Jabin Dunley drained his coffee-cup and moved out onto the porch of the marshal’s office to catch the sunrise. Any other day, he would be heading home for some shut-eye about now. At nineteen years old, he had achieved his life’s dream: he was a lawman. Even if he was only Marshal Ernie Farrar’s night deputy, it still counted, and there was nothing said he had to be just a cow-town night deputy forever. That’s what he told himself these three weeks on the job, anyway. He wished he could believe it today, wished he could believe there was a long career ahead of him. 

Jabin wished the marshal, or even his day deputy, Ben Thomas, was in town. But neither had been in Aldensville for two days, and might not be back for several more. Both the marshal and his deputy were also sheriff’s deputies—giving them authority outside of town limits—and Sheriff Vail called on them for the manhunt for some prisoners escaped from the state prison. That left Jabin Dunley in charge. 

Before leaving, Marshal Farrar offered to temporarily deputize another man to assist Jabin, but Dunley declined. Aldensville was peaceful at the moment and this was a chance to prove himself worthy of the responsibility entrusted to him. The marshal was skeptical, but allowed it, thinking along the same lines. Marshal Farrar, Deputy Thomas, and a sheriff’s deputy from Crystal Forks rode out to join the sheriff’s posse, leaving Aldensville in the young man’s hands. 

That same afternoon, Jabin Dunley killed a man.

*

Dunley sat on the wooden loveseat that Marshal Farrar and his wife, Annie, favored on pleasant evenings. The morning cart came rattling along, sprinkling water to keep the dust down. Otherwise, Aldensville was quiet, still sleeping beneath a blanket of half-shadow and first light. 

Jabin took the makings from his shirt pocket and began to roll a smoke, but his jittery hands threatened to spill the loose tobacco. He wanted a cigarette desperately, but he had no dexterity the last couple days. He didn’t have to wonder why. Not wanting to waste tobacco, he stuffed the works back into his pocket, crumpled the sheet of rolling-paper and tossed it into the street. 

The sound of a slamming door caught Dunley’s ear. A moment later, Sam Turner, the swamper at the Longhorn Saloon, came drag-footing up the street. He arrived in town about the same time Jabin became a deputy. Nobody knew much about the man, except that he was somewhere past fifty and about the sloppiest drunk Aldensville ever saw.

“Howdy, Deputy Dunley,” the older man called.

“Morning, Mr. Turner.”

“Pretty day, huh?” Turner ventured, sidling towards the jail’s porch, hands slipping into his pockets, trying to hide their shaking. Jabin’s eyes flicked to his own hands. He clenched them tightly, feeling a pang of sympathy for the older man.

“I guess.” The deputy looked Turner over. The old man tried to sound cheerful, but his face held the slightly pained expression of a desperate drinker before his first drink of the day. The blue of the man’s eyes was washed out, almost filmy, and beneath tangled white whiskers, his skin was sallow. If you looked hard, though, you could tell that his jaw was still firm and that it was once a face of character.

“Deputy, about t’other day. I wanted to tell you—“

“Skip it, Mr. Turner. Please.” Dunley tried not to show his strain, but his voice cracked on that last word.

Neither of them said anything for a few moments. Somewhere nearby, a rooster greeted the morning with its cockadoodledoooo!

“Say, deputy,” Turner began, his hands sliding from his pockets to grasp the porch railing. “You wouldn’t happen to have a couple bits I might borry, would you? I wouldn’t ask, only—“

“Sure, Mr. Turner.” Glad to hurry Turner on his way, Jabin dug into his hip pocket, drew out a quarter and flipped it towards the old man. Turner caught it, flashing a wide, yellow-toothed grin. He said his thanks and hurried towards the Longhorn, eager for that first drink before starting his day’s work.

Jabin watched him go, then went back into the jail. The clock over the door showed six-thirty.

*

At nine o’clock, Jabin was sifting through a pile of dodgers that came in the mail the day before, just for something to do. He was tired and a nap wouldn’t have hurt, but there was no way he could sleep. He hadn’t truly slept since the morning Marshal Farrar left. He half-wondered if he ever would again.

The clatter of a racing horse sounded in the street. Jabin stood, moved towards a window, and saw the rider had dismounted before the jail and was tying up at the rack. Jabin opened the door as the rider stepped onto the porch, beating dust from his hat, and panting from a hard ride. His eyes fell on Deputy Dunley, glided across the star on his narrow chest. “Marshal here, son?” he asked.

