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We arrived in Washington wearing different clothes, wearing different faces. As per the advice of the bounty hunter, we all shaved. Jeremiah almost seemed to fit in with his meek looks. Darren and I looked tough even with the hair cut and fancy suit. Still, it kept the lawmen from looking at us too long.
Darren, being the leader of the group, did all the talking. He first asked a stage coach where the post office was. He was polite, which is something rare with Darren. It vanished the moment we were out of the stagecoaches earshot.
"Dumbass," Darren murmured. "These folks live life to cushy. I reckon we would make good money here if we played our cards right."
"Let's focus, brother," I told him. "Abigail is the only reason we walked into the lion's den."
"Lions den? These lawmen are a joke. Every one of them weighs more than my horse."
"But the pistols they carry hold enough lead to put us down."
Darren waved his hand to close the conversation. He must have thought we were speaking our plans too loud. We weren't alone in this city, ever. There were people walking the pavements and plenty of stagecoaches. My brother was right, plenty of money went in and out of Washington.
"Post office is up this road," Jeremiah murmured. "Keep your hands clear of your guns and stay in the alley. Abigail doesn't know me, so getting her to follow me should be no problem."
"Make it so," Darren murmured. "She will be the one with the dark hair and crooked nose. I busted it, so best not mention it to 'er."
Jeremiah nodded and walked into the post office. As he did, Darren and I waited in the alley, acting casual. Darren wasn't so great at it, but he didn't have to be. We passed many lawmen on our way through Washington, none recognised Darren.
"We can't kill 'er," I told my brother.
"Now that's a damned lie, Jamie," Darren grunted. "We can kill whoever we want before we die."
"Not 'er. She is our sister and I can understand you wanting revenge for the gang, but-"
"She did a lot more than betray the gang. She betrayed the family. You know how she resented us and our ways. Got too involved with that book, but not so involved she wouldn't pull the trigger. I will kill 'er, Jamie."
"And how do you expect to do that, Darren? Shoot in the middle of this city, every lawmen will come running. If she screams, we already lose time."
"Are you afraid of dying, little brother?"
I looked at Darren with narrowed eyes.
"You know I ain't," I murmured. "But I still have some living to do before my skin goes blue."
"Spoken like an honest man."
I grit my teeth. Darren was asking for a fight now. It always went this way when he was losing an argument. Why settle a conversation with words when fists do better? I didn't have time to rise to those words, so I fell silent.
I shouldn't be here.
We heard giggling around the corner. That familiar voice was as clear as day. We turned our backs to the alleyway entrance and pointed at the buildings. Pretending to have a conversation was a great way to stay unnoticed.
Jeremiah passed us with Abigail at his side.
She did look different now. Wearing a clean dress, her hair tied up. Even a painted face. Abigail was smiling.
Darren stepped forward, marching straight for our sister. Abigail turned, she saw him, she recognised him. Her mouth split, then covered by a dirty hand. Darren pinned her against the wall with a knife to his throat. That was how he planned on killing our sister. There was no dignity in killing someone with a knife, at least not anymore.
Jeremiah backed off to my side, surprised as well. We both expected Darren to be angry, but he was livid. My mind was spinning as I watched my siblings stare daggers at each other. Darren was no more a man, only animal.
I had to put him down. My stomach couldn't take it.
I drew my pistol and aimed it at his head. Jeremiah didn't stop me and my hesitation wasn't long enough for Darren to react.
I killed my brother.
The bullet echoed in the empty alley, no doubt heard by so many lawmen. My sister was free from Darren's clutches and I was not sure I did the right thing. She was a traitor. It was because of her so many of my friends died. Yet, Darren and her were my only family let. I much preferred her alive than Darren.
Abigail turned to me, recognising her brother. In that moment, that is exactly what she saw me as.
"Come quick!" Abigail yelled, clutching her dress. She lifted it and ran down the alley.
Jeremiah and I followed.
"You shouldn't have done that," Jeremiah told me. "But I'm glad you did. I never liked that man."
"Shut up," I muttered.
It felt like a part of myself had fallen away. Yet, I had no regrets about pulling the trigger. We followed Abigail up some roads and soon disappeared amongst another set of alleys. Once we were far enough, mingling with other people, we slowed down. Abigail led us into saloon.
I stopped her, taking her to one of the tables.
"Abigail, we need to talk," I told her.
"You shouldn't be here, Jamie," she hissed.
"I know that, but what choice did I have? Darren was hunting you down."
"I am grateful for you saving me, but it would have been better if you killed him while he slept."
"Don't be so cold, Abi-"
"What should I be, Jamie? That's the way things are, whether we like it or not."
I turned my head to Jeremiah and he shrugged. I pointed to the bar and he left us alone.
"You don't have to worry anymore, Abigail," I replied. "If this is the measure of your gratitude, petty words, then I will leave now."
"Now you're the one being cold and dumb," Abigail muttered. "You can't stay in Washington, not with Darren's face."
"Darren is dead in an alley, no more posters after they find him. Besides, we can't leave Washington yet. Jeremiah at least has a chance here, but I want one too."
"I can't help you with that."
"Well, I won't. Jesus, Jamie...you ruined my life as much as Darren. I'm free now."
"And I kept you that way. All I am asking for is a chance to join you."
Abigail sighed. She massaged her eyes, Jeremiah returned with three glasses of bourbon. Abigail took it, taking the first sip. My sister eyed the two of us as she thought.
"You look handsome in a suit, brother," Abigail murmured. "But looking the part isn't everything in the civilised world."
"We will act it too," I replied.
"You can count on us, ma'am," Jeremiah murmured. "I am sorry for deceiving you earlier. I didn't want Darren shooting up the whole post office."
Abigail glared at Jeremiah, but softened. She could read people well enough, but she was struggling with me.
"You best not screw up," Abigail murmured. "It's Abigail Brown, you hear? And you are Jamie Brown."
"And I am Jeremiah Jackson," Jeremiah replied. "I will keep my name seeing as nobody is looking for it."
Abigail smirked and I breathed a sigh of relief.
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