“When do we move on?” A sweaty Knuckles Newly rubbed his shoulders with crossed arms.
“Not until Vlack tells us. Rhodes told me to keep on going. We managed to get six families uprooted and leave their spreads.” Todd patted the pocket of money for reassurance. “The marshal and that town council thing wasn’t worth shit about gettin’ us outta here.”
“I’m not the marshal or the town council.” Cotter’s deep voice behind the tan bandana stopped them cold.
“What? Who the hell are you?” Newly was on guard and put up his fists.
Todd had his left hand on his single strapped-on .44 and went for it. Cotter’s two Colts came up like lightning and stopped Todd with his hand still on the handle of his holstered pistol. Todd swallowed hard.
“What do you want?”
“Take your gun out with your right hand and drop it on the ground.” Cotter motioned with the shiny Colt and holstered his second gun. He threw a length of rope to Newly. He pointed to Newly with his gun. “You, tie him up to the stair rail.”
Newly tied Todd’s hands to each other and then ran the rope around the middle of the hand truss and tied him to the rail next to the post of the first step.
“My argument is with you Knuckles.” Cotter kept his gun aimed at Newly and pulled out the pair of lead shot gloves from his saddle bag. “You and I are going to fight with our hands. If I win I get the money and you leave town.”
“What do I get if I win?” Newly strutted back and forth between Todd and Cotter. The air was cool but Newly took his shirt off.
“You get to live.”
“That means we fight to the death.” Newly smiled.
“That’s what it means.” Cotter took off his hat and draped his holstered Colts over his saddle and put on Bosch’s gloves.
“Hah. I don’t need gloves to finish you. Are you gonna take off the mask.”
Cotter remained silent. Newly brought his fists up and closed on Cotter. He went forward and straight-armed a left to Cotter’s head. Cotter ducked and moved around Newly.
“Kill the bastard.” Todd strained at his tethers watching the combat unfold.
Newly turned to face Cotter again but turned right into a side punch to his jaw. He moved back. He had rarely been hit in the face before by any of his non-professional adversaries. The blow hurt. The man had power even with gloves on.
“Break his neck. You know how to do it. Just like the asshole from the other night. You remember the guy Rhodes told us to eliminate.”
Cotter took in the words. They were what he needed to justify what he perceived to be his duty. Todd and Knuckles Newly were one of Vlack’s tools. Newly came at him again in his fists-up stance.
“Okay my masked friend, your time has come.” He swung his left and missed, staggered a bit but recovered and swung a roundhouse right at Cotter’s head.
Cotter ducked and moved sideways ramming his right-gloved fist hard into Newly’s right rib cage. Cotter could feel the give as several ribs cracked.
“Ahhh, fuck, I’m gonna kill you, you pig fucker.” Newly leaned to his right with severe chest pain and ran at Cotter. He faked a roundhouse right and kicked Cotter’s right calf, sending Cotter to the ground.
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