TREASURE KILLS (Legends of Tsalagee Book 1)
at treasure hunting. Buck promptly wrote back that, sure, that wouldn’t be a problem as many people had tried to find Bell Starr’s hidden treasure. He wished Goat good luck with his effort. “But,” he added at the end. “I got to warn you about the curse.” He included a photocopy of Ed Reed’s hundred-year-old letter.
    “This don’t make no sense unless we know where these landmarks are,” Red Randy said after he read Jim Reed’s letter. “I think we need to go ask this old farmer about all this. My guess is he knows more than he lets on. I think we could persuade him to tell us.”
    “I got you what you wanted. Just leave that old guy alone,” Goat said.
    Randy, grabbing the front of Goat’s shirt, smashed him up against a shop wall. “You take us to this man, or I’m going to turn Threebuck loose on your daughter,” he said with quiet menace.
    * * *
    Lorene, sitting in her rocking chair and looking out the living room window, watched the men approach Buck sitting on the tractor. He’d been disking the north forty, and had pulled to a stop as the men got off their motorcycles at the side of the road. They crossed the fence to walk toward the idling tractor. Buck got down and greeted the men and they talked. Buck had laughed and shook his head, removing his straw hat and wiping his balding head with his bandana. One of the men, the big one, pointed a finger at Buck’s face and said something to him. Buck moved back some and shook his head again. He held his palms up and shrugged.
    The big man advanced on Buck, grabbed him by the shirtfront with both hands, and seemed to yell in Buck’s face. Lorene could hear the sound of his voice, but not the words. One of the other men, one with a ponytail, moved in and pushed against the big man’s chest to try to move him away from Buck, but the big man backhanded him, knocking him to the ground.
    Buck turned quickly, pulling something long from the tractor’s toolbox, and swung it at the big man hitting him in the neck with it. The big man stumbled sideways and backwards, falling on his side. The third man, a little man wearing a red bandana on his head tied in a knot at the back, jumped on Buck’s back and wrenched the long thing out of Buck’s hand. Then the little man clubbed Buck on the side of the head with it. Buck fell to the ground, and didn’t move.
    Lorene put her hand over her mouth, sucked in a breath and held it. After a few seconds she exhaled and said, “Oh, Buck.”
    The big man got back to his feet and said something to the little man. They both looked down at Buck. The big man rubbed his neck and looked around, then he motioned toward the tractor and said something. The big man and the little man grabbed Buck’s feet and pulled him to a place between the back of the tractor and the front of the disking implement. The little man got on the tractor, then drove it forward pulling the disks over Buck. The man with the ponytail sat on the ground holding his face in his hands.
    Lorene, her fingers still on her lips, her eyes wide in terror, exclaimed, “No, no... oh, no!”
    The big man and the little man started walking hurriedly back toward their motorcycles. The man with the ponytail slowly got to his feet and looked toward the house. He seemed to be looking right at her. He stayed that way until the others called out to him, then he went to join them. They started up their machines and started to ride away, but the big man stopped and pointed back to the tractor saying something. The little man got off his motorcycle and returned to the field. He picked up the long thing he’d used to hit Buck. He took it to the tractor and put it back in the metal toolbox attached to the tractor. Then they all rode off.
    Lorene continued to sit in her rocker looking out the window at the lifeless lump in the field that had once been her Buck. Sadness and terror flooded her body, tears ran down her cheeks. She rocked as her mind played back the entire

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