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Excerpt for Pulpternative by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


PULPTERNATIVE


Stories by


Gordon Dymowski
Dragan Stajic
Frank Sonderborg



Published by Pro Se Press at Smashwords


PULPTERNATIVE

A Pro Se Publications


All rights reserved under U.S. and International copyright law. This book is licensed only for the private use of the purchaser. May not be copied, scanned, digitally reproduced, or printed for re-sale, may not be uploaded on shareware or free sites, or used in any other manner without the express written permission of the author and/or publisher. Thank you for respecting the hard work of the author.

Cowboy of the Dakotas - Gordon Dymowski

The Totem of the Cursed - Dragan Stajic

Copenhagen Assault - Frank Sonderborg

Editing by Greg Cabaniss


Cover Art by Larry Nadolsky

Book Design by Antonino Lo Iacono

New Pulp Logo Design by Sean E. Ali

New Pulp Seal Design by Cari Reese


Pro Se Productions, LLC

133 1/2 Broad Street

Batesville, AR, 72501

870-834-4022


editorinchief@prose-press.com

www.prose-press.com


PULPTERNATIVE

© 2016 Each Respective Author





Cowboy of the Dakotas
By
Gordon Dymowski

Chapter one

Pulling the reins tight, Theodore Roosevelt brought his wagon to a dead stop. Through the lenses of his spectacles, he saw a large, long-haired, greasy-looking fat man holding a knife to an Indian’s throat. A small crowd of onlookers was gathering. Roosevelt knew things might be tense in Medora, but he never guessed that there would be open warfare in the streets.

Jumping down from the wagon, Roosevelt gripped the handle of his revolver, preparing to draw if necessary. As the large man’s accomplice a tall, lanky fellow clad in typical ranch wearapproached, the fat man pressed the blade of the knife into the Indian’s throat and stared directly at Roosevelt.

“Put the knife down,” Roosevelt’s eyes locked with the fat man’s. “Nobody deserves to be treated like that. Not even him.”

“Not your fight, Four-Eyes!”

Despite the knife to his throat, the Indian swung his hand backwards hoping to strike the fat man in the leg. Drawing his pistol, Roosevelt cocked the hammer back and took aim with one smooth arc.

“Again, put the knife down,” Roosevelt warned, his temper exacerbated by wearing a leather hunting outfit on a pleasant spring day.

“Bet I slit this red man’s throat before you fire off one shot, Four Eyes!” the fat man gloated, glancing towards his companion who was watching Roosevelt and preparing to draw his weapon.

Almost without thinking, Roosevelt squeezed the trigger of his revolver. Feeling the force of the bullet entering his shoulder, the fat man stumbled backwards and released the knife from his grip. As the Indian quickly crouched and picked up the knife, the tall accomplice drew his gun. In a swift blur of action, the Indian sprinted and slashed the knife upward, cutting into the man’s arm.

Aiming for the fat man’s thigh, Roosevelt fired a second shot and then aimed the gun at the ranch hand who was grasping his own arm. He wasn’t bleeding, but he was obviously hurt.

“What’s your name?” Roosevelt growled.

The tall man stammered, watching his rotund colleague attempt to limp. “Rance…Rance Massey. He’s Jackson….don’t know his first name.”

Roosevelt turned towards the Indian. In response, the Indian introduced himself. “I am Marak. I came here to find out where my people are being held. These two men interfered.”

As a fair-haired man approached riding a horse, the crowd began dispersing. As he rode closer to Roosevelt and Marak, both men noticed the golden sheriff’s star on the lapel of his vest. That easily explained the sudden disinterest of the crowd.

“Massey, Jackson,” the sheriff stated. “Get out of here. Now.”

As he helped Jackson to his feet, Massey wrapped his arm around Jackson’s shoulder, providing him support. As both men limped away, the sheriff approached Roosevelt.

“Name’s Walton, John Walton. And we’re much obliged Mr…?”

“Roosevelt. Theodore Roosevelt. I….saw the big one with a knife on this man’s throat,” he pointed to Marak. “And I just had to do something.”

“We’re….obliged, I guess,” Walton regarded both men with suspicion. “But I must admit that I’m having a bit of trouble placing your accent, Mr. Roosevelt.”

“Originally from New York. Own some land about 30 miles from here. Planning to spend some time here in town on business and then become a rancher.”

“Deep in the heart of the Dakota badlands? Don’t they have ranches in New York?”

