PART II - A LONG WAY TO HEAVEN
"Some say that man is the root of all evil
Others say God's a drunkard for pain
Me, I believe that the Garden of Eden
Was burned to make way for a train."
- Josh Ritter, Harrisburg
One Month Later,
There was a water stain on the ceiling over the bed. Macy stared at it as the light from the window made the edges sharper and easier to see. She tried to decide what it looked like, finally deciding it was a sheep. She had been awake for almost twenty minutes when the warm body next to her pulled away. Macy turned her head slightly and watched Eleanor Palmer sit up and pull the kimono off the end table. She ran her eyes down Eleanor's spine, to the flare of her hips, and then looked back at the ceiling.
"You ever try and decide what that shape is?"
Eleanor looked at Macy, followed her gaze, and smiled. "Yeah. Couple of times I've been on my back waiting for someone to finish their business." She lay back down and said, "I finally decided it's a map."
"Mm-hmm. Of somewhere close to here. And that dark spot in the middle is a cave where there's millions and millions of bars of gold waiting to be picked up. Only problem is, there's no borders or landmarks on the map, so you'll never be able to find that."
Macy nodded. "I like that."
Eleanor sat up again and climbed off the bed. "You gonna stay here for a while?"
"Might take a long bath."
"I think you only come here for that bath."
Macy offered a weak smile. "There are a couple other reasons, too."
Eleanor bent down and kissed Macy. "Stay as long as you want. And take as many baths as you want. I'll see you for lunch."
"Okay. Thank you."
Macy waited until Eleanor was out of the room before she got out of bed. She found her clothes on the floor and put on her undershirt and jeans, leaving the pants unbuttoned as she stood and went to the window. Eleanor's room looked down over the main street of town, and she could see the jailhouse by pressing her cheek against the glass and craning her neck.
The front of the building had been repaired, Henry's blood washed away and the wood replaced. Mayor Dawson approved a second deputy being hired to help take over Henry's workload during his recuperation. She'd also replaced the Taylors with a couple of ranch hands who'd ridden into town looking for work. She refused to hire them until she did an exhaustive check on their story, using the telegraph to wire back to Wyoming to make sure they were who they claimed to be.
She wasn't taking any chances. Whatever remained of the Lucas gang had vanished as easily as they'd appeared. No one had seen hide or hair of them since busting their men out of jail and riding off into the sunset. Macy had led a group of men into the woods ten times in the last four weeks, following old hunting trails and hiking paths. The only thing they'd manage to find was an old ghost town, reclaimed long ago by the forest, that looked like it had been flooded by the last big storm.
If they were going to find the rest of the gang, she would have to do something she'd been avoiding for the past month. She would have to talk to Sarah Lucas.
She finished dressing and went downstairs to the bar. No one even looked up as she descended, and there were no whispers as she took her usual seat at the bar. Five weeks ago, she would have avoided the bar at all costs. A lot of things had changed in that amount of time. She'd become a regular customer of the Valley Bar the day after she paraded Sarah into town, declared she was under arrest, and placed her in the supply closet. She hadn't wanted to go home, too many memories, and she couldn't bring herself to stay at the jail knowing Sarah was just down the hall. So she went to the bar and found Eleanor Palmer.
"Got a question for you. If you don't mind answering it."
"Anything for you, Sheriff."
Macy ignored the flirtation in her voice, dipping her chin as she worked her thumb through a water ring on the counter in front of her. "Are any of your clients women?"
Eleanor said, "We used to have a couple of waiters who worked here. But they moved on years ago. Couldn't get 'em to stay put. Besides, I'm sure someone like you... well. I only know what I hear on the street, but I don't think you'll have to pay for it if you don't want to."
"I meant..." Macy cleared her throat and looked over her shoulder. "Do any of your waitresses... take female clients?"
Eleanor's eyes widened and she said, "Oh. Well, it's never come up." She placed her hand on top of Macy's. "But I'm sure we could figure something out between the two of us."
Eleanor brought her a drink. "Got plans for the day?"
Macy said, "I have to go sit down with my prisoner."
Eleanor was the only person in town knew the whole story. Macy told her everything after their first night together, pouring out her soul while Eleanor stroked her back. She sobbed throughout the story, and eventually fell asleep in Eleanor's arms. Eleanor told her later that she was suffering from emotional whiplash. To go from loving someone to hating them in the space of a heartbeat could do terrible things to a person's heart and mind. Macy could believe it; she didn't think she'd ever open herself up to anyone again. It hurt too damn much to risk it.
"How is Henry doin'?"
Macy shook her head. "As well as you could expect, I guess. Depressed about what happened. Still trying to get used to using his right hand for everything."
Eleanor nodded. "Let him know we're all pulling for him here."
"He'll be much obliged." She finished the drink Eleanor had put in front of her and touched the back of her hand to her lips. "Thanks for the courage."
"I got refills whenever you need 'em."
Macy waved her fingers as she slipped off the stool. She walked out of the bar and reluctantly turned toward the jailhouse. Her new deputy, Maxwell Kirby, was leaning against the door with his thumbs hooked in his belt. Kirby was a tall, thin bastard with a thick black mustache. He wore a white shirt and black vest, and his long blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail. He scratched his chin as Macy stepped up onto the walkway and moved to one side so she could go inside.
"All quiet last night," he reported.
Macy went to her desk and glanced toward the supply room door. "How about her?"
"Not a peep."
Her other two helpers, Louie and Andy, were eating breakfast at the desk that had once been Henry's. No, was still Henry's. She was determined that Henry would still be her deputy when this whole mess was settled. She took her gun from the holster and put it into her drawer. "I want you to take the prisoner out of the supply room. Put her in the back."
"The back?" Kirby said.
"You heard me. Cuff her hands to the table."
Kirby nodded and went to follow her instructions. Macy walked out of the room and stood on the walkway, hands on her hips, head tilted to the sky. She heard Kirby inside, heard the clinking of handcuffs being attached and the shuffle of Sarah's feet. Her breath caught, but she forced herself not to turn around.
She'd only known Sarah Lamb for a few days, and she'd lived with the knowledge of who she really was for over a month. The good memories should have been decimated by now, should have been completely overwritten. And yet Macy could hardly stand to be in the same building as the woman she'd thought she loved. It physically hurt her to think of Sarah locked up in that little dark room, despite what she had done.
Kirby came outside and said, "She's all ready for ya."
"Has she had breakfast?"
"Eggs, a roll and some water."
