mula jolts back and then, after a brief pause, topples forward and collapses into the dust. Bright blood oozes from under his prone body. The Reverend doffs his black Topper hat in mock respect. Then he registers more movement from under the gallows. He raises his pistol again. Collins appears, rifle in hand, limping from the gloom. The Reverend lowers his pistol.
  "Done ya git thuh son awf a bich, Reverey-nd?"
  "God has taken him, I'm only but his tool my son," replies the priest, frowning. "Do you know how many more of them there are?" Collins taps the prone bandito with his boot and spits.
  "Jus' thuh one in thuh tower ah thihnk, Reverey-nd. Archie is keepin' 'im occupied." A wry smile briefly sketches across the priest's face.
  "Then let's go help the boy."
Salvador Tavera with his Spencer Repeater takes a bead from the water tower
Salvador Tavera with his Spencer Repeater takes a bead from the water tower

  Young deputy Archie Roach lithley barrel-rolls deeper into the shadow of the water tower, kicking up clouds of dust as he scrambles to a crouch. He peers up. He can just see the swaying barrel of Salvador's repeater up above, a thin black scratch against the brilliant azure sky. The sweat of relief drips from under his Stetson. His quick reaction has just bought him time. A seconds delay would no doubt had him potted by the bandit. He skillfully clears his jammed pistol and reloads. He can hear the dry wooden boards creaking above as the bandito shifts position to locate the young deputy hidden below. Archie then cautiously steps way from the base of the tower, his pistol aimed upwards. The barrel of the banditos' weapon appears again, almost directly above him. Archie suddenly bursts from cover, pauses to aim, and then fires.
  Salvador Tavera flinches back at the sudden movement but Archie's slug grazes Salvador's shoulder. The bandito jolts, almost dropping his repeater, his boots slipping on the narrow ledge. With a rasp, he scrambles to a crouch, forcing his back hard against the baked wooden side of the water tank. The deputy below is already sprinting back towards the graveyard boundary fence, evidently trying to open up from a better angle. Salvador curses the lawman, and with a grimace of pain, hefts his  Spencer Repeater and expertly tracks the scuttling deputy. He adeptly unloads two rounds. The deputy stumbles, crashing into the fence. The torrid wood cracks and splits apart. Archie plunges through and sprawls on the ground.
Salvador awkwardly slides his back up the side of the tank into a standing position. He can see the other two deputies slinking from the graveyard making to outflank him. He ejects and reloads, preparing to quickly finish off the prone deputy before he has to deal with the other two.
  He can see and hear Teo De Herrera up on the gallows, still bound and his neck in the noose, fortified with bravado and hollering encouragement to Salvador. But when he turns his gaze back from the advancing deputies to sight once again, a single shot snaps out from below. Salvador Tevera's body jerks rigid and then, as if in slow motion, tumbles like heavy sack from the high water tank. Archie Roach, lies on his back amongst the wood splinters, propped awkwardly up on one elbow. His other arm outstretched with his smoking pistol in hand.

  "Done ya see that, Reverey-nd!? That was one blazes awf a shot Archie maah button! Ya gawt that bandit real daisy. Fell like a sack awf guh-rain 'e done!" Collins rushes over to Salvador's body on the ground under the looming water tower. He prods it with his rifle.
  "'E's buzzard food allraahyt!"
Deputy Reverend Foster reaches young Archie, and after a brief examination, calls outs to the townsfolk starting to mill nearby.
  "Help me here, quickly! The boy's been hit!" Some men hesitantly step forward. "Quickly, by God!" They jump at the Reverend's bark and rush to carry the wounded deputy with the priests direction. Collins limps up, with a speculative mien.
  "What about thuh prisoner? Will thair still be a 'anging, Revery-nd?" The priest glances up at Herrera, who is solemnly scrutinising the two lawmen from the gallows, and considers for a moment.
  "No, not today Mister Collins. I've got new plans for him."

Coming soon, scene two of A Few Models More: Get Me Out!

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