The Evil Gun Part 4 - Dealing with the Drifter
* * *
Jacali went outside and found the drifter still leaning back in his chair, his hat over his eyes.
“Excuse me,” she said to him. “But does the name McFly mean anything to you?”
“Nope,” the drifter said.
“Nope?” she said.
She realized she was not very good with people and might not have any luck talking to the people of town. But she realized everyone in town idolized Gemma Jones and wondered if she might be able to help.
Professor Stalloid told Dr. Weisswald that they wanted to experiment with a dead body and wanted her back at the mine. She discussed going back with Jacali.
“It’s just strange that a mystery man shows up and then another one that I never saw get hit in a hail of bullet fire and he never missed once,” Jacali said. “Somebody in this town has gotta know what happened with that unmarked grave and I want to figure it out.”
* * *
Marshal Pierce returned the keys to the drifter and then found a chair and sat in front of the jail with the man, trying to get something out of him.
“Never seen anybody do what you did out there,” he said to the drifter.
The other man didn’t answer.
“Peculiar timing, you showing up like this,” he said.
“I heard gunfire,” the drifter said.
They sat in silence for a while.
“Marshal,” the drifter finally said. “If you’re a man of justice, you might want to get outta town.”
“Why is that?” Marshal Pierce said.
“Because bad times are coming for people who don’t give a damn,” the drifter said.
* * *
West came out sometime after Marshal Pierce was gone.
“Don’t mean to bother you …” he said.
“Then go away,” the drifter replied.
“… but I just got one question for you,” West went on. “You keep mentioning you’re thirsty. What’re you thirsty for.”
There was a long silence.
“Justice is coming,” the drifter said.
* * *
Professor Stalloid got a body from Doc McKenna, who didn’t seem to care so long as he brought it back when he was done with it. He advised he also talk to the federal marshal, who had some kind of list, to try to figure out who the bodies were first. He returned to the mine but touching the corpse to the Crescent didn’t seem to do anything.
“What … what are you hoping to do with this?” Professor Terwilliger asked. “He’s dead.”
“See if they turn to dust,” Professor Stalloid said.
“Doesn’t appear to affect animals,” Dr. Weisswald said.
Professor Terwilliger reached for the Crescent but then pulled his hand away, thinking better of it.
* * *
Gemma went around town with Jacali to see what she could learn of the man who was in the unmarked grave. They ended up talking to the schoolmarm, Alice Pemberton, and learned something from her.
“About 10 years ago, a man came into town and somebody picked a fight with him,” she said. “Somebody who doesn’t even live here anymore. Somebody who just moved on. Gunned him down. I always felt bad because nobody in town did anything to stop him.”
“What kind of man?” Gemma asked. “Was he an outlaw?”
“No. He was just a … drifter. He came into town and this other man took offense to him for some reason, don’t even know why. There was a gunfight in the middle of the street and he was gunned down. Since it was in the middle of the street and it was a fair gunfight, nothing was done about it.”
“And you have no idea who he was?”
“Never knew his name.”
“You know someone that might could tell me?”
“I don’t. It was just a terrible shame. He was just a stranger come to town. Got on the wrong side of the wrong person. Some man who was just passing through and he’s gone now as well. I thought it was a terrible tragedy. Other people in town didn’t like it but they didn’t figure there was anything they could do about it. They buried him in the cemetery.”
* * *
They all met for dinner at Leone’s for dinner that night. The drifter had gone into the place just before they had and sat, alone, at another table, drinking heavily.
“I suggest we all stay in the same place tonight,” Dr. Weisswald said.
“I suggest we don’t stay at all,” Marshal Pierce said.
“We did get our bounty,” West said. “We might as well go.”
Gemma told them what she had learned from the schoolmarm.
“So, talking to the drifter outside, he said if I was a man of justice that I should probably leave this town,” Marshal Pierce said. “Some bad things are going to happen. I didn’t really know what he meant by that but, I think if, the last people he shot came back to life, as strange as that is, but backed up by two different doctors, that they were dead before, and then hearing what you said about the unmarked grave, and just how unnatural that man’s been, he might be that man from 10 years ago, coming back for vengeance.”
