Ray parked the Harley next to a yucca waving a pair of white briefs like a flag of truce. Several yards away, on the shoulder of the two-lane headed south, sat the silver car coated in red dust. He didn't see Johnny anywhere.
Ray shut the Harley off and dismounted. He retrieved his underwear from the yucca and spotted one of his t-shirts caught at the base of a rock. When he picked it up, he saw the shirt had been ripped in two. The other half lay a short distance away. The hairs on his neck prickled. Pretty pissed off might be putting Johnny's mood mildly. Ray decided his laundry could wait. Better to confront the guy head on than risk a shot in the back. Still clutching his briefs and torn shirt, he made his way toward the car.
Johnny stepped from behind a large rock a few feet in front of him. The man's tight-fitting mustard yellow shirt and shiny black pants looked so out of place in the serene Red Rock setting, Ray missed a step. Then he saw the gun Johnny held against the right leg of those shiny pants. Ray knew he should call a truce, maybe wave his briefs in surrender. But when he looked up from the gun to the smug expression on the asshole's face, he forgot about what he should do. He remembered Grace bound and bruised. He remembered the potshots that could have killed any one of them. The wound on his side pulsed and anger roiled inside him. The asshole didn't have a right to that smug look. Ray dropped his laundry and rushed him.
Johnny's mouth popped open like he had something to say, but Ray didn't give him the chance. Growling, he wrapped his arms tight around that ugly yellow shirt and propelled the man backwards. Their feet tangled and Johnny whumphed flat on his back with Ray's full weight on top of him. The gun hit the dirt a few feet away.
Ray figured this must be what it felt like to ride a rodeo bull as Johnny bucked and twisted beneath him. He fought to catch his breath, the smell of onions and cheap cologne gagging. He fought to keep his neck from breaking. He fought with what seemed like half a dozen arms at once.
Then Johnny headed-butted him. Hard. Ray's head snapped back and pain radiated behind his eyeballs. Johnny shoved out from under him and staggered to his feet. He lunged for the gun, but Ray grabbed his ankle and the man fell face first into a boulder.
Johnny's head bounced, then his entire body turned in slow motion. He fell back against the boulder and slid to his butt in the dirt. Blood oozed from his nostrils and the rock rash on his forehead. "Son of a bitch," he wailed, delicately feeling at his nose. "I think you busted it this time."
Ray figured that made them even. He struggled to his hands and knees. "You didn't think I'd give you a chance to shoot me again, did you?"
"I shot you?"
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