“No. I’m Deputy Dunley. Can I help you, sir?”

The man shook his head and pushed into the office. He flopped into the chair across from the beat-up table that served as the desk. “Hoping to help you, I suppose.”

Jabin moved to the desk, but didn’t sit. He leaned against the wall back of it and crossed his arms over his chest, trying for nonchalance. The rider looked familiar. Then it came to him: Luke Patterson, a rancher from the valley west of town. Jabin never spoke to him before, but a body ran into most everyone in the country sooner or later, at least once in a while.

“Go ahead, Mr. Patterson.”

Patterson laid his hat on the desk and looked at Jabin. “Was on my way to the Tumbling R to talk about saddle-stock with Pete Adams. I stopped at Pender’s, you know the roadhouse, out on Softbone Road?” Jabin nodded. Patterson went on. “I stopped for some breakfast, and the Mulcahey boys were in there, Josh and Ned and Mick – red-eyed and liquored and talkin’ mean about the bastard lawman who killed their brother, Eli.”

Dunley swallowed hard. This was the shoe he expected for two days, just waiting for it to fall on his head.

*

The Mulcaheys were bad men, both in the outlaw sense and that they were bad men to tangle with. All four had been hands for the Squared Oh outfit, men who could punch cows, but lived to punch and shoot at other men. When the Squared Oh busted after its owner’s death, the land was redistributed and most folks found work on other ranches. Some of the hard-cases who couldn’t find honest work left the country, but the Mulcaheys never went far. They let their inner demons out and skirted that shadowy line between the simple rawness of untamed western men and the true desperado. They were rustlers for sure, though no one could prove it, and it was known that both Ned and Mick were hellers with guns. 

For all that, though, most folks tolerated them. That was down to Eli, the baby. He was bad as the rest, but he also had a knack for socializing, an easy grace that put men on his side and charmed ladies. When he had money, he bought drinks. When he was broke, he had stories by the bushel to earn his whiskey, and people fell over themselves to buy the next round. Nobody much liked his brothers, but everyone loved Eli.

The afternoon Marshal Farrar and Deputy Thomas rode out, Jabin Dunley was feeling his oats. The star on his chest never shone more brightly and the Colt on his hip was weightless, the way he felt. He should have been napping, since he had lost half a day’s sleep and wouldn’t be sleeping that night, but he was doing rounds of the town, enjoying being seen on duty.

Around three, he stopped in the Longhorn to reward himself with a beer for his hard work. Usually, the place would be mostly empty on a weekday afternoon. Instead, there was a small crowd, clustered around a man Jabin didn’t recognize. The stranger was telling some rowdy story, a commission girl on his knee and a dozen men hanging on his every word. Dark-haired and dark-complexioned, he smiled freely, laughing at his own story. Even from across the room, the blue of his eyes stood out against sun-darkened features. When Jabin came closer, though, there was something else in those eyes: the redness of drink. This man had been at his leisure for some time. 

“Howdy,” Deputy Dunley said. 

Heads turned. The stranger focused his grin on the boy, took him in, and laughed. 

“Something funny, mister?”

“Not at all, son, not at all.” 

Jabin’s spine stiffened. The other man couldn’t have been more than four or five years older than he was.

“Just thinking,” the stranger continued, “the town must be hard up if they’re recruiting law from the schoolyard.” A smattering of laughter broke out.

Jabin flushed. Minutes ago, he was the cock of the walk. With just a few words, this laughing, wise-eyed loafer cut him down. He grimaced. Somehow, his eyes met those of Sam Turner, the swamper, leaning on a broom nearby. The old man shook his head slightly. Jabin ignored him. 

“All right, mister,” Jabin said, trying to reclaim his dignity. “You had a laugh and it looks like you’ve had more than enough to drink. Maybe it’s time to move along, assuming you got business in town.”

“Oh, yeah?” The blue-eyed man gently pushed the girl from his knee, and stood. “I happen to like where I am.” Standing shifted the fall of his clothing. Now, whiskey fumes wafted from him. He stepped towards Jabin and knocked his knee against the table, but gave no sign he felt it. He was far drunker than the deputy guessed. “Who you think you are telling me otherwise, sonny?”

“Deputy…” said a grub-rider named Baker. “What’s the harm? We’re just havin’ a good time.”

“Yeah! What’s the harm, boy?” The stranger poked a finger into Jabin’s chest.

Anger welled in Dunley. Marshal Farrar left this town in his care. Some drunken drifter wasn’t going to back him down. “What’s your name, mister?”

