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The Buffalo Rock
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Excerpt 6

During dinner, Grant and Dixie listened as the murders and robberies were the main topic of conversation.
“I just can’t believe that Buck would do such things,” Dixie protested. “I know he hurt Grant but that was about jealousy. What reason has he for doing these horrible things?”
“Darlin’,” Tom said. “Buck is just one mean sumbitch, if you’ll pardon my French. You didn’t hear the story from the Sheriff. It was enough to turn your stomach. We all thought we knew him, but we didn’t. He’s bad and that’s all there is to it. He can only end up in jail or dead…and it was his call.”
As they finished dinner, the lights dimmed and the band began to play a waltz.
“It’s not the Charleston but we can still dance.” Dixie said.
As they got up from the table, several other couples around the room rose and walked toward the dance floor. Momentarily forgetting everything around them, Grant and Dixie embraced, moving together to the strains of Beautiful Dreamer.
“Do you really think it was Buck who did all of those terrible things?” Dixie said.
“I have to believe it was. Sheriff Burt seemed pretty confident.”
Grant held her closely as they moved slowly around the dance floor.
“Do you think he is coming here?” she asked.
“He is really angry at your Uncle and he obviously detests my innards…so yes, I have to think that he is seeking some sort of revenge after what happened during the fight. You heard at dinner about the device he had constructed for his injured hand?”
“I didn’t quite understand what they were talking about.”
“As I understand, it is a knife that is concealed in a leather wrist band, which he can deploy at will. He has allegedly used it to kill several of the people that C. C. and your uncle were talking about at dinner. The Sheriff told us today that there was also a gun in the car he stole.”
“Grant. I’m frightened,” she said.
She held him tightly, closing her eyes in an attempt to lose herself in the music. The cold steel of the gun butt pressed uncomfortably against her.
“I never thought I would be happy to have my escort carrying a firearm.”
“Don’t worry; everything is going to be fine. I’m not delighted about going around armed but there appears to be no alternative. Thank God we’re all leaving tomorrow. I don’t think Buck will be going back to The Buffalo Rock, and your Uncle Tom and I are going to be in the mountains hunting. Buck doesn’t know where we’ll be going. I don’t think there is anything to worry about.”
The band began to play the Charleston.
“Grant, let’s take a walk. It is close in here and I’m afraid that gun is going to go flying across the floor if you dance your usual unbridled version of the Charleston,” Dixie said.
They walked to the table to retrieve Dixie’s wrap.
“We’re going to get some air. We’ll be back in a bit,” Grant said to C. C.
“Aaron is out there with the car if you kids want to go back to the house,” C. C. winked.
Walking onto the sidewalk from the Elk’s Lodge, Grant noticed that he could see his breath in the illumination of the newly installed electric street lamps. Being from the East, both he and Dixie were surprised by the cool air of late August in Montana. Dixie draped her shawl around her shoulders and pulled it tight, crossing her arms against the chill.
“This air may be a bit fresher than I had bargained for,” Dixie said through chattering teeth.
Grant could see the Packard parked a short distance down the street.
“C. C. told me that we could use the car. Would you like to go back to his house?”
Pulling the shawl tighter she grabbed his arm.
“That is a good idea. I don’t feel much like dancing any more tonight. I just want to be alone with you.”
Her words warmed him and he walked tall as they hurried to the Packard.
Grant opened the door and followed Dixie onto the cool leather seat.
“Would you take us to Mr. Conlon’s house, Aaron?” Grant said.
The engine roared and the headlights came on.
The Packard lurched forward in an unusually rough start.
“I think maybe Aaron has been nipping a few himself,” Grant whispered in Dixie’s ear.
The limousine turned into the Kalispell City Park.
Dixie whispered, “He has been drinking. I think he has forgotten the way home.”
The Packard stopped beside a small lake in the middle of the park. Leaving the engine running and the lights on, the chauffer got out of the car and opened the passenger door.
“What is it, Aaron?” Grant asked.
“Get out of the car, flatlander,” Buck’s voice boomed through the darkness.