Saying nothing, Roosevelt took inventory of his surroundings. Despite the famous Dakota deserts, this town (Medora, if his memory was correct) stood in the middle of a lush set of woods right off the Little Missouri River.

“Too civilized,” Roosevelt countered. “Too much ignoble ease. I prefer leading a more strenuous life.”

Fully aware that Roosevelt would not be forthcoming, Walton waved both men towards a building with a large window that announced HOTEL in gold embossed letters.

“Why not join me for lunch? Hotel down the road serves some great food.”

Sighing slightly, Roosevelt regarded himself in the reflection of a local store window: full leather hunting gear, hair plastered to his head by sweat, his spectacles placed firmly on his face. After months of living on the road heading deep into the frontier, Roosevelt thought this would be a relief, especially given the task he had assigned himself.

“Sure,” Roosevelt shrugged. “Hopefully I can order some supplies, check into one of the roomscould use a decent bath and stay for a few days.”

Walton turned towards Marak, and with some awkwardness in his voice, stated, “You are more than welcome to join us.”

Hesitating for a few moments, Marak eased slightly towards both men. They had not given him any reason to not trust them….at least not yet.

Almost in response, Roosevelt reached into an inner pocket of his hunting jacket and withdrew an envelope. Handing it to Marak, Roosevelt asked, “Would you mind visiting the general store and purchasing some supplies?”

Taking the envelope in hand, Marak showed surprise at Roosevelt’s action.

“Of course we will,” Walton stated. “I’ll head up with him to avoid any trouble.”

“Fine,” Roosevelt said as he approached the wagon, withdrew a large wrapped parcel and returned towards the men. “Looks like there’s a barber right by the hotel. After months on the road, I will definitely need to clean up before lunch. I will join the both of you in about two hours.”

Heading towards the hotel, Roosevelt turned to see Walton and Marak make their way onto the wagon. Stifling the urge to smile, Roosevelt turned and headed down the long dusty road.

***


“When will we see our people again, Mr. Clanton?” a young Indian woman asked the stern-faced man.

Turning towards her, the man calling himself Clanton flashed an evil sardonic smile. Flinching somewhat, the Indian woman shuffled backwards, then made her way back towards the village. Hearing sounds, Clanton moved towards their source. Within moments he found himself watching several village tribesmen loading bushels of grain onto his wagon. Thankfully, this village was only about half a day’s travel by horse, and having three horses pulling the wagon eased travel time somewhat. Right now, his men would be working to make sure nothing got out of hand and that this particular caper would run smoothly.

Allowing himself a moment of introspection, Clanton realized that much had happened since …what was it the papers called it? The Great Tombstone Massacre.

It seemed several lifetimes ago; a different name, a different face, a different set of circumstances. Running his hand over his face, Clanton realized the harsh stubble was a sign he needed to shave. After all, facial hair might betray his true identity. He had worked too hard on this to risk anyone learning who he was or what he intended to do in Medora.

Hearing a rustling sound behind him, Clanton grasped the hilt of a knife holstered on his hip. Turning on the balls of his feet, Clanton saw one of the young warriors of the village approaching him with great speed.

“You!” he pointed accusingly. “Tell me when will you let our people go?”

Keeping his grip on the hilt of his knife, Clanton smiled. His voice purred with confidence. “I’m not holding your people, far from it. I’m trying to negotiate their release.”

“Liar!” the warrior countered. “You are working with them! You take our harvest, our food, have your way with our women….and you have done nothing.

As the warrior’s grip tightened on his tomahawk, Clanton stepped backward, hoping to draw the warrior away from the small path.

“Now, see here…” Clanton paused to remember the Indian’s name.

“Laren,” the warrior spat, regarding Clanton with suspicion.

Clanton urged, “Let’s not lose our patience…”

Pointing the tomahawk at Clanton, the warrior stated accusingly, “Lose patience? You dare mock us? I know about the stories, about who you work for.”

“Really?” Clanton arched an eyebrow.

“A murderer. A criminal from Arizona. A man named Earp.”

As Clanton’s face twisted into a smile, the warrior regarded him with confusion.

“One of my tribe went to town this morning,” Laren announced, standing straighter and tightening his grip on his tomahawk, “to attempt to talk sense to your people.”

Maintaining his intense gaze, Clanton developed a slight sense of worry. However, now was not the time to panic. Plans were going smoothly. Laren’s accusations were as meaningless as his tribe’s “smoke signals”

“Really?”

