and Mexican hard cases, stood at the plank counter or leaned against the walls.
âFargo and the rest are coming this way,â Jemez confirmed, still watching the other patrons. âPablo says they are leaving medical supplies with Fontaine, that horse doctor some call a surgeon. They have lately been traveling at night. But I say they will keep moving today so they can arrive here in daylight.â
The third man at the table, a gringo named Ham Rogers, was Jim Butlerâs cousin and criminal sidekick. He banged the table hard with his fist.
âHey, brown cow!â he shouted to an elderly woman visible through a doorless arch. She wore a dark rebozo over her head and stirred a pot at an outdoor brick stove. âKnock us up some grub pronto! Comida, you savvy?â
Rogers had a mean, ugly little face like an enraged terrier. He stared at Jemez and noticed how carefully the Âhalf-Âbreed studied everyone.
âThe hell you so scared of, âbreed? Youâre the one made his brag how everybody in this puke pit knows you ride for the Scorpion, they wonât dare touch you and all that shit.â
âLet me tell you about the Scorpion,â Jemez said in his atonal voice devoid of emotion or emphasis. âHe admires men who brag, but only when they back their boasts. You and your gunslinger friend Butler have told us how quickly you will put Fargo with his ancestors. Yet, only Pinch has even come close.â
âYeah? Now let me tell you something about the Scorpion. Me and Jim threw in with that greaser after we heard how he was rolling in it. But so far we ainât seen none of them buckerbabies.â
âKill Fargo,â Jemez assured him, âand see how your fortunes change.â
âHeâs already a dead man,â Rogers boasted. âHe was dead once me and Jim agreed to snuff his wick.â
âAnd yet when four of us attacked him from those cinder rocks yesterday he routed us. Both of you mighty killers combined were useless.â
âSure. Because itâs gotta be the right place and time when we put the kibosh on a man like him.â
âShake off your cobwebs,â Jemez said. âDelaying, against Fargo, is a deadly mistake. What good is it to dodge the fare ifyou lose the freight? If we take too long attempting to kill Fargo, he will hound us into the mouth of hell. You cannot give a man like him time to kill you, or he will.â
Rogers cursed through the doorway at the old woman working over the stove. âSnap it up with that grub, you dried-up old crone! De prisa , damn it!â
Then Rogers looked at Jemez. ââBreed, youâre a bigger fool than God made you. Weâre gonna do for ÂFargoâÂthatâs surefire, Iâm telling you. But no man wants to go toe to toe with that lanky son of a bitch. Heâll have to be ambushed or somehow Âcold-Âdecked. You say hurry it up, get it done. I say get it right or the buzzards will be shooting dice with our teeth.â
âIt can be done as you say and still done quickly,â Jemez said. But he decided to drop it for now. âBoth of you have been watching the ÂwomanâÂKaren Bradish?â
âYeah, the blonde,â Rogers said, his voice going low and husky. âDonât she wear silk dainties?â
âI have noticed a thing,â Pinch Montoya said. âShe is more modest than the other two women. She goes much farther away to relieve herself.â
âYeah, and I seen her take a piss,â Rogers said. âShe hiked her dress up way high and I seen that fine, creamy white ass of hers baying at the moon. If the Scorpion wants to ransom her to her rich brother, fine by me just soâs I get my cut. But, boys, weâre gonna screw that bitch sick and silly before we sell her to him.â
âBoth of you have been so close,â Jemez upbraided them, âand neither one of you grabbed her?â