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(Tombstone, Arizona Territory, 1880)

Hat over his face, Dic slumped in his chair, snoring, while a small Chinese woman swept and scrubbed off last night’s excess around the saloon. Amos reclined somewhat uncomfortably in the low window ledge, barely wide enough to fit his narrow rump. The two men semi-permanent fixtures at the old bar, drawing nobody’s particular attention.

Dic used to be a cowboy, working cattle around Cochise County, but found playing cards paid better and quicker. The locals soon learned not to bet against him, though no one ever said he cheated, but there was always some newcomer who tried his luck, just enough to keep Dic rolling in dough.

“Excuse please, so sorry,” the cleaning woman said, sweeping around the chair. Dic shifted slightly, adjusting his feet when he felt the broom.


Daisy, hair down and still in her night dress, knocked softly on Fallon’s door. “Good morning, time to rise.” Ear close, she heard muffled laughter. Heart smiling, she was glad the night had gone well.

Being that it wasn’t locked, after knocking again, she pushed in slightly, saying, “Sir, fancy some breakfast?”

Smiling, Derek sat up on the bed, still fully clothed, “Sure, I’s could use some grub.”

Daisy stared. Something wasn’t right. Fallon was smiling, too, but not with that silly grin of a girl had just been “rode”. She seemed happy, relaxed. “Yes, sir, I can get that for you,” Daisy said slowly, questioning the scene before her. “How was your night? Everything go okay?”

Fallon said, “Yes, we had a good time.”

Not believing her, Daisy asked, “A real... good time?” nodding slowly, eyebrows raised.

Derek said, “We talked, that’s all.

Pit in her stomach growing, Daisy said nothing, but her face revealed everything. Fallon instinctively drew the covers up around her chest.

“Don’t’s worry, I’s don’t need my money back,” Derek offered.


Down below, Amos returned from the outhouse, sitting down in the chair across from Dic, who still feigned sleep. “Dic!” Amos said, “Get up you old codger, it’s day.”

“Pipe down, Amos, can’t you see when a man’s tryin’ to sleep?”

“You know, one thing I never figured ’bout you is why you sleep here when you have that big old house down the street with a fine bed in it.”



“I have a predilection towards constant efficiency.”

“Dic, talk English!”

Taking off his spectacles, rubbing them on his shirt, he said, “I take things easy, that’s all. I’ll end up here again in a few hours, and there’s no one to cook for me at the house, anyway. Everything I really need is here.”

Amos, eyeing the old man sighed, “You are the strangest cowboy I ever met.”


“Where’s Daisy!” Frannie May yelled down from the top of the stairs, big breasts dangerously close to falling out of her night dress as she leaned over the rail. No one answered. I swear that girl couldn’t teach a hen to cluck. I’ll tan her hide when I find her.

Knocking loudly on the door where she had left ‘the new girl’ and her customer the night before, Frannie opened it, seeing the big black man fully clothed and ready to leave. Smiling, she said, “Hope she was to your liking, sir. She can be your regular if you want.”

But as soon as the words left her lips, Frannie realized something was wrong. Staring at Fallon, fully dressed and sitting on the bed, then back at the big man, “What the hell’s goin’ on here?”

“I’s wants to talks to you about the girl, Madam.”

“Look, you’re done here. I’ll deal with the girl,” the big woman said, temperature rising.

“I wants to buy her from you. I’s trade my rifle, it’s worth at least 80 dollars.”

Stunned for a moment, the large woman replied, “Well, if she’s that good, it’d take a lot more than a rifle to buy her.”

Looking at the young girl, Frannie said with a sneer, “Those Apache must have taught you a might more than I thought.” Looking back at Derek, she finished with, “leave, she’s not for sale.”

“If you wants more, I’s owes you, pay you every penny from my work at the mine. You haves my word.”

“Didn’t you hear me? I said no! Now get out, before I call the sheriff and have you run out! Now you get those travelin clothes off, girl, there’s work to do!”

Fallon looked at Derek with fear in her eyes.

“I’s made you a fair offer, ma’am. You’s best take it.”