“On the whole town,” West said.
“On the whole town,” Marshal Pierce said. “That’s the only reason he warned me … because I’m not from this town. We’re not on his map. On his list.”
“What about the townspeople?” Dr. Weisswald said.
“You think he could be appeased?” Jacali said. “Have any of us tried to learn his name yet?”
“He won’t tell us anything,” Marshal Pierce said.
“But have you asked his name?” Jacali said.
“He’ll just grunt, I bet,” Marshal Pierce said.
He glanced over at the drifter, who just stared at him.
“I’m kind of in the same boat as Jack West,” he said. “I got all the information I need out of McGoohan. Seems that John Valentine possibly could be coming here, but I ain’t got time to wait. Think I’m gonna go to Utah or Colorado. May be some more bounties in it if you wanted to accompany me. Higher bounties.”
“Sounds pretty good,” West said.
“I’d say this town chose their fate ten years ago,” Marshal Pierce said.
“You can’t condemn a whole town full of people!” Dr. Weisswald said.
“Exactly,” Jacali said.
“So much for being a marshal,” Otto said.
“We can’t stop a man who shoots like that,” Marshal Pierce said.
“Who says we can’t?” Jacali said.
She stood up and walked across the room, sitting down next to the drifter. She called for a drink from the barkeep.
“I ain’t interested,” he said.
“I’m not interested in what I think you’re thinking of,” she said. “I’m interested in your name though. What is it?”
“I know what you’re interested in,” he growled. “Come with me.”
He stood up and dropped some coins on the table. He wiped his badge and headed for the front door. After a moment, Jacali got up and followed him. Dr. Weisswald and Professor Stalloid rushed to catch up with Jacali while Otto followed further behind.
“See what?” Dr. Weisswald said.
The drifter ignored her and walked out the door. As the others followed him Marshal Pierce went out to the porch and waited there.
The procession went down Show-Down Street past Van Cleef’s gun shop. The drifter stopped near the gun shop and looked over his shoulder at the them before he continued walking. There was a dead horse out there by the road. They recognized the horse that had gotten killed by the drifter in the crossfire earlier that day. He chased away some whining coyotes and began whistling. It was the same strange tune he had been whistling the night before.
The dead horse stood up. It stunk and he led it back into town, ignoring all of them. Jacali looked really nervous but followed the man. He went to Eastwood’s and tied it up out front.
“How’d you do that?” she asked.
He didn’t look at her.
“I whistled,” he said. “Didn’t you hear me?”
“When I whistle, horses don’t come back to life!”
“‘Cause you ain’t me.”
“Then who are you?”
The drifter shook his head and walked onto the porch of Eastwood’s.
“Everybody’s somebody,” she said.
He stopped at the door.
“Not everybody,” he said.
He walked into the building.
“The school teacher cared,” Dr. Weisswald said.
* * *
They returned to Leone’s and told the others what they’d seen. Dr. Weisswald was ready to leave.
“Even if we leave, what are we going to do about the Horn?” Jacali said.
“We could try to take it with us,” Professor Stalloid said.
“I don’t know if it’s even safe to touch, but … we can’t really …” Jacali said.
“Gloves,” Dr. Weisswald said.
“We can take it and examine it somewhere else,” Jacali said. “But if this town is going to get shot up …”
* * *
Professor Stalloid got up before sunrise on Wednesday, April 14, 1875. He watched the horse as the sun rose but nothing happened to it. Other animals would not go near it. Some children were fascinated by it but repelled at the same time. The townsfolk didn’t know what to make of it.
* * *
The drifter spent Wednesday touring the town, inspecting every building, peering in the classroom, back rooms, bedrooms, stables, stalls. It all seemed the same to the drifter, who silently viewed, digested, and left without comment. Whether the activities he saw were illegal, disgraceful, commonplace, or down-right dull. He said nothing, made no reply or response to anyone.
