|· Portal||Help Search Members Calendar|
|Welcome Guest ( Log In | Register )||Resend Validation Email|
| Welcome to Buffalo Creek Bay. We hope you enjoy your visit.|
You're currently viewing our forum as a guest. This means you are limited to certain areas of the board and there are some features you can't use. If you join our community, you'll be able to access member-only sections, and use many member-only features such as customizing your profile, sending personal messages, and voting in polls. Registration is simple, fast, and completely free.
Join our community!
If you're already a member please log in to your account to access all of our features:
The Most Unkindest Cut of All, Rusty's Flashbacks
Posted: May 13 2012, 01:37 AM
Member No.: 148
Joined: 29-December 11
December 25th 1862 - January 11th, 1863
Since speaking to the old doctor walking around in his seemingly older suit trying to give aid to the poor in Huntington, Indiana Russell knew he had to do something for his cousin before he killed himself, “That laudanum’s bad business son, he’s killin hisself an’ you need ta find ‘im some hep right away, or it’ll be too late.” well he wasn’t really a doctor but rather a former slave whose owner had taught him many of the fine points of the medical field. His name was Orson Carter and he was grizzled and grey with a gravelly smoker’s voice that put even Henry’s decade long habit to shame. Rusty had genuinely thanked him, shook the big fella’s calloused hand with a grateful but sad grin and watched him limp away, flinching at the sound of the starter’s pistol in the background sending a field of horses away for a race. Returning to the stables Henry was already packed and prepared to depart for the station, poor Wabash’s nose was still swollen and he was having trouble breathing but the boys would carry most of the luggage, all he had to do was carry his saddle. That black paint horse had brought them two and a half thousand dollars but between the two Scarborough’s they had spent about a thousand, mostly Henry and his bad habits; whoring, liquor and of course opium.
It was an eight hour ride and a straight shot from Huntington to Canton where they found the cheapest stables possible to house themselves and the horse. The owner wanted to charge extra for the boys to stay there too, to which they assured him they would find housing elsewhere like they always did in such a situation. They would just sneak in and sleep in the stables when no one was around, easy. After four months of this they were pretty capable and could handle just about anything. It was a pretty day, if freezing but sunny and at least a little dry with fresh snow just outside the town where no one traveled. Rusty and Henry bedded their horse and went for a walk about town to check out any local tracks and find out about the races, entry fees, entrants, local runners and talent. It was too bad Wabby was laid up with that injury, Russell should have shoved that bastard off his horse when he hit the stallion in the face with his crop. All they wanted was to get through the race in one piece but with the grey Thoroughbred slamming into them every other stride it was a wonder they were even still alive.
Whilst Henry talked with several track rats and managers his cousin was noticeably distant, looking over his shoulder, eyes scanning the streets, reading signs and the like. These were the slums, he was not going to find a hospital unless he went uptown where the nicer houses were, far from the run down ramshackle shit houses of the ghetto. After checking out a third track Rusty was getting anxious, he wanted to get his cousin helped before he swallowed anymore of that shit, who knew the next hit may very well end him? The doctor in Indiana had told him Henry would take higher and higher doses and eventually take too much and just fall asleep and stop breathing, “Henry, let’s go to a pub!” he suddenly blurted out as they were standing out on the track, Russell looking anxious with his hands in his pockets and Henry knelt down feeling at the surface of the track, cool as a cucumber. He didn’t even stand up, inserting his fingers into the soil he didn’t look pleased with the condition of the dirt. It was too deep and too wet for his horse’s running style, near the front waiting to pounce like a cat. For the stalker to stay with the leaders and then get enough traction to run them down in the final quarter mile he needed a surface of medium depth and preferably fairly dry, “Since when d’you drink?” he asked suspiciously. This may not be as easy as he thought, Henry was forever paranoid, he had bounty hunters after him and his father was probably searching for him too. He could never be too careful, “Since now, c’mon let’s go get some drinks.” Henry slowly got to his feet, that skeptical look on his face and brushed his hands off on his pants, an awkward silence ensuing as Rusty awaited his answer, “ . . . . . sure.” but he didn’t look too excited about it, “We can’t get too crazy though, gotta save money.”
