"He's gone," the guard said to Bennet.
"What in the hell do you mean he's gone?" Bennet got up from his cover and peered over the top of the wall. He could only just make out a small figure becoming nothing but a shadow in the distance. "What in god's name?"
"I don't know," the guard said. "He just up and left when you told 'em you knowed his brother."
"You did know him, right?" Lester said. "That wasn't just a bunch of lies?"
"It weren't," Bennet sat down, his eyes wandered off into nothing. "I knew him. Good fella, lively."
"Jesus," Lester had a look over the top of the wall, too. He could scarcely believe it. "I thought we were in for one hell of a gun fight."
"You and me both," Bennet said. "It don't make no sense. He followed me all the way across the open desert, fired on me and missed and finally catches up with me here and then just up and heads out the first minute he hears I knew his brother. Somethin's wrong."
"I do not know, Bennet," Lester said. "Maybe you just up and got lucky."
"Nah," Bennet said. "I ain't that lucky."
The man turned around and stared at the city behind him. He considered the fact that he was returning to his employer with the job half done. Weighing his rifle in his hands, he figured he'd let fate handle it.
"Fate led you and my brother together," the man said, hoisting his rifle up to his chin. "Then fate will make sure you don't die with this bullet."
Looking down the barrel of the gun, he knew he'd be lucky if he hit anything at all. The wind was heavy from the east so he adjusted himself and aimed for the small parapet. For all he knew, he was speaking to the American. Breathing slowly and evenly, he counted to three and fired, the crack of the shot echoing into nothing.
The guard's head exploded in a red mist before they heard the shot.
"Jesus Christ!" Bennet yelled. "Get the hell down!"
The guard's dead body slumped over and fell to the dirt road below, blood staining the cream-coloured sand. Bennet leaned over the top with Lester and fired off a few rounds into the ether and hid again.
After a moment Bennet picked himself up and peered over the top to see the man approaching slowly on his horse. Bennet took aim with his rifle and was about to fire when he heard the man speak.
"Did I kill ye?" the man said. "The forger?"
"Ye did not," Bennet said. "You killed the guard. The man you spoke with before."
"I see," the man paused for what seemed some time. "Well, fate has led it for me not to kill you."
"Indeed. If it wanted you dead, I'd have killed you just now and you wouldn't have known my brother."
"I could kill you right now," Bennet said. His teeth were clenched tight and his jaw hurt. "I got you right in my sights and you know I'm a pretty crack shot."
"I don't doubt it," the man said. "And if it were to be so you would have done it already without listening to my damn voice."
Bennet said nothing.
"I'll take your silence as agreement and I'll be on my way."
"Aye," Bennet said. "And stay gone this time, for if ye come back I might not hesitate to take that shot."
"I don't doubt it."
And then the man was gone, again, riding off towards the horizon. Bennet let out the breath he hadn't realized he was holding and slumped over against the wall, some of the guards blood dripping down the opposite wall in a river pattern, stretching across the world like spindly fingers.
Bennet did not speak for the rest of that day and instead went with Lester and Kuruk to the tavern and drank and ate his fill before going straight to bed after the other decided that whores were on their menu. His dreams were black and empty, plagued with thoughts of where he should go now that he was not being chased, and what he should do now that he was free.