Disclaimer: Apparently it really is necessary to state
again that I do not own or profit from these wonderful guys or anything related
Comments: This is an experiment . . . an exercise
because I seem to get bored easily and because Im still nervous to
enter the ATF world. I have written a few stories from the C/V point of view
thought Id try my hand with the others. The other guys dont
speak to me as easily, so please be kind! Of course, Chris and Vin
are still there . . . poor guys.
Warnings: Cursing, violence, blood and guts (just
kidding about the guts).
It was a dark and stormy night. Not a very original opening, I know
but it really was dark . . . and stormy. In fact, it had been raining for
three damn days. And that night, it was thundering and lightening and the
wind was blowin and . . . well, it was a really stormy night.
I love stormy nights and this night was awesome. Im sure Buck
didnt think that. Im sure he was scared to death, even though
hed deny it. Hed tell you that hes not afraid of a little,
itty bitty storm but hed be lying. He practically shivers in
his boots when it storms. Damn funny is what it is.
But I guess that has nothing at all to do with what happened that night.
So anyway, it was storming like hell, and Chris and Vin were late. It
wasnt all that different for them to be late, but with the weather
being so bad and all some of the guys were getting kinda nervous.
Not me hell, Chris and Vin can handle themselves better than . . .
well, better than anybody. I didnt figure a little rain would
Wed been waiting at Inezs place for a good hour or more when
they finally came in. They were a little wet; it was a stormy night, after
all. So anyway, they finally came in and sat down at our table and it was
all alright at first . . . but then things started happening and the whole
night went t hell.
It was dangerous, thats all there was to it. None of us should have
been out that night. Heaven knows I had better places to be. But they all
talked me into it . . . said wed had a rough week wrapping up the Bracero
case and we needed some down time.
Dont understand why a group of grown men think sitting in a bar when
all hell is breaking loose outside is "down time." Ive got better ideas
of ways to relax, but Im part of the team and I go where the team goes.
No one will ever say that Nathan Jackson aint a team player.
It was really bad out, though. And the later it got, the more worried I was.
Chris had things to finish up at the office, and Vin naturally waited to
come with him but it was late, even by their standards. After two
hours had passed, I was sure something terrible had happened . . . kept my
cell on the table so I could see real quick if the hospital called.
I cant tell you how relieved I was when those two walked in the door.
Of course, they were drenched. Vin was shivering and I figured hed
be sick by morning. I was already calculating which antibiotic to use and
how much hed need. I cant do the prescribing, but I have got
connections. Good thing, too working with this bunch.
Getting sick turned out to be the least of his problems, though. And the
storm outside turned out to be nothing compared to what happened inside.
I knew we shouldve stayed home.
How this misguided band of misfits coerced me into participating in yet another
long, drawn out affair at our customary tavern remains a mystery. The weather
was positively wretched; gale force winds and driving rain all but ruining
my attire as I rushed from my vehicle to the entrance.
Of course, I was in far better condition than our illustrious leader and
his noble sidekick when they finally arrived. I believe drowned rodents would
most accurately describe their appearance. At that point, I had been sitting,
quite patiently I might add, for a good three hours.
For most of those three hours, I contemplated where I could have been:
at home near the fire with a good novel and an even better glass of wine
. . . although, my associates did provide their own unique brand of
entertainment. As events began to unfold, however, it became apparent that
I would be needed precisely where I was.
There is just nothing better than a good storm to remind us of Gods
power. Lord, it was a night. I would have stayed out and watched His most
awesome display - up close and personal had Nathan not grabbed the
collar of my coat and yanked me inside. Takes a brave man to go yanking
me around strong one, too. Fortunately, I happen to love Nathan
and understand his predisposition for worrying.
He was mostly worried about Chris and Vin, though. They were running a few
minutes late . . . but then, late is a relative term. Who can really measure
time, after all? Im sure youve heard about the value of a second,
a minute, an hour . . . its all relative, like I said. Anything can
happen in the space of time.
And anything did.
While the Lord was displaying His might outside, the Devil surely had a hand
in what happened inside that night.
I am not scared of storms. Its natural to get a bit jumpy with
sudden, loud noises hell, look at the line of work were in after
all. And a tall man like me has to be wary in high winds . . . all kinds
of things whippin about and knockin you around not to
mention lightening. It aint the same for JD hes a whole
lot closer t the ground.
