He wasn’t the biggest man that Tom Horn had ever seen. Heaven knows; Tiny Angulfssen back in Saint Louis stood a hair’s breath short of seven feet and had shoulders like a Brahma bull. He once carried two full grown women, one on each shoulder. Of course, a lump of lead smaller than the tip of his little finger had put him in his grave, just like so many other men.
No this, man was big, but far from the biggest. Nevertheless, the minute he stepped into the bar, every eye was upon him. He wore a blue coat that wrapped around him as if made two sizes too big—if that were possible—and then form fitted by wrapping the extra material around him. And he wore baggy grey pants over some black rounded boots with thick hobnail soles and shiny black toes covered in metal.
But the way that he dressed—odd that it was for this part of Texas—was nothing compared to one additional feature that drew everyone’s attention. As big as the man was—and he was big, mind you—two beats after he stepped through the swinging doors of the Javelina Cantina, the place burst into laughter. The big man paused as if he were expecting the outburst, but didn’t crack a smile. Instead, he stood at the entrance and scanned the occupants of the room, apparently looking for someone special.
As the laughter continued, he stepped forward to the bartender, who chuckled as well, but sobered up as the man stepped up to the bar.
“Pardon me,” the dark skinned man said in a clipped accent. “I am seeking someone. A Tom Horn.”
The bartender stared at him, a smile threatening to break through his lips. “Don’t know anyone by that name here,” the bartender said. “But would he be wearing a diaper on his head like you?” At this the bartender burst into laughter, followed by the rest of the cantina. For the man who spoke to him wore a flowing white cloth wrapped around the top of his head.
“Hey, maybe he just washed his hair, and can’t do a thing with it,” someone shouted from the back, which was followed by more laughter.
In response, the big man reached out quickly and snatched the lapel of the bartender with one massive hand and lifted the man off the ground several inches, at the same time dragging him up to his eye level. He held the bartender effortlessly with one arm and stared into his eyes, no hint of amusement in his face. And the bartender—and most of the bar—stopped laughing.
“I—am a Punjabi, born of the high country of my native country of India.I am the son of a warlord and grandson of a king. I have killed a tiger—a man eater—when I was eight with my bare hands. And I have killed more men since then than I care to think about, or tell you about. Now my question was a simple one. Is there a Tom Horn in this fine establishment?”
“He ain’t here.” The words came clear and loudly from the back of the room, and the Punjabi let go of the bartender, letting the small man drop to his feet behind the bar. The big man turned to look at a smaller man, wiry, of about 40, who sat with his feet propped up on another wooden chair in the corner of the room. He was totally nondescript in the western saloon, dirty jeans and faded shirt over a worn pair of black cowboy boots. He was of average height, with a frame that appeared to have seen a lot of abuse, yet still moved smoothly and with the potential for great speed, like a rattlesnake. Steel grey eyes peered from beneath a ten-gallon Stetson with no hint of emotion in them but the sense that they were taking measure of everyone and everything they surveyed. Behind the smaller man, propped against the wall in the corner was a customized Winchester 30-30 with a brass inlay and the initials “T.T.H.” etched in script across the side.
The Punjabi stepped forward, the bar now grown quiet as everyone watched him cross the room, each step he took a heavy stride across the oak flooring. He crossed the distance in three steps and faced the smaller man, who looked up without emotion, at the same time reaching into a shirt pocket and pulling out papers to roll a cigarette. The Punjabi watched as his fingers flew across the paper in a drill that they obviously had gone through thousands of times, and now completed without a casual thought. The cigarette rolled, the smaller man flicked it to his lips in an effortless motion, then left it dangling from his lips. He looked up slowly at the Punjabi, who still stood in front of the table like a massive oak in a forest of smaller scrubs.
“Something else I can help you with, pardner?” the smaller man asked, one eyebrow coming up.
“You would not be this Tom Horn I seek?” the Punjab asked.
The smaller man shook his head slightly.
“Tole you, he left here for New Mexico Territory about two days ago. Said he had a date with some cattle rustlers.”
The Punjab eyed the smaller man warily, his eyes flashing back to the Winchester propped against the corner, then back to the man’s face.
“I suppose someone with a reputation like that of Tom Horn must be careful with whom he associates,” the Punjab said.
“S’pose,” the smaller man agreed.
“There might be danger for a man who has been known to kill as many men as he.”
