The two Tamerlan brothers were beat half to death already, with bloodied faces and some nasty welts from where the old lawman’s men had gone at them with a hammer and a fireplace poker in the back room. It must have been hard for the prisoners to breathe, gagged with a mouthful of rags and strung up upside down from the ceiling, their heads lolling about helplessly. No one in the room seemed too choked up for them. The leader had only called off his posse in time to let the pair suffer a little while longer.
Tyson Anders looked down at this own raw, bandaged stump of a wrist, then stared back into the brothers’ fearful eyes with a stone-cold look that brooked no mercy.
“I reckon you two know what’s comin’ to ye,” said Sheriff Tyson Anders with his deep Texas drawl. “There ain’t no one coming for you. No way of stopping what’s going to happen here. No one going to hear you with your gobs stuck up like that. You ain’t got to say nothing. Hell, you should be thankful I didn’t cut out your tongues right out of your mouths for what you done.”
Anders spat on the upside-down face of the older brother, Charlie. The spittle dripped down Charlie’s cheek. All he could do was hang there and let the drool slide down his chin and rip on the floor. Charlie whimpered. His brother Danny joined him.
“Shut up,” Anders growled. The men went silent. “Ain’t going to be no trial. You know what you done. Look here at what you done to my Lavinia,” he said, his voice screwing up in a mix of rage and sorrow as he said her name, summoning his daughter from the back of the room. “Killed her husband in cold blood and pinned it on two innocent men. Then you had your way with her. Cut out her tongue and her hands so she wouldn’t talk. No judge going to pass sentence, but we all know what you rotten bastards done anyway.”
Lavinia just watched over her father’s shoulder. Her eyes were mad with grief; bottomless, empty windows to a withered soul. She used to have a beautiful smile; looking on her now, no one would believe it. Her arms ended abruptly at the wrists, where a sad-eyed nurse had recently tied on coloured ribbons and cloth to hide the damage done.
The men stood in the background, just waiting there like tall shadows in the lantern light. There was no other sound in the old house than Anders’ bitter voice.
A new wad of spit landed on Danny’s face. Anders leaned in close to where the young man looked back wild-eyed with fear. “Then you go and set me up — and now look at me. Look at me! Ain’t much room in this world for a one-handed Sheriff. But hell, I guess I got one good hand,” he said, showing off the shiny blade of his carving knife. “More than Lavinia could say — if she could still talk.”
Anders paced a bit, looking between the horrified faces of the captive brothers, stalking them with an ever-growing malicious grin. “Yeah, you know what’s coming. But you don’t know everything. Maybe it doesn’t matter if you know, since you’re going to be dead anyhow. I want you to know what’s going to happen to you. See, I’m going to grind you fellas up in my kitchen. I’m going to turn you bastards into sausages. Then I’m going to invite your Momma over. Yeah, I see you looking to each other. Yeah, I know what you know. I know everything. I know she put you up to these here dark deeds. Her and her damn fool husband, the Mayor.”
The brothers looked at each other one last time. They knew these were their last moments. They could expect no mercy. After all, they had given none. Resigned to their fate, they stared at the dark shadows that stood silently, past the cagey Sheriff Anders.
“My boys are going to help me serve up a real nice lunch for those people,” Anders said in his grim drawl. “Well, you can’t expect me to get a big lunch on all by myself, all one-handed and all. But it’s going to be some party. Wish you could see it. Then I could kill you boys all over again. I’ll probably go to hell for what I done already, but you folks put me here. No, I can only kill you once.
“Ain’t no point in putting it off. Give me your throats, boys. I’m going to make this quick, which is more’n you deserve.”
A whispery gurgling was all the sound that emerged from the brothers, not even enough to echo out of the old house.
Vengeance was not yet complete — but it would be soon.