“Sure Henry, whatever ya say.” that warm grin and Henry was won over, clapping his younger cousin on the shoulder they headed for a bar but Rusty wanted to go uptown despite Henry telling him they would be overpriced. When he tried to stop off at a few rundown watering holes Russell was forced to think on his feet again, Henry standing there in the fading light drawing off a cigarette, squinting at him backlit with the setting sun, “What’s with you? You wanna get a drink but then pass up every bar we come to, we need t’keep an eye on the horse ya know, you’ve dragged me bout two miles Rusty, you gettin cold feet? If you’re just trying t’impress me trust me, you’ll keel over after just two shots an’ I will not be carrying your ass.” well it seemed this was as close as they were getting to the immaculate uptown of Canton, Ohio. Henry was getting very leery so Rusty finally nodded, “Okay, we c’n stop here that’s alright, s’just some of those places you like t’go to, the characters in there just scare me a little is all.” Henry took in everything he said and laughed from around his smoldering rollup, “That’s why I got this.” and produced a small pocket pistol from his coat, which made Rusty uneasy, he didn’t even know Henry had a gun on him and in his condition, he had no business with one. So he smiled as if relieved, said that made him feel a whole lot safer and they stole into the next bar on the street.
“Boy ain’t she pretty?” the jockey noted, slapping Henry on the arm to get his attention. As the New Yorker turned to check out the woman in question, Russell threw his third shot of vodka over his shoulder and silently ordered a tumbler of water and ice. Henry turned back to him with that incredulous look on his face, knocked back the rest of his scotch and laughed through his nose, “Rusty, I’m drunk, but I’m not that drunk, that woman . . . has three goddamn teeth, I’d . . . never, no way in hell.” they both had a good laugh and Henry tossed back a triple hit of bourbon, scotch and gin as Rusty sipped at his “vodka.”
“Well she won’t smilin when I’s lookin at ‘er, Henry.” with one eye opened more than the other Henry squinted at him, “How the hell’re you still on that barstool? I thought I had ya licked, you’re holdin up . . . better than I . . .” he trailed off, weaving to and fro in his seat and then busted out into hysterics. Russell slapped their money down on the counter, told Henry it was time to go and stooped under his cousin’s arm to drag him out the door.
It was a three mile hike, uphill in the streets running thick with mud and horse manure and God only knew what else. Henry sang part of the way until he doubled over a hitching post and vomited, the pile of noxious sick steaming in the cold Ohio night. After the first mile he finally asked, “Rusty, pretty sure th’stable’s th’other way.” but the young jockey assured his cousin he was too drunk to know any better and they were indeed headed in the right direction. When the street leveled off and they found themselves trudging up a cobblestone road getting disgusted looks from the higher ups of Canton society there was no fooling Henry anymore and he got irritable.
“Where th’hell’re ya takin us Rushell?” he shouldered his younger kin away and then swung his arm at him as he tried to reach for him again. Henry was technically drunk in public and if they caused a scene he would be arrested, the last thing he needed. Looking around nervously as Henry became more and more belligerent Rusty was catching some pretty nasty looks, “Henry! Henry . . . Henry alright fine, you’re right we went the wrong way, I’ll just stop an’ ask for directions okay?” glowering at him through a screen of sweaty blonde hair Henry’s whole head was steaming in the cold it seemed as the alcohol coursed through him, “You’re a f***in idiot.” Russell agreed with the vulgar statement whole heartedly to quiet the young man’s anger and settled his outburst. On they went back up the street until he finally found it, a mercy hospital. Henry followed his gaze and spotted the nun standing outside on the porch, “Oh yeah, walk up t’the woman of god drunk off your ass an’ ask her goddamn directions . . . you’re a f***in idiot.” he laughed this time, clearly meaning it as a joke but Rusty pulled him along anyways and nodded to the woman as they approached the front entrance and went into the building. Henry stood there in his oversized clothes, looking down at the polished marble floor and the mud he and Russell had tracked in. Pivoting on his heel Henry tried to retrace his muddy steps out of boredom but could hardly walk as it was and Rusty grabbed him by the sleeve and hauled him away until they found another nun, “Ain’t there no doctors in this place?” he asked her. A drunken scoff from behind him and Henry had to speak up too, offer his usual two cents, “Why d’ya need a doctor t’ask for directions, hey you’re pretty, but ya took that whole vow o’silence thing so I’m not gonna get anything from ya, good for you.” Russell mouthed an apology as she kept that stern appearance.
“Drunkenness and directions are not a medical emergency so if you could just take your lovely friend and be on your way I would appreciate it.” Henry muttered something about someone sitting on a broom handle and the nun’s face grew bright red, “Look, Sister we really need . . . directions? My cousin is lost he needs directions.”
“You’re lost too motherf***er, an’ short . . . goddamn you’re short, how d’ya do that?”