The smaller man nodded. “Might be.”
“Perhaps you can pass along a message to Mr. Horn if you come upon him in the near future,” the Punjab said. “Tell him that I have a proposal for him, a task of great import.”
The smaller man chuckled.
“Tasks of great import are the very thing that Tom Horn don’t need these days,” he said. “That’s what got him in trouble in the first place.”
“Tell him that I, Bashu, will wait for him two days. After that, I must leave, for the task I speak of will wait for no man. Not even the infamous Tom Horn.”
The smaller man, clucked his tongue and winked.
“Now that’s a shame, ‘cuz you know Tom Horn won’t be back this way anytime soon, I imagine.” He pulled his booted feet off the chair and onto the wood floor, reached behind him for the Winchester and pulled it to him, standing.
“Right nice to meet you, Bashu,” the smaller man said to the Punjab, reaching up and touching his fingers to the brim of his hat. “I’ll be sure to pass the word along.”
Bashu stood and watched as the smaller man walked across the floor to the bar and threw two small silver coins to the bartender, thanked him and walked out the front door.
The twilight had turned to darkness outside, and the man with the Winchester on his shoulder paused for his eyes to adjust to the darkness. He took the time to strike a match and light his rolled cigarette, which still hung limp from his lower lip. A moment later, a man with a bowler hat and a badge on his lapel stepped up on his right.
“Sure hope you and your buddies aren’t planning any trouble tonight, Tom,” the lawman said, making a show of pulling his coattail free from his gun holster on the right side. Tom glanced down at the move by the lawman, then looked back into his eyes.
“Oh, you know me, Sheriff. I don’t like trouble any more than you.”
“That’s good, because I have strict orders from Austin that we don’t stir up anything with the Mexicans or the Germans across the border. Let them stick to their business, and we will stick to ours. We don’t need any more border skirmishes.”
“War’s coming, Sheriff.”
“Not if I can help it,” the sheriff said. “Not in my town.”
As if in reply, guns went off at the far edge of town, and Tom heard voices shouting in Spanish.
“What about those who come into Presidio from across the border?” asked Tom. “Some of them is just looking for fun, but some are looking for trouble too.”
“I’ll take care of the trouble,” the sheriff said quietly. “You just steer clear of all of ‘em, hear me?”
Tom nodded slightly, and the sheriff left him, walking quickly in the direction of the gunfire.
“Don’t mind me, Sheriff,” Tom said under his breath. “I just got to take care of a little business. Real quiet like.” He stood in the dark of the wood walkway and stared across the street into a black alley. A few minutes later, he saw movement there, and heard a low whistle.
Tom strode across the dirt street toward the alley, which was next to the Presidio bank. He turned his back to the alley and leaned against the bank, looking out over the street. With the gathering darkness, the town had become more active. Lights came on down the street, and the gunfire continued at the edge of town. Tom was thankful that Sheriff Wicker would have his hands full with them, leaving Tom and his boys available for their own project.
“Everyone ready?” Tom muttered under his breath.
“Si, Senor Horn,” came a man’s voice with a heavy accent. “We be ready when you are.”
“OK, Pablo, you and Lupe go join the rest of those Mexes headed back to the base. Kid and I will tag along, back about a quarter mile or so. You know the signal. We’ll be ready when you give it. Andele, muchachos.”
He felt rather than heard the two men in sombreros slink off into the darkness, ready to join those who were returning across the border to the barracks in Ojinaga, Mexico. Tensions ran high between ranchers here in the Big Bend area of the Rio Grande Valley and the new escalation of military in Mexico along the border. Tom had no idea what had led the Mexicans to start the military build-up, but the Germans were quick to take advantage of their insecurity, and had turned a small adobe fort into a state-of-the-art Army garrison.
And then there were those big grey things in the sky. Zeppellins, they called them. Tom thought they were the biggest tomfoolery he had ever seen. They were as huge as a mountain, and yet he still had seen no practical use for them. So far all he had seen they were good for was scaring the cattle.
“And horses,” Tom muttered to himself as he left his spot by the bank and headed south down the street. Horses. That was the business for tonight. He stopped for a long minute outside the livery stable, and watched as a barefoot, skinny, strawberry-haired kid of 14 in bib overalls gestured with a man in a German uniform over a contraption with two wheels and metal handlebars. Tom saw that it had started off as a bicycle, but steam came from vents on its side, and a bulbous canister rested beneath the seat.
