Published: October 14, 2014
Title: Iron and Rawhide
Author: Lee Wonnacott
Publisher: Smashwords, Inc.
Elliot retrieved the little shovel from the saddlebags and began to dig at the slight mound. Twenty yards away he could see the decaying scattered carcass of the sorrel. He could see where animals had come to pick at the remaining flesh leaving the hide, mane, tail and skeleton.
Henry Elliot knelt down into the shifting sand and crumbling earth. The half-buried body had been wearing torn to shreds black denim jeans with flakes of caked on blood in the surrounding sand. It looked like this man might have been killed where he had fallen. Elliot grimaced as he turned the jaw and saw the face unrecognizable from the violence. His boots were gone, there was no identification, no papers or belt. There was still some salt and pepper hair on the skull. Elliot levered out the upper torso and looked at the dried blood that had soaked into the ground underneath.
Elliot turned back to the body and began to dig away underneath it so it would settle deeper into the ground. The last shred of sleeve fell away and Elliot saw there was something gripped in the fingers. Slowly he untangled a filmy nearly sheer silk scarf about three feet long with fine gold threads laced through it. He scraped away the dried blood and frowned. Did Ginger Whelihan die holding onto the last thing he had of Flossie’s?
Underneath the left shoulder was a red bandanna torn and dried blood. Whelihan was never without it. Elliot began to shake his head and his vision started to waver and blur. He stood up and turned away stepping into the crusty earth of the desert. He bit his lip and clenched his fists. He began to shake and the landscape faded. It started as a moan in his chest then built up and he threw his head back and screamed.
“Ladies, remove your weapons.” Zippy took off his shirt and laid flat it on the edge of the table. Elliot frowned as he could not see that girls carried no guns or knives. The girls looked at each other, shrugged and put their hands onto the chest of Chad Lowes. The man put his head back and screamed making Elliot flinch. Small fingers pushed and pulled three inch slender steel slivers and one by one the little bloody rods were laid onto Zippy’s shirt. A man in the crowd turned away sick to his stomach. Sixteen rods lay on the shirt just from the chest and abdomen of Lowes. Three of the Bradford women fainted and had to be sat down under the big cottonwood on the plaza. Elliot called for whiskey and a glass was brought as several bottles of tequila circulated amongst the crowd.
“You gonna tell us or we’ll take the hide offa you, mister.” There were teeth missing in the mouth that said those words. Stolter had just enough time to gasp for breath and then heard himself scream as the whip coiled around his body. He jerked with every cut. He strained against the ropes. Drips of blood slithered down his sides and arms. There were red drips on the ground at his knees
As he started to fall over, another drowning splash of water soaked him. He lost count of the number of times he coughed and choked from the water. When Stolter moaned and fell, he could hear one maybe two others cheer on the torturer. He’d been cut several times. His body shook from the strain. The sweat and blood made his vision blurry. He kept falling in and out of consciousness. It was a gunshot that jerked him awake and he twisted around.