So anyway, lets just make this perfectly clear: I am not scared
Of course, bout anyone wouldve been nervous that night . . .
wasnt your typical storm. And Chris and Vin were late . . . couldve
been five minutes or five hours for all I knew . . . had better things to
occupy my mind, after all. Inez was looking particularly ravishing and I
couldnt take my eyes off her.
But they did finally make it in. I didnt notice if they were wet or
not . . . like I said - Inez was lookin good. Neither one were
talkin much, and I did notice that Chris looked worried and Vin looked
. . . well, hell, Vin always looks kinda laid back and on edge all at the
same time. That was how he looked that night.
Lookin back on it, its almost like they knew somethin was
gonna happen. Wish theyd let us in on it before it did, though. Wish
wed had some idea how bad things were gonna get.
The place was empty by the time it all broke loose. Other people get like
Buck in storms, I guess. It seemed like the wind was picking up even more,
so the rest of the customers headed home.
I could tell Ezra and Nathan wanted to leave, too, but I was glad when Chris
and Vin sorta settled in because I thought the whole thing was pretty cool.
You could hear the rain and hail, I guess it was, slamming against the windows.
The lights kept flickering on and off, so Inez got out a bunch of candles,
and me and Buck helped her light em.
I was surprised when three huge guys came pushing through the door. They
damn near couldnt get it open, with the wind like it was. I just figured
they were stuck or stranded . . . probably on their way some place else when
they pulled over because of the storm. I just figured they were a couple
of regular guys, y know?
But Vin . . . he got this look on his face, right before the lights went
out. And in the shadows of those candles wed lit, I saw him get up
real slow . . . and I saw him reach for his gun.
We should have left when everyone else did. I said it at least five times
. . . and was ignored five times. I could have gone on myself, I know. But
it was getting worse outside, and I kept watching Vin.
He already looked sick, although he didnt say and I didnt ask.
I felt like I needed to stay.
By the time the three men came through the door, I was sure we were in the
midst of a hurricane. And yeah, I understand geography and I know no hurricanes
come hurtling through Denver, but Im telling ya this was no
ordinary storm. We should have gone home. We shouldnt have come in
the first place.
But we did come and we were there, and when we were joined by those men,
the knot in my stomach just twisted a little tighter. I couldnt figure
out why - they were just average looking men, after all; average height and
weight in non-descript jeans and jackets. No one else was there by then,
just us and Inez. My first thought was that there were three other men on
this earth as stupid as we were, being out on a night like this.
My second thought was that we were in trouble . . . because in the glow of
the candles, Chriss face went white.
We were obviously trapped in the throes of some demonic act of nature. I
had insisted on leaving earlier, but had a sudden change of heart after
witnessing a rather large, undeterminable object blow past the windows. I
shuddered in relief thinking that very well could have been my head
had I chosen to step outside in that moment . . . and resumed my seat at
Fortunately, Id had the foresight to bring along a deck of cards. I
had just engaged Josiah in a hand when the men entered the establishment.
I am, of course, being tactful. In truth, I believe my words were more akin
to noting that the considerable gusts had blown in three unsightly, unsavory,
As it turned out, calling these particular miscreants mongrels
does a huge disservice to the canine population.
As the . . . creatures . . . entered the premises, the lights went out once
more. I quickly noted that JD and Buck remained behind the bar with Inez,
lighting candles for our convenience. Vin stood slowly, although with his
back to me, I was unable to see his expression. I turned to Josiah and was
stunned that, even in the poor lighting, I could see the unease that graced
his features. Something was amiss, but before I could inquire further, events
began to unfold as violently as the storm that raged outside our meager shelter.
They used to call it ESP extra-sensory perception. Some might call
it instinct, a feeling, something stirring around deep in your gut. I personally
would like to chalk it up to divine guidance, although the Lord knows that
I tend to turn in the opposite direction out of shear stubbornness most times.
It doesnt matter what you call it, I just knew I had it the minute
those guys entered the door. There were only three of them, and they were
fairly small at that, but I had a feeling.
When the lights went out, I instinctively put my hand on my gun. I couldnt
say why. We dont always carry our guns with us, and I found myself
glancing at the others, trying to remember who was armed right then and who
wasnt. I wasnt even sure why it mattered.
But it did matter. I turned my gaze towards Nathan, wondering if he felt
it, too, but he was watching Chris. And after that, it didnt matter
what I felt or what Nathan thought.