“Nein, nein,” the German said to the young boy. “Ist kaput. Kann nicht reparieren.”
The kid gestured palm out for the man to wait, then pushed the German’s insistent hands back and reached into his back pocket for a giant end wrench. He adjusted the nut at the top of the canister, tapped it with the side of the wrench, then pushed a lever forward. The bike chugged into life.
“Unmöglich!” the German said. “Vielen dank!” He reached over and grasped the hand of the kid and shook it vigorously, before mounting the metal bike with steam coming from its sides and putting into the street and off to the south.
“Another happy Heinie,” Tom said quietly, following the uniformed man with his eyes. “We can all sleep more soundly tonight.” The kid looked over when he heard Tom’s voice and ran out to join him. He glanced up at him and tried to stand just like Tom.
“You got the uniform?” Tom asked the boy quietly. The kid nodded and tilted his head to gesture back toward the livery stable. Tom followed him back inside and put on a German uniform that the kid had stashed behind some bales of hay. It was long enough, but tight across the chest and shoulders. Tom grimaced.
“Don’t these Germans eat anything? Oh, well, I don’t have to wear it long.”
Tom looked down at the kid and raised an eyebrow. “Now listen to me, Kid. You’re 14 years old, and if it were up to me, you’d still be home. But you’re not, you’re with me. So if you want to live to be 15, you have got to learn to mind. You got me?”
The boy paused, smiling up at Tom, then nodded.
“None of this daredevil stuff, hear me? You do what I say, when I say it. Got it?”
The kid nodded again.
“OK, we got to be on foot tonight, but just for the first part. Now let’s go get our horses.”
Kid reached out, waiting for Tom to give him something, but Tom shook his head.
“You get the gun when we get there. No sense blowing your foot off until we’re at a point where you can use it.”
Kid’s shoulders slumped, then he nodded. The boy followed a few steps behind as Tom continued south and to the bridge that spanned the Rio Grande River.
The two of them could see the three massive, grey airships in the distance to the northwest, and they cut away from the road to Ojinaga and across country toward the base. Tom led the way, with Kid following close behind, as they wandered through the barren rocks and sagebrush that surrounded them. They climbed an embankment, and soon they looked out over the base.
Tom had spent a year in the Army when they were storming San Juan Hill in Cuba, and so he was used to the look of a military base. This had some of the same trappings, but with some major changes. Tom was used to see a darkened base, perhaps lighted by campfires or a kerosene lantern here and there. This one was brightly lit by electric lights throughout. A large steam engine near the river puffed, its heavy metal arm visibly churning out the needed electricity for the base. This side of the power generator, the three airships floated in air as if held up by invisible wires.
Tom continued to scan for his goal until he saw what he wanted. On the far side of the camp were the horses, corralled along with the many others that the base needed. The military base was a mixture of about 100 German officers, advisors and airship specialists. Beyond that, the base was occupied by about 1,000 Mexican troops. And while the Germans were equally comfortable on horses as well as their mechanical contraptions Tom had seen once or twice—the things they called motor-sickels–, the Mexes still hadn’t mastered the mechanics of the wheeled dervishes. They were strictly hands on horses.
And Tom’s Parker Ranch had the best horses in all of south Texas and north Mexico. Actually it was Mary, Tom’s sister’s, ranch, but after he returned from Cuba, she had enlisted him as foreman and unofficial ranch manager. The Kid kinda came with the package. Mary’s husband Horace Parker died when the Rio Grande overflowed two years ago. Since that time, the Kid hadn’t spoken a word, but had latched onto Tom like he was the Second Coming. Tom shrugged to himself. Could be worse, he thought. But not much.
When Mary had refused to sell her horses to the Mexican General Pancho Villa, who Tom realized had designs on being president not too far in the future, the Generallisimo had sent his troops to take them by force. Mary told the local sheriff, but the sheriff had more common sense than bravery, and told Mary to claim that renegade Comanches had taken them, and to file with the Bureau of Indian Affairs for redress of grievances.
“Shoot,” Tom muttered, and Kid looked over at him curiously. Tom had never had much trust in the government. In fact, every experience he had had taught him to avoid government types like he was back on the Plains avoiding Sioux. That was his first reaction when he saw that rag-headed giant back in the cantina. The big man had government written all over him.