“He left earlier this morning,” the warrior’s arm tensed as he held his tomahawk. “Long before you came.”

“Well, you’re wrong about one thing,” the man called Clanton grinned, removing the knife from its sheath. “I don’t work for Earp.”

For a moment, the warrior and Clanton watched each other cautiously. Behind the warrior, Clanton’s wagon stood filled with bushels of grain and vegetables. With their job completed, the Indians would be settling into their lodges for the afternoon, and there would be no reason to stay.

The white man smiled while brandishing the knife, and Laren understood. Clanton was Earp. Wyatt Earp, the mastermind of the Tombstone Massacre.

Stirred into action, Laren swung his tomahawk at Earp. With a swift movement, Earp ducked and plunged the knife straight into Laren’s belly. As Earp pulled the bloody knife away, Laren fell to the ground and dropped his tomahawk. Touching the area that hurt the most, Laren stared at his hand which was now red and sticky with blood. Feeling light-headed, the Indian attempted, and failed, to lift himself from the ground.

Slipping into unconsciousness, Laren heard a distant voice declare, “Not really worth it to keep this up.”

Staring upwards, Laren saw Earp’s face slowly fading into darkness. Earp’s voice sounded increasingly distant as Laren slipped out of consciousness.

“Good luck in the happy hunting ground, red man.”

With a final heavy grunt, Laren took his final breath. Stepping over the now bloody corpse, Earp slipped the knife back into its sheath on his hip. Crouching for a moment, Earp picked up the tomahawk. At the very least, it would provide further fuel for this melodrama.

Throwing the tomahawk into the wagon, Earp climbed onto the wooden seat. As Earp shook the reins and yelled “Hee-yah!” the horses began galloping with great speed, pulling the wagon away from the outskirts of the village.

Within a few hours, Earp would be back in town under his assumed name, with fortune and power within his grasp. Just as it was in every other town he visited.


***


Making his way towards a table at the rear of the hotel’s dining room, Theodore Roosevelt caught the crowd’s attention. Dressed in a rather plain suit with stiffly starched shirt, a quick bath and visit to the barber’s had transformed Roosevelt into a member of polite society.

Finding the table where Walton and Marak were sitting, Roosevelt sat down as a petite brown-haired waitress approached them. Ordering the “lunch special”, Roosevelt moved his chair closer to the table as Marak handed him a folded sheet of paper.

Opening the sheet of paper, Roosevelt carefully lingered over each line of text and then regarded both men. “Yes, everything I’ve ordered is all here. I take delivery in two days.”

“Have to say,” Walton responded. “Heads turned when Marak handed them those large bills.”

“My people….have no use for currency,” was Marak’s response.

Both Walton and Marak observed Roosevelt and were slightly beleaguered by the man’s behavior. A few hours ago, he was a hunter on a wagon, defending a man he barely knew against two other men. Now he appeared to be one of Medona elite or perhaps a colleague of the town’s founder.

“So far, neither do I,” Roosevelt responded. “At least not right now. I am more interested in hunting than anything else.”

Both Walton and Marak noticed a slight weary twinkle in Roosevelt’s eyes. Marak also noted a great sadness and weariness in Roosevelt’s visage but said nothing.

“So you’re a hunter?” Walton asked.

“Yes,” Roosevelt said as the waitress began placing plates of food in front of each man. “More of a rancher…but sometimes the urge to explore, to seek out prey can be quite….enthralling.”

Sounds of metal clashing on porcelain filled the dining area as the three men enjoyed their lunch. As the conversation progressed, Walton and Marak found Roosevelt to be a mix of contradictions. The polite, refined speech counterpointed with a sheer, almost brutal personal drive. Neither man could determine whether Roosevelt was running towards something or away from something else….or both. As far as either man was concerned, Roosevelt was a man haunted by something that he would never acknowledge. He appeared more interested in facing forward than in looking back.

“So tell me,” Roosevelt continued, oblivious to their past conversation. “How are things in town?”

Walton hesitated for a moment, finished chewing his food, swallowed and began, “For a new town, we’re doing well. Growing every day. Right near the Northwest railroad line. Very scenic country. A lot of great people live here and are hoping to make it their own town.”

Aware that Walton was regarding him suspiciously, Marak continued, “Things for my people go well….but we are a bit disturbed by how townspeople, one in particular, are treating us.”