Inez was in need of a little comfort. Oh, she tried t hide it, of course,
but not much gets past old Buck. We were smack in the middle of a damn tornado,
and a little togetherness was definitely called for. I was this close to
convincing her of that, when she thrust a bunch of candles in my hands.
Wed just got most of em lit, when the door blew open and these
three guys rolled in. They looked like they couldve been friends
of JD t me . . . not much bigger or older than him in faded jeans and
sweatshirts. They shook themselves off and didnt say much, and that
was about the time the lights went out.
I stole a glance at Inez in the candlelight, and she set my heart all a flutter,
the way those shadows danced across her face. I thought that maybe she was
the most beautiful . . . well, its not important.
What is important is that Inez moved to offer the men a drink, and I had
a feeling that maybe that wasnt a good thing. I was moving to go stand
beside her when things just got plumb out of hand.
They were quick. It happened so fast, I couldnt believe what I was
seeing. And I have to be honest; the first thing I thought of was what a
cool movie scene it would have made. The lightening and the wind and the
thunder . . . the candle light throwing these eerie shadows all over the
place . . . it felt like we were in a movie, or a well done TV show, at least.
But anyway, they were fast. One of them had moved behind Inez and had their
gun up against her head in like, three seconds. Buck was close by and he
almost made it in time, but the other guy was faster and he pulled
Inez back by the window while screaming at Buck to back off.
I was watching that whole thing, and didnt even realize at first that
the other two guys had their guns out, too . . . along with Chris and Vin
and Josiah and Ezra. Me and Buck were still behind the bar, and wed
left our weapons locked up in the car anyway. I remember Buck saying that
the others would be loaded and there was no need for all seven of us to be
packing. He said something like, "Chris wouldnt visit his mother without
his gun", and then he laughed and said that was a line from some old show
called "Starsky and Hutch". I rolled my eyes and told him it was time to
join the twenty-first century and start watching real television like "CSI".
He said it was "too gory", and then . . .
Where was I? Oh yeah, it was four to three, with Inez in a tight spot.
And I could see that Buck and I were thinking the same thing . . . we should
have brought our guns.
It was hard to see in the dim light, but it was clear that we were in a mess.
I was sitting next to Vin, Chris was across from him. Josiah was across from
me and Ezra was on the other side of me. So when Vin stood up and turned
towards the men, I couldnt really see his face. I could see Chriss
though, and by the time hed joined Vin on his feet with his gun in
his hand, I knew by his expression that it was too late.
I dont know why I was surprised that the other four at the table had
their guns with them. I always knew down time didnt mean
to them what it did to me. Not that Im complaining, mind you. It could
have been a whole lot worse if they werent prepared for trouble. Of
course, Im always prepared for trouble, but in a different way. I
dont go anywhere with these men without a supply of first aid supplies.
In fact, Id even left a kit at the bar with Inez, and now Im
glad I had that foresight.
The shadows were downright creepy, but I could see enough to realize that
there were way too many weapons in way too tight a space.
Someone would be hurt before this was over.
Good Lord, we were in the midst of some horrid Tim Burton film. I kept waiting
for Johnny Depp to leap from the shadows and wield a scissor-like claw or
chop off a head.
One of the vile beings had his hand around Inez throat with his gun
pressed up against her temple. I kept my aim steady on him, but I couldnt
help glancing at Buck and uttering a silent prayer that he would keep his
own head intact. Yes, I know it may surprise some, but on occasion I have
been known to resort to asking for assistance from a higher power.
The tension was unbearably . . . tense. I am sure there is a better way to
describe it, but the point remains that for several long minutes, no one
moved and no one spoke. The other two men remained armed at the door
their smug expressions notable even in the darkness. I, for one, had the
great desire to drop them both where they stood without so much as a backward
glance, but as always, I waited for direction from Chris. In spite of my
reputation, I have gotten quite good at following orders.
To my surprise however, Chris did not take the lead . . . Vin did.
Time is relative, like I said, and I couldnt tell you if it all happened
over five seconds or five minutes. The only thing I was sure of was that
Chris and Vin knew something we didnt. And I dont mind telling
you that I was a bit irritated at that.
They never had said why they were late or why Chris was jumpy and Vin was
. . . cautious. Alright, Vins always cautious Ill
give you that. But there was something going on and we all knew it, although
we also knew enough to give the two men their space. Theyd only been
at the table a short time when it all went down, so Im choosing to
believe that they were going to tell us eventually.
