by C. Ikpoh


The dry desert heat became still. There was no breeze, leaving the sun rays to sit on their heads, drawing perspiration from underneath their hats. The sound of horse neighs echoed in the background. The animal's sixth sense detected the mortal hostility in the air. Meanwhile, the nervous onlookers perched behind wooden barrels and saloon doors shook with anticipation. The two men were alone in the dirt road, but the whole town was with them, watching as anxiously as the gunslingers involved in the showdown.

"I done had about enough of you coming into my town, Quicksilver!" one of the men yelled. His name was Tommy the Black, called so for his dark black hair, black mustache, black eye color and consistently all black attire. He was of a larger stature, standing about 6'5, weighing about 225 lbs. He was fit, and with his physique, one would figure he would have challenged his opponent to a brawl instead of a duel. Yet, that was the effect Lincoln Dawson had on people. He often made them do things he wanted without them being aware of it.

"Only my friends call me Quicksilver, Tommy, and you are not one of them," Lincoln replied.

"You ain't got no friends, you piece of horse shit!" Tommy the Black replied.

"Well. Isn't that just an awful thing to say? I think you should apologize."

Tommy leaned to the side and spit a long stream of brown tobacco juice and saliva in the dirt. His response to Lincoln's request was obvious. There would be no apology made.

Upon this, Lincoln slowly removed his coat, revealing his famed twin silver Colt revolvers. Tommy brushed his coat to the side, eagerly anticipating the moment to draw. As he did so, there were noticeable shifts made by many of the onlookers. They were startled by Tommy the Black's abrupt movements. They knew the time for shooting was at hand.

Lincoln could see Tommy tense his muscles as he seethed with anger. For many months now, Lincoln was coming and going out of Lawton, Arizona, winning copious amounts of money in poker games, dazzling the women with tales of his travels abroad the western US territories set to song and play on the piano, and then subsequently taking them to his chambers away from Tommy the Black and his crew, along with their money. It all finally came to a head on that very hot day in July of 1880. Tommy would not stand for it anymore. "Imma be happy when I kill your ass for GOOD!" Tommy declared.

Slightly smiling, Lincoln replied, "Waiting on you then, Tommy."

The sand and dirt began to crunch underneath Lincoln's boots. His foundation and stance was steady. He inched his arm up towards his holster, resting his finger on the protruding, finely detailed ivory white handle while tapping it to an internal tune. Lincoln locked eyes with Tommy, engaging their senses. He noticed Tommy growing increasingly impatient and filled with rage as the air between them thickened with anticipation. Lincoln was blatantly taunting him, operating with arrogance and an unparalleled hubris. He knew that would further infuriate Tommy the Black, and it surely did. So much so, it pushed Tommy over the edge, making him draw his pistol.

Tommy was a seasoned gunslinger. He never lost a duel out of eight fights. His movement was fluid and his accuracy was better than most. Nevertheless, he was no Quicksilver. He did not have the ability to control his emotions or slow his heartbeat as Lincoln did. He could not relax his entire body before commanding lightening fast reflexes as Lincoln could. His vision was not magnified, isolating any target in sight and allowing for pinpoint accuracy, as Lincoln's was. Ultimately, Tommy the Black never stood a chance.

Suddenly, two loud cracks blasted through the desert air. The noises rang in the ears of the onlookers, leaving them momentarily deaf. Once they regained their wits about them, they all looked to see the outcome of the duel. The two men were still standing. Neither had a hole in their heads or bodies. It appeared neither connected with their shot, which baffled the audience. They pondered how both great gunslingers could completely miss one another. Not before long, though, their question was answered.

Tommy the Black stood, breathing heavily while looking down at the ground. Small puddles of dark blood were wrapped in dirt and soot between his feet. Slowly, he reached with his left hand and grabbed his right, covering the wound. Tommy was missing a finger and some of his hand. It had been disintegrated upon the impact of Lincoln's bullet. His shooting hand, a gunslinger's prized body part, had been mutilated. Tommy stood in the street like a lame horse. Such was Lincoln's intention: to first humiliate Tommy by displaying superior skill and shooting his gun from his hand, and then kill him.