Marshal Pierce caught up to him at one point during the day.
“I know who you are,” he said to the man. “You’re the man who was shot in the street 10 years ago.”
“I think you’re mistaken,” the drifter said.
“Why don’t you come out to that grave with me? We’ll carve your name into the gravestone.”
“What name is that?”
“Whatever you tell me it is.”
The drifter shrugged and walked away.
“What if I go dig it up?” Marshall Pierce said. “Will you stop me?”
The drifter stopped.
“Grave robbing’s a crime and I am the town marshal,” he said. “I guess we’ll see.
He walked away.
Marshal Pierce got a shovel and went to the graveyard. He dug up the plain wooden coffin and when he opened it, found the bones of a man within. Some flesh was still on the bones; some rotted clothing clung to the remains. He looked in every pocket and every place for any kind of sign of a name. He found nothing.
He put everything back the way it was and buried it again.
* * *
That night, the drifter got into a card game at Leone’s. Professor Stalloid quickly taught Jacali the rudiments of poker and they joined the game. Wilder observed without being involved. Jack Pettit, a local gambler passing through Yellow Flats joined as well. When Marshal Pierce saw the drifter in there, he approached Gemma Jones, who was singing that night.
“Do you know any sad songs about innocent men?” he asked.
“Well, Marshal, I know many songs,” she said.
“Tragedy songs. Can you sing those tonight? About innocent lives that were taken. Or just anything of the sort.”
“Why yes. I didn’t get to thank you, before, for your generosity.”
He gave her a wad of five one-dollar bills.
“Only tragedy songs,” he said. “That’s to cover for the tips you may not receive singing sad songs all night.”
“Well, I’ll have you know … I’m not that type of woman,” she said.
“You can’t purchase me.”
“Well, it’s just a sign of generosity as you said.”
“Of course. Much obliged.”
She blushed, a little embarrassed for having misunderstood what he’d wanted. When someone usually gave her that kind of money, it was because they wanted something else from her.
* * *
Marshal Pierce joined the others who were playing cards, sitting next to the drifter. Dr. Stalloid did very well and won a bit of money. He and several others realized Jack Pettit was cheating and doing so very poorly. He wasn’t winning either, but obviously trying hard to cheat. The drifter seemed to be getting very angry.
“You’re cheating!” he finally stood up and said.
“No!” Pettit said. “No I didn’t! No! I’m not a cheater!”
The drifter took a gun from his holster and put it on the table, sliding it across to Pettit.
“What are you going to do?” he said.
Pettit jumped up and ran out of the saloon. The drifter walked around the table and picked up his pistol. Then he followed Pettit towards the door.
“Wait, that man don’t deserve to die or anything!” Professor Stalloid said.
The drifter stopped in the doorway and then slowly turned around.
“He’s a cheat,” he said.
“But he’s not even a good one,” Professor Stalloid said.
“It’s as bad as stealing a horse,” the drifter said.
He turned and went out the door.
Father Bishop, Otto, and Professor Stalloid headed out the door after the two men.
“Pettit!” the drifter said. “You’re a damned cheat! Turn around. Face me like a man!”
Pettit, not far down the street, spun around.
“No!” he said. “Don’t hurt me!”
The drifter drew his pistol and tossed it at Pettit. It hit the man in the chest and fell to the ground.
“Pick it up or I’ll gun you down where you stand!” the drifter said.
Marshal Pierce and Dr. Weisswald came outside. Jacali watched from the window. Inside, the dulcet tones of Gemma Jones sang sad songs.
“He hasn’t killed a man or anything,” Professor Stalloid said. “He’s just trying to work off of his skills.”
“He cheated,” the drifter muttered.
“How poor those are,” Professor Stalloid said.
The drifter walked over to Pettit, who fell to his knees. The drifter grabbed Pettit’s arm, reached into his sleeve, and pulled out an ace. He threw it down. Then he reached around the back of Pettit’s neck and pulled out another ace. He threw it down. He shoved Pettit, who fell on his back. Then he reached down and picked up the pistol.