Vin went for his weapon at the same moment the man went for Inez. Chris and
I were a step behind, but it didnt matter at that point. We were already
at a stalemate. I was hoping it was simple robbery, but as I said
Chris and Vin knew more than we did.
That was painfully obvious when Vin stepped forward and said in that soft
drawl of his, "Aint no need to hurt no one. Its me yer after."
Chris spoke real low then, his voice taking on that tone that we all know
means wed better listen up and good, "Dont, Vin. We can take
Vin still had his back to me, but I could hear him sigh, and it was a forlorn,
desperate sound that sent a shiver up my spine. I wanted nothing more than
to put my hand to his arm and remind him that we were at his back, but I
didnt get the chance.
Time is relative. But sometimes it just doesnt play into our hands.
That night, time was against us, and I never did get the chance to tell Vin
what I needed to.
It happened so damn fast and I was too damn slow and so damn mad. I remember
growling under my breath and slamming my hand on the bar. I was just getting
ready to tell the son of a bitch where he could go when Vin spoke up. And
what the hell was that all about anyway? How did he know?
Vin was walking real slow towards em and Chris was tellin him
not to, and then the guy closest to the door says, "Youre right, Tanner.
Now just drop your weapon and come with us and everyone else will be safe
and sound in their beds tonight."
It was real hard t see in the shadows, but I could tell that Inez
eyes were wide and she was thinkin that as bad as she wanted out of
this, she didnt want Vin sacrificin himself for her. Shes
one special woman, Ill tell you that.
Vin pretty much just stopped in his tracks and said real quiet, "Im
comin but you step away from her," and he tipped his head towards
Chris spoke up again and he said, "No, Vin." Just like that. Simple and to
the point like only Chris can be.
But Vin ignored him - like only Vin can do.
Tanner just walked into the center of the room and he laid his gun down on
the floor real slow.
"Just me," he said to the guy by the door, the one that had his gun pointed
straight at Vins heart.
And it was like he was just fine with being taken out by these punks in a
run-down bar no offense to my darlin Inez in the middle
of the most god-awful storm that ever was.
But none of us were fine with it . . . none of us thought it would
be that simple anyway. Even if it could have been as simple as them walking
away with Vin, none of us had any intention of lettin it go down that
They knew it, too. But they were too young and too eager and just too damn
stupid to let it go. Blood would be shed one way or the other . . . every
person in that room knew that.
Except maybe Vin. To this day, I think he really thought he could get us
all out of it just by goin along with em. Shit, Tanner.
I guess Ill always wonder how we could have done it differently, but
I reckon it dont much matter now.
Shit . . . it was a mess.
Sometimes I feel so stupid and this was one of those times. I
couldnt think what to do. I just stood there behind the bar and did
nothing at all. I dont think I even turned my head . . . just let my
eyes go back and forth between those men and Vin and Chris and Buck.
Buck was a few feet ahead of me, and I couldnt see his face. But I
could tell by the way he was standing that he was real tense and real mad.
I prayed he wouldnt go off and do something wed all regret. Now
dont get me wrong theres not another man Id rather
have at my back. Bucks my best friend and I trust him. But when it
comes to a woman in trouble, hes likely to act before he thinks. And
with Inez being that woman, I figured hed definitely act before
It was Vin who ended up surprising me, though. He mustve known who
the men were because he sure knew they were there for him. I was wishing
hed listen to Chris and just hold off. We could have taken them for
sure . . . even with me and Buck being unarmed. In fact, I couldnt
believe anyone would think just three guys could take down the seven of us
. . . geez, talk about stupid.
It was dark, and even with the doors and windows closed, it seemed like the
candles were flickering with the wind. All of the sudden, it wasnt
so cool anymore. I couldnt even think about a shoot-out in the shadows
- didnt want to think about how deadly it could be.
What if we werent as invincible as I thought?
Vin was right in the middle of the room and the other guys were still at
the table in the back. Chris was inching forward though and he looked like
he wanted to grab hold of Vin and pull him back. I couldnt see his
face, but I could tell thats what he was thinking.
It might have turned out different if he hadnt moved that way . . .
I dont know. I just know that when Chris moved, the third guy got nervous.
And thats when it all went to hell.
It was dark . . . it was just too damn dark for bullets to be flyin.
