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She swallowed hard. She didn t aim to get familiar
with this child.
He waited, refusing to take his eyes off her.
 Karen, she said finally.
 Karen, he said, repeating it.  You seen my ma?
Jake could see the pain in Karen s eyes. Toussaint
could see it, too.
 Time to go, Jake said.
The boy looked from her to him then back at her.
 Come on, Jake said, standing first, then lifting
the boy into his arms.
 No.
 Have to take you into town.
 No!
He whimpered and started to squirm in Jake s
Dakota Lawman: Killing Mr. Sunday 57
arms, all the while Jake repeating that it would be all
right, telling him,  You be a good boy and I might let
you take the reins once we get started.
This seemed to do the trick.
 I m sorry I had to impose on you. Jake set the
boy onto the saddle.
She didn t say anything and he couldn t read what
she was thinking.
 You sure you don t want me to bring you back
some supplies? Toussaint said, hoping she d change
her mind, let him come back out again, just the two
of them so he could talk to her, see if he could start
building something with her again, start over, maybe.
 No, I don t need anything, Marshal. I m fine,
she said, as though it was Jake who asked her and not
Toussaint. Toussaint felt the sting of her rejection and
didn t say any more, but mounted up and turned his
mule s head out toward the road.
She stood and watched them leave and it felt some-
how not what she wanted.
Karen saw the gray flycatcher sitting on the pump
handle as though lost.
9
gh
hey were three men with weary but similar trail-
Tworn features: Zack, Zebidiah, and Zane Stone.
Tennesseans by birthright, but long removed from
that place since the end of the war when they d come
home as downtrodden rebels with naught but a single
mule and two muskets between them, thanks to the
good generosity of one General U.S. Grant, goddamn
him and his Union.
The farm they left to go off and fight in such places
as Day s Gap and Hatchie s Bridge and Bristoe Station
wasn t much of a farm to start with forty acres of
rocky hillside in the highlands of eastern Tennessee.
But whatever the little farm had been when they left
was a lot less now upon their return and they were
disinclined to be farmers having been soldiers. They
were none of them content to walk behind the mule
with a single-blade plow tearing up rocky ground just
to plant corn seed they couldn t afford and live in a
leaky-roofed cabin that time and marauding Yankees
had misused. Such was the work of common men, of
men who didn t know any better, who hadn t gone
Dakota Lawman: Killing Mr. Sunday 59
off to see the elephant. They had, all three, and they d
liked what the elephant looked like.
And so the eldest of them, Zeb, said,  Guddamn,
what if anything has this war taught us but the power
of a gun and to be men who ain t afraid to use it? A
gun and each other is about all any of us can count on
in this old life and I m ready to head on out to Texas
where men such as we can make a go of it. And you
all can by gud join me or stay here and fit your hands
to that plow yonder, and that mule, too. You can eat
brittle corn till it comes out your ears and asses and sit
around here and get old and wait for something to
happen: gud s grace or the whatnot, but by gud, not
me. I done seen the elephant and you boys have, too,
and we all lived to tell about it.
 What you have in mind? the youngest, Zane,
asked.  Once t we get to Texas? Becoming highway-
men? Because all we know put together you could put
in a snuff can. Hell we can t even raise corn if n some-
one was to stick a gun in our ear and say  grow corn
or else. 
 No sir, we ain t gone be no guddamn highway-
men unless n we have to; and I ain t saying it might
not come to that someday. But our folks taught us
better n to be robbers and thieves.
 Then what is it you re planning? Zack, the mid-
dle boy, said,  if n not farmers and not highwaymen?
 I reckon there s by gud rewards to be collected on
lawbreakers is what I m thinking. Bounty hunters is
what I m thinking.
 You mean manhunters? Zack asked.
 By gud, that s what I mean. It d beat shit out of
working a farm or selling dry goods, or begging in the
60 Bill Brooks
streets. Shit fire, ain t nothing here for us ns now that
the Yanks have come through. Why I wouldn t even
screw these wimmen round here for knowing the
Yanks has been at them. You see anything here worth
staying for?
They looked upon the homestead, the leaning old
buildings, the weeds grown high as a man s belly, the
distant blue hills, the empty sky, an old rusted pail,
and shook their collective heads.
 How we find these lawbreakers with rewards on
 em? Zane wondered aloud as they headed west af-
ter scratching the initials gtt (gone to texas) on
their front door, the three of them riding in a buck-
board pulled by the one war mule between them.
 Shit fire, all we have to do is stop at any United
States Federal Marshal s office and ask, I reckon.
And so that s what they did soon as they reached
Fort Smith and were told there d be plenty of law-
breakers the other side of the Arkansas River, but
duly warned not to interfere with the legal law.
 The Nations is full of bad actors, the marshal
said.  But by God don t you ever get in the way of one
of my men or I ll have you standing before Judge
Parker. He is known about these parts as the Hanging
Judge. I  spect you ve heard about him, ain t you?
 Fucken Yankee, from what I know, Zeb said.
 But don t worry about us none, we re just looking to
make a go of it doing what we do best.
Zeb took a handful of dodgers and stuffed them
inside his shirt.
They caught their first man a rapist named Fair-
pond shot and killed him in a tavern in Poteau when
he tried to put up a fuss, and delivered him to the
Dakota Lawman: Killing Mr. Sunday 61
Western District Marshal s office back in Fort Smith,
his corpse so stinking ripe by the time they arrived,
they were given the one hundred dollar reward money
without an argument and an extra ten if they agreed
to bury the fellow quick and not bring any more
stinking corpses into town.
 Shit fire, dead stink don t bother us none, Zeb
said, taking the reward money in hand.  We spent
three years smelling that particular stink from
Ezra s Church to Fort Pulaski. We was oft on burial
details, my brothers and me. July and August, was the
worst. Heat will turn a human ripe in no time.
They d slowly and inexorably worked their way
farther and farther west over the next several years,
crossing Indian Territory and into the pistol barrel be-
fore crossing the border into Texas. Texas proved to
be fruitful for quite some time: plenty of badmen with
rewards on their heads, many of them ex-Confederates
like themselves, busted and down on their luck and
knowing only one thing: how to use a gun.
 One, a man named Albert Bush said,  you all
sound Southern, like myself, and asked if they had
served in the war and they said they had, and he said,
 Then you understand how it is, and they said they
did but it didn t make a shit of a bit of difference to
them and for him to throw his hands up or make his
play.
Several years came and went as they scoured the
state, sometimes running into what Zeb called  the
nigger police and once they nearly shot it out with
that bunch, but tempers got cooled in time. And after
they got most of the big fish Emmitt Brown, the
Pecos Kid, and Sam Savage and collected the money
62 Bill Brooks
on them, there wasn t much but little fish left and they
grew weary of chasing all over the endless Texas for
as sometimes as little as fifty dollars and decided that
the north country might suit them better. One thing
they heard that attracted them was that a fellow could [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]