The Saga of Miles Forrest

I got the fire started, and found a pail laying around that looked clean. Just to be sure I used my bandana to wipe it out then went outside and filled it full of snow. Putting it on the fire I waited to add coffee. There was an old skillet in the shack as well so I filled it with snow and placed it next to the fire as well; I’d need hot water to fix Billy’s wound.
“Do something!” he cried. “I’m bleeding to death!”
“Get your shirt off, unless you want me to cut it off.”
“I can’t; it hurts too much,” he moaned.
Helping him out of his shirt, I didn’t think he was bad off. But then I could be wrong until I was able to check him out. Finally, I grabbed his arm and pulled the shirt off.
I held his arm and wiped it off some of the blood so I could get a good look. “I ought to slap you silly!” I said disgustedly. “You’ve just got a graze. Hold still!”
Using his scarf I dipped it in the now hot water and began to wipe his arm. “Yeoow, that burns; you’re hurting me!”
“If I don’t get this cleaned you’ll end up like the guy with the blackened leg. You want gangrene to set in?”
Finally I was able to get him clean. Now, I needed to check on those men back in the other cabin. Grabbing my coat I went outside. The snow was still falling and it was hard to see the building that was just a few yards away. I walked to the stall to check out the gear of the outlaws. One man had a rope so I tied it to the rail of the corral and extended it as I walked to the shack, where I tied it off. I learned the two times I cowboyed up in Wyoming that a man could get lost in a blizzard and freeze to death while only a few feet from his house.
Upon entering the shack I was staggered. The smell was atrocious! I went over and checked on the man with the gangrene. He was dead. The other man was sleeping but breathing okay. I needed to get him over to our cabin. It entered my mind to just throw the dead men out in the snow. The bodies would keep as they would freeze; then again they might draw wolves. I took a quick inventory of the goods in their cabin. Using it right it would feed us for about a week.
“Walk up!” I said shaking the wounded man. He groaned as he came awake. “I need to get you out of this place and over to our shack. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
Going back to the stall I grabbed my rope and made a line from the stall to my shack. Before I walked out I checked the feed for the horses and gave Star some more hay. I think it was snowing even harder, and the wind was starting to blow hard.
“Come on Billy; get your coat on. We’ve got to get that guy moved over here.”
“Can’t, I hurt too much. My arm’s useless!”
I was doing the best I could not to slap him, but he was pushing my limits. “You get up an’ help me or I’ll throw you out in the weather!” I checked the coffee then went started back out. “Just follow the line.”
I was putting the food they had in a blanket that was laying on a chair. Billy finally stumbled through the doorway. “Here, carry this,” I ordered.
Then looking at the wounded man. “Think you can stand?”
He held on to me and grit his teeth as he stood. “It’s not far,” I said.
Nodding to me we started back to our shack. He had to drag his hurt leg and I was afraid it would start to bleed again. After struggling for several minutes we made it. His face was pale as I plopped him down on one of the bunks. Laying there is looked at me, “Don’t let me die like Finnegan.”
“You’re not goin’ to die.” However, I didn’t know. I didn’t even know how long we’d be cooped up in this shack.
Billy came in a few minutes later dragging the blanket. His face was almost as pale as the severely wounded man. I didn’t bother to look at him, instead went to pour a cup of coffee. “Start putting the goods on the table and on the shelves. We’ll eat in the mornin’.”
“I’m hungry now,” he whimpered then he added, “I hurt too much.”
“Billy, if you don’t do what I told you, you’re goin’ to be hurtin’ in other places.” Reluctantly he began to work.
“I’m sleeping on the other bunk,” he said emphatically.
“Be my guest,” and I rolled my bedroll out in front of the fire.
The snow was still coming down the next day and the wind was blowing; we were in a full-fledged blizzard. I couldn’t tell what was falling from the sky and what was being blown. Billy stayed in bed most of the day, except getting up to eat. I wasn’t about to take his food to him. The wounded man, I found out his name was Dell Higgins. He pretty much told me what had happened over the past few weeks.
By Friday, it had stopped snowing. I went outside and we had close to a foot, maybe a foot and a half of snow. There was a huge drift up again the other shack. Upon checking the horses, they were alright, but would need attention soon. I reckoned we would leave early the next morning so we could make it into Durango by the end of the day. It would be slow with the snow covering the road.
It was hard packing the dead bodies on their horses as the bodies had frozen during the storm. Not worrying about their comfort I tied them tight to their horses. I was concerned about Higgins, but he said he could make it. “Hmmm,” I thought to myself, “quite a difference between him and Billy.”
Upon arriving in Durango I went first to the diner. When I entered, I noticed immediately there was someone at my table. I looked his way…