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Authors: J. R. Roberts

Anatomy of a Lawman

BOOK: Anatomy of a Lawman
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Table of Contents
New Sheriff in Town
“The sheriff’s likely to be gone a long while, Buck,” Clint said. “I can’t stay here indefinitely, you know.”
“Yeah, well, what about until the Graves boys come back?”
“You think you could handle this job, Buck?” Clint asked him.
“No sir.”
“You don’t?”
“No sir,” Buck said. “I can back your play, but there ain’t no way I could do the sheriff’s job. Not yet, anyway. I ain’t experienced enough, or good enough.”
“It’s a smart man who knows those things about himself, Buck.”
“Thank you, sir.”
And it’s a smart man who knows what he has to do, Clint thought.
He took the badge out of his pocket and pinned it on.
THE GUNSMITH by J. R. Roberts
Clint Adams was a legend among lawmen, outlaws, and ladies. They called him . . . the Gunsmith.
LONGARM by Tabor Evans
The popular long-running series about Deputy U.S. Marshal Custis Long—his life, his loves, his fight for justice.
SLOCUM by Jake Logan
Today’s longest-running action Western. John Slocum rides a deadly trail of hot blood and cold steel.
An action-packed series by the creators of Longarm! The rousing adventures of the most brutal gang of cutthroats ever assembled—Quantrill’s Raiders.
Dex Yancey is Diamondback, a Southern gentleman turned con man when his brother cheats him out of the family fortune. Ladies love him. Gamblers hate him. But nobody pulls one over on Dex . . .
WILDGUN by Jack Hanson
The blazing adventures of mountain man Will Barlow—from the creators of Longarm!
TEXAS TRACKER by Tom Calhoun
J.T. Law: the most relentless—and dangerous—manhunter in all Texas. Where sheriffs and posses fail, he’s the best man to bring in the most vicious outlaws—for a price.
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
A Jove Book / published by arrangement with the author
Jove edition / August 2010
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
eISBN : 978-1-101-18887-3
Jove Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
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Sheriff Jack Harper gritted his teeth at the pain. He was lying on his belly on a table in Doc Foster’s surgery while the doctor was digging into his back for two bullets the Graves gang had put there earlier in the day.
“Damn it, Doc!” Harper said.
“Lie still, ya damned fool!” Doc Foster growled.
“Are your hands shakin’, you old drunk?” Harper demanded.
“Shut up,” Doc said from between his own clenched teeth.
“Buck, you there?” Harper asked his deputy.
“I’m here, Sheriff.”
“Is that old man drunk?” Harper demanded. “Is he tryin’ to dig bullets out of my back while he’s drunk? Shoot him if he is. Shoot him before he kills me. Argh!!!”
“He ain’t drunk, Sheriff,” Buck Wilby said. “Honest, he ain’t.”
The truth was Doc Foster didn’t have any whiskey at all in him. It was the only way he could have dug the slugs out of Harper’s back without his hands shaking.
But even with steady hands, he could not get to the bullets. The two slugs of lead had both ended up perilously close to the sheriff’s spine. If Foster dug any more, he’d paralyze the man for life.
Despite the fact they were sniping at each other, the forty-five-year-old lawman and sixty-six-year-old doctor had been good friends for over twelve years.
“Damn it!” Foster finally snapped.
“Take it easy, Doc,” the sheriff said. “You ain’t really hurtin’ me that much.”
That was the point when the sheriff passed out.
“Doc, is he—” Buck asked.
“He’s alive, but that might not make him happy,” Foster said. “I’ve got to sew him up.”
“But . . . you ain’t got any lead out.”
“And I can’t get it out,” Foster said. “If I keep tryin’, he won’t ever walk again. He needs surgery in a hospital.”
“Where?” Buck asked. “What hospital?”
“Preferably somethin’ in a big city, “Foster said.
“You gonna tell ’im, Doc?” Buck asked.
“Of course I’m going to tell him, you idiot,” Foster said. “Get out of here. Go over to the hotel and get him a room with a good bed.”
Foster knew that his friend spent most nights on a cot inside his own jail, but he was going to need a good mattress to lie on.
Damn it, Jack, he thought, I’m sorry I’m not a better doctor, my friend.
Harper came back to consciousness slowly, and when he was finally about to focus his eyes, he realized he was lying in his stomach.
“I’m here, Jack.”
“Well, get over here where I can see your ugly face,” Harper yelled. “What the hell happened?”
Doc Foster moved to where his friend could see him.
“I’m sorry, Jack,” he said. “I couldn’t do it.”
“I’m not good enough to get those bullets out,” Foster said. “You need a surgeon in a good hospital for that.”
“Hospital?” Harper said. “I ain’t got any money for a hospital, Doc.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Foster said. “The town’s gonna pay for the surgery.”
“The town?” Harper asked. “Jesus, how’d you work that out?”
“I threatened ’em, and blackmailed ’em.”
“I told the Council if they didn’t pay for the surgery, they were going to lose a lawman, and a doctor. I also told them they’d be sitting ducks when the Graves gang came back.”
“And who’d you blackmail?”
“You don’t wanna know.”
“Well, thanks, Doc . . . I guess.”
“Don’t thank me, Jack,” Foster said. “If I was a better doctor—”
“Don’t beat yourself up, Doc,” Harper said. “You’re a country doctor. That’s all you ever claimed to be, and you’re a good one.”
“Well . . . I can arrange to get you to a hospital in Kansas City, or Saint Louis, as soon as—”
“No, not yet, Doc,” Harper said.
“Whataya mean, not yet?” Foster asked. “We need to get that lead out of you as soon as possible. If they move, you can be paralyzed for life, or they could kill you.”
“Not yet, Doc,” Harper said. “You were right about one more thing.”
“What’s that?”
“This town is a sitting duck for the Graves gang with me gone.”
“You have a deputy—”
“Buck would be dead in the first ten seconds,” Harper said.
“Then the town will have to hire a replacement.”
“I don’t think so.”
“What are you proposing, then?”
“I’m gonna pick my own replacement,” Harper said, “and I’m not leavin’ town until he gets here.”
“What kind of fool—”
“Take down this telegram, Doc, and I’ll tell you where to send it.”
“You already got your replacement picked out?”
“Oh yeah,” Jack Harper said. “I just hope he’ll do it.”
When Clint rode into Guardian, Missouri, he thought he had stepped back in time. The town looked like Dodge or Tombstone in their prime. The streets were teeming with people and wagons, corrals were filled with cattle or horses. Outside of town he had seen another herd, which he found odd. Because he had recently taken part in what was supposed to have been the last great trail drive.
The telegram that had summoned him here had come from an old friend, a lawman named Jack Harper. He knew that Harper had been the law in Guardian for about a dozen years, but he had never managed to visit him here, and had never before received a telegram. The last time he had seen Harper had been about fourteen years ago, when they had ridden in a posse together in Colorado.
Guardian’s busy main street was pitted with holes and trenches, further indication of how well traveled it was. Not that he needed further proof. The fact that he had to steer Eclipse in and around different kinds of traffic was indication enough.
BOOK: Anatomy of a Lawman
6.48Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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