Back to work, Tom told himself, and focused on the business at hand. He took one more long look at the lay of the land before him, then turned to Kid.
“Look, here’s where we split up,” Tom said. “I can fit in as one of those German officers—thanks to this borrowed uniform—but you’d stand out. The best thing you can do is stay right here and cover us when we come out. We’ll be traveling fast, so you’ll have to catch anyone who is on our tail. Got it?”
Kid nodded quickly, then used the hand signals Tom had taught him from Indian sign language.
“I stay—shoot those who chase—meet you after.”
Tom nodded. “Pretty good, Kid. Here–.” He handed him his Winchester and a bandolier of shells. “Your mama would skin us both if we knew what we were doing out here. And I’ll skin you myself if anything happens to my baby there.” He gestured at his Winchester. “That gun means more than your sorry butt ever will, so take good care of her.”
Kid grinned and nodded again. He took his sleeve and wiped dust from the brass magazine.
“OK, remember. Don’t shoot till we are coming out. Cover us until we are away, then hightail it across the river. I’ll meet you back at the ranch.”
Tom slid back down the embankment and then dusted himself off before walking back to the street that headed into town and toward the base. A line of Mexicans and Germans was spread out on the road, some headed back into Presidio, others headed south to Ojinaga and the base. Tom joined the line headed south, wondering whether Pablo and Lupe were ahead of behind him.
Tom had spent eight months in the Army when they fought the Spanish in Cuba, during which he had gotten a sense of military uniforms and protocol. But it had been five years, and he had never put much effort into remembering that part of his life. Nevertheless, he watched the other German soldiers and noticed how they walked more erect and stiffly than their Mexican counterparts. At one point, a German soldier passed him in the other direction and saluted him. He hesitated before saluting in return, a second after the other man had passed.
The road to the base trailed off to the right, and Tom followed it. Two Mexicans and a German stood at the entrance. All three saluted him as he came in the gate, and this time Tom saluted promptly in response.
“Alles in ordnung, Herr Major,” he heard the German guard say, and Tom grunted in response. He didn’t know what the other words meant, but he figured out that Ma-yore in German probably meant Major in American. He shook his head and cursed under his breath. He’d asked Kid to get him a uniform. He didn’t expect a major’s uniform. That would make it harder to blend in.
He marched down the main street between tent rows, and had to put up with soldier after soldier saluting him. Finally, he saw that the tents had given way to more rustic surroundings, including a large corral area with about 200 horses in it. A dozen Mexicans, some with uniforms but many with bandeleros and sombreros, stood around the outside of the corral. All had bolt-action rifles. He glanced to the right and saw Lupe talking in Mexican to one of the soldiers there. He didn’t know for sure where Pablo was, but he hoped that he would know in a minute.
As if in response, he heard firecrackers going off not too far away. The noise spooked the horses, and many of the man as well. The horses whinnied and screamed and began to run around the corral.
“Placido! Placido!” one of the guards shouted by the corral. Suddenly he saw Lupe hit the man over the head and quickly pull the gate to the corral open. Men rushed into the corral, trying to keep the horses from rushing out the gate. Tom responded by letting out a shrill whistle.
A stallion in the back of the pack responded with a loud whinny and by rearing up on its hind legs. The others took up the call, and all of the horses bolted for the entrance.
Tom waded deftly through the charging horses, while the men around him ran in panic. Lupe stood on the fence and leaped onto the back of a brown mare that passed by. A beat later, the palomino stallion that had started the panic bolted by. Without missing a step, Tom grabbed hold of the big stallion’s mane and vaulted onto its back.
Tom and the line of running horses charged down the main walkway in the middle of the base. Occasionally a man would hold up his hands and try to stop them, but most ran in panic. They were used to riding horses into battle; they weren’t used to standing in front of a stampeding herd of 200 beasts. And they weren’t getting paid enough to risk their life to do so.
Then one or two saw that Lupe, Tom and now Pablo rode among the herd. Tom heard order shouted in German and Spanish, then a gunshot. Instinctively, he ducked low on the side of the stallion and urged him onward. He glanced down as they rushed through the main gate to see the soldier that had called him Major staring up in surprise.
“See ya later, Pardner,” Tom muttered, and the eyes of the German grew wide.
