Outlaw Bass Reeves

Bass Reeves: Escape to Justice

The Texas sun was a relentless tyrant, its heat radiating off the cracked earth like waves off a furnace. Sweat beaded on my forehead as I wrestled with Colonel George Reeves’ cavalry boots, their worn leather a testament to countless miles and battles. Two years I’d been his personal valet, ever since the old Sheriff, my former master, “gifted” me to him on the eve of war.

Hope, naive and fragile, had bloomed in my chest then. Maybe this war wouldn’t be a nightmare, maybe George wouldn’t be a tyrant. That hope had withered faster than a bluebonnet under a stampede. His orders were venomous darts, his temper as unpredictable as a Texas twister. Silence and obedience were my only weapons, my days a monotonous rhythm of polishing silver, brushing uniforms, and never daring to speak unless spoken to.

War had transformed San Antonio. The lively market square, once bustling with traders and laughter, now echoed with the grim shuffle of soldiers and the worried whispers of civilians. The stench of illness and death hung heavy, a grim reminder of battles fought further south. Whispers of “President Lincoln” and a “speech up north” circulated through camp, met with the Colonel’s scoffs about “foolish politicians.” The meaning of those whispers was lost on me. My world was confined to the Colonel’s tent, the endless gleam of polished boots, and the gnawing knot of fear in my gut.

One afternoon, a young infantryman stumbled into the tent, his uniform as dusty as a tumbleweed, eyes wide with terror. “Sir!” he stammered, voice barely above a whisper, “Yankees… they’ve broken through our lines… flanking us!” The Colonel erupted, his face turning the color of a Texas sunset. He barked orders, his boots leaving angry imprints on the canvas floor as he stormed out of the tent.

Panic coiled tight in my chest. Flanking? What did that even mean? Was this the end? Huddled in the corner, the silence was deafening after the Colonel’s fury. Then, a glint of amber caught my eye – a forgotten flask tucked away in the Colonel’s belongings.

Liquor. Forbidden fruit, a soldier’s crutch. But right then, it felt like salvation. I uncorked the flask, the sharp tang of whiskey stinging my nostrils. A cautious sip, bracing myself for the Colonel’s wrath. Yet, the silence remained unbroken.

The silence stretched, punctuated only by the distant rumble of cannons. A slow realization dawned on me. The Colonel was gone. Deserted his tent, his belongings, maybe even the war itself.

I stared at the flask, the amber liquid swirling in my hand. Fear still simmered, but a flicker of defiance sparked alongside it. Maybe, just maybe, this wasn’t the end. Maybe there was a way out of this gilded cage, a path towards freedom, even if it was as uncertain as the road ahead.

part 3.

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