Spitting the wad of tobacco into the dirt, Tommy looked up at Lincoln and slowly said, "Fuck... you,... Quick..."

Another crack blasted into the desert air. Before Tommy could finish his sentence, Lincoln shot him once again. This time, directly through his throat, instantly killing Tommy. Blood sprayed out of both holes in the loser's neck, gradually slowing to a few squirts and slow trickle. As he approached the dead body, Lincoln knelt down while rummaging through Tommy's pockets, taking the money inside. "I told you that you were not one of my friends, Tommy. Now you will not be able to call anyone by their name in the afterlife," Lincoln said while standing up.

Slowly, the onlookers crept from behind their cover. The duel was over, and they wanted a better look at the result. As the saloon doors swung open, Lincoln turned towards them. In a calm voice with a hint of merriness, he told the townspeople, "Come. I believe we were about to buy another round before these unfortunate events. Drinks on me. Well, on Tommy the Black actually." He glanced back at the dead body, tipped his hat and said, "On behalf of all these good people, thank you, Tommy. Much obliged." With that, Lincoln walked to the saloon, his spurs clinking along the way. When he reached the door, Lincoln kindly asked a woman while he passed, "Would you be a dear and fetch my coat for me? It would be much appreciated."

"Sur...sure thing, Quicksil...," the woman stopped herself in dread. She made the mistake of calling Lincoln by his outlaw name.

Stopping his gait, Lincoln turned. Seeing the fear on the woman's face, he went over to her, gently touched her cheek, and reassured her by saying, "With beauty like yours and a bust like that, you can call me Quicksilver anytime, darling." Lincoln then winked, bringing a smile to the woman's face as she walked to retrieve his coat. And just like that, the legend of Lincoln "Quicksilver" Dawson grew once more.


"I'm always in favor of a challenge, but bucking the tiger just isn't my particular brand of whiskey, gentlemen. " Quicksilver was backed into a corner. Three angry men with their guns drawn stood before him, itching at the opportunity to exact revenge for the murder of their boss, Tommy the Black.

"No need to be polite, Dawson. We ain't gonna be when we blow holes through your skull!" one of the men replied.

"Trust me. I use the term gentlemen very loosely," Lincoln retorted, slowly inching his hands towards the silver pistols at his sides.

Upon noticing this, one of the other men yelled, "DON'T even think about it!"

Lincoln stopped inching for his weapons and said calmly, yet condescendingly, "Well then, how are we to resolve this matter? If it's not a gun fight you desire, perhaps a contest of counting. Maybe to 100? That might be more suitable."

"Ain't nobody wanna do no damn counting right now, Dawson!" the third man exclaimed.


The first of Tommy the Black's men slapped his partner in the head before yelling, "No shit! He's calling us stupid, you idiot!"

"On the contrary, it is you that has called him stupid just now. I am pretty good at counting, and seeing how I'm outnumbered and facing very bleak odds of survival, I wish to play a game that will give me a great chance to save my life." Lincoln's words convinced the less intelligent third man who shook his head in understanding, but not the first two.

"My partner may not know any better, but I know when someone is insulting me. You gonna pay for that," the second man said angrily.

The hotel was completely empty at this point. The lobby had a lingering cloud of cigar smoke trailing from the tips of the three mens' tobacco rolls. It drew random lines of bright light in the air as the sun from outside shone through the windows. The wood floors settled after each creak under their feet as the boards seemed to bend slightly. This was common due to the desert heat expanding the wood. Lincoln noticed all of these things. He was carefully surveying his surroundings. A fight was inevitable. He had to ensure all variables were accounted for.

"Ready to die, Quicksilver?" the first man inquired.

