The saloon was crowded and rowdy, and gentleman in the tailored suit clearly did not fit in. But then he wasn't exactly trying too. He had a cool, no nonsense air about him as he strode past drunken men and half dressed women to a table in the very corner where a man sat drinking away at a bottle of whiskey.
"I hope you are sober enough to hear me out," the gentleman stated, sitting down in front of the drinking man.
"If you would have come an hour from now, I probably wouldn't be," the man replied. "But you're in luck, my mind is clear enough to think straight. I was told you had a job for me."
"And I was told you are the best bounty hunter in the area."
"I am." The bounty hunter grinned and offered his drink to the gentleman, who thought for a moment then signaled for a barman to bring him a glass.
"Who is it you want me to catch?" The bounty hunter asked.
In reply the gentleman pulled out a wanted poster. "The feds are offering three hundred and fifty dollars for his capture, but I want you to get him before the feds do."
"And I assume the price you are willing to offer is greater?" The bounty hunter lifted one eyebrow as he took the poster and studied the features of the man on it.
A glass was brought and the gentleman poured himself a shot of whiskey. "I have a score to settle with that man and that is why I don't want the deputies to get their hands on him," he explained. "I'll give your one hundred now and six hundred when you bring him to me, alive and unharmed"
The bounty hunter leaned closer. "Do you have a lead?"
"Last I heard he was in the mountains at Colorado."
"That's quite some distance," the bounty hunter frowned. "I'm not sure I want to leave Texas just yet. I already lost an insane amount of time hunting down the Judd Brothers and now to suddenly drag myself all the way to Colorado, I'll never pick up Calhoon's scent at this rate."
"Calhoon is dead, so there is nothing to keep you," the gentleman pointed out.
"What?" The bounty hunter burst out. "Where was I...oh never mind, I know where I was. Those New Mexico Judd Brothers robbed me of the catch of the century. Who got the cattle rustler in the end?"
"Are you serious? So no one ended up with the reward?"
"I believe in the end some red skinned Indian got it. From what I understood he had a hand in putting an end to the outlaw. But enough of that, all I want is for you to bring me Skinner O'Mally, and the sooner the better."
"Where was Calhoon killed?" The bounty hunter was still very interested in the story of Calhoon's death and refused to be sidetracked.
"Out in Arizona. Seems he was trying to catch some cowboy who worked on a ranch out there. Members of his gang were caught as well, and then the deputies and bounty hunters picked off the rest."
"And when did this all happen?"
"About three months ago, maybe four. I was told by a friend of mine owns the bank at Hopewing."
"What became of the cowboy?"
"Nothing. He's still working on the Cora Belle as he always did."
"Cora Belle?" The bounty hunter sat up straight. "Is that the name of the ranch?"
"Nothin'." The bounty hunter slouched back. "Who owns it?"
"I wouldn't know."
"Hmmm." The bounty hunter pulled out a cigar and lit it. He inhaled deeply, then slowly let the smoke out of his mouth. "Tell you what, I'll drag myself all the way to Colorado, get your O'Mally fellow, and bring him to you instead of taking him to the authorities. I'm willing to take the price you offered, but I'm gonna to throw in one more condition."
"And that is?"
"Find out about this ranch and about the owner."
"I can easily do that."
"Then we have a deal." The bounty hunter shook the gentleman's hand,and the promised one hundred dollars was passed discreetly under the table. The gentleman left very pleased with himself, while the bounty hunter waved for another bottle of whiskey.
"The Cora Belle Ranch," the bounty hunter laughed to himself as he opened the bottle and put it to his lips. "Well, if that's not your ranch, Clay, then I'm a chicken. It's been so long, perhaps I should arrange a meeting. Only there is no hurry. You're not going anywhere and I've got six hundred dollars hiding up in Colorado, so I guess I can put off our rendezvous until I get back. Only beware, Mr. Walkers, for when I do get back, I will have revenge." The last words lit a spark in his eyes, but it was soon dulled by the whiskey he continued to drink until he finally stumbled out of the saloon and into the dusty streets.