Josie wasn’t like any women he knew, Wyatt thought as he sat with her and Johnny Behan in their front room. She sat in on business. Allie was full of opinions on what Virgil ought to do. Even Mattie sometimes had suggestions and asked questions. But it was in private, at home, and when the business was to be decided the men went to a saloon and decided it. Josie acted like a man. As if business were as much hers as Behan’s. He admired it in her, though he knew that if Mattie acted that way, he would be angry. He felt a small, sad amusement at his unfairness.
“You been thinking any on what we talked about, Wyatt?” Behan said.
“Well, damn it, Wyatt, I wish you would,” Behan said. “If you resign as deputy, Charlie will appoint me, and I can show John Fremont that I’ve got experience as a lawman when they make the new county. I get to be sheriff. I make you under sheriff. I handle the civil part. You handle the criminal part, and we split the fees.”
“ Fremont ’s a Republican,” Wyatt said. “Maybe I should try for sheriff. Put my brothers on as deputies, keep all the fees.”
“You can’t get appointed. The governor may be Republican, but the county is all mostly Democrats,” Behan said. “Ain’t a cowboy alive going to sit still for having an Earp appointed sheriff.”
When he was talking politics, Wyatt noticed, Behan’s voice was much firmer.
“Johnny makes a good point,” Josie said. “It’s pretty certain you couldn’t get the job, nor Virgil, nor Morgan.”
“But Fremont would appoint for Johnny,” Wyatt said.
“Yes. He’s close to Fremont. He’s quite close to the cowboys.”
Behan was quiet, watching Josie and Wyatt. Johnny’s not stupid, Wyatt thought. He knows she’s making more progress than he is. Johnny was a vain man, but it was interesting to see that vanity didn’t run him.
“Close to Curley Bill?”
“I got no problem with Brocius,” Behan said.
“Got a problem with him killing Fred White?”
“He was acquitted of that,” Josie said.
“Fred’s dead,” Wyatt said.
“Even Marshal White said it was an accident.”
Wyatt knew he had said that, and maybe it was. But it wasn’t an accident that Curley Bill had his gun out, and it wasn’t an accident that he pointed it at Fred White. Wyatt was looking directly into Josie’s eyes and she back at him, and he could feel them dissolve into each other like two streams merging. He held her look and felt almost as if they had coupled. He didn’t say anything.
“It’s no sin in politics,” Josie said, after what seemed to Wyatt a long silence, “to be close to all sorts of people.”
“Maybe there is no sin in politics,” Wyatt said.
“If you feel that way,” Josie said, “then you wouldn’t want to try for sheriff anyway.”
Her face was intense. Intelligence flickered in her eyes like heat lightning. Behan watched them closely. Could he feel it? Wyatt wondered. Johnny didn’t miss a lot. Maybe Johnny felt it, and saw it and was trying to use it. Was she? No. She wasn’t. He found that he was smiling.
“Maybe you should try, Josie,” he said.
“If I thought I could win, I might,” Josie said. “But I can’t win, and neither can you, Wyatt. Johnny can win, and if he wins you win too. And I win. We all win. Besides, if I were sheriff, I’d have to smoke a smelly cigar and wear a big, ugly gun.”
“That’d be a sight,” Behan said.
All of them laughed.
“Do it, Wyatt,” Josie said, “step aside. For Johnny, for yourself, for me. It’s the right thing.”
She was like a terrier after a rat, he thought. And very beautiful.
“Sure,” Wyatt said. “I’ll do it today.”
“By God, Wyatt, that’s the way,” Behan said. “And you’ve got my word on the rest of it. I’ll keep my part of the bargain.”
“How about my brothers?” Wyatt said.
Behan didn’t hesitate.
“Certainly,” Behan said. “It’s going to be a big county. There will be enough for everybody.”
He put out his hand, and Wyatt, still looking at Josie, shook it briefly. Behan smiled with pleasure and thought about what he’d said, and liked it so much that he said it again.
“There will be enough for everybody. Everybody.”
Behan was probably lying, Wyatt thought, still looking at Josie. Johnny didn’t always mean what he said, and sometimes he didn’t even know he didn’t. But Wyatt didn’t care. Wyatt knew why he had agreed to it. Later that day, he wrote a one-line letter of resignation: “I have the honor herewith to resign the office of deputy sheriff of Pima County.”