"Only my friends call me Quicksilver, and you three are not my friends," Lincoln coldly answered.

"Hmph. Funny." The second man spit his cigar out, preparing to fire as the other two men did as well.

There was no more time to talk. Lincoln had to make a decision fast. Would he stand his ground? Or would he run to try and gain a vantage point? His eyes flew in his head, looking at every nook and corner in the hotel lobby. There was nowhere for him to hide or hold up though. Lincoln quickly arrived at the conclusion he would have to make a stand. Just before he did, however, he said, "Which one of you is the slowest? And by slow, I do not mean intellectually."

The three men froze for a second before the second man gave himself away. He looked down towards the floor for the briefest of moments. Nevertheless, Lincoln spotted the gesture. He found his mark.

Slowly inching his hands towards his pistols again, Lincoln spoke confidently. "Allow me to say goodbye to the bookends then. " In a flash, he drew both silver Colt revolvers, firing with deadly accuracy from his hips. The three men moved as fast as they could, raising their weapons to fire. Alas, two of the mens' attempts were for naught. The first man and the third man, the bookends, each dropped to the ground with a bullet in their skull like a sack of potatoes. The second man, the slowest of the three, was able to lift and fire his weapon however. Lincoln anticipated this though. He knew he could not shoot all three in this type of standoff without one of them firing a shot. Therefore, he chose the slowest of them to kill last. His hope was he would be able to dive to the floor, utilizing the extra fractions of a second to fire a second shot amidst his escape maneuver. He was right, but he also paid the consequence.

While floating in mid-air, time slowed to a standstill again. Lincoln's superior abilities afforded him this skill. He fixed his sight on the second man. The remaining friend of Tommy the Black stood holding a smoking gun. He had fired one bullet, and was readjusting his aim to fire again. This was exactly the window Lincoln needed to kill the man.

Before his body hit the wooden planks beneath them, Quicksilver sent another lightning fast shot towards his enemy. The bullet waltzed its way closer and closer to the second man, and before he knew it, the tip began drilling its way through the man's cheek. The force from the shot spun the man around, flinging his sidearm to the wall far away from him. The fight was over.

Lincoln hit the ground and immediately rolled into shooting position. His silver barrels lasered in on the second man writhing in pain. Blood was squirting profusely through the man's hand as he held his face. "FUCK!" the man screamed. "God dammit! My face!"

Lincoln gathered himself as he rose to his feet. Dusting off his velvet vest and tailored pants, he noticed he was pierced through his shoulder. Pain was secondary to the elation of survival though. It was a small price to pay considering he was facing certain death.

As Lincoln approached the second man, spurs sounding off, Lincoln's footsteps sounded like elephants stomping and gongs ringing in the ears of the dying man. When he was standing over him, Lincoln told the remaining enemy, "It would appear the greater insult is your ability as a gunman, not your counting." A look of hatred arose in the eyes of the dying man. The anger was not present for long though, as Lincoln pulled the hammer back on his silver pistol and placed another bullet in his enemy's face, ending the showdown.


The wooden doors to the billiards hall viciously swung back and forth, leaving the sound of hollow wood floating through the air until it was trumped by thunderous cracks shooting from the sky. The streets ran amuck with flowing water mixed with dirt as the wind aggressively guided the muddy currents as a symphony conductor would amidst the final minutes of a dramatic performance. Every single person in Lawton was held up somewhere safe and dry, including Lincoln "Quicksilver" Dawson. He, as was custom, was liberating the gentlemen inside the hall from all the money in their bill folds, leaving many patrons who were left stranded inside to watch such events. Even though all were familiar with Lincoln's proclivity for gambling, not one person in Lawton knew of his superior talents with billiards. And even though many men in the hall could not stand to look at his face after losing all their money, none dared venture outside.

