By Scott Wilson
Matthew O’Reilly slowly loaded five .36 calibre bullets into his stolen Colt Paterson revolver. He checked the leather pouch hooked on to his belt and counted 25 bullets, enough for the day at least. After holstering the Colt on his thick leather belt, Matthew picked up the 12 gauge, double-barrel coach gun from the log his was sitting on. He cracked it open and slide two shells in, then slung it over his shoulder. He was ready. Matthew stood up quickly when he heard the sound of the Cobb & Co coach rolling down the dirt track to his left.
“Right on time,” Matthew said to himself. Matthew ran out to the dirt track and tripped as the coach sped towards him.
“Whoa,” yelled the coach driver, pulling harshly on the reigns of the two horses.
The horses stopped within a few inches of Matthew’s body.
“You ok there mate?”
Matthew feigned unconsciousness, hoping the driver did not know if he had actually hit him or not. In the split second of action, he was sure the driver would not be sure of anything. He heard the driver jump down from his
seat and walk slowly towards him.
“Hey mate, are you hurt?”
Matthew waited for the coach driver to bend over, and then slowly turned over to face him. He had his hand on his stomach, close to his pistol. The blood Matthew had smeared on his head a few seconds before the coach arrived was still dripping down his face.
The coach driver pulled a Cobb & Co handkerchief out of his trouser pocket and handed it to Matthew.
“Here, put this on that.”
Matthew took the handkerchief from the coach driver’s hand, taking note of the Colt Navy Revolver tucked into the burly man’s belt holster. It too was a .36 calibre revolver with five chambers, but an improved model compared to his own revolver. This may not be as easy as he thought.
“Thank, mate.” Matthew said softly to the driver. He looked up at him and could tell that he was a tough case.
Not the usual sort of bloke usually driving a coach between towns. Matthew had never heard of Cobb & Co coaches having armed drivers before.
“Crikey, where did you come from? Running out of the bush like a scrub turkey.”
Matthew could feel another set of eyes watching him from within the coach. He looked behind the driver and saw a well dressed gentleman sitting next to a well dressed lady, most likely his wife. Nothing strange about that, but the .44 Winchester Rifle pointing at him from the coach’s window was.
“Sorry, ‘bout that mate,” Matthew said, “Razorback was chasing me and I heard your coach coming so tried to get here before it got to me.”
The driver looked at the direction Matthew came from and squinted.
“Must have lost him, cobber. He ain’t anywhere to be seen now.”
“Must have been the sound of you coach? Scared him off.”
The driver stood up and adjusted his holster.
“Most likely,” he said, “that’s why we have the lowest amount of bushranger robberies in Queensland. Only ten known bushrangers in our state not like down south.”
“Yep,” Michael said, “Sure wouldn’t want to try and hold up your coach.” Michael slowly stood up, dusted off his moleskin coat and straightened his hat.
“I’d best let you get on your way.” Matthew said and walked off the dirt road and waved to the couple in the coach.
“You take care now,” the driver said. He winked at Matthew and hoped back up onto the coach. Matthew rolled himself a smoke and nodded as the coach drove off. He sat back down on the log and thought to himself that maybe he should move down to New South Wales.
Scott Wilson: I have been writing since discovering the joys of literature at High School 20 years ago.
I am a member of the UTA Flash Fiction Group and regularly submit stories to our discussion group each week.