Lying in his ambush position, Jim looked at his watch. He had expected Jack and the girl to arrive sooner. Something must have held them up. He was pleased with his position. He could cover any approach from the West.
He was in a bad situation. But he needed the money and he had to take care of his family. He had made the back mortgage payments and was in the black. If only Jack wasn’t so damn persistent.
The only thing he could think up to get rid of the three bodies was to put them all in the cabin and set it on fire. Just then he heard a sound. Looking around, he saw two people on the hillside behind the cabin. One was on the ground. Jim thought someone fell. Damn, the girl is there. It looks like she has Jake. Both are out in the open. Once he had them in his sights, he was completely focused and relaxed. Control your breathing and squeeze. He took the best shot first.
Jack was just coming out of the streambed when Jim fired. He knocked Jim’s rifle aside and hit a glancing blow with the butt of his rifle high on the left side of his head. Jim dropped his rifle and Jack kicked it aside and said, “Jim, you are a dumb son-of-a-bitch. I don’t want to hear a word. Right now I’m very close to killing you. Roll over and put your hands behind your back.” Using another of his two-foot pieces of nylon line, he tied Jim’s hands securely, searched him for weapons, took his sheathed Buck knife, used another piece of line to tie his feet, and then charged across the stream to where he could now see Kelly and Jake on the ground.
When Jack reached them, he saw Kelly was desperately trying to stop the flow of blood from Jake’s chest. Jim’s shot hit Jake in the back and went on through his body. Jack started to help her and said, “Kelly, he’s done! Nothing we can do. Are you okay?”
“Yes! We were in good cover. Jake fell, I think on purpose. As I was bringing him to his feet, he was hit in the back. I dove into the pines, expecting to hear another shot. I used the scope on Jake’s rifle to locate the shooter when I saw you take him down. Boy, was I glad to see you. I guess I knew Jake was gone but had to try.”
“You done good. Here, wipe Jake’s .22 Hornet and leave it with him. Untie his hands. Make it look like he was climbing this slope when he was shot in the back. I don’t know if we’ll leave him like this, but for now it will do. Put his prints on the Hornet in a normal pattern. When you’re done come down to the cabin. I’ll go down and get Jim inside the cabin. He has some things he’ll want to tell us.”
Kelly finished setting the hillside scene and smoothed over some boot marks made near the body and went down to the cabin where she found Jack tying Jim in the same chair Jake had been in. She heard Jack saying, “Jim, you were planning to kill us. You shot at Kelly and Jake. Jake is dead by your hand. I guess you know how much sympathy I’ve got for you. I’m angry enough to go back to your camp, kill Bobby, and burn your house with her inside. If you have anything to say now would be a good time.”
“Kill me if you want to but leave Bobby out of this.”
“Not a chance. It doesn’t work like that. You should have thought about the danger you put her in with your greed. I hold you more responsible for the killing of innocent people than I do that young dumb kid you killed on the hillside. I’m not making any deals, but if you tell me the whole story and all the details, I’ll not hurt Bobby. Now tell me!”
“I need some water.”
Jack held a tin cup so he could drink. “Okay, now start your story.”