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Cooke City, Montana
Uprising #3
On the north side of town, the mountain rose steep behind the single row of buildings, all houses, mostly purposed for some kind of tourist business. Ishmael could imagine bringing his furs down into here for shelter when there was only Colter’s Trading Post 150 years ago.
On the south side, the houses were backed with a stream, flowing fast and deep for this time of year, gushing with snow melt even as the first snows of the falling winter fell.
A gas station on the right had an out of service sign hanging on it, the pumps bagged up.
The gas station on the left was out of service and taped down as well.
No attendants were at either station. They were out of business by appearances, not even selling sodas.
“You see this, Wolf?”
“Affirmative,” answered his longest-held and last friend, “I suppose the Canadians have cut off the oil spigot.”
He noted also that a coffee shop was closed, as well as the trail outfitter.
There were two small hotels open, and one bar and grille, a place called the Cooke City Spoon, that had an OPEN sign prominently displayed in red out front, where the sidewalk dining tables were covered in snow and the umbrellas bending sideways in the easterly gusting wind. No, gusts were coming from the west down the cut, and also rushing from the north down the mountainside, the temperature feeling like ten-below zero.
As he pulled the truck head-in next to the only other car parked in front of the bar, and noted that only four other cars were in town, two at each of the small hotels, he noticed to the east, over his right shoulder, an old timer, tall and lanky, masked with a bandana, limping in a hurry across the street to the north side. Punk noticed it too and the dark man’s hands went to his hoody pockets and came out wearing a pair of black gloves.
‘It is almost hard to believe, that ten years later, the masks have never went away.’
“Dismount,” commanded Wolf and he cut off the engine and the doors to right and behind opened, as Ishmael took a moment to retrieve his pack.
Outside in the driving snow, he opened his pack and pulled out his camo-pattern web belt and put it on. His Keershaw saw-tooth machete was on the left hip, the scabbard tied off with para-chord above the knee, and a 9mm Glock tied off on the right thigh, with two spare clips in a belt pouch.
He thought, ‘This is my last ride, Oh Lord. We’re reduced to hunting with pistols else the satellites pick up the reports of our rifles. We might as well go out against the law than against a grizz. There would be more justice in that.’
“My hell!” he exclaimed before registering the details, as he looked east and saw a moose cow with a young one crossing the street from north to south.
Then Wolf spat some gunpowder [tobacco] in the snow and observed, up the mountain, “North face, Ish,” and they all three looked up from their positions around the truck and saw a small herd of bison plunging down over the hill, through a closed down snowmobile rental lot, destroying the wire fence and wrecking many of the machines and then tramping across the street fifty yards to the east and down between the next two buildings and into the rushing creek, scrambling up the far side of the mountain, lost in the swirling snow.
Ishmael looked up the north face of the mountain and could make out little but falling snow and snow devils dancing about the bending trees. He then remembered his whiskey, looked into the driver’s side window and noted that Punk was already next to him with both of their bottles.
Wolf nodded affirmative, spat in the snow, and said, “Let’s get some grub and some beer to wash this firewater down.”
He then hefted his backpack, a heavy camo affair and looked at Punk, “No gear, Coon?”
“No siree—was travelin’ light en tight.”
Wolf grinned and said, “Well, that knot-roll of cash ought to set us right for dinner, if you don’t mind.”
“Not at all, Major,” grinned Punk as he raised his bottle of rum to his lips and then, instead of taking a swig, raised his eye brows in astonishment, as he was the only one currently facing north, the two bigger men already headed into the bar as they were.
“Is dat what y’all came ta kill?”
Ishmael and Wolf turned as one, Wolf pulling his pistol-grip 12-gauge Remington automatic from his pack as they were greeted by the site of a grizzly bear, a good 600-pound male, lopping like a rolling sheet of fur-encased menace across the street, totally ignoring them, not stopping to dig into the dumpster behind the closed diner the next door up. Neither was this bear seeming to be in pursuit of the bison. Ishmael had never seen the like before.
“What you make of that, Ish,” asked Wolf as the bear rumbled by silently but for its snorting breath in the gathering snow.
Ishmael heard himself speaking absent mindedly even as he thought the words without consciously forming them, “I’ve seen it all now. In all my years, that’s the first grizz I ever seen afraid of anything. Must be a bad storm. Let’s get under shelter and fed against what the day might bring.”
“Day, idz durn near dark,” mused Punk.
To this Wolf checked his watch and said, “Thirteen-hundred,” one in the afternoon for you civilians. Well I’ll be damned if it don’t appear to be nightfall. Let’s eat.”
With that, Wolf, placed his shotgun back into his pack, zipped her up, shouldered it, and took the lead, pushing through the door of the bar, with Ishmael behind him and the paranoid little Punk walking backwards in behind him, flexing his never-still hands in those heavy black gloves.
‘Wonder what Old Man Winter has cooked up for us tonight?’
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