Macy nodded. She pushed away from the wall and went back inside, passing by Louie and Andy as she did. She took the sausage from their plate, wrapped it in a napkin, and ignored their cries of complaint as she continued down the hall. She rested her hand on the doorknob of the back room, steadied herself, and then stepped inside.
Sarah was sitting at the head of the long table, her hands cuffed to the metal circle nailed to the tabletop. Her hair was limp and hung around her face in dirty strings, her clothing replaced by a stiff man's shirt and trousers. Her feet were bare. Her hands were curled into loose fists, resting on the table in front of her.
"Hi, Sarah. Been a while." She dropped the sausage on the table in front of her and Sarah eyed it warily.
"Don't worry, I didn't drop it in the dirt or rub it on the bottom of my boots."
Sarah picked it up and tore off a piece. She popped it into her mouth and chewed slowly before she met Macy's eyes.
"Anna, I'm sorry."
"Don't," Macy said, wincing at the rough sound of Sarah's voice. "I didn't bring you out here to tell that lie again." She pulled her chair out and sat down. "This table is where Doc Merritt had to cut off two of my friend's fingers. You know which one of your boys pulled the trigger that made that necessary?"
Sarah toyed with the sausage, peeling off small pieces and then tearing that into smaller pieces.
"Where is Deacon? William Keane Deacon, your father's right-hand man. Yours too, from what I gather. Y'all have some sort of back-up plan if one of you got caught? Maybe someplace to go lay low until people stopped looking for you?"
"There's only one thing I want to say to you," Sarah said. "And you won't hear it."
"You want to say you're sorry? Prove it. Tell me where I can find your people. Tell me where I can find Deacon and Joshua and Clark and every other person who calls themselves one of Daniel Lucas' men. You tell me that, I might start to believe you're sorry."
Sarah closed her eyes. "I can't."
"Right. You only screw over the people you're sleeping with."
"Sheriff Macy. You will call me Sheriff Macy and nothing else, or so help me you won't speak to another person ever again. You understand me?"
Sarah nodded slowly. "Yes, ma'am, Sheriff Macy."
Macy opened a drawer and took out a piece of paper. She placed it in the middle of the table and tapped it with her index finger. "I want names. The names of the people in your gang, and I want to know how I can find them."
Sarah stared at the blank page.
"Judge Choate is gonna ride into town soon. You know that? He got delayed in Tulsa, but he's coming. He's going to hear your case, and by God I'm going to make sure he knows what a twisted piece of work you are even if it means tellin' him what we did together. Now if you want to spend even one day out of the rest of your miserable life outside of a prison, you'll make sure there's enough punishment to go around. You'll give me William Deacon, and Clark Wilson, and Joshua Lowry, and anyone else you can think of. And you'll do it right now."
Sarah put her fingertips on the edge of the paper and drew it toward her. She picked it up and, after a moment, ripped it down the middle.
"God damn you."
"I can't. I was their leader. It's up to me to take responsibility for what happened."
Macy said, "That's real fucking noble of you. I didn't expect it from a traitor like you." She took the torn pages and wadded them up. "That was your last chance. Your last opportunity to get any sort of mercy from me. I want you to understand that." She walked to the door and said, "I'll see you in a few days with Judge Choate."
"Sheriff Macy, may I say something?"
She put her hand against the door. She wanted to just keep walking, wanted to ignore the voice that she'd heard rise with passion, the voice she'd heard moan her name. But she wasn't able to keep going. She said, "Fine. If you gotta."
"I wanted to tell you. The second I realized how much I felt for you, how it was different than I'd ever felt before, I wanted to tell you. But I couldn't do that. You were someone I could see myself spending my entire life with, but the gang... Deacon and Clark and Joshua. They were my family. I couldn't turn on them. I couldn't just walk away from my whole life.
"If I turn on them now, that means my loyalty to them has a limit. If I turn them in now, it means I could have turned them in any time. And that means I could have saved you the heartbreak you're feeling right now. Could have saved us both a lot of pain and misery. So I won't do it. I won't put a price on my loyalty."
"You ain't putting a price on your loyalty to a bunch of thieves and criminals," Macy said. "You're putting them ahead of whatever you claim to feel for me. And right now, Sarah Lucas, that is all I need to know." She pulled the door open and stepped outside. "Mr. Kirby will take you back to your cell. I'll see you in court."
Sarah was left alone in the back room for nearly half an hour before Deputy Kirby came looking for her. She spent the time looking at the table she was chained to, picturing Macy's deputy lying there with his hand mangled and bleeding. All because of her. The door finally opened, and Kirby stared at her for a minute like she was a piece of furniture he hadn't known was there. He unfastened her cuffs from the table, motioned for her to stand, and led her down the hall to the supply room without a word.
Sarah stepped back into her five-by-ten new home and Kirby unlocked her handcuffs. "Sorry about the wait. Sheriff Macy didn't mention you were still back there. Dinner's at the usual time. Try to behave until then, all right?"
Sarah didn't reply. She just waited for the door to close, casting the room into familiar darkness. The only light came from a narrow window high on one wall, much too high to see anything out of and too narrow to even attempt to use it as an escape route. She walked past the bare shelves to her cot on the far wall. She'd been allowed one pillow and a thin blanket, and that was it. No books, not that she could read anything in the darkness. No newspapers, not that there was any news she wanted to read.
She stretched out on the canvas and put her hands behind her head. She hadn't been prepared for seeing Macy again. Just being in the same room as her was daunting. She'd had a lot of time to think, a lot of time with just a sliver of light and half-heard voices to keep her company. She'd never felt so cut off from the rest of the world before. After a bit of madness at the beginning, she had overcome the solitude and used her time to reconsider what she had done and the path she'd taken.
Why couldn't I have just made the choice? Now that I'm in this room it seems so simple. I could have left Deacon and the damned gang behind. I could have had a real life with Anna.
Now it was too late. Even if she tried to turn against the rest of the gang, any information she gave would be out of date. Deacon was too smart to stay in the camp after Sarah was taken prisoner. She closed her eyes and listened to the sounds outside of her small cell.
Judge Abraham Choate rode into town on Tuesday, one month and three days after Sarah Lucas was taken into custody. He arrived with his typical revenue; two lawyers, a bailiff, three witnesses who could provide an impartial viewpoint in the case of a stalemate, and a wagon full of law books. He was a rotund man with a bushy white mustache, his eyes hidden behind violet-colored glasses.
Macy was waiting outside of City Hall when Choate arrived, Mayor Dawson standing slightly in front of her as the judge brought his entourage to a halt. He climbed off the seat of his wagon, brushed off his trousers, and extended a hand to Dawson. "Mr. Mayor," he said. "I hear you have quite the trial for me this time."
