Cotter waited for Garrison to leave for work. “I’ll be scouting out some of those housing possibilities you mentioned. This map of Endura will be a help.” He watched Garrison disappear into the thin woods on the road into town. Deirdre was cleaning up the kitchen.
“Your horse is ready Dr. Cotter.” Pipps had tied the palomino outside the front door trough.
“Thank you Pipps. You can call me Jake when I’m not working.” Cotter tied his carry-on bag to the left saddlebag. About a mile from the house he went into a dense thicket and changed his clothes. The day would be bright. He oiled the conchos and his Colts.
The side road branching off toward Vlack’s domain was as large as the main road and could let two wagons pass each other. Jake halted the palomino at the top of the hill looking down at the large main house, the barn and the long bunkhouse. He waited until no more hands left the bunkhouse to ride out to their jobs somewhere on the range. There was no further activity and no one from Vlack’s house had left which meant Victor Vlack was still there. The temperature was rising and he saw a single window open from the center of the house. Cotter rode along a tree line out of any line of vision from the house and left the palomino behind a supply shed next to the kitchen. His buckskin boots made no sound as he entered the kitchen softly closing the Dutch door.
Cotter waited five-minutes before progressing further. The cook was outside washing the kitchen dishes from both the bunkhouse and the main house. He moved silently through the house following the scent of a fresh cigar. Directly off a fireplace living room he could see the smoke rising from Vlack. The man was at a large desk with a ledger of some sort capturing his attention. Cotter had his bandana pulled up and moved to within five-feet of the seated Vlack. Still the man continued to puff on his cigar and write in the ledger. When he was right behind Vlack he resumed his normal breathing which became audible.
Vlack stopped writing. He was about to turn around when the nickeled Colt quickly went from its holster to Vlack’s head.
“Don’t move Vlack.”
“Who are you? What do you want?” The bass voice was raspy.
Vlack moved his right hand slowly toward a recessed pigeon hole in the desk.
“I said don’t move.” Cotter cocked the Colt’s hammer. The “click” of the ratchet mechanism filled the room.
“Do you want money? I can get it for you but it’s not at this desk.” Vlack’s upper lip began to perspire.
“Your boys interfered with me yesterday. Two of them are dead. This is a warning. If you or any of your men cause any Endura citizen harm they will answer to me. Put your hands solidly on your desk and don’t move or one of my bullets will pierce your body.”
Cotter moved back and drew the other Colt. He rapidly fired three shots from each gun to either side of Vlack’s frozen position. Splinters and smoke surrounded the now shaking Vlack. Cotter knew Vlack’s hearing would be impaired from the shots. He withdrew from the living room and went rapidly out the kitchen door.
Outside he whistled for his palomino and saw the cook walking to the house. He fired two shots from the left hand Colt directly in front of the man. “Lay on the ground until I leave.”
The man hit the ground and looked up at the bandana-masked buckskin figure.
“Head down.” Cotter mounted his horse and rode into the woods. When he felt safe he took the cotton from his ears and let the palomino move at a slow pace while he pocketed the warm spent cartridges and reloaded his Colts.
“So much for introductions.” Cotter spoke to the humid air. He headed back for the thicket to change his clothes and went back to the Garrisons.
“Back so soon?” Pipps received Cotter and his mount.
“Yes. I just rode around to exercise my horse and now I need to borrow a horse and buggy to go to town. I have to pick up some luggage at the train station.”
“Need any help?”
“No, thank you Pipps.”
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