All of the Earps were there, around a table in Hatch’s Saloon. Two cowboys were drinking beer and playing pool behind them, while several of their friends drank beer and watched. The bar was lined nearly solid with a mix of cowboys, miners, and townsmen. At a table near the front four bullwhackers played cards while they waited for their wagons to be loaded. Some whores, dressed for work, were having late breakfast at another table. They looked kind of tired in the daylight, Wyatt thought.
“Be a nice foot in the door at the Oriental,” James said. “Frank Joyce is an up-and-comer.”
“You know Tyler?” Virgil said.
“You know his reputation?”
Virgil nodded slowly.
“Wyatt’s a pretty fair gunhand himself,” Morgan said.
“ Tyler won’t back off,” Virgil said. “You go against him, you have to mean it.”
“I always mean it,” Wyatt said.
“Quarter interest in a place like the Oriental is worth something,” James said.
“And we can handle Tyler,” Morgan said.
“I think ‘we’ ain’t getting the quarter interest,” Virgil said.
“Oh hell, Virg. You know if one of us is in, all of us are in,” Morgan said.
As he had at the McLaury ranch, Morgan brushed his gunhand up and down his shirtfront, as if drying the tips of his fingers. Trouble’s like a carnival for Morgan, Wyatt thought.
“All of us ain’t always going to be around,” Virgil said. “You ready to go against Tyler alone, Wyatt?”
“He’s a back shooter,” Virgil said.
“I’ll try to keep him in front of me,” Wyatt said.
“I say he takes the offer,” Jim said.
“Me too,” Morgan said.
“You want to do it, Wyatt?”
“Might as well.”
“Well, then I guess you will. No reason to go against Tyler alone, though, if you don’t have to. He starts trouble, send for me and Morgan.”
Wyatt nodded. His hands rested motionless on the tabletop. His eyes moving, as they always were, taking in the room: whores, pool players, drinkers, cardplayers, the sound of glassware, the clink of pool, the smell of whiskey, the economical, practiced movements of the bartender. He liked the rhythm of saloon life very much.
“You do it, Wyatt,” James said. “It’s why you got brothers.”
Wyatt smiled slowly, almost as if his mind were somewhere else and had just refocused.
“Yes,” he said. “I know.”