Dawson stepped forward to take the judge's hand. "Yessir. I remember you were a bit upset you never got a chance to make Daniel Lucas pay for his crimes. Sheriff Macy here got you the next best thing. Turns out Mr. Lucas had a daughter trying to follow in his footsteps."
Choate's eyes widened behind his glasses. "Well, hell," he said. He extended his hand to Macy next. "I gotta admit, I was one of the naysayers when I heard there was a lady sheriff 'round these parts. But I guess you went and proved 'em all wrong. Pleasure to meet you, Abe Choate."
"Your daddy was a fine man, a good sheriff," he said.
Choate slapped a hand on his stomach and turned to look at the people he'd arrived with. "Will we be setting up in the same place as usual?"
Dawson nodded. "Got the community center all cleaned out for y'all. We got a few other small cases to deal with first, so we'll let Miss Lucas be the main event."
"Well, okay," Choate said. "We'll let you know when we're ready to get underway. Mr. Mayor. Sheriff."
Dawson turned away from them and guided Macy to the door of City Hall. "I assume you're gonna be present for the hearings."
"As many of them as I can," she said. "I'm gonna let Henry take over the Sarah Lucas trial, though."
"Are you sure that's a good idea?" Dawson said.
"He was there during the jailbreak," Macy said. Not to mention the fact he needed to feel useful, and she needed to keep as much distance between herself and Sarah Lucas as possible. "I trust him."
Dawson checked his watch and dipped his chin in a quick nod. "All right, fine, sure. Just go and make sure he's up to the task. I ain't seen him since Doc made him come in to check up on his hand."
Macy nodded. "I'll do it now."
She left the porch and walked down the street to the jail. Harlequin was eager for a ride, and she took the long route along the south side of town to Henry's house. Elisabeth was on the front porch of the Rucker house, knitting and humming to herself. She looked up as Macy approached and managed a weak smile, putting aside her shawl as Harlequin slowed to a stop in front of their gate.
"Don't let us disturb you, Ms. Rucker," Macy said. "I'm just here looking for your husband."
"He's inside, if he feels like talking." She smoothed her dress over her legs, dipping her chin so she wouldn't have to meet Macy's eyes. "Seems like he's not too interested in doing anything these days."
"I'm gonna see if I can do something about that." She nodded at the shawl as she stepped onto the porch. "You do beautiful work."
Elisabeth smiled. "Glad you think so. Try to act surprised on Christmas."
Macy chuckled and went through the open front door. "Henry? You still hauntin' this place?"
She followed the sound of his voice to the dining room. Henry was sitting at the head of the table, a pile of silverware scattered on the place mat in front of him. He was holding a fork in his right hand, trying to make the remaining two fingers of his left hand cooperate with the knife. His hair had grown out, and he was sporting a full salt-and-pepper beard. He was wearing a white T-shirt and threadbare trousers with the suspenders hanging loose around his hips.
"Beard looks good," she said, for lack of anything else to say.
"Good," he said. "Not much choice in the matter. Kind of hard to hold the razor without slicing my own throat."
Macy pulled out the chair across from him and sat down. "Hope you're not trying that kind of humor on Elisabeth."
"Whatever you want to call it."
Henry tossed the silverware down and ran his thumb along the side of his nose. "Look, just say what you're here to say. I'm fired, right?"
"No," Macy said. She took off her hat and dropped it onto the table. "Not even a little bit. Judge Choate just rode in and I wanna make sure you're up for representing the law of Roman. You were the one who faced down the Lucas gang when they showed up last--"
"I was the one who let them break two of their men out of our jail, and lost half my hand in the process, you mean."
Macy leaned back in her chair. "Look, we both came through this thing beaten up. You have physical scars, and I'm..." She looked at the pile of silverware. "But I don't doubt we're strong enough to make it through to the other side. Whatever was left of the Lucas gang is in the wind. Once we get Sarah Lucas sentenced and dropped off in Kansas, the sooner we can start putting everything behind us. You're a hell of a deputy, and being short three fingers won't change that. I got faith in you. I need you to have faith in me, too. Otherwise this whole thing will fall apart and we'll be left with nothing."
Henry picked up his fork again.
Macy reached across the table and rearranged the fork's handle. She used Henry's pinky to pinch it against his palm and rested the bottom of the handle on his thumb. Henry tested it, using it like a shovel, and nodded his approval. He put the fork down and looked across the table at her.
"Look, like you said. You can see what the Lucas gang cost me. But I still don't know why it's made you..."
"Ah, hell, Anna. You know what I mean. You're a different person than you were last month. You don't smile as much for one. You're quieter. You're spending a hell of a lot of time at the Valley Bar, and if you think people aren't gossiping..." He looked toward the front of the house to make sure Elisabeth was still outside. "People are spreading lies. Saying you're spending nights upstairs with the ladies."
"I've been spending nights upstairs at the Valley Bar," Macy said. "Alone. I don't particularly want to go home most nights."
Henry shrugged and waited for a more in-depth explanation.
Henry said, "Look, if you can't tell me..."
"Sarah Lucas pretended she was... my friend. She lied to me. Spent time at my house. She made me feel comfortable for the first time in my entire life. And then I found out the entire thing was some sick, mean game. I can't stand to look at her, Henry. I can't stand to be in the same room as her because I want to kick her. I wanna tear her goddamn head off with my bare hands. If she'd just shot off my fingers, I could work on that. Figure out new ways to hold silverware, learn to use my right hand. But she destroyed my heart. I ain't got another one of those.
"I don't trust myself anymore. I don't much like myself anymore, either. Because of her. So that's why I need your help, Henry. You're the only one I trust with this."
Henry stared at his plate for a long time before he spoke. "I trust you, too, Anna. I'll be there for whatever you need. If that means I gotta shave off this gopher somehow, I'll find a way. The two of us have gotten this far together, so why give up now, right?"
Macy smiled. "You got that right, Henry."
"Tell me when you need me and I'll be there."
"Tomorrow. At the jail. I need you to start making your presence known again. You're my deputy, and Kirby is just filling space until you're ready to come back."
Henry held out his right hand. Macy ignored it and held out her left hand. Henry stared at it for a moment, and then gripped her hand with his. She squeezed gently, and he shook her hand once before letting it go.
"Little tip on the beard? Let Elisabeth help you out."
He shook his head. "She's gone through way too much already. I can't impose on her. I don't want her to think I'm an invalid..."
"Let her help you, Henry. Trust me." She picked up her hat and said, "I'll see you at the jailhouse tomorrow."
