Summary: What Happened Next for The Hayburner
Word Count: 1140
Ah seen Adam madder’n a hornet several times, but Ah ain’t never seen him mad enough ta spit nails inta fence posts. When Lil Joe won that race, Ah was a winner, too. Ah put money on his horse even though me an’ Adam was runnin’ that hayburner of ours. Lafe was bein’ crowded by folks who’d won, so Ah couldn’t mosey mah way over ta git what was due me.
Ol’ Adam had ta hand over that new rifle a his since he put it up as security for borrowin’ Lil Joe’s money. Jest when Ah thought mah older brother couldn’t git no madder, Lafe come over an’ gave me mah winnins. The look in Adam’s eyes coulda blasted a tunnel through solid rock. An’ his voice — there was an edge to it Ah hadn’t heard since him and Pa argued over windmills.
Adam kin usually ride herd on his temper right quick-like, but when he gits riled, he makes me think of a bear that’s bin tryin’ ta steal honey from a hive a bees; his hair kinda bristles, he stands real tall, an’ he snarls. Ah was tryin’ ta think of a way ta tell him why Ah bet on Lil Joe, but there weren’t no words comin’ to mah mind. All Ah could think ta do was offer ta buy him a beer. That only made him madder.
Next thing Ah know, he’s thrown down that new rifle scabbard an’ his hat. All Ah could think ta do was back up, but he started comin’ at me. Then he took off that coat a his an’ gave it ta Lafe. Well, he thought he gave it ta Lafe but it fell on the ground an’ Ah don’t think he cared none. When he took off his gun, Ah knew Ah was in fer it. He ain’t thrashed me since we was kids, an’ even then Ah was bigger’n him.
Last time Ah gave Adam a poundin’, it was fer tryin’ ta steal Regan from me. Well, Ah thought he was tryin’ to at the time. Turns out, he jest wanted ta show me what kinda woman she really was. Ah was so mad Ah lit inta him with all a mah might. Strange thing was, he didn’t even raise a fist ta stop me. If’n it hadn’t bin fer Pa an’ Lil Joe comin’ out ta the bunkhouse, Ah mighta done him some real damage. Now Ah was wonderin’ if Ah should jest let him git this outta his system or try ta stop him with a quick jab ta the jaw.
Ah threw mah winnins ta the ground thinkin’ ta distract him. Mebbe if’n he saw the money, he’d stop ta git it an’ go buy his rifle back. But he jest started rollin’ up his sleeves so he could git down ta business.
Jest as Ah started to turn tail to get outta there, Adam grabbed mah shoulder an’ spun me ‘round. That wicked right hook a his got me in the eye. Afore Ah could git in a punch, he socked me one in the gut. Was that enough fer him? Nope. Then he gave me a hard jab ta the jaw an’ then another punch ta the gut. Seemed like he shoulda got that anger outta him but he was still comin’ at me. Where was Pa an’ Lil Joe? Why weren’t they puttin’ a stop ta this?
Ah reached out an’ pushed Adam in the chest, thinkin’ he might fall over so Ah could git somewheres safe. All Ah did was make him take a step back so he could git set up fer another round at me. An’ boy howdy, he sure delivered! Those fists a his were near flyin’ aginst mah face the way a beaver’d slap his tail agin the water. That brother a mine sure kin punch when he makes up his mind to give in ta anger.
One a his blows finally caught me on the chin. Mah head snapped back an’ Ah went over like one a them big ol’ pines we timber fer lumber. Ah laid there in the street wonderin’ if’n he’d switch from his fists ta his boots. Ah sure was hopin’ his temper was spent.
He leaned over on his knees fer a minute an’ then reached out his hand ta me. Ah didn’t know if’n it was a trick ta git me on mah feet so he could pound me some more. It looked like his anger was gone, so Ah went ahead an’ reached fer his hand. He helped me up, got his bandana outta his pocket, an’ handed it over ta me so Ah could clean up mah face. Then he gave me a pat on the shoulder an’ headed fer Pa an’ Lil Joe.
Seems like he noticed all a his belongings in the street then. After a shake of his head, he picked up his gunbelt, coat, and hat. But when he got ta that rifle scabbard, Ah thought he might build up ta another thrashin’. Turns out he jest looked at it fer a bit an’ then picked it up. Pa asked him if ever’thin’ was all right an’ he said it was. Lil Joe was lookin’ mighty nervous, though. He prob’ly figgered he was gonna be next ta feel Adam’s fists.
Ah was right surprised when Lil Joe offered ta give Adam his rifle back. Ol’ Adam took a deep breath an’ then tole our lil brother he done won it fair and square so it was his now, an’ he’d best take care of it. Lil Joe promised ta keep it polished an’ clean. Then he said he’d buy us all beers over ta the Silver Dollar. Ah wasn’t gonna say no ta mah lil brother springin’ fer the beers fer once. Adam said a beer sure sounded good. Pa looked mighty pleased that Adam wasn’t angry no more an’ Lil Joe was tryin’ ta make peace. Me? Ah was jest glad the race was over with an’ ever’thin’ could go back ta the way it usually is.
But then Pa clapped me on mah back an’ said, “About that money I loaned you for side bets…” Ah picked mah green backs up, counted out what was owed ta Pa, and put the rest in mah pocket fer later. Ah sure hope Ah don’t never hafta borrow money from Lil Joe agin—there jest ain’t enough security in the world ta cover a loan from him.