“Aw hell,” Gunther said. “Take a walk, boys. Slade won fair and square.”
“I don’t care,” Rufus said, pointing at Jack’s corpse. “That man was my brother. And my cousin. He was my brother-cousin.”
“Who gives a shit?” Gunther asked. “Jack certainly didn’t give one about any of you. Hell, everybody knows he sold out Artie Buchanan’s whereabouts to Wyatt Earp for fifty dollars and a jug of moonshine.”
“That’s a goddamn lie!” Rufus said.
“Yeah,” Frank added. “It was two jugs of moonshine!”
“I got this,” Slade said.
“No you do not,” Gunther said. “Three against one! That’s not fair at all.”
“Get out of here,” Slade said.
Gunther didn’t budge. Doc, on the other hand, hightailed it back to Annabelle.
“What are you doing?” Annabelle asked. “Slade needs you!”
“Oh,” Doc said. “Do you think so?”
“Yes!” Annabelle said. “You taught him everything he knows!”
“Indeed I did,” Doc said. “But you heard the man, my dear. He wishes to bravely face this challenge on his own and who am I to step between a man and his destiny?”
Annabelle shoved Doc. “Get out there!”
Doc returned to the duo. “Ahem,” he said. “Yes, it seems I should very much like to back you up, Mr. Slade.”
“Atta boy Doc,” Gunther said.
“Don’t need it,” Slade said. “Don’t need either of you. Get lost.”
“Nothin’ doin’,” Gunther said. “There’s never been a day that I didn’t have a marshal’s back and I aint about to start now.”
“Yes, well,” Doc said. “I don’t recall ever being officially deputized so, good day gentlemen.”
Doc looked at Annabelle’s disappointed face and stayed put.
“Woman making you feel guilty, huh?” Gunther asked.
“Yes,” Doctor said. “She’s positively vile in the boudoir. I theorize she may be my soulmate.”
The crowd backed off to give the men room. The Buchanans fanned out in a line, each one ready to draw. Slade and his allies did the same. Doc faced Frank. Slade faced Rufus. Gunther faced Buck.
Every man drew and Doc produced his revolvers by flicking his wrists. The ancillary Buchanans weren’t half the gunslinger that Jack was. Slade and Gunther’s opponents were dead on the ground before they could even squeeze off a shot.
Doc’s shot missed its mark but pierced Frank’s hand, forcing him to drop his pistol. Frank and Doc stared each other down.
“Yield, sir,” Doc said.
With blood gushing out of his right hand, Frank eyeballed his gun as it laid on the ground. Doc fired a warning shot at Frank’s feet.
Frank dove for it. Doc fired and missed.
“Aw fuck this Queensbury rules bullshit,” Gunther said as he pumped a round into Frank before he could get his hands on the gun.
The crowd went wild. Cheers, applause, hoots and hollers.
Annabelle threw herself at Doc. “My hero!”
“Yes indeed,” Doc said. “Well what would this world be if men of impeccable character such of myself did nothing in the face of evil?”
“I told you I didn’t need you,” Slade said.
“I know,” Gunther said. “Maybe some of us need you. Maybe some of us might miss you if you were gone. You ever think of that?”
Slade struck a match and lit his cigar. “Thanks.”
“Holy shit,” Gunther said. “Rainer Slade thanking somebody. I might keel over from the surprise.”
The church door opened a crack. Sarah poked her head out. Relieved to see her groom alive, she rushed out to hug him. Slade removed his smoke to accept a long, passionate kiss.
It was followed by a slap across his face. “Don’t ever do that to me again!” Sarah cried.
With no woman to congratulate him, Gunther approached the bodies. Four men. Motionless. Lying there in pools of their own blood.
Slade rubbed the sore spot on his cheek.
“Are you trying to worry me to death, Rain?” Sarah asked.
“No,” Slade replied.
“You’re going to hang those guns up as soon as we get home and they’re never coming down again! Do you hear me?”
Gunther only had the one eye, but it usually worked well. He worried maybe it was starting to fail him when he saw Jack’s foot twitch.
“No!” Sarah shouted. “No grunts! I want an answer!”
Defeated, Slade hanged his head down. “Yes ma’am.”
“Good,” Sarah said. “And put that cigar out! You know I hate those things.”
Slade sighed and threw his smoke to the ground.
“Don’t you sigh at me,” Sarah said.
“Yes ma’am,” Slade said.
Gunther saw Jack’s foot move again. He was sure of it.
“Hey Doc,” Gunther said.
Doc and Annabelle were indisposed, whispering horrible, horrible things to each other.
Jack’s foot twitched again. People in the crowd began to notice.
“Hey!” Gunther shouted. “Doc!”
“Yes?” Doc joined Gunther.
“You ever see something like that?” Gunther asked.
Doc watched as Jack’s foot shook all over.
“It’s not uncommon,” Doc said. “Before rigor mortis sets in, the muscles have been known to move in a reflexive manner.”
An eerie groan came out of Jack. “Ungghhhhh…”
“That however,” Doc said, “Is most unusual.”
Slade ducked out of his lecture to see what the fuss was all about.
Sarah followed. “Don’t you walk away from me, Rain! I’m not going to be a widow twice in my life! I am not!”
Jack’s entire arm raised up into the air. Then the other one. All the yahoos who had been checking out Jack’s body backed off in terror.
Slade pulled his pistols. “What the…
Jack sat up. His eyes had gone blank. He growled and snarled. His jaw chomped up and down.
Rufus moved. Then Buck. Then Frank.
Slade finished his thought. “…fuck.”