"That means you'll be there, too?"
Macy managed a grin. "If I want you there to support me, I gotta be there to support you. We'll figure it out together."
Henry nodded slowly. He picked up a spoon and arranged it the way Macy suggested. She left the house as he was still practicing with it. Elisabeth had stopped rocking, but she was still working on her shawl. She didn't look up, and Macy knew that she'd listened to every word. "Sorry if I overstepped, Mrs. Rucker."
Elisabeth shook her head, still looking down to hide her smile. "Not at all, Sheriff Macy." She looked up. "About your shawl... you have a favorite color?"
"I'll remember that. Thank you, Sheriff."
Macy stepped off the porch and walked to where Harlequin was grazing outside of Henry's fence. She rubbed his neck, letting him finish his meal as she looked down the road. She'd been sulking for a month, kicking herself for the mistake she had made with Sarah. That was long enough. It was time for her to dust herself off and get back to doing what she did best. Harlequin finally finished his snack, and Macy wrapped his reins around her hand to lead him down the street back to the jail.
Once a week, a woman named Amelia escorted Sarah to the jail's washroom so she could take a bath. Amelia worked at the Valley Bar, and she knew her way around a handgun. Amelia would stand at the door and focus on the far wall while Sarah undressed, observant but offering her a modicum of privacy. It was a humiliating experience despite Amelia's professionalism, and Sarah dreaded it every week.
This week, the humiliation was doubled. She'd already taken her weekly ablutions on Saturday, but it was Tuesday and apparently she was supposed to wash up again for her court appearance. She sat on the edge of her cot with the towel they'd given her draped over one shoulder. Sarah stood up when she heard the key in the lock, turned her back on the door, and laced her fingers behind her head. The door swung open and Sarah winced at the sudden flood of light.
It sounded like Macy, and Sarah looked over her shoulder to make sure she hadn't heard wrong. Macy was holding the door open, her free hand on the butt of her gun, looking at the floor rather than at Sarah. Sarah lowered her hands and hesitantly stepped out of the cell. She looked down the hall and saw Deputy Kirby standing by the front door. His pose was casual, but she was very aware of the gun on his hip.
"Don't even think about it," Macy said.
"I wasn't," Sarah said.
"Move." Macy put her hand on Sarah's arm and guided her toward the bathroom.
Macy's hand wrapped around her upper arm and pulled her up. Their faces were inches apart, and she could smell their sweat. Her nostrils flared as she leaned in and kissed Macy's lips, rocking her lower body against Macy's thigh.
The washroom was tiny, with a tub sitting in the middle of the space. It was already filled with tepid water, a bar of soap and a small sponge sitting on a crate next to one end. Macy followed Sarah into the room and closed the door behind her. "Go on, let's get it over with."
Sarah pulled her borrowed shirt over her head, dropping her right arm to cover her breasts. For some reason she felt shyer with Macy than she ever had with Amelia, reluctant to let her erstwhile lover see her naked. She lowered her pants quickly and stepped over the edge of the tub, lowering herself until the water provided her a weak amount of privacy.
"Is Amelia sick?"
"She was busy. Hurry up. You gotta be in front of Judge Choate in an hour."
"We should wash up. You got a tub?"
"Are you saying I stink?"
Sarah kissed the curve of Macy's breast. "Yeah, but I like it."
The wrestling turned to laughter, which quickly became moans.
Sarah cupped her hand in the water and splashed it into her face. She ran her fingers through her hair and said, "You look good. I wanted--"
"If I wanted to talk to you, I would have. It's not like I didn't know where to find you this month. Just wash."
Sarah looked down at the water and finally picked up the soap. It was shocking to see what had happened with Macy since their first meeting. This woman was so much harder, nearly emotionless. Except for her eyes, of course. Macy refused to meet Sarah's gaze, but she could tell there was pain in them. Pain she had caused. She rested her elbow on the edge of the tub, holding her hair out of her face, and closed her eyes.
"Nice and calm. No one's gonna get hurt tonight." Jack Wilson did all the talking. Sarah stayed by the bank's door, making sure no one wandered into their hold-up. Clark was moving the bundles of cash from the payroll bag in the middle of the floor to the saddlebags they'd brought in with them. "This is just a simple transaction. No reason for anyone to get hurt."
Sarah had stood there and looked at everyone she was robbing without really seeing them. They weren't victims. She wasn't stealing out of their pockets. She was just taking money that people she cared about needed. The rest of the gang was her responsibility, and that was her way of providing for them. It was how her father provided. It was the Lucas way.
"I didn't mean to hurt anyone. I know that's a horrible excuse, but--"
"Are you done washing up?"
Sarah picked up the soap and ran it between her hands. It was just barely a sliver, nearly disappearing as she worked up a thin lather.
"Sheriff Macy, may I speak?"
"No. I thought I made that clear."
Sarah washed quickly, keeping her head down so she wouldn't have to see Macy even in the corner of her eye. There was a knock on the door and Macy stepped back, opened the door slightly, and whispered briefly with someone on the other side. She took a bundle from whoever it was and closed the door again. Macy ripped open the bundle and tossed some folded clothes onto the floor next to the tub.
"Clothes for court."
Macy pressed her lips together and worked her jaw, obviously trying to think of a way to snap at her again. Finally she folded her arms over her chest and sagged against the wall. "Don't thank me. Wasn't my idea."
Sarah used the sponge to wash her arms, and then sank down to dip her head under the water to wash her hair. She kept her hands on the edges of the tub and hesitated before she rose out of the water again. It was silent under the surface, calm. She lifted her feet so that she was only touching the tub with her hands and rear. She felt adrift. Free for the first time since... ever, to be honest. First with her father, then with the gang, the only time she'd ever felt comfortable and felt like herself was--
Two hands broke the surface around her head, strong fingers closing around her shoulders and hauling her up. She was pulled from the water with a choking gasp, the water pouring down over her face. Macy was holding her up, their faces inches apart, but Sarah could only make out vague shapes through the water flowing over her eyes.
"What in God's name are you trying to pull?"
Sarah grabbed the collar of Macy's shirt and pulled her forward into a kiss. Macy tried to push her away, but Sarah wrapped her arms around Macy's neck and held tight. The water splashed over the edge of the tub, soaking Macy's blouse and jeans and the floor all around them both. Macy twisted and fought, finally managing to break Sarah's hold on her. She swung her right hand out, meeting Sarah's cheek with a brutal open-handed smack, and Sarah fell back against the curved edge of the tub.
"If you ever..."
"I love you, Anna."
Macy stared at her. "Don't you ever say those words."
