Three Can Keep a Secret, if Two of Them Are Dead
by Evil Jacquie
A Day in the Life of Eli Joe

I hate mornings. The fucking sun's in your eyes, and the damned noisy birds won't let you sleep, anyway. I hate this damned piss-poor coffee most of all. The only good thing about this morning is that today is the last day Tanner gets to live. By nightfall, that sorry-ass bounty hunter should be hanging from that oak tree at the rendezvous.

Yates knows his job, he damned well better, I'm paying him enough. Him and his boys will swoop into that little pissant town and grab Tanner up right in front of all his peacekeeper friends. There ain't gonna be a one of them that'll do anything, they all know about him, know he's wanted. What can they do? Why would they bother? Tanner's ass is mine.

Just a little longer, and then it'll be done. I got a lot of plans, things to do, once I'm free of that sonofabitch. No more looking over my shoulder, no more wondering when he's coming for me. Bastard! Why couldn't those morons in Tascosa have lynched him, and saved me all this trouble?

It's all his fault anyway, I was just minding my own business. Sure, I robbed some folks, if they're too stupid or weak to take care of themselves then that's their problem. Sure, some of them got in my way so I had to kill them. It wasn't none of his business, and I never done nothing to him. Not until he come after me.

So now we're down to it, Yates and the boys are riding towards me and I can see ol' Vin is with them. They got him blindfolded, just like I told them. I got the rope all ready and all my "surprises" are ready, too. Once Tanner is swinging in the breeze I got a special blend of coffee to brew for Yates and his boys, and I got my shot gun loaded and setting here beside my bedroll. Then I'll get my money back, or what's left of it, and be on my way and no one will be the wiser.

It's a lot easier to keep a secret when you're the only one as knows it.

Well, hell, Yates is an idiot and that bastard, Tanner, cheated! All of them boys Yates hired are idiots and they deserve to die and I'm gonna kill 'em all. If that gunslinger and Tanner don't kill em first. Bastards, both of them!

Here I go to all the trouble to arrange a little neck tie party for Tanner, and Yates brings uninvited company along with him. Idiot! I swear it's getting so a man can't find decent help. It could make a man lose his faith in men.

So I guess I'm going to have to take care of Tanner all by myself. Like Pa always said, if you want a job done right, you got to do it yourself. I have the brains, it's not like I need Yates or anyone else. I'm sure I can take care of Tanner in his little town. He thinks he's safe here, with those other peacekeepers watching his back.

I admit that was a surprise, who'd have thought Tanner could trick them into doing that. I don't know what he's promised them, but I do know he can't deliver. The man's as poor as a church mouse, look at that raggedy old wagon he lives in, would a man with money live like that? But maybe he's giving them something else, something more personal. Yeah, I bet that's it. I bet he's doing them all. At least, him and Larabee looked real close and friendly from what I saw, and I heard that Wilmington will jump on anything that breathes. That'd explain a lot - Tanner doing them both. I guess he must be good, if they're going to so much trouble to keep him around. I always knew there was something wrong about that sonofabitch.

So now, I'm sitting pretty in the catbird's seat in this fancy hotel with a real nice view of Tanner's little home, sweet home. I figure that he'll be keen to track me down. He'll think he's got a good chance to get me now, and the sweetest thing is Tanner could've had me. Could've shot me in the back and been done with it, but no! He wants to clear his name, bring me to trial, do things all legal and proper-like. Like I said the man's a fool!

Maybe after I get him taken care of I'll swing back by here and pay these others back for the trouble they're causing me. At least Larabee, that gunfighter's been way too much trouble, but that's for another day. Today I got some unfinished business with Tanner, and here he comes, all eager to start chasing me, again. That's it pretty boy, just get what you need out of there.

Nice and easy, one shot and it'll be done. What could go wrong?

The End

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