July 23rd, on the Canterbury Limited from Memphis to Kansas City.
The blood matted his hair and stained his clothes, but there was little he could do about it. He knew enough to bandage the wounds, and bandage them tight to keep up the pressure, but that alone wasn’t going to solve his problems.
He recounted the events that had led him to this situation. A friend’s poker game gone wrong. A barn that doubled as a bunkhouse set ablaze by vengeance-seekers. A brisk run through the pastures under the moonlight as the bullets infiltrated the damp night sky like lightning bugs. He counted himself fortunate that he and his friends were able to make it to the train station. There remains no doubt in his mind that they would have been dispatched six deep if they hadn’t.
On the train, the others had tried to unfold the tale: An accusation of cheating. A gunshot from nowhere that led to the death of Old Boss. The pain was enough to keep him from the conversation, as he slipped in and out of consciousness due to blood loss.
The other passengers could see through the subterfuge; the long overcoat and the others’ attempts to disguise the man’s wounds. They knew better than to say anything; a group of men dragging a sixth, barely making the six o’ clock train to Kansas City, were a group of men not to be trifled with.
The others knew that when they got to Kansas City, they were going to be holed up for at least a few days while their friend recovered. Maybe it was enough time for them to figure out a plan. None of them had ever been to Kansas City, and didn’t right know what to expect. Cow Town was the last vestige of Eastern society before the steep dive off the cliff into Western savagery, but it wasn’t unkind to the dregs from the Sunset Territory.
They had a lot of questions and very few answers: Was Old Boss’s son going to just let them go since they were out of town? Where were they going to go? They had some cash, but it goes quick out West.
Those were concerns for tomorrow. Right now, they were just worrying about whether or not their friend could survive the trip all the way to KC…