“He needs a bath, and someone to wash out that whore mouth of his too.” clearly someone had been pushed a little too far, Henry just commented she needed to get laid and that he had all the equipment to handle that problem.
Finally at his wits end Rusty started searching his inebriated cousin’s pockets, “Rusty, I’m not like that . . . f***in fruitcake.” finding what he was looking for the jockey turned and handed the young nun that brown bottle with the skull and crossbones on it and a look of concern came over her. When she looked back Rusty had put on the best teary eyed display she had seen in a long while, “Please?” ignoring Henry behind him saying he needed that bottle back, preferably now. Apparently Sister Mary Helen had a soft spot for the puppy dog eyes and quipped a sympathetic, “Come with me.” and they followed the black cloaked nun down the hall, Henry saying over and over that he needed his medicine back, to which no one replied, so he swept the orphans’ artwork off the wall in a mild tantrum.
Down one wing and then onto another they came across a middle aged Jewish looking man in a white coat with a clipboard, “Doctor Friedenstein, We have a young man here in need of some, direction.” Sister Mary Helen handed the bottle to him while Henry cracked up behind them, calling the man Doctor Frankenstein instead. With a warm and almost suspect smile he spoke to Henry like he was a child, “You can call me Doctor Frankenstein if you like, the kids get a real kick out of that, but what do I call you?” the cantankerous young man stopped laughing, crossed his arms, caked in mud and horse shit, a week’s old beard standing out on his face and his over grown mop of dirty blonde hair hanging in strands around his narrowed bloodshot eyes and said nothing, “Henry, his name is Henry.” his cousin finally spoke up and received that scalding hot glower for his trouble, “Alright Henry, I’d like to ask you a few questions if you don’t mind coming right this way.” there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell any of this was going to be easy and as soon as the older of the two caught on to what was going down he turned to leave but just happened to find himself in the burly arms of two orderlies. Rusty hoped no one was sleeping in this wing as they dragged his screaming banshee of a cousin into a room where three beds were set up, curtains hanging between them for privacy but no one else was in there, “He’s drunk.” was all he said to Doctor Friedenstein who smiled back and assured him they would get everything straightened out, “But since Henry is clearly not feeling cooperative tonight I need to ask you a few questions, firstly how do you know him?” squeezing Rusty’s shoulder he attempted to lead him away into a quieter room, Sister Mary Helen already heading off to do whatever she had been doing before she had been burdened with the presence of the Scarborough’s. But the younger man was reluctant to go and planted his feet, looking around a little confusedly hearing the commotion in the room they had dragged Henry into, “What’re they doin?” he asked, also not cooperating with the doctor, “We will stabilize him and make him comfortable for the night then he can start detoxing and withdrawing, it is a three to five day process and it will be very difficult for him but it’s for the best.” for being a little guy Russell could put on a hell of a scary face if he wanted to, giving the dark haired doctor that stone cold glare, “That don’t answer my question.” the demanding shouts from inside the room echoed down the hall as Henry begged the orderlies to leave him alone, “He don’t like t’be touched by strange men.” and with that statement eyed the hand of the doctor on his own shoulder. Listening in on the both of their accents, Henry in his manic episode forgetting to disguise his it was now more apparent the both of them were from farther east and maybe even more to the north and were feigning a southern dialect, “You both sound as though you’re from New York, am I right?” no answer, “Our goal this evening is to get Henry calmed down but he is very violent at the moment and they will be using chloroform to help him sleep tonight. Now I’ve answered your question, how about mine?” goddamn doctor with his vague explanations and highly educated way of speaking, talking down to him, “Yeah, we’re from New York, he’s my cousin.” a sigh of relief at getting an answer, Doctor Friedenstein moved on, “How long has he been using this medication and about how much does he take?”
“I only been with ‘im four months but he told me he was takin it t’help ‘im sleep, then said he ain’t been sleepin well since . . . an accident he had last summer.” that “accident” being when he shot and killed that miner in North Carolina, “But when he takes it it’s not much, just a sip or two before he lays down at night.” the doctor frowned.