“Pettit, say you’re sorry,” Marshal Pierce said.,
“I’m sorry!” Pettit cried out. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!”
“Now forgive him as a town marshal,” Marshal Pierce said. “Put him in a jail cell. Fine him. Whatever you feel needs to be done. But, as a town marshal, you cannot gun this man down in the street. I will fire at you if you do.”
“That’d be making a mistake,” the drifter said, still looking at Pettit. “Federal marshal.”
“I don’t care,” Marshal Pierce said. “I’m a man of the law and you are too, now.”
The drifter looked down at Pettit for a long time.
“We’ll have it your way this time,” the drifter said.
He holstered his gun and then grabbed Pettit and dragged him down the street to the jail as the man cried out in terror.
* * *
Inside, West tried to juggle threw shot glasses and they dropped all over the floor. The bartender just shook his head.
* * *
On Thursday, April 15, 1875, the drifter spent the morning sleeping on a tilted-back chair propped against the front door of the jail. At about eleven o’clock, he started wandering around the town again. He took food, a saddle and bridle for his undead horse, bottles of whiskey, and so forth from merchants. He paid for nothing. Professor Stalloid followed the man all day, paying for his purchases and apologizing to the terrified merchants.
* * *
Otto went to the Eastwood Saloon and Hotel and asked Eastwood to go into the drifter’s room. He was told the man was no longer staying there as he’d moved into the jail.
* * *
The drifter took up with a saloon gal at Leone’s that night. Her name was Becky and everyone thought she was mighty young for a scowling gunman like the drifter, but no one said anything out loud, and she was only a whore anyway. Much later that night, she returned, running back to Leone’s from the jail, bruised and bloodied.
Dr. Weisswald and Gemma were there when she came in and ran to her room. They found the girl there.
“What happened?” Dr. Weisswald asked.
The girl didn’t want to talk about it.
Dr Weisswald patched her up.
“Oh my goodness,” Gemma said. “Who did this?”
Becky didn’t want to talk about it.
“Did a man do this to you?” Gemma said. “Who did it?”
“Was it the marshal?” Dr. Weisswald asked.
“That man,” was all Becky would say though she nodded.
Dr. Weisswald found Jacali and told her what happened. They and Gemma headed for the jail and the Indian girl said she had hoped she could get him to change but felt, more and more, he was just gone.
They found the drifter in the jail. When they peeked into the window, they saw him in the chair, leaning against the wall behind the desk. The prisoners were very, very quiet. Then they returned to Jacali’s room at Leone’s to discuss what to do.
“He can’t just go hurting women!” Dr. Weisswald said to Jacali.
“Yeah,” she said.
“We can say ‘We know what you did to her,’” Gemma said. “‘You’re going to pay for this.’”
“Do we need help?” Dr. Weisswald said.
“You all saw what he did to those people who rode into town,” Jacali said. “I don’t think we can fight him and I don’t think he’s going to bargain with us.”
“So, we do need others,” Dr. Weisswald said.
* * *
The drifter entered Leone’s and looked around as everyone there went silent. He saw Father Bishop and approached him.
“Yes sir?” the priest said.
“You gotta crossbow?” the drifter asked.
“Why do you ask?”
“‘Cause I’m the town marshal.”
Across the room, West was juggling shot glasses. No one was paying attention to him.
“Well … yes, I do,” Father Bishop said.
“I need to examine it,” the drifter said.
“There’s a law on the books.”
“Do you mind telling me the law?”
“I do. Shall we go or shall I just consider you a lawbreaker who’s resisting arrest?”
Father Bishop got up and led the drifter upstairs. Professor Stalloid followed them up the steps.
* * *
Gemma thought he heard the drifter’s spurs.
“Did you hear that?” she said.
“What?” Dr. Weisswald and Jacali both said.