“Eli Mulcahey,” the other man smirked. 

If face didn’t ring a bell, the name did. Jabin knew of no paper on the Mulcahey brothers, but like everyone else in the country, he knew the Mulcaheys were rustlers and worse. 

“That right?” Jabin asked, heart thumping. “Well, now I got the right to move you along. Right into a cell.”

“What!” Mulcahey scoffed. “For enjoying a drink with my friends?” There was a murmur of agreement.

Sam Turner appeared at Jabin’s elbow. “Better just go with him, Mr. Mulcahey. If’n you ain’t done nothing, it’ll be straightened soon enough.” He looked to Jabin, giving the deputy a chance to settle this peacefully. The boy didn’t take it.

“The hell it will. I can stick ‘im with public drunkenness, if nothing else. C’mon now.” He reached for Mulcahey’s arm, intending to march him from the saloon. 

Mulcahey, only a little larger, but much harder, snarled and shoved Jabin Dunley, making the deputy stumble. “Keep your damned hands off me!”

Turner stepped between the younger men, arms raised. “Fellas—“

“Out the way, you old fool!” Mulcahey snapped, slapping Turner aside one-handed, while his other, his right, seemed to drop towards his hip. 

The old man went backwards and fell. As he hit the floor, the roar of a gun shattered the atmosphere. A red flower blossomed in Eli Mulcahey’s chest, midway between belly and sternum. Surprise crossed his face before he crumpled like a rag-doll.

Jabin Dunley looked at the fallen man, at the gun in his hand, at the faces of the crowd. Eli Mulcahey was going for his gun, Jabin was sure of that. But still, he couldn’t believe it. He killed a man. 

For two days, that thought was foremost in his mind. That, and one other: Eli was the least of the Mulcahey brothers.

*

Luke Patterson said, “Those Mulcaheys were eggin’ each other on over which one could put a bullet through the star on chest of their baby brother’s killer. Suppose that’s you?”

Jabin nodded. 

“Where’s Marshal Farrar?”

“Gone with Sheriff Vail. Ben Thomas, too.”

“Well,” Patterson stood, picked up his hat. “Were I you, deputy, I’d find a place to get gone to as well.”

For a moment, anger outweighed Jabin’s fear. “Marshal Farrar left me in charge of this town. I ain’t goin’ anywhere.”

Patterson sighed. “Suit yourself. Just thought I’d let you know they was comin’.”

“Well… thanks, Mr. Patterson. I do appreciate it.”

“Sure.” He turned towards the door.

“When you think they’ll get here?” Jabin asked.

Shaking his head, Patterson said, “Don’t know. From Pender’s, it’s an easy ride of maybe two hours. I made it in a hard hour. Suppose whenever they get their guts up enough, they’ll head straight here.”

The deputy nodded, thanked Patterson again and watched him leave. A crowd was gathered around Patterson’s horse, wanting to know what brought him into town at a dead run. It wouldn’t be long before everyone knew the Mulcaheys were coming for Jabin Dunley.

Eli Mulcahey was well-liked and Jabin shooting him did not sit well with many, even if the man was going for his gun. Rumor had it Jabin was jumpy and simply shot the other man without giving him a chance. The deputy was no longer sure himself. It looked like Mulcahey was going for his gun, but… 

Whether Mulcahey meant to draw or not, general feeling was Jabin provoked him. It was the middle of June, but Aldensville was chilly for the young deputy. He wished again that Ernie Farrar or Ben Thomas were around. He wished at least for a chance to talk to Annie Farrar, the marshal’s serene and pleasant wife. When the marshal hired Jabin, Annie immediately made him feel welcome, both in the position and in her home, on the second floor of the jail. But even Mrs. Farrar was away, visiting relatives to the north. Jabin Dunley was alone in Aldensville.

*

The deputy was half-dozing in a chair by the window when a brisk knock sounded on the door.

Jabin’s eyes snapped open, instantly awake, and he stood to greet Mayor Matt Watkins. 

“Forget pleasantries, Dunley,” Watkins snapped. “It true that the Mulcaheys are headed here, out for your guts?”

Jabin nodded. “Luke Patterson thinks so. He’s got no reason to lie.”

Watkins pounded his fist against the wall. “God damn it. What’ve you gotten us into?” Watkins was below average height, but thick and solidly built. Even draped in a broadcloth suit, he didn’t look like a dandy, but the westerner he was. 

“He was about to draw, Mr. Mayor.” Dunley didn’t want to make Watkins angrier, but he had to defend himself.