I was praying that everyone would keep their heads and keep still, but I
knew it wouldnt turn out that way. One of the guys saw Chris move towards
Vin, and that was it. He fired.
I didnt think hed hit anything 'til later. I heard the
guy holding Inez yell, "Dammit, Richard!" and he turned for just a second.
Im not sure what happened after that, I just know that when I looked
back a few seconds later, Inez was behind the bar with Buck and JD.
And the bullets started flyin in earnest then. We tipped our table
over and got down behind it. I kept screaming at Chris t take cover,
but the damn fool wasnt listening. The three men were behind tables
themselves at this point, although I was pretty sure at least one of them
My cell phone had been knocked to the floor when we dumped the table, and
I reached for it then. Somehow I knew there wouldnt be a signal; the
storm must have knocked out everything for miles. I remember sliding it back
in my pocket - with a few words that Rain would chew my ass for using. We
were on our own.
It was about then that I realized Id lost sight of Vin. I knew he was
last standing right there in the middle of the room, but I wasnt sure
what had happened to him once the shooting started. I was relieved at first
when I saw him flat on the floor, lying on his stomach. It was hard to see
with the candles wavering and casting the odd shadows about the room, but
I was pretty sure I saw him move, and I breathed a sigh of relief.
But then I could have sworn I saw a darker shadow spreading on the floor
beneath him. I rubbed my hand across my eyes, thinking my mind was playing
tricks on me. But deep inside - I figure I knew it all along. My heart and
my stomach told me way before my brain did . . . Vin was hit. Oh God, Vin.
"Vins hit!" I yelled out, thinking maybe no one else realized it.
The firing stopped for a minute and I heard Chris gasp. And that was when
Josiah reached over and pulled him back behind the table. He turned to me
then and he said, "Chris is hurt, too, Nathan."
I pride myself on being perceptive; on being able to keep track of several
simultaneous events; on keeping a level head under extreme duress. And I
failed miserably on all accounts that night.
When the first shot was fired, I was simply stunned. As the battle ensued,
I found that Id somehow managed to lose track of not only Inez, but
Vin as well. She was there, by the window, only moments before . . . and
then she was gone. Vin was standing dangerously wide open in the middle of
the room, but in the confusion and the darkness, I had trouble seeing if
he was still there. I tried to peer around behind the table Id been
roughly shoved behind courtesy of Josiahs strong hand
but a bullet slammed a little too close for comfort just inches from my head.
I returned fire, cursing the blackness and the shadows that distorted my
Even with the sounds of fire echoing in my ears, I heard the panic in
Nathans voice when he announced that Vin had been hit.
Well, of course he had. He had been in the middle of the room . . . in the
open . . . an oddly willing target. I wanted to scream at the self-sacrificing,
honorable sniper, "Is this what you wanted?" I wanted to stalk over, pull
him into my arms, and tell him what a disastrous mess hed made and
that if he had the audacity to die on me I would never forgive him
but I couldnt even do that. No one could get to him. They were on one
side and we were on the other, and there lay Vin in the middle. Good Lord,
And then, Josiah announced that Chris was hurt, too.
I knew Chris was hit with the very first shot. I saw him jerk and then pull
his body upright like nothing had happened. I just wasnt sure how bad
Vin was a different story. The bullets were flying fast and furious, and
I had no idea where hed ended up. I kept hoping that hed made
it off to the side somewhere, but when Nathan spoke up, I looked closer.
Lord no, Vin.
The break in the shooting gave me the opportunity I needed to pull Chris
in. I wasnt sure if the gasp was because he was hurting, or because
of what Nathan had said, but either way, he was getting out of the way.
He groaned a little, but he was right back up and shooting within minutes.
"Take it easy, Brother," I said. "Let us handle it," but even though it was
pretty dark back in our corner, I could tell he was looking at me like Id
lost my mind.
It was about then that one of the men shouted out, "Let us take Tanner and
this is over."
Chris just about jumped out from behind the table at that. I kept my hand
firmly on his arm as he answered back, "Over our dead bodies."
There are times when being a part of this family is nearly overwhelming in
its intensity, and this was one of them. I couldnt see the expression
on a single one of my friends faces, but I didnt have to. I knew
we all felt the same. Chris hadnt said over his dead body,
hed said over our dead bodies. And he was right . . . there
was no way they were going out that door with Vin.