“Normally I prescribe my patients to take one or two drops before bed, but a swallow is dangerous, he could have overdosed. He’s definitely addicted if he’s been taking it for over half a year.” actually he had been using it on and off since he was just seventeen, “How old is he?” Rusty sighed, his hands on his hips and looking around the hall not even noticing how quiet it had suddenly gotten, the two orderlies in the room with Henry taking off his muddy clothes and putting him into a fresh shirt and pants, “I think he just turned twenty-two . . . last week, after he withdraws will he be okay?” Doctor Friedenstein explained to Rusty that Henry would probably be okay but since he was addicted he would always be addicted no matter what, even twenty years from now if he had a swallow of this stuff he would be hooked all over again. Then of course for a month after his stint at the hospital he would need to be monitored closely as his depression might make him relapse. Nine times out of ten most withdrawal patients went on to lead fairly normal lives but warned Russell that if Henry’s fever got too bad he may come out of this feeble minded and at that point he would suggest he be admitted to a mental institution where they could handle him better. The fever and sudden halt in his usual medication could also send him into shock and fits of convulsions that could kill him, then Rusty should consider a funeral, “Well, thanks for your honesty.” he grumbled with a hand over his face, “We’ll do everything we can for your cousin.”
Sure enough Henry was very cooperative the next morning even if he kept asking if he could go, repeating over and over that he felt fine and they should just let him leave. Nurses, nuns and doctors came and went telling him he would get to leave but not right now. Rusty stayed with him keeping a constant vigil, in the company of strangers whether they meant well or not, Russell had been caring for his cousin far longer than they had and was very protective of him. Later on in the day he noticed Henry was starting to sweat, looking around the room like a caged animal, his pleas to leave the facilities growing more and more frequent and desperate. He started vomiting which was none too pleasant for anyone with a clean-up required after every small meal they brought him. Since he slept so much Henry hadn’t been eating a whole lot the past several months and was already pretty lean but stood to lose even more weight through this torturous process and at the moment nurses were scrambling to keep him hydrated. At about four-thirty the next morning Henry decided he was most definitely not staying here and bolted out of bed when Doctor White came to check on him. It seemed those two orderlies, Stan and Marshall, were always on this wing and came rushing in to pin Henry to the bed. Since he was so deadest on leaving they felt they had no other choice than to move him over to the next bed with the leather straps. Over the past several hours Rusty had been eyeing that gurney looking contraption, it looked like some sort of torture device and as they started restraining his cousin the young man screamed like they were killing him.
“Hey! You’re just scarin ‘im, why don’t ya sedate ‘im like last time?!”
“We are doing this for his own good, he isn’t frightened I assure you he is just frustrated.” how the hell was this going to help him at all? He was in pain and this would only exacerbate his unwillingness to cooperate with anyone, “Get that shit off of him NOW!” a third assistant arrived but instead of helping to subdue the flailing opium addict he grabbed his angry younger cousin instead. Being about twice the young man’s size the orderly found himself in the floor anyways as Doctor White now made a grab for Russell. In all it took three men to remove him from the room where they locked him in a broom closet until he cooled off. Of course as soon as Doctor Friedenstein opened it an hour later he came whirling out mad as a hornet and looking to nail someone, “Where’s Henry?”
He was catatonic, staring at the ceiling and the only movement giving away the fact he was still alive with the subtle shudder of his ribs spreading and contracting, which Doctor Friedenstein concernedly informed an equally worried Rusty, was abnormal. But at least he was breathing even though he was clearly in a state of shock still strapped down to the wet mattress as he sweated out every ounce of water they could force down his throat without drowning him. He mumbled incoherently to himself, as if trapped somewhere in his head trying to find a way out to communicate to his cousin who sat by him watching him carefully. There was another patient on the wing also withdrawing from opium and he was sitting up and feeling quite chatty, eating and drinking on his own accord even if he got nauseous on occasion and purged his food. His muscle cramps were pretty bad but he was not complaining much. All the while Henry just had that vacant, glassy eyed look and a mild tremor in his hands and legs that rattled his restraints for hours. Well if he was going to be so out of it Russell figured he may as well get some rest and kicked back into the corner and closed his eyes.