“It sounded like the spurs … of the drifter,” Gemma said.
Then she thought she heard a door open and close.
“We need to get …” Dr. Weisswald said.
“Other people are downstairs,” Jacali said. “We better get there quick.”
They opened the door to see Professor Stalloid loitering in the hallway.
* * *
Inside the room, the drifter looked at the crossbow and then examined the quiver. Some of the feathers were different. He pulled one out and looked at one of the silver-headed bolts. He pulled out the rest of them.
“There’s an ordinance in town about unminted silver,” he growled. “I’m taking these.”
He walked out of the room, almost running into Professor Stalloid in the hallway.
* * *
The door to Father Bishop’s room opened and the drifter walked out. He held a huge handful of short arrows.
“What are you doing?” Dr. Weisswald said to the man.
“Upholding town laws,” he said.
He walked past Stalloid.
“Do the town laws say that you can take whatever you want from the stores?” Professor Stalloid said.
The drifter put his hand on Professor Stalloid’s chest and pushed him back against the wall.
“Town marshal gets paid,” the drifter said.
He continued walking down the corridor.
“Yeah, he gets paid,” Professor Stalloid said. “And then he pays the people.”
“Upholding town laws includes beating women?” Dr. Weisswald said.
The drifter stopped.
“If need be,” he said.
He walked down the stairs and out of sight.
Professor Stalloid had noticed the arrowheads were made of silver. Then Father Bishop came out of his room. He looked angry.
Professor Stalloid got his shotgun and the two shells filled with the silver-coated buckshot.
They all met in the saloon at Leones.
“It’s time to face him,” Marshal Pierce said.
“It’s gone on too long,” Jacali said. “The drifter’s gotta go.”
“I’m going to confront him.”
“He’s not upholding justice. He’s upholding revenge.”
“I will not see this again,” Gemma said. “I will not see this again.”
“I can’t say I disagree,” Otto said.
“He specifically took my silver bolts,” Father Bishop said.
“For your crossbow?” Marshal Pierce said.,
“What is he, a werewolf?” West said.
“Didn’t he have silver bullets?” Dr. Weisswald said.
“He said he took his silver bolts,” Marshal Pierce said.
“But didn’t he load silver bullets into his gun?”
“Yeah. Why would he take your bolts? And how did he know you had em?”
“I don’t know how he knew I had them,” Father Bishop said.
“I’m going to the jail,” Marshal Pierce said.
He left Leone’s. The rest of them followed.
There were lights on in the jail. Marshal Pierce stood outside.
“All y’all get a safe distance from me,” he told the others. I don’t know how he’s going to react.”
The others scattered around the area.
“Marshal!” he called.
It felt like a long time before the door opened.
“Need sleep,” the drifter said.
“So do I,” Marshal Pierce said.
“What do you want … Federal marshal?”
“Come out here in the streets.”
The drifter walked out, his spurs ringing across the dark street.
“Take that badge off,” Marshal Pierce said.
The drifter, for the first time, smiled.
“Marshal,” he growled. “You don’t know but you need to go.”
“Oh, I think I know, just fine, what’s going on around here,” Marshal Pierce said. “Also, if you ain’t gonna take that badge off, why don’t you gun me down in the streets like you was gunned down … ten years ago?”
“‘Cause it ain’t time.”
The drifter’s eyes started glowing.
“I need you to take the badge off, ‘cause you don’t deserve to wear it,” Marshal Pierce said. “Now you see, I got this badge right here ‘cause I’m a federal marshal. Two years ago, my son was gunned down in a saloon by one of the men in John Valentine’s gang. I became a federal marshal to hunt that man down and get vengeance for my son. But I’ll tell you right now, if you gun me down, right here in this street, and I don’t get vengeance for my son, I’ll face you in the afterlife, or I’ll do something more terrible than what was done to you 10 years ago. So, I tell you now, leave this town. Take that badge off. Or gun me down, right here. Let’s duel it out. But I can’t have you go around hurting innocent people. Only thing I want is vengeance for my son, but I can’t have you hurt people like this. I’m sorry what happened to you 10 years ago. If I was here, it would not have happened to you.”
