Growing up in an outlaw family brings its own unique heartaches.
That sun was blood red and goin down
That sun was blood red and goin down
My daddy was always an easy going man, kind and generous. He always had a quick smile for me, a quick smile for those that deserved them. I never wanted for anything, least of all love, and sometimes that's all he had left was his love for me.
I was ten when it happened for the last time, when he'd finally had enough. I remember that day like it was branded into my mind. It was Uncle Cole's yellin I woke up to, yellin at daddy.
"You just gonna wait around with that little girl up there for her to come back, Bob?" His voice nearly took the roof off the house it was so loud. I remember inching to the top of the stairs. Daddy was standing there at the table with his head bowed. Uncle Cole looked mad enough to kill and I knew for sure he could, I'd even heard the stories.
For all of my ten years on the earth I'd never seen my daddy cry, not once. He hadn't cried when he'd buried my baby brother, he hadn't cried all them times that mama ran off before. But that day when he lifted his head and looked at Uncle Cole, tears ran like a river down his cheeks, dripping onto his hands where they were braced against the table. Daddy looked whipped that day, looked like he didn't have no more fight in him and not even his brother could change that.
"What'd ya expect me to do, Cole?" He'd asked, voice shaking with the force of his tears. That's when I gave in and cried too, cried for all he'd endured, cried for all the heart ache that must surely be inside him. I wanted to run to him and wrap my arms around him, wrap my arms around him and make it go away, make everything okay. I hated mama for doing this to him again, for leaving him for some other man. Why couldn't she stay with daddy? Why couldn't she love him?
I'd heard Aunt Maggie talking to Uncle Cole just a few short months before. I learned Mama had left the first time when I was just days old, leaving Daddy alone with a little baby to care for. Maggie said she'd done the best she could for me, said Mama should've been whipped good for runnin' off like that. Uncle Cole was quick to agree. Until I overheard them I hadn't know much about my mama's past. I had just known that daddy met her at a dance and he courted her for awhile and then they married. But Uncle Cole had railed on about that's what Daddy got for marrying a spoiled rich girl that's never been told no in her life. He said she'd caused a man's death before. She'd turned two suitors against one another and there had been a fight one night, there'd been a fight and one of them men ended up stabbed to death. The other hanged just a month later for the crime.
"Hell, I don't know, Bob, anything but sit her and take it AGAIN!" Cole yelled, moving closer with that mean look he gets in his eyes when he's really mad.
"No! No!" I raced from my perch at the top of the stairs and pushed between daddy and Cole. "You stop it, Uncle Cole! You got no call talkin' to my daddy like that!" I screamed, my tears echoing daddy's.
There was nothing like a child to soften Uncle Cole when he got into one of those rages of his, whether it was me or one of his own it sobered the mood real quick. He turned gentle eyes on me then and crouched down in front me.
"Now, Bobin, this is between me and your daddy."
I cried all the harder at the nickname he'd given me. He'd always said I was the only shadow my daddy ever had and I should be named accordingly, so Robin was transformed into Bobin. A name I treasured more than any material possession I ever had.
"You're wrong, Cole Younger..." I stiffened my spine, challenging this full grown man, my uncle. "She's my mama so I guess that makes me a part of all this."
"You're too young..." He began, taking my hand and pulling me towards the door. My heels dug in to the worn smooth wooden floor below my feet, eyes cast pleadingly over my shoulder at daddy. "....Bill's gonna take you on over to your aunt."
"I ain't to young!.....I wanna stay with Daddy!" I screamed at the top of my lungs, screamed with all the air I had inside me but it did little good. I found big dark arms wrapped around me. Bill was taking me away from my home, taking me away from my daddy and all his pain.
"No, Bill!...Please, don't!" I continued to plead as I was tossed into the saddle and he moved up behind me.
"I'm sorry, Little Bird.." He whispered near my ear, there was pain in his voice too. Bill was a gentle soul, although to hear tell of him you'd swear different, but I knew the real Cherokee Bill and he was no murdering savage like was whispered about. He'd married Daddy's and uncle Cole's middle sister and had a place of his own not more than a mile away. Those two sure gave me plenty of cousins to play with, eight as of last fall and another was on the way.
Now, here I was riding away from my home, riding away from my daddy. Knowing for the all the world I was the only thing he had left. I had to get back to him, somehow, someway.