“You might get more respect,” Walton argued, “if your people were treating my people with the same respect you request.”

Smiling, Roosevelt took a swig of coffee. “So things are tense. The Indians are allegedly holding your people prisoner, Walton, and Walton’s people are holding your people hostage. Right, Marak?”

Both men were stunned at Roosevelt’s immediate conclusion. Reaching into the front pocket of his jacket, Roosevelt unfolded a sheet of paper and placed it on the table. WANTED was printed along the top with a picture of a haggard looking man with mustache and beard. Below his picture was printed “$50,000 DEAD OR ALIVE.”

“Heard about this fellow back in New York,” Roosevelt stated. “He worked a similar game in Wyoming, Nebraska and Missouri. Have either of you heard of the infamous Spanish Prisoner?”

As both men shook their heads, Roosevelt shoveled forkfuls of ham and potatoes into his mouth and spoke between chews. “Trick works like this: a confidence man informs his victim that he knows of a nobleman being held for ransom in Spain. Perhaps there is even another who verifies the confidence man’s story, makes sure it’s believable.”

Both Marak and Walton nodded in understanding.

“The confidence man then states that there is a large ransom, and that he is collecting from a pool of smaller funds to release this prisoner. So if the ransom is $10,000….”

“…the confidence man may only ask for $500.”

“Precisely,” Roosevelt swallowed. “But there is no prisoner, only the loss of a small amount.”

“That makes sense,” Marak’s face beamed in understanding. “For several weeks, men who claim to be from this town have been collecting our crops, claiming that it is ransom to release members of another village from servitude.”

“Wait a-“ Walton spat, confused. “We’ve never had any of your people held hostage. In fact, your people have been holding several of our settlers hostage in the woods. That’s why we’ve been sending you meat from the packing plant, as well as our hard earned cash….”

“Logically, Walton,” Roosevelt scolded, “what would an Indian village do with money?”

“It’s not for them,” Walton countered. “It’s for the men who are negotiating for their release. It’s Massey, who you met this morning, and Virgil Clanton.”

“Really?” As Roosevelt raised his voice, both Walton and Marak listened with great interest. “Because the man in that picture is a well-known confidence man who has worked the same scheme I told you about.”

Grabbing the sheet, Walton stared at it for a few moments. “Wyatt Earp….wasn’t he?”

“Yes, Wyatt Earp, the mastermind of the Tombstone Massacre. He has swindled at least three towns of their hard-earned funds. Perhaps more.”

Placing the sheet back down on the table, Walton declared, “This fella…seems awful familiar.”

“That’s why I’m hoping to catch him.”

“But how will you begin?” Marak stated.

“With a good long hike in the woods, followed by an early bedtime,” Roosevelt declared.

Neither Marak nor Walton showed confidence in Roosevelt’s declaration.

“I’ve had a long ride,” Roosevelt admitted. “I think I’m going to take it easy for the rest of the day.”

***


“You bumbling fool,” Earp yelled, swinging the blunt end of the tomahawk down onto Jackson’s wounded leg as he sat in front of the cave.

As the fat man yelped in pain, Clanton knew they were safe…for the time being. Both Jackson and Massey made their way back to camp. It was a nice hidden area of the woods, far enough away from the town that their nightly campfires wouldn’t be seen but close enough to Medora and several villages that a few hours on horseback wouldn’t result in a wasted day.

As the orange hue of dusk led to the lush purple of night, Massey attempted to strike flint in front of a pile of wood. Jackson sat in front of the cave, streaks running down his dirty face. A now blackened bandage wrapped was around his leg. Pacing in a straight line in front of the cave entrance, Clanton walked towards Jackson and pointed the tomahawk menacingly at him. Jackson ignored the scarring that ran along the side of Clanton’s hand.

Clanton snarled, “Do you know how much time I’ve spent working on this?”

“It was...what’s his name, Rose-a-felt?” Jackson blubbered. “He screwed us over, remember?”

Turning towards the pair, Massey announced, “That’s right, not our fault.”

Springing towards Massey, Clanton grabbed him and raised his face to eye level.

“Want me to cut that tongue out of your mouth, boy?” he asked.

Shaking off the threat, Massey returned to making the fire as Clanton approached Jackson who had managed to stand up.

Shifting onto his good leg, Jackson countered, “This is your fault! We should have never come here! This was a dumb idea. Why…”

As a sharp pain coursed through Jackson’s chest, he looked down to find the head of the tomahawk buried deep into his heart. As Jackson’s body collapsed onto the ground, Clanton turned to Massey.

