“Mister Highbinder –”

“Please, Lucy, call me Harry. All my friends do.”

Lucy Clover scowled. She’d arrested this man, breaking up his card game with a pair of handcuffs and accusation of a felony. She’d marched him down to the sheriff’s office, let him stew in a cell for a few hours, handcuffed him to his seat, and started to interrogate him.

She felt like, after carrying out her role, the very least he could do would be to act upset … or at least inconvenienced.

“I don’t think you understand the situation you’re in, Mister Highbinder,” spat Lucy. “You hid four known members of the Sloane Gang, and at least three of ‘em participated in the Slaughter. That’s harborin’ fugitives. You stopped us up long enough to let them escape, and that’s aidin’ and abettin’. Yer just as guilty as they are!” She slammed the table with both fists, both to emphasize her point and to try and knock his feet off and tip him over. “That’s the kind of crime people hang for!” He kept his balance. Dang.

“Easy now, Lucy,” said Abram Grothe from his corner of the room. “You don’t need to get worked up. The Sloaners are immoral thugs. I’d bet anything they threatened Harry into cooperation.” He started to approach Highbinder, slowly, so he could look like a savior emerging from the darkness. “If they threatened you, we can help. But you have to tell us what you know.”

Harry arched an eyebrow. “I like that. Makin’ the lady play the whole ‘mad dog’ role for a change. Throws people off, not expecting a little thing like her to get so angry, gets ‘em flustered. Probably works well for you. Unfortunately, it won’t get you anything here. I run a hotel for anyone’s can pay. I’m certain I don’t know anything about any Sloane Gang, nor was my surprised utterance at your arrival designed to alert any fugitives who may or may not have been staying at my place of business. The act is impressive, but I’m afraid it’s wasted.”

“You think this is an ACT!?” she shouted. “Innocent people were murdered, the town’s now in the hands of a madman, and you stopped us from grabbing those responsible!” She threw the table out of the way and grabbed him by his shirt. “You don’t get out of this by paying off a judge or pulling some strings!” She locked up his free arm with one hand, pulled out her pistol, and shoved it into his face. It was an act, in that she didn’t really intend to blow his head off, but it sure wasn’t MUCH of one. “Now you’re going to start talkin’, unless you want a new mouth out the back of yer neck!”

He didn’t wait for the preacher to come to his rescue. He didn’t even change facial expressions. All he said was, “You’re not gonna shoot me, Lucy. You got too much to live for.”