Watkins threw up his hands. “It doesn’t matter now. What a time for this to happen.” He paced back and forth, the gold watch chain stretched across his broad chest tinkling musically with each step. “Maybe this is an opportunity, a chance to rid ourselves of those scoundrels.” 

He looked at Jabin as if just now seeing him, his gaze appraising. “You’ll need some men. Find a few who’ll stand you and we’ll deputize them.” His tone softened slightly. “Can you handle this, son?”

Jabin’s mouth went dry and the tremor in his hands was so bad he was certain the mayor would notice. “I’ll sure try, sir.”

Watkins looked disappointed. “It’ll have to do. Get yourself killed and we may all be in for it, though. Remember that, deputy.” He left.

Jabin sighed. Find men to stand him? Three days ago that wouldn’t have been hard. Aldensville was a good town, with mostly good people. Jabin Dunley wasn’t anyone of account, but this was a place of law and there were many who would be glad to help the marshal’s office. That was when Ernie Farrar was here, though. Now, there was only Jabin, and friends seemed scarce.

Jabin left the jail, walking down the board sidewalk to Hanrahan’s Mercantile. A bell over the door dinged as he entered. Old Si Hanrahan, behind the counter, turned at the sound. His face was neither friendly nor hostile. “Good morning, Deputy.”

“Morning, Mr. Hanrahan. Tom around?” Tom Meadows was Hanrahan’s clerk, a youth about Jabin’s age. They were in school together and always stayed friendly.

Hanrahan closed a ledger book and looked long and hard at Dunley. “I hear the Mulcahey brothers are heading this way. Suppose you want to deputize Tom.”

“Only the marshal or the mayor can deputize, sir, but I’d sure like someone to stand with me. There’s three of the Mulcaheys and only one of me.”

“Three left, you mean,” Hanrahan said. “Thanks to you.”

“I can’t argue that, sir.”

“Seems to me if the Mulcaheys have business in town, it’s solely with you.”

Tom Meadows appeared in the door to Hanrahan’s storeroom. He said nothing, only watched and listened. Jabin glanced at his friend before saying, “That’s true, too, sir. But I have to ask.” He looked at Meadows. “Will you come out, Tom?”

Tom shrugged. “Just don’t seem like it’s the town’s fight.”

Inside, Dunley sagged, but only said, “Change your mind, I’ll be at the jail.” He nodded at Hanrahan and went out.

The story was similar everywhere he went. Some sympathized with the young deputy, but nobody wanted to stick their necks out for him. This mess was his, more than a few of them opined. Jabin never denied it. That at least seemed to raise him in some folks’ eyes, but not enough. Nobody volunteered to stand him and when he returned to the jail, it was as he left it – empty.

Jabin’s stomach churned and his feet felt strangely cold and clammy inside his boots. The jail door opened. Mayor Watkins asked, “Any luck?”

Jabin shook his head. “No, sir.”

Watkins sighed heavily. “Then there’s nothing for it.” He strode to the alcove where the rifle-rack was and chose a Winchester. “Where d’you keep the cartridges?”

Jabin stood. “You don’t have to do this, sir.”

Watkins’s face hardened. “Don’t tell me what I have to do, deputy. This is my town as much as anyone’s. As mayor, maybe more. If there’s nobody else to stand you, by God, I’ll do it myself. I’m no gunman but I can handle a rifle and you can’t take three gun-slicks on your lonesome. I’ll find a roof with a good view of Main Street. I can at least give you some cover,” he added.

The opening door forestalled more conversation. Sam Turner stood in the doorway. He seemed a little bigger, stood a little straighter, than when Jabin saw him earlier. He must have put that quarter to good use.

“We’re a little busy, Sam. What do you need?” Watkins asked.

“I heard about them Mulcaheys,” Turner said. “I come to stand you, deputy.”

Jabin and the mayor exchanged looks. Jabin said, “I appreciate it, Mr. Turner. I surely do, but—“

“I ain’t drunk, if that’s what you’re worried about,” the old man said. There was a flavor of shame to the words. He held up his hands. There were no tremors.

Jabin clenched his own fists before they could betray his fear. He was ashamed, too, though he didn’t know why. All he knew was that a drunken swamper new to town had the bravery to stand beside him when none of the folks he knew most of his life would. 

Mayor Watkins opened his mouth; the look on his face made it clear he was going to reject Turner’s offer. Before he could, Jabin out stretched his hand. “I’d be right proud to have you with us, Mr. Turner.”