"I don't reckon this storm gonna let up anytime soon," a patron said to the bartender. "Give me another, please." Whiskey was flowing and pints were being topped off. Indeed, nobody dared brave the storm. Nobody except one man: Sheriff Wilson Daniels.

Sheriff Daniels was a lawman. This was true. However, he was a righteous man first, and he believed in justice overall. His family had dedicated their lives to protecting the people of their communities. All his forefathers were lawmen as far back as the records showed. He was taught from a young age to be tolerant of everyone except the unjust. This was a life motto Wilson Daniels forever carried with him, even to his detriment. The Sheriff gained the disapproval of many in his dealings with, and equal treatment of, the local Native Americans. Wilson did not see the world through color. He saw it through right and wrong. This lead to many confrontations, all physical in nature. Luckily for Wilson, he grew up with five older brothers, and he acquired an overwhelmingly adept ability to fight because of this. Eventually, when he came into his own, Wilson himself was larger and stronger than most men as well. Respected and feared, Sheriff Wilson Daniels was famous across the country as one of the top lawman alive.

A soft, gentle knock was heard in the billiards hall. It was the sound of Lincoln skillfully tapping the cue ball against the 9, placing the yellow and white ball into the side pocket for yet another win. "Well, my friend, I believe you owe me another couple hundred dollars." Lincoln stood confidently with the same charming smile on his face, showcasing his pearly white teeth.

"Goddamn it! You said you could beat him!" an angry bystander yelled after losing money he placed on Lincoln's opponent.

"Oh, fuck off. You couldn't have done any better," the loser replied.

Lincoln patted his opponent on his shoulder and said, "As always, gentlemen, to show good sportsmanship, the first round of drinks for the losers is on me. Barkeep," Lincoln yelled over the wind gusting outside, "Some drinks for these two gentlemen would be much obliged." The bartender nodded and motioned for the two losers to head over. "Alright," Lincoln continued looking into the dejected crowd, "who's next?"

The doors to the billiard hall crashed open once more. It was not the wind which caused it this time, though. It was a distraught, panting deputy. He stood dripping water from every article of clothing. The deputy shook his limbs wildly like a dog does his body in an attempt to dry off. Popping his coat a few more times, the deputy began collecting himself, taking a few deep breaths before speaking. "Please tell me Quicksilver is in here." Lincoln's eyes widened ever so slightly. He knew not of what the deputy could want with him. As he pondered this, the deputy spotted Lincoln standing across the room by the billiards tables. "There you are."

Confidently, Lincoln said to the deputy, "I assure you, whatever it is, I had nothing to do it. These disgruntled patrons here can vouch for my whereabouts since this morning when the storm began."

"Quicksilver, I need you to come with me," the deputy said still breathing heavily.

"Good! Lock his ass up!" the loser yelled.

The deputy firmly snapped. "Shut it." Then, he turned toward Lincoln again.

"On what charges?" Lincoln inquired.

"No charges. Sheriff Daniels requests your assistance." A loud murmur began throughout the billiards hall. They were shocked at what they heard.

Lightly laughing, Lincoln asked, "And what exactly would a capable lawman like Sheriff Wilson Daniels need me to assist with?"

"That's for him to explain. I just came to get you and bring you to him."

Lincoln became intrigued by the deputy's words. "Normally, when the law comes around saying my name, the phrase 'You are under arrest!' follows," Lincoln retorted.

In a reassuring tone, the deputy replied, "I'm not here to bring you in, Quicksilver. I promise you that. I am simply asking you come with me to see the Sheriff." A moment passed as Lincoln contemplated what to do. The crowd of patrons whispered amongst themselves, speculating as to what could be going on. After about a minute, Lincoln walked over to the bar and pulled out the large roll of cash he had won that day. Motioning to the bartender, Lincoln began counting out bills as the deputy said, "This is no time for a drink."

