The living quarters above the saloon allowed Rodriguez to keep watch over his establishment and maintain his privacy. Seated alone at the slant-front desk, he counted the week’s receipts and sipped his whiskey. Satisfied with the total, he placed enough money in an envelope for an ordinary bank deposit and slid the remainder to the side, bumping a stack of newspapers that threatened to fall to the floor.
His eyes glanced over the cubbyholes within the desk and came to rest on the spiral oak inlay. Carefully, he removed the ornate wood that framed the four small drawers. With a tug, he pulled the stacked drawers free and pushed his fingers against the interior drawer stop until he heard a shallow click. The panel sprung open. He fished a corded bag from the compartment and stuffed the money inside. After replacing the bag, he set the drawers back and replaced the inlay. The process took a few moments to complete, but it was worth the trouble, he trusted banks less than he trusted the most notorious outlaws.
Rodriguez leaned back in his armchair, propping his feet on the desk. He scanned through a copy of the Farlow Gazette and paid particular attention to land prices.
A shuffle in the hallway prompted him to place his feet back to the floor. The door swung open and a man limped forward with his revolver drawn; his filthy clothes carried a stench. Introductions were unnecessary.
Rodriguez griped the handle of a revolver under the newspapers. "You’re two years late, Duvall. You should’ve killed them both in Dallas. Get the hell out of my sight before I shoot you myself.” He expected the sting in his words to send him on his way.
Duvall’s chin jutted out. “Ya know our business isn’t finished.” He watched to the saloon owner’s hands. “I’ll put down my weapon if you’ll do the same.”
“State your business now or leave while you can,” Rodriguez said.
“I tried more than once to finish him. Masters is a lucky son-of-a-bitch. Almost got him in Kansas, but a fool kid shot me full of buckshot.” He limped forward. “And my leg took many weeks to heal, but I’m willin’ to try again.”...