Jabin and the old man shook. There was more strength in Turner’s grip than seemed possible of so dilapidated a man. “Thank you, deputy.” Jabin wasn’t sure why the old man should be thanking him.

Watkins looked annoyed, then fell into resignation. “You got a gun, Sam?”

Turner nodded. “I’ll be ready when it’s time, sir.”

There was a clatter of hooves in the street and the protesting noises of a horse forced to stop too suddenly. Fen Hurkey, a smalltime rancher, hurtled through the door, shouting, “The Mulcahey boys are on the warpath! Liquored up and rarin’ for blood!”

Watkins said, “Calm down, man! Take a breath!”

Hurkey sucked air, then said, “They come bangin’ on my door, askin’ do I got any whiskey. I tell ‘em no sir, I ain’t a drinkin’ man, but they can have all the well water they want. They grumbled amongst themselves and then the tall one, Mick I think, says, ‘Just forget the drinks ‘til we plug that marshal kid.’ I figure that’s you, Jabin.” He nodded at the deputy. “Soon’s they left, I lit a shuck down the old Bartleby trail to warn you. They can’t be more’n fifteen minutes behind me, though!”

Thanking Hurkey for the warning, Watkins sent him on his way, asking him to spread the word to keep off the street. To Jabin and Turner, he said, “Looks like it’s time, gentlemen.”

Fear swept down Jabin Dunley’s spine. He nodded and went out into the street all the same.

*

Jabin was standing before the jail several minutes later when horsemen appeared on Main Street, riding three abreast. Fen Hurkey spread the word, and the street was empty, giving them plenty of room. The Mulcaheys held their mounts to a slow trot then, halfway down the street without a word spoken between them, halted as one. The horses and men were all of a kind: big and tough-looking.

Jabin stepped into the street, fighting sickness in his stomach, buzzing in his chest, and numbness that tingled in his limbs. His gaze flicked up to the roof of the Streeter Hotel, half a block down Main. Matt Watkins should be up there by now, but Jabin could not see him. Sam Turner promised to be ready when the Mulcaheys arrived, but the brothers turned up sooner than expected and Sam was nowhere to be seen. 

A Mulcahey called out, “You the kid deputy?” He looked to be maybe thirty-five, and hard years at that. This must be Josh Mulcahey, the eldest.

Jabin swallowed the lump in his throat. “I’m Deputy Dunley, if that’s who you mean.”

“You kill my brother, Eli?”

“I shot him, yes, sir,” Jabin said, adding, “in the line of my duty.”

The Mulcaheys exchanged looks. Josh slipped off his horse; his brothers followed his lead. “Hope you enjoyed feeling like a big man, kid,” Josh Mulcahey called out. 

Jabin’s eyes went to the roof of the Streeter. He thought he saw a flash of light, as of sun winking off a gun-barrel.

Josh finished, “Because that’s all done with now.” His hand went to the gun at his hip—

A scream erupted, high and piercing. All eyes homed on the source. Mrs. Watkins and her young daughter stood before the dressmaker’s shop, bundles clutched in their arms and faces stricken at seeing armed men in the street. The girl, maybe eight years old, shrieked again – in fright or surprise, who could say?

“Get inside!” Mayor Watkins roared from the hotel’s roof. His wife turned at the sound – and so did the Mulcaheys. Mick, the tallest of the three, fired off two quick shots in the mayor’s direction, forcing Watkins to duck behind the false-front. His brothers fired a shot each, ensuring the mayor was pinned in place, before turning their guns on Jabin.

The young man drew his pistol and dove behind a water-trough for what little cover it could provide just as a round went screaming over his head. Down the street, the little Watkins girl screamed again. “Get inside! Inside!” Matt Watkins roared, his voice nearly lost amidst the sound of exploding cartridges.

Jabin peeked around the trough, afraid to shoot without knowing where the woman and child were. He saw them duck back into the dress-shop and chanced a shot at the nearest Mulcahey. It was wild and went far wide; glass shattered somewhere down the street. 

The deep-throated boom of a rifle finally sounded from the hotel roof, but it was answered by a return volley from the Mulcaheys’ six-shooters that forced the mayor back into cover. Jabin realized he could not expect much help from Watkins – and Sam Turner was still missing. He tried to raise his Colt for a more measured shot, but fear paralyzed him. 

Bullets whipped past Jabin, geysering the dirt around him and chipping away at his shelter. Already the trough sprayed water from half a dozen holes. “We’re coming for you, boy!” Josh Mulcahey shouted.