Sarah pushed herself up and stood naked in the tub, water glistening on her body. Macy winced as if the sight pained her and turned her back.
"I was my father's daughter. Then I was my family's leader. The only thing you wanted me to be was Sarah. I never had anyone want that before. I didn't know what it meant, and it scared me. But I know now. I wish I could regret lying to you, but I don't. Because if I'd told you who I was when we met, I'd be in this same place I am right now. But I'd never have known you. I'd never have fallen in love with you. So I don't regret it. I'm just so sorry I had to hurt you."
Macy said, "Your clothes are wet. They're all you're gonna get, so it looks like you'll have to suffer." She opened the door and stepped into the hall. "Get dressed quick. I'll have someone drag you to court naked if I have to."
Sarah closed her eyes and crossed her arms over her chest, bowing her head as she listened to Macy's footsteps depart down the hall.
Kirby eyed her soaked clothes as she stormed toward him. "Sheriff...?"
"Out of my way," she said. "I need some air."
She shoved his shoulder when he didn't move fast enough, throwing open the front door and stepping out into the sunshine. The air felt cold through her clothes, but she ignored it as she leaned against the hitching post and sucked in huge breaths of air. She felt like she was suffocating, like all the room had been sucked out of the jail. Her face burned. Her lips felt numb where Sarah had... She worked up some saliva and forced herself to spit, wiped the back of her hand across her mouth, and finally straightened up and looked back into the jail.
Kirby was staring at her, but he turned away when he caught her expression. She steadied herself, got her breathing under control, and pushed away from the rail. Kissing Sarah... or rather, having Sarah kiss her, felt far too good. It opened the door to far too many feelings that she'd spent too much time squashing. She pushed her fingers through her hair and twisted it into a braid. She didn't have time for this. Sarah Lucas was last month's problem, and she was about to be shipped off to another state. She had other things to worry about.
She hadn't seen Henry all morning, and she was afraid he was going to back out of his promise. Without him, she would have to stand up next to Sarah in court and explain what had happened. And once she was under oath, the entire truth would have to come out. "I was blinded by romantic feelings for the suspect, your honor. That's correct, we were intimate on several occasions. Yes, sir, here's my badge and gun."
"Damn it, Henry," she muttered.
"Sorry, Sheriff. Elisabeth did the best she could."
She turned at the sound of his voice. Henry was standing behind her, most of his beard gone. He'd maintained a goatee, dark around the mouth with a spot of white on the chin. She was surprised at how distinguished he looked, relieved to see him, and proud that he had shown up. She looked down at his hand. He wore a leather glove, the last three fingers cut away and the edges sewn together. "Welcome back, Deputy Rucker."
He looked down at himself, adjusting his vest with his good hand. "Yeah, well. I shouldn't have stayed away so long."
She patted him on the shoulder and guided him into the building. Kirby was coming down the hall and hooked his thumb toward the supply room door. "Boss, I thought you took the prisoner back to her cell after she washed up."
"No, I left her... in the washroom to get dressed." She pictured the window over the sink, the flimsy latch that held it closed. "Oh, son of a bitch." She pushed Kirby out of the way and ran down the hall. She was mentally crucifying herself for the mistake, ready to put her fist through an oak door in frustration as she threw open the washroom door and stopped just over the threshold.
Sarah was sitting on the edge of the tub, wearing her wet dress, her hair in a sloppy ponytail. She stood up and hesitated when she saw the crowd stumbling to a stop in the doorway behind Macy. She furrowed her brow and said, "Something wrong?"
"No. Nothing." Macy stepped back and pushed Henry forward. "There's your prisoner, Deputy. Get her to the community center for her trial."
"Where will you be?" Kirby said.
Macy rolled her shoulders. "I'll be policing the community."
"Darlin', stop... stop..."
"Did I hurt you?" Macy pushed her hair out of her face, resting her palms on Eleanor's thighs. She leaned forward and kissed Eleanor's stomach, surprised to find how out of breath she was. How long had they been wrestling on this bed? Her heart was pounding and she was drenched with sweat.
Eleanor reached down and stroked Macy's hair. "No, honey. Just a little sensitive after the last two rounds. Give me a second to catch my breath." She pulled Macy up and kissed her lips, rolling them until Macy was pinned to the mattress. "Better yet, let me take the opportunity to take yours away." She kissed the corners of Macy's mouth and started to slide down her body.
Macy reached up and gripped the bottom of the headboard, lifting her hips in anticipation. Seeing Sarah's naked body, feeling her kiss, had lit a fuse inside of her. She only knew two ways to extinguish that smoldering desire, and this felt like the least shameful method. Eleanor's fingers brushed her flanks and made her shiver. Eleanor was about to reach her destination when there was a knock on the door.
"Sheriff Macy?" It was Kirby.
"Shit," Macy pulled away as if she'd been shot, twisting to get out from underneath Eleanor. She grabbed her shirt and pulled it over her head. "Don't say a word."
Eleanor mimed locking her lips, and Macy wrapped the sheet around her waist. She walked to the door, trailing the sheet like a tail. She opened the door a crack and glared out at her temporary deputy. "What is it?"
"Little early to call it a night, ain't it?"
Macy said, "I was up late. What?"
"Deputy Rucker wanted me to let you know Judge Choate made his ruling. Sarah Lucas was sentenced to twenty years in the Kansas State Pen."
"When does her train leave?"
"Bright and early Friday morning. Rucker thought you'd like to know."
Macy nodded. "He was right. Thanks. I'll see you back at the jailhouse." She shut the door before he could say anything else and turned to face the bed. Eleanor was lying across the mattress, her leg lifted to obscure the view of her pubic hair. "Well?"
Macy dropped her sheet and pulled the shirt over her head. "Well..." She walked to the bed and climbed on top of Eleanor. "Now we got reason to celebrate."
She was sentenced on Tuesday and forced to spend the next three nights in her cell awaiting the train that would take her to Kansas. Twenty years in prison. Everything she owned was long gone, never to be seen again. Everyone she knew had vanished. She lay curled on her side on the cot in the narrow supply closet, hands balled into fists on the sides of her head. She had fought her attraction to Macy simply because she didn't want to sacrifice her life. Now she had nothing. No family, no friends, no life. No love.
Sarah cursed herself for not taking the leap. She should have realized that her only options were destruction. If she'd grabbed hold of Macy and told her the truth as soon as she started to fall, maybe she could have... made things better. Maybe Macy wouldn't hate her. Maybe she could at least have a friend.