“Get his horse,” Clanton commanded. “We’ll send the town a present.”



Chapter Two

Dawn over Medora does not "break" so much as it as "awakens", with shafts of soft color emerging through the deep, lush dark of night. As the sun peaks over the eastern horizon, a wave of warm air takes the edge off of the evening's chill, and many choose this time to venture out and have a small taste of serenity. "Medora Dawn" is one of the few benefits of life in the Dakota badlands, providing the townspeople an all-too-brief sense of balance between the stark cold of night and the blistering heat of day. Dawn was the only time anyone in Medora could feel comfortable, safe, relaxed and at peace.

As his horse galloped at a casual pace, Roosevelt scratched around the leather strap keeping his spectacles in place. Although he was used to a morning routine of hunting, fishing or some other activity, Roosevelt found himself tempted to dig his spurs into the horse's side and gallop towards the ranch....but that would be futile. It would take a day and a half to get there. Roosevelt had supplies to purchase and stock. But more importantly, he had a mission. He wanted to capture Earp. Sure, it was no substitute for the recent drama in the New York legislature....but he did not care anymore.

Urging his horse forward, Roosevelt found himself following the road out of town. He contemplated taking a small side road which led to a small parcel of woods. Smiling with pride, this would be a great opportunity to get his regular exercise before turning towards pursuing Earp. If his suspicions were correct, Earp wasn't too far. After all, a man who manages to convince a cowboy to murder his gang, butchers the cowboy and then murders a lawman, his own brother....

Sighing, Roosevelt straightened himself. There was no honor amongst men, and all three sources of light in his lifehis wife, mother, and daughter were snuffed on that fateful Valentine's Day. He could not even rely on justice, not the true justice and equality he desired. All Roosevelt found in the past few months was either empty-minded vigilantism or prudish legalism, and neither one served him well. If all Roosevelt had were his gun and his wits, and his life meant living in permanent exile, that was all that he wanted or needed.

The sound of hoof beats approached from behind Roosevelt, and he turned his horse around, ready to quickly draw his gun if necessary. Marak emerged riding a grant stallion, a bow casually draped around his shoulders and a quiver of arrows hanging loosely from his saddle. Wearing the simple buckskin outfit of his tribe, Marak pulled back on the reigns when he saw that he was approaching Roosevelt.

Gently prodding the horse towards Marak, Roosevelt flashed the Indian a broad smile

"I believe you had the same idea that I did. Hunting?"

"Of course,” Marak returned the smile. “Looks like a promising day.”

“We’re not the only ones,” Roosevelt pointed along the side path towards a shape stumbling out of the woods.

Neither man could determine what the shape was, but both Marak and Roosevelt began riding down the narrow, dusty side road towards the woods. As they drew closer, the figure began to take shape. It was a simple wagon, a large figure slumped in the seat with the reigns wrapped around its neck. Since there was no guidance, the horse pulling the wagon had been stumbling and attempting to find its way through the thick woods.

As the two men on horseback drew closer, the horse pulling the wagon attracted the other horses’ attention. Noting this, both riders gently steered and prodded their horses, providing some guidance to the steed pulling their wagon. Gradually, Roosevelt and Marak led the wagon down the road away from the woods to more open land. As all three came to a stop, both Roosevelt and Marak dismounted. Roosevelt grabbed a handful of feed from a saddlebag.

Approaching the horse, Roosevelt opened his hand and held a small amount of grain in front of the horse’s snout. Sniffing, the horse began eating the grain from Roosevelt’s flattened palm as Marak boarded the wagon and examined the figure. Looking up towards the wagon, Roosevelt realized the slumped figure was the greasy fat man from the day before and that Marak was examining a dark stain on his chest. Reaching over the fat man, Marak picked up a tomahawk from the floor. Its blade was covered in blood.

Throwing the tomahawk back onto the ground, Marak leapt off the wagon as Roosevelt approached on foot. As a cool breeze wafted past them, both stood and observed the wagon.

“That’s the fellow from yesterday, isn’t it?” Roosevelt pointed.

“Yes, killed with one of the weapons of my people….”

“…but?”

“My village is about a day’s ride away down the main road,” Marak argued. “Even through the woods, it would take awhile for someone to….”

“Could this miscreant have encountered someone in the woods?” Roosevelt crooked an accusing thumb at the wagon.