The only problem was - there was no way we could get to him either. And even
though the light from the candles that lined the bar didnt quite reach
to the floor where Vin lay, it was apparent that he wasnt going to
be able to help us.
When Idiot Number Three fired that first shot, Idiot Number Two turned just
enough to yell at him. And that was pretty much all the opportunity I needed.
Fortunately, Id trained Inez well, and she recognized it, too. Damn,
that woman is somethin else. She threw her elbow in his stomach and
he gasped and dropped the gun just enough that I knew I could yank her out
from under him. Seconds . . . it was only seconds . . . but it was long enough.
I pulled her back behind me, and we crouched down low behind the bar. I glanced
back to check on JD and he gave me a shaky nod. The Kid was nervous, I could
see it, and I sure didnt blame him. Damn storm was bad enough,
shootin in the dark was a goddamn nightmare.
We were in a bad position, too, stuck behind the bar just yards from where
Idiot Number Two was hunkered down and no gun. Or at least, thats
what I thought - until Inez reached under the bar and handed me a pistol
without my even thinkin t ask. I think this is a good place to
repeat that Inez is one hell of a woman. So at least I could keep my particular
Idiot occupied while the guys concentrated on the other two.
I was wonderin what had happened t Vin in the midst of all of
this, but I didnt have time t get too worried, until I heard
Nathan yell that hed been hit. Felt like Id been punched in the
stomach, especially when I realized that he was most likely lyin somewhere
between them . . . and us. Dammit, Tanner.
And y know that just made me mad. I was more determined than
ever that the Three Idiots were goin down.
I could tell when it all changed . . . when it got personal. That probably
sounds dumb, but thats the way it is . . . the way it was. Were
professionals we know our job. But when one of us is hurt, it all
In spite of all the stuff they teach you, it gets personal. Those three guys
didnt stand a chance.
I was going nuts stuck behind the bar without a gun to help out. I tried
inching down towards the one end of the bar away from the shooters,
to see if I could reach around and grab Vins feet. I thought the guys
could cover me and that I could pull him back behind the bar. I dont
know what I thought would happen then, I just knew I couldnt leave
him lying out there on the floor. I couldnt really see him at all,
but I could picture him in my mind . . . I could see the blood and I almost
thought I could smell it. And it wasnt so cool at all. I was wishing
it was just a movie.
And then I got a different idea. Y see, when you come in the door at
Inez place, the bar lines most of the wall to your left. The guys were
in the back, and the shooters in the front, and the only other way out was
through the kitchen behind the bar. I was maybe ten feet from the door to
the kitchen, and the only guy who might have a clear shot at me was the one
who had had a hold of Inez and Buck was keeping him real busy.
Creepin up as close as I could to Buck, I whispered to him, "Give me
your keys, Im going for help."
He sighed . . . like maybe he was wondering if that was such a good idea,
but he stopped shooting just long enough to reach in his pocket and toss
them to me.
I was turning and just about to make a run for it when he said, "Watch your
back, JD and go for help. Dont try t be a hero."
It was kinda funny that I hadnt even thought about that. But as I sprinted
for that door, I have to admit I could see it in my mind: me crashing through
the doors in Bucks truck and taking them all out. It would have made
a cool movie, if only Vin wasnt hurt. Damn, Vin.
Seemed like a waste t me . . . waste of bullets, waste of time, waste
of blood. They were all shootin in the dark like it made some sort
of sense. And it had crossed the line from professional to personal.
Thats when I get real nervous, because thats when we take foolish
chances. With the candles lining the bar, about the only place I could see
clearly was the area around the bar. So when I saw JD take off, I cringed.
If I could see him, it was damn sure everyone else could, too. He only had
to make it a few feet, but he was in plain sight of the shooter by the window.
Im almost positive I heard him yelp as he ran, but he did make it out
And thank God he did. I knew it would take some time for him to get
reinforcements, but at least the ball was rolling . . . at least help would
be on the way. Im good at what I do, but I had at least two men with
bullets in em.
Which reminded me . . . "Chris? How bad you hurt?" I asked.
He grunted and fired off another round. How many bullets does he carry around
anyway? The man must be prepared for taking down an army.
I tried again, "Chris, let Josiah and Ezra hold em and let me look
He grunted again or maybe it was a snicker, but then he said, "Only
person you need to concern yourself with is lying on the floor, Nate."
And then he turned to Josiah and he said, "Im goin for Vin."