She ignored the food they brought to her. It sat on plates just inside the doorway, untouched and quickly going cold. Food didn't interest her. She ignored the passing of light on the wall that had once indicated the passage of time to her. The only time that mattered now was seven o'clock, Friday morning. And then one day later, she would be delivered to her new wardens at the Kansas State Penitentiary.
Outside she could hear the town continuing its business. People shouting to friends, laughter, the banging of the cafe door as people came and went during the day. She tried to think of who those people were, what they were doing. She'd never really lived in a town before. Just the old shacks her father called their home. She closed her eyes and tried to imagine if she would have ended up differently if she'd walked streets like Romans. If she had grown up down the street from her best friend, and if her only worry was getting to school on time rather than if Daddy would get killed or sent to prison.
It was no good pretending. Her life was what it had been, and no amount of imagination would change that. She was a crook, and this was how her life ended.
She opened her eyes and lifted her hand. She held it high enough that the moonlight shone on her fingers, and she examined the way the light made them look. She remembered the way Macy kissed them, the way it felt for two of her fingers to slide between Macy's legs and stroke that sensitive spot. Sarah decided she could take solace in that. No matter what had happened in her life before, or what might happen from here on, at least she'd known what it was like to be happy. To be in love.
That was more than most people got.
Macy finally went home on Thursday night. She had to pack a change of clothes for her trip up to Kansas and the ride back. She let Harlequin lead the way home, her mind occupied with thoughts of spending an entire day in Sarah Lucas' presence. She was sure she could do it, but the effort would take a lot out of her. She had escorted prisoners to the state pen before; she knew that it could be a very trying ordeal. Trying to do it with someone like Sarah would be torture. But she'd survived worse.
It would be easier if her dalliances with Eleanor felt half as good as what she'd done with Sarah. Sex with Eleanor was fine, of course, and she enjoyed it immensely, but it couldn't compare to her nights with Sarah. She didn't like to think about that, or what it meant. Her job would be hard enough as it was without thinking Sarah might be the love of her...
Macy guided Harlequin into the stable and set him up for the night. She spent a few extra minutes brushing him down, sitting with him while he drank his water. Finally she had to stop delaying the inevitable and go into the house. It was dusk, so the furniture was hidden by long, heavy shadows. She turned on a lamp and set it on the counter between the kitchen and the living room. She looked toward the couch and forced her mind back into the past, back before she'd ever met Sarah Lucas. She searched for memories that could overwrite what she and Sarah had created, but she failed.
Her life had been so empty before Sarah, but she'd been content. Now that her eyes had been opened, she had no idea how she would be able to go back to the way things were before. Coming home alone, eating alone, working and sleeping and eating. She needed a touch. A hand on her hip in the night, a warm body next to her in bed. She'd lived for so long without knowing what she needed, but a handful of nights had ruined her forever.
She went to the bedroom door and looked inside. She hadn't spent every night since Sarah's arrest in Eleanor's bed, but she'd found ways to avoid this room. She'd slept at the jail, stretching out on the cot in a cell as far from Sarah's as possible. Sometimes she came home, but she slept on the couch. The room had once been comforting, but now it was like a bear trap.
It was almost like the echoes of Sarah's voice were caught in the wood of the walls. "Please, Anna... there, right there." Macy licked her lips and stepped into the room, moving quickly to the trunk at the foot of the bed. She flipped up the lid before she could think of Sarah sitting on top of it, spreading her legs, guiding Macy's head down...
Her clothes were stacked on the far right side of the trunk, and she took a few shirts and pants without taking the time to examine them. She shoved them into an old army bag and pulled the string to cinch the top shut. She stood up and eyed the headboard, the pillows and blankets that were still tangled from the last time she'd been in the bed. She realized with a start that the last time she'd been here was with Sarah, making love while the rest of her gang broke Joshua and Clark out of prison.
She dropped her bag and grabbed handfuls of the sheets and blankets, yanking them from the mattress with a shout of fury. She dragged the linens through the living room, holding her arms out to one side so they wouldn't brush her clothes. She opened the door and hurled them into the lawn, panting as she spun on her heel and went back into the bedroom. She hoisted the mattress off the bed frame and managed to manhandle it through the door. She shoved it to the front porch and let it fall with a heavy thud to the ground.
"The whole point of roughing it is to use a sleeping bag, I think."
Macy pushed her hair out of her face and caught her breath before she turned around. Henry Rucker had just arrived, riding onto her lawn and looking at the remnants of her bed lying at her feet. He was smiling in a bemused manner, and touched the brim of his hat in greeting as his horse slowed a few feet away from her. The evening had already grown dark enough that his features were a blur to her, so she was confident he couldn't see how close she was to tears.
"Hey, Henry. You and Elisabeth need a slightly soiled mattress?"
"You don't want it anymore?"
"I don't want what it comes with."
Henry said, "Ah. I think we're good."
"Then I'll burn it."
Henry arched an eyebrow. "Seems wasteful."
Macy dropped onto the top step of her porch and looked at Henry. "How was the ride?"
He lifted his left hand and flexed the remaining fingers. "I managed. I had to loop the reins around my wrist, but it was doable." He climbed off the horse and led it to her porch, letting the reins rest loosely in his right hand. Macy held up a hand for him to wait and went inside, coming back a moment later with two bottles of beer. She handed one to Henry and he took it. "Thanks kindly."
They sat next to each other on the top step, and sipped their beers in companionable silence. Henry held his bottle in his right hand, leaving his formerly dominant hand to prop him up. Out of sight in the darkness of the porch. Finally, he spoke again.
"I wanted to put your mind at ease, and offer up my services one more time."
"Services?" Macy said. "For what?"
"Whatever you decide. If you want me to come with you to Kansas, I'll have your back. If you want me to hold down the fort here in case the rest of Lucas' gang takes advantage of you being gone, I'm ready for that, too. I just wanted to put your mind at ease. I know I haven't been your favorite person this month."
Macy actually laughed at that. "Henry, trust me. If I had to choose my five least favorite people this month, you wouldn't even make the cut. Although I might be pretty high on the list my own self." She pushed her hair out of her face and looked out over the field beside her house. She wanted to look at the landscape, but instead found herself looking at the spot where she'd first seen Sarah. Just a shadow against the darkness. No wonder little kids were scared of the dark; look what could be lurking there.
Henry walked over and sat beside her on the step. "We've had a bad month, Anna."
"But I think we can count the Lucas gang out. Not to jinx us or anything, but they've been quiet for this whole month. We got a whole slew of people to protect the last payroll delivery and there wasn't even a hiccup. If they were gonna hit us, it would have been then. To be honest, between my hand and whatever you've got eating you up, we've been sitting ducks this month. They could have come in and finished the job they started.
