At the exit Curly turned abruptly toward the gamblers, approaching on Angel Ranigan’s right.
Tragor Wells looked up. His eyes widened. He shouted, “Angel!” and pointed toward Curly.
From three feet away Curly pulled his Colt Navy revolver. “Keep your hands on the table, Angel. Don’t move a whisker.” The other gamblers scooted their chairs away.
Ranigan snarled as he glanced to his right. From that side he was at a disadvantage to pull his side arm. “What do ye want from me?” he demanded.
“You’re under arrest for murder in Jefferson. You’re going back with me.”
Angel held the stare on Curly for a second or two. “Aw, hell. You’re talkin’ about sump’m that’s over and done.” He shifted his face back toward the table. “I done explained that. Wasn’t no murder to it. Naw, you can just run on home, boy. You ain’t arrestin’ me.” He reached for the deck. “Let’s play cards, men.”
“You can go with me standing up or tied face down across a horse. Take your pick, Ranigan.” Curly knew he didn’t have a commanding voice but he meant what he said.
Ranigan turned toward Curly. “You really want to take me on, boy?”
Curly rammed the pistol barrel into Ranigan’s eye, where the socket met his nose. Ranigan screamed and jumped to his feet. His hand shot across his vest, inside his coat. Curly clubbed him over the head like a railroader driving a spike. A small gun clattered onto the table, then the floor. Ranigan sagged to his knees. His screams lessened as Curly whipped the Colt across his mouth. A mumbled gasp emerged as blood spattered Curly and the gamblers. Ranigan fell backwards and slid down the wall.
Curly bent and lifted Ranigan’s side gun and pushed it into his belt. He dropped a set of manacles from his back pocket. Ranigan’s head rolled to either side. He gasped and bubbled blood from his mouth and eye.
Curly snapped the handcuffs onto his wrists. He glanced at the gamblers, now standing. “Does anybody want to take up for this man? Do any of you want to go with us?” Heads wagged side to side. “Then get out of my way. We’re goin’ to Jefferson.” The path cleared instantly.
Curly grasped the manacles by the joining link and dragged him on his belly toward the saloon door. The man’s weight against Curly’s size made the job all but impossible. Curly made it to the door by pulling, taking a few gasps of air, pulling, and stopping.
At the door he turned back to the gawking five. “Tragor, get over here. Right now.”
The old drunk tried to shrink behind two others. “Tragor! Don’t make me put these irons on you. Get over here. I mean it.”
Tragor Wells emerged, trembling, and walked slowly toward Curly. “You’re gonna help me get him on the horse.”
“I don’t want nuthin’ to do with this, Curly. Nuthin’ at all,” Tragor croaked. He looked down at the back of Ranigan’s head. “I didn’t have nuthin’ to do with this, Angel, I want ye tuh know that.”
“Get hold of his arm and help me get him to his horse. And I don’t want another word out you until it’s done,” Curly said loudly.
When they reached the side of Ranigan’s dapple gray, Tragor spoke against orders. “Curly, he ain’t in no shape to ride. Look, he’s plumb limp.”
“He’s fakin’. Grab the seat of his pants on your side. We’ll stand him up and push him half way over. I’ll tie him that way,” Curly said.
“Wha.., wull, you can’t drape him across the saddle all the way to Jefferson. You’ll kill him,” Tragor said.
“Get ahold. Up we go.” In seconds, Curly had the stout outlaw across the saddle, belly down. He pulled a small rope from his saddle bag and bound the man’s hands and feet together under the horse. He added a tie from the belt to the saddle horn to support him in the middle.
Curly reached into his vest pocket and fished out two silver dollars. “I might let him get astraddle about half way home. But you heard what I told him in there. It was his choice.” Curly handed the coins to Tragor. “Here’s for your trouble. But I don’t appreciate you trying to give him a warning just as I walked up. I ought to haul you in.”
“No! No, Curly. I apologize. Didn’t mean it that way.” Tragor’s backward retreat, and stumble over the boardwalk, made Curly smile. Ranigan’s gambling companions stood open-mouthed at the saloon door.