“Shoot this bastard!” Hunter yelled, and Godoy stepped closer so she could look down the barrel of the gun. Nobody noticed Anda, who loosened one knot and worked on another.
Godoy said, “Put down the shotgun. I won’t tell you again.” Wayne dropped the shotgun into the dust beside his leg. Godoy said, “Now, the pistol.”
Wayne pulled the forty-five out of the holster and dropped it near the shotgun.
“Are you a brave man?” Wayne asked, speaking perfect Spanish. Hunter was surprised. She thought he only knew a few words of the language.
“What do you mean?”
“My pistol is on the ground, yours is still in your hand. Why don’t you put it in your holster, and we can draw against each other, you from the holster, me from the ground. These people would like it.” The crowd didn’t like Wayne, but they respected the bravado of his challenge. Voices called for Godoy to holster his pistol and show his cojones, his balls.
Godoy hesitated and Wayne said, “I thought you were fast.” Godoy’s face darkened.
Felipe holstered his pistol, hooked the black Armani coat behind the holster and said to Elvis, “Count to three.” Felipe turned a little to face Wayne across forty feet of dusty road. “We draw on three.”
It was so quiet.
Elvis looked at both men, then said, “One.”
Hunter could barely breathe.
Wayne moved his feet and Hunter heard the scrape of the boots on dirt.
Felipe thought how he would do it: Take your time. Let the Sheriff get all the way to the ground and touch the pistol, then draw and shoot him before he can rise.
Wayne’s hand flashed behind his back and reappeared with a pistol. Felipe’s eyes went wide and his gun was coming up when Rockman’s first bullets caught him in the chest.
Wayne was in a rock-solid stance and he fired five shots so fast they made one rolling sound. The first ejected casing was still going up when the fifth left the ejection port. Godoy’s shirt jumped from the impacts and he crumpled to the ground, his pistol unfired.
The shooting stunned the crowd for a moment, then two men charged Rockman. He dropped them both with quick shots, BAMBAM, then bent down and picked up the shotgun and second pistol. Rockman was in a killing state now, looking more menacing and deadly than anyone she had ever imagined.
He was a savage, violent force, ready to unleash it all, and no one in that crowd wanted his focus on them. Wayne looked the crowd over, going from face to face, then he spoke in Spanish, “What happened was between the two of us. I have nothing against you, unless you confront me. Stand away and I will leave with these people,” he pointed at Hunter and her group. His voice barely contained his rage, “Try to stop me and I will kill you.”
Hunter felt her hands loosen. Anda had untied her. She picked up Godoy’s pistol, then returned to Anda and untied the girl. Pepper was crying, “God, can you believe it? He comes down here like that…” She couldn’t finish. Hunter pulled the rope over Pepper’s head and threw it hard at the Barbosas while Anda untied Pepper’s hands.
Mingo was upright on his knees, weaving a little. From the bloody exit hole in his shirt, it appeared the bullet had passed through his trapezius and exited above the collarbone, missing the large vein. Mingo said, “Getting my feeling back.” He grimaced, “Short-circuited things for a while.” Pepper and Anda helped him up and supported him between them. Hunter held the pistol.
There was a commotion behind Wayne and he turned with the shotgun.
Raymond held up his hands and yelled, “Whoa, Whoa! It’s me!” He panted hard. Wayne turned back to the crowd.
Raymond talked between gasps, “I was on the ridge and saw…what you were doing. I ran, but couldn’t…get here fast enough.” Wayne didn’t say anything, but handed him the fired forty-five and a full clip. Raymond pulled out the near-empty clip and slammed in the full one.
Hunter told the women to walk to Rockman. She followed, holding Godoy’s pistol in a two-handed grip, ready to fire. The crowd started to follow. Hunter watched the faces and read that they were working themselves up to charge.
Wayne stepped beside her and shot three fast rounds of buckshot into the crowd. Four men dropped and the front ranks backed up until the crush of the crowd wouldn’t allow them to retreat further. Rockman pulled three shells from his pocket and snicked them into the bottom loading port, refilling the magazine.
There was a little more distance between them and the crowd now, but it was still a long way to the edge of town. Rockman didn’t take his eyes off the mob as he said, “Hunter, my Ram Charger’s parked just past the barricade. Take everybody and start it up. The keys are in it.”
“What about you?”
“I’m gonna stop them. Right here.” Hunter hesitated, but Rockman was focused on the crowd. She was torn, Go, or stay. She was deciding on stay, when Rockman gritted, “Get going! We die if you don’t.”
Hunter herded the others up the road and Wayne waited until he couldn’t hear their footsteps, then he stopped backing up. The crowd stopped as well, keeping the distance between them. Wayne walked to one side of the road and drug his foot through the dust all the way to the other side. He stepped back and said, “I will kill every one of you who gets close to this line!” He hadn’t said cross this line on purpose.