Placing a specific amount on the bar, Lincoln replied, "Calm yourself, deputy. I am merely paying this good man what he is owed." A collective gasp overcame the crowd of patrons as Lincoln grabbed his hat, coat and signature silver revolvers from the bartender. Much to their disbelief, Lincoln had agreed to go with the deputy.

"Those loaded?" the deputy asked. Lincoln nodded in affirmation. Continuing, the deputy said, "Good. This way."

Sheriff Daniels and his men were positioned outside of a barn at the edge of town. As the deputy approached with Quicksilver, many of the lawmen were shocked to see the sight before them. The most notorious gunslinger alive was at the side of the law, presumably to aid them in their precarious situation. Many of the badges had previous encounters with Quicksilver, and none of them were positive. Thus, the sharp glares directed at Lincoln. They knew they needed his help, but they didn't like it one bit.

Lincoln noticed their looks of discontent through the torrential downpour. However, he returned their stares of malice with a tip of his hat and a smile. He knew this would further incite their anger, and with each nod and grin, the more irked the lawmen became. Before long though, the deputy brought Lincoln to Sheriff Daniels.

"Mighty fine day for a standoff, isn't it, Quicksilver?" the sheriff inquired in his old, rustic voice. Water beaded off his long, gray beard after coursing through the wrinkles of time and wisdom on his sun-beaten face. Sheriff Daniels was a true man of the law; had been so for 30 odd years. His father was a sheriff, as was his father's father. Being a lawman was in his blood. His mother's father and brothers, however, were men more akin to Lincoln: gambling, gun-toting, ladies men. This was in his blood too, which is why Sheriff Daniels respected Lincoln.

Kneeling down behind some barrels with the sheriff, Lincoln wiped the rain from his eyes and replied, "Is that what we have here?"

Daniels answered, "It is. Some nut job from out of town rode in last night. He got liquored up, started a fight, shot and killed a man, and when my boys went to arrest him, he grabbed a skirt and took her here to hold up. Only one way in and out. No windows, and no way to get him while ensuring he doesn't harm the woman."

"Who is she?" Lincoln asked.

The deputy filled him in further. "One of Ruby's girls from the whore house. I said we should take our chances and storm in."

"Let us be glad you aren't sheriff then," Lincoln replied with a hint of agitation. He despised violence against women.

"She has no family. Nobody gonna miss a woman like that," the deputy explained.

"I have $100 there is a bar full of men that would vehemently disagree with you, deputy."

"Ha!" The deputy laughed at Lincoln's words believing them to be facetious, but eventually realized he was serious upon seeing the gunslinger's hand extended to seal the wager . "I know better than to bet with you," the deputy said as he stepped away.

"Whore or not, I refuse to lose a person in my town under my watch," Sheriff Daniels interjected.

"Admirable," Lincoln said.

Not one to have his words mocked, Sheriff Daniels retorted sharply, "I'd get rid of that tone, Lincoln. I'm not the tree you want to go barking up, you hear?"

To put the sheriff at ease, Lincoln told him, "Sheriff, I concur. It would be a shame to lose a life unnecessarily. I take it that is why you called me here: to acquire my expertise."

Looking at his deputy and then to Lincoln, the sheriff hesitantly answered, "Yeah." He wiped water from his face again and then continued, "My men think I'm a fool, and honestly, I think I am too. But I see no other way."

"All men are a fool at one time or another, sheriff. I have found the key is to reprise the role as infrequently as possible."

"Chances are he knows your name. Maybe you can go in there and talk him down."

"Talk him down?"

"I can't tell you to kill the man, Quicksilver. Only way you could do that legally is if I make you a deputy."

"Forgive me if I have a vile expression on my face, Sheriff Daniels. It's just... well, the thought of being a lawman churns my stomach."

"You are our best chance at a peaceful resolution, Quicksilver," the deputy added with a hint of desperation. "He's already shot one of our men for getting too close to the barn. We can't take a shot from afar; not in this rain. We'd miss and he'd surely kill her and ride off with one of them horses inside."