I whispered a prayer of thanks when JD made it through the door, knowing
help would soon be on the way. But either Chris didnt know that, or
blood loss had clouded his brain.
I latched onto his arm again when he said he was going after Vin. "No, Chris.
JDs gone for help. We sit tight."
"Vin cant wait," he said. And in his voice, I heard that raw fear that
creeps up on a man and squeezes the good sense right out of him.
"He can. He will." I could have said a whole lot more to offer him some
reassurance, but I knew I had to keep it simple if I wanted him to hear me
But I guess I just made him mad, because he shoved me aside and he growled,
"Vins bleeding out twenty feet away from me and Im not sitting
on my ass and letting it happen!"
And that was when Ezra spoke up. "So we move the table."
I had purchased the tables. None of the others knew, but when Inez took over
our favorite gathering place, I simply could not abide the cheap furniture.
She made arrangements to repay my investment, but I simply took her monthly
payment and deposited it back into her account. Since I manage the books
for her, she is unaware. Yes, as difficult as it is for some to believe
she trusts me.
Do not be getting the idea that I am somehow chivalrous or God forbid, generous.
I was just aware that if I was to continue cavorting with my current comrades
I would undoubtedly be spending an inordinate amount of time in this
establishment. I was merely thinking of my own comfort. So I bought the best.
The table wed taken refuge behind was no doubt riddled with bullets,
but it had held up incredibly well. I made a mental note to inform the
manufacturers how extremely pleased I was with their product.
And then it occurred to me that our shield was mobile. Why not move the table
closer to our fallen friend?
I was pretty sure theyd winged JD, but I made myself not think about.
The Kid was still on his feet and out the door, so it couldnt have
been too bad. At least, thats what I told myself. But just in case
he was lyin out there bleedin in the street, I decided it was
time t end this, and I guess the boys decided the same.
I couldnt quit firin long enough to poke my head around the bar
and see what the others were up to, but I figured theyd gotten some
kind of idea, because all of the sudden Idiot Number One yells out,
"Theyre coming towards us!" and he starts shootin all wild and
crazy. Of course, hed been shootin wild and crazy from the beginning.
I was keeping Number Two busy, and I wasnt all that sure what had happened
to the third guy, til I heard him groan, "Im bleedin, man,
get me outta here."
I shook my head at that. Young, stupid kids was all they were . . . probably
hired to do the job with the lure of big bucks. Shit.
I hollered out then, "Sounds like a good idea seein how this
place is gonna be surrounded with cops in about five minutes." I was pretty
sure it would take a little longer than that . . . with the power out and
lines down and the storm still raging JD might have to drive the fifteen
minutes to the nearest station for help. That is, if he could drive.
But I was not gonna think about that.
That was when my guy yelled out, "Lets get the hell out of here, Lou!"
And Lou, otherwise known as Idiot Number One although he apparently
was the brains of the outfit - he stops shooting and says real calm, "I got
my gun on Tanners head. You let us out of here, or I blow his brains
all over the floor."
Now it was dark, but he just might have been able to see Vins head
from where he was.
The shooting stopped then, and it got real quiet except for the wind
still howling outside the windows.
And then Chris says, "Go."
Im thinkin that maybe thats not the best way to go here,
but I dont say anything. I just keep my gun on my guy as he crawls
towards the door, latching onto the injured one along the way. I move around
from behind the bar so I can keep my eye and my gun on them, and thats
when Lou moves away from his table and heads for the door his gun
still pointed straight at Vin. The other two make it out, one of em
leaning on the other, but Lous just standing there in the shadows .
. . lookin real twitchy between the door and the guys and Vin.
And I just knew he was gonna do it. Damn stupid kid. Probably was offered
more money than hed ever seen in his life to get Vin, and he just
couldnt walk away. Well, not that we had that in mind, anyway . . .
but hell, he didnt have t die that night.
Chris took him down. I couldnt see who took the shot, but I didnt
have to. The Idiot didnt even know what hit him before he was dead
on the ground.
I took off out the front with Ezra on my tail. We caught up to the other
two in minutes and dragged them back to the bar. I let Ezra get em
tied up neat and pretty, while I went out back and checked for JD. He
wasnt lying in the street and my truck was gone, but even in the light
of one small candle, I could see a trail of blood.
I couldnt think about it right then, so I went back inside - just in
time to hear Nathan say that Vin had been shot . . . in the back.