The Unforgiving Country: Crossed Signals

Hank on one side, Jero on the other. “You’re no alien,” Hank said, “just a traitor.”

Sweat rolled off Jero’s face and down through his moustache. “No such thing, sheriff.”

The distress light blinked away on the console between them. Red three times then blue three times— nothing sent, still receiving. Jen lay at the foot of it, a patch of purple above her eye.

“It’s been a while since someone called you that, hasn’t it?” Jero asked.

“Long time.”

Jero’s hand twitched. Hank’s lay steady.

“The way I see it, you still got the badge, you still got the gun. Still got a partner, even.”

The nervous ones tried to keep their fingers straight. Still, one or two of ‘em always rebelled, usually the ring or the pinky. If Hank’s eyes hadn’t been trained on Jero’s, he’d have noticed his pinky.

“Down one horse, though,” Hank said.

Jero laughed— loudly. He pulled his hand along by his finger tips, getting a little closer to the gun. “I think you’re still a sheriff. A real John Wayne.”

“Let’s see.”

Hank drew.

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