Slade peeked his head around the corner of the late Townsend’s Blacksmith Shop. The only sign of life was a lone bunny rabbit hopping across the street.
Wearing Joe’s silver tipped bullet bandolier across his chest, Slade took Sarah by the hand and gave the group the all clear.
“Move,” he commanded.
Gunther and Miss Bonnie followed, weapons at the ready. Miles, wearing his blanket like a cloak, crossed the street next.
The Reverend stuck with Miles.
Doc and Annabelle brought up the rear.
“Bunny!” Annabelle cried out uncontrollably as soon as she saw the big eared hare.
Her outburst was immediately met with a shush laden rebuke from the group.
“You must keep your voice down, my dear,” Doc whispered.
“But he’s so adorable!” Annabelle whispered back.
“Then we shall get you a hundred rabbits as soon as we cross the Mississippi,” Doc whispered.
“I don’t know if I need a hundred,” Annabelle replied. “That’d be so cute though. I could take a bath in bunnies.”
“Will you two shut your gobs?” Miss Bonnie asked.
Slade reached the livery first. He kicked open the front door. Chance reared back on his hind legs and whinnied loudly until he recognized his rider.
Miss Bonnie brushed her hand along the horse’s coat to calm him down, then led him to Doc’s wagon.
She knew it instantly by the words emblazoned on the side in red paint, “Doc Farraday’s Miracle Cure-All: Embrace a Life of Good Health with Cocaine Today!”
Slade and Miss Bonnie hitched Chance up to Doc’s wagon. Then he put his hands on Sarah’s shoulders.
“Miss Lassiter is one of Highwater’s toughest citizens,” Slade said. “You’re in good hands.”
Sarah hugged Slade and held him close. “Come with me. You don’t have to save this town. The people here have clearly never appreciated you.”
“It’s not about the town anymore,” Slade said. “I need to save America, or else none of us will be safe.”
The bride pressed her lips against Slade’s. She attempted to kiss him deeply but didn’t get much in return.
“For luck,” Sarah said.
Miss Bonnie, standing just behind and to the left of Sarah, stuck a finger in her mouth and pretended to gag.
Slade ignored it. He looked to Miss Bonnie. “Just keep heading South. I’ll find you.”
He caught himself and looked at Sarah. “All of you. I’ll find all of you.”
The Reverend left his booze back at the church. A leather bound bible was the only item he carried with him.
“Well then,” the preacher said. “If we’ve all said our goodbyes, it’s onward Christian soldiers before we all become zombie chow, yes?”
Miss Bonnie hugged her ex-employee. “Annabelle, won’t you change your mind and come with us?”
“Bonnie I’ll never forget you,” Annabelle said. “You taught me everything I know about…”
The prostitute caught a glimpse of Sarah’s disapproving eyes and changed course. “About that thing…”
“Which thing?” Miss Bonnie asked. “Hell, I never once did that thing you and that pervert do in my entire life.”
“He’s the best man I’ve ever met,” Annabelle said.
“Then look harder,” Miss Bonnie replied. “I don’t trust him.”
“I do,” Annabelle said. She looked around. “Where is he anyway?”
Annabelle walked toward the door. As she got closer to it, she heard some strange sounds.
Teeth crunching on bones. Lips smacking. And an erudite doctor whispering to himself, “Oh yes…yes…so succulent…so tender…mmm…yes.”
Annabelle stepped outside and caught Doc red handed…and red faced…red everything’d. Blood had squirted all over the good doctor’s face as he chomped into the limp bunny carcass as if it were a chicken dinner.
Surprised, Doc hid the tiny, mangled bunny corpse behind his back.
Annabelle frowned. “Was that the…”
“What?” Doc asked.
“What are you hiding behind your back?” Annabelle asked.
“Nothing my dear.”
Doc’s blank eyes darted up and to the right as he whistled a jaunty tune and pretended that everything was fine.
Annabelle stood there waiting with her hands on her hips. Finally, Doc realized the jig was up and revealed the deceased bunny.
“I’m sorry, my dear,” Doc said as he hanged his head down. “It would seem that I have a problem.”