It was well into that second day, around five in the evening that Henry’s muttering started to make sense and his breathing was less labored, taking breaths with his diaphragm rather than his ribs which had the doctor feeling pretty hopeful. Of course as soon as he was lucid he jerked at the straps around his wrists and tried to sit up, asking what the hell was going on before lapsing into a bout of muscle cramps that quieted him again. He thanked his younger cousin immensely for caring enough to put him in this situation as the pain and near torture inflicted by the doctors of this place was totally worth it. Rusty just tried to remain positive despite Henry’s biting sarcasm and obvious ungratefulness, telling himself he was not in his right mind and that it was the fever talking, the irritability, the pain, “Feels like my bones are in a goddamn vice.” and he couldn’t even roll over to curl up and hide away in his little ball to escape it, at one point nearly panicking again saying all he wanted to do was roll over or flex his arms and legs. But no one would allow the restraints to be removed and eventually an orderly was put on watch when Rusty vowed to remove them himself. Frustration, exhaustion, hunger, and that claustrophobia and paranoia all combined in one emotionally unstable man was a recipe for disaster. But when that man was confined to a bed he was harmless but it was the helplessness that had him shuddering at several points in the day crying like a child. With him already having trouble breathing it was important to get him settled down quickly or transfer his fears onto something else. He was bitter toward his younger cousin but at the moment he was all he had to take solace in and his only point of familiarity in this otherwise alien environment.
The muscle cramps had died off by the end of the third day and Henry was weak and tired but drinking and eating now which made other bodily functions necessary and he required assistance to even relieve himself which was all the more degrading and Henry was very self-conscious. Which from what he had revealed to Russell over the past few days, he had every right to be. He told him just about everything, from his father beating him to all his wild nights in the city of New York, burning down buildings, visiting whore houses, the tearooms, drinking, smoking, gambling, the works. No wonder he was such a wreck. However he also shared how he had performed a complete one-eighty in North Carolina, cleaned up his act and became a school teacher. He had himself a little apartment, a little lady and a normal life. It gave the both of them hope that he could do it again.
When he was cleared to leave and the orderlies removed the restraints Henry made little effort to move, then said he couldn’t which was worrying but Friedenstein said it was normal and he would regain full mobility again eventually. He was carted out in a rickety wooden wheelchair and put on a buckboard wagon and taken back to the stables where Rusty told him they should probably give up on the trip to California and head on back to Philadelphia, “I got people lookin for me Rusty, I can’t stay in one place for too long, they’ll find me.” they didn’t even know for sure if Henry had a bounty on him or not, people saw him kill that miner but he was out of town and no one there really knew him short of the friends he was with, hopefully they hadn’t said anything. But Henry just knew they had, the law was after him, the bounty hunters were after him, the family had hired trackers to find him and they were after him. There was no convincing him so Rusty told him like it was, they were going back to Philadelphia. Henry just looked disappointed but said nothing, his bed sores and stiff limbs were bothering him too much to care about anything. The day wound down and the sun set and Henry was walking around the stables now, testing his legs and good God he looked like a walking skeleton, Rusty had no idea how he was even still alive. Of course from that look in his eye, he wasn’t. They had everything packed away and the last of their grub went into that shriveled stomach of the recovering drug addict and that was all they had.
Morning came and the sun climbed on up into the sky late as was the custom this time of the year, snow on the ground and breaths freezing on the air. In the stables Rusty rolled over and kicked off his blankets, thankful he hadn’t awoken as the woman in he and Henry’s relationship again. If that were the case that arm around him would have tightened when he tried to get up which made Henry calling him a fruitcake seem very ironic. Henry was not the independent sort, he always needed someone around to clean up after him, which was why Rusty was so concerned when he found himself alone. It seemed Henry was not going to Philly, had tacked up his horse with nearly everything they owned and left sometime in the night or really early this morning. Russell was in denial, he was just training Wabash this morning since his swelling had gone down, hell now that he was lighter maybe Henry would decide to run the horse himself for shits and giggles. But why take all their stuff? His cousin had been decent enough to leave the blanket that was draped over him, and his guitar sitting in the corner as Henry hadn’t much use for it. But still, he spent the majority of the morning of December thirty-first walking the streets looking for the black stud colt with the white legs or his wayward cousin. After that yielded no results he resorted to searching the pawn shops and found that pocket pistol Henry had shown him when they first got here, “Hey mister I got a question about that gun.”
“Three an’ a half dollars.” the grizzled older man grumbled whilst he polished the barrel of a .45 Colt, not even looking up which made Rusty wonder how he even knew which gun he was referring to, “No, no see . . . it was stolen from me and-” the shop owner got to his feet and scowled at him, “not that I want it back I just wanna know what the son a bitch looked like, so I c’n kick his sorry ass when I find ‘im.” he quipped to settle the man down right quick. That long and edgy silence as that bushy mustache on the clerk switched back and forth like the tail of an irritated horse made the hair stand on the back of Rusty’s neck, “He looked like a lunger, real skinny sickly lookin, blonde hair, blue eyes rode a black horse with white legs. Shouldn’ be too hard t’kick his ass but he left real early this mornin so you prob’ly ain’t gonna find ‘im.” so he was gone, with the wind just up and left him here with nothing, “I thank ya sir, he took everything I had, I got nothin but a old leftie guitar my daddy gave me, I could really use the money.” he finally got that hint of sympathy he was looking for and the older gent nodded understandingly and told him to bring it on by and he would see what he could do.