“It wasn’t me,” the drifter said. “I’m not him.”
“Maybe not anymore.”
“But I will judge this town. Those found guilty will be dealt with. I suggest you walk away.”
“If need be. I suggest you walk away.”
“Are you the man that gunned down the man 10 years ago,” Professor Stalloid said.
Marshal Pierce took the rifle off his shoulder and put it on the ground. He put his pistol on the ground.
“Gun me down!” he said.
“All in good time,” the drifter said.
He turned and walked back into the jail and closed the door behind him.
* * *
They all returned to the Leone’s Five Star Saloon. Father Bishop had been thinking about what the drifter could be. He didn’t think the man was actually human but realized he took silver away from him and wondered if silver might harm the creature. He also realized magical or enchanted items might harm the thing or perhaps even fire. He also knew he had the ability to bless things.
He told them silver or fire might possibly hurt him. He didn’t think the drifter was human at all. He also thought the drifter might have been sent from heaven or hell.
“What about the horn?” Jacali asked Dr. Weisswald and Professor Stalloid. “You said silver could hurt him and that thing looked like it was made of silver.”
Professor Stalloid didn’t think the crescent was actually silver.
Dr. Weisswald wondered about stealing some of the silver bullets from the drifter to use against him.
Gemma realized she had quite a few silver dollars.
Father Bishop thought about salting the grave of the drifter and burning the bones. He wondered if giving the bones a Christian burial might not put him to rest.
Professor Stalloid talked about coating arrowheads in silver but Father Bishop thought solid silver would be more effective. There was talk of trying to get the drifter to drink the silver water he had used for some of his tests on the Crescent.
“If only I had some silver bullets,” West said.
“Listen father, if there’s anything you think you can do, it can’t hurt, I guess,” Jacali said. “But I … I’m not a spiritual person. I’m not a person who believes in heaven and hell or ghosts or those things, but I’ve seen some strange things recently.”
“I know a few things about beliefs,” Father Bishop said.
“You don’t know anything about mine,” Jacali said. “I just told you, I don’t believe in spirits.”
Gemma noted she had silver dollars. They realized there was probably a lot at the bank as well. They decided to prepare as best they could the next day.
* * *
On Friday, April 16, 1875, the drifter spent most of the day asleep on the tilted-back chair propped against the front door of the jail once again. Nobody dared wake him.
Professor Stalloid went to the bank that day and exchanged $25 in paper money for silver dollars.
Gemma Jones had $30 in silver dollars.
They went to the blacksmith that morning and met Carl Mowden. When they told him they wanted him to make them silver bullets and silver tips for arrowheads, he figured they were crazy. However, for $5 per item, he was more than willing to do it. He said they’d be ready by tomorrow if they wanted. He was able to make a silver knife and arrowheads and bullets for them.
Wilder paid for three silver Winchester rifle bullets. Dr. Stalloid paid for six silver .45 bullets for Jack West and six rifle bullets for Marshal Pierce. Dr. Weisswald asked for a silver knife. Jacali wanted some silver arrows and Dr. Weisswald paid for five silver arrows. That seemed to surprise Mowden.
* * *
Jacali learned over the course of the day that there was an American Indian living south of town. She and Dr Weisswald went to find him and located Broken Crow, a Yavapai brave who was left after the government took the rest of the tribe away.
They asked him if he knew the drifter from 10 years ago. He didn’t know much about that, only the rumors that a man had been gunned down. He also didn’t know anything about glowing eyes.
When Jacali showed him the buffalo skin drawing, the brave didn’t recognize it. But he told them the hills west of town where the mine lay was always avoided by his people. He told them there was some kind of curse or bad magic in the area where the mine stood. He told them of tales told of braves that wanted to dig there to find treasure but they could never say why. Other tales told of odd voices in the night, calling … always calling. He was unsure when he learned there was a mine there and he was even more disturbed when he found it was the exact spot where the strange things were said to have happened years before.