“Or what?” Face reddening, she yelled, “Do you know who I am?! There ain’t but a handful of sportin’ women in this whole damned county, and I control half of them! One word from me and you’ll be strung up from the nearest tree – do you hear me?! Now get out!” She slapped his face hard. Though she didn’t let on, his face felt like granite to her now stinging hand.


The few people down in the saloon that morning looked up briefly as the madam’s voice rose higher and higher, becoming a torrent of every foul and demeaning term for a Negro known to mankind. Dic, knowing the madam’s temper, felt sorry for whoever was on the receiving end of it, having seen grown men descend that staircase in tears.

Amos just shook his head, “That is one mean woman.”

The bartender, having heard it all before, went back to cleaning and arranging empty glasses.


“Stop! Don’t hit him!” Fallon said, moving forward.

“You little Injun whore,” Frannie yelled as she slapped Fallon so hard she lost her balance, falling to the floor.

Derek cocked his rifle, as Fallon turned her face up, looking to Derek, blood trickling from the corner of her mouth.

The madam lunged for her again, when the powerful hand grabbed the collar of her dress, pulling her back, then shoving her towards the door like a rag doll. Whipping around, she faced the barrel of Derek’s Winchester pointed squarely at her chest.

“You’s better leave,” the big man said.

Momentarily shocked, then her face setting hard, she grabbed the gun’s barrel, saying, “Or what?”

Derek stared hard at Fallon’s attacker, “Momma used to say that most people ain’t worth a bullet.”

Confidence and blood draining from the madam’s face, her grip loosened.

“But you is.”

The gunshot tore through the morning, as Frannie May stumbled backwards through the door, flipping over the banister, falling face first towards the floor below. Dic, startled, looked up just in time to see the great whale of a woman flailing in what seemed like pouring molasses as he ducked to one side, scrambling to get out of the way.

Amos, unable to comprehend what had just happened as he looked up, thought it odd that the madam would trip over the banister upstairs like that.

The barkeep, staring up in disbelief, loosed the glass in his hand, it traveling slowly towards it’s inevitable shattering.

Blood spurted out of the madam’s chest, as she saw, vision failing, the card table rush to meet her. Then, everything sped up with a sudden thud, table splaying; flattened by the body of Madam Frannie May Morten.

People just stared, all except Dic, who was still crawling out of the way. As all downstairs just sat of stood stunned, upstairs, Derek thought quickly. Rifle and pistol in hand, fully loaded, the big black man strode out of the room, hat on, chest crisscrossed with a bandolier of bullets. Fallon followed in tow with whatever she could carry, wrapped up in the bed’s blanket.

As they descended the stairs, Derek’s rifle pointed at the bartender who was reaching under the counter. “There’s no need, ” he said. “Hands up slowly if you’s want to live,” – which the man did, knowing the angry Negro meant nothing but business.

Fallon, taking the initiative, went around and fetched the scatter gun and box of shells from under the bar, then followed her protector through the stunned saloon as he headed toward the swinging doors.

Backing out of the bar, Derek warned, “I’s a buffalo hunter, and this here is a one-of-one-thousand Winchester, and I’s a very good shot. Iffin’ any of you posse after us, I’ll kills you before you see’s me.” The creaking of the double doors, swinging back and forth, was all that was heard after he left.

Hearing steps on the clapboard beside him, Derek turned like lightning, pointing his gun at a brown-haired woman standing close to the wall just outside the doors. Fallon, surprised, said, “Miss Daisy?” Trembling, the woman looked at Derek who angled the gun barrel up and away.

Handing a tied-up pillow case to Fallon, Daisy said, “There’s salted pork, beans, biscuits and other things for both of you. Take your man and escape this life, honey. Go far, far away.” Tears in her eyes she pulled Fallon close and hugged her tightly, “Do it for both of us.”

Sizing up the horses outside, Derek pointed, “Takes that one,” as he mounted a big gelding.

Fallon, swinging up into the saddle of the mare, hanging the bundle round the horn, said in wonderment, “Sir, you are the bravest man I have ever laid eyes on.”

Derek brought the horse’s head around, yelling, “Yah!” galloping out of town with Fallon close behind.