Available July 7, 2015
“You’re a low-down, murderin’ bastard, Harkner! Everybody knows it. They smile to your face, but they know you’ve got no right wearin’ a badge. Wasn’t long ago you was on the other side of that badge, rottin’ in prison for robbery, rape and murder.”
“Everyone froze. Jeff had no idea why, but he felt compelled to reach over and take Randy’s hand. He was surprised at how hard she gripped his hand when he did so.
Jake remained casual and chewed on a toothpick as he spoke. “Hash, there are other people in this restaurant, including women and children, who don’t need to hear your trash talk. Why don’t you just go home?”
Hash Bryant raised the shotgun.
Jake rested his right hand on his gun. “Don’t even think about it, Hash,” he warned. “Not in here. I don’t intend to make a mess of Sadie’s restaurant. She’s a nice lady.”
The restaurant became so silent Jeff could hear water boiling somewhere. He noticed Randy close her eyes. Her grip on his hand was beginning to hurt.
“I’m thinkin’ that when I beat you within an inch of your life, Harkner, I want it to be when you’re healed up. A man can’t brag about beatin’ on somebody who’s wounded.”
Jake folded his arms. “Well, that’s very gentlemanly of you, Hash. I didn’t know the Bryants had a sense of honor, considering what your sons did to that fifteen-year-old girl they holed up with after robbing that bank. I’ve done pretty much everything people say I’ve done, but I’ve never abused a woman. After what I saw out there when I arrested your boys, I have no problem with my son abusing your son, as you put it.”
Hash squinted his eyes, never moving from Jake’s gaze. “A man can’t always be responsible for what his son does, now, can he? I hear yours is no angel … followed in his pa’s footsteps for a while, or so I’m told … a murderin’, theivin’, whorein’ outlaw … so don’t be tellin’ me about sons, Harkner. And you ain’t one to be talkin’ about honor. I’ve lost two sons on account of you! Two! Ted and Gordy both, and both by your gun! I’d say that requires some pay-back. Your son is still alive!”
Jake just glared at Bryant, keeping his arms folded. Jeff had a feeling that if it weren’t for his leg, Jake would launch into Hash Bryant right now and drag him out into the street.
“I’d suggest that once you leave town with Brad, you stay out of town, Hash. It would be best if I didn’t see your face again, understand? If I see you in town any time soon, I’ll throw you in jail just for being here!”
The water kept boiling, and Jeff could hear a clock ticking on the wall behind him.
“This ain’t over, Harkner.”
“Maybe not. But your wife has lost two sons because they were thieves and rapists. I’m sure she mourns them anyway, but don’t add losing her husband to the picture. Go home Hash. Make any more trouble and I’ll come after every damn one of you. And if anyone in my family gets hurt, I’ll kill every last Buckley and Bryant who are left!”
Hash Bryant looked around at others in the restaurant. “You hear that? A lawman who executes his prisoners!” He turned to Jake. “Maybe that’s somethin’ my Marty is willin’ to risk.”
Jake stiffened even more. “Where is he, Hash? Where’s Marty?”
“I got no idea.”
“The hell you don’t! I’ll find him, and if I find you with him, you’ll die right along with your son! It would go easier on you if you owned up right now where I can find Marty!”
“Find him yourself, Harkner,” Hash sneered. He glanced sidelong at Randy. “And keep your family in town where it’s safer while you’re at it.”
Jake stormed toward him and ripped the shotgun right out of his hand. “Get out, Hash! You are truly pushing your luck. I am real tempted to change my mind about not leaving body parts all over this restaurant!”