"Men like this do not talk. You do realize that I hope," Lincoln told them.

After a deep sigh, Sheriff Daniels said, "Just give it a go. If it doesn't work, at least we know we tried."

The rain drops beat against Lincoln's hat brim as he contemplated their request. There was no money in it. He had no interest in gaining the admiration of the woman regardless of how beautiful or talented she may have been. Furthermore, he would be helping the very men who despise him. Nevertheless, after a few moments, Lincoln decided to help resolve their precarious situation. "You do understand this will ruin my reputation amongst the dregs of society."

"All the more reason to do it, son," Sheriff Daniels replied as Lincoln stood upright and began walking towards the barn.

The soles of Lincoln's boots smushed the mud with each step. Rain continued to fall upon everything under the sky, splashing in puddles all around him. He observed his surroundings and noticed the entire area was empty of civilians. It was just the lawmen, the stranger, the woman, and him. "Great," he thought as he continued to contemplate reasons why he should be helping. "Not a single soul to tell the tale if this even works."

When he approached about five feet from the door, the stranger yelled, "Stop right there or I'll kill this bitch!"

"It may be the converse if you keep referring to her in such a manner," Lincoln replied.

"What the hell you say to me???"
Lincoln realized his sharp tongue was not conducive to his success. He turned to Sheriff Daniels and the deputy, shrugging his shoulders at a loss for words. They motioned for him to continue trying though. Facing the barn again, Lincoln said, "I think we have begun on the wrong foot. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Lincoln Dawson."

A long pause came over the conversation, and rain drops splashing against the ground made the silence seem eternal. Then, the stranger said, "Who???"
"Ah, shit," the deputy said. "He doesn't even know who he is. We're screwed."

Slightly offended, Lincoln lost his nerves and settled into the situation. "Lincoln Dawson. Quicksilver," he said in a matter of fact tone.

Enthused, the stranger replied, "Well, shit fire, Quicksilver! Why didn't you just say that?!" The barn door slowly opened, "What the hell you doing here with the law dogs?!"

"Believe me, I wouldn't be under normal circumstances. I was actually enjoying taking the hard earned money of some gentleman and drinking fine whiskey when these badges behind me came calling."

"My brother Billy said you took him for about $75 a couple weeks ago," the stranger replied while laughing.

Lincoln began slowly inching forward, saying, "If my memory serves me correct, Billy is a lousy poker player."

"He sure as hell is! HA!"

Thinking of the stranger's words, Lincoln followed with, "Billy is your brother, huh? Would you happen to hail from River Rock?"

"Hey! You guessed it!"

"Quaint little town. I happen to be quite fond of it."

The barn door opened even more, revealing the stranger in full view. He was hugging the woman close to his body as she shook with fear. Her face and arms were bruised. It was apparent the stranger had beat her. As Lincoln noticed her smeared lipstick and tear-soaked face with a gun barrel jammed into it, the stranger said, "Shit, come on in, Quicksilver!"

An anger began boiling up inside Lincoln as he continued to look at the battered woman. "I will have to decline," he replied.

Confused, the stranger said, "Ok. Well, if you ain't coming in, then what do you want?"

"I need you to release the woman," Lincoln answered.

"Shit, that ain't happening. If that's all you got, you can go tell the law I said they can fuck themselves!"

"How eloquent."

The stranger spit a long stream of tobacco juice from his mouth as he shook the woman around more. "Nice talking to ya, Quicksilver."

Lincoln turned around to face Sheriff Daniels and the deputy. He yelled, "Oh well! I tried!" As his back was to the stranger, the barn door slowly began to close. The creaking noise of the hinges resonated in Lincoln's ears. Amidst this sound, the rain pounded into his clothes, the deputy and sheriff exhaled in great distress, and the lawmen shifted in a hopeless manner as they put their heads down in disappointment. However, Lincoln was not done. In fact, he was only getting started.

