Jake Hollister stepped from the Café onto the boardwalk. Pulling the fixings from his shirt pocket, he rolled a cigarette, sticking it in the corner of his mouth. Searching his pockets for a match, he thought about the week of quiet that prevailed since the raid on Ab MacGregor’s ranch and wondered how much longer it would last.
Finding a match in his pants pocket, he struck it on the doorjamb. Lighting the quirley, he spotted Ab MacGregor and his son, Harley riding down the opposite side of the street. Waving out the flame, he threw the match into the street, watching the ranchers dismount and hitch their horses. Stepping up on the boardwalk, they shouldered through the batwings of the LA ROSA cantina. He stepped down from the boardwalk and strode across the street to his office where Zac Benson sat outside.
“See who just rode into town?” asked his deputy, when Jake stepped up on the boardwalk.
The sheriff nodded his head and sat down in the chair next to Zac. “Yeah, I did,” he answered. “The MacGregors don’t usually come to town during the week.”
“I got a funny feelin’ the quiet times around here are about to come to an end,” uttered Zac.
Looking down the street, a rider caught Jake’s attention, bobbing in his saddle to the gait of the gelding dun. Any doubt Jake had to the identity of the rider was erased when he rode by wearing the ivory handled Colt. The crossed gunbelts told him an identical gun rested in a holster on the opposite hip.
Riding by them, the gunman glanced down at the two lawmen. A long scar, the gift of a long ago knife fight, started at his chin and disappeared under his hat causing a permanent sneer on his face.
Dismounting in front of the LA ROSA cantina, the rider hitched his horse between the two MacGregor horses. Walking around behind his mount, he patted the dun on his flank and looked over toward Jake and Zac. He stepped up on the boardwalk accompanied by the soft jangle of his spurs and pushed through he batwings of the cantina.
“Was that who I think it was?” asked Zac.
Jake nodded at his deputy. “Reed McNally.”
“First, Mac Prescott, then Spence Delman and his slimy bunch and now Reed McNally. Who’s gonna show up next?” asked Zac.
“Don’t ask,” replied Jake, rising from his chair. “Guess I’ll go see what brought McNally to Bannock.” Accompanied by Lobo, he started toward the cantina. Popping up from his chair, Zac followed close behind.
Jake pushed through the batwings, holding them open while he surveyed the room. Nearest to him, at the end of the bar, stood Rosa Dejesus, owner of the cantina. The ever-present pink rose adorned her raven black hair. She glided toward the two lawmen when they pushed into the cantina.
“Senor, sheriff, what brings you to Rosa’s cantina?” she asked.
“A fella came in here, two guns and a big scar,” replied Jake running his thumbnail down the side of his face.
“Si,” Rosa replied, “he sits with Senor MacGregor.” She nodded toward the back of the room. Jake thanked her and he and Zac walked toward the MacGregors.
Ab MacGregor sat back in his chair when the two lawmen neared their table. “Afternoon, sheriff,” greeted the rancher.
“Ab, Harley,” responded Jake, nodding at the father and son. He looked over at Reed McNally, whose attempt at a smile made the sneer appear more sinister.
“Sheriff,” greeted the gunman with a barely noticeable nod.
Jake put a boot on the empty chair and leaned forward on his knee. “What brings you to Bannock, McNally?”
“I hired Mister McNally, sheriff,” interrupted Ab. Jake looked over at the elder MacGregor.
“For security reasons,” added Harley with a smile.
Jake looked back at Zac who gave him a shrug of his shoulders. Looking at the ranchers and the gunman in turn, he removed his boot from the chair.
“You gentlemen have a nice day.” Touching a finger to his hat, Jake turned from the table, waving at Rosa as he walked from the cantina.
“I think all the quiet days are about to come to an end,” mocked Jake as he and Zac walked back to the sheriff’s office.