Jesse nearly ran headlong into Jimmy at the door of the bunkhouse. "Oh, man, you gotta see what's come into town!"
Grabbing the young boy to steady him before he fell back into the dirt, Jimmy looked him in the eyes and tried to calm him down. "You better be careful before you pass yourself out."
The boy took in a few large, shoulder-lifting breaths before he continued on. "Women… with guns."
Rachel stepped up on the porch with the wash in her hands. "What's so strange about that, Jesse, you've seen me and Lou with guns before?"
He could only shake his head a few times as he took in more air. "They look more like gunfighters than you two."
"Gunfighters?" Buck's eyes opened wide for a moment. "Like we need more of 'those' around."
He grabbed his gun belt and gave Jesse a look. "We'll go and take a look at it, Jesse, you just stay right-"
"Oh, no…" Jesse was already heading back where he came from, "if you're goin'… I'm goin."
Jimmy grabbed his hat from the beg on the wall and stepped out into the street. "Let's go, Buck…"
"Straight to Hell, Hickok… straight to hell."
The scene further in town was one that Hickok had only heard about in dime novels. A crowd had gathered around the biggest saloon in town, a crowd that contained Bill Tompkins. He took one look at Jimmy and Buck and announced to anyone who would listen. "I bet you boys are at the center of these shenanigans."
"We just heard there was something going on down here and with Teaspoon out of town for the day-"
"I should've known," Tompkins interrupted him with a loud guffaw, "you boy's'll wreck this town in a minute if folks ain't there to stop you."
Jimmy was about to answer back when Buck touched his arm and gave Mr. Tompkins a smile. "Sorry to disappoint you, but-"
"Oh hell, son," Tompkins nearly knocked down the man standing next to him as he stepped closer to talk to Buck, "there ain' t no way that I'll be disappointed when-"
The saloon doors didn't just open, they seemed to buckle inward before they swung out like bat wings, nearly sweeping folks out of the way as two men flew out into the street. The first one managed to land on his knees as though he was kneeling, but the second looked more like a tumbleweed as he turned heels over hands in the dirt.
A whispered commotion began as soon as the gathering of curious townfolks began to recognize who it was laying in the dirt. Tom and Ed Fielding, two brothers with an eye for the ladies and a head for trouble were struggling to get back on their feet when the doors of the saloon swung back out again.
One man grabbed his wife's arm to pull her out of the way, most likely expecting another forceful ejection from the Saloon, but they were as surprised as the other folks that had gathered when two women stepped out.
"You sure they's women?" Ventured an older man who seemed to squint through his spectacles, "they don't dress it."
The taller of the two women continued straight down the steps into the street, the other waiting behind on the landing for a moment or two, her eyes searching the surprised mob of common folk. She stepped up and slid the toe of her riding boot beneath Ed's chin, lifting him up an inch or so to look down at his face. "Looks like your brother's gonna need to go home to Mama, Tom." She pulled her foot back and Ed's face planted back into the dirt.
"You leave my brother alone!" Tom's voice was full of venom but he looked a little shaky even getting one of his feet beneath him.
"That would be somethin' wouldn't it Right, Denny?"
The woman that had stopped at the top of the landing subtly pulled back the right side of her long coat and hooked it behind the butt of her handgun. "That's right, Ronny." She gave the men a once over. "Funny how he's worried about somethin' like this when he's done worse to others." Reaching into a pocket Denny produced a poster and handed it to one of the men standing nearby.
He quickly read over the words and looked at the line drawings of the men. "It's those men, all right." He held the post up over his head for others to see. "They've got a wanted poster, nearly a thousand dollars for the pair."
"Then let the law handle it." Jimmy stepped out of the crowd with Buck just a step behind him.
Up came the business end of a rifle pointed at Jimmy's middle. "There's a bounty on their heads and we aim to make some money on them."
Buck made a move for his own pistol and brought it up at the same time he heard a hammer click back on a pistol. The woman on the porch was watching him as well. "Hey there."
He didn't know what to answer besides. "Hey."
That's when the woman did something Buck hadn't expected. She winked at him.
"Uh, Buck?" Jimmy was trying to get his attention. Turning back to the lady with rifle at his middle he held his hands to the side showing her he wasn't going for his guns. "Does the poster say 'Dead or Alive?"
Ronny let go of a long dramatic sigh and admitted. "Yeah."
"See? See?" Tom was struggling to get to his feet and trying to bring his bother up with him. "They're crazy! Just attacked us without warning in the Saloon and-"
Denny changed the aim her pistol, pointing it at Tom instead of Buck. "That's rich, Tom… what about that family you boys killed up in Missouri? Did you give them warning?"
