Blood Riders

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Authors: Michael P. Spradlin
enjoy two of your finest steak dinners. Then we are going to pay our bill and leave. Otherwise, I’m going to work on test firing my Colt right here in your fine establishment. Are we clear?”
    Mr. McLaren swallowed hard. “Sir, please, my job . . .”
    “Oh, I wouldn’t worry about your job, Mr. McLaren. I’d be more worried about the noise and all the busted glass if we don’t get our dinners post haste. Besides you wouldn’t want word to get out the Paradise Hotel doesn’t welcome patrons from the U.S. Army, would you? Hollister released the hammer on the Colt and put it back on the table.
    “We’re waiting on our steaks. My companion here would like a beer and I’d like another. And I’ll expect them promptly or I may have to reconsider target practice. Am I understood?” Hollister looked up at McLaren.
    “Yes, sir, perfectly. Your dinner shall be here momentarily.” McLaren turned on his heel and headed back to the bar. Hollister could hear him issuing orders to his employees.
    Chee stared in disbelief at Hollister for a long moment.
    “Thank you, sir,” Chee finally said.
    “Don’t mention it, Sergeant,” Hollister said. “Enjoy your dinner.”

Chapter Eight
    P inkerton’s car sat on a siding behind the train station. From the outside it looked like a normal Pullman car painted black and silver, and drawing closer in the gathering dusk it was clear the car was brand new. The metal shone and the sunlight glinted off the rounded corners of polished steel. Hollister bounded up the steps at the rear of the car and knocked on the door. A muffled command to enter came from inside.
    Hollister entered first, followed by Chee, and both of them stopped for a moment to grasp what their eyes were seeing, for as normal as the train car appeared from the outside, inside it was anything but.
    Pinkerton sat at a writing table placed beneath a window at the center of the car. And it was the windows that first drew Hollister’s attention. Strange shapes were painted in white all around each window and the far door at the other end of the car. The ceiling had three different trap doors built into it and the paintings circled them as well. A strange aroma filled the car and Hollister thought it was familiar but he couldn’t place it.
    “ Madre de Dios ,” Chee muttered, barely getting the words out.
    Pinkerton finished his writing and looked up.
    “Ah, Major, so glad you’re here. You must be Sergeant Chee?” Pinkerton stood and strode confidently up to the young man. Chee nearly backed up a step and stared at Hollister in amazement as the detective pumped his hand. Hollister shrugged.
    “Welcome, Sergeant. Major Hollister has told me all about you,” Pinkerton said.
    “He has?” Chee answered quietly.
    “Yes. Did he tell you he requested you specifically?” Pinkerton asked.
    “No, sir. Me and the major haven’t had much time to talk yet,” Chee said.
    “Well, I’m certain he’ll give you all the details shortly. But I’m glad you’re . . .” Dog, who moved around from behind Chee and advanced toward Pinkerton, his nose working the air, interrupted him. Pinkerton jumped, for he had not noticed the stealthy animal in the low light of the car.
    “Jesus Christ! What is that!” he shouted. His hand instinctively went inside his coat toward his shoulder holster.
    “I wouldn’t do that, sir,” Chee said. “This is Dog. He doesn’t it like it when people he doesn’t know hold guns.”
    “That is not a dog . . . that is . . . good God I have no idea . . .” He slowly removed his hand from his coat and Dog sat on his haunches, studying Pinkerton.
    “Dog,” Chee said, pointing to Pinkerton, “friend. Good boy.” Dog completely relaxed, reached forward and licked Pinkerton’s hand. Then lay down on the floor.
    Pinkerton glared at Hollister. “Did you know about this?”
    “Nope,” Hollister answered.
    “I didn’t make any agreement for a goddamn . . . half wolf . . . half

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