This instrument had been in the family for two generations and was very special to Rusty but he needed the money greatly and the pawn shop owner gave him a good deal, once again feeling sorry for the lad, “What’ll ya do now?” he asked and spat out a mouthful of tobacco juice, “Start walkin I reckon, I’ll just follow the tracks.”
“Good luck sonny.”
Two days later and Rusty had no idea where he was, sitting by a water tank on the tracks he had propped up his beat up old suitcase with what little food and water he had and planted his ass on it for a rest. Nights were brutal but he could start a fire with the book of matches he had, luckily there were no storms it wouldn’t take even a snort of a blizzard to kill him out here with nothing but a thin old blanket for warmth. Henry had damned him out here in the middle of f***ing nowhere and for that he wanted nothing more than to beat him senseless as he sat there cursing the man’s very name. A lone whistle blast from a distant train reminded him of how much nicer it would be to have had the money to ride the steamer instead of hoofing it home. He didn’t know how far it was or how long it would take to get there, just like he didn’t know how long it would take for Henry to get his shit together or how far he would get. Maybe he would go to California now that he had cut out his middle man, he would probably run Wabash to death while he was at it and not give it a second thought. He was as bitter as the wind biting into his back but with time his stoic and forgiving nature would pardon the wrong doings of the man he called his cousin. As the years went on and everyone believed Henry to be dead, he would feel a little sympathy for the troubled young man, wouldn’t blame him for his ways and insist none of it was truly his fault. In fact he may just blame himself a little, consider the fact that if he hadn’t committed his cousin to the hospital none of the trauma he had to endure would have happened.
He had walked another three miles by the time the slow moving train caught up to him, chugging along and blowing right past him, what he would do for a horse right about now. The intricate and strangely beautiful swirls of snow kicked up by the passing train intrigued Rusty as he trudged along, switching hands carrying his suitcase to shove the numb one into his pocket. Despite his wool gloves it was cold enough to freeze the balls off a mule out here in the dead of winter. When night fell he made a fire, wrapped himself in his blankets and tried his damnedest to get a little sleep but at dawn’s early light he was off again, following the tracks was the easiest way to go since the ancient Appalachians were looming just ahead now.
The silvery rails peeking through the snow showed him the way, since the train had just come through here they were visible, if not he would waste precious time and energy uncovering them so he could carry on within their set path. The steel and timber track would guide him home and never in his entire life had he been so grateful for a set of train tracks. The trek lasted all the day and he stopped once more that night and prepared camp, ready to get up on the morning of January fourth and keep going. Maybe once he was close enough he could stop in a town somewhere and just wire his father. But by the time he got there Rusty could very well have gotten home by then anyways. Seeing no point in that he reckoned he would be walking all the way from Canton, Ohio to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and would never again complain about having to walk from his house into town ever again.
More than four months ago Henry had shown up at his father’s place, knocking on the door again and the first thing everyone wondered was how the hell he had skirted the warfare further south to get all the way to Pennsylvania. He had some edgy stories and some sounded great, like his fiancée he had left behind in North Carolina, after killing a man in a drunken rage Henry was on the run. Paranoid and jumping at his own shadow already he ignored his uncle’s advice to lay low for a little while and instead pulled Rusty to the side one night and filled his head with stories of great adventure if he agreed to come with him. On his way here he had ditched his horse and bought a beautiful Indiana bred stud colt he dubbed Wabash and asked if Russell would assist in training him. Henry held out for three days, after that he was sure there were men on the hills watching him from afar, claiming to see glints of light in the corners of his eyes from the refraction of binocular glasses. The evening of the fourth day he was at Rusty’s window with Wabash saddled, bridled and ready to go and they lit out for Ohio. Russell knew his ma must have cried and his father would have worried his ass off but being the enduring guy he was he wouldn’t have shown it.
