CHAPTER 3

"I'm sorry sir, I hadn't noticed," Muskton got up from the chair, shrugging off the hairy newcomer's hand. "Begging your pardon," he continued, doffing his bowler hat. Rayne was visibly impressed by Muskton's courtesy.

"You look like you're itching for a fight there Bubba Joe," the man continued.

"No sir, I assure you; that's one itch I'd like to leave unscratched if it's all the same to you." Muskton was almost as famous for being a doctor as he was for being a pacifist. "And I don't know who Bubba Joe is."

"Well you are that's who."

"No, I'm not."

"Yes you is."

"Yes you are." If there's one thing Muskton hated more than a fight, it was bad grammar.

"You calling me a liar Bubba Joe?"

"Actually I'd rather prefer it if he didn't call you anything," Sheriff Amery interjected. "Why don't you go on and mosey on outta here Duane," he fingered his holster.

The action had caught the attention of Dan and Reed, who'd abandoned their search for Matt.

"You think we should do something?" Dan asked Reed, suddenly speaking loudly.

"You think we should?" Reed asked, speaking loudly as well, almost shouting.

"Should we?" Dan replied.

"We should perhaps."

"Then perhaps we shall," Dan ended their loud exchange, looking around to make sure others had noticed.

About twice a year, Reed and Dan shared a conversation where apparently neither of the men could decide on a course of action. This was usually staged for onlookers so that no one would be able to pin the events following this conversation on either of the two, making it look spontaneous and not at all preconceived. Apparently premeditated unruly behavior with intent to maim carried a harsher penalty in the Old West than spontaneous tomfoolery. This, they had learned back in Dungaree County.

As Duane reached for his six-shooter, clearly intending to use it, Reed shot across the diner amidst the confused screams of the patrons. Dan followed close behind.

"Hey!" Reed screamed as a puzzled Duane turned towards him. "Meet Dean!" Reed affectionately called his fists the Bash Brothers; Dean and Winston. Reed pushed his left fist into Duane's gut followed by a quick uppercut to Duane's chin with his right. "And Winston." Duane toppled backwards onto Rayne's table, drawing more screams from the patrons. A stunned Rayne jumped up, prompting Muskton to reach out his hand to her. Rayne held his hand as he pulled her away from the fight.

Duane got lazily up to his feet, still clutching his revolver in one hand. A minor detail Reed had failed to notice before was that Duane had a second holster.

"Oh yeah?" Duane said, drawing his 2nd revolver. "Meet Smith and Wesson," he said as he trained his sights on Reed. That detail had suddenly become a bit more major now.

Reed had always been the 'punch first think later' sort of person, and as such he was in unfamiliar territory. His victims never really survived his punches and he was now forced to think quickly or risk death. Luckily for him, there were others on hand to help. A gunshot rang through the diner.

Dan was a good shot but it wasn't his bullet that felled Duane. As he clutched his revolver, Dan looked around to see the where the shot had come from. Deputy Sheriff Adam was standing up, a trail of smoke snaking from the barrel of his .44 Magnum. Duane slumped to the floor, dead.

"Duane Allman. One of the notorious Allman brothers," Adam said, walking over to the body.

"Gregg's gonna want your head for that," Amery said, kneeling down to check for a pulse. "Brothers don't let blood flow in vain you know."

"Yeah, but if I was Frank…"

"Let me be frank…" Amery corrected.

"Ok, but let me be Frank a little longer." Adam clearly didn't get the concept.

"Sure, go ahead," Amery had given up.

"I'd say we were gonna have to deal with them sooner or later." Adam was right. The Allman brothers, Gregg and Duane were a frequent menace to the town. They were unruly and rowdy, and half the women in the town had had one or both cheeks of their bottoms pinched by the brothers at one point or another.

"But we wouldn't have had to kill him if it wasn't for this joker over here," Amery pointed at Reed. "Care to explain why I shouldn't book you for obstruction of justice or causing unnecessary death?"

"You know back in Dungaree County when you got slapped by that girl and then in a fit of rage said that you'd kill her fiancé and we both got sent to the slammer for premeditated unruly behavior with intent to maim?" Dan whispered to Reed.

"Yeah," Reed responded.

"I think this might be a bit worse."

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