"That wasn't me… it wasn't us." Tom turned to Jimmy, sensing he had some pull with the man. "You gotta get us away from those two… they're killers." Jimmy looked him over and turned so he could see the two women. "That may be," he started, "but there's no paper on them… just you boys, so maybe they're the ones that we should be listenin' to."
Later, Jimmy and Buck would say that time seemed to crawl. Ed finally roused enough to look up at the women, his hand lifting as though to reach for his back, but it was Tom's movement that drew the most attention. Reaching into his jacket was the last thing he did.
Before he'd cleared the gun from his shoulder holster two bullets nailed him in the dead center of his chest. Thrown back away from his brother, Tom managed to gasp in a breath before he fell backwards in the dust dead.
Ed wasn't so lucky. Buck, from his odd angle on the scene had managed to drill Ed though the meaty part of the arm, leaving him with one hand to try to stop the bleeding. The second bullet that hit him had gone through the side of his neck.
The gathered crowd recoiled in horror as the convicted murderer stumbled a few steps toward the assembled crowd his life's blood pouring out between his fingers where he clutched his neck.
Ronny turned around and help up a questioning hand. "Well?"
"It was an odd shot, you're lucky I made it with your big head in the way."
"My what?" Ronny whipped off her hand and waited. "It's no bigger than yours."
"Well, we don't all like to lean on the 'or DEAD' part of the bounties like 'you' do."
"Well at least I'm humane."
"Excuse me?" That from Jimmy who was just beginning to understand that they women were arguing about the shooting. He pointed at Tom , laid out dead in the street. "That's humane?"
Setting her hand on her hip, with the hat still held firmly in her grasp, Ronny looked back at Jimmy with a bit of exasperation in her gaze. "I would like to think so." She moved closer to Tom and pointed out with a subtle movement of her chin. "He's dead."
Jimmy wasn't going to let it go at that. "That doesn't-" "Look at Ed!" Ronny pointed to the man once again flat out in the street. A few of the towns people had rushed over to help him, but by the small quivers of his feet and the somber looks of those gathered around him, he was nearing his end. Slapping her hat back on her head, Ronny pointed a thumb at the woman walking up behind her. "She lets them bleed!"
Denny couldn't let it end at that. "Not always, there was that time in Albuquerque-"
"That's only because he moved to the side-"
Interrupting Ronny again, Denny pointed out. "I had a couple of whiskey shots."
"Ah," Ronny agreed, "that would have done it, but still… you like those neck shots."
Denny gave a little nod. "True, much more challenging than straight through the heart."
"Really now," Ronny's brow lifted in an arch as she listened to her friend dig herself into a hole, "I'll remember that when someone's got a gun pointed at your head and…"
Jimmy and Buck stood a few feet back, their eyes watching the women for any signs that their shooting 'spree' would continue, but as they talked, the women were holstering their weapons and settling their long coats back into place.
Determined to end the spectacle in the street, Jimmy took a step forward to address the women. "We'll have to get Teaspoon to straighten all this out." Jimmy looked over at Buck who nodded his agreement.
"Will you ladies come along to the Marshal's office of your own will, or-"
Denny looked at her friend, her eyes crinkling in the corner with wry humor. "I dunno, Ronny, will we?"
Ronny gave the man with Navy Colts a once over, her eyes appreciating the show. "Depends on if they've got the ability to control us… or if they're dependin' on puttin' us in irons?"
"Irons," Denny giggled and elbowed the other woman, "that might be fun all on its own."
"True," Ronny mused, "but the question is if we'll let them cuff us." She gave Jimmy a head to toe look of appreciation. "I might just prefer that it's the other way around."
"Maybe we should just let them go," the thought crossed Jimmy's lips before it had gone entirely through his mind, "it would be easier."
Buck turned and caught Denny's 'come-hither' smile and couldn't help the answering grin on his own face. "I dunno about that, Jimmy… I think we should take the ladies to Teaspoon… he'll know just what to do."
Jimmy shook his head as the undertaker rode up in his wagon. "I sure hope so, Buck." He caught sight of Ronny as she tossed a golden eagle to the undertaker and tipped her hat. "'Cause I've never seen anything like this before."
The two women approached the riders, guns holstered and charming smiles at the ready. "Well," Denny started, "let's go meet your friend and get this straightened up."
"That's right," Ronny agreed, "we like to get our money and be on our way," she paused for a moment and then she nodded, "unless something catches our fancy."
"Right," the other joined in, "then we might stay awhile."
Author's Note: What's funnier than two women 'that' eager to shoot something? Their 'argument' over aim and shooting style on the line. Thanks Dee for a fun time... I'll NEVER get you angry... EVER.