The desert slowly gave way to undulating hills and washes that slowed the pairs trek to Bixby. It appeared that there wasn’t an easy trail to the town or that they’d somehow missed it altogether.
By noon of their third day traveling together, they came to a rise in the land and found themselves over looking the valley and Bixby, or rather what was left of the town. John was the first to say what the two were both thinking, “Looks nearly abandoned, don’t it?”
Brady didn’t say a thing. Instead he sat there and observed the situation below. A few minutes later he guided his horse down the hillside and into the west end of the town’s main street – it’s only street.
He could feel the unseen eyes staring at him and John as they rode towards the only building that looked to be alive – an unnamed saloon. Both men could sense that something was wrong and that after a quick resupply, if that were even possible, knew it would be best to high-tail it away a soon as possible.
Pushing the swinging doors in, Brady walked towards the bar. There he could see the tender leaning against the back wall, in the mirror were two men playing cards at a table in the far corned.
All eyes focused on the stranger as he asked, “Anywhere around here a man can get some flour and coffee beans?”
“Yeah,” came a voice from the table with the tow card players, “But I doubt she’s gonna sell anything to you – you bein’ a stranger and all that.” The man with his back firmly against the wall nodded his head towards the door.
He looked at the player and said, “Point the direction. I’ll take care of the rest.”
Having learned where he might or might not get supplies, Brady nodded his head to the man and walked outside to his horse. It was only a hundred foot distance between the saloon and what remained of the general mercantile. It’s dirt-laden windows offered a less than inviting atmosphere as Brady stepped on the wooden sidewalk and reached for the door.
He heard it before he actually saw it, the action of a double-barrel being cocked, followed by the sight of the barrel’s nearly pressed against the window pane. Brady halted, put both hands up and stepped back until he was off the sidewalk.
“Don’t think they’re interested in doing business, today,” Brady quipped, trying to sound as if he wasn’t frightened. Then he noticed John was digging under the duck-clothe covering the pack-trees on one of the mules.
Turning, he held up a gold coin, purposely flashing it in the sun and towards the door’s window. Certain he’d gotten whoever was behind that door’s attention, he tossed it against the door allowing it to rest on a slat of the walk-way.
Seconds later, the door opened and a hand reached out and snatched the coin up. The door slammed then less than ten-seconds later popped open and a voice commanded, “Come in!”