“We knows what you made it for.” Auggy Winkle called out. He sat on a horse at the sheriff’s right hand. “You coulda just come to me.” The scruff and hooligans that made up the rest of the posse thought that rather funny.
“I doubt your wife would have let you,” Mama said.
The scruff and hooligans liked that even more’n Auggy’s comment.
Mama turned to the Sheriff. “Herb, what’ve I done?”
“You ought to know. That there, what you call it? ‘Steambot,’ was wreaking havoc all over town. And if it weren’t cuz of you and yorn, I’ll be a pig on butcher’s day.”
“What’s he done?”
“What ain’t he done? Near as I can tell he just about wrecked any man who ever looked sideways at ya.”
“Winkles, Coles, Prices, Dangerfields, and old Cransburry Smith. All of ’em are homeless. Cransburry and Sam Cole are lucky to be alive. Tim Price’s getting stitched up by Doc Winters right now. Given your history…”
“You must be joking.”
“Your thing there destroyed homes and injured three good men. Upstanding citizens who contribute to our town. They make it a right fine place to live.”
Mama swallowed hard. Her temper was almost as legendary as her mechanical abilities. “Herb, I had nothing to do with this. I would never tell Rolland to do such a thing.”
“Well the way I figure, whether you told it to or not, you built the darn thing so you’re gonna pay for what it’s done.”
Sheriff Codger held up his hand. “No more talk, Louise. Come along now.”
Mama didn’t move, so Auggy got down from his horse and came up on the porch to get her. He grabbed her arm and pulled her along.
“Here we are again,” Auggy said “Me showing you what’s right and you resisting.”
All four of us girls started forward hollering for him to leave mama alone. But Maggie, little Maggie’s voice, stood out above the rest. “No!” she screamed. “Rolland!”
Within a second the side of the barn exploded as Rolland crashed through it. It only took him a second to get the lay of the land. He barreled down on Auggy like a bear protectin’ his cubs. Auggy let Mama go and started firing his pistol at Rolland. The bullets just bounced off his new steel face and body. Mama had made sure those ruffians weren’t gonna get him again. Rolland ran up to Auggy and threw him to the ground. I couldn’t see what happened next, but Rolland had red smears on his faceplate when he stood up again.
The posse fired from all corners, making little more than dents in his bronze and steel skin. He grabbed the posse member closest to him and pulled him from his horse.
To Be Continued…