Two Mulcahey guns pinned Jabin while the third kept Watkins out of the fight. Dunley’s mind raced, but it was no good – the fear was too great a block. All he could he think was that he was going to die and that, in dying, he would betray Marshal Farrar’s trust.

Down the street, beyond the jail, came the sound of a single shot. Droopy-mustached Ned Mulcahey cried out and collapsed as blood exploded from his hip. His older brother, Josh, roared wordlessly and sent back a furious volley of return shots.

Twisting, Jabin saw Sam Turner walking up the exact middle of the street, an old Colt Army single-action revolver clutched in his fist, firing steadily as he moved forward. His shots flew past the Mulcaheys to make the dance dust around the brothers’ horses. The horses, terrified at suddenly becoming targets, whirled and raced back in the direction they had come from, screaming their protest. 

At this new threat, Mick Mulcahey wheeled, firing a shot that knocked the battered hat from Sam Turner’s head. The old man paid no heed, simply dumping shells from his revolver, reloading, and then returning the shot. 

Mick only then seemed to notice Ned flailing in the street. Putting two and two together, he cried “Old bastard!” and emptied his six-gun at Turner. A round glanced off the old man’s shoulder, knocking him backwards but not down. He stumbled as if drunk, recovered, and then carefully placed a shot into Mick’s breadbasket, sprawling the tall man into the dirt next to his brother.

Watkins saw his chance, rose from his hiding place, and fired a shot that missed Josh Mulcahey, but reminded him that he now faced three guns. Josh, seeing his brothers lying in the street, lost his mind to the blood-rage and the alcohol and charged forward, firing wildly. Sam Turner stood his ground, firing calmly once, twice, a third time before one of Mulcahey’s shots found his belly and put him down.

Jabin Dunley, in awe of the swamper’s coolness and skill, thought of how unfair it was to see a man like Josh Mulcahey kill someone like Sam Turner. His fear turned to indignation, then anger, and he stood, calling out, “Mulcahey!”

The rustler bared his teeth and raised his pistol. Jabin Dunley fired once. A purplish hole appeared in Josh Mulcahey’s cheekbone, below his left eye. The man looked shocked as he fell, dead before he hit the ground.

The deputy ran to where Sam Turner lay. The old man was propped on his good arm, struggling to hold onto his gun. He was alive, but there was too much blood for that to last much longer.

“Lord a’mighty, Mr. Turner! I didn’t know you could shoot like that.” Jabin could think of nothing else to say.

Turner found the strength somewhere to smile. “Didn’t know it myself, deputy.” He coughed violently, flecking his lips with bloody spittle. “I could once, but that was a long time ago. Before the bottle.”

Jabin felt hot tears sting his cheeks. Nobody knew a thing about Turner and now maybe nobody would. All Jabin knew was that he would be dead were it not for this man. “Don’t try to talk, sir, we’ll get the doctor—“

“No doctor. No point. Listen: you may not believe it, but you’re looking at a marshal.”

Jabin believed it. He saw how Sam Turner handled himself when it mattered. He couldn’t help contrasting it to the way he himself cowered.

“But the fear got me.” Turner was caught by another coughing fit. His skin no longer looked yellowish beneath the white whiskers; now it held the pallor of death. “Once, I was in the same situation as you, but I didn’t stand up. I ran and then I hid in a bottle for more years than I rightly know.” The pistol slipped from his grasp and he gripped Jabin’s arm. “You got to face the fear, got to win through every god-damned time. It’s the only way a lawman can do his duty. I learned too late. I saw myself in you, son, only you didn’t run and I… I…”

Turner trailed off, his voice going too soft to hear before fading entirely. Jabin called his name, shook the man’s good shoulder, but it was no use. Sam Turner was gone.

People began crowding into the street. Ned Mulcahey’s screams of pain and bluster about vengeance carried over the murmur of conversations.

Matt Watkins appeared at Jabin’s side. “God! Who’d have thought some swamper could shoot like that?”

Jabin shook his head and stood. “He wasn’t a swamper, sir. Sam Turner was a lawman. Right to the end.” 

Dunley walked to the cluster of people gathered around Ned Mulcahey. He achieved his life’s dream at a young age, but a lawman walked a very long path. Maybe someday he would catch up to men like Ernie Farrar, Ben Thomas – and Sam Turner.

“Ned Mulcahey,” Deputy Jabin Dunley said. “You are under arrest.”


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