Everything around him was slowed. His senses were razor sharp and directed behind him. The scent of rain permeated his nostrils, along with that of the horses in the barn. Each drop of water in the sky was caught by his gaze, and his skin began sensing the minute shifts of everything around him. Lincoln was honing in on a target: the stranger.

While Sheriff Daniels held his head down with no idea of how they were going to capture the stranger and save the woman, a gunshot rang through the air. The lawmen were startled, raising their guns and aiming them at the barn. Shocked, the deputy yelled, "Quicksilver!" As his voice carried between the water falling from the sky, the woman screamed and ran toward the sheriff. Blood was streaming down her face as the rain washed it from her hair. "Quicksilver! Hands up!" the deputy yelled emphatically. Lincoln did just that, and as everyone watched the woman stumble to safety, they realized what transpired.

As his back was turned to the stranger, Quicksilver had drawn his revolver with lightning speed and aimed it using a blind calculation of where the man stood. Then, he fired a shot through his coat under his arm. The direction of the bullet was perfect, striking the stranger in the forehead, felling him and splattering blood all over the woman. That's when the deputy yelled out, prompting Lincoln to reply, "Now hold on, deputy. Let me explain."

"I told you not to kill the man, Quicksilver!" Sheriff Daniels said angrily. "You just committed murder, and now I gotta take you in!"

"Gentlemen, please," Lincoln replied while still holding his hands in the air, gun dangling off his trigger finger. The deputy and sheriff paused for a moment before signaling to their men to lower their firearms. Lincoln continued, "That man in there is Charlie Hoyt. He's from River Rock. He's a wanted man with a bounty on his head, dead or alive."

"You aren't a bounty hunter," the deputy replied. "That means it was murder."

"Correct. I am not a man of the law, and I cannot collect the bounty. However, you men can." Noticing the look of displeasure on the face of the badges, Lincoln realized money would not be enough to dissuade the men from arresting him. Therefore, he continued. "You see, Charlie was wanted for beating and raping the daughter of the River Rock mayor."

"How do you know that man is who you say he is?" the deputy inquired.

"I happened to become acquainted with his sibling, Billy, in River Rock a couple of weeks ago. I won $75 from him playing poker, much to his displeasure. Afterwards, Billy told me he was going to get his brother, Charlie, and make me pay for being a cheat. Everyone knows the Hoyt boys. They aren't the most gracious of losers to say the least."

"How were you certain that man in the barn was Charlie though?" Sheriff Daniels asked.

Lincoln answered, "A simple deduction, sheriff. There are only two Hoyts from River Rock, and I knew the man before me was not Billy."

Listening more attently, the sheriff said, "Go on."

Lincoln continued explaining. "So, you see, not only is the bounty enormous, but I am certain returning Charlie to the mayor of River Rock would all but ensure your reelection coming up. An endorsement like the one he would undoubtedly give you should go a very long way. I imagine it would also help keep all your men here today employed as well." Lincoln's words were sound as his logic was undeniable. Though he had committed murder in front of the sheriff and his men, the desire to retain their positions was greater than their desire to arrest Lincoln, a fact that became more evident with each passing second.

"What about her?" the deputy asked, nodding to the woman as he and the sheriff silently agreed to let Lincoln go.

"I think darling will be just fine with keeping her mouth shut. Won't you?" Sheriff Daniels inquired of her while holding the visibly shaken woman. She shook her head in agreement.

Lincoln slowly lowered his arms and holstered his gun. Closing his overcoat and flicking the brim of his hat upon the end of his involvement, he said, "Gentlemen... lady."

As he turned to depart, the woman said, "Quick... I mean... Lincoln. I owe you one."

Stopping his gait and looking at her, Lincoln jokingly replied, "My overcoat has a hole now. Maybe you can see to replacing it." As she smiled, Lincoln winked at her, and then he strolled back into town, putting more rain between him and the lawmen, and more legacy upon his name.