"That gang folded last time they lost a leader. Daniel Lucas got shot and we didn't hear a thing from 'em for four years. Now Sarah Lucas is goin' away. Unless there's another kid we don't know about, I think whatever's left of 'em is just gonna fold up and float away into the wind. Maybe head out to Arizona. I hear things are boomin' out there."
Macy smiled. "Be nice to give us a break." She reached over and patted Henry's shoulder. "Thanks for the pep talk, Henry. I really needed that."
Henry said, "You wanna talk about what you got going on? I've been practicing my picker-uppers and I could use the practice."
Macy said, "It's not that I don't trust you, Hank. But I'm humiliated by it. Humiliated by how stupid I was, and what I allowed to happen. If you knew what I'd done, I could never look you in the eye again. I'd have to fire you, and Elisabeth would kill me dead."
Henry laughed. "Good chance of that, actually. Best to just keep it to yourself until you're ready to share. But if I can give you some generic advice. I've worked with you for a long time. I trust you. The people in this town didn't particularly want a woman sheriff, but you showed that you were better than any man who wanted the job. People know that if you fail, it ain't because you couldn't do it. It's because it can't be done. So whatever you did that you think caused this, don't let it eat you up."
"Thanks, Henry." She rubbed her hands together and said, "I want you to take over here while I'm gone."
He nodded and looked down at his hand.
"Got nothing to do with that, Henry. I want you here because I don't trust Kirby with the town. You ask me who I want watching the town when I can't, and you're first on that list. One hand or two, you've always been there for me. I need someone I can count on holding down the fort when I'm gone."
"You can count on me, Anna."
"And when I get back we'll talk about letting you take back your post from Kirby full-time. It's way overdue."
Henry pushed himself up. "Thanks, boss."
"I should be thanking you."
He looked at the dissembled bed on her lawn. "You gonna do something with this?"
"Something," she said. "Just not sure what."
Henry took off his hat and scratched the back of his head. "I've always said we need a break room at the jail. Put a bed in there, one of us could catch a few winks from time to time without going all the way home."
"Bed's out here because I don't wanna sleep on it anymore."
"So it'll never be occupied when I wanna use it."
Macy laughed. "You're diabolical, Mr. Rucker."
He put his hat back on and mounted his horse. She watched how he managed using just one hand, impressed by how he'd adjusted to his disability. He settled on the horse and looked at the bed again.
"You know, even if you don't sleep on that bed, you should find someplace soft to spend the night. Train's gonna leave bright and early tomorrow. Big day."
"Yeah. I'll find a place. Good night, Henry. Tell Elisabeth hello for me."
He nodded and turned his horse around, moving slowly down the trail again. Macy waited until he was out of sight before she stood up and walked to the pile of bedding. Every thread, every divot in the mattress, reminded her of Sarah. The way she would push herself up, the way her feet got tangled in the sheets, the way she folded the pillow around her hand when she finally drifted off to sleep.
Macy turned and walked back into the house, sure that she would never sleep on it again. Not with it screaming at her that way. She would take her things and ride back to town, rent a bed from Eleanor, and wait for the train. Henry was right about tomorrow being a big day; it was the day she finally put Sarah Lucas out of her life forever.
Sarah didn't sleep at all Thursday night. On Friday morning, she stood on her cot to look out the small window of her cell. She couldn't see the train, but she heard its arrival; it was the chuffing and bellowing arrival of a beast that shook the ground as it rolled into town. She closed her eyes and pictured how the track ran through the plains before curving to meet up with Roman between its sheltering hills. The image had always struck her as sexual, the train rolling forward between two raised mounds that looked like knees, but there was no humor in the image today.
She heard the keys jingle and climbed off the cot before the door opened. She laced her fingers on the back of her head and waited patiently as the door opened. Two people entered, and then a pair of hands landed on her shoulders and squeezed. She closed her eyes, amazed that she could identify someone by the feel of their fingers. But considering how intimately she had gotten to know Anna Macy's fingers, it wasn't all that surprising.
"Good morning, Ms. Lucas," Deputy Kirby said. "You all packed up and ready to go? We just gotta make sure you're not taking any souvenirs."
With that, Macy started to touch her. For the first time in over a month, Macy's hands brushed Sarah's sides through her shirt and she had to suppress a groan. Her fingers tightened along Sarah's ribs before moving slightly forward, touching the swell of her breasts before retreating quickly. Macy brushed the curve of Sarah's rear end through her jeans and Sarah shivered, hoping Kirby couldn't see it in the darkness.
"Knock it off," Macy said under her breath.
She wanted to apologize, wanted to blame it on how Macy made her feel, but the fight had gone out of her. Twenty-nine days alone in a dark room with no human contact could do that to a person.
Her pat-down finally ended, and her wrists were closed in the cuffs. Macy closed a hand around her shoulder and pulled her toward the door. Sarah let herself be turned around, and Macy stepped to keep behind her at all times. Sarah followed Kirby to the door. The day had barely begun outside, and the whole world looked dark blue beyond the threshold. Henry Rucker, the deputy who was missing his hand, was standing next to the doorway. Sarah was surprised at how healthy he looked, but she kept her face expressionless.
"Got everything settled, Henry?"
He dipped his chin. "All we need now is for you to head on out."
"Try not to get too excited."
Sarah realized she hadn't seen Macy at all, and turned her head to rectify the situation. It was a mistake. Macy wore a freshly laundered shirt, buttoned to the collar, and a beaten leather jacket. Her hair was braided, and she wore a hat with the brim pulled low. She looked gorgeous, and the sight of her nearly prompted Sarah to apologize again. She bit the inside of her cheek and turned forward just as Macy realized she was being examined.
"Eyes forward," Macy said in a cold, impersonal tone.
"See you tomorrow," Henry said as they stepped out into the cool dawn. They walked through the empty streets, only a few buildings showing light in their windows as they passed. She smelled baking bread as they passed a bakery, and she turned her head in the hopes of seeing the first loaves of the day being brought out. She'd never had freshly baked bread, and she suddenly realized she never would.
It was her last walk as a free woman, she realized. She turned her head to the sky and saw that a scattering of stars were still visible. She looked to the west and saw something that caught her breath in her throat. "Old Man's Shoe," she whispered, using Macy's name for the constellation.
"Hush." Macy voice was tight, and she punctuated it with a none-too-gentle shove on the shoulder.