Once Rusty entered the mountains there was no going back, there were no trees to make kindling at night for a fire and he was miserable, not to mention terrified with so many bridges to cross, knowing at any moment a train could come and he would have nowhere to go. If Henry could walk from New Haven to Philly, then Rusty could damn well walk from Canton to Philly he was made of stronger stuff at least that’s what he liked to believe. Young men needed a certain excitement in their lives so they could satiate that hunger for adventure and wouldn’t yearn for it later in life, after this he never wanted to leave the state ever again. But he eventually would, he would head back east and work in his brother’s store for a year before growing home sick and pining for the rolling green foothills of his father’s ranch and go back. Then in 1868 his long lost no good cousin would write him with his sincerest apologies after six years of being on the run. Then Rusty would leave again for Colorado of all places.
The days dragged on so did those rolling mountains and Russell trudged down the tracks, sleeping a little later each day and quitting earlier in the evenings as he was running on empty. His food supplies were gone and he had resorted to eating snow to keep himself hydrated. Nine days into his trek he dragged himself into Harrisburg and collapsed in a livery stable for some much needed sleep. Everyone worked around him that next morning, going about their business as if he were nothing out of the ordinary, just taking a nap. He could have been dead and no one would have noticed. Someone happening by however did have the courtesy of relieving him of that burdensome suitcase, truly leaving him with nothing but the clothes on his back. Once more just like he had encountered one in Canton, a greying colored man come to muck the stalls that afternoon stopped upon noticing the crumpled form on the breezeway floor, huddled up against the side of a box stall. Kicking the young man’s boots he got no response, “Aye, Errol! How long’s this kid been in here? Homeless folk cain’t jus’ crawl up in here an’ take a nap.” Errol, chewing on a stalk of straw turned to his buddy and shrugged, “Aw-day I reckon, he’s here dis mo’nin when I come in, I jus’ let ‘im be.” and with that he chucked a square bale of hay into the store room and continued on with his job.
He was a big fella, not real tall but broad in the shoulders and hadn’t missed many meals or at least that was what Russell gathered when he opened his eyes, but was more concerned with the pitchfork in the man’s hand, “Aye boy, you awright?” all the young man could manage was a barrage of cruddy coughs and the big calloused hand covered about half his face as the stranger felt his forehead, “I’ll take that as a no, surely a kid like you got a home somewheres.” Errol’s interest had been piqued at this point and he came over, that dazed look in the boy’s eyes didn’t appear too promising, “He look real sick, Elson. Aye boy, where you stay?” but then the owner of the livery came stomping in and ranted about how he wasn’t paying Elson and Errol to stand around chatting with the squatters all day, jerked Rusty up by the collar of his coat and tossed him on out the back doors, “You can sleep at the shelter kid, not in my barn, get lost!” watching the young man pick himself up out of the pile of horse shit and mud the two colored fellas felt sympathy for him and tried to explain to their boss that he was just looking for a place to lay down. After a brief altercation Mister Perkins lost both his employees when they quit, opting instead to follow the dazed and muddied youth as he dragged his feet up the road, heading east.
“Hey kid, where ya headed?” Elson, the older of the two caught up first and asked him to which Rusty shrugged and kept walking as Errol joined them, “You need a doctor boy.”
“No, no I wanna go home.” Elson and Errol followed him for a little while longer until the latter of the two lost interest in the crazy white boy, “Prob’ly hopped up on op I bet, gots problems, he don’t know where he live, we’s wastin our time.” them crazy white boys and their opium, they took a smoke of that stuff and got ten times crazier, shooting into the sky with their pistols and howling at the moon like dogs, putting on a hell of an inappropriate display, and they called the negroes uncivilized? Russell warmed up to his shadow after about a mile and turned to look over his shoulder at the older man, “Why ya followin me?” he asked without criticism. Elson Davies shrugged, “I ain’t never done a kind thang for nobody in my life, but you look like you need some hep, I wanna hep ya if you’ll let me.” Rusty looked a little disbelieving, “What d’ya wanna help me for?” he shrugged again, said he didn’t know, it was just something about him, then introduced himself as Elson Davies and asked for Russell’s name, “I’m Rusty Scarborough, from Philly, I’m tryin t’get t’Philly.” Elson looked floored, “Boy if that ain’t a white boy’s name I dunno what is, but Philly’s a hund’erd miles from here, Rusty. It’ll take ya bout two days t’get there by wagon.” Russell looked displeased, but at least it was only two days, “I’ve been walkin there on my own two feet for the past nine days, another two won’t hurt.”
“Boy you sho’ is crazy, I thought you was dead bout a hour ago, now ya say you c’n walk two more days, ya won’t make it.”
“What else am I supposed t’do? I got nothin but the clothes on my back, Elson.”
