“What is it?” Boyce snarls. He’s not a patient man.
“We take it with us,” I say.
His face twists up just like I knew it was going to. “That’s the biggest damnfool idea I ever heard,” he snaps. “Were you planning on putting it in your pocket?”
“You didn’t let me finish.”
“Oh, good, there’s more to your brilliant plan.”
“You got a lasso don’t you?” I ask Grady. He nods. “How about you, Slow Eye?” He nods too. Timmons nods before I can ask him. I turn back to Boyce. “We drag it with the horses. Haul it up that rocky knob off to the south and push it off the cliff. That oughtta bust it open.”
For a long moment Boyce just keeps up with that poison mean stare he’s got, then he nods and one corner of his mouth quirks up a little. “That just might work. Not bad, half-breed.”
“I told you before, Boyce,” I say levelly. “My name’s Ace. Use it.”
I know I’m probably a fool to brace Boyce like this, especially when he’s already all riled up, but I also know his type. He’s a bully, plain and simple. Every time I let him get away with treating me like that it gets harder to walk him back. I need to let him know I’m not Timmons or Slow Eye that he can just run roughshod over.
Boyce takes a step toward me, his pistol pointing at my gut. I don’t step back. My finger tightens just a smidge on the trigger of my Colt. Just a hair’s breadth more and he’s getting a quick trip to boot hill.
“I don’t see how the two of you killing each other dead’s going to help us bust open this safe,” Grady drawls.
Boyce’s eyes flick to him, then back to me. “We might have to have us a scrap later,” he hisses.
“I ain’t hunting trouble, but I won’t run from it neither,” I reply. Fists, knives or iron, I believe I can take him either way. Growing up with the Apaches like I did, I’ve been fighting since I could walk.
“Let’s get this safe out of here,” Grady says, holstering his gun and heading for the door. I step aside to let him pass, still keeping my eyes on Boyce.
“You heard him,” Boyce says, turning on Timmons and Slow Eye. “Get your horses over here and shake out those ropes.” He puts his gun away and brushes past me like he never saw me at all.
We pulled down our handkerchiefs after we got in the freight car and now everyone pulls them back up before jumping out. Don’t want the passengers getting too good of a look at us. Being an outlaw gets a whole lot harder with your face plastered on wanted posters from here to Mexico.
Gimpy is climbing down out of the passenger car when we get out, a bulging gunny sack in one fist. From the other end of the car Bill and Wilson get out. Up to the front of the train, keeping a gun on the engineer, is Terry.
Boyce spots Gimpy and yells at him. “You get that marshal trussed up good?”
“Ain’t no marshal,” Gimpy yells back. “Just passengers.”
That makes me uncomfortable. There was supposed to be a marshal on this train. I start looking around, wondering if he’s drawing bead on us right then.
“Are you sure? You better damn well be sure!”
“I’m sure! I reckon I know what a marshal looks like.”
“I don’t reckon you know what your own ass looks like, less you’re holding it in your hands,” Boyce shoots back. This draws a guffaw from Slow Eye. I think that boy is simple.
Gimpy scowls and limps over to his horse, tied to a tree along with the rest a ways back from the tracks. He gets called Gimpy on account of one leg is shorter than the other. He doesn’t like it much, but monikers like that have a way of sticking with a man regardless.
“Did we get anything good?” Slow Eye calls to him. “Remember, I want a watch.”
“I don’t know why,” Gimpy grumbles, still mad that Slow Eye laughed at him. “You can’t tell time anyhow.”
“Y’all shut up and get over here with your horses!” Boyce yells. He’s still standing by the freight car. “You too, Gimpy!”
Bill and Wilson come up then. “Where’s the bang?” Wilson asks. “How come I didn’t hear no dynamite going off?”
“Because that fool Timmons got it wet, that’s why!”
“What’re we going to do?”
Boyce waves off to the south. We’re not far from the Rockies and you can see the sharp bluff I was talking about plain as day. “We’re going to drag the safe up there and push it off. Break it like an egg.”
Wilson is tall and lean. Real lean. Like a cadaver. His face looks like God pinched it shut when he was born. He ponders this for a moment, his face screwing up tighter than ever. “You figure that will work?”
“How in the blazes should I know?” Boyce snaps. “But what else we got?”
Wilson’s got no answer to that. “Get in that car and get ready to tie the ropes off on the safe.” Wilson climbs into the freight car grumbling under his breath. He might be the laziest person I ever met.
In pretty short order Timmons, Slow Eye, Gimpy and Grady have their ropes on the safe and are waiting for the order from Boyce. Everyone else is mounted up and kind of milling around. Still feeling a little jumpy about the missing marshal—my grandfather would have said what I felt was a rattlesnake lying in my shadow—I’m parked on my horse, Coyote, away from the rest of them, my eyes roving over the train.
That’s how come I’m the only one who sees the door on the other freight car slide open just a hair and a rifle barrel come sliding out.
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“What is it?” Boyce snarls. He’s not a patient man.