“The night is running along and I want a good time—for your sake—to educate you. I can’t stand you leading such a morbid, saintly life,” Fred groaned.
Buck was disappointed at the stables. With most of the army out looking for Geronimo, the stable owner feared for his safety and ordered that no one be let in after dark so Buck had to stay out with Fred.
“I’ve dreamed of this night, Buck. In the dream I come into town on a white mount and with an officer’s jacket after slaughtering a pile of Indians.”
Buck laughed at Fred’s childish notions. Fred, happy to make his brother smile, threw his arm over Buck’s shoulder. “Point us in the right direction, my boy.”
“There is no right direction here, but there’s the Buckskin.”
“Bully!” Fred ran ahead. “Come on!”
Buck followed, dreading their entrance. Fred dragged him into the noisy saloon. “Don’t be yellow.”
Fred met each hard stare with an arrogant smirk and pushed to the bar. “Give everyone a drink on me,” Fred ordered and turned to the small crowd of roughs, soldiers, and miners. “Gentlemen, I’m here for my sister’s wedding and would like you all to share in my happiness. You soldiers probably know my brother, Buck.”
The group of soldiers turned away.
“Well, anyway, Buck may look bad, but he’s all right. Let the next two rounds prove it.”
The men brightened at the promise, but Buck whispered, “Fred, how much money have you?”
“Plenty. Now take a drink. Even Jesus drank wine—God, I can’t believe I’m saying that. Go on, drink up.”
Buck threw back the whiskey and swallowed hard. Before long Fred played the best of friends with two surprisingly well-educated miners and a few well-spoken soldiers. Fred had no tolerance for stupidity and froze out any less than adequate conversationalists with his haughty manners and large vocabulary. Buck fell into his old role as quiet observer, waiting for something to happen.
A miner kept glancing at Buck. Finally he asked, “What happened to your sidekick? Looks like he’s been through a meat grinder. Isn’t there any way you can cover yourself?”
“You dare talk about my brother that way? You lousy piece of shit! My brother here was shot by an Apache so you thieves can scrape riches from Indian land!” Fred replied.
“Sorry, I didn’t realize …”
“What? That you’re an ignorant son of a bitch?”
“Hey, you better calm down, mister. I’ve got a gun and I’ll use it,” the miner said.
Fred flashed his own weapon, resting it up against the man’s shining temple. “Try me, you little shit.”
“Fred, calm down,” Buck whispered.
“I am calm. No one’s going to get away with hurting you on my watch.”
“I’m not hurt. I’m fine.”
The man with the gun to his head fainted.
Fred shook his head. “What a jackass.” He kicked the man out of the way and ordered another drink for the soldiers, but they declined and soon excused themselves, dragging with them the humiliated miner.
“Bully,” Fred said. “This is just bully. See, Buck, see how it’s done? I’m teaching you valuable lessons.”
Buck sighed. “We should go.”