Russell’s new friend used what money he had to rent a horse and buggy from the stage and away they went, the sick young man wrapped in his blankets in the back coughing and trying his damnedest to get some sleep as Elson drove east to Philadelphia. The roads were icy and treacherous and Russell insisted they carry on and didn’t want to stop for a doctor anywhere, and when Elson suggested it a look of fear came to the young man and his caretaker was forced to drop the subject. His charge assured him that once he got home his mother would know what to do, she would take care of him. They stopped over in Lancaster for the night and Elson actually had to carry his new friend into an inn for the night. That persistent cough was beginning to worry him but a bowl of soup made him comfortable enough to sleep. This was the best he had been treated since leaving home, Henry never would have taken this much effort to care for him and Elson was practically a stranger, and that made Russell feel even shittier.
Early the next morning the cough was no better but he was able to walk out to the wagon at least and they continued their journey. By the evening of January tenth the little horse pulled the wagon into the city limits of Philadelphia and Elson mentioned he had not been here since he was just a boy and marveled at the buildings and number of people. The black man driving the wagon with a sickly looking white kid in the back turned a few heads but Russell laid back down, suddenly feeling embarrassed. He was sure his family had searched for him and word had gotten out that he was missing or had run off and plenty of people in town knew him. If they saw him they would make a scene and he didn’t want that, but at the same time he was worried what his father would think and in his fever ravaged mind he didn’t want to go beating down their door at nine o’clock at night for fear of being shot or something. After spending the last four months taking care of his older cousin it would be nice to have someone taking care of him for a change.
Elson never received instruction to leave the street, turn at any point and by ten o’clock he pulled over and turned around, “You live anywhere around here Rusty? Or are ya gettin cold feet?” he laughed but his charge was clearly not in the laughing mood, “I gotta head back soon, return this wagon an’ this hoss. If ya won’t tell me where ya live I’ll hafta go on without ya.” Russell nodded in understanding but said nothing as he sat up and made to get down off the wagon, Elson reached over and took him by the arm, making sure he wouldn’t fall on his face. He refused to take any more of his new friend’s money and watched him disappear into the night.
Morning was cold and dreary, the thick dark mud he sat in not helping him to stay warm at all as he huddled in the alley against a broken shipping crate behind a diner where he had begged for food the night before. A soft rattle in his chest when he breathed had become so normal to him now he was almost fascinated with it, seated there listening to himself breathe staring down at the mud. He hadn’t seen the sunrise, the people walking past him, watching and wondering if they should offer him food, money or a helping hand. One passerby noticed him in his sad state, shook his head and kept walking but then stopped short with a sudden look of recognition on his face. Russell was used to hands on his face here recently with Elson checking for a fever every hour or so but these hands were bigger and surprisingly gentle and he heard his name somewhere. As if off in the distance he heard someone calling out to him, sometimes if he was asleep and someone was trying to wake him he heard that echoing voice cry his name and it woke him up to greet the day.
“Russell! Jesus Christ where’ve ya been son, Russell? Rusty can you hear me?” he wanted to respond, say something but couldn’t find the strength or even find his voice, he just wanted to sleep and as his father gathered him up into his arms to take him home he would do exactly that for the next week until he was well enough to get back to his life. Graham kept a close watch on his youngest boy after having him vanish for four months only to have him return ill with pneumonia and more dead than alive. With time he was sure he would be hearing some stories, but right now Rusty didn’t feel much like telling his parents anything and had been uncharacteristically quiet. Linda wanted her happy-go-lucky little boy again but supposed that had been ruined for her and she may never see that side of him again. For the time being they gave him his space in the hopes that soon enough he would feel more like the Russell they used to know, back to loving life and wrestling steers, stuffing cow shit in his older brother’s shoes or dumping a bucket of water on a ranch hand.
Meanwhile Henry would return to Canton after a stroke of conscience only to find his cousin long gone and step into the sheriff’s office to see if he was there, spy a wanted poster and walk over into the saloon across the way and blow the subject of said poster right off his stool with that repeater, gather the reward money and haul ass. Seven months later he was in Lincoln, Nebraska and killed his second bounty whilst working as a hand on a ranch for a Dick Rainer. With more than enough money to continue on his way Henry picked up there and headed back east to Illinois, killing Steve Louis for two-hundred dollars. He would spend the next three years killing outlaws until his final bounty in late 1865 when he smoked Snake Longfellow in Carlsbad, New Mexico, not once touching another ounce of opium.
1 User(s) are reading this topic (1 Guests and 0 Anonymous Users)