He thought it was bad magic and bad spirits.
When Jacali asked him how he would handle it, aside from just avoiding it, he confessed he didn’t know.
Jacali told him where she lived and he also invited her to return to his hut whenever she wanted.
* * *
They talked again about it and told the others what Broken Crow had told them. When Otto wondered about using the crescent against the drifter, Jacali didn’t think the two were related and might not even have anything to do with each other. She had no faith that the thing could even do anything to the drifter as he was heavily armed. She also worried if they touched it and it turned them into monsters, they might die and turn into dust like the others. She thought there were too many unknowns to use it.
* * *
After sundown that night, the drifter began his rounds. He levied dollar fines on whoever spit on the street, cursed intently, or was clearly drunk. Those and other trivial offences had to be paid immediately to the drifter. By the end of the night, his pockets bulged with silver dollars.
* * *
More gunfire occurred in the middle of the night. When they went to investigate, they found Mowden dead in his tiny house connected to the blacksmith shop. When they entered the shop, they found all of the silver items ready.
* * *
On Saturday, April 17, 1875, they discussed various plans for attacking and ending the reign of terror of the drifter. Marshal Pierce was set to confront him for killing Mowden.
The drifter spent most of the morning sleeping in his chair in his accustomed place, but woke in the heat of the day to pull a blanket around himself as though he was cold.
* * *
They decided to attack the drifter at high noon. Several of them crept around the sides of the jail. Otto, West, Dr. Weisswald, and Jacali were on the right side of the jail. Professor Weisswald and Wilder were on the other side. Father Bishop and Gemma Jones watched from Leone’s Five Star Saloon. Professor Stalloid had filled three whiskey bottles with lamp oil and put rags in the top of them. He kept one, gave another to Gemma, and the last to Otto.
Marshal Pierce walked down the street at the intersection of Show-Down Street and Main Street.
“Marshal, come out and face me!” he called.
The drifter, sitting in his chair, didn’t move.
“I’m busy,” he said.
“That’s a strange way to say scared,” Marshal Pierce said.
A dog howled in the distance.
The drifter pushed back his hat and looked at the other man. His chair leaned forward. The sound of the front legs hitting the wooden boardwalk seemed very loud.
“Ain’t nothing for me to be scared of,” the drifter said.
“Then show me,” Marshal Pierce said.
The drifter stood up and slowly walked out to the street, turning towards the man and keeping his hands free on either side of him.
“Your friends are waiting for me, aren’t they?” he said. “It’s an ambush.”
“Only if you don’t cooperate,” Marshal Pierce said. “I’m taking you into custody. You shot a man in cold blood. Innocent man.”
The drifter scowled.
“I got one question before I take you into custody though,” Marshal Pierce said. “Is your name Raguel?”
He had gotten the name from Father Bishop. The priest told him he thought that might be who the drifter was: an angel of justice.
The ambushers took aim at the drifter.
“Tell me marshal …” the drifter said. “Did you hear me whistling last night? Probably not. Boys!”
The door to the jail opened up. West fired at the drifter. The bullet struck the drifter in the head and creased his skull, knocking his hat off. The drifter cried out in pain as he scrambled for his gun. Then Marshal Pierce put his rifle to his shoulder and shot him in the chest.
The drifter flew backwards and crashed to the ground. They heard the sound of numerous bodies fall to the ground in the jail and the rattle of metal against the wooden floorboards. The drifter fell and burst into smoke. When the smoke cleared there was only bleached bones on the dry, dry ground.
They found half a half dozen dead men in the jail, all of them bodies from the bank robbery. A half dozen pistols were there as well. They found silver dollars in a cell while Dan McGoohan, Jack Pettit, and the surviving outlaws were cowering in their own cells, terrified.
* * *
The testing of the Crescent was inconclusive and it was decided the army would move it by coach to Los Angeles and take it from there by train to San Francisco.