by John Nation
One of the richest men in the world declares war on Sheriff Johnson and the Pack.
|Missoula was experiencing a large influx of tourists. They came alone, and in groups of twelve, and all numbers in between. They did not seem overly concerned with visiting any of the local attractions but concentrated primarily on looking at the local citizens and comparing them with the descriptions they had been given. At any time, several of them could be found in one of the restaurants and cafés close to the Sheriff’s office. They walked up and down the sidewalks and drove along the streets. Some of them were polite and smiled at the people passing by, others were not.
Many times, one person or group would confront another. The huge reward offered only went to the person or persons locating and eliminating the people they hunted. They would threaten and try to intimidate the other. The only reason there was no bloodshed was the man that hired them stated in ways that could not be misunderstood, anyone caught fighting or harming anyone except for the ones they were after would not receive a single penny, even if they took out all the targets. They had to settle for scowling at each other.
Eddie, Diane, and Tonya were at the back of one of the restaurants. All of them had seen the people patrolling the streets. They passed among them and through them without being spotted. They moved to the back part of the restaurant, hoping they might be able to enjoy a meal and some time alone before all the confrontations started. The Sheriff was not with them. He would spend four more days at the mansion before returning to work. They needed to have the situation resolved by then.
Tonya had a simple solution. Her plan was to snatch each of the bounty hunters one after the other. Anyone they grabbed would never be heard from again. She estimated after thirty or so people vanished, those still around would take the hint and leave.
As they ate, they told each other the adventures they had as the Wolf. This time, Diane’s tale was the one that created the most discussion.
They looked up when a person stood in the doorway separating the front section from the back. A large man looked them over for ten seconds, then turned and sped away.
Not long after, the hostess and two busboys hurried to the back and placed two midsized tables together to make one large one. A minute after they completed the rearrangement, the hostess led a group of people to seat them. There were five males and three females. One of them was the man that stood in the doorway earlier.
The new group went out of their way not to look at the three already seated. The males were big, the smallest being about two hundred and eighty pounds. The women were attractive. All of them were armed. The pack could see the outline of pistols in the men’s jackets and the bulge of guns too big for the purses the women carried pushing out the sides. They could also tell the new group showed more interest in them than in the menu. They did not let it concern them.
They were halfway through the entrée when they heard the people across from them speaking in a louder voice, wanting to be heard.
“Hey, Ahab, why do you think it is we are having dinner with only three women when there are five men? Look at Whitey over there, chowing down with two foxes way out of his league. Now that just ain’t right. A white boy like that doesn’t have a clue how to please two women of that caliber. What say you go over and invite the ladies to join us? Tell the boy he can go home.”
“Yeah, Oman, sounds right to me.”
“Tonya,” Diane whispered. “If you kill these guys in here, Miranda will have a fit.”
“I’ll only play a little,” Tonya said while caressing her hairpins. “They will live to crawl to the hospital.”
“I tell you what,” Eddie said. “Let me handle it this time.”
“Only if next time it is my turn,” Tonya said.
They stopped talking and turned to Ahab when he stood by their table. “You women are invited to join me and my brothers at our table. You don’t have to be embarrassed anymore being seen with this boy, but can brag to your friends that you were with men. When we get home, we’ll give you a lot better lovin than you will get with this boy. See what it’s like being with men for a change.”
“Hey, Ahab. Don’t you have a whale you have to chase down?” Eddie asked.
“Wow. Now that was a well thought out comeback.”
“You gettin’ smart with me, boy?”
“A turkey could get smart with you and you would not have a clue it did.”
“You got a mouth on you boy. If you are trying to get smart with me, I’ll kick your ass from one end of this town to the other.”
“You and smart are two words that should not be used in the same sentence. Not even in the same book.”
“This is going to be fun.”
As Ahab reached into his jacket to remove his weapon, Eddie reached over and took his knee in his hand. Ahab froze when the kneecap cracked. He wanted to scream, but every time he tried, the pain in his knee increased considerably. When he remained still, the pain decreased.
Eddie applied pressure and Ahab moved where he wanted him. When his back was turned to the group at his table watching from a distance, Eddie said, “Okay, Ahab. Reach into your pocket nice and slow. Pull out the pistol using only your thumb and ring finger.”
“What’s the ring finger? Ahab asked.
Eddie looked at Ahab’s hand and said, “It’s the finger with six rings on it, not four and five like your thumb and other fingers.”
Ahab spread his hand apart. While Eddie watched, he started counting the rings on each finger. When he reached the finger where he counted to five and there was still a ring left, he smiled as much as the pain would allow. “It’s this one,” he said.
“Yeah,” Eddie said. “It’s that one.”
Ahab reached into his pocket and withdrew the pistol. While it was hidden from view of the other patrons, Diane reached out and snatched it from him.
“Tell Omar the ladies thank him for the offer, but they have decided to stay with me.”
Eddie released him and Ahab limped back to his table.
“Where’s the ladies?” Omar asked.
“They say they want to stay there,” Ahab said as he fell into his chair. He held his leg straight because the broken kneecap would not let him bend it.
“Did Whitey disrespect you?” one of the women asked.
“He did more than that. He insulted all of us.”
Omar and the three uninjured males started to rise, but before they were all the way up, the woman said, “This be our thing now. We show white boy and the uppity ladies what be what.”
The men smiled as they returned to their seats. “Cleopatra is on their case now. Them righteous lookin’ ladies are in for an ass wuppin.”
Cleopatra and her two female companions stood and walked across the room.
“My turn,” Tonya said.
“No corpses,” Diane reminded her.
The three women stopped at their table. “You honky ladies think we’re not good enough for you?”
“That’s right. You are not good enough for us,” Tonya said.
“You discriminating against us? Our lawyers will take all your money.”
“Go play with an asp.”
“You’ll pay for that.” The three of them started to unsnap their purses to pull the pistols out. Before the first hand could touch the purse clasp, they all screamed in pain. Across the back of their arms, three long slashes appeared. They jerked their heads back up in time to see Tonya cleaning one of her hairpins on Cleopatra’s blouse before returning it to her hair.
Not deterred, they attempted to open the handbags with their other hand. Once again they shouted out as three more slashes appeared. Tonya wiped the blood off the other hairpin before returning it to its spot.
“Slow learners,” she said to Eddie and Diane.
“Let me try and solve this in a diplomatic manner,” Diane said as four of the men hurried to Cleopatra and her two companions. Ahab stayed in his seat, nursing his knee.
Diane stood and walked around her table. “This way please,” she said to the seven people standing by her. I have something to tell you in secret.” She pointed to a section of the restaurant not in use at the time. The eight of them walked into the room. Once the last one was inside, Diane reached over to close the door. A second later, there was a short shout of pain and the thump of a body hitting the floor. Six more thumps and the door opened again. Diane walked out, closing the door behind her. “Diplomacy. It works every time,” she said.
“They are still alive, right?” Eddie asked.
“There is not a thing wrong with them that a week to ten days in the intensive care unit will not fix.”
“Your right,” Eddie said. “Diplomacy is the only way to go.”
They left a huge tip for the waiter and left the restaurant, waving goodbye to Ahab as they walked by him.