The roar of the thundering hooves was met a second later by a different sound. Tom heard the roar of the steam cycles revving behind him, and then glanced up to see that one of the zeppelins was rising above its moorings.
“The big airship,” Pablo said from a few feet away. “They are coming after their horses.”
“Let ‘em come!” Tom roared. “What are they going to do? And they’re my horses, dang it!”
Tom heard the cycles coming up behind them, and glanced back to see that at least one of them had a sidecar. A German in a pointed helmet held a strange looking gun in his hands. Tom didn’t like the look of that. Just as the man aimed his awkward looking gun at him, the front tire of the bike blew out, and the vehicle went careening off to the side. Tom looked up at the darkened hillside, where he knew that Kid lay with his Winchester.
“Good shooting, Kid,” he muttered.
But other steam cycles were pulling forward. Instead of trying to catch the horses, they decided the best strategy was to go to the bridge and block the way into the United States. Unfortunately for them, Tom had a completely different strategy in mind from the beginning. Tom and his stallion led the herd off an embankment and onto the sandy banks of the Rio Grande, which was running low as it always did this time of the year. He suspected that the cycles would have a harder time following them on the soft sand. And he was right. Tom looked back to see that the steam cycles and their armed riders had paused at the edge of the road, and they argued about which direction to go with the vehicles.
“Yee-haw!” Tom shouted, and Pablo and Lupe yipped in response. He drew in a breath and relaxed, their path ahead apparently assured.
It was then that a dark shadow came between Tom and the full moon above. He looked up to see the sinister grey shape of the zeppelin creeping across the sky above him. Above the sound of the horses, he heard a tinny sound of a steam engine running the propellers that drove the airship forward.
What could they do? Tom asked himself, but a cold fear came over him. A few second later, a gatling gun opened up above him.
Wham-wham-wham came the sound, and Tom saw the water spray off to their left. The moving airship combined with the moving horses made it hard to be accurate with any kind of gun, but Tom knew that time would help them find that accuracy. He needed to get them under cover—and quickly.
Tom whistled shrilly and he and the stallion charged across the shallow river. The other horses followed quickly across. The airship moved ahead of them to the north side—the American side–of the river, anticipating them coming up the embankment and once again into open range of its gatling gun. Instead, Tom stayed in the river bottom, hugging the lower edge of the embankment and keeping out of sight of the airship. He followed the river for another mile, occasionally hearing the airship’s engine whining in the sky.
Then the embankment broke open and Tom and the horses were once again exposed to the open sky. He glanced around him to see where the airship was and saw that it lingered to the northeast, still believing that they would double back to the road headed into town. Instead, Tom led the horses into a narrow ravine that opened up before them and headed straight east.
The sheer walls of the ravine were a comfort to Tom, and once again he was glad for Kid, who had scouted out the hidden trail earlier that day. In rainy weather, it was a wash from the higher ground to the Rio Grande. Today it was a windy—but hidden—trail that led them away from town and directly to the Parker Ranch.
When they got deep into the ravine, Tom got the horses to slow and then to stop. They had left in a panic, and even though he knew the stallion could take the abuse, he didn’t want to jeopardize any of the horses. Pancho Villa and his men had stolen 50 horses from Parker Ranch. Now they had stolen back 200 in return. He doubted that anyone could identify him to the authorities—German, Mexican or American—but he knew Sheriff Wicker would have a pretty good idea who was stirring up trouble. At least he knew that the sheriff sympathized with the Parker Ranch. Relations with Mexico were strained, and this didn’t help matters, but what was fair for the Mexes ought to be fair for everybody else. He’d have to have a talk with the sheriff tomorrow. He’d understand. Sure he would.
They stayed in the ravine for another three hours. Occasionally they heard steam bikes pass by somewhere in the distance, or heard the airship buzz past somewhere above. But in the ravine, the horses began to calm down as well as Tom and his men. After everyone was rested and Tom thought enough time had passed, they led the herd quietly through the rest of the ravine and out to the open range of Parker Ranch.
Despite it being January, Tom was sweating by the time they had the horses penned up in the box canyon and headed back to the bunkhouse. Tomorrow Tom would treat all the men to a big dinner with all the frijoles and tortillas they could eat. But tonight everyone was satisfied to held back to and empty quiet bunk and a few hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Tom said goodnight to Lupe and Pablo, then walked over to the main house. He started to reach for the door, then heard the whinny of a horse nearby. His senses once again heightened, he stepped quietly north around the house and saw that four horses were tied to a tree on that side of the house. Someone stood in the darkness nearby, watching to make sure that no one took them or spooked them. He also saw that that someone wore a fancy, two-gun rig, a bowler cap and a shiny badge on his lapel that gleamed in the moonlight.
