It was July Fourth. The United States of America was now one hundred and three years old. The country – and the territories – threw a raucous celebration.
It even reached Arizona territory, where Four Corners all but exploded. The six uninjured Regulators had their hands full with the usual merry band of drunks.
But it was the blinded gambler who made the catch of the day. Although he was still adjusting – having just been released from the clinic two days prior – he entered the saloon on Inez’s arm. She settled him at his favourite table and left to begin her own work.
Moments later, Ezra’s head tilted as a silky voice asked, “Care for a game?”
“Sir, much as I would enjoy that, I have a marked disadvantage.” He waved a hand in front of his face. “As you can ascertain, I can not see.”
There was an awkward pause, then the voice asked, “Are you able to read marked cards?”
Ezra’s eyes widened. “Most certainly – but I do not trust either of us to deal.”
“I’ll deal,” Chris said. “I’ll help him,” he informed the stranger.
“First.” The stranger dealt two cards. “What are these?”
Chris put the cards into Ezra’s hand and he ran his fingers along the back. “Ace of hearts and two of clubs.” He lay the cards down.
Chris and the stranger shared a smile. The two of clubs and the ace of hearts looked up at them.
Chris dealt and the game began. Conversation erupted, as it usually did in these games. And in this idle chatter, the stranger mentioned someone he’d recognised.
Ezra lay his cards down – winning the pot – and asked Chris if someone fitting that description hadn’t been arrested.
Chris frowned. “Yeah, the man who kept you up last night. Why, do you know him?”
“Keep him there. And away from Buck.” Idly, Ezra ran his hands over the cards as he shuffled. “We have innocently apprehended a man wanted in three states and two territories.” He paused, to let that sink in. “He’s a rapist and woman-killer.”
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