<<UserID:Webb>> I woke up this morning to an excellent reminder of why I hate humanity. A young man shook me awake, babbling and near tears, to tell me that his girlfriend had gotten trapped up on the ridge overlooking the springs by a throng of geckoes.
Now, I’m not much of a morning person, even when I’m not recovering from a gunshot wound to the head, but he seemed genuinely panicked, so I struggled to my feet, grabbed my rifle, mumbled to the kid to stay put, and took off up the hill to save the girl.
There’s one born every minute, right?
No sign of anyone up on the ridge, but there was a passel of geckoes up there, and no mistake. Seems like I may have gotten an inflated sense of my own skill with a firearm yesterday thanks to Sunny and Cheyenne, because a few of those little bastards really tore into me before I could put them all down. My left leg, especially, took a nasty bite.
I’ve seen horrible infections set in after a gecko-bite, so I’d be dipping into my own rather meager new stock a hell of a lot sooner than I would have wanted. Before I had even had a chance to clean the wounds or start looking around for the kid’s lost lady, though, he showed up with a drawn revolver and gloatingly explained that he’d tricked me into clearing out the geckoes so that he could reach some sort of cache at the top of the hill.
Or he started to gloat, at any rate. His theatrics were tarnished a bit when he stepped into a bear trap while circling around me.
Lucky he was there, really. I hadn’t even seen the traps.
His screaming stopped when I clubbed him over the head with the butt of my rifle. What can I say? I’ve gotten impatient in my old age.
I grabbed his gun and went through his pockets, turning up some ammo and a stimpak, but the real prize was in the stash he had mentioned, which I found at the top of the hill behind a few more bear traps. There was a good assortment of various caliber rounds, along with a few caps and some more chems, which I shoved into my satchel.
I limped back down to the springs and cleaned out the bite with some cold, clean water, which stung like mad, bound it up with strips of the kid’s shirt, then gave myself a shot of Med-X to kill the pain and dry-swallowed some antibiotics that Mitchell had given me. I didn’t have enough for a full course, but it would have to do.
When I finally made it back to town, it was already past noon, and I was ready for a meal of anything other than gecko. I followed Sunny’s advice and headed for the Prospector Saloon, arriving just in time to overhear a rather heated altercation between the owner Trudy and a hard-eyed man who turned out to be named Joe Cobb.
Trudy, a no-nonsense business woman, let me know that Cobb is with a group of escaped convicts from the NCR that call themselves the Powder Gangers. Supposedly, they are looking for a trader named Ringo who got the best of them out in the wastes who’s now holed up somewhere in Goodsprings. I decided to look up the trader and get his version of the story.
First, though, I tuned up Trudy’s radio in exchange for a decent bowl of stew and a real treat: an actual bottle of Nuka-Cola. It was even a little bit cold, thanks to the refrigeration unit Trudy has running off of the saloon’s generator. It’s flat, of course, and sickly sweet with artificial sugar, but my lord, it hits the spot. I remember the first time I brought a bottle home to little Callie, and the look on her face when she...
After lunch, which I spent listening to Mr. New Vegas on the radio with Trudy, I struck out for the gas station where Ringo was supposedly hiding. Upon entering, I got rather direct confirmation of Ringo’s occupancy, thanks to a gun in the face. It’s a banner year for people threatening me with firearms, apparently.
After I hastily assured him that I wasn’t with the Powder Gangers, he calmed down somewhat, though the man was clearly still a bundle of nerves.
To apologize for the rude greeting -- and to settle himself down, I’d wager -- he offered to play a few hands of Caravan with me. It’s been a long time since I played... Jess was a canny bidder, and we spent plenty of evenings running tracks after Callie had gone to sleep. I haven’t carried a deck since I lost her, but Ringo had a spare, and, most importantly, he was clearly still flustered.
What can I say? I was short on caps, and he was definitely no Jess with the cards.
After a thorough fleecing, I assuaged my guilt somewhat by asking the newly broke Ringo what had happened with the ‘Gangers and if there was anything I could do to get him back on the road. In my experience, there’s nothing so valuable as a trader who owes you a favor.
Plus, I feel like I owe a debt to the town for getting me back on my feet, and chasing off these convicts ought to wipe that slate clean, and to spare.
Tomorrow, I’ll talk to the folks around Goodsprings, see if we can’t come up with a way to chase off the ‘Gangers permanently.
For now, though, I’m just going to check these damn gecko bites again, change the dressing, give myself some more pain killers, then see about some dinner and take the weight off the leg for the night.
After all, we’ve got a big day tomorrow...