Tom stood there for a minute, trying to decide what to do. Then he sighed.
“I’m just too tired to care,” he muttered to himself, and turned to enter the door.
The living room of the adobe and log house was lit with a fire in the fireplace and a couple of oil lanterns. It was bright enough, in any case, to see that Sheriff Wicker stood in the center of the room with two other men, talking to his sister Mary. They turned toward the door when Tom entered. One of the men, big and burly, who looked somewhat familiar, reached for his sidearm when he saw Tom. Tom resisted responding in kind: there were three of them to his one, and Mary would likely be shot in the process. To his relief, Tom saw another lawman, also somewhat familiar, reach out and restrain the man pulling the gun.
“There’s no need for gunplay here,” the lawman said. “He’s not going to be any trouble, are you?” He turned to Tom, who raised an eyebrow without responding.
“Tom Horn, I don’t know if you remember me, but I am Deputy Marshal Joe Lefoers from Gunnison County, Colorado. I have a warrant for your arrest for the murder of Willie Nickells.”
When the lawman opened his mouth, Tom instantly recognized both the men.
“Long time, Joe,” Tom said. “Didn’t you use to be a Pinkerton?”
“Nope,” the lawman said. “Never left Gunnison County before this trip. Good to see you, Tom.”
“Well, Joe, you know me. You know my record. I been a lawman, a Pinkerton, a range detective, and an Indian scout. My job has called for me to kill more than my share of men, and even more because they came gunning for me. But I honestly can’t recall any of them named Willie Nickells.”
The big man roared. “That’s my son, you bastard.” He stepped forward, but Lefoers stepped in his way.
“Calm down, Mr. Nickells,” he said. “We’re going to do this, and you’ll get justice. But we’re going to do this my way.”
“I remember you,” Tom said to Nickells. “You ran that sheep ranch out near the foothills. You got into that trouble with the railroad men.” He paused thinking, then the reality dawned on him. “The kid…outside the saloon…that was yours?”
“That was my Willie,” the man spat. “And you gunned him down like a dog.”
Tom looked toward the corner, speaking more to himself than to the others in the room. “It was dark. The kid came at me sudden like. I fired before I realized that he was only..only what, fifteen?”
“Fourteen,” the man moaned. “Fourteen years old.”
The same age as Kid, Tom thought. Old enough to get in trouble; young enough not to know any better.
“Not to repeat myself on anything, but I have a warrant here to take you back to Gunnison County for trial,” Lefoers said.
“And execution,” Nickells added.
“If need be,” Lefoers added.
Tom scratched his chin and once again considered the odds.
“Well, you aren’t making my options very attractive, Joe,” Tom said. “I don’t like trouble, but it sounds like you have a heap of it waiting for me up north.”
“Sounds that way, Tom. But I reckon you don’t have much choice, lessun you want to pull down on the three of us with your six guns and put your sister here at risk.”
Tom paused. “No, no, I don’t want that. Hmm.”
The three visitors, Tom and Mary stood staring at each other for a long minute. Suddenly the door behind Tom opened and Kid stepped in, the Winchester held barrel-first, pointed toward the three men. Both Lefoers and Nickells drew their sidearms. Tom knew that Lefoers would pause long enough to consider the risk, but he didn’t know what Nickells would do. He stepped in front of Kid and threw him to the floor. A gun boomed behind him and a bullet twanged against the doorjam. Kid looked up and fired the rifle as he fell. The gun boomed and the third man, up to this minute unidentified, folded in half and collapsed to the floor.
“Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!” Tom yelled, falling full against his nephew. He raised his hands in surrender, then reached down and loosened his gunbelt and threw it across the floor. Then he grabbed the Winchester and slid it across the floor to Lefloers.
Mary bent over the injured man, while Leflours picked up the Winchester and stepped toward Tom, who still lay on the floor.
“Don’t hurt the Kid,” Tom said urgently as Lefloers approached.
In response, Tom saw the butt of the Winchester smash into his face, and everything went dark.