They turned a corner, and Sarah suddenly saw it. The train station was a small building with wooden walls painted gray-white, the name Roman spelled out on the side in big black letters. The tracks ran alongside the building, and the train was waiting patiently alongside. Sarah's muscles tensed, but she forced herself to continue walking forward. Kirby walked ahead when they reached the station, going inside and taking a quick look around before he came back outside and motioned Macy in.
"Hope you're not planning on your friends bailing you out of this, Ms. Lucas," Macy said.
Sarah, mindful of Macy's earlier order to hush, didn't reply.
Kirby dealt with the station agent, and Macy walked Sarah to a row of benches on the far side of the room. She could see the train, like some unbelievable object from a picture show. It was massive and metal and seemed to breathe smoke from its seams. Macy put a hand on Sarah's shoulder and forced her down onto the wooden seat.
Sarah looked at the gun on Macy's belt, resting in the finely-tooled holster. The metal of the weapon looked cold, and she could almost feel it as she wrapped her fingers around the weapon and pulled it free of its sheath. She threw her weight forward and knocked Macy off her feet as she stood up and spun around, pulling down the hammer with her thumb and swinging the gun toward the ceiling. She meant to fire off a single round into the plaster, but she didn't even get a chance to waste the bullet before Kirby had turned and pulled his weapon and fired a single shot that took the back of her head clean--
Macy stepped away and broke Sarah's reverie. She walked to the window and peered out at the train, resting her hands on the edge of the window and bending her right knee in a manner that pushed her hip out toward Sarah. The sight of Macy's slender legs, those jeans that hugged just the right spots and bagged enticingly in others, sent her off on another memory. But she closed her eyes before the fantasies got too strong.
Kirby came over and handed Macy a ticket. "Agent said we can go ahead and board to secure our prisoner 'fore the other passengers get on board."
"All right," Macy said. She walked back to Sarah and grabbed her by the elbow.
"What are you doing down there?"
"Went to the bathroom and I didn't want to wake you." She lifted her head from where she sat on the floor. Macy was sprawled on the bed, and bent to kiss her upside down. The kiss grew hungrier, and Macy reached down and wrapped her fingers around Sarah's elbow. "Up here," she said as she hauled Sarah up onto the mattress.
Macy walked her out of the train station. Sarah slowed her pace once she was outside again, turning to look over the town one last time. Soon Roman would just be a memory, and her entire world would consist of a tiny stone cell with bars on the door. The thought terrified her, and she was eager for just one more piece of freedom before it was taken away forever. She spotted someone on horseback at the edge of town, positioned on the sloping ground at the base of the closest hill.
At first she thought it was just a random townsperson taking a moment before going on with the errands of his day. But something about his posture was familiar enough to make her look harder. His shirt looked almost black in the weak morning light, but then he turned his head to look behind him and recognition washed over her.
It was Travis Richards, a member of her gang.
The distance was too great for even her best shooter to have a chance of killing her, but he was definitely watching the train station. He took a scope from his belt and brought it up, eyeing the platform. After a moment, he lowered the glass and tightened his grip on the reins. He spurred his horse forward and rode away from town.
"Move it," Macy said. She shoved Sarah forward and into the train.
"Anna, you gotta--"
"You will refer to me by proper rank, Ms. Lucas, or you will not speak to me."
Sarah's heart was pounding. "Fine, Sheriff Macy--"
"Actually, that's not a bad idea. Kirby, you got a bandana that's cleanish?" He pulled a blue cloth from his belt and handed it over. Macy took it with both hands, twisting the material until it was corded and thick like a rope. She stepped forward and held it up in front of Sarah's mouth.
"Sheriff, listen to mef." Her plea was cut off as Macy pressed the bandana into her mouth. Sarah had no choice but to close her teeth around the gag. Macy put her arms around Sarah's shoulders to tie the ends behind Sarah's head. For the briefest moment, Sarah's face as inches from Macy's. Being wrapped in her pseudo embrace was enough to make Sarah's heart hurt, and she closed her eyes as she was gagged.
"Now maybe it'll be a pleasant trip," Macy said, stepping back to admire her handiwork. "Come on, Deputy. Let's find our seats."
Sarah was momentarily stunned by how gorgeous the train was. It was like a piece of a palace had been cut out and placed on wheels. Rows of seats lined either side of the train, with a wide aisle between them. Sarah was pushed forward by Kirby, forced to follow Macy through the first car to the next.
Sarah kept her eyes on the windows they passed. No sign of Travis or anyone else from her gang. The only reason to have a spotter at the train would be to alert the others when she was leaving. To make sure she was on the train before they made their move. She suddenly felt very cold, trying to figure out how to warn Macy without making it sound like a threat.
They found their berth and Macy went in first. She checked out the accommodations and declared they were acceptable before she motioned Sarah to come inside. There were two bunks on the right, and a long shallow bench on the left for sitting. A window was directly across from the door, but it was facing the wrong direction for her to watch for more members of her gang. Instead she got one final view of Roman before she was guided to the bench and forced to sit.
"Find the porter," Macy said. "Make sure he's aware of the situation before we head out."
Kirby nodded and left the compartment. Macy shut the door behind him and then walked to the window, looking out at the town rather than face Sarah.
"We got a lot of stops to make along the way. I expect you to sit and stay quiet the entire time. Don't want you making a ruckus. We're going to get to Kansas tomorrow morning and I'll deliver you to the prison all quiet-like." Macy stared some more. When she spoke again, her voice had actually gotten a bit softer and more like the Anna Macy Sarah remembered. "If you want to look out the window, you're allowed. Probably be the last you see of Oklahoma for a long while."
Sarah mumbled against her gag, and Macy turned to face her. She was still for a long time, but finally she crossed the space and tugged the bandana out of Sarah's mouth.
"Didn't want ya chokin' on your own tongue," Macy mumbled.
There was a sudden burst of gunfire from outside the train and Sarah closed her eyes. It was too late; her gang was here. There were a few screams from near the back of the train as Macy drew her gun. She pressed the barrel against Sarah's temple. "Don't move, don't speak, don't even think. Hear me?"
Sarah nodded. The metal of the gun was even colder than she'd imagined it would be. Macy's voice had reacquired its steel and strength as she craned her neck to try and see out the window. She looked back and forth along the train, looking for signs of their attackers, then she turned back to Sarah.
"It's your people, isn't it? Call 'em off."
"I can't," Sarah said.
Macy grabbed the collar of Sarah's shirt and shoved her roughly against the wall. "Swear to God, I'll kill you before I let them break you outta here."
Sarah laughed without humor. "That ain't what they want, Anna. They ain't coming to rescue me. They're here to kill me."
To Be Continued...
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