“The warriors of my tribe would never move his body,” Marak countered. “Even a criminal deserves to have his body laid to rest, to return to nature, not posed in an obvious attempt to bring disgrace to my tribe.

Raising his hands in a defensive gesture, Roosevelt assured, “I believe you. This is a bad attempt to bring shame to your people. Rather than leave him here, we will bring him into town. He is one of my people and deserves to be treated in death more respectfully than he treated us.

Agreeing with Roosevelt, Marak helped him hitch both their horses to the wagon. After climbing onboard, Roosevelt pushed the corpse off of the bench and into the back of the wagon, allowing Marak to climb on board. As Marak threw his quiver of arrows onto the seat next to him, Roosevelt grabbed the reins and began driving the horses back towards town at a furious pace.

Small clouds of dust drifted upwards as the wagon made its way towards town. Above the din of the hoof beats and the thumping of the wooden wheels on the road, Roosevelt yelled, “Think this is a trap?”

“Obviously,” Marak shouted back. “But we know one thing our adversaries do not know.”

“That this is a trap,” Roosevelt smiled.

Returning the smile, Marak yelled, “That is one thing I admire about you. You are a man who does the right thing despite the danger to yourself.”

“I have always felt that the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing and the absolute worst thing you can do is….”

“Nothing,” Marak interrupted.

With almost frightening speed, Roosevelt managed to drive the wagon into town just as the town awakened to morning. Women who were shopping turned to face the wagon as Roosevelt yelled, pulled back on the reins and stopped the horses. Several people emerged from the train station, having just arrived to witness frontier life firsthand. Grabbing his quiver, Marak leapt off the wagon as soon as it stopped.

“Sheriff Walton!” Roosevelt yelled, jumping off the wagon. “Come here quickly!”

Standing guard by the wagon, Roosevelt lightly grasped the butt of the revolver holstered against his hip. Noting Roosevelt’s action, Marak threw the strap of the quiver over his shoulder. As the Indian removed an arrow and fletched it on the bow, Roosevelt turned to see Walton and Massey emerge from the sheriff’s office.

“There, Sheriff, I told you!” Massey pointed and accused. “They killed my friend in the woods.”

“Really,” Roosevelt countered. “And you think we would be stupid enough to bring the body back with us? You must not think that we’re too smart.”

“Now, now, Mr. Roosevelt,” Walton stated. “I don’t know what you city folk do, but here in Medora, we take things at face value.”

“See for yourself,” Roosevelt waved the sheriff towards the wagon. As Massey attempted to approach, Roosevelt drew his gun and aimed directly at Massey’s heart. Looking past Roosevelt, Massey saw Marak drawing an arrow back. Its razor-sharp obsidian head was pointed directly at him.

Leaping onto the wagon, Walton’s form huddled over the dead body. Turning it over, Walton examined the dark stain on Jackson’s torso. After running his fingers along the edge of the wound, Walton struggled to lift the large man’s body to examine underneath. With great difficulty, Walton managed to lift the corpse a few inches, but there was nothing under the body. Nothing within his line of sight struck Walton as significant.

Finding a small crowd gathering to witness events, Walton climbed down from the wagon and approached the men. Walton calmly asked, “Where’s the weapon?”

“What?” Massey asked. “It should be in the wagon.”

“And how would you know, dear sir?” Roosevelt sneered.

Hesitating for a moment, Massey found himself mentally searching for the right words. As Walton moved away, Massey shrugged and appeared totally confused.

“But he’s dead with a tomahawk wound …”

“You are not very smart, are you?” Pointing at Massey, Roosevelt’s voice boomed with authority. “You and your boss, Clanton, or Earp, or whatever he’s calling himself today, fumbled in your plans. The local tribes aren’t holding settlers hostage.”

“And my people aren’t being held against their will here,” Marak concluded, pulling the drawstring on his bow tighter. He maintained a constant aim at Massey.

“Give it up,” Roosevelt commanded. “There is a bounty on your boss’ head, and I intend to collect. You can either surrender now or suffer the consequences.”

“Really,” Massey turned, spat on the ground and caught Roosevelt with a steady gaze. “Gonna buy yourself a new pair of glasses? ‘Cause you ain’t seein’ well?’

Smiling and brimming with confidence, Roosevelt declared, “Of course I haven’t. Frequent visits